Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures and Medical Prescriptions

Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures and Medical Prescriptions
Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 5.56.03 AM


It’s not hard to see why our readers loved this thought-provoking expose of America’s long history with mind-altering substances. In fact, the ad for Cocaine Toothache Drops (contemporarily priced at 15 cents) alone is worth a trip to this colorful and well curated site. Lesson plans and online activities help educators illustrate how the United States has handled the thin and shifting line between useful medical prescriptions and harmful, illicit substances.

Over a century ago, it was not uncommon to find cocaine in treatments for asthma, cannabis offered up as a cure for colds, and other contentious substances offered as medical prescriptions. This engaging collection from the U.S. National Library of Medicine brings together sections on tobacco, alcohol, opium, and marijuana. Visitors can learn about how these substances were marketed and also view a selection of digitized items culled from its voluminous holdings, including advertisements, doctor’s prescriptions, and early government documents. In the Education section, educators can look over lesson plans, check out online activities, and explore online resources from the National Institutes of Health, such as, “A Guide to Safe Use of Pain Medicine” and “College Drinking: Changing the Culture.”

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Nicotine is a Gateway Drug – NIH Research Matters – National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Photo of ashtray filled with cigarette stubs.

Why Nicotine is a Gateway Drug – NIH Research Matters – National Institutes of Health (NIH)

From the 21 November article

A new study in mice shows how tobacco products could act as gateway drugs, opening the door to use of illicit drugs. Nicotine, the researchers found, makes the brain more susceptible to cocaine addiction. The finding suggests that lowering smoking rates in young people might help reduce cocaine abuse.

Photo of ashtray filled with cigarette stubs.

Scientists have long recognized that cigarettes and alcohol raise the risk for later use of illicit drugs like marijuana and cocaine. In a recent national survey, over 90% of adult cocaine users between the ages of 18 and 34 had smoked cigarettes before they began using cocaine. Researchers suspected that nicotine exposure might increase vulnerability to cocaine. However, no one had identified a biological mechanism. A team of scientists, led by Dr. Eric Kandel at Columbia University and supported by NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), set out to investigate.

In Science Translational Medicine on November 2, 2011, the scientists reported that mice given nicotine in their drinking water for 7 days showed increased activity in response to cocaine. The animals also had changes in a brain signaling process called long-term potentiation.


November 22, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , | 4 Comments

Alcohol Causes More Harm Than Crack

From a November 1, 2010 Sky News online article by Graham Fitzgerald
(nice accompanying 30 second video!)

Alcohol causes more widespread harm than drugs like heroin or crack cocaine, according to a study published in respected medical journal The Lancet. [Full text of this article is free upon registration]

The research evaluates recreational drugs on a wide range of factors, weighing up the mental and physical damage users suffer alongside crime and costs to the community.

It found the most dangerous drugs to individual users were heroin, crack cocaine and crystal meth.

But when all factors were taken into account alcohol was found to be most harmful, followed by heroin and crack.

Ecstasy and LSD were found to be the least damaging.

The study ranks alcohol as three times as harmful as cocaine or tobacco and eight times more harmful than ecstasy.

It also contradicts the Home Office’s [This is a British government agency ]decision to make so-called legal high mephedrone a Class B drug, saying it is only one-fifth as damaging as alcohol.

The study was led by drugs expert Professor David Nutt**, who has hit the headlines before for arguing that the current approach to regulating recreational drugs is fundamentally flawed…….

Another summary of this article may be found here (Science Daily article: Alcohol “Most Harmful Drug” According to Multivariate Analysis)


** Wikipedia article about David Nutt

David Nutt’s blog

Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs



November 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: