Groups say changes are needed in attempts to eliminate drunk driving

Drunk Driving 5-16-13

The Join Together Staff recently reported that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says the new recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that states lower allowable blood-alcohol levels for drivers is not the most effective way to eliminate drunk driving, The Christian Science Monitor reports.

Though the group does not oppose lowering the legal blood-alcohol limit, president Jan Withers of MADD says doing so “will take a lot of effort for a potential result that is many, many years down the line.” MADD says the government needs to focus on enforcing existing laws aimed at stopping drunk driving.

In a statement, MADD says it is committed to implementing its Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving by focusing on increased high-visibility law enforcement, state laws requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted offenders, and research toward developing advanced technology to prevent a drunk driver from operating a vehicle.

The NTSB is urging states to lower the legal limit for blood-alcohol levels from 0.08 to 0.05. They stress how thousands of people are killed or injured each year by drivers who may not legally drunk, but are still impaired. About 10,000 people die in alcohol-related car crashes each year.

To read more, view the entire article here.

New Anti-Cocaine Vaccine May Block Drug From Reaching Brain

The Join Together Staff of Drugfree.org recently wrote about an anti-cocaine vaccine that blocks the drug from reaching the brain in animal testing. Scientists at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York say human trials of the vaccine may begin within a year, Voice of America reports.

Using a radiological tracking technique, researchers showed how the vaccine stopped cocaine molecules from reaching the brain and triggering a high induced by the brain chemical dopamine. These findings were published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

Lead researcher Dr. Ronald G. Crystal said, “The vaccine eats up the cocaine in the blood like a little Pac-man before it can reach the brain,” in a news release. “We believe this strategy is a win-win for those individuals, among the estimated 1.4 million cocaine users in the United States, who are committed to breaking their addiction to the drug. Even if a person who receives the anti-cocaine vaccine falls off the wagon, cocaine will have no effect.”

To read the full article, visit Drugfree.org.

Pain Program Focuses on Education

 

 

 

Celia Vimont recently wrote an article for Drugfree.org on education programs for those dealing with chronic pain.  A Chemical Education Track has been designed by the Neurological Center for Pain’s Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program (CPRP), which is specifically designed for patients dealing with chronic pain and who have a therapeutic opioid addiction.

The beginning results are looking promising. The patients who complete this program have reported low opioid resumption rates a year after completing the program. Sustained improvements in pain severity, mood and pain-related functional impairment have also been reported.

This Chemical Education Track began in 2009. It was designed to help the ever-growing number of patients who have chronic pain and addiction. Though it is not a chemical dependency treatment program, patients are educated about addiction and how it has affected their lives and their pain, said Dr. Davin, a speaker at the recent American Academy of Pain Medicine Meeting.

 

To read more about this program, read Vimont’s article on Drugfree.org.

 

 

Doctor Highlights Importance for Clinicians to Attend AA Meetings

Alcoholics Anonymous meeting

In a recent article by Celia Vimont of Drugfree.org, Vimont highlights the importance of doctors who treat alcoholics to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. Many clinicians have never gone to an AA meeting, which means they are not familiar with what the meetings entail.

 

Marc Galanter, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse at NYU Langone Medical Center said, “Any doctor treating addicted people should go to at least a few AA meetings, so they can discuss it with patients in a knowledgeable way. It’s very experiential, and doctors should have a sense of it. They should also learn the steps of AA.”

 

Dr. Galanter has studied long-term outcomes of AA and Narcotics Anonymous members and says his findings are positive. His research was discussed at the recent American Society of Addiction Medicine annual meeting.

Marc Galanter, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse at NYU Langone Medical Center

Marc Galanter, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse at NYU Langone Medical Center

 

In a study published last year in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, Galanter found that among 266 highly committed young adult AA attendees, the average length of abstinence was 44 months. The attendees went an average of 233 AA meetings in the previous year. Sixty-six percent had served as sponsors, and 92 percent reported experiencing an AA “spiritual awakening,” which decreased the potential for craving alcohol. “Their craving for alcohol was inversely related to their involvement in the group, and the degree of spiritual awakening they reported,” Galanter said.

 

To learn more about Dr. Galanter’s studies, read the rest of Vimont’s article, “Doctors Treating Alcoholics Should Go to Some AA Meetings: Expert.” 

 

When the need is now: ShareHouse, Inc. provides walk-in days

By Meghan Feir

 

We’ve all been through it – waiting weeks or months for an appointment. Frustration builds and the immediate help you or your loved one direly needs is put on hold.

 

As the need for immediate assistance grows, waiting weeks for an appointment can be dangerous for individuals suffering from mental health illnesses or chemical dependency problems.

 

ShareHouse, Inc., a provider of chemical dependency and mental health treatment services to adults, is well aware of these concerns and have scheduled walk-in days at Transitions Mental Health Center and Genesis, an outpatient drug and alcohol treatment center.

 

Transitions provides the area’s first walk-in appointments for mental health

 

In January 2012, ShareHouse, Inc. opened Transitions Mental Health Center (located 505 40th St. S., Suite A, Fargo, ND). Transitions, an outpatient center, provides the area’s first walk-in appointments for mental health every Wednesday. They provide various levels of programming, including mental health diagnostic assessments, individual and group therapy, dialectical behavior therapy skills groups, and psychological testing.

 

“Our primary purpose here is to assess and treat mental health conditions that go along with chemical dependency,” said Erica Hoff, a psychologist at Transitions Mental Health Center. “We address the mental health concerns that are fueling those addictions. We’re also open to the public as a general mental health center, so people can come in from the community.”

 

The misconceptions of mental health illnesses, such as depression, have slowly been exposed, and the awareness of how they not only affect one psychologically and emotionally, but physically as well, is being taken more seriously.

 

However, in this part of the country, the perception of receiving mental health treatment is much more negative than in other parts of the nation, though the need for these services is great.

 

“The stigma associated with mental health is big here. We’ve got that Midwesterner, tough, ‘I don’t need any help, I can handle this myself’ kind of attitude,” Hoff said, “and that kind of attitude keeps people away from mental health treatment.”

 

The stigma Hoff is referring to can be emphasized when compared to physical health problems. Those with physical pain are not questioned for paying the doctor a visit. They are encouraged to get help and relieve their ailing. Unfortunately, people dealing with mental health issues often hide under a façade of toughness and self-reliance, though these problems greatly affect their quality of life.

 

“Mental health problems are a huge source of pain in people’s lives, and it’s a really unrecognized source of pain,” Hoff said. “People recognize physical pain relatively easily. Mental health concerns are something that we hold inside of us. We wonder if it’s normal, if this is something that’s even worth going to the doctor about, and that’s what it does – it makes you feel like you’re different from everyone else.”

 

Showing your support

 

It can be difficult to know how to help loved ones suffering from these hardships. The sense of helplessness can be overwhelming, but ultimately, they have to want the help. According to Hoff, supporting them is the main way you can relieve some of the load. They need to know they are not alone.

 

“They just need to know that it’s OK – you can get treatment, and we’re going to stand by you. Just your love and support goes so far for people,” Hoff said. “We see people who have family support and those who don’t, and it makes a huge difference. Kindness goes a really long way.”

 

Supporting the person, but not enabling the problem, is crucial during their journey toward receiving help and recovering.

 

When to seek help: Utilizing walk-in assessments

 

Seek help “if your mental health or your drug or alcohol use is getting in the way of you doing your regular daily tasks,” said Hoff. “Those are the types of signs that this is really interfering with your life, and that’s what makes something a problem.”

 

If you find yourself missing out on pivotal life moments and daily activities, ShareHouse encourages a stop during Transitions Mental Health Center’s “Walk-In on Wednesdays,” or, for those dealing with drug or alcohol dependency, to visit Genesis’ “Walk-In on Tuesdays” for a chemical dependency assessment.

 

ShareHouse Transitions Mental Health Center is served by Dr. Erica Hoff and Dr. Scott Sternhagen, mental health professionals.  ShareHouse Genesis is served by five clinicians, Carlee Eckert, LAC; Jess Kriel, LAC, LSW; Jeremy Traen, LAC, LSW, LADC; Roberta Pytlik, LAC; Lisa Cameron, LAC.

 

No appointment is needed.  Just walk in. Help is available.  ShareHouse Transitions Mental Health Center and ShareHouse Genesis are located at 505 40th St. South, Fargo.

 

If you or someone you know is interested in learning how ShareHouse can assist, please call 701-478-8440.

Cigarette butts considered a huge, environmental problem

In a commentary by Julia Cartwright, she touches on how environmentally conscious our society has become, but the effects of cigarette butts on the environment are often ignored. Billions of cigarette butts litter our surroundings. In a recent poll, 88 percent of Americans  surveyed recognized cigarette butts as an environmental concern. They are more than just an unpleasant sight. They are the number one litter item in the U.S. They are pervasive — made almost entirely of plastic — and only fully biodegrade under extreme circumstances. Cigarette butts also leach into the soil and contaminate waterways.

This Earth Day (April 22), Legacy has partnered with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics (Leave No Trace)  to get people re-thinking their views on this toxic substance, as reported in The New York Times. Beginning this month, new radio and television public service announcements aired in both English and Spanish will challenge everyone to “Rethink Butts.” Check them out on Rethinkbutts.org.

In 2011, according to The Tax Burden on Tobacco report, Americans bought more than 287 billion cigarettes. The end result usually consists of our streets, sidewalks, parks, beaches, landfills and waterways being strewn with the leftover butts. Though small, these cigarette butts are costly and negative on our society.

Download and share the PSA content via your social media and the web during Earth Month in April and throughout the year. The PSAs will be available for download/share on the Legacy Facebook (Facebook/Legacy) page as well as online at RethinkButts.org. Follow Legacy on Twitter (@LegacyforHealth) for content related to this issue.
• Join a Twitter chat about the issue on April 22nd (Earth Day), from 2-3:30 ET. The #rethinkbutts hashtag will be used at this chat and throughout the month for news and information about the campaign.
• Download the toolkit with ideas from RethinkButts.org – post this URL, include information in an e-newsletter story, host a clean-up. There are endless ways to help stop toxic litter.

Julia Cartwright- Legacy

Julia Cartwright, MA
Senior Vice President, Communications
Legacy®

Gaining weight? Drinking alcohol promotes larger calorie consumption

According to a recent post by Drugfree.org, “People consume more calories and fat on the days they drink alcohol.”

Research by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism was taken by studying 1,864 adults. The study participants were asked to fill out a diet questionnaire on two days within a 10-day period. These two days consisted of one day, where alcohol was consumed, and another day, where the participants were completely sober. The article said that “When they drank, they had an average of two to three alcoholic beverages at a time.”

On average, men consumed 2,400 calories the day they did not drink, and women consumed about 1,700. The days they did drink, men consumed about 400 calories more than they did during the sober day, while women consumed 300 more, Reuters reports. “For the women, the extra calories could have come from the alcohol alone. For men, between 100 and 200 of the extra calories came from food,” as reported by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the article.

Oftentimes, as lead researcher Rosalind Breslow noted, social events, where alcohol is being served, include less healthy foods on the menu. However, Breslow added that it is also possible that drinkers consume more calories because of their impulsive mindset, due to consuming alcohol.

The Meth Project and The Partnership Join Forces

In a recent news release by Cassie Goldberg of Drugfree.org, Goldberg highlighted the joining together of The Partnership at Drugfree.org and the Meth Project, “one of the world’s leading prevention organizations, renowned for its effectiveness.” The Meth Project will become a part of The Partnership’s efforts to reduce substance abuse.

This is a national effort to reduce the number of teens dealing with substance abuse. Goldberg reports that individual Meth Project organizations will continue their local education, community action, school outreach and teen advocacy initiatives, operating as members of The Partnership at Drugfree.org.

Through educational programs, advertising, prevention tools and websites, MethProject.org has effectively combated some of the hold methamphetamines have on teens in participating states. In Montana, teen meth use has dropped 63 percent, and in Arizona, 65 percent. These encouraging results illustrate the importance and effectiveness of this mission.

Thomas M. Siebel, the Meth Project’s founder, was named the third most effective philanthropist in the world by Barron’s magazine in its most recent rankings, and has received a White House commendation due to the success of the Meth Project.

Read the full article on Drugfree.org for a more in-depth look at the Meth Project and The Parnership’s efforts.

Drug-Sniffing Dog Searches Ruled Unconstitional

Drug-sniffing dog 3-27-13

As reported by Drugfree.org and the Associated Press, “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that police must first obtain a search warrant before bringing drug-sniffing police dogs onto a suspect’s property to look for evidence.”

This decision could limit the way in which investigators have used search dogs to look for drugs, explosives and other concealed objects.

The 5-4 vote by the court to uphold a Florida Supreme Court ruling threw out “evidence seized based on an alert by a chocolate Lab named Franky,” the article stated. According to that court, the dog’s ability to detect marijuana grown inside a Miami home by sniffing outside the home was “unconstitutional.”

The Lab, Franky, recently retired after seven years with the Miami-Dade Police Department, and is responsible for discovering more than 2.5 tons of marijuana and $4.9 million in drug-contaminated money.

Thousands of dogs are used nation-wide by government organizations to sniff out illegal items, track criminals and search wreckage sites, according to the AP.

In February, “the U.S. Supreme court ruled police do not have to extensively document a drug-sniffing dog’s expertise to justify relying on the canine to search a vehicle,” the article said.”The unanimous ruling overturned a Florida Supreme Court decision involving Aldo, a German shepherd. After the dog detected drugs in a pickup truck, a police officer searched the truck and found 200 pseudoephedrine pills and 8,000 matches, which are used to make methamphetamine. The Florida Supreme Court ruled police must compile detailed evidence of the dog’s reliability before probable cause to search the vehicle is established.”

What do you think about this ruling?

Top brands of alcohol popular among underage drinkers

Young girl with Beer Bottle

 

In an article by Celia Vimont on Drugfree.org, Vimont highlights a study that found underage drinkers prefer top alcohol brands. This is the first study to specifically identify brands of alcohol in relation to underage drinking. The top 25 brands were on the list and accounted for nearly half of youth alcohol consumption, says the study. Almost 28 percent of these underage drinkers drank Bud Light in the past month. Seventeen percent reportedly drank Smirnoff malt beverages, while 15 percent drank Budweiser.

Adults do drink a larger repertoire of brands than underage drinkers, however, notes the study’s co-author David Jernigan, PhD, Director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study also discovered other brands popular among underage drinkers include Smirnoff Vodkas, Coors Light, Jack Daniel’s Bourbons, Corona Extra, Mike’s, Captain Morgan Rums and Absolut Vodkas.

Dr. Jernigan says they “monitor what brands of cigarettes kids are smoking, which was how we knew about the popularity of Joe Camel, but until now, no one has been monitoring what brands of alcohol they are drinking. We’ve shown that this kind of study can be done, and now it should be done on a regular basis.”

He went on to say how this report “paves the way for future studies to examine the link between exposure to alcohol advertising and marketing efforts, and drinking in young people,” states the article.

Half of teens, by the age of 15, have had at least one drink. By age 18, more than 70 percent have had a drink, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Numerous studies have shown how marketing and advertising play a huge role in the likeliness of young drinkers. The more they are exposed to ads relating to alcohol, the more likely they are to start drinking at a young age.

This study comprised of 1,032 youth ages 13 to 20 and was completed online. It was conducted by researchers at CAMY and the Boston University School of Public Health. Participants were asked about their past 30-day consumption of 898 brands of alcohol among 16 alcoholic beverage types. Questions on how often and how much of each brand they consumed were asked. The study appears in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

“This research will lead to insights that will inform public policy,” Dr. Jernigan says. “Everybody has gut sense that some brands are appealing to kids more than others. Now we know for which brands that is working.”

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