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School Board Votes to Test Student Athletes for Synthetic Drugs

From: Independant Herald

Synthetic drugs have been added to the substances for which Wyoming County student-athletes may be tested. The Board of Education unanimously approved the addition to the drug testing program at its meeting last Monday night.

“The normal test drugs did not include the synthetic drugs,” said Superintendent of Schools Frank “Bucky” Blackwell.

“Mr. (Jeff) Hylton wanted the board to know that the synthetic drugs are gaining in popularity,” he added. “It’s not actually detected under a regular drug test.

“Anybody who might be using the synthetic drugs would just go scot free,” Blackwell said. “Our whole goal is to catch it in time so that something could be done about it before it gets out of hand or somebody overdoses or has an accident.”

Testing for synthetic drugs is twice as costly as the regular testing, Blackwell noted, “Hopefully the costs will come down.”

“We’ve had great results,” the superintendent remarked. “We don’t catch too many, but we’ve never had a repeat offender.”

If there is a positive test result, Blackwell said, “you have to call Mom and Dad and law enforcement.

“That’s a shocker,” he continued. “Most parents have no idea their child would do something like that. As it has turned out, we have stopped a lot of kids from using drugs.”

Students who test positive are expelled, he pointed out, “and they have straightened up.”

With the addition of synthetic drugs, a student-athlete may be tested for one type of drug or both, Blackwell explained.  “We don’t pick up the phone and ask [the company] to test unless someone is behaving in such a way that would indicate they have a problem.”

He says the board “backs the program 100 percent. It’s paying dividends for our children.

“We feel we have to what we can to help prevent the use of drugs,” Blackwell observed.

Written by John Conely
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This is a great step in the right direction to helping solve the problem of designer drugs, especially with our youth.  Hopefully other districts will join suit and help convey the message that even though some of these drugs may be legal they are still very dangerous and shouldn't be used.
 

Synthetic marijuana use down, but real pot use up among teens

From CBS News:

While use of synthetic pot is down among high schoolers, more teens are smoking real marijuana, a government survey revealed.

Health officials are concerned, as the survey also found fewer teens are worried about the potential dangerous effects from marijuana use.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health released the 2013 Monitoring the Future survey on Wednesday. The annual survey asks eighth, 10th and 12th graders across the country about their drug use history and how they feel about illicit drugs. This year’s survey involved results from 41,675 students from 389 schools.

Synthetic marijuana -- often sold under the brands K2 or Spice -- was not as popular as it used to be among 12th graders. The survey showed 7.9 percent of high school seniors surveyed admitted to using it this year, while 11.9 said they smoked it last year.

Daily pot use among high school seniors was recorded at 6.5 percent, up 4 percent over the last 20 years. Overall, 23 percent of seniors, 18 percent of 10th graders and 12 percent of eight graders lit up in the month before being surveyed.

The survey's authors are concerned, because less than 40 percent of high school seniors believe that marijuana use will have negative effects. Those numbers are the lowest since 1978.

Part of the concern is because marijuana today is stronger than it used to be. In 1990, marijuana had about 3.35 percent Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient that gets users high. In 2013, pot contained a little less than 15 percent THC on average.

Over the last five years, opioid, alcohol and cigarette use also declined, according to the survey. Vicodin and salvia use was down amongst the oldest teens surveyed, as well as the use of inhalants by eighth graders. Cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine abuse levels remained low among students.

However, researchers were startled to find that non-medical use of Adderall has increased over the last four years. About 7.4 percent of high school seniors said they used Adderall recreationally in 2013. The researchers believe that teens think that using the prescription ADHD drug will help their grades, and there is some evidence they are using the pills to get high.

FDA and Opioids: What's Going On Here?

From MedPage Today:

Against the recommendation of its own advisors (who voted 11-2 in December not to approve the drug), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new high-dose narcotic painkiller, a drug that the FDA concedes has a high risk for abuse and one which was using a method that critics say may give the drug the appearance of greater efficacy.

Zohydro ER will be the first hydrocodone-only opioid, and it will come in doses packing five to 10 times more heroin-like narcotic than traditional hydrocodone products such as Vicodin that combine hydrocodone with over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Though the narcotic in Zohydro ER is designed to be released slowly over 12 hours, pleasure seekers will be able to crush it, chew it or mix it with alcohol to unleash its full punch at once. That abuse potential would have been blunted if the FDA required that the drug be formulated with abuse-prevention technology -- a process the FDA has publicly backed, but did not require in this case.

Tthe FDA concluded that the benefits of Zohydro outweighed its risks and that data show it is safe and effective for round-the-clock use. Its label will have prominent warnings about abuse. The label will urge prescribers to monitor patients for addiction or misuse.

But during the FDA advisory committee hearing last December, a company official said an abuse-deterrent formulation of the drug was only in early development and was "several years away from the market."

Friday's approval of Zohydro is the latest action by the agency, which recently has been the target of claims that it is too friendly toward the opioid industry. And it comes follows closely complaints that the FDA had not done enough over the years to curtail the booming overuse of opioids.

The U.S. already consumes 99% of the hydrocodone used in the world.

Posted: 10/29/2013 12:25:00 PM

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Suboxone: The New Drug Epidemic?

From the National Pain Report:

A drug increasingly being used to treat opioid addiction may be fueling a new epidemic of diversion, overdose, addiction and death in the United States.

The drug’s name is buprenorphine, but it is more widely known by its brand name – Suboxone – which for many years was sold exclusively by Reckitt-Benckiser, a British pharmaceutical company. Since Reckitt’s patent on Suboxone expired in 2012, several other drug makers have rushed to introduce their own formulations – hoping to grab a share of the $1.5 billion market for Suboxone in the U.S.

Two generic versions of buprenorphine were introduced earlier this year. And this month a Swedish drug maker began selling a menthol flavored tablet – called Zubsolv – that is designed to mask the bitter taste of buprenorphine. Other formulations of the drug include a film strip that dissolves under the tongue and a buprenorphine skin patch. One company is even developing a buprenorphine implant to be inserted under the skin.

“This is insanity,” says Percy Menzies, a pharmacist and addiction expert. “Buprenorphine is one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in the world.”

Buprenorphine is a narcotic, a powerful and potentially addicting painkiller that was first approved as a treatment for opioid addiction in the U.S. in 2002. When combined with naloxone to make Suboxone, the two drugs can be used to help wean addicts off opioids such as heroin, Vicodin, OxyContin, and hydrocodone. Naloxone blocks opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system.

Over three million Americans with opioid dependence have been treated with Suboxone. Although praised by addiction experts as a tool to wean addicts off opioids, some are fearful the drug is overprescribed and misused.

A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found a ten-fold increase in the number of emergency room visits involving buprenorphine. Over half of the 30,000 hospitalizations in 2010 were for non-medical use of buprenorphine.

How many died from buprenorphine overdoses is unknown, because medical examiners and coroners do not routinely test for the drug.

The problem with Suboxone, according to Menzies, is that many addicts have learned they can use the medication, not to treat their addiction, but to maintain it. Suboxone won’t get them “high” but it will help them smooth out withdrawal symptoms between highs.

Suboxone is so popular with addicts that it has turned into a street drug – to be bartered or exchanged for money, heroin or other illegal drugs. According to one estimate, about half of the buprenorphine obtained through legitimate prescriptions is either being diverted or used illicitly.

Posted: 9/24/2013 10:22:00 AM

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Pennsylvania warns about heroin-like drug that caused 50 deaths

From the Lebanon Daily News:

State officials have issued a warning about a heroin-like drug that has caused 50 deaths in Pennsylvania this year, including one in Lebanon County.

The state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs said Thursday that fentanyl and its derivative, acetyl fentanyl, has been blamed for at least 50 deaths in 15 counties. Five nonfatal overdoses also have been reported.

The state also is awaiting toxicology reports from overdose deaths in several other counties.

Fentanyl is a prescription drug used to relieve severe or chronic pain. It is commonly given to cancer patients or used as a last-resort medication.

When used in a recreational manner, the department's warning said, the narcotic can resemble heroin, featuring the same consistency, color and packaging.

The state began investigating a possible outbreak of fentanyl overdoses after six, including one fatality, were recently reported in Lebanon County.

Posted: 7/8/2013 9:02:00 AM

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Cartels flood US with cheap meth

From the Associated Press:

Mexican drug cartels are quietly filling the void in the nation's drug market created by the long effort to crack down on American-made methamphetamine, flooding U.S. cities with exceptionally cheap, extraordinarily potent meth from factory-like "superlabs."

Although Mexican meth is not new to the U.S. drug trade, it now accounts for as much as 80 percent of the meth sold here, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. And it is as much as 90 percent pure, a level that offers users a faster, more intense and longer-lasting high.

The cartels are expanding into the U.S. meth market just as they did with heroin: developing an inexpensive, highly addictive form of the drug and sending it through the same pipeline already used to funnel marijuana and cocaine, authorities said.

Seizures of meth along the Southwest border have more than quadrupled during the last several years. DEA records reviewed by The Associated Press show that the amount of seized meth jumped from slightly more than 4,000 pounds in 2007 to more than 16,000 pounds in 2011.

During that same period, the purity of Mexican meth shot up too, from 39 percent in 2007 to 88 percent by 2011, according to DEA documents. The price fell 69 percent, tumbling from $290 per pure gram to less than $90.

Posted: 10/11/2012 2:44:00 PM

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New painkiller has abuse experts worried

From Fox News:

Four companies have been working to develop pure forms of hydrocodone, the main ingredient in Vicodin, Lortab and other painkillers. They have been mostly quiet about their plans.

But William Marth, chief executive of the company's North Wales, Pa.-based North American division, gave a preview of TD Hydrocodone during an investors' conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.

"We believe that's another product that will get approved and can be a three-, four-, $500-million product in a couple of years," Marth said.

He said the drug could be on the market in the "relatively near future," adding it should replace revenue lost when the patent on another Teva drug, the multiple sclerosis treatment Copaxone, expires in 2014.

Hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine fall into a category of painkillers known as opiates because they are chemically similar to opium. They are extremely powerful and can create a physical dependence. Users who try to stop can suffer intense withdrawal symptoms, from muddled thinking to stomach cramps, heart palpitations and nausea.

Experts in pain management say opiates are needed for legitimate pain control, especially as the U.S. population gets older. Analysts say the market is worth billions of dollars.

But critics fear the new hydrocodone drugs could unleash a new wave of abuse like the one that accompanied the debut of OxyContin in the 1990s.

The TD in TD Hydrocodone stands for tamper deterrent, said Judson Clark, an analyst with the Edward Jones investment company who follows Teva. Addicts crush extended-release opiate pills to get the full impact of the medication and increase the high, so drug companies have been trying to develop tamper-resistant technologies to combat abuse.

Posted: 1/16/2012 9:27:00 AM

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New Drug Gains Popularity Among Teens

From keyt.com:

Doctors at a Santa Barbara addiction treatment center say it's a growing trend in teen drug use. This new drug ("Molly") is the purest form of an already popular street drug--Ecstasy.

"It sounds wholesome. Molly, the girl next door. In urban slang it means 'pure' MDMA," explains Dr. P. Joseph Frawley.

Doctors warn it is easy to come by, even available over the internet in some cases.

According to a recent survey at Syracuse University, of those surveyed, 50 percent of students had heard of "Molly." Of those, only 30 percent knew its effects. And, of those who'd tried the drug, only about 30 percent knew what they ingested.

Posted: 12/2/2011 9:11:00 AM

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For Many, a Life-Saving Drug Out of Reach

From The New York Times:

Overdose now kills more people in the United States than car accidents, making it the leading cause of injury-related mortality according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of deaths — 37,485 in 2009 — could be cut dramatically if Naloxone were available over-the-counter and placed in every first aid kit.

But that’s not likely to happen until the Food and Drug Administration takes some action. Naloxone is currently available only by prescription. Although dozens of needle exchange programs, rehab centers and pain specialists in at least 16 states distribute it, the prescription requirement severely limits its availability to those organizations that can afford to have doctors on staff.

Naloxone (its brand name is Narcan) can be administered either nasally or by injection. It can rapidly reverse the potentially deadly effects of opioid drugs, which include heroin and prescription pain relievers like OxyContin and Vicodin. It does not produce a high — quite the opposite, in fact, because it blocks the effects of opioids.

Naloxone is much safer than some drugs currently available without a prescription. Both insulin and Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be deadly if misused, but it is impossible to overdose on Naloxone and it has few side effects.

Overdose deaths linked to prescription opioids more than tripled between 1999 and 2006. The majority of fatal overdoses involve either prescription opioids or heroin in combination with alcohol and/or another depressant drug, such as Valium or Xanax.

Some cases do occur when pain patients mistakenly take too much or drink alcohol with their medications, however, most seem to involve people with histories of addiction who get the drugs from non-medical sources. For example, a study of prescription-drug-related deaths in one heavily affected state found that fewer than half of overdose victims had been prescribed the drug(s) that killed them and that 95 percent showed signs of addiction, such as injecting drugs meant for oral use.

But while people with addiction seem to have little trouble getting unprescribed opioids, Naloxone is tougher to get because there is no black market for it and few people even know that they should seek a prescription for it. And many pharmacies do not even carry it, as it is typically only used by ambulance crews and in hospitals.

Naloxone is highly effective because it displaces opioids from the receptors in the brain that depress breathing. Slowed and eventually stopped respiration is what causes opioid overdose death — because this happens over the course of an hour or more, there is often time to intervene.

Unfortunately, many family members and friends of drug users are unaware of the signs of overdose and believe that, as with drunkenness, the best thing to do is let the person “sleep it off.” Such ignorance can be fatal.

The rare cases that have been reported where Naloxone didn’t help have overwhelmingly been either overdoses of other drugs, like cocaine, or situations where the person was dead before the Naloxone was administered.

Posted: 9/26/2011 9:46:00 AM

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NEW STUDY: Hawaii leads nation in meth use at work

From HawaiiNewsNow:

A new study released Friday by Quest Diagnostic Incorporated shows that Hawaii has the highest percentage in the nation of methamphetamine users at work.

According to the study, Hawaii workers test positive for the drug at a rate that's four times higher than the national average.

A University of Hawaii psychiatry professor says Hawaii's location is a prime reason why meth use is so high.

"We're directly in transit lanes of areas of highest production in Korea and the Philippines," Dr. William Haning said. "And it tends to make importation into Hawaii very easy. This is not a drug this is readily identified through the usual screening techniques."

Haning says another reason is the island's service economy, in which many users take meth in an effort to work longer, harder and multiple jobs.
Posted: 9/6/2011 9:42:00 AM

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