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Prescription Opiate Abuse On The Rise

Prescription opiates rose to one-third of all treatment admissions in 2009, from 8% in 1999, reflecting the rising trends in prescription opiate abuse. There were nearly 2 million substance abuse treatment admissions in 2009 among people ages 12 and older were reported to the Treatment Episode Data Set, a reporting system involving treatment facilities from across the country.

Five substance groups accounted for 96% of admissions: alcohol (42%), opiates (21%), marijuana (18%), cocaine (9%), and methamphetamine/amphetamines (6%), reported the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The data came from 49 states and Puerto Rico. Georgia and the District of Columbia did not report admissions for 2009. One person can be reported as multiple admissions in a year.

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*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Drunk Fans At Sporting Events

Among fans who attend live sporting events, drinking alcohol is nearly as commonplace as root-root-rooting for the home team. And while virtually no one has a problem with a fan who pushes back a beer or two during the game, flat-out drunk fans can ruin the experience for those sitting nearby. Worse yet, these people frequently get behind the wheel of a car after the game is over.

Recently, Darin Erickson and colleagues at the University of Minnesota decided to find out just how many fans go overboard at games, and their findings are worrisome, indeed. Using standard blood alcohol testing on 362 adult volunteers who were leaving 13 professional baseball and three professional football games, the scientists found that 40 percent had measurable levels of alcohol in their blood and a stunning eight percent were legally drunk (as defined by a blood alcohol level of .08 or greater). The highest alcohol level recorded by the scientists was .22.

Erickson’s group also observed that Monday Night Football attendees were more likely than other fans to have been drinking. In addition, fans who were 35 years old or younger were eight times more likely to leave the game drunk, and those who attended tailgating parties before the game were 14 times more likely to leave the game drunk.

The latter finding is consistent with a study from the University of Toledo, in which scientists gave breathalyzer tests to tailgaters at a college football game. The scientists found that an astounding 90 percent of the participants consumed alcohol during tailgate festivities, and among them, the average blood alcohol concentration was 0.06, well on the way to being legally drunk.

Maybe these people should save the money they spent on tickets and go to a bar. Erickson’s study was published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*

Alcohol And Cancer: A Beverage Guide For The Holidays

Guest post submitted by MD Anderson Cancer Center*

When you raise your glass at this year’s holiday toast, choose your beverage wisely. Research shows that drinking even a small amount of alcohol increases your chances of developing cancer, including oral cancer, breast cancer and liver cancer.

Yet, other research shows that drinking small amounts of alcohol may protect the body against coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Some evidence even suggests that red wine may help prevent cancer.

Researchers are still trying to learn more about how alcohol links to cancer. But, convincing evidence does support the fact that heavy drinking damages cells and contributes to cancer development.

Confused? Use our beverage guide to choose a drink with the lowest health risk, and learn your recommended drink limit and what alcoholic drinks to avoid. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Health in 30*

The “Street” Economics Of Drug Abuse

I’ve discovered over the years that I really like economics. I never took an econ class in my entire life, since I was pretty focused on the life sciences, but I’ve picked up a fair amount informally over the years. Fortunately I have a strong background in statistics and math, and I’ve done a lot of reading on economics. I wouldn’t say that I have any special level of understanding or credibility on the topic. Perhaps it should be noted that my wife took away the checkbook for good reason. But I enjoy it as a topic, as something to read about and a powerful tool for understanding how the world works.

One consequence of being an ER doc is that you are pretty close to “the street,” and I don’t mean Wall Street. I mean the folks living and scrounging on the streets. As a matter of functioning in the job, you learn the street jargon, you learn what drugs people are using and why, and what the effects of those drugs look like.

The other day I saw a middle-aged guy brought in for acting really weird. Though everything in his social history argued against it, he just looked like he was on meth. I checked a tox, and sure enough, it came back positive. He strenuously denied any drugs, but eventually gave in and admitted the meth use.

I remember in residency walking through downtown Baltimore with a fellow resident and our spouses, and we amazed them by serially identifying the likely drug of choice of the various street people we passed, based on casual observation of their behavior. It’s just what we do. Baltimore was a heroin town. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

Alcoholic Energy Drinks: Health Hazards And Bannings

In this video, you will see an interview I was asked to do on November 11th on local TV about alcoholic energy drinks like Four Loko that has been in the news recently. I talk about the potential harmful effects of the ingredients of a product like this. As of this posting there have been a number of states, colleges, and universities who have taken steps to ban these type of beverages.

 

At the end of the interview, I talk about how I don’t think banning a product like this is going to solve the problem. In the article “Banning Four Loko Doesn’t Solve Problems,” Alex Belz from The North Wind explains:

It seems these health officials are either unaware of or choosing to ignore the fact that combining a caffeinated beverage with an alcoholic one is a time-tested formula for a decent drink. So far, they’ve not proposed banning drinks like Jager Bombs and vodka and Red Bulls from being served in bars, but perhaps that’s just around the corner.

As of this post, it has been only hours since the ban was announced in Washington State. Since the ban does not take effect for about seven days, guess what is happening? According to The Seattle Times, a “Buying Rush Follows Washington Ban On Four Loko.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Doctor Anonymous*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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