“Deaths of Despair” Caused by Opioids, Alcohol and Suicides: Report


The incresing rate of deaths due to opioids, alcohol and suicides are part of a public health crisis described as “deaths of despair” in a new report published recently. Life expectancy in the United States has decreased for the second year in a row because of these factors, researchers wrote in BMJ. The drop was particularly steep among middle-age white Americans and people living in rural areas, USA Today reports. “Why white Americans are dying at higher rates from drugs, alcohol, and suicides is unclear, complex, and not explained by opioids alone,” the researchers wrote. They note that possibilities include the collapse of industries and the local economies they supported, the erosion of social cohesion and greater social isolation, economic hardship, and distress among white workers over losing the security their parents once enjoyed.

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Study of First-Graders Shows Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Prevalent In U.S. Communities


NIH-funded research examined over 6,000 children to determine prevalence of FASD ranged from 1.1 to 5 percent. A study of more than 6,000 first-graders across four U.S. communities has found that a significant number of the children have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), with conservative rates ranging from 1 to 5 percent in community samples. The new findings represent more accurate prevalence estimates of FASD among general U.S. communities than prior research. Previous FASD estimates were based on smaller study populations and did not reflect the overall U.S. population. The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health. FASD is an umbrella term for a range of health effects caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Individuals with FASD may experience growth deficiencies, facial abnormalities, and organ damage, including to the brain. The effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on the brain...

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Over 1.6 Million Could Die From Drugs, Alcohol and Suicide Over Next Decade: Report


More than 1.6 million Americans could die from drugs, alcohol and suicide over the next decade, a new report concludes. USA Today reports the findings come from the Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust. The nonprofit group found in 2015, there were 39.7 deaths per 100,000 U.S. residents due to drugs, alcohol and suicide, compared with 23.1 deaths per 100,000 in 1999—a 72 percent increase. That number could rise to 56 deaths per 100,000 by 2025, the group said. “We see a connection among the three epidemics,” said John Auerbach, President and CEO of the Trust for America’s Health. “They are all behavioral health-related — that is, they have a substance abuse or mental health diagnosis associated with them.”

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Teens Dependent on Marijuana and Alcohol Struggle with Success Later in Life


Teens who are dependent on marijuana and alcohol struggle to achieve hallmarks of adult success, such as graduating from college, getting married, having a full-time job and earning a good salary, a new study finds. Researchers at the University of Connecticut tracked 1,165 study participants, starting at age 12. They checked in on them at two-year intervals, until they were between 25 and 34 years old, HealthDay reports. Most of the participants had a grandparent, parent, aunt or uncle with an alcohol problem. Marijuana and alcohol dependence appeared to have a more severe effect on young men. “Parents should try to delay their children’s onset of use as much as possible,” said researcher Victor Hesselbrock. “If you can push regular use back well into adolescence, the kids do a lot better.” The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.  

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NIH-Funded Mouse Study Sheds Light on Neural Risks Associated With Prenatal Alcohol Exposure


Prenatal exposure to even low doses of alcohol may lead to severe and highly variable deficits in the brain of a fetus, according to a new study conducted in mice. Researchers report that the unpredictable nature of the deficits may be due to inconsistencies in how fetal brain cells activate a protective response to alcohol and other harmful compounds. The new findings may help explain the range of behavioral and learning deficits and other symptoms observed in individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and other congenital brain disorders. The study, supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, is now online in Nature Communications. FASD is an umbrella term for a range of effects caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Individuals with FASD may experience growth retardation, facial abnormalities, and organ damage, including to the brain, which can result in a...

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NIH to Launch Alcohol Clinical Trial Paid for by Manufacturers


The New York Times recently ran a story announcing that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is starting a $100 million clinical trial to test whether a drink a day really does prevent heart attacks. And the trial will be paid for by Five companies that are among the world’s largest alcoholic beverage manufacturers — Anheuser-Busch InBev, Heineken, Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Carlsberg. These manufacturers have so far pledged almost $70 million to a foundation that raises money for the National Institutes of Health, according to Margaret Murray, the director of the Global Alcohol Research Program at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which will oversee the study. Recent stories have noted that moderate drinking is supposedly good for the heart. However, this has concept has never rigorously tested. In fact, new research has linked even modest alcohol consumption to increases in breast cancer and changes in the brain....

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SPOTLIGHT: Grand Island, NE Affiliate’s Drug Education Programs


The Central Nebraska Council on Alcoholism and Addictions, with a mission of offering hope and changing lives by fostering healthy lifestyles, has a number of services aimed at providing alcohol and other drug education to the community. Among them are: Prime for Life (MIP)—This is an eight-hour alcohol education class for youth ages 20 and younger. The goal of this program is to reduce the incidence of alcohol and other drug-related problems in youth. It is a nationally recognized and evidence-based program that focuses on personal risk-reduction (choices) and self-assessment specifically related to alcohol. The program is voluntary but many youth are referred by probation or juvenile services for a Minor-In-Possession of Alcohol (first offense) or another first-time-alcohol or other drug- related offense. The class is offered in English and Spanish.Prime for Life! (DUI/DWI)—This also is an eight-hour alcohol education class but for adult DUI offenders ages 21 and older. The...

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Just One Alcoholic Drink a Day Increases Breast Cancer Risk


Drinking just one glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer risk, finds a major new report by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). The report also revealed, for the first time, that vigorous exercise such as running or fast bicycling decreases the risk of both pre- and post-menopausal breast cancers. Strong evidence confirmed an earlier finding that moderate exercise decreases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer. “It can be confusing with single studies when the findings get swept back and forth,” said Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, a lead author of the report and cancer prevention expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “With this comprehensive and up-to-date report the evidence is clear: Having a physically active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and limiting alcohol – these are all...

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Bullied Teens More Likely to Smoke, Drink and Use Drugs


Children who are bullied in fifth grade are more likely to become depressed and experiment with drugs and alcohol during their teen years than their peers who weren’t victimized by other kids, a U.S. study suggests. Researchers followed almost 4,300 students starting in fifth grade, when they were around 11 years old. By tenth grade, 24 percent of the teens drank alcohol, 15 percent smoked marijuana and 12 percent used tobacco. More frequent episodes of physical and emotional bullying in fifth grade were associated with higher odds of depression by seventh grade, which was in turn linked to greater likelihood of substance use later in adolescence, the study found. "We drew on the self-medication hypothesis when trying to understand why peer victimization may lead to substance use over time," said lead study author Valerie Earnshaw, a human development and family studies researcher at the University of Delaware in Newark. "This suggests...

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The Science Behind Blacking Out


Have you ever woken up panicked and confused, wondering how you got home after a night out drinking with friends? If this has happened, you might have experienced an episode of alcohol induced amnesia, also known as a blackout. This is different than passing out or losing consciousness. Your friends may report drinking and talking with you during the evening and you may have even driven home – but your memory of some or most of the night is wiped away. Although blacking out is not uncommon – particularly among young people who drink heavily – it is poorly understood. Alcohol-induced impairment is dangerous and can be unpredictable. What is a Blackout?Researchers have identified two types of blackouts: En bloc, or complete blackout: when a person who had been drinking has an inability to recall entire events during the drinking period of timeFragmentary-memory loss: when a person who had been drinking...

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