Substance Use among Young Tourists Contributing to Rise in Violence

For years, industry experts have questioned the relationship between drugs and alcohol and violence. Some suggest that one leads to the other, while opponents argue that drugs merely highlight those attributes an individual already has. A recent Science Daily report examines a new study that shows that high levels of drug and alcohol consumption are responsible for the growth in violence among young tourists.

Spain is one of the most popular tourist destinations for young Europeans, with Mallorca and Ibiza being especially popular. For this reason, three teams of researchers studied the link between the consumption of alcohol and other drugs and violent behavior in recreational tourist areas there. They found that 5 percent of tourists visiting these areas became involved in some kind of violence during their stay. Ecstasy proved to be the only drug consumed that scientists have not linked to violent acts.

“Young people increase their consumption of alcohol and other drugs during the holidays—and violence rises in line with this,” said Montse Juan, researcher at the European Institute of Studies of Prevention (IREFREA) and one of the study’s authors. “Despite this, very few studies exist to inform us about this, particularly within the tourism context, where this predominates.”

To gauge the relationship between substance use and tourists, researchers compared the violent behavior of 3,003 British, German, and Spanish tourists between the ages of 16 and 35 visiting the islands of Mallorca and Ibiza between 2007 and 2008.

Among the respondents, 32.4 percent reported that they had witnessed violent episodes from time to time during their vacation. Another 5.7 percent had witnessed such incidents frequently. In 4.6 percent of cases, tourists claimed they had seen violence every time they ventured out at night.

More than half of the study participants claimed that they got drunk more than twice per week over the course of their vacation. Illegal drug consumption was also present, with the greatest among British and Spanish tourists in Ibiza.

“Cocaine users were almost three times more likely to become involved in a fight than people who did not take it,” said Amador Calafat, the report’s other Spanish author. “Tourists who got drunk five or more days per week were 2.5 times more likely to get into a fight than those who didn’t drink during their holidays.”

High School Students in New Jersey Being Held Accountable for Summer Drinking

Students returning to public schools in Morris County, New Jersey, are being held accountable for their behavior over the summer. County school districts are increasingly putting students—especially athletes—on notice that their actions outside of school, even during the summer, can result in consequences.

The Daily Record reports that last September, some Roxbury High School students were disciplined when school officials saw photos on Facebook of what looked like underage drinking during a party over the summer. In October, West Morris Mendham High School students who were charged with underage drinking after police busted a Saturday night party were also held accountable by school officials. Recently, Morristown High School students charged with underage drinking when police stopped an after-prom party bus were required to meet with substance abuse counselors in school.

In some cases, the students were athletes who had signed contracts pledging to abstain from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. These students faced additional penalties related to their participation on a team, as Morris County high school usually hold student athletes to a stricter code of conduct.

Five of Morris County’s high schools require that student athletes sign a code of conduct that holds them accountable for their actions outside of school year-round, and nearly two-thirds of the county’s 39 school districts also warn all students that school officials have the right to impose consequences for off-campus conduct.

“I think as a society we have become more aware of our collective responsibility to keep our kids safe,” said Roxbury Superintendent Michael Rossi, who said he stands by the district’s decision in the Facebook case to discipline the students.

“I think this is a critically important contribution we can make,” Rossi added. “We can suspend a student from a club and that’s better than not doing anything, which could come back and cost them a college acceptance, a job or their life,” Rossi said.

State law says schools have the authority to take action for conduct off school grounds when “it is reasonably necessary” for the student’s, other students’ or staff’s “physical or emotional safety, security, and well-being.” The precedent was set in a 1970 case when a school suspended a student who stabbed another student off school grounds.

Kinnelon Superintendent James Opiekun said he knows this all sounds Orwellian and like “Big Brother,” but there is a real risk of losing kids who abuse drugs and alcohol. If a student is smoking pot on the weekends, it could impact the student’s performance on a physics test Monday morning.

“If a student got beaten up at night outside of school and we found out, I would be negligent for not reporting it,” Opiekun said. “But if they abuse themselves physically I’m supposed to ignore it?”

Some parents object to school officials disciplining students for smoking or drinking on weekends or during the summer. “They want to raise a perfect society,” said Monique Zing, a mother of two in Denville. “You can’t. I think it’s a violation of privacy. If a student is arrested in the summer, that’s a family issue.”

Carrie Kirtchner, a Lake Hopatcong mother of two, said she think it’s the parents’ job to discipline their children. “Schools have enough responsibilities during the school day,” she said. “If something happens on a weekend or night, it’s not affecting the operation of the school.”

Two Roxbury graduates who recently graduated said the only message the Facebook incident sent was to stop posting pictures online. “All it did was have kids stop taking pictures,” said Jesse Wright, 18, who played on the school’s soccer team. “Kids were just more secretive about it.”

Kyle Chowhan, 18, a pole-vaulter for the school, agreed. “It is high school, it is going to happen; now students are just being more careful to keep it quiet,” Chowhan said.

Chowhan said an educational program called “Every 15 Minutes” had more impact on students. The two-day event at school simulated a student injured in a drunk-driving accident being airlifted from school, followed by a mock funeral.

“My friends freaked out; it changed their minds about drinking,” Chowhan said. “It hit harder than the penalization. It made kids think they could die if they drink.”

Drug Use, Alcohol, Tobacco Among Factors Related to Sexual Dysfunction

Results of a study are shedding new light on the reasons some men suffer sexual dysfunction. Poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle may have a more significant impact on men’s sexual function than previously thought.

With study results published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, a recent Digital Journal article addresses the possible causes for why 50 percent of men in the U.K. in the 40- to 70-year age bracket have episodes of erectile dysfunction. Some are believed to have the problem occasionally; others for long periods of time. Erectile dysfunction can refer to being unable to reach a state of erection or to keep an erection during sexual activity.

Being overweight, using tobacco and drinking alcohol excessively are factors that study researcher Morten Frisch suggested can lead to erectile dysfunction. Drug use is also among the factors. Cocaine carried an especially high risk of erectile dysfunction, with researchers suggesting use of the drug may give men an 800 percent higher than normal chance of developing the condition.

Results also indicated that men who are in committed relationships and make poor health choices had an increased risk of 78 percent of experiencing erectile dysfunction. For men who were married and overweight, the risk was 71 percent.

Researchers hope the study will encourage men who are experiencing sexual dysfunction to address the problem from an overall lifestyle perspective, rather than avoiding treatment. The article also addressed a stereotypical belief that men must remain virile to be considered strong, an attitude which may prevent some from getting help for erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems.

One serious consequence of this belief is that men are seeking erectile dysfunction medications illegally or from illegitimate sources, such as overseas. In these cases, the ingredients and potency are unknown and could lead to dangerous health effects.

No Level of Alcohol Consumption Safe During Pregnancy

The message for alcohol and pregnancy is clear: no amount is safe, when it comes to protecting the health of the mother and the unborn child. In the U.S., statistics indicate that one out of every eight expectant mothers uses alcohol, and one out of every 30 will participate in a binge drinking episode during pregnancy.

Referred to as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, or FASDs, the health problems resulting from a mother consuming alcohol during pregnancy are preventable but can span the child’s lifetime. Developmental and physical delays are possible, as well as heart problems, brain problems and damage to the baby’s organs. Many of the side effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy can affect the child well into their adult years, especially those that impact the way the baby looks and develops or interfere with behavior.

A myth expectant mothers may believe concerning alcohol is that a small amount will not cause harm, especially if she is past the first trimester. Experts such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say one can of beer contains an equivalent amount of alcohol as an average glass of wine, and that no amount of alcohol is considered safe for the child. There is also no “safe” time to consume alcohol, as its harmful effects can occur at any stage of the pregnancy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers resource materials and guides for physicians and patients designed to help prevent alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Unlike other disorders, there is no blood test that can clearly determine if a child has been exposed to alcohol during development. Symptoms may occur at birth or be seen later as the child encounters developmental delays or difficulties.

Symptoms of FASD can include facial irregularities or abnormalities, such as in the area between the upper lip and the nose, or lower than expected weight or height. Some children who have experienced damage related to alcohol use during pregnancy may have a smaller than normal head size or show difficulties paying attention or with activities related to coordination.

While there is no cure for damage caused by a mother’s exposure to alcohol during pregnancy, certain therapies and behavioral interventions may help the child develop more normally. Children who are diagnosed with FASD prior to turning six years old may have some additional protection from the long-term effects, as well as those who live in homes without violence.

Any woman who is planning to become pregnant or is pregnant should stop consuming all alcohol or seek immediate help from a physician, as each alcoholic beverage reaches the fetus through the placenta. The damage caused by alcohol to an unborn baby – often irreversible throughout the child’s life – is completely preventable. By abstaining from alcohol, an expectant mother can help ensure a healthy start to her child’s physical and mental development.

Methamphetamine and Pregnancy

In Hawaii, at least 50 percent of methamphetamine abusers and addicts are women. It’s believed that the drug’s side effects, which include reduced hunger and weight loss, helps explain why so many women abuse the drug.

Most women who use methamphetamine are in their child-bearing years, which can result in meth-affected pregnancies. Using methamphetamine during pregnancy poses a significant risk to the mother and fetus.

Some of the risks to the infant include premature or early delivery of the infant as well as deformities such as club foot and limb abnormalities. Pre-natal meth exposure causes babies to be born with low birth weight, and it can cause the infant to have a stroke or bleeding in the brain.

Babies exposed to meth may also suffer neurological problems such as intolerance to light and touch, tremors, muscle coordination problems, and sleep and irritability problems. There is also an increased risk for these babies to be born with HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.

The developmental risks of infants exposed to meth include learning disabilities and growth and development delays. These babies also have higher rates of attention deficit and attention deficit hyperactive disorders. They also have higher rates for rage disorder and a greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome in infants—and even in children up to 7 years old.

Seeking treatment for drug addiction during a woman’s reproductive years can reduce the potential for harm to both the mother and child.

An Old Drug Revived

An old drug deemed as the “miracle drug” for weight loss was taken out of circulation a few years ago, but researchers have found that an altered form may be their best bet to reviving the pill.

According to a recent article with details of a recent study, scientists have found a modification to the drug, Rimonabant that may not cause the depression problems that were found in 2008 prior to final approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The drug once touted as the option for overweight smokers to be able to kick their habit while losing weight was sidelined when links to severe depression were found. Now that the drug is being revived, researchers believe this may be the answer to weight loss problems. Studies have showed the results in lab rats, so they are hoping with the changes, the pill can be made available to the general public.

For those individuals who are extremely obese and are desperate to lose weight because of a life or death illness caused by the extra pounds, this pill could provide an option to help them lose the weight they need. However, one cannot maintain a healthy lifestyle without making some drastic changes and those changes can’t necessarily come in the form of a pill.

Weight loss is something that nearly every person is interested in, but a change in lifestyle is a bit more difficult. Side effects for any medication are always possible no matter how many studies are conducted, but an increase in good nutrition and exercise usually always ends positively.

Arkansas Attorney Arrested on Methamphetamine Charges

An attorney from Berryville, Arkansas, was arrested Friday night on multiple drug charges after she allegedly sold methamphetamine to a confidential informant. Cindy Baker, 36, is facing several felony counts, including delivery of a controlled substance (meth) and possession of drugs and firearms, possession of a controlled substance, delivery of a controlled substance near certain facilities, possession of drug paraphernalia, and conspiracy.

A bond hearing was held Monday at the Carroll County jail with Judge Marianne McBeth setting Baker’s bond at $100,000. Baker is currently in Memphis, Tennessee, undergoing drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Baker made headlines in 2005 when the Berryville courthouse was evacuated after she introduced what was believed to be a bomb during the trial of Mike Koster of Green Forest. Baker stated that the device was a commercially-available firecracker, but Circuit Judge Alan Epley ordered it to be removed. In the meantime, law enforcement evacuated the building, resulting in a mistrial with Epley threatening to jail her for six months for contempt of court.

A different jury trial of Koster followed and Koster was convicted on some charges. Baker asked the state Supreme Court to throw out the case, claiming double jeopardy, but the court refused.

Baker landed in jail on Friday after authorities arrested her at her residence and office in Berryville. According to Carroll County Sheriff Bob Grudek, an arrest and search warrant were executed based on information gathered during an ongoing investigation.

Grudek said in a press release that on Oct. 28 a confidential informant made a controlled buy of one gram of a substance believed to be meth from Baker for $200 at her home and office.

Later that day, a “buy bust” was made by Mynor Jimmy Aleman-Gonzalez, 24, of Green Forest, who was suspected of being a meth supplier. Authorities seized $1,000 from him, which included bills that were paid to Baker for buying meth earlier in the day.

On Friday, the same confidential informant made a controlled buy of one-half gram of a substance believed to be meth for $50 from Baker, again at her home and office, with the informant giving Baker a $100 bill and receiving $50 in change.

Based on that information, Grudek said, the warrants were issued. At about 7 p.m. Baker was arrested, and confiscated from her person was the $100 bill used to purchase meth earlier in the day.

Confiscated from her home and office were additional substances believed to be meth, along with drug paraphernalia and weapons. The sheriff said additional charges are being considered. Arraignment on the charges is tentatively slated for Nov. 23.

Baker was a candidate for prosecuting attorney in 2006, losing the Democratic primary to current Prosecutor Tony Rogers by 53 votes. She has served on the boards of Carroll Regional Medical Center and Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, and was named Volunteer Attorney of the Year in 2005 by the Carroll County Bar Association. She also served on a committee to establish the 19th Judicial District Drug Court.

Meth and the Middle Class

Methamphetamine, or “meth” as it’s popularly known as, is a popular drug and a fast growing drug threat in America

Meth addiction first came to light as a problem that affected the vagrant, rural and underprivileged sections of the population in the western parts of the country. Over the last few years it has spread its tentacles and is now a serious problem all over the country. And it is no longer limited to a few specific sections of society. It has now become a middle class drug. That means when we talk of meth addiction as a problem, we are talking about a problem that is beginning to affect the majority of our population.

Meth first made its appearance in Oregon in the early 1980s. It has spread along the west coast and was linked to the I 5 corridor – Interstate 5 runs from Mexico to Oregon. Mexico is where the drug originated. However because of the ease with which it can be manufactured, home meth labs are commonplace. In 2003, a young Orange Country resident was arrested for running a meth lab out of her parents’ mansion without their knowledge. When she was arrested, the young woman had $1 million worth of meth ready for sale.

Campbell is a progressive middle class California community located near Silicon Valley. As early as 1999, the local hospital reported a growing number of cases of meth addicts coming in for treatment. These addicts were between the ages of 18 to 50 plus, and were from all walks of life and even included soccer moms who used the drug to stay slim and keep up with their hectic schedule. The one thing they all had in common was that they belonged to the middle class.

In 2002, a middle class Ohio single mom received a 35 year prison sentence for selling meth. According to the New Jersey Dental Association, the use of meth is growing in the New Jersey area.

Obviously the use of meth has made a steady progress and it is now no longer a problem of just some parts of the country. In addition, it’s no longer a problem limited to any specific demographic – it covers the Great American Middle Class – from school kids to soccer moms to hard working fathers.

The Illinois Attorney General’s report mention earlier provides the following profile of a meth user:

  • He or she is a middle class white person in the 20s and 30s living in either a rural community or in urban centers like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago etc. where meth is rapidly becoming a widely used “club drug.”
  • While most meth users are in their 20s or 30s, more and more cases of meth use are being reported among middle class teenagers as well as those in the 40 plus age bracket.
  • Meth use is now spreading from the middle class to the wealthy and affluent.

Meth addiction is not long something that happens to “other people.” It’s everyone’s problem and needs to be treated as such.

UK Installing Methadone Vending Machines in Prisons

The UK government is spending 4 million pounds on a program to install methadone “vending machines” in prisons to help drug-addicted offenders wean off of heroin.

An article in the Telegraph UK writes the machines allow prisoners to receive a personalized dose of methadone automatically by giving a fingerprint or iris scan. Phil Hope, a justice minister, said that vending machines have been installed in 57 prisons so far. The goal is to have the machines installed in 70 of the 140 prisons in England and Wales.

However, the program has been very controversial. Conservatives claim the figures show that Ministers were prepared to “manage offenders’ addiction” rather than tackle the problem. Dominic Grieve, the shadow justice secretary, said, “The public will be shocked that Ministers are spending more on methadone vending machines than the entire budget for abstinence-based treatments.”

He continued, “Getting prisoners clean of drugs is one of the keys to getting them to go straight. We need to get prisoners off all drug addiction—not substitute one dependency for another. The Government’s approach of trying to ‘manage’ addiction is an admission of failure.”

A spokesman from the Department of Health said that it spends about 240 million pounds on prisoners’ health each year, with 40 million pounds going to drug treatment programs.

“Methadone dispensers are a safe and secure method for providing a prescribed treatment,” he said. “They can only be accessed by the person who has been clinically assessed as needing methadone and that person is recognized by a biometric marker, such as their iris.”

Bipolar Disorder Linked With Pre-term Birth

There are many factors that can lead to a birth occurring before the pregnancy has reached term at 37 weeks. Common causes are dehydration or smoking by the mother. Complications associated with pre-term labor can be low birth weight and problems with the baby’s organs, which may not be completely formed before 37 weeks.

Studies have identified the use of medications used to treat bipolar disorder as a factor involved in pre-term deliveries. Medications for treating bipolar disorder include antipsychotics, anticonvulsants or lithium-based drugs. However, while treatments for the disorder have been linked to early deliveries, there has been no ability to distinguish what role medications play versus the disorder itself.

Now a study from researchers at Uppsala University and the Karolinska Institutet seeks to close the gap in the understanding of the role of bipolar disorder in pre-term deliveries. The findings released by the researchers have found that bipolar disorder is associated with an increased likelihood of delivering a baby early.

In addition, report the researchers, babies born to mothers with bipolar disorder may have an increased risk for other complications, including fetal growth restriction.

The researchers investigated deliveries among mothers with bipolar disorder, comparing the instances of both treated and untreated bipolar disorder.

The researchers accessed information from three separate national health registers and identified 320 mothers with bipolar disorder who had been treated with medication, as well as 554 with bipolar disorder who had not been treated.

The researchers also compared the results of delivery among both treated and untreated bipolar disorder patients and compared them with the results of 331,263 women who did not have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. All of the deliveries took place between July of 2005 and December of 2009.

The researchers also examined the deliveries in light of factors such as weight, maternal age, smoking, cohabitation and substance use disorders. The results revealed that mothers with a bipolar disorder diagnosis were more likely to be overweight, smokers and have a substance use disorder when compared with mothers who did not have bipolar disorder.

Mothers diagnosed with bipolar disorder who were treated and untreated were at an increased risk for instrumental delivery involving a forceps or vacuum procedure, caesarean delivery or a non-spontaneous initiation of delivery.

The researchers found that among those with bipolar disorder, there was a 50 percent increased chance of pre-term birth when examined alongside mothers who did not have a diagnosis for bipolar disorder.

Women who were untreated were at an increased risk for delivering a baby with a small head (microephaly) and with low blood sugar when compared with the general population of mothers.

The researchers note that the treatments used to stabilize mood in bipolar disorder patients is likely not the sole cause of pre-term labor among mothers diagnosed with the disorder.

The results are published in the British Medical Journal.