Alcohol Awareness Month and College Drinking

April is Alcohol Awareness month and it seems like many young people are getting the message. The good news is that they’re are drinking less than previous generations. Surveys of 8th, 10th and 12th graders show that rates have been steadily declining. The current cohort of college students are consuming less alcohol than in previous years, and their non-student peers are drinking even less.

There is speculation that the “Generation Z” cohort tend to be conscientious about what they consume and are not interested in repeating the embarrassing antics of earlier generations. They seem to be more accepting of others’ choices, including not drinking.

But overuse of alcohol is still taking a big toll on college campuses. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:

  • About 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
  • About 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault.
  • About 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.

The drinking culture can vary from college to college but at schools where spectator sports are big, drinking rates tend to be higher. A study on the correlation between March Madness participation and college drinking found that one-third of students over 21 and one-fourth of underage students engaged in binge drinking when the school team was part of the NCAA Tournament. They also found that when alcohol was less available at sporting events there were fewer “arrests, assaults, ejections from the stadium, and student referrals to the judicial affairs office,” — all unfortunate situations that can have an impact on a student’s academic future.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Medical marijuana troubles Ohio doctors: ‘Although it’s natural, (it’s) not like a vitamin’

Almost daily, Dr. Gogi Kumar is questioned at Dayton Children’s Hospital about medical marijuana by concerned parents of children who suffer from seizures.

Kumar is not alone in the curiosity she receives from patients about Ohio’s confusing medical marijuana program that is expected to begin in September.

Doctors told this newspaper they are bombarded with questions about medical marijuana and are concerned because they don’t have all the answers. There is an information gap on questions such as how effective marijuana is for specific disorders, how the compounds affect children and how it interacts with other medications, doctors said.

Read more of the article here.

John Goodman used to drink at work during struggle with alcoholism

John Goodman admits he used to drink on the job before he managed to get sober.

The actor, who has been open about his past issues with alcohol, says he feels fortunate he was able to sustain his career while he was going through the personal battle behind the scenes.

“I got so lucky because I was still getting hired for things, but the fact is I was drinking at work,” Goodman told “Sunday Today” host Willie Geist in an interview set to air Sunday.

“My speech would be slurred. I thought I was fooling people. My cheeks would turn bright red when I was liquored up. I just looked like a stop sign.”

Goodman, 65, has now been sober for a decade. He says he knew he needed to address his problem after a long weekend of drinking where he pretended to be golfing with friends.

Read more here.

‘Tough Talk’ With Your Aging Parents Is Now More About Prescription Drug Abuse Than Finances

It used to be that having the “tough talk” with your aging parents meant trying to get them to open up about their finances and plans for their future, including their desires about what they want us to do when they die. But, a new survey, “The Tough Talk: Aging Parents and Substance Abuse,” commissioned by WellCare Health Plans, Inc., opens up a whole new area to explore with those older relatives, including, for some of us, with our spouses.

More than half of those surveyed – all of whom were adults with living parents/in-laws, as well as with at least one child aged 13 or older – reported that they are more concerned about prescription drug abuse with their aging parents than with their children. Yet almost two-thirds feel less able to help their parents than they are to help their kids. One of the reasons for this, which the survey also revealed, is that more than half don’t know what prescription drugs their parents take.

“Understandably, it may feel uncomfortable and invasive for adults to ask their aging parents what prescription drugs they’re taking, or how much alcohol they consume,” said Michael Polen, executive vice president, Medicare and operations at WellCare. “Despite this, however, it’s in the best interest of parents’ health to understand exactly what they are taking – and how often – to keep them safe and in good health.”

Continue reading here.

Ohio pharmacists must reveal cheaper drug options after ‘gag order’ removed

Fill a prescription at a pharmacy, and you might not pay the lowest price available.

Say you have insurance that requires a $20 co-pay for a prescription. That same prescription might cost only $10 if purchased without insurance.

Some insurers and pharmacy benefits programs prohibit pharmacists from telling you about lower-cost options. In the example above, you’d be charged $20 — and the pharmacist would be prohibited from telling you the medicine would have cost $10 if you paid for it out of pocket, without presenting your insurance card.

In Ohio, that changed Wednesday. The Department of Insurance ordered insurance companies and pharmacy benefits programs to remove the “gag order” on pharmacists.

That means pharmacists would be free to tell consumers how to get their drugs at the lowest cost. In the example above, you’d get to pay $10, not $20.

Read the rest of the article here.

Bill Clinton on the opioid crisis: ‘Nobody gets out of this for free’

Former president Bill Clinton said the opioid epidemic“creeps into every nook and cranny of our country” and needs to be addressed as both a huge national problem and a community-by-community tragedy.

Otherwise, he said, “this can rob our country of the future.”

Clinton spoke Wednesday at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, which drew more than 3,000 experts in fields such as addiction, law enforcement and medicine. He shared personal experiences as well as thoughts about strategies that work and the challenges ahead.

Several times, he told the crowd there’s no room for stigma in the face of such an urgent and widespread problem. Nearly every family is touched by the issue — including his. Not only does he have family members who have struggled with drug abuse, he said at least five close friends lost their children to overdoses, including two native Arkansans, first-generation immigrants from India and Kosovo and African-American preachers.

Continue reading here.

Studies link legal marijuana with fewer opioid prescriptions

Can legalizing marijuana fight the problem of opioid addiction and fatal overdoses? Two new studies in the debate suggest it may.

Pot can relieve chronic pain in adults, so advocates for liberalizing marijuana laws have proposed it as a lower-risk alternative to opioids. But some research suggests marijuana may encourage opioid use, and so might make the epidemic worse.

The new studies don’t directly assess the effect of legalizing marijuana on opioid addiction and overdose deaths. Instead, they find evidence that legalization may reduce the prescribing of opioids. Over-prescribing is considered a key factor in the opioid epidemic.

Both studies were released Monday by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

One looked at trends in opioid prescribing under Medicaid, which covers low-income adults, between 2011 and 2016. It compared the states where marijuana laws took effect versus states without such laws. The comparison was done each quarter, so a given state without a law at one point could join the other category once a law kicked in.

Results showed that laws that let people use marijuana to treat specific medical conditions were associated with about a 6 percent lower rate of opioid prescribing for pain. That’s about 39 fewer prescriptions per 1,000 people using Medicaid.

And when states with such a law went on to also allow recreational marijuana use by adults, there was an additional drop averaging about 6 percent. That suggest the medical marijuana laws didn’t reach some people who could benefit from using marijuana instead of opioids, said Hefei Wen of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, one of the study authors.

The other study looked at opioid prescribing nationwide for people using Medicare, which covers people 65 years or older and those with disabilities. Every year from 2010 through 2015, researchers compared states with a medical marijuana law in effect to those without one. Fourteen states plus the District of Columbia had such a law from the beginning of that time; nine other states joined them during the years the study covered.

Researchers found that Medicare patients in states with marijuana dispensaries filled prescriptions for about 14 percent fewer daily doses of opioids than those in other states. Patients in states that only allowed them to grow pot at home showed about 7 percent fewer doses.

W. David Bradford, an economist at the University of Georgia in Athens who’s an author of the second study, said the results add to other findings that suggest to experts that marijuana is a viable alternative to opioids. The weight of that evidence is “now hard to ignore,” said Bradford, who said he thinks federal regulations should be changed to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for pain treatment.

The two studies have some limitations, Dr. Kevin Hill of Harvard Medical School and Dr. Andrew Saxon of the University of Washington in Seattle wrote in an accompanying editorial.

For one thing, they don’t reveal whether individual patients actually reduced or avoided using opioids because of the increased access to marijuana. The findings in Medicaid and Medicare patients may not apply to other people. And the results may have been skewed by some characteristics of the state populations studied, they wrote.

They called for states and the federal government to pay for more studies to clarify the effect of marijuana use on opioid use, saying such research is needed for science to guide policy-making.

Link to article.

Binge-Drinking Just Once a Month Can Make You Gain a Crazy Amount of Weight

Counting calories? You might want to stop binge-drinking, which can pack on the pounds in the long run.

Binge-drinking is defined as drinking five or more drinks in the span of about two hours.

Binge-drinking just once a month for a year can lead to you packing on the pounds, according to our calculation.

We all enjoy a night out with our buddies. But while you’re knocking back shots, you should probably keep in mind that just one night of heavy drinking per month can add up — literally. We did the math, and binge drinking just one night a month for five years can pack more than 10 pounds onto your waistline. Sorry to be a bummer!

Continue reading here.

Wine is not special, it’s as dangerous as any alcohol, warn French doctors

Doctors in France have issued a stern warning to wine drinkers, as the row over whether the quintessentially French tipple should be treated as a health risk or a national treasure.

Health minister, Agnes Buzyn recently struck a nerve in France when she accused the country’s wine industry of practising “double standards” when it comes to selling wine as a soft alcohol.

 “The wine industry today claims wine is different from other types of alcohol,” she told France 2. “In terms of public health, it is exactly the same thing to drink wine, beer, vodka, whiskey, there is zero difference.”

 Now doctors and academics who signed an open letter published in Le Figaro on Monday have come out in support the minister, saying, “From the point of view of the liver, wine is alcohol.”

Continue reading the article here.

Ohio medical marijuana growers form coalition to lobby on behalf of license winners

Companies awarded licenses to grow medical marijuana in Ohio are banding together and hiring a Columbus law firm to push back on critics of the licensing process and ensure the state’s new program is successful.

The companies have formed the Ohio Medical Marijuana License Holder Coalition, a trade association that will represent the interests of companies awarded licenses by the state to cultivate, process and dispense medical marijuana on legislative, compliance and enforcement issues.

The Ohio Department of Commerce awarded 24 provisional cultivator licenses in November. Since then, the license application scoring process has come under fire from elected officials and losing applicants for scoring errors and possible conflicts of interestbetween application reviewers and license winners.

lawsuit filed by six unsuccessful companies against the department seeks to stop the program and re-score applications, which could further delay the program’s start date for patients. The CEO of one of those companies, Jimmy Gould of CannAscend Ohio LLC, has accused the department of rigging the process against him and claimed the winning companies won’t be able to provide enough quality product for patients.

Continue reading here.