The top alcohol and drug-related stories of 2009 include a warning about cocaine laced with a drug used to deworm animals, an effort to get more hospitals to screen for substance abuse, a new dangerous way to manufacture methamphetamine and possible regulation of a new group of energy drinks.
Health officials have stepped up their efforts to call attention to health risks caused by cocaine laced with levamisole, a veterinary anti-parasitic drug. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has issued a nationwide health alert to medical professionals, substance abuse treatment centers and other public health authorities.
For years, alcohol and drug treatment advocates have tried to get hospitals and primary healthcare providers to screen all of their patients for alcohol and drug problems because it could lead to more people getting intervention and treatment, leading ultimately to lower health care costs for society. However, few healthcare providers do the screenings as part of their routine.
A new method of manufacturing methamphetamine, designed to get around laws restricting sale of the ingredients needed to make meth, is spreading across the country and law enforcement officials claim the new "shake and bake" process is even more dangerous than the old makeshift meth labs.
In spite of stepped up interventions and prevention programs, alcohol-related deaths, binge drinking and drunk driving have all increased on college campuses during the past decade. The increases are discouraging to advocates who have worked to cut back harmful alcohol consumption by college students.
Early intervention for substance abuse could not only improve the health of aging Americans, but could save Medicaid millions of dollars in medical costs, according to a new study from the Center for Health Policy and Research. Older people with substance abuse problems have medical expenses that increase at a far higher rate than behavioral health costs, the study found.
If you are a male between the ages of 20 and 35, and you are a frequent or long-time marijuana smoker, you could be significantly increasing your risk of developing testicular cancer. If you do develop testicular cancer and you smoke marijuana, it will more likely be the fast-growing (non-seminoma) malignancy that strikes between these ages and accounts for about 40% of all testicular-cancer cases.
Declining donations in a struggling economic environment has prompted Mothers Against Drunk Driving to cut staff positions in its national office as well as state offices in 11 states. With donations down almost 20 percent from last year, MADD National Chief Operating Officer Debbie Weir said the cutbacks were necessary.
Pamela S. Hyde, the former New Mexico Health and Human Services Secretary, was nominated by President Obama to be administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Rear Admiral Eric Broderick served as acting SAMHSA administrator since former head Terry Cline, Ph.D., stepped down in 2008.