A new research report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) describes the effects associated with the abuse of prescription drugs, which the agency estimates were used for non-medical reasons by 4 million people aged 12 and older in 1999.
According to “Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction,” the prescription medications that are most commonly misused fall into three categories: (1) opioids, which are used to treat pain; (2) CNS depressants, which are prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders; and (3) stimulants, which target narcolepsy (sleep disorder), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and obesity.
The 2013 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found that approximately 1.6 million Americans used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes for the first time in 2012, up from fewer than 500,000 first-time users per year in the 1980s. Overall, the number of new users of pain relievers increased by 181 percent from 1990 to 1998, while the number of first-time stimulant users jumped by 165 percent.
Continued use of opioids and depressants can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal, the symptoms of which can include muscle and bone pain, vomiting, and seizures. Taking high doses of some stimulants repeatedly can lead to feelings of hostility or paranoia, and may result in high body temperatures and an irregular heartbeat.
“Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction” is available on the NIDA Web site at www.drugabuse.gov.
Self-Help Guide Offers Tips on Understanding Mental Health
The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has published a 32-page booklet to help consumers understand the symptoms of depression, isolation, and other mental health conditions and administer psychological “first aid” when appropriate.
The booklet, “Recovering Your Mental Health: A Self-Help Guide,” describes how to judge the seriousness of symptoms and lists the range of resources available for assistance. The booklet also addresses the advantages of counseling, the medications available to help people through a mental health crisis, relaxation techniques, and paths to positive thinking.
The booklet is available by calling 1-800-789-2647 or by visiting www.samhsa.gov on the Web.
Newsletter Details Impact of Drinking on Driving
The April 2015 edition of the Alcohol Alert, a quarterly newsletter published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, discusses the effect of alcohol use on the transportation industry and offers strategies for reducing alcohol-related accidents and drunken-driving citations.
The April 2015 issue, “Alcohol and Transportation Safety,” notes that the risk of a fatal accident increases as a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises, with the risks increasing more steeply for drivers under the age of 21 and older than 70. The BAC limit for driving a car in most U.S. states is 0.10 percent, though research suggests that impairment begins at levels as low as 0.05 percent.
The newsletter lists several strategies for reducing alcohol-related accidents and citations, including raising the minimum legal drinking age, lowering BAC limits, suspending licenses and/or impounding vehicles at the time of arrest, and targeted enforcement strategies.
Copies of the Alcohol Alert (Vol. 52) are available on the Web at www.niaaa.nih.gov.
Web Feature Helps Employers Develop DFWP Programs
The U.S. Department of Labor has expanded the drug-free workplace area of its Web site to include a new feature that enables employers to develop customized DFWP programs for their companies.
The new feature, called Program Builder, consists of five components: policy development, supervisor training, employee education, drug testing, and employee assistance programs. Depending on the components the employer selects, the Program Builder will generate a customized DFWP policy statement.
Program Builder is part of DOI’S “Drug-Free Workplace Advisor,” an on-line program that helps employers determine whether and how they must comply with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. DOL offers several Advisors on its Web site to provide small businesses with information regarding employment laws administered by the agency
To access Program Builder and the “Drug-Free Workplace Advisor,” visit the DOL Web site at www.dol.gov and click on elaws.
Guide Highlights Resources for Family Caregivers
Employees caring for family members facing the end of life can find videos, planning guides, workbooks, and other resources in a 12-page booklet compiled by the Family Committee of Last Acts, a national initiative to engage health professionals and the public to improve palliative care.
The booklet, “Consumer/Family Resources for End-of-Life Care,” lists materials created by numerous organizations interested in assisting caregivers and their families. Many of the materials were tested through a series of caregiver focus groups convened by the Last Acts Family Committee. The materials are arranged in several categories, including advance care planning, caregiving, and funeral planning.
The booklet is available on the Web at www.lastacts.org, and can be ordered by sending an e-mail to LastActs@aol.com.
Materials Available to Help Publicize Recovery Month
The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has developed a series of public service announcements, fact sheets, logo sheets, and other materials to help community organizations publicize National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, which is being observed in September.
The theme of Recovery Month, now in its 12th year, is “We Recover Together: Family, Friends, and Community” The materials developed by CSAT target parents, families, schools, employers, and health professionals with the message that greater local resources, health insurance coverage, and employer support will result in less crime and more productive schools and workplaces.
According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 57 percent of people with severe drug problems (approximately 2.9 million people) did not receive treatment in 1998.