Between 2000 and 2010 the number of people that died from drug overdoses more than doubled from 17,000 to 38,000, according to the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2009, for the first time in US history, more people died from drugs overdoses than from traffic accidents or firearms, although that is partly because the numbers of gun deaths and road deaths are both decreasing, the BBC reports. So what is causing this epidemic?
“The data suggests the number of people overdosing from pharmaceutical – or prescription – drugs has trebled over that decade, just as the quantity of prescription painkillers sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices has quadrupled over the same period.As a result in 2010, prescription drugs killed more than 22,100 people in the US, more than twice as many as cocaine and heroin combined.
“Explaining the rise, Dr Len Paulozzi of the CDC says: “The use of opioid pain relievers has been increasing since the early 1990s and that increase has been driven by a change in the attitude of health care providers about the effectiveness of those kind of painkillers. Continue reading “Overdoses on the rise”
The light went on in my head during a debate over PTSD nomenclature last year.
Then-president of the American Psychiatric Association, John Oldham, was chairing a session entitled Combat-Related PTSD: Injury or Disorder? Today’s Time Magazine carries a no-nonsense article about what PTSD is, exactly.
“A stellar panel of trauma experts — retired generals, senior researchers and key framers of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — debated whether the term, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should be changed to post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI).
“Supporters of the change to “injury” argued that it might help overcome the stigma that many military members and veterans associate with seeking treatment for PTSD. Service members aren’t happy to report “a disorder” but might be willing to admit an injury. Those in opposition argued that “injury” is too imprecise a term for psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. As I sat through the heated session, it struck me that they were also implying that the term, disorder, is somehow “more scientific” and, therefore, “more psychiatric.” Continue reading “PTSD explained”
Spring has sprung, at least for most of us, which means sundresses, seersucker and boozy croquet parties on the front lawn. Goodbye happy lamp, hello mimosa.
But it’s not just champagne that’s lifting our spirits and banishing the wintertime blues. According to Salon.com (and a team of researchers from the University of Southern California, Harvard and Johns Hopkins) mental illnesses — such as obsessive compulsive disorder, depression and anorexia — are far more seasonal than we think.
“The epidemiologists, led by John Ayers, combed through every Google search performed in the United States and Australia between 2006 and 2010, looking for queries like “symptoms of” and “medications for” OCD, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar, depression, anorexia, bulimia and schizophrenia.
“The Internet, the authors note in a study forthcoming in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, is “the world’s most relied-on health resource. Because of mental health’s complexity, stigma, and obstacles to care, patients are likely to investigate their problems online.” At the same time, tracking a population’s longterm mental health indicators is difficult for epidemiologists; phone surveys are often unreliable — would you want to discuss the voices in your head with a complete stranger? — and cost prohibitive. Google queries, on the other hand, are nakedly honest and free to collect. Continue reading “That crazy time of year”
“The life-saving medicine arrives on cargo trucks and in suitcases, crossing borders to be put on sale in pharmacies, shops and hospitals. There is just one problem: it isn’t life-saving at all,” reports today’s edition of The Guardian. By some reports a leading source of the problematic vaccines in China.
“To look at the packaging, you would never know. It is usually a dead ringer for the real thing. Only on closer inspection will you find a watermark missing or notice the crumbling edges of a tablet that to well-trained inspectors can be the telltale signs of fakery. Even health professionals are routinely fooled. Continue reading “Fake malaria treatments stymie efforts”
A large study suggests that people with serious attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are less likely to commit crimes when taking medication. It is widely known within psychiatry that ADHD symptoms can include difficulties with impulse control, which in some cases can lead to law breaking
As reported in today’s New York Times, “The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, examined records of 25,000 people in Sweden to see if those with A.D.H.D. had fewer criminal convictions when taking medication than when they were not. Of 8,000 people whose medication use fluctuated over a three-year period, men were 32 percent less likely and women were 41 percent Continue reading “Medications help prevent those with ADHD from law breaking”
Economic sanctions like those now in place for Iran are intended to put pressure on a national government by making things tough for businesses. The sanctions now in place by the U.S. and European Union restrict sales to Iran of just about everything, except medical items and food, which are permitted though a case-by-case basis permitting process. Unfortunately, the permitting process is so slow that as many as 6-million Iranians now are not receiving needed medicines. Many of those affected are cancer patients. As reported in Al Jazeera, The New York Times, and elsewhere, efforts are now underway to correct what has recently been recognized as a public health crisis in Iran, largely resulting from U.S. actions. The news of Iranian suffering is further escalating anti-American sentiment.
In “Iran Sanctions Take Unexpected Toll on Medical Imports,” Thomas Erdbrink writes, “Sitting on one of the Continue reading “Iran sanctions deny medicine to 6-million”