Articles Posted in Addiction

drunkstop-300x161As federal, state, and local officials seek to slash the nation’s spiking road toll of injury and death, law enforcement authorities need to crack down on the scary prevalence of motorists who get behind the wheel while intoxicated by marijuana or alcohol.

Indeed, as NPR reported:

“A large study by U.S. highway safety regulators found that more than half the people injured or killed in traffic crashes had one or more drugs, or alcohol, in their bloodstreams. Also, just over 54% of injured drivers had drugs or alcohol in their systems, with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient in marijuana, the most prevalent, followed by alcohol, the study published [Dec. 13] by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found. Although the study authors say the results can’t be used to gauge drug use on the roads nationwide, they say the high number of drivers, passengers, and other road users with drugs in their systems is concerning.”

newportswiki-300x197Californians have accomplished something that federal regulators have failed to — despite long, difficult campaigning. Voters in the biggest state in the nation not only have banned Big Tobacco from peddling its flavored products that target and exploit communities of color and the young. They also have defeated the industry in its legal challenges.

Big Tobacco had launched urgent appeals of the November ballot initiative banning flavored tobacco products only to see the U.S. Supreme Court decline to consider its case, the New York Times reported:

“As is the [high] court’s practice when it rules on emergency applications, its brief order gave no reasons. There were no noted dissents. R.J. Reynolds, the maker of Newport menthol cigarettes, had asked the justices to intervene before [Dec. 21], when the law is set to go into effect. The company, joined by several smaller ones, argued that a federal law, the Tobacco Control Act of 2009, allows states to regulate tobacco products but prohibits banning them … State officials responded that the federal law was meant to preserve the longstanding power of state and local authorities to regulate tobacco products and to ban their sale. Before and after the enactment of the federal law, they wrote, state and local authorities have taken action against flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes.”

boozexmas-150x150Cardiologists and other doctors have words to the wise for the aging, party-hearty-for-the-holidays crowd: Excessive boozing, as part of their seasonal merry making, puts those who partake of too much liquid cheer at heightened risk of heart problems.

The last thing, too, that public safety advocates would want to see in times when the nation is battling a rising road toll is any more intoxicated motorists.

Experts have become sufficiently savvy about the health damage caused heavy seasonal drinking that they developed a name for the harmful condition: holiday heart syndrome, the New York Times reported:

juullogo1-300x142While regular folks will count their pennies and fret about affording gifts for loved ones during an inflation-plagued holiday season, plutocrats have given the hoi polloi a rare glimpse of the major loot they see in the business of peddling health-wrecking e-cigarettes and vaping.

The concerning disclosures are emerging as part of the financial struggles for the industry pioneer Juul to stave off fierce federal regulation, angry customers, and plummeting business to survive.

In its latest step, Juul — the high-tech company that helped to create the e-cigarette and vaping fad and then saw its fortunes plunge with increasingly stern federal oversight of its products —has settled more than 5,000 lawsuits with 10,000-plus individual plaintiffs.

burningdope-150x150Marijuana, as the kids say, isn’t as dope as users would like it to be.

Instead, a new study finds that marijuana can do greater damage to humans’ respiratory system than cigarette smoking — a nasty habit that research also has proven to be a major cause of cancer, heart and circulatory damage, and other health harms.

To be sure, the researchers’ observations about pot’s harms were based on a relatively small sample size of 56 Canadian patients who smoked both cigarettes and marijuana and had their chest scans scrutinized by at least two radiologists who were blinded to information about the patients whose images they were reviewing. As the Wall Street Journal reported of the study, published in the medical journal Radiology:

walmartlogo-300x117Walmart has offered to pay $3.1 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits filed against the deep-pocketed retailing giant, accusing it of complicity through its nationwide pharmacy operations in the lethal opioid abuse and overdose crisis.

The Bentonville, Ark., -based company insists it committed no wrong and the states, counties, cities, Indian tribes, and others who sued Walmart said it did not have as large a part as other pharmacy chains in inundating the country with powerful, prescribed painkillers.

Still, Walmart joins CVS and Walgreens in settling rather than confronting those who have found sustained success in seeking justice in the civil system, various news organizations have reported.

ciggy-166x300Consumers, politicians, and federal regulators should not make the mistake of thinking that Big Tobacco somehow will go, as the poet put it, quietly into that good night.

The fortunes are still too big to be made in peddling products that persist as some of the greatest preventable threats to Americans’ health, industry players keep reminding us all — most recently by suing to block California voters upholding a ban of flavored tobacco and by taking a last-minute investors’ reprieve to reorganize a pioneering vaping company that was on the brink of bankruptcy.

The Golden State had not even finished tallying its midterm 2022 votes when RJ Reynolds marched into federal court to challenge the newly and overwhelmingly approved referendum to allow a two-year-old state law to take effect barring within weeks the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products. As the New York Times reported:

walgreenslogo-150x150cvslogo-150x150While critics keep throwing up a false narrative about “ambulance chasing,” self-enriching lawyers, their labors and the civil legal system have proven yet again their effectiveness in wringing financial justice for those harmed by health care giants.

The nation’s largest pharmacy chains have tentatively agreed to pay $10 billion in settlements for dispensing an avalanche of addictive, debilitating, and deadly prescription painkillers.

CVS and Walgreens, which had been among the staunchest holdouts in battling opioid litigation, both defended their business practices and denied any wrongdoing. They blamed doctors for excessive prescribing of powerful opioid drugs, which, federal officials say, fueled an abuse and overdose crisis that is worsening and killed more than 100,000 Americans last year.

The liquor cabinets, beer coolers and wine cellars in our homes harbor one of the most pernicious substances  in U.S. households, a leading (but often overlooked) cause of preventable death and debilitation: Yes, alcohol itself. Federal officials estimate that 1 in 8 deaths of Americans ages 20 to 64 results from injuries or illnesses tied to excessive drinking.

And if you look only at the prime ages of 20 to 49, the booze toll is tied to 1 in 5 U.S. deaths, according to a study newly published on the medical JAMA Network.

The study’s authors, researchers with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said their startling data likely underestimate of alcohol’s huge economic and health harms on U.S. lives, the New York Times reported, noting:

ERsign-173x300With U.S. road deaths spiking  20-year highs, everyone who travels in any fashion on the country’s roads must be as savvy as possible about staying safe, including by thinking twice about where to go to receive medical checks and treatment after any seemingly minor vehicle wrecks and by  forgoing bike riding while high on drugs or booze.

In recent times, patients have found urgent care centers to be a handy alternative as compared with big hospital emergency rooms for getting fast, less costly care for less complicated but still relatively serious illnesses and injuries (including for sports mishaps, cuts, and broken bones). Why not turn to such facilities after a vehicle crash, if not otherwise taken to a jammed, expensive hospital ER for major treatment? As NPR reported, such patients with lower medical demands still have been surprised that urgent care centers have turned them around and sent them to nearby ERs.

This happened to a young Georgia driver named Frankie Cook, who with her dad also then was shocked at the $17,000 cost of the ER care for scans and exam to determine if she suffered a concussion in a wreck that seemed to have left her with no visible injuries and a headache. As NPR explained:

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