Report reveals the scope of substance use and mental illness affecting the nation

A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides insight into the nature and scope of substance use and mental illness issues affecting America.  The report shows that 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older were current (past month) illicit drug users – 9.4 percent of this age group.  Marijuana was by far the most commonly used illicit drug, with nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers as a close second.

The SAMHSA report also shows that 34.6 million adults aged 18 or older (14.6 percent of the population aged 18 or older) received mental health treatment or counseling during the past 12 months.  Nearly one in five American adults (18.5 percent), or 43.8 million adults, had a mental illness in 2013.  Ten million adults (4.2 percent of the adult population) had a serious mental illness in the past year. Serious mental illness is defined as mental illness that resulted in serious functional impairment, which substantially interfered with, or limited, one or more major life activities.

Click HERE for more on this story.


Consequences of Teen Alcohol, Marijuana Use Studied

Now a new study asked high school seniors to indicate whether they experienced various adverse psychosocial outcomes resulting from use of each substance. 

The most alarming finding was that alcohol use was highly associated with unsafe driving, especially among frequent drinkers,” said Dr. Palamar, , PhD, MPH, a CDUHR affiliated researcher and an assistant professor of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC).  “Compared to non-drinkers, frequent drinkers were over 13 times more likely to report that their alcohol use has led to unsafe driving. Marijuana users, compared to non-users, were three times more likely to report unsafe driving as a direct result of use.”

The researchers also found that alcohol use was more commonly reported to compromise relationships with friends and significant others; it was also reported to lead to more regret, particularly among females.  Marijuana use on the other hand was more commonly reported to compromise relationships with teachers or supervisors, result in less energy or interest, and result in lower school or job performance.

Click here for more on this story.

Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms in Teens

Although cannabis — commonly known as marijuana — is broadly believed to be nonaddictive, a study has found that 40% of cannabis-using adolescents receiving outpatient treatment for substance use disorder reported experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, which are considered a hallmark of drug dependence.

 The current study enrolled 127 adolescents between ages 14 and 19 being treated at an outpatient substance use disorder clinic, 90 of whom indicated that cannabis was the substance they used most frequently.  The commonly reported cannabis withdrawal symptoms reported were: anxiety, irritability, depression and difficulty sleeping.    Of the 90 cannabis-using participants, 84% met criteria for cannabis dependence — which include increased tolerance and use of cannabis, unsuccessful efforts to reduce or stop using, and persistent use in spite of medical and psychological problems made worse by cannabis. 

Interestingly the presence of withdrawal symptoms did not significantly impact the ability of participants to reduce their use of cannabis during the 12-month follow-up period.  The factor that did appear to make a difference was whether or not an individual recognized having a problem with substance use upon entering the study.  Participants who both reported withdrawal symptoms and recognized having a problem had a small but steady improvement in abstinence through the entire study period.

Click here for more on this story

Greenville Considers Alcohol Policy in Parks

With the exception of the Bradford Creek golf course, alcohol is prohibited at parks across Greenville, NC.

A potential policy change, brought up at the City Council’s August meeting, would allow people to sell and drink alcohol in designated locations.  And only for specific events.

So far the Greenville City Council unanimously approved postponing a decision on whether to allow alcohol in five parks.

The councilmembers wanted to give people enough time to better understand the proposal which allows alcohol under heavy restrictions at Town Common, River North Nature Center, Magnolia Arts Center, the area of Eppes Recreation Center leased by the Eppes Alumni Association and Bradford Creek Public Golf Course.

Click here to read more on this story

‘Big Marijuana’ is like ‘Big Tobacco’

The National Conference on Addiction Disorders (August 25, 2014) was a natural venue for a forthright discussion about the impact of marijuana use in the two states that have legalized it (Colorado and Washington).   Legalization, which was the result of a sophisticated strategy by companies with deep pockets, has taken the form of normalization of marijuana use.  ‘Big Marijuana’ is like ‘Big Tobacco.’  They’re using the same strategies and tools that have been seen in activities by Big Tobacco.  “The strategy,” says Andrea Grubb Barthwell, Medical Director, Encounter Medical Group, Director of the Two Dreams Facilities, Chicago, “is to normalize marijuana use and make it look more safe.”

“This is a big, mature industry,” she adds.  “Terms in the campaigns have been strategically selected to normalize marijuana and they play with our minds by looking at the inconsistencies with alcohol and tobacco.  Drug use is not recreational–it’s not like snowboarding or soccer.”

Click HERE for more on this story.