Category Archives: Addiction

Are We Becoming Addicted To Smartphones? ‘It’s A Digital Drug’

CHICAGO (CBS) — You pick up your phone intending to spend just a few minutes checking social media or texts and the next thing you know – an hour has gone by. Are we addicted to our smartphones? Vince Gerasole went searching for the answer. Phone in hand, Rhonda Scullark may remind you of yourself. “I can’t function without my phone. I’ll be honest,” the middle school dean says. Because she communicates with parents and her own daughters, her phone is essential. “I was talking on my phone, and then I said, ‘Wait where’s my phone?'” “I can’t ignore a buzz or a little notification on my phone,” says Zac Gallagher, a senior at Loyola and a social media chair for two clubs. His story sounds familiar too. “It’s like a trigger that you need to pick up the phone and check it,” Gallagher says. We asked Rhonda and Zac to measure their weekly phone use with the Android app Quality Time. It not only clocks their minute-by-minute usage, but breaks that down app-by-app. In Rhonda’s case, she was on her phone over 41 hours one week, more than 21 hours on Facebook and 7.5 spent texting. “It honestly does feel like a lot to me,” Rhonda says. Zac spent 21 hours on his phone; over 6.5 on Facebook and 2 hours on Snapchat. When he looks at his results, his response? “Yikes.” “We’re using the phone as a drug. It’s a digital drug,” says Dr. David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction. He estimates five to 10% of people are truly addicted. Another 80% overuse, misuse, or abuse their smartphones. Here’s why: “It’s highly distracting, and it changes your brain chemistry,” says Dr. Greenfield. Think of it this way, every time you get an alert from your favorite app, there’s a good chance you feel better, which increases the production of dopamine, the feel good chemical in our brains. “You are classically conditioned every time you get a ping that lets you know that there’s a reward waiting,” says Dr. Greenfield. Together these high tech Chicago area bloggers tried a seven-day smartphone detox. “It was hard at first. I will not lie that I would turn on my phone, scroll through like, ‘where’s my Facebook icon?'” says Beth Prystowsky. Their detox included removing social media apps like Facebook and Twitter, turning off the sounds of push notifications, and yes even venturing out for dinner leaving the phone at home. “At first I had to fight not to check it, and then it got easier, because I realized I wasn’t doing something against my will. I wanted to do this,” says Nina Vallone. Rhonda has already made some of those changes — no phones at mealtime, for example — but it isn’t easy. “I’m a work in progress. We’re not gonna say addiction though,” she says. Dr. Greenfield says addiction doesn’t equal the number of hours you spend on your phone. Instead, it’s how using the phone negatively impacts your quality of life; including your relationships, schoolwork, job performance, and finances.

Concord BART Worker Snaps Photo Of Heroin Addicts Shooting Up

CONCORD (CBS) – A fed up BART worker wants everyone to see the drug use at the Concord station where she works. By now, you’ve probably seen the viral video of heroin addicts openly shooting up in San Francisco’s Civic Center BART Station. But if that just seems like the gritty reality of the big city, guess again. Last week, Concord station agent Barbara De Lap was told there were people using drugs in the garage elevator. “And when I went out there I had a feeling who it was because it’s one of our ‘regulars,’ so I did have my camera ready.” When the door opened she snapped this photo of two men, one with a needle still in his arm. “If you just look at that picture of him and his face and his eyes,” De Lap says. “It was just like, oh man… like shame, maybe? A little bit of shame and I even said to him, oh, man, you know you can’t shoot up in my elevator – you guys gotta go!” De Lap posted the photo on Facebook, noting that, at 4:30 a.m. in the morning, when the photo was taken, there is only one police officer covering the six stations from Baypoint to Lafayette. But the BART Police Department says this goes far beyond just an enforcement problem. “This isn’t a BART problem alone,” said Lt. Michael Hayes. “It is an epidemic, the opioid epidemic, that is, we’re experiencing nationwide.” De Lap says she was not trying to make BART look bad. “It truly was about letting the community who live here understand that, yes, you see very scary things at Civic Center right now and it’s being very promoted, but this problem is happening EVERYWHERE — even in Concord, California.” She says drug sales are so common at the end of the bus stop area they’ve begun calling it ‘The 7-Eleven’ and she says she finds people hanging out in the elevator area about 3 times per week. If you think that’s an exaggeration, just look over the side of the garage roof. Countless needles have been tossed over the edge. As a 27-year veteran, De Lap says she still feels secure doing her job, but she struggles with what to tell the new station agents she trains. “How do I tell a person who’s never really been within the bowels of BART if they’re going to be safe or not?” she asks. Because BART stations are public places, they often reflect the problems faced by society in general — even in a place with white picket fences.

Trump’s Plan For Opioid Crisis Includes Death Penalty For High-Volume Traffickers

(CNN) — President Donald Trump will roll out new plans to tackle the country’s opioid epidemic on Monday in New Hampshire, the White House said Sunday. The plan will include stiffer penalties for high-intensity drug traffickers, including the death penalty for some, Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, told reporters Sunday. Trump’s long-awaited plan will focus on three areas: Law enforcement and interdiction, prevention and education through a sizable advertising campaign, improving the ability to fund treatment through the federal government, and help those impacted by the epidemic find jobs while fighting addiction, Bremberg and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said. Congress recently appropriated $6 billion to combat the opioid epidemic, and a senior administration official told CNN that Trump’s plan will lay out how the administration believes that money should be spent. The concept of the death penalty for certain drug traffickers is something Trump has been outspoken about, but this will be the first time it will be part of an official administration plan. “The Department of Justice will seek the death penalty against drug traffickers when it’s appropriate under current law,” Bremberg told reporters during a phone call Sunday evening. Trump called for the death penalty to drug dealers earlier this month at a rally in Pennsylvania. His plan is expected to focus on sentencing reforms for drug dealers that would stiffen penalties for high-intensity drug dealers while “other people languishing in prison for these low-level drug crimes,” a senior administration official said. “The President thinks that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime,” the official said, adding that these penalties would be for dealers who bring large quantities of opioids — particular fentanyl — into the United States, not the people that are “are growing pot in the backyard or a friend who has a low-level possession crime. “His plan will address, and he will address, the stiffening of penalties for the people who are bringing the poison into our communities,” the official added. The official stressed that the speech and plan are still being reviewed and subject to change, meaning how much Trump focuses on the death penalty and tougher punishment is still uncertain. On Sunday’s call with reporters, administration officials would not get into specifics on Trump’s death penalty proposal and referred all questions to the Department of Justice. When asked if the death penalty would be an appropriate punishment for some traffickers, a senior administration official again referred the question to the department but said capital punishment would be fitting in some instances. The official said the death penalty proposal would be something the Justice Department will be “examining to move ahead with to make sure that’s done appropriately” and not wait for Congress to propose possible legislation on the matter. In support of the proposal, Trump told an audience in Pennsylvania this month that “a drug dealer will kill 2,000, 3,000, 5,000 people during the course of his or her life” and not be punished as much as a murderer. “Thousands of people are killed or their lives are destroyed, their families are destroyed. So you can kill thousands of people and go to jail for 30 days,” Trump said. “They catch a drug dealer, they don’t even put them in jail.”
gettyimages 925993278 Trumps Plan For Opioid Crisis Includes Death Penalty For High Volume Traffickers

US President Donald Trump speaks at the White House Opioid Summit in the East Room of the White House on March 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. (credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump then touted the way Singapore handled drug dealers with the death penalty. “That means if we catch a drug dealer, death penalty,” Trump said. Trump’s talk of stricter penalties for drug crimes has worried some treatment advocates, who have said there is no way the United States can punish its way out of the opioid epidemic. The New Hampshire event will bring both the President and first lady to the key presidential campaign state for the first time since Trump won the presidency in 2016. The state has been an epicenter in the fight against opioids and Trump’s focus on the scourge came from events he headlined in the state where he heard about the epidemic. Recently released numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that around 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016. And since 1999, the number of American overdose deaths involving opioids has quadrupled. Trump’s plan is also expected to include a federally backed ad campaign to prevent people from considering using opioids. Trump and first lady Melania Trump, who will attend the event in New Hampshire on Monday, have worked together on the ad campaign, the official said, noting that the issue is “really the only policy issue the two of them have tackled together.” As for the ad campaign, both are coming at it differently, the official said. “The first lady wants to focus on the well-being of children with ads that lay out you are a somebody, not a statistic, don’t start with drugs, and educate them,” the official said. “The President is more shock the conscience. He wants to shock people into not using it.” Trump previously proposed an ad campaign to help curb opioid abuse last year. In addition to the first lady, several members of Trump’s Cabinet are expected to attend the New Hampshire event with the President, the official said. The Trump administration’s effort has internally been led by Conway, the President’s senior aide, but has also included conversations with a series of other agencies, including the departments of Labor, Housing and Urban Development, and State. “We call it the ‘crisis next door’ because everyone knows someone,” Conway told reporters Sunday night. “It is no longer somebody else’s community, somebody else’s kid, somebody else’s co-worker. The opioid crisis is viewed by us at the White House as a nonpartisan problem searching for a bipartisan solution.” (The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.)

Opioids No Better Than Over-The-Counter Pain Meds, Study Finds

CBS Local — A yearlong study offers rigorous new evidence against using prescription opioids for chronic pain. In patients with stubborn back aches or hip or knee arthritis, opioids worked no better than over-the-counter drugs or other nonopioids at reducing problems with walking or sleeping. They also provided slightly less pain relief. Opioids tested included generic Vicodin, oxycodone or fentanyl patches although few patients needed the most potent opioids. Nonopioids included generic Tylenol, ibuprofen, and prescription pills for nerve or muscle pain. The study randomly assigned patients to take opioids or other painkillers. That’s the gold standard design for research. If they don’t work better than less risky drugs, there’s no reason to use opioids given “their really nasty side effects — death and addiction,” said lead author Dr. Erin Krebs, a physician and researcher with the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System. The results likely will surprise many people “because opioids have this reputation as being really powerful painkillers, and that is not what we found,” Krebs said. The study came out on the same day that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported more troubling news about the scale of the current opioid epidemic. According to the CDC study, which examined data from 16 states, hospital emergency department visits for suspected opioid overdoses jumped 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017. Some states saw increases of 70 or 80 percent or even more. In a press briefing on Tuesday, CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, M.D., said the U.S. is seeing the highest drug overdose death rate ever recorded in the country. The pain reduction study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Its findings echo the results of previous, less rigorous studies, providing more evidence to bolster guidelines against routine use of opioids for chronic pain. About 42,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2016 involved opioids, including prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl. Many people get hooked while taking opioids prescribed for injuries or other short-term pain and move on to cheaper, more accessible illicit drugs like heroin. “I think people need to be aware that if they’re given an option for opioids, they should ask to try non-opioid options. It should be used in the lowest dose for the least amount of time possible, and that according to this study it was really not as effective,” CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula said on “CBS This Morning” Wednesday. Krebs said the strongest evidence from other studies shows that physical therapy, exercise or rehabilitation therapy works best for chronic pain. And she said noted that there are a variety of nonopioid drugs to try if one type doesn’t work. U.S. government guidelines in 2016 said opioids are not the preferred treatment for chronic pain, and they recommend non-drug treatment or nonopioid painkillers instead. Opioids should only be used if other methods don’t work for chronic pain, the guidelines recommend. Prescribing rates have declined slightly in recent years although they are still much higher than two decades ago. “Doctors are more aware now,” Narula said, “and they are being more conscious about not prescribing.” She added that patients also need to be aware of the risks and not seek prescription painkillers when other options are available. “A lot of this is education for patients, for families,” she said. The study involved 234 patients from Minneapolis-area VA clinics who were assigned to use generic versions of opioids or nonopioids for a year. Follow-up ended in 2016. “This is a very important study,” said Dr. David Reuben, geriatrics chief at UCLA’s medical school. “It will likely change the approach to managing long-term back, hip and knee pain.” He noted one limitation — most study participants were men, but Krebs said the results in women studied were similar. The study’s opioid patients started on relatively low daily doses of morphine, oxycodone or generic Vicodin. They switched to higher doses if needed or to long-acting opioids or fentanyl patches. The nonopioid group started on acetaminophen, ibuprofen or similar anti-inflammatory drugs. They also could switch to higher doses or prescription nonopioid pain pills. Few in either group used the strongest medicines. Patients reported changes in function or pain on questionnaires. Function scores improved in each group by about two points on an 11-point scale, where higher scores meant worse function. Both groups started out with average pain and function scores of about 5.5 points. Pain intensity dropped about two points in the nonopioid group and slightly less in the opioid patients. Other research has shown that over-the-counter medicines can also work as well as opioids at treating short-term pain, including from broken bones, kidney stones or dental work. [H/T CBS News]

Opioids No Better Than Over-The-Counter Pain Meds, Study Finds

CBS Local — A yearlong study offers rigorous new evidence against using prescription opioids for chronic pain. In patients with stubborn back aches or hip or knee arthritis, opioids worked no better than over-the-counter drugs or other nonopioids at reducing problems with walking or sleeping. They also provided slightly less pain relief.

Opioids tested included generic Vicodin, oxycodone or fentanyl patches although few patients needed the most potent opioids. Nonopioids included generic Tylenol, ibuprofen, and prescription pills for nerve or muscle pain. The study randomly assigned patients to take opioids or other painkillers. That’s the gold standard design for research.

If they don’t work better than less risky drugs, there’s no reason to use opioids given “their really nasty side effects — death and addiction,” said lead author Dr. Erin Krebs, a physician and researcher with the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

The results likely will surprise many people “because opioids have this reputation as being really powerful painkillers, and that is not what we found,” Krebs said.

The study came out on the same day that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported more troubling news about the scale of the current opioid epidemic. According to the CDC study, which examined data from 16 states, hospital emergency department visits for suspected opioid overdoses jumped 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017. Some states saw increases of 70 or 80 percent or even more.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, M.D., said the U.S. is seeing the highest drug overdose death rate ever recorded in the country.

The pain reduction study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Its findings echo the results of previous, less rigorous studies, providing more evidence to bolster guidelines against routine use of opioids for chronic pain.

About 42,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2016 involved opioids, including prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl. Many people get hooked while taking opioids prescribed for injuries or other short-term pain and move on to cheaper, more accessible illicit drugs like heroin.

“I think people need to be aware that if they’re given an option for opioids, they should ask to try non-opioid options. It should be used in the lowest dose for the least amount of time possible, and that according to this study it was really not as effective,” CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula said on “CBS This Morning” Wednesday.

Krebs said the strongest evidence from other studies shows that physical therapy, exercise or rehabilitation therapy works best for chronic pain. And she said noted that there are a variety of nonopioid drugs to try if one type doesn’t work.

U.S. government guidelines in 2016 said opioids are not the preferred treatment for chronic pain, and they recommend non-drug treatment or nonopioid painkillers instead. Opioids should only be used if other methods don’t work for chronic pain, the guidelines recommend. Prescribing rates have declined slightly in recent years although they are still much higher than two decades ago.

“Doctors are more aware now,” Narula said, “and they are being more conscious about not prescribing.”

She added that patients also need to be aware of the risks and not seek prescription painkillers when other options are available. “A lot of this is education for patients, for families,” she said.

The study involved 234 patients from Minneapolis-area VA clinics who were assigned to use generic versions of opioids or nonopioids for a year. Follow-up ended in 2016.

“This is a very important study,” said Dr. David Reuben, geriatrics chief at UCLA’s medical school. “It will likely change the approach to managing long-term back, hip and knee pain.”

He noted one limitation — most study participants were men, but Krebs said the results in women studied were similar.

The study’s opioid patients started on relatively low daily doses of morphine, oxycodone or generic Vicodin. They switched to higher doses if needed or to long-acting opioids or fentanyl patches. The nonopioid group started on acetaminophen, ibuprofen or similar anti-inflammatory drugs. They also could switch to higher doses or prescription nonopioid pain pills. Few in either group used the strongest medicines.

Patients reported changes in function or pain on questionnaires. Function scores improved in each group by about two points on an 11-point scale, where higher scores meant worse function. Both groups started out with average pain and function scores of about 5.5 points.

Pain intensity dropped about two points in the nonopioid group and slightly less in the opioid patients.

Other research has shown that over-the-counter medicines can also work as well as opioids at treating short-term pain, including from broken bones, kidney stones or dental work.

[H/T CBS News]