Entries in Substance Abuse (4)


Weight-Loss Surgery Tied to Substance Abuse

Tom Morello/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Weight-loss surgery can help people who are obese ditch their unhealthy relationships with food.  But a new study suggests these patients sometimes enter a rebound relationship with something else -- alcohol, drugs or cigarettes.

The survey-based study of 155 bariatric surgery patients found a 50 percent rise in the frequency of substance abuse two years after the procedure.

“Many people who undergo bariatric surgery struggle with eating in response to different emotional cues,” said Alexis Conason of the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center, lead author of the study published Monday in the Archives of Surgery.  “I [wondered] what happened afterward.  If they are no longer able to cope with their emotions through eating … do they turn to something like drugs or alcohol to serve the purpose that food did originally.”

Conason tested the theory of symptom substitution -- the swapping of one habit for another.  Patients who drank and smoked before surgery reported more drinking and smoking two years after.  And while one in 25 patients reported using recreational drugs before the procedure, one in eight said they used them two years later.  But Conason stressed that much more research is needed.

“The emerging body of literature [on this] is in its infancy,” she said, stressing that her study focused on frequency of substance use but not on the quantity of substances consumed or whether doing so caused problems for either the patients or their family members.  ”We have a small sample size, so it’s going to be important to see how this is replicated with larger samples.  We need to [better understand] the problematic nature of the substance use … the reasons why.”

Some experts think the uptick in substance use might be related to social behaviors.

“What this study may be showing is that morbidly obese people are socially isolated,” said Dr. Christine Ren-Fielding, chief of bariatric surgery division in the department of surgery at New York University Langone Medical Center.  “After surgery, they not only become physically healthy but mentally healthy and now become more social.  They go out on dates and go to parties which may involve a social alcoholic drink.”

The frequency of alcohol use among bariatric patients prior to surgery was very low, Ren-Fielding added.

“Perhaps after surgery, the frequency of alcohol use in bariatric patients normalizes to approach the frequency of alcohol consumption in the lean population,” she said.

The rise in substance abuse over two years followed an initial decline that Conason attributes to strict instructions for the recovery period after surgery.  She said patients should be followed closely to ensure they are maintaining a healthy weight and adjusting well to their new bodies, emotions and relationships.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


1 in 5 White Women Have Smoked While Pregnant

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- One in five white women have smoked cigarettes while pregnant, according to a new government study released Thursday.

The report, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, showed that 21.8 percent of pregnant white women ages 15 to 44 had smoked a cigarette within 30 days of when the survey was conducted.

Those numbers contrasted with 14.2 percent of black women and 6.5 percent of Hispanic women of the same age.

“When pregnant women use alcohol, tobacco, or illicit substances they are risking health problems for themselves and poor birth outcomes for their babies,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a statement. “Pregnant women of different races and ethnicities may have diverse patterns of substance abuse. It is essential that we use the findings from this report to develop better ways of getting this key message out to every segment of our community so that no woman or child is endangered by substance use and abuse.”

The rate of alcohol use during pregnancy among black and white women was about the same: 12.8 percent and 12.2 percent respectively. Only about 7.4 percent of Hispanic women reported drinking alcohol while pregnant.

Black pregnant women were more likely to use illegal drugs than white and Hispanic pregnant women: about 7.7 percent of blacks, 4.4 percent of whites and 3.1 percent of Hispanics reported using drugs at least once in 30 days prior to the survey.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Internet Addiction Linked to Drug Abuse, Study Finds

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(THESSALONIKI, Greece) -- Parents already panicky about the amount of time their teenage children spend online may now have something new to worry about: all those hours spent Web surfing, chatting, gaming, texting and posting to Facebook could be a warning sign of substance abuse, according to a new study in the March issue of the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

Greek researchers found that teenagers with “pathologic” Internet use were more likely to admit to drug abuse, and as excessive Internet use increased, so did the likelihood of substance abuse.  The study also linked substance abuse and excessive Internet use to such personality traits as nonconformity, aggressiveness, recklessness and impulsiveness.

“Not only did we find that specific personality attributes were important in both substance abuse and Internet addiction, but that Internet addiction remained an important predictor of substance abuse,” study co-author Georgios Floros, at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, said in an email to ABC News.

Floros and colleagues surveyed 1,271 students between the ages of 14 and 19 on the Aegean island of Kos about their Internet use, substance use and personality.  To determine who was “Internet addicted,” the researchers administered a 20-question “Internet addiction test” that asked how often the students stayed online longer than they’d intended, how often their grades or studies slipped because of the amount of time spent online, and how often they’d “yell, snap or act annoyed” if someone bothered them while they were online.

When they compared the mean values of “illicit substance abuse” among the teenage participants, the researchers found that those who reported substance abuse had “significantly” higher mean scores on the Internet addiction test, and that those scores were important predictors for substance use, either past or present.

“The predictive element showed an interesting new finding,” said Floros.

“It’s not a shocking result to me,” David Greenfield, a Connecticut psychologist and founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, told ABC News.  “The study offers another set of variables to look at when doing a workup.”

Dr. Megan Moreno, a pediatric and adolescent medicine specialist at UW Health in Madison, Wis., said, “I’ve definitely seen kids who showed signs of problematic Internet use.  Some of them do go on to have other problem behaviors.  Sometimes that’s substance abuse, sometimes it’s other addictive behaviors, like excess exercise or excess shopping.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alcohol at Age 5?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PINE RIDGE, S.D.) -- Exactly how bad a problem is alcohol use on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation? Children on the South Dakota reservation often have their very first drink at the age of five or six, says Terryl Blue-White Eyes, the director of the only substance abuse program on the reservation.

Ask how they got that drink, Blue-White Eyes says, and the children respond with answers like, “Well, I had leftovers. It was in the bottle. It was on the table.”

An estimated 80 to 90 percent of adults on the reservation are addicted to alcohol, according to Tribal Police Captain Milton Bianas.

“Why Die?” street signs caution people to drive safely, while crosses along the roads are sad reminders of the lives lost to drunk driving accidents.

Last year, there were 17,000 alcohol-related arrests. Ironically, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is dry, which means the sale and consumption of alcohol is prohibited.

But just outside the reservation, in the bordering town of White Clay, Neb., alcohol is legal. Though only 14 people live in this neighboring town, each year four million cans of beer are sold. The big seller is called Joose and some fruit-flavors are like a whole bottle of wine in a can. They contain up to 12 percent alcohol.

Pamphlets on alcohol abuse are displayed at Anpetu Luta Otipi, the only substance abuse treatment program at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

An employee from one of White Clay’s liquor stores estimates that about 90 percent of their customers come from the reservation.

Bianas thinks alcohol sales should be legalized on the reservation.

“If we were to get that money that they’re making over there, we could build treatment centers. But it just ain’t happening,” he said.

The name of the substance abuse program Blue-White Eyes runs is Anpetu Luta Otipi, which means "live in a red day" or "start anew" without alcohol or drugs.

“If there’s chronic alcohol use, then you’re going to see domestic violence. You’re going to see children that are being abused or neglected. You’re going to see poverty,” Blue-White Eyes said.

Blue-White Eyes said that alcohol treatments that emphasize “hitting bottom” won’t work for the Pine Ridge population.

“Indians are below bottom,” she said. “That valley of despair was so low it’s taken us generations to start climbing out.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio