Health and Fitness

Nurses Call On Government To Step Up Action On Alcohol Abuse

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) called on the government to step up action on alcohol abuse, as it welcomed recommendations by the Health Select Committee to introduce tougher measures to stem the rising tide of illness and premature deaths which result from excessive drinking. Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, said: "Today's report backs up the findings of a recent RCN/RCP survey which found that 88% of nurses and doctors do not think the current national alcohol strategy is effective. It is vital that those in power listen to the frontline nurses who witness the devastating physical and psychological consequences of excessive drinking every day. "Minimum pricing is essential and must be introduced alongside measures on labelling, sales and advertising, as part of an effective mandatory code. If the government is serious about repairing the nation's disastrous relationship with alcohol these regulatory measures must be combined with widespread campaigns to educate the public about the dangers of excessive drinking.

Statement On Health Select Committee Report On Alcohol

NHS Confederation chief executive Steve Barnett comments on today's recommendations by the Health Select Committee in its report on alcohol. "The NHS Confederation has already argued in its own report that alcohol is causing a growing health problem in the UK that is damaging lives as well as costing the health service billions every year. "Given the facts it is hard to escape the growing body of evidence behind the call made today for a national minimum unit price for alcohol. "The NHS can of course carry on picking up the tab for our nation's drinking but if it does so without some consideration being given by society as a whole to the price and availability of alcohol, we will be using a sticking plaster solution for a national problem. "It is for others to decide how policy on taxation, control and supply of alcohol is formed but it is gratifying to see how much agreement there now is on the need for us to begin in earnest to take on the implications of our national attitudes towards drinking.

Improving Family-Strengthening Intervention Program

Preliminary testing of modifications to a program aimed at strengthening families showed that parents improved their ability to control anger, exhibited less negativity and acted more positively toward their children. The study, funded by a $3.3-million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and carried out by Penn State researchers, will test changes to an intervention program called "Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14" (SFP 10-14) which educates parents and children on ways to enhance their relationships. Researchers led by Dr. Douglas Coatsworth, associate professor of human development and family studies, are adapting SFP 10-14, which was established to prevent the onset of teen drug use and shows good results. Coatsworth believes the program can be strengthened and could also prevent other poor outcomes in teens, such as risky sexual behavior. "The Strengthening Families Program is one of the most promising universal family-based preventive interventions, " said Coatsworth.

Increasing Substance Abuse Levels Among Older Adults Likely To Create Sharp Rise In Need For Treatment Services In Next Decade

A new study done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates that the aging of the baby boom generation is resulting in a dramatic increase in levels of illicit drug use among adults 50 and older. These increases may require the doubling of substance abuse treatment services needed for this population by 2020, according to the report. "This new data has profound implications for the health and well-being of older adults who continue to abuse substances, " said SAMHSA Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. "These findings highlight the need for prevention programs for all ages as well as to establish improved screening and appropriate referral to treatment as part of routine health care services." Substance abuse at any age is associated with numerous health and social problems, but age-related physiological and social changes make older adults more vulnerable to the harmful effect of illicit drugs use. "This study highlights the fact that older Americans face a wide spectrum of healthcare concerns that must be addressed in a comprehensive way, " said Assistant Secretary for Aging, Kathy Greenlee.

NHS Alcohol Costs Causing A Hospital Hangover

A massive rise in the numbers of people drinking heavily and the cost of treating them is creating an unsustainable burden on NHS hospitals but more could be done to ease existing pressures, says an NHS Confederation report published recently. Too Much of the hard stuff: What alcohol costs the NHS, from the NHS Confederation and the Royal College of Physicians shows that the cost to the NHS of excess drinking has doubled in just five years, with most of the cost being spent on hospital and ambulance services. It suggests better and more cost effective care could be provided by improving systems to identify, assess and treat patients within hospital and learn from existing best practice. The authors of the report examine the benefits improved links between mental health, community and ambulance teams can bring to patients care and hospital systems. The report argues these links are vital if patients are to receive access to the right kinds of treatment at the right time. It highlights such improved processes for assessment, alongside improved communications between A&E staff, mental health teams, and community and ambulance services which can help save as many as 1, 000 bed days a year per hospital.

Technology New Gateway Into Treatment For Problem Alcohol Use: Study

A recent evaluation by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) shows that online interventions for problem alcohol use can be effective in changing drinking behaviours and offers a significant public health benefit. In the first evaluation of its kind, the study published in Addiction found that problem drinkers provided access to the online screener, reduced their alcohol consumption by 30% - or six to seven drinks weekly - rates that are comparable to face-to-face interventions. This result was sustained in both the three and six month follow-up. Problem drinking is a major cause of preventable deaths in Canada as well as morbidity, trauma and violence, yet many of those who struggle with problem alcohol use will never seek treatment. A recent general population survey indicated that 81% of problem drinkers in Canada have Internet access, and about a third indicated that they would be willing to seek intervention via the web. Brief Internet-based interventions for problem drinkers are promising, and fill a gap in the services available to problem drinkers, according to principal investigator, Dr.

Discovery Of A New Ally In The Battle Against Cocaine Addiction

A recent study shows that a bacterial protein may help cocaine addicts break the habit. Cocaine esterase (CocE) is a naturally-occurring bacterial enzyme that breaks down cocaine, thereby reducing its addictive properties. The efficacy of CocE in animals and its suitability for treatment of addiction has been limited by its short half-life in the body. A recent study, published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and reviewed by Faculty of 1000 Medicine's Friedbert Weiss, demonstrates that a more stable version of CocE, double mutant or DM CocE, significantly decreased the desire for cocaine and prevented death from cocaine overdose. In the study, rats were trained to self-administer cocaine by pressing a button in their cage, mimicking the need for regular doses of the drug during addiction. Rats treated with the double mutant form of CocE pressed the button to receive cocaine less often, suggesting that DM-CocE broke down the drug and dampened addiction.

Average UK Drinker Thinks A Unit Of Wine Is Twice What It Actually Is

People drinking spirits at home in England are giving themselves more than double (128% extra) what they would get in a pub if they ordered a single shot according to new figures revealed today by the Know Your Limits campaign. A series of experiments across England found that the average 'home barman' pours themselves 57ml when they drink a spirit such as vodka, gin or whisky - 32ml more than a standard single 25ml measure. If that average English drinker knocked back eight spirits drinks over a week at home, they would be drinking nearly half a litre (456ml) of vodka, gin or whisky, compared to 200ml if they'd ordered the same number of single measures in a pub or bar. These extra sips equate to 17 units instead of 7.5 units over a week - which can make all the difference for people who might wrongly think they are drinking within the NHS recommended limits of 2-3 units a day for women and 3-4 units a day for men. Minister for Public Health, Gillian Merron, said: "Many of us enjoy a drink, especially at New Year.

In The Obesity Epidemic The Role Of Addiction Cannot Be Ignored

The causes of obesity are complex and individual, but it is clear that chronic overeating plays a fundamental role. But when this behaviour becomes compulsive and out of control, it is often classified as "food addiction" - a label that has generated considerable controversy, according to a McMaster University psychiatrist and obesity researcher. In a commentary appearing in the Dec. 21, 2009, issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), Dr. Valerie Taylor, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences at McMaster and director of the Bariatric Surgery Psychiatry Program at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, and her co-authors argue that food addiction in some individuals may be a reality and needs to be considered in the management of weight problems. "The concept of addiction is complex, and the delineation of its defining characteristics has fostered considerable debate, " Taylor and her co-authors write. "Despite a lack of consensus, researchers nevertheless agree that the process involves a compulsive pattern of use, even in the face of negative health and social consequences.

Physicist Sees With T-Rays

"T-rays" may make X-rays obsolete as a means of detecting bombs on terrorists or illegal drugs on traffickers, among other uses, contends a Texas A&M physicist who is helping lay the theoretic groundwork to make the concept a reality. In addition to being more revealing than X-rays in some situations, T-rays do not have the cumulative possible harmful effects. Alexey Belyanin focuses his research on terahertz, otherwise known as THz or T-rays, which he says is the most under-developed and under-used part of the electromagnetic spectrum. It lies between microwave radiation and infrared (heat) radiation. Belyanin, associate professor in the Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy Department, has collaborated with colleagues at Rice University and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory to publish findings about their T-ray research in the renowned journal Nature Physics. "THz radiation can penetrate through opaque dry materials. It is harmless and can be used to scan humans, " Belyanin says.

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