drugs

Marijuana Use
1:42 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Study Links Casual Pot Use With Brain Abnormalities

(prensa420/Flickr)

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 3:30 pm

Young adults who smoke marijuana at least once a week showed changes in the size and shape of two key brain regions, according to a new study of 20 pot smokers and 20 non-pot smokers between 18 and 25.

This is the first time recreational marijuana use has been connected to significant brain changes.

The findings, a collaboration between Northwestern University and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, were published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

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Where We Live
8:42 am
Fri April 11, 2014

DCF's Handling of a Transgender Teen; Updates on a Heroin Epidemic

What's causing the nation's heroin epidemic?
Credit Mark Wragg/iStock / Thinkstock

The U.S. is in the middle of a heroin epidemic. It’s something that has become increasingly problematic in northeastern states like Connecticut. This hour, a panel of local reporters and health experts from Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts share their stories. 

We also hear about a controversial decision by the state Department of Children and Families to transfer a transgender teenager to one of Connecticut’s adult prisons, even though, as we’ve discussed on the show, the state now has a “locked” facility for girls like her. WNPR’s Lucy Nalpathanchil joins us with more on that story.

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Medical Marijuana
2:59 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

State Picks Six Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Credit O'Dea / Creative Commons

Connecticut's consumer chief has picked six medical marijuana dispensaries that will be the first in the state operating in Branford, Bridgeport, Bristol, Hartford, South Windsor and Uncasville.

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Connecticut First
5:55 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Rowland Quiet About Scandal; Malloy Makes Announcement About Pfizer Site

Former governor John Rowland is staying  quiet over a scandal to which he is connected. Rowland told listeners during his radio show yesterday that he would respect the process of a case involving former congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley. Both pleaded guilty on Monday to illegal contributions after they gave Rowland $35,000 and failed to report it on financial disclosures.

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Substance Abuse
5:06 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Insurers Often Don't Cover Residential Rehab

Connecticut's Office of the Healthcare Advocate exists to help consumers. Demian Fontanella is General Counsel for OHA and worked on the Harmons' appeal.
Credit Lucy Nalpathanchil

In 2012, a legislative committee found seven percent of Connecticut adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 had substance abuse issues. And the majority of those who needed treatment did not receive it.

In the last story of a three-part series, WNPR reports on the challenges families encounter with their insurance plans when seeking help for their teenage son or daughter.

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Substance Abuse
8:35 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Few Residential Treatment Programs for Connecticut Adolescents

Rushford has two residential treatment programs for adolescent boys in Durham: Rushford at Stonegate and Rushford Academy.
Credit Rushford

One out of every 22 Connecticut high schoolers has taken medication such as painkillers that weren’t prescribed for them, according to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health. In the second of a three-part series, WNPR looks at treatment options available for local teens with substance abuse issues.

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Substance Abuse
5:45 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Addiction: A Guilford Family's Story

Justin, Tim and Mary Harmon in their Guilford home.
Credit Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

A big increase in opiate overdoses nationwide has focused attention on substance abuse. Nine out of ten adults suffering from addiction said they began using drugs or alcohol when they were adolescents.

In the first of a three-part series on youth battling addiction, WNPR introduces you to the Harmons of Guilford.

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Connecticut First
10:31 am
Tue March 18, 2014

McDonald's Workers Protest Over Wages; Lawmakers Call for Funding to Fight Heroin Addiction

Days after class-action lawsuits claimed McDonald’s Restaurants are deliberately and systematically stealing employees’ pay, workers and community leaders protested today in Hartford and New Haven. It was part of a nationwide series of actions in 40 cities calling on the fast-food giant to stop its illegal wage theft.

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Heroin
11:35 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Senators Blumenthal and Murphy Outline Plan to Combat Heroin Epidemic

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy joined health advocates, law enforcement, and local service providers today to talk about the growing heroin problem in Connecticut. 

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Overdoses Rising
4:12 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Laced Heroin Seized in Hartford

A bag of heroin seized by Hartford police.
Credit Hartford Police Department

Hartford police said heroin-related overdoses are on the rise in the capital city, and they're trying to disrupt the drug's supply. Earlier this week, police arrested five people, and seized 2,000 bags of heroin. 

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Lowering Cholesterol
12:00 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Statins Might Not Cause Aching Muscles, But Diabetes Risk Is Real

Statins are widely prescribed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but we may not be getting a clear picture of side effect risks.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 4:22 pm

People taking cholesterol-lowering statins often report having muscle pain and other side effects. Many quit taking the pills as a result.

But the statins aren't to blame, according to an analysis that found muscle problems no more likely with statins than with a placebo pill.

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Incarceration
10:55 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Holder Backs Reduced Sentences For Some Drug Traffickers

Attorney General Eric Holder appearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, in January.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 3:40 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder is backing a proposal to shorten sentences for nonviolent drug dealers in an effort reduce federal spending on prisons.

Holder appeared before the United States Sentencing Commission on Thursday to announce his support of the panel's recommendations to trim federal guidelines for sentencing of drug traffickers to 51 months from 62 months.

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Drug Free Schools
11:40 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Around Schools, a Potential Drawback for "Drug Enforcement" Zones

A new proposal aims to draw back the drug enforcement zones around schools from 1500 to 200 feet.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

A new law proposes making drug enforcement zones around schools smaller. It's a measure aimed at giving teeth to a law that's been on the books since 1987.

Currently, if you're convicted of possessing or selling drugs within 1500 feet of a school, you're subject to mandatory jail terms. But in urban areas, especially, that 1500-foot area encompasses vast areas of residential space.

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Connecticut First
6:17 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

U.S. Attorney General Suggests Police Carry Narcan; Locked Facility for Girls to Open this Month

U.S Attorney General Eric Holder called an increase in heroin overdoses nationwide an "urgent public health crisis" and suggested law enforcement carry Narcan, a drug that can reverse opiate overdoses.  States like Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, already train first responders on Narcan.  Currently Connecticut police don't carry it - paramedics and hospital staff administer the drug.  A dramatic increase in drug overdose is a growing problem in the region but Hartford Police Department spokesman Deputy Chief Brian Foley believes Connecticut police officers carrying Narcan is a long way off .  

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Legal Marijuana
7:43 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Colorado Collected $2.1 Million In January Taxes On Recreational Pot

Marijuana is stored in bins for trimming and packaging in preparation to be sold retail at 3D Cannabis Center, in Denver.
Brennan Linsley AP

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 6:38 pm

For the first time since it legalized recreational marijuana, Colorado is releasing revenue figures: The state made $3.5 million in taxes and fees in January.

As KUSA-TV reports, $2.1 million of that came from the sale of recreational pot and $1.4 million came from medical marijuana.

KUSA adds:

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Addiction
3:32 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

U.S. Attorney General Suggests Police Carry Narcan

Credit Bludgeoner86 on Flickr Creative Commons

There's widespread attention on an increase in heroin overdoses nationwide. On Monday, U.S Attorney General Eric Holder called it an "urgent public health crisis" and suggested law enforcement carry Narcan or naloxone, a drug that can reverse opiate overdoses. 

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Winter Olympics
5:06 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Same Banned Substance Fells German Biathlete, Italian Bobsledder

Germany's Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle has left her country's Olympic contingent — and Sochi — after testing positive for a banned stimulant. She's seen here in the biathlon earlier this week; Sachenbacher-Stehle finished fourth.
Odd Andersen AFP/Getty Images

Germany's Sochi 2014 contingent is reeling from the news that Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, a former Olympic medalist in cross-country skiing who took fourth place in the biathlon Monday, has tested positive for banned substances at the Sochi Winter Olympics. An Italian athlete also tested positive, officials said Friday.

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Marketing
11:18 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Ads Focused On A Few Drug Risks Might Make Them Memorable

When an ad contains too much information, the most important parts may not stick.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 6:02 pm

The way that prescription drugs are advertised on TV could be better, especially when it comes to communicating the risks and side effects of medicines. Now the Food and Drug Administration is calling for research into how the ads could be improved.

The problem, as Michael Wolf, a health services researcher and cognitive scientist at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine describes it, is that most ads work like this:

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Heroin Epidemic
6:06 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Demand for Heroin in Connecticut Keeps Cops and Counselors Busy

Credit Mark Wragg/iStock / Thinkstock

Over the last six years, heroin use nationwide has nearly doubled. In Connecticut, attention has focused on the city of Torrington, where there are reports of multiple fatalities last year from heroin overdoses. 

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Addiction
4:48 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Heroin Use On the Rise in Connecticut

Credit Jeng_Niamwhan/iStock / Thinkstock

Heroin use is on the rise in Connecticut and nationwide. According to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, heroin arrests and seizures in the northeast outpace the rest of the country, two to one.

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Where We Live
8:12 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Heroin and the Science of Addiction

Credit Jeng_Niamwhan/iStock / Thinkstock

To some it’s "smack"; to others, it’s "tar." But the majority of us know it as heroin, the dangerously addictive opioid drug that has claimed countless lives across the nation. 

Less than a week ago, 46-year-old actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died from a heroin overdose in his Manhattan apartment. Sadly, he’s just one of many creative minds lost to addiction. Singer-songwriter Janis Joplin was 27 when an overdose took her life. Frankie Lymon was 25.

But heroin isn’t just a celebrity drug. Its use spans the country -- particularly in northeast states, like Connecticut, where it has become a growing problem among teens and adults.

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Affording Prescription Drugs
12:06 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Marketplace Rules Could Hurt Assistance Programs For Costly Drugs

There's confusion about whether drugmakers can provide financial assistance to patients who buy health insurance on the exchanges.
Roel Smart iStockphoto

People who need expensive drugs to treat serious medical conditions often rely on drugmakers' assistance programs for help.

But it's uncertain whether the help will be allowed for people who buy health insurance on the marketplaces established by the federal health law.

With open enrollment ending in less than two months, federal rules remain unclear, leaving patients, advocates and drug programs in limbo.

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Prescription Drugs
4:09 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Over-the-Counter Drugs: A Prescription for Confusion

Credit Fuse / Thinkstock

At Able Care Pharmacy and Medical Supplies in Enfield, Ashraf Moustafa often tries to avert disasters involving drugs displayed on his store’s shelves. 

Moustafa, the pharmacy manager, recently spoke to an elderly woman seeking ways to treat dark blue patches on her arms. Instead of suggesting any remedies, he asked the woman what medicines she was taking, and discovered that she was dangerously mixing over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs with aspirin and the prescription blood thinner Plavix. He sent the woman to the hospital, fearing that she was suffering from internal bleeding.

“People have the impression that if a drug is approved for over-the-counter use, then it must be much safer than prescription medicine,” Moustafa says. “That’s when trouble happens.”

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Heart Health
10:13 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Popular Testosterone Therapy May Raise Risk Of Heart Attack

Some men take testosterone hoping to boost energy and libido, or to build strength. But at what risk?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 12:06 pm

There's new evidence that widely prescribed testosterone drugs — touted for men with flagging libidos and general listlessness — might increase the risk of heart attacks.

A study of more than 55,000 men found a doubling of heart attack risk among testosterone users older than 65, compared with men who didn't take the drug.

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Connecticut First
7:13 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Medical Marijuana Producers Announced; State Park Lands Could Be Sold

Drugs
3:00 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

FDA Asks Doctors To Stop Prescribing High-Dose Acetaminophen

The prescription painkiller sold under the brand-name Vicodin contains hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen. To reduce the risk of liver damage, the Food and Drug Administration is moving to limit the amount of acetaminophen allowed in prescription medicines.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 11:17 am

The pain reliever acetaminophen is easy on the stomach. But at high doses, the drug can be hell on the liver.

Now the Food and Drug Administration is asking doctors to refrain from prescribing drugs that contain high doses of acetaminophen to minimize the risk of liver damage.

Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in nonprescription Tylenol. But it's also inside quite a few prescription pain pills, including Vicodin and Percocet.

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Exploding Refrigerators
5:32 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Marijuana 'Hash Oil' Explodes In Popularity, And Kitchens

Jim Andersen displays butane hash oil at a marijuana growing facility in Seattle in April 2013. The state's licensed producers will be required to use professional-grade equipment when making the extracts.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:19 pm

If you think the recent liberalization of marijuana laws around the country is only about smoking leaves and buds, think again. For users younger than 25, "hash oil" is where it's really at. This concentrated resin of marijuana is creating new public safety headaches — even in places where it's legal.

There have always been forms of the substance, but the resins available today are much stronger than in years past. That's due in part to the expertise developed by medical marijuana producers, who have learned how to make more potent versions of the oil.

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New Industry
8:12 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Medical Marijuana: How Two Connecticut Towns Are Preparing for Licenses

The space in the Remington Rand Building in Middletown, where Greenbelt Management hopes to develop a medical marijuana production facility.
Credit Greenbelt Management

In January, the state's Department of Consumer Protection will begin awarding the first ever licenses to medical marijuana producers and dispensers in Connecticut. While the licenses are awarded by the state, it's been left up to individual towns to decide if they want to host one of these facilities. Two communities in Connecticut have taken very different approaches to this new industry.

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Medical Marijuana
1:23 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Students Are Developing a Test to Detect Contaminants in Medical Marijuana

Students Renae Labonte and Jinyun Guat.
University of New Haven

Students at the University of New Haven are developing a DNA test that could detect contaminants in medical marijuana. Dr. Heather Coyle, a forensic botanist and associate professor at UNH, said patients using pot for medicinal purposes could be harmed by contaminants that they can't see.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
5:27 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

The Agony and Utility of Ecstasy

C. Michael White is a Professor and Department Head at UConn’s School of Pharmacy.
Chion Wolf WNPR

"Molly" is the nickname for MDMA, or Ecstasy, and it's short for "Molecule", meaning you're getting the "real thing", chemically speaking. Except you almost never do. On this show, we'll talk about the dangers of Molly, the medical uses of MDMA, and the curious romance between the drug and the form of music known as EDM, Electronic Dance Music.

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