Friday August 23, 2019

Study: Teenagers, Adults More Likely to Try Drugs for First Time in Summer

The study used data collected from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2011 and 2017 involving about 394,415 people aged 12 and older

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In addition, 30 per cent of marijuana, 30 per cent of ecstasy --also known as MDMA or Molly and 28 per cent of cocaine use was found to begin in the summer months. Pixabay

Researchers have found that US teenagers and adults are more likely to try illegal or recreational drugs for the first time in summer. “First-time users may be unfamiliar with the effects of various drugs, so it is important to first understand when people are most likely to start these behaviours,” said Joseph J. Palamar, Associate Professor at New York University.

In 2017, according to the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than three million people in the US tried LSD, marijuana, cocaine, or ecstasy for the first time. The study used data collected from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2011 and 2017 involving about 394,415 people aged 12 and older.

According to the researchers, participants were surveyed about their use of various drugs through a computer-assisted interview. New users were asked to recall the month and year when they initiated use.

drugs
The findings, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, showed that over a third (34 per cent) of recent LSD initiates first used the drug in the summer. Pixabay

The findings, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, showed that over a third (34 per cent) of recent LSD initiates first used the drug in the summer. In addition, 30 per cent of marijuana, 30 per cent of ecstasy –also known as MDMA or Molly and 28 per cent of cocaine use was found to begin in the summer months.

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The investigators suggest that the results could be explained, in part, by people having extra recreational time during the summer, as well as the growing popularity of outdoor activities, such as music festivals, at which recreational drug use is common.

“Parents and educators who are concerned about their kids need to educate them year-round about potential risks associated with drug use, but special emphasis appears to be needed before or during summer months when rates of initiation increase,” Palamar said. (IANS)

Next Story

Two of Four Experimental Ebola Drugs Tests in Congo Saving Lives

The preliminary findings prompted an early halt to a major study on the drugs and a decision to prioritize their use in the African country

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Ebola, Drugs, Congo
FILE - Health workers wearing protective gear check on a patient isolated in a plastic cube at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Congo, July 13, 2019. VOA

Two of four experimental Ebola drugs being tested in Congo seem to be saving lives, international health authorities announced Monday.

The preliminary findings prompted an early halt to a major study on the drugs and a decision to prioritize their use in the African country, where a yearlong outbreak has killed more than 1,800 people.

The early results mark “some very good news,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which helped fund the study. With these drugs, “we may be able to improve the survival of people with Ebola.”

The two drugs — one developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and the other by NIH researchers — are antibodies that work by blocking the virus.

Ebola, Drugs, Congo
FILE – A man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse outside the Afia Himbi Health Center in Goma, July 15, 2019. VOA

While research shows there is an effective albeit experimental vaccine against Ebola — one now being used in Congo — no studies have signaled which of several potential treatments were best to try once people became sick. During the West Africa Ebola epidemic several years ago, studies showed a hint that another antibody mixture named ZMapp worked, but not clear proof.

So with the current outbreak in Congo, researchers compared ZMapp to three other drugs — Regeneron’s compound, the NIH’s called mAb114 and an antiviral drug named remdesivir.

On Friday, independent study monitors reviewed how the first several hundred patients in the Congo study were faring — and found enough difference to call an early halt to the trial. The panel determined that the Regeneron compound clearly was working better than the rest, and the NIH antibody wasn’t far behind, Fauci explained. Next, researchers will do further study to nail down how well those two compounds work.

The data is preliminary, Fauci stressed. But in the study, significantly fewer people died among those given the Regeneron drug or the NIH’s — about 30% compared to half who received ZMapp. More striking, when patients sought care early — before too much virus was in their bloodstream — mortality was just 6% with the Regeneron drug and 11% with the NIH compound, compared to about 24% for ZMapp, he said.

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Among people who receive no care in the current outbreak, about three-fourths die, said Dr. Michael Ryan of the World Health Organization. All of Congo’s Ebola treatment units have access to the two drugs, he added, saying he was hopeful that the news would persuade more patients to seek care — as soon as symptoms appear.

Quick care ‘vital’

Tackling Congo’s outbreak has been complicated both by conflict in the region and because many people don’t believe Ebola is real and choose to stay at home when they’re sick, which spurs spread of the virus.

“Getting people into care more quickly is absolutely vital,” Ryan said. “The fact that we have very clear evidence now on the effectiveness of the drugs, we need to get that message out to communities.”

Ebola, Drugs, Congo
Two of four experimental Ebola drugs being tested in Congo seem to be saving lives, international health authorities announced Monday. Pixabay

Fauci said Regeneron and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, which has licensed the NIH compound, told authorities enough doses are readily available.

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One issue researchers will have to analyze: Occasionally people who receive the Ebola vaccine still become sick, including some in the treatment study, which raises the question of whether their earlier protection inflated the drugs’ survival numbers. (VOA)