Saturday, April 30, 2011

Alcohol Abuse and Organized Team Sporting Events

Now is one of the busiest times of year for fans of organized team sports. They are being treated to National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) playoff series, the Major League Baseball (MLB) season and the National Football League (NFL) draft are underway, and over the last month, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) held it basketball and hockey championship tournaments.

In addition to the competition and excitement associated with these sporting events, there is a lurking problem of interest to addiction researchers: overuse and abuse of alcohol by fans of these events.

Recent publications in CPDD’s journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence (DAD) detailed findings from 2 studies suggesting that alcohol abuse by fans of team sporting events is an important public health problem.
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In a to be published study by Merlo and colleagues, who assessed drinking behavior in association with high profile college football games at 2 US universities, it was reported that more than 48% of students surveyed during the “tailgating window” (~2.5 hours before to about 10 minutes after the game) reported heavy drinking, and more than 30% of those surveyed produced breath alcohol samples exceeding the legal limit for driving (0.08).

Merlo and colleagues previously reported in DAD that alcohol-related arrests increased on game days and that more arrests occurred closer to game venues.

Both reports cited a prior study suggesting that higher profile sporting events, e.g., the NCAA men’s basketball finals games, trigger more alcohol problems than lower profile games.

Alcohol abuse in association with organized sporting events transcends sports and performance levels, and has been studied in association with professional baseball and collegiate football and basketball games, as well as in association with high school events.

It also transcends countries and cultures, and thus it appears to be a widespread phenomenon.

Together, these studies underscore the importance of conducting additional research in this area to better understand this phenomenon in association with team sports at all performance levels. Such data should be useful in helping to improve alcohol education and control policies.

CPDDBLOG welcomes CPDD member’s thoughts on this issue.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

More Training Requirements on the Horizon for Prescription Pain Medication Prescribers?

Earlier this week, the Obama Administration announced new initiatives intended to help control the epidemic of prescription pain medication abuse in the US.

Administration officials including R. Gil Kerlikowski, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) called for new mandatory training requirements for physicians seeking to prescribe painkillers including Oxycontin, Diluadid, fentanyl, and methadone. Prescription painkiller diversion and abuse have created an epic public health problem in the US, detailed in many places including in a prior CPDDBlog post on prescription painkiller abuse by NFL players.

Government health and substance abuse policy experts believe that physician training may help reduce the problem.

The proposed mandatory training would be designed to improve physicians’ pain medication prescribing practices in a number of ways including by enhancing their ability to identify patients faking pain conditions to obtain and then divert or abuse pain medications.

The New York Times reported that instituting a mandatory training policy may require Congressional action to modify the Controlled Substances Act.

Later this month on April 30th, the 2nd National Prescription Drug Take Back day, organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), will be held to allow people to safely discard their unused prescription medications, including painkillers. The 1st National Prescription Drug Take Back day held last September was highly successful; the DEA reported that over 120 tons of prescription pills were discarded.

CPDDBLOG welcomes CPDD member’s thoughts on this issue.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lend a Hand to Addiction Research Scientists in Japan

Today via a listserv email, CPDD President Anna Rose Childress appealed to the CPDD membership to reach out to help our Japanese colleagues including trainees affected by the recent catastrophic events in Japan.  She asked CPDD members to consider “extending a position in your own laboratory to a fellow scientist/scientist-in-training, so that their research may continue.”

Although the media has covered the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disasters very closely (see for example the comprehensive NY Times article on the scope of destruction and its impact on Japan and the rest of the world), we’ve heard very little about how the catastrophe has affected scientists. However, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on very grim scenes at affected institutions of higher education and research, especially at Tohoku University in Sendai, nearest to the earthquake epicenter.

Historically, the major substance abuse problems in Japan have been solvent and methamphetamine abuse.  Accordingly, significant addiction research effort in Japan is focused on solvent and methamphetamine abuse, including clinical and preclinical research articles recently published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

To help out, visit the following URLs:

CPDDBLOG welcomes CPDD member’s thoughts on this issue.