Monthly Archives: November 2011

Drinking and Driving Still a Problem

Adults reported drinking and driving about 112 million times in 2010. 85% of drinking and driving episodes were reported by binge drinkers. Four in 5 people who drink and drive are men.

US adults drank too much and got behind the wheel about 112 million times in 2010. Though episodes of driving after drinking too much (“drinking and driving”) have gone down by 30% during the past 5 years, it remains a serious problem in the US. Alcohol-impaired drivers* are involved in about 1 in 3 crash deaths, resulting in nearly 11,000 deaths in 2009. Driving drunk is never OK. Choose not to drink and drive and help others do the same. These drivers had blood alcohol concentrations of at least 0.08%. This is the illegal blood alcohol concentration level for adult drivers in the United States.

Latest FindingsPeople who drink and drive put everyone on the road in danger Certain groups are more likely to drink and drive than others.

         Men were responsible for 4 in 5 episodes (81%) of drinking and driving in 2010. ·         Young men ages 21-34 made up only 11% of the U.S. adult population in 2010, yet were responsible for 32% of all instances of drinking and driving.·         85% of drinking and driving episodes were reported by people who also reported binge drinking. Binge drinking means 5 or more drinks for men or 4 or more drinks for women during a short period of time.

Your best defense against a drunk driver is to buckle up every time.

        Every person in every seat should be buckled up on every trip. Seat belts reduce serious injuries and deaths from crashes by about 50%. ·         Primary enforcement seat belt laws allow police to stop vehicles just because someone is not wearing a seat belt. These state laws are effective in increasing seat belt use.  

There are proven ways to prevent people from drinking and driving.

         At sobriety checkpoints, police stop drivers to judge if they are driving under the influence of alcohol. More widespread, frequent use of these checkpoints could save about 1,500 to 3,000 lives on the road each year. ·         Minimum legal drinking age laws prohibit selling alcohol to people under age 21 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Keeping and enforcing 21 as the minimum legal drinking age helps keep young, inexperienced drivers from drinking and driving. ·         Ignition interlocks prevent drivers who were convicted of alcohol-impaired driving from operating their vehicles if they have been drinking. Interlocks are effective in reducing re-arrest rates from drinking and driving by about two-thirds while the device is on the vehicle. SOURCE:CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, US 2010

Who’s At Risk?Drinking and driving episodes by gender and age, 2010

SOURCE: CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, US 2010  Some likely effects on driving Adapted from The ABCs of BAC, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2005, and How to Control Your Drinking, WR Miller and RF Munoz, University of New Mexico, 1982.Self-reported annual drinking and driving episodesSOURCE: CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, US 2006, 2008 and 2010 What Can Be Done?

States can:       Enforce 0.08% blood alcohol concentration and minimum legal drinking age laws. ·         Expand the use of sobriety checkpoints. ·         Require ignition interlocks for everyone convicted of drinking and driving, starting with their first offense. ·         Consider including strategies to reduce binge drinking—such as increasing alcohol taxes—to reduce drinking and driving, since the two behaviors are linked.·         Pass primary enforcement seat belt laws that cover everyone in the car.

Employers can:         Set policies that immediately take away all work-related driving privileges for any employee cited for drinking and driving while using a company or personal vehicle for work purposes.·         Use workplace health promotion programs to communicate the dangers of drinking and driving, including information directed to family members.

Health professionals can:      Help patients realize that car crashes are the leading cause of death for everyone ages 5-34 and that 1 in 3 crash deaths involves a drunk driver.·         Routinely screen patients for risky drinking patterns, including binge drinking, and provide a brief intervention—a 10–15 minute counseling session—for patients who screen positive.

Everyone can:

     Choose not to drink and drive and help others do the same. o    Before drinking, designate a nondrinking driver when with a group. o    If out drinking, get a ride home or call a taxi.o    Don’t let friends drink and drive.·         Choose not to binge drink themselves and help others not to do it.·         Talk with a doctor or nurse about drinking and driving and request counseling if drinking is causing health, work, or social problems.·         Buckle up every time, no matter how short the trip. Encourage passengers in the car to buckle up, including those in the back seat.

Pill Mill Scourge

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one American dies of a drug overdose every 14 minutes … with a rapidly increasing share of those deaths caused by prescription drugs. It’s the sort of statistic law enforcement officials in one Florida county know about all too well.

Instead of chasing drugs from abroad, police say their biggest problem now comes from a doctor’s office.

After years of spotty regulation, Florida is still awash in prescription painkillers, like Oxycontin, the brand name for Oxycodone.

And the effect has been lethal: In Florida alone, seven people die of prescription drug overdose every 24 hours.

Nationwide, prescription drug overdose has surpassed traffic accidents as the leading cause of accidental death.

“I think we have to realize that this is the first time in the history of the world that we have had a public health epidemic of death, disease and destruction that is actually being caused by health care,” said Lisa Roberts, a public health nurse.

And Florida is the epicenter:

Police surveillance tape captures a Pinellas County pain clinic – run by a licensed doctor as a cash-only convenience store for prescription painkillers, or pill mill – and the customers can’t seem to get in fast enough.

“People literally line up in the morning, wait for the doors to open,” said Chief Deputy Bob Gualtieri. “They swarm inside.

“I hate to even call them ‘doctors,'” Qualtieri said. “Because they’re really not doctors. They’re people who hold a medical license, but they’re really not practicing medicine. And you pay a cash fee.”

“They’re drug dealers,” he said.

When we rode along with Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies, their focus was a storefront medical clinic.

Shutting down the “doctors” who run pill mills can be a marathon legal process, so in Pinellas County, police also go after the visitors as they leave.

If the detectives can get them for the smallest violation – maybe they don’t put their seatbelt on when they drive away – that’s a reason to pull them over, and most of the time something else is going on in that car.

Police follow one car for a few blocks, then pull him over for the seatbelt violation – and find he’s carrying a handful of prescriptions. They suspect this “patient” may be a prescription drug dealer – going from doctor to doctor, stockpiling supplies.

After a few phone calls to the doctors, he’s arrested on suspicion of doctor shopping – a felony that carries a jail term of up to five years.

Part of the problem, police say, is the lure of instant wealth.

Chief Deputy Bob Qualtieri says the pill mills are very profitable: “Because you can go to a local pharmacy and buy a generic pill for about a dollar a pill. You could sell it locally, on the street, for $15 to $20 a pill. You could take it up north in some places and sell it for $30 a pill.”

The drug problem has moved north with interstate speed, as addicts and sealers bring pills from Florida back to their hometowns in other states – a phenomenon known as the “Oxy Express.”

Lisa Roberts has watched the number of pill addicts in her town of Portsmouth, Ohio skyrocket. “It has truly crossed over into mainstream Middle Class America as a prolific addiction,” she said.

“Our mindset is that these are medications, and therefore, they are safe,” said Roberts. “And so people tend to take them very casually. Whereas a person would not consider doing heroin, they would consider – and be encouraged – to take a pill.”

When Jason Davis hurt his back, he naively went, x-rays in hand, to a pain clinic that his mother says turned out to be little more than a front for drug dealing.

“I remember him going, and he came home, he said, ‘Mom, I went in there, I’m the only one that had an x-ray,'” Patty Davis recalls. “He didn’t know anything, you know, what’s going on. You know, we were all stupid at that time, you know?”

Patty Davis found an array of her son’s pill bottles hidden on her property – all from the same state.

“I had found out that he had been making monthly trips to Florida,” she told Smith. “to a pain clinic in West Palm Beach.”

In August 2010, after returning home to Ohio from yet another run to Florida, Jay Davis was found unresponsive at his home.

“I went up to the apartment. The detective was in the yard, and he said, ‘Are you the mom?'” Davis said. “I said, Yes, I am.’ He said, ‘You can’t go in there. You can’t see him like that.'”

Patty has found comfort in a group of moms who lost children to drugs – and now lobbies for tougher laws.

They’ve pushed successfully for stricter prescription drug laws in Ohio. Ad in Florida, the crackdown on prescription drug abuses has gone form the clinic to the classroom.

On average, kids are believed to begin sampling prescription drugs starting at age 13.

“They will either take it out of the medicine cabinet or buy some on the street,” said Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw. “And then they have a party and when they go in, the admission to the party is a big bowl and they just drop pills in the bowl. And of course there’s alcohol there. But the end result is there’s a chemical reaction between those two pills and that alcohol.”

“If they’re lucky, they will fall in a spot where they can breathe,” Bradshaw said. “More times than not they don’t and in about three minutes they’re dead. And that’s the overdose death from prescription medication.”

Karen Perry lost her oldest son Richard to a drug overdose in 2003. She visit him every day in the small cemetery across the street from her home.

“I can tell you there’s nothing worse than losing a child,” she said.

In her son’s memory, Perry founded the Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education task force, traveling the state to share a story that never gets easier to tell.

And the message seems to be getting through, to kids at least: Prescription drug abuse among Florida teens is on the decline.

And just getting illegal pills in Florida could soon be a lot tougher.

Starting tomorrow, pharmacists can tap into a brand-new statewide drug database designed to track the most addictive painkillers.

It’s a start, cops say … but only that.

When asked if police were chipping away at prescription drug trafficking, Chief Deputy Qualtieri said, “Barely.

“There are a lot of efforts being made, and there’s a lot of people dedicated and are working hard every single day to try and make a dent in it, but we got a ways to go,” said Qualtieri.

Study Finds Link Between Number of Neighborhood Liquor Stores and Youth Homicides

Limiting the number of liquor stores in neighborhoods could reduce the rate of youth homicides in those areas, a new study suggests. A second study found higher rates of violent crimes in neighborhoods where liquor stores allot more than 10 percent of cooler space to single-serve alcohol containers, Science Daily reports.

“These results suggest that alcohol control can be an important tool in violence prevention,” Robert N. Parker, of the University of California, Riverside, lead researcher in both studies, said in a news release. “Policies designed to reduce outlet density can provide relief from violence in and around these neighborhood outlets. And banning or reducing the sales of single-serve, ready-to-consume containers of alcohol can have an additional impact on preventing violence.”

Both studies are published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review. In the first study, researchers looked at federal crime data for offenders ages 13 to 24, and determined the density of stores that sold wine, beer and liquor in 91 cities in 36 states. They took into account other factors known to contribute to youth homicide rates, such as drugs, poverty, gangs and availability of guns. They found higher densities of liquor stores were associated with higher youth homicide rates.

In the second study, the researchers went to every alcohol outlet in San Bernadino, CA. They counted the number of coolers that contained alcoholic beverages at each location, and the amount of space the store devoted to single-serve containers. They also looked at violent crime statistics and census data for the city. They found violent crime rates were significantly higher in areas that had both higher densities of stores, and retail stores with more cooler space devoted to single-serve alcohol containers.

Parents’ Drinking May Increase Risk of Children’s Driving Under the Influence

Teens whose parents drink are more likely to drive under the influence (DUI) when they are adults compared with children with non-drinking parents, a new study suggests. The study found the risk of DUI was increased even if parents’ drinking was moderate.

The study found 6 percent of teenagers whose parents drank, even just once in awhile, said they drove under the influence when they were 21, compared with 2 percent of those whose parents did not drink, HealthDay reports.

The results are published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.

“The main idea is that parents’ alcohol use has an effect on their kids’ behavior,” study lead author, Mildred Maldonado-Molina of the University of Florida College of Medicine, said in a university news release. “It’s important for parents to know that their behavior has an effect not only at that developmental age when their kids are adolescents, but also on their future behavior as young adults.”

The researchers surveyed almost 10,000 teens and their parents, and conducted a second survey of the same group seven years later. The study found parents had more influence on their children’s driving than the teens’ friends did, but peer pressure did have an effect. Teens with friends who drink alcohol are more likely to drive under the influence, even when their parents do not drink at home, the study found. Teens are at highest risk when they have both friends and parents who drink alcohol: 11 percent of these teens said they drove under the influence when they were in their 20s.