Monday, November 23, 2009

Broward County Grand Jury Recommends Steps to Clean Up Pill Mills

In a Nov. 19 report, a Broward County grand jury recommended 18 steps to help crack down on the proliferation of pain clinics in South Florida. The report noted that in the past two years, the number of Broward County clinics has risen from four to 115.

Among the grand jury's recommendations:

* Curbing doctor shopping by reducing the 15-day reporting requirement
* Requiring doctors at pain clinics to access and view patients' databases prior to prescribing and dispensing medication to patients
* Prohibiting prescription drugs from being dispensed at clinics, unless there is no pharmacy within 10 miles of the pain clinic. Or, as an alternative, allowing only a 3-day supply of prescription drugs rather than a 30-day supply
* Barring people with criminal records from owning pain clinics

To view a Miami-Herald story about the recommendations, visit

Prescription Drug Victims: Michael Jackson’s doctor returning to work Monday

Despite an on-going criminal investigation and a cloud of suspicion over him, Michael Jackson’s former personal physician is returning to work at his Houston clinic for the first time since the pop singer’s death.

Murray last worked at the clinic in April, before suspending his regular practices in Las Vegas and Houston to take a lucrative $150,000-per-month job as Jackson’s personal physician.

The physician continues to be the focus of a homicide investigation since telling investigators he administered propofol, a powerful operating room anesthetic, to Jackson. Los Angeles police say they will not decide whether to prosecute Murray, until next year.

Prescription Drug Victims: Sopranos actor Brancato goes on trial for killing of police officer

Lillo Brancato made a name for himself playing mob characters on the small and big screen. With his Italian New York upbringing, and an uncanny ability to imitate the tough dialect of local crime families, he was recruited to play opposite Robert De Niro and appeared in six episodes of the TV series the Sopranos as a wannabe mobster who was killed before he could achieve his dreams.

Now Brancato's own ambitions face extinction as he goes on trial for the second degree murder of a police officer in 2005. Brancato is alleged to have been involved in a bungled robbery in search of prescription drugs, in which his accomplice, Steven Armento, shot the officer at close range.

Prison Treatment Cuts Could Feed Recidivism in Calif.

Prison Treatment Cuts Could Feed Recidivism in Calif.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Campaign Designed to Tackle Teen Prescription Abuse

Broward County educators, parents, health professionals and child advocates may be interested in a new campaign aimed at curbing illegal prescription drug use among teenagers.

"Maximizing Your Role as a Teen Influencer: What You Can Do to Help Prevent Teen Prescription Drug Abuse" was recently launched by the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), along with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and 15 other groups.

Some of the staggering facts about teen drug use are:
* More than 1 in 10 teens (or 2.8 million) have abused prescription drugs in their lifetimes according to SAMHSA
* 1 in 3 teens surveyed said there is "nothing wrong" when using prescription drugs "every once in a while," according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America's 2007 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study

To read full story, click here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Alcohol Deaths Rise among College Students

Alcohol-related deaths among U.S. college students have increased from 1,440 in 1998 to 1,825 less than a decade later, in 2005, according to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

In response to the increasingly complex issue of alcohol abuse among college students, the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism created the Task Force on College Drinking in 1998. Visit the task force site with facts on college drinking here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Florida Drug & Alcohol Deaths Estimated at 11,000 per Year

A staggering 11,000 Floridians die every year from the effects of drug and alcohol abuse, according to a news item on Capitol News Service.

The story reports, "The deaths result from overdoses, car wrecks, and violent acts committed by the drug abusers. The addicts are costing state, city and county governments an estimate 43 billion dollars a year in emergency room visits, crime scene investigations, and prison costs. Florida TaxWatch spokesman Harvey Bennett says drugs and alcohol also keep people from paying taxes and using their skills for the greater good."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to Find a Substance Abuse Treatment Center

Locate a substance abuse treatment center in your area by using a convenient database maintained by The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Click here for details.

You will be able to search for drug or alcohol treatment centers by city, state, zip code, or street address. For example, a search of Fort Lauderdale, Florida results in almost 150 treatment centers offering a wide range of services.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Florida Sheriff Launches Narcotics Strategic Diversion Unit

In drug terms, "diversion" refers to legal prescription medicine that is redirected for illegal purposes. The Pinellas County (Florida) Sheriff's Office announced the formation of the Diversion Unit to partner with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to increase public awareness on this dangerous trend. The St. Petersburg, Florida, Police Department has agreed to provide assistance and resouces.

As part of this initiative, the Pinellas County Sheriff ’s Office is holding “Operation Medicine Cabinet” events. This is an opportunity for citizens to properly dispose of their unused medications in a safe and secure manner. Last spring the first "Operation Medicine Cabinet" collected over one ton of medications from Bay Area citizens.

Read the full story about the Narcotics Strategic Diversion Unit.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Prescription Drug Abuse a Coral Springs Priority

Because "illegal prescription narcotics are some of the most abused drugs in the nation," the Coral Springs, Florida Police Department is placing a high priority on preventing their unauthorized use and distribution.

Trafficking of prescription drugs is the basis for 13 Coral Springs arrests since June 2009, reports Police Chief Duncan Foster, with 1,936 dosage units of 30-milligram oxycodone and 90 units of 15-milligram oxycodone seized in the actions.

According to a November 8 Sun Sentinel story titled Coral Springs puts tight lid on prescription drug abuse, Coral Springs Police Department efforts include working with local pharmacies to insure compliance with laws aimed at preventing abuse of prescription narcotics.

A resident tip line, partnerships with the FBI, and "drug destruction day" events are several other police initiatives meant to bring heightened community awareness to the subject.

Perhaps most meaningfully, parents who have lost a child due to the illegal use of prescription drugs will speak in local high schools on the dangers of drug abuse.

Coral Springs is based in Broward County, Florida.

Friday, November 6, 2009

How to Spot Cocaine Abuse

Do you suspect a friend, family member, or child of substance abuse? Here are some warning signs of cocaine abuse, as provided by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

The physical symptoms of cocaine abuse include short-lived euphoria, changing to depression; nervousness or irritability; and tightening of muscles.

If you suspect cocaine abuse, look for glassine envelopes (they look like waxed paper), razor blades, small spoons, and odorless bitter white crystalline powder.

Physical dangers of cocaine abuse can be life-threatening, and include shallow breathing, fever, anxiety, tremors, and possible death from convulsions or respiratory arrest.

Seek immediate medical attention, based on the circumstances of your case.

Read more about alcohol and substance abuse symptoms here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Seven Symptoms of Drug Abuse

The Florida Department of Children and Families alerts parents, other concerned family members, and friends to watch for the following behaviorial changes:

1. change in school or work attendance or performance
2. alteration of personal appearance
3. sudden mood or attitude changes
4. withdrawal from family contacts
5. withdrawal from responsibility
6. unusual patterns of behavior
7. unresponsive to environmental stimuli

If you suspect drug or other substance abuse, it is best to address the situation quickly.

Click here to read more about the street names and physical symptoms for different kinds of drugs, including heroine, cocaine, hallucinogens, and amphetamines.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Florida Substance Abuse and Mental Health Stakeholder Survey

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program Offices of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) are in the process of developing a three-year Master Plan which will report on activities to the Florida Legislature. The Master Plan must be finalized by January 1, 2010, and will cover the time frame of Fiscal Years 2011 through 2013.

Further information about the survey is available form Sheila Barbee at (850) 487-2920 or Jimmers Micallef at (850) 413-6159. Visit the DCF Substance Abuse website for more details.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lee County Students Report Prescription Drug Abuse

Over 12% of Lee County, Florida, students reported abusing prescription pain killers, according to a recent story by NBC 2 titled, "Survey: Lee County tops state for Rx drug abuse." Additionally, almost 9% of students surveyed admitted to abusing depressants.

Statistics are taken from the 2008 Florida Substance Abuse survey, conducted by the Florida Department of Children and Families. Lee County tops the state in prescription drug abuse, according to the survey.

Parents who are concerned about whether their school-aged child is using or experimenting with drugs can read more here about substance abuse signs in teens and children. Early detection and treatment is recommended to avoid longer term substance abuse issues.