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Use of alcohol, cigarettes, and a number of illicit drugs declines among U.S. teens

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Use of alcohol, cigarettes, and a number of illicit drugs declines among U.S. teens (PDF)
Source: University of Michigan Monitoring the Future Survey

A national survey of students in U.S. middle schools and high schools shows some important improvements in levels of substance use.

Both alcohol and cigarette use in 2014 are at their lowest points since the study began in 1975. Use of a number of illicit drugs also show declines this year.

These findings come from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, which tracks trends in substance use among students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades. Each year the national study, now in its 40th year, surveys 40,000 to 50,000 students in about 400 secondary schools throughout the United States.

See also: E-cigarettes surpass tobacco cigarettes among teens (PDF)

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State Laws Prohibiting Sales to Minors and Indoor Use of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems — United States, November 2014

December 16, 2014 Comments off

State Laws Prohibiting Sales to Minors and Indoor Use of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems — United States, November 2014
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), including electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and other devices such as electronic hookahs, electronic cigars, and vape pens, are battery-powered devices capable of delivering aerosolized nicotine and additives to the user. Experimentation with and current use of e-cigarettes has risen sharply among youths and adults in the United States (1,2). Youth access to and use of ENDS is of particular concern given the potential adverse effects of nicotine on adolescent brain development (3). Additionally, ENDS use in public indoor areas might passively expose bystanders (e.g., children, pregnant women, and other nontobacco users) to nicotine and other potentially harmful constituents (4,5). ENDS use could have the potential to renormalize tobacco use and complicate enforcement of smoke-free policies (1). State governments can regulate the sales of ENDS and their use in indoor areas where nonusers might be involuntarily exposed to secondhand aerosol (4,5). To learn the current status of state laws regulating the sales and use of ENDS, CDC assessed state laws that prohibit ENDS sales to minors and laws that include ENDS use in conventional smoking prohibitions in indoor areas of private worksites, restaurants, and bars. Findings indicate that as of November 30, 2014, 40 states prohibited ENDS sales to minors, but only three states prohibited ENDS use in private worksites, restaurants, and bars. Of the 40 states that prohibited ENDS sales to minors, 21 did not prohibit ENDS use or conventional smoking in private worksites, restaurants, and bars. Three states had no statewide laws prohibiting ENDS sales to minors and no statewide laws prohibiting ENDS use or conventional smoking in private worksites, restaurants, and bars. According to the Surgeon General, ENDS have the potential for public health harm or public health benefit (1). The possibility of public health benefit from ENDS could arise only if 1) current smokers use these devices to switch completely from combustible tobacco products and 2) the availability and use of combustible tobacco products are rapidly reduced (1). Therefore, when addressing potential public health harms associated with ENDS, it is important to simultaneously uphold and accelerate strategies found by the Surgeon General to prevent and reduce combustible tobacco use, including tobacco price increases, comprehensive smoke-free laws, high-impact media campaigns, barrier-free cessation treatment and services, and comprehensive statewide tobacco control programs.

America’s Pain Points

December 12, 2014 Comments off

America’s Pain Points
Source: Express Scripts

America claims less than 5% of the world’s population, yet it consumes roughly 80% of the world’s opioid supply. Knowing the potential for misuse of these medications, and facing an increase in opioid-related deaths in this country, we wanted a deeper understanding of how patients in the U.S. are using these medications so we can identify additional ways to protect them from the risks associated with their use.

In A Nation in Pain, our research revealed a drop in short-term use of opioids, and stabilization in the number of patients using these medications longer term, which is in contrast to the increases seen in the past. Both trends indicate that doctors are being more cautious about prescribing these pain medications.

However, the research uncovered some concerning increases in the amount of prescription opioid medications Americans use, and the frequency in which these medications are used in dangerously high doses and in risky combinations with other medications.

Depression in the U.S. Household Population, 2009–2012

December 11, 2014 Comments off

Depression in the U.S. Household Population, 2009–2012
Source: National Center for Health Statistics

Key findings
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2012

  • During 2009–2012, 7.6% of Americans aged 12 and over had depression (moderate or severe depressive symptoms in the past 2 weeks).
  • Depression was more prevalent among females and persons aged 40–59.
  • About 3% of Americans aged 12 and over had severe depressive symptoms, while almost 78% had no symptoms.
  • Persons living below the poverty level were nearly 2½ times more likely to have depression than those at or above the poverty level.
  • Almost 43% of persons with severe depressive symptoms reported serious difficulties in work, home, and social activities.
  • Of those with severe symptoms, 35% reported having contact with a mental health professional in the past year.

VA Mental Health Services Public Report — November 2014

December 10, 2014 Comments off

VA Mental Health Services Public Report — November 2014 (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The following report is designed to give Veterans, their families, and the broader community information about the mental health treatment programs offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It documents the rapid growth in demand for VA mental health services during the past decade, some of the challenges this has created, and ways in which VA has responded. VA measures the resources available to address Veterans’ mental health needs, and this report highlights some of these, including budgeting for mental health care, staffing and space for mental health programs, and use of technology to improve access to treatment. The report also presents information about Veterans’ experience of care, including the types and amount of mental health services received and Veterans’ opinions about access and quality of care. VA has ongoing efforts to use this information to address areas of concern and improve the quality of VA mental health treatment.

CRS — A Guide to U.S. Military Casualty Statistics: Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom (November 20, 2014)

December 9, 2014 Comments off

A Guide to U.S. Military Casualty Statistics: Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report presents statistics regarding U.S. military casualties in the active missions Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR, Iraq and Syria) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF, Afghanistan), as well as operations that have ended, Operation New Dawn (OND, Iraq) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF, Iraq). This report includes statistics on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), amputations, evacuations, and the demographics of casualties. Some of these statistics are publicly available at the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) website and others have been obtained through contact with experts at DOD.

This report will be updated as needed.

Anticipating the Landscape in the Years Ahead: Military Members Transition to a Post-War Mission

December 7, 2014 Comments off

Anticipating the Landscape in the Years Ahead: Military Members Transition to a Post-War Mission
Source: University of Minnesota (Research and Outreach (REACH) Laboratory)

Although a majority of service members are resilient and we do not anticipate that they will develop long-term difficulties, this review highlights increased risks for service members across six domains: mental health, social and role functioning, relationship functioning and family life, spirituality, physical health, and financial well-being. Although risk factors and future trajectories vary, psychiatric difficulties are a consistent predictor of a worsened course. Supporting service members in role functioning (in the classroom, in the family, and in the workforce) will be an important component of fostering wellness.

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