A study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology concludes that those who have used drugs casually—meaning occasionally or not heavily—in the past are not more forgetful, or stupider, than those who've never used drugs at all. The study involved 9,000 middle-aged adults in the UK. Participants were given cognitive and memory tests at the age of 42, and then again at the age of 50. Of the substances used by participants, marijuana was by far the most common; 6% had even used it in the past year. But amphetamines, LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, cocaine and ecstasy had also been taken. "Overall, at the population level, the results seem to suggest that past or even current illicit drug use is not necessarily associated with impaired cognitive functioning in early middle age," says lead researcher Alex Dregan of King's College, London. But don’t call your dealer just yet; the results shouldn't be seen as any incentive to use drugs, notes Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Halpern: the study focused only on "casual" use, and doesn't rule out possible lasting side-effects of heavy or prolonged drug use.
Purdue Pharma—the makers of OxyContin—seems only now to have noticed a 2008 lawsuit seeking the release of a cache of documents that could reveal criminal misbranding and mismanagement of Oxy. Their lawyers are seeking to block the disclosures. The documents were compiled by the US Department of Justice, which won a guilty plea and a settlement from Purdue Pharma in 2007, when Purdue pled guilty to misbranding OxyContin: despite unambiguous FDA wording that OxyContin was just as addictive as other (generic) oxycodone products on the market, Purdue told doctors that because OxyContin is an extended release formulation, it's less addictive than its competitors. Oxycodone has become America’s number one addiction. More people are hooked on oxy than heroin and cocaine combined, and figures released this fall showed OxyContin kills more people than traffic accidents nationwide. Purdue made $1.3 billion dollars last year off sales of the drug.
In 2007, 26 states, including Massachusetts, filed lawsuits parallel with the federal DoJ one. Massachusetts won a million-dollar settlement. A year later, Brown University Professor of Family Medicine David Egilman filed a Massachusetts suit to secure the release of the documents that the Department of Justice (via that state Attorney General) used to secure the guilty plea. Prof. Egilman believes that the documents in the Purdue case will not only reveal misdeeds by the drug manufacturer, but also FDA incompetence. The Attorney General of Massachusetts has so far refused to release the documents, saying it would not be in the public interest.
A group of armed militants stormed a hotel in Yemen today, killing two and injuring 20 because the hotel was selling alcohol—a violation of strict Islamic law. Witnesses say that about five masked attackers—said to be members of the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda—entered the hotel lobby in the southern city of Sanaa early this morning, firing on guests and employees indiscriminately. Before fleeing, the gunmen poured fuel onto the hotel carpets in an attempt to set the hotel alight. The attack comes amid a power struggle in Yemen, which has seen a surge of increasingly bold attacks by Islamic militants in recent years, including the firebombing of an Ethiopian social club three years ago. The militants seek to impose their strict version of Sharia law on the country, making liquor-serving establishments prime targets.
A self-proclaimed “Diet Coke addict” from Stockport, England wants to get treatment for his problem. Thirty-five-year-old Darren Jones drinks 42 liters of soda every week. He recently hit 490 pounds. “I believe what I have is an actual addiction and I start to worry if I’m getting near the end of the bottle,” he says. “If I can’t get in touch with Paula (his wife) to get me some more I start to panic—it’s like a drug or alcohol addiction.” The father of two plans to go on a Diet Coke detox in 2012. He wants to check himself into a treatment facility or boot camp, and has tried to investigate his drug of choice: “I called up Diet Coke to ask them if it’s addictive and what I should do and she recommended putting water in it to dilute it, but it would taste horrid and I don’t think it would help.” A Coca-Cola representative says: “Drinking more than 6 liters of any liquid exceeds guidance on daily fluid intakes by agencies such as the [UK] Food Standards Agency. All of our drinks can be enjoyed in moderation as a part of a healthy diet and active lifestyle.” Health experts warn that excessive intake of caffeine and the artificial sweetener aspartame—both which are present in Diet Coke—can be addictive, and cutting down rapidly isn't recommended.
- Research Reveals FDR May Have Been Coke Head [Huffington Post]
- Saffron Could Be Cure To Afghan Poppy Crop Dependency [Asia Times]
- Three Suspects of Drug Dealer Murder Arrested Fleeing To Mexico [Mail Online]
- New Years Eve Bust Finds Meth Lab in Woman's Freezer [Journal Gazette]
- Temporary Reprieve Of Booze For NYE Res? Experts Say Think Again [The Independent]
- Workaholism: The "Respectable" Addiction [MedicineNet.com]
- Judge To Former Miss Russia: Rehab Sentence "Last Chance" [Wall Street Journal]
In the next month, the US Supreme Court will decide whether to take a case that could bring the dogs to your door if the cops suspect you of growing pot or some other smell-able offense. The case involves a Miami police dog named Franky, who smelled out 179 pot plants at the private residence of Joelis Jardines. On the strength of Franky’s nose, the police got a warrant to search Jardines’ house and arrest him. Jardines’ trial lawyer successfully argued that the use of a police dog at the threshold of the house was a violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure, and the evidence was thrown out. The attorney general appealed, and won a reversal—but then the Florida Supreme Court agreed with the trial judge. Observers of the US Supreme Court say it is likely to hear the case, because the Florida Supreme Court used a broader interpretation of the Fourth than many other states. The US Supreme Court has affirmed the use of drug sniffing dogs in cars and airports, but a house is a different story: "We have said that the Fourth Amendment draws a firm line at the entrance to the house,” read a 2001 court decision banning the police use of thermal imaging technology. This case will either reinforce or undermine that firm line.