Stories about: Prescription drugs

The dangers of drug sharing

How accessible are the medications in your house?

A new survey shows that as many as one in seven Massachusetts parents have given their kids prescription painkillers that weren’t prescribed to them. Considering how dangerous a practice this is, those numbers are pretty shocking. Remember waiting in line for coffee this morning? If this survey is accurate then at least one of the people in front of you may have risked their child’s life to alleviate discomfort.

“There’s no question that in some cases this type of behavior could be fatal,” says Lois Lee, MD, MPH, an emergency medicine physician at Children’s Hospital Boston. “Any time you give adult strength medication to a child you increase the chance of an unintentional overdose.”

Taking prescription medication without a doctor’s approval is dangerous for anyone, but the risks are far greater for children. The dosage of most painkillers are based on the size of the patient, so what’s considered a mild painkiller for a full grown adult can have a much more pronounced effect on a child.

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When care requires more than simple answers

When teenagers stonewall adults, there can be many issues leading to the behavior

By Sarah Teasdale, MD, EdM pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Hospital Boston

It was near midnight about a year ago when I noticed a gaunt young man in his early twenties walking toward me in the Emergency Department. It was a young man who, about a decade earlier, had threatened to kill me.

For nearly ten years prior to becoming a physician I was a high school teacher. That particular July, I was teaching English in summer school for students who had failed the class during the regular school year. It was a group of 15 surly teenagers ages 14 to 19, beaten down by a system in which they could not—or chose not—to succeed.

The young man—I’ll call him Andre—was my student that summer. He was a gangly, thin 15-year-old who often wore the same ill-fitting clothes day after day, rarely made eye contact and showed a level of fatigue in the early morning that was extreme, even for a teenager. Whenever I tried to talk to him, he would simply say he was “a’right.” He meant: Stop asking.

So I stopped asking. In doing so, I lost a chance to help him.

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No place like home? One in four LGB teens are driven out

Tragic stories of teens being bullied and ostracized at school have been saturating media headlines. But while these tales are making news, there’s another story to be told: that of homosexual teens’ estrangement—even banishment—from their families.

According to the recent Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS), one in four teens who identify themselves as lesbian or gay are homeless, and a study in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) says that it’s more likely that these teens are being driven out of their homes by their parents. Supporting this are findings from studies of homeless youth living apart from their families. One such study shows that 73 percent of homeless gay and lesbian teens indicated that they were homeless because their parents disapproved of their sexual orientation.

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Exploring the financial incentives behind medical marijuana

image: flikr/trawin

Can you imagine McDonald’s targeting marijuana smokers, touting the Big Mac as a cure for the ‘munchies?’ What if Oprah opened a clinic to distribute medical marijuana in a building that looks and functions like a doctor’s office?

 

As unlikely as these marketing ideas may sound, they’re not far off from reality:

Last week, Jim Hagedorn, the chief executive of lawn care giant Scotts Miracle-Gro, told the Wall Street Journal that his company was interested in reaching out to medical marijuana growers as potential customers.

“I want to target the pot market,” Hagedorn said in the interview. “There’s no good reason we haven’t.”

That same afternoon, former daytime TV staple, Montel Williams, announced that he had opened a brand new Californian medical marijuana dispensary. Williams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, says the effects of marijuana has helped ease his pain in a way traditional medication couldn’t and hopes his ‘high end’ dispensary can help remove some of the stigma around use of the drug.

So, if celebrity endorsements and corporate backing were any indication, it would appear that a significant portion of the population supports medical marijuana. Or, in the very least, support it as long as they can profit from it.

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