The number of pregnant women addicted to opioids in America has “more than quadrupled from 1999 to 2014,” says a brand-new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC analyzed hospital discharge data across 28 states, discovering that opioid use disorder rose from 1.5 per 1,000 deliveries in 1999 to a whopping 6.5 in 2014. “An upward trend was observed in all the states in the data set, with the lowest rates in Washington, DC, at 0.7 per 1,000 births, and Nebraska, at 1.2, and the highest rates in West Virginia, at 32.1, and Vermont, at 48.6,” one story noted. The grim findings sadly echo the epidemic currently ravaging the US, CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said in a statement that accompanied the report. “Untreated opioid use disorder during pregnancy can lead to heartbreaking results,” he said. “Each case represents a mother, a child, and a family in need of continued treatment and support.”
Drugs and Alcohol to Blame for Margot Kidder’s Death
Actress Margot Kidder, best known for playing Lois Lane in the Christopher Reeve Superman films, died from suicide, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Kidder, who died in May at 69, suffered from bipolar disorder for most of her life. In 1990, a car accident rendered her both bankrupt and partially paralyzed; not long after the incident, she was found homeless and disoriented after a four-day disappearance. In a coroner’s statement released Wednesday, Kidder “died as a result of a self-inflicted drug and alcohol overdose.” While no further details were given, Kidder’s daughter Maggie McGuane commented that, “it’s a big relief” that the truth of her suicide was made public. “It’s important to be open and honest so there’s not a cloud of shame in dealing with [mental illness],” she said, urging others who are similarly suffering to seek help.
Demi Lovato Cancels Tour, Enters Rehab
Singer Demi Lovato has been released from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, CNN reported, following her drug overdose on July 24. The 25-year-old has entered an undisclosed treatment center (several sites have indicated it’s a luxury facility in Arizona), and cancelled the remaining Mexico and South America dates on her Tell Me You Love Me world tour. “I have always been transparent about my journey with addiction,” she wrote on Instagram. “What I’ve learned is that this illness is not something that disappears or fades with time. It is something I must continue to overcome and have not done yet.” No details have emerged regarding the drugs involved in Lovato’s recent overdose.
Can the “Human Hunger Hormone” Cure Alcoholism?
Ghrelin, the “human hunger hormone” responsible for telling your brain you’re hungry, might be an effective weapon against alcoholism. Given that food and alcohol addiction work the same ways in the brain, researchers are hopeful that they’ve discovered a novel way of combating alcohol cravings. A new research study suggests ghrelin could be used to directly curb alcohol cravings, citing the success of a ghrelin-based compound on a group of alcoholic volunteers. “In people of normal weight, ghrelin increases to let them know they need food, and then decreases after they eat. But in obese people, the level never goes completely down, even after they eat,” said Fatemeh Akhlaghi, a professor of pharmaceuticals at the University of Rhode Island. By using ghrelin, cravings for alcohol might altogether diminish. Also, Akhlaghi observes that the ghrelin-based compound has one key advantage over other medical treatments for alcohol: it’s not derived from opioids. Still, as The Daily Beast story makes clear, we’re not close to an immediate cure to alcoholism just yet: “We are looking at the effect of the compound,” Akhlaghi said. “We cannot say this is a cure; we can say it is a promising therapy.” The story notes that a larger clinical trial is the logical next step for the compound.
Former 3 Doors Down Bassist Arrested for Smuggling Drugs into Jail
Troubled rocker Todd Harrell, a founding member of the band 3 Doors Down, is in hot water again, following an arrest earlier this summer. According to WLOX, the 46-year-old bassist is facing additional jail time after allegedly having drugs mailed to him at the Jackson County Adult Detention Center in Pascagoula, Mississippi. He’s been held there since June 15, after he was arrested for illegal firearms possession, domestic violence and possession of a controlled substance. Sheriff Mike Ezell told WLOX that deputies discovered the drugs during a screening of Harrell’s incoming mail. A judge set Harrell’s bond at $1,000 on Monday after six strips of Suboxone, a common street drug that was originally created as a medication to ease withdrawal symptoms of opiate addiction, were found in his mail. If convicted of trying to smuggle drugs into a correctional facility (which is a felony), Harrell could receive an additional seven years in prison. He was previously sentenced to two years in prison for causing a fatal car accident in 2013 while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Company Develops a “Marijuana Breathalyzer”
Soon law enforcement officials may be able to use a breathalyzer that determines whether a driver has smoked marijuana, according to Newsweek. The Oakland, California based company Hound Labs says it’s developed the world’s first marijuana breath analysis test, which works almost identically to alcohol breathalyzers. At the moment, police officers don’t have any accurate, effective roadside means to tell if a driver has consumed weed and is impaired. (Police have to rely on field sobriety tests.) The device, Hound Labs CEO Mike Lynn says, measures the presence of THC—the main psychoactive ingredient in pot. Mostexperts agree that the “peak time” for THC’s effects to present themselves is within two hours. “When you find THC in breath, you can be pretty darn sure that somebody smoked pot in the last couple of hours,” Lynn said. “And we don’t want to have people driving during that time period or, frankly, at a work site in a construction zone.” (In addition to THC, the device can detect alcohol, as well.)
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