TIME Addiction

Here’s Who’s Most Likely To Black Out While Drinking

passed out girl
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Blacking out, or getting so drunk that you can’t remember anything that happened the night before, is all too common among underage drinkers, according to a new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

In the study, Marc Schuckit, professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego, and his colleagues looked at data on 1,402 drinking teenagers in England when they were 15, 16, 18 and 19. They discovered that by the time the teens reached 19, 90% of them had drank so much they experienced a blackout. About half of them had blacked out multiple times.

More than half of people reported having a blackout at every year of follow-up.

Teens who blacked out while drinking tended to be female—likely because they weigh less and have less body water to dilute the alcohol—to smoke, have sensation-seeking and impulsive behaviors, lack conscientiousness and have friends who also drank or used other substances. “It’s not as if a blackout in these kids was an isolated phenomenon,” says Schuckit. “Blackouts are unfortunately often considered to be a funny thing as opposed to dangerous. I am not sure the average person realizes the dangers associated with blackouts.”

A blackout can occur when someone drinks well over their limit. Alcohol is considered a depressant, and when the dose is high enough, depressants are known to impair memory acquisition. When someone blacks out, it means that while they appear to be awake, alert and intoxicated, their brain is actually not making long-term memories of what’s happening. If a person experiencing a blackout is asked what happened to them just 10 minutes ago, they will have no idea.

There are very few, if any, longitudinal studies that have looked at the impact of blacking out on the brain, but experts guess that it isn’t good. High blood alcohol levels are known to cause memory problems later in life, and blacking out is an indicator of drinking too much. Some people may hit that point with fewer drinks than others, and it’s possible that some have a genetically predisposed sensitivity to alcohol’s effects—but blacking out always means you’ve drank too much.

For young people, that behavior concerns experts. “When you really get drunk, literature shows you are opening yourself up to a huge number of problems,” says Schuckit, citing a greater likelihood of getting into accidents and fights, or doing things that one may later regret, including sex.

The study looked at British students, and prior data suggests that they drink more than American students. Still, Schuckit says it should be taken more seriously among young drinkers everywhere.

Read next: This is What Alcohol Does to Your Sleep

TIME Addiction

E-cigs Are the New Cool Thing for Teenagers

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High schoolers are more likely to smoke e-cigs than regular cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes are hugely popular with teenagers all across the United States, new government data shows, but fewer teens are smoking regular cigarettes—suggesting that e-cigs may attract young people who wouldn’t otherwise smoke.

Researchers surveyed 1,941 Hawaii high school students about their smoking behaviors as well as their relative risk for picking up smoking. Risk was assessed based on factors like sensation-seeking and prevalence of smoking among peers, parent support and academic involvement.

They found, in their study published in the journal Pediatrics, that about 17% of the high schoolers smoked e-cigarettes only, 12% smoked both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes, 3% only smoked conventional cigarettes, and 68% said they did not smoke.

MORE: Debate Over E-Cigs Lights Up

Students who smoked tobacco cigarettes, or who smoked both cigarettes and e-cigs, fell within the highest risk category for picking up the habit. E-cigarette users were lower on the risk threshold than those two groups, suggesting it’s attracting young people who wouldn’t necessarily be interested in conventional smoking. E-cigarette users and dual smokers were also more likely that nonsmokers to believe e-cigarettes are healthier than regular cigarettes.

“The fact that e-cigarette only users were intermediate in risk status between nonusers and dual users raises the possibility that e-cigarettes are recruiting medium-risk adolescents, who otherwise would be less susceptible to tobacco product use,” the authors write.

Part of this perception and attraction to e-cigs could be the fact that they are heavily marketed in public places the authors suggest.

MORE: In Children’s Hands, E-Cigarettes Can Be Deadly

The trouble with e-cigs is that there’s still not enough research to make any definitive conclusions on their risks or benefits. Some experts argue that since e-cigarettes have fewer unhealthy components than traditional cigarettes, they are a better option. They have even been trumpeted as a possible quitting device. Other experts argue that e-cigarettes are just another gateway to nicotine use, and are therefore unacceptable. Whether young people can access them and get hooked is of great concern.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only regulates e-cigarettes marketed for therapeutic purposes, and many products continue to be marketed and sold with little FDA interference. The agency has proposed a rule that would give it more regulatory power over e-cigarettes that would look similar to other tobacco products, but nothing has been finalized. The FDA has also suggested a ban on sale of e-cigs to minors. The agency admits there’s a lot that consumers don’t know about e-cigs, like if they lead young people to smoke other tobacco products or how much nicotine is actually inhaled in each use.

TIME Photojournalism Links

Photojournalism Daily: Dec. 12, 2014

A compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Fernando Moleres‘ work on the rehabilitation of young Internet gaming addicts in China. There are more than 600 million web users in the country and around 10% of online minors are said to show signs of Internet-related addictions. Moleres documents a center in southern Beijing, which treats severely addicted youth — some have spent up to 20 hours a day online — using a tough-love approach with military discipline, drugs and psychotherapy. The excellent photographs capture the center’s 60-some boys and six girls (ranging from mid- to late-teens) going through soldier-like morning drills, group therapy sessions and neurological examinations, all in the hope of breaking their isolating web habits. It’s an intriguing look at a very modern problem.

Fernando Moleres: Inside an Internet gaming disorder rehab center in China (Al Jazeera America)

Natalie Keyssar: Ferguson in focus: A Look Back at a Community Upended (MSNBC) These photographs made in late August and late November show a community still coming to terms with the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

Best photos of 2014 (European Pressphoto Agency)

William Daniels Wins 2014 Tim Hetherington Grant (TIME LightBox) The French photographer was awarded the grant for his ongoing work in Central African Republic.

Photography is art and always will be (The Guardian) Guardian’s photography critic Sean O’Hagan hits back at a commenter claiming photographs cannot be considered fine art.

Michel du Cille, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, dies at 58 (The Washington Post)

TIME Addiction

Hawaii Teens Love Electronic Cigarettes

Popularity of a new tobacco product raises health concerns

It looks like vaping has a bright future in Hawaii.

Experimentation with electronic cigarettes among Hawaii’s high school and middle school students more than tripled from 2011-2013, according to a new state survey. Almost 8% of middle school students and 18% of high school students had tried electronic cigarettes in 2013 (up from 2% and 5%, respectively, in 2011), according to the survey of public school students by the Hawaii State Department of Health. It’s illegal in Hawaii to sell electronic cigarettes to children under the age of 18.

The latest federal data in 2012 showed that 10% teens have tried electronic cigarettes nationwide. New federal numbers on national teen use of electronic cigarettes will come out next week.

MORE: The future of smoking

Smoking of traditional cigarettes among high school students in Hawaii dropped from 2011-2013 and remained steady for Hawaii’s middle schoolers, according to the survey.

The health effects of electronic cigarettes are not well understood. Many in the health community fear that the rise in youth exposure to electronic cigarettes could re-glamorize smoking and become a gateway to traditional cigarettes. Electronic cigarette manufacturers have come under fire from Congress for marketing practices and flavors that seem geared at teens. The federal government has yet to regulate electronic cigarettes.

MORE: Electronic cigarette executives get schooled in Senate hearing

 

 

 

TIME Addiction

Here’s How Big America’s Painkiller Problem Is

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More Americans are taking potentially deadly doses

The rate of Americans using pain medications like codeine, morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone long term has remained stable in the last five years, but the amount of medication they take has increased, according to a new report.

The report, called A Nation in Pain, comes from pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts and shows that almost half of chronic painkiller users are taking short-acting combinations that increase the risk for addiction, and often these cocktails are very dangerous.

Sixty percent of Americans on pain treatments for longterm conditions were prescribed potentially dangerous mixtures. One in three patients were taking a combination of an opiate and an anti-anxiety benzodiazepine, which is the most common combo in multiple drug overdose deaths. Eight percent were taking what’s called a “Houston Cocktail”: an opioid, muscle relaxant and a benzodiazepine. And nearly 30% were taking multiple painkillers together.

Use was most rampant in small Southeastern cities, and two-thirds of patients were prescribed the drugs by two or more physicians. About 40% filled their prescriptions at multiple pharmacies.

“There could be instances when prescribing these combinations of drugs is appropriate, but not at this scale,” said Jo-Ellen Abou Nader, the senior director of Fraud, Waste and Abuse at Express Scripts in a statement.

You can read the full report here.

TIME Photojournalism Links

Photojournalism Daily: Dec. 4, 2014

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Associated Press photographer Rodrigo Abd’s work on illegal gold mining in Peru. The pictures are from La Pampa, located in the country’s Madre de Dios region, where mining has turned vast areas of untouched rainforest into a scarred, bare, and poisoned wasteland. The government is now trying to tackle the issue, but as Abd’s stunning monochrome panoramic photographs show us, even if they manage to curb illegal gold mining and halt deforestation, wounds inflicted on the land may never heal.

Rodrigo Abd: Peru’s Rainforest Turns to Wasteland From Illegal Gold Mining (NBC News)

Tim Matsui: Lisa: The Legacy of Human Trafficking (MSNBC) Incredibly intimate look at a young West Coast woman’s battle to leave a life of sex work and addiction. | Related feature film: The Long Night.

Souvid Datta: Documenting Drug Addiction in Kabul (TIME LightBox) A look at Afghanistan’s heroin epidemic through addicts and law-enforcement.

AP Photos of the Year 2014 (The Associated Press Images)

Photographing the Moments Between War and Peace (The New York Times Lens) Another look at James Hill’s new book, Somewhere Between War and Peace.

In other news, the 2015 World Photo Photo Contest is now open for entries.

Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

TIME Photojournalism Links

Photojournalism Daily: Dec. 3, 2014

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Adam Dean‘s work on the booming jade industry in Myanmar, which is fueled by rampant corruption and drug use among miners. The source of the jade is Kachin State, and a large majority of workers use heroin on a regular basis. It’s illegal but tolerated, with many experts arguing it’s pushed the drug into the general population. Dean’s powerful pictures show the devastating effect that the surge of heroin use has had on the workers and serves as another tale of a poor country not benefiting from its natural riches in the way that it should. (Note: Watch the very strong 11-minute video by Jonah M. Kessel that is paired with Dean’s pictures.)


Adam Dean: Addiction and Suffering in Myanmar’s Jade Industry (The New York Times)

Alex Masi: Bhopal: Tragedy Lives On (Al Jazeera America) Compelling photographs document the legacy of this industrial disaster.

Siegried Modola: Female Circumcision Ceremony in Kenya (The Daily Beast) These photographs draw attention to the controversial practice of female genital mutilation.

Kim Haughton: In Plain Sight (TIME LightBox) Haunting pictures of the sites of child abuse.

True or false in photography (Vogue Italy) Alessia Glaviano muses on truth and photography in the digital age.

reFramed: In conversation with Matt Black (The Los Angeles Times Framework) Barbara Davidson talks to Matt Black about his work documenting California’s Central Valley.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


TIME Addiction

Drug-Overdose Deaths Have More Than Doubled in the U.S.

Opioids and heroin are two of the greatest offenders

Drug overdose deaths more than doubled from 1999 to 2012, according to a new CDC National Center for Health Statistics’s report.

The new data shows drug overdose deaths from drugs like painkillers and heroin have risen from 6.1 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 13.1 in 2012. Drug overdose deaths involving heroin in particular have nearly tripled over the time period.

According to the report, in 2012 alone, there were 41,502 drug overdose deaths, of which 16,007 involved opioid analgesics and 5,925 involved heroin.

It’s no question America has a painkiller problem. An earlier CDC report from July revealed that 46 people die from an overdose of prescription painkillers every day. The data also showed that doctors in the U.S. wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, which comes out to enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills. States with overall higher rates were primarily in the south.

The city of Chicago has even gone after Big Pharma, filing a lawsuit in June 2014 arguing that pharmaceutical companies deceptively marketed opioid painkillers like Percocet and OxyContin to manage chronic pain, even though they have a low success rate come with a high addiction risk.

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CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality File

 

The CDC recommends increase use of prescription-drug-monitoring programs that use databases to track prescriptions for painkillers so that states can identify problem areas where over-prescribing is more prevalent. The agency also recommends the implementation of policies that would lower prescribing rates to risky patients.

 

TIME Addiction

Most People Who Drink Too Much Aren’t Alcoholics

A new report shows that 90% of heavy drinkers are not addicted to alcohol

A new report shows that very few people who drink heavily are actually dependent on alcohol, contrary to some assumptions.

For men, excessive drinking means five drinks in a sitting or 15 over the course of the week; for women, four in a sitting or eight over the week. The survey found that 29% of the population met this criteria, but that 90% of heavy drinkers are not alcoholics.

Health officials believe this is good news for efforts to reduce excessive drinking. Instead of requiring treatment for an addiction, heavy drinkers could be deterred by measures like higher taxes. Excessive drinking causes 88,000 deaths in the U.S. per year.

[NYT]

TIME Addiction

E-Cigarettes Reduce Tobacco Cravings, Study Finds

An Electronic Cigarette Is An Anti Smoking Health Device
Christopher Furlong—Getty Images

E-cigarettes have fewer toxins than regular cigarettes but still contain addictive nicotine

E-cigarettes, which contain anywhere from 100 to 1000 times fewer toxic substances than tobacco cigarettes, significantly reduce tobacco cravings, according to a new study.

Hoping to answer to whether e-cigs decreased the urge to smoke tobacco cigarettes or the urge to smoke altogether, researchers at KU Leuven followed 48 smokers who did not plan to quit for eight months. The smokers were split into three groups, two of which could both vape and smoke tobacco cigarettes for the first two months, and the third of which could only smoke tobacco cigarettes.

In the second stage of the study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the third (control) group was given e-cigarettes as well.

Long-term smokers were likely to trade in tobacco cigarettes for e-cigs: 21% stopped smoking tobacco entirely, and an additional 23% cut the number of tobacco cigarettes they smoked per day in half. Across all groups, the number of tobacco cigarettes smoked was cut by 60%.

“With guidance on practical use, the nicotine e-cig offers many smokers a successful alternative for smoking less – or even quitting altogether,” Professor Frank Baeyens, who headed up the study, said in statement. “E-cig users get the experience of smoking a cigarette and inhale nicotine vapor, but do not suffer the damaging effects of a tobacco cigarette.”

Of course, the participants were presumably still hooked on nicotine, the addictive property in both e-cigs and tobacco cigarettes. And since e-cigarettes are still new, robust research has not yet demonstrated what the consequences of smoking them might be compared to other cigarettes.

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