Monthly Archives: September 2012
|September 28, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Drug and Alcohol, Health, News, Research|
If you run (or write grants for) programs dealing with drug use and/or prevention you may be interested in the new report discussing the results of the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The annual survey examines use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco products using a sample of persons living in the United States who are over 12 years of age and not in the military or an institution of some sort.
According to the 2011 data, the rate of current (defined as within the past 30 days) drug use among persons aged 12 or older did not change much overall compared to the rate from the prior year (8.7 percent versus 8.9 percent). The most commonly used drug was marijuana, with an increased rate of use of 7 percent in 2011, up from 5.8 percent in 2010.
Among youths aged 12 to 17 years, the rate of current illicit drug use remained stable at approximately 10 percent between 2010 and 2011, but was still higher than the 2008 rate of 9.3 percent. There has been no decline in marijuana use among this population since 2006. Among youths aged 12 to 17, the rate of current non-medical use of prescription drugs declined from 4 percent in 2002 to 2.8 percent in 2011.
Persons over the age of 12 who reported trying a new drug in the last year most often used marijuana, followed by the non-medical use of painkillers. Among those who reported recreational (non-medical) use of pain relievers in the past 12 months, over 54 percent obtained them through a friend or relative for no cost, while just over 18 percent reported they were prescribed the drug by a doctor. Less than 4 percent procured painkillers from an unknown person (stranger) or drug dealer.
Over 6 percent of the population reported drinking heavily in 2011, a drop of nearly half a percent. The rate of current alcohol use among youths aged 12 to 17 remained stable at 13.3 percent in 2011 (13.6 percent in 2010) as did their rates for binge drinking and heavy drinking. Among underage drinkers, their last experience with alcohol was most likely in someone else’s home (57 percent) while 28.2 percent reported last drinking in their residence.
Between 2002 and 2010, the count of persons reporting substance dependence or abuse fluctuated little (from 21.6 million to 22.7 million) and dropped slightly in 2011 to 22.2 million. Marijuana (used by 4.2 million), non-medical use of pain relievers (used by 1.8 million), and cocaine (used by 0.8 million) had the highest rates of dependence or abuse reported in the last year. An interesting, and disturbing, trend – the number of people reporting heroin dependence/abuse nearly doubled between 2007 (214,000) and 2011 (426,000). Heroin use is growing in popularity (620,000 past year users in 2011 compared to 373,000 in 2007 according to the survey data) and is expanding out of urban areas, possibly in response to the crackdown on prescription drug availability and abuse and the reformulation of some highly addictive pain relievers.
The report is available for download at the SAMHSA website.
Report Citation: Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-44, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4713. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012.
|September 21, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Behavorial Health, Elderly, Health, Research||
An international study out of Australia found that happiness peaks (on average) during a person’s 60’s, then begins to decline, before dropping off considerably. Earlier this year, Dr Tony Beatton of Queensland University of Technology and Professor Paul Frijters of The University of Queensland reported findings from their analysis of data from approximately 60,000 people from Australia, Britain and Germany. Highlights include:
- Persons entering middle/retirement age (55 to 75 years) reported the highest levels of happiness
- The data from Germany showed a decrease in happiness as persons entered adulthood, then a peak at age 65 – a pattern different from the other data
- Happiness dropped significantly after age 75 across cases
This research adds to the discussion of the ‘U bend of happiness” (see a great write-up on it in The Economist), the concept that happiness ultimately culminates in late middle age; but Beatton and Frijters also address the drop in happiness after age 75, suggesting that it is related to the onset or worsening of health problems. This aligns with prior research on the relationship between the presentation of depression symptoms and medical issues/illnesses among the elderly population.
Study Citation: Frijters, Paul & Beatton, Tony, 2012. “The mystery of the U-shaped relationship between happiness and age,” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 525-542
|September 17, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Education, Research||
I came across a story heralding the new research linking early music training and improved learning capability just as the unique serenade that can only be described, either factually or fairly, as “trumpet practice – week two” began to reverberate off the walls of the home office. Off the walls of the entire home, actually.
The pluses associated with early musical exposure are standard fare in parenting magazines, and there is evidence that long-term musical instruction has neurological benefits for those who pursue it into adulthood. Yet, there has been little empirical support for the premise that run-of-the-mill childhood musical instruction has a significant positive impact on brain response and function.
According to a study published last month in the Journal of Neuroscience (available via a link from the Northwestern University School of Communication), researchers Erika Skoe and Nina Kraus found that participants with one-to-five years of childhood musical training had more robust neural responses when processing sound cues than those who had no such training. The results from participants who had engaged in six-to-ten years of musical training as youth were even more impressive.
The study demonstrates that even a few years of music lessons can have a fundamental impact on brain functioning nearly a decade later. How much longer the benefits are retained after that point, and if or when they begin to diminish, has not yet been examined.
Play on, son. I eagerly await Land of A Thousand Dances.
Citation: Skoe E, Kraus N. (2012) A little goes a long way: how the adult brain is shaped by musical training in childhood. Journal of Neuroscience. 32(34):11507–11510.
|September 11, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Behavorial Health, News, Research||
Escape from conflict in one’s native country does not necessarily make for a life free of serious concerns or mental health challenges according to research out of the University of London, recently published in BioMed Central Public Health (available online). Using a mixed-methods approach, the researchers examined the social and environmental conditions in of two groups of Somali refugees – one group settled in London, England and one in Minnesota in the United States.
The study, Migration experiences, employment status and psychological distress among Somali immigrants: a mixed-method international study, reveals the power of the mere label of “refugee”, along with other findings:
- Employment was a major factor in the wellness of the displaced Somalis. Gainful employment lowered the risk for depression for respondents by a significant amount.
- In London, 90 percent of the Somalis were unemployed, compared to 26 percent in the Minnesota group. Even with similar pre-resettlement backgrounds, the rates of current major depression, suicide ideation and agoraphobia were higher among the London group.
- The label “refugee” was a sort of stigma in itself, lending to a feeling of powerlessness. Researchers noted that even those displaced persons with professional-level skills and knowledge of the English language found it difficult to adapt to their new surroundings.
This study may be helpful for nonprofits that offer resettlement services as it highlights significant risk factors for mental health challenges that impact the refugee population both in Europe and the United States. As the data suggest, while language skills and employment status are of high importance, the needs of this population are more complex and nuanced than perhaps realized by policy-makers and service providers.
Study Citation: Migration experiences, employment status and psychological distress among Somali immigrants: a mixed-method international study BMC Public Health 2012, 12:749 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-749. Nasir Warfa (firstname.lastname@example.org) Sarah Curtis (S.E.Curtis@durham.ac.uk) Charles Watters (email@example.com) Ken Carswell (firstname.lastname@example.org) David Ingleby (J.D.Ingleby@uu.nl) Kamaldeep Bhui (email@example.com) September 2012. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/12/749/abstract