Elizabeth Vargas made headlines last fall when she checked herself into an alcohol rehab facility and recently went public with her longtime struggle with alcoholism. The “20/20” news anchor is now back on television, is happier and healthier than ever, and speaking about what led to her substance abuse and battle with anxiety.
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Earlier this month, 19-year-old music megastar Justin Bieber admitted to smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol on his flight to New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport—and so we begin this bizarre airborne tale.
Philadelphia was recently recognized for working toward prescription drug abuse prevention among teens. The city’s drug prevention program was acknowledged this month at a U.S. Conference of Mayors, held in Washington, D.C..
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Over the past few months, a dangerous combination of Fentanyl-laced heroin has led to at least nine deaths or hospitalizations in New Jersey, and the trend seems to be increasing. Fentanyl is a synthetic form of morphine used by doctors to treat seriously ill patients. When combined with heroin, its potency rises and heroin users experience an even more intense high.
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The recent death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman has once again made many people more aware of the dangers of heroin. Last month, the renowned actor died in his apartment from an accidental heroin overdose, sending shockwaves across the country. But even with the tragic loss of life, this drug continues to be used and abused in communities across the country.
Heroin abuse is an increasing problem in New Jersey. The state has seen a dramatic increase in the number of heroin and opiate users, particularly among young adults. According to the NJ medical examiner, the number of people between ages 18-25 who sought treatment for opiate addiction jumped by 12 percent from 2010 to 2011. There were 368 deaths related to heroin in the state’s 21 counties in 2011, up from 287 in 2010.
According to U.S. drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, the war on drugs is off. The Administration is taking a new approach to drug and alcohol use disorders, one that focuses less on criminalizing addicts, and more on helping them. “Drug policy reform should be rooted in neuroscience, not political science,” said Kerlikowske in a statement this month. “It should be a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue. That’s what a 21st-century approach to drug policy looks like.”
Experts agree that the war on drugs has been ineffective and that even something as simple as the terminology we use for addiction disorders contributes to the shame and stigma that surround drug and alcohol use.