Another Teen Dies As A Result Of Energy Drinks
June 29, 2015
A a sixteen year old girl from Arizona died reportedly after drinking too many energy drinks.
Lanna Hamann a sixteen year old girl from Arizona was vacationing in Mexico with family and friends. After spending time out in the sun on a Mexican beach, she complained of not feeling well and difficulty in breathing. She was taken to a local clinic where she suffered a cardiac arrest and doctors were unable to revive her. An autopsy later showed that consumption of energy drinks contributed to her death.
An otherwise healthy and athletic teen, friends of Lanna reported that she loved Red Bull and, instead of staying hydrated with water, had consumed several on the day she died. According to health experts, the large amount of sugar and caffeine in the drinks can affect blood pressure and heart rhythms.
We have reported on the dangers of highly sweetened and caffeinated energy drinks and their effects on driving in the past. We have also reported on the health dangers posed by overdosing on caffeine. Health experts have reported that emergency room visits related to the use of energy drinks have doubled over the past several years.
Young people need to be aware of the dangers these drinks can pose, especially if more than one drink is consumed. Caffeine in large amounts can lead to health issues, including cardiovascular problems, seizures, and hallucinations.
The conditions on a hot day at the beach can increase the dangers posed by energy drinks. In hot weather, it’s easy to become dehydrated. According to WebMD.com, dehydration can lead to
- Palpitations (feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding)
- Sluggishness fainting
- Inability to sweat
- Decreased urine output
Staying hydrated by using water or fruit drinks is important. Caffeinated drinks have a diuretic effect that keeps the body from retaining fluids. The effects of dehydration combined with the effects of high amounts of caffeine can increase the risk of health problems.
Read more: Energy Drinks Blamed For Vacation Death Of 16-Year-Old Girl
Two Dangerous Drugs Hit Florida’s Streets
April 14, 2015
Two dangerous drugs are gaining in popularity according to health and law enforcement officials in Florida. Users of the drugs, known commonly as “Flakka” and “N-bomb” are showing up more and more in emergency rooms in critical condition.
The problem for law enforcement is that both of these dangerous drugs fall into a class of drugs known as synthetic or designer drugs in which a controlled substance or illegal drug is chemically changed. Altering these drugs is relatively easy and cheap and the result is that they retain most, if not more, of their psychoactive power but, because of their changed chemical structure, they’re no longer classified as illegal drugs. Law enforcement officials are powerless to do anything until state legislatures or the federal government can act to add the drugs to the list of illegal substances. Once they’re added to the list, drug dealers can simply perform another chemical modification and they’re back in business.
Flakka belongs to the same class of chemicals known as cathinones used in bath salts. According to health experts, there were a total of 126 reported deaths tied to synthetic cathinone in Florida in 2013.
Flakka creates a hallucinogenic effect described by health experts as “excited delirium.” It produces a psychotic effect and leads to paranoia in which the user feels he or she is being chased and they’ll do anything to escape their pursuers.
Users can suffer from hypothermia causing their body temperatures to rise to as much as 105 degrees. Due to the high body temperatures, users are often found stripped down or even naked in the street.
The drug also gives the user an almost superhuman strength requiring as many as five police officers to restrain them. In severe cases, the drug can also cause muscle tissues to decompose and flow into the bloodstream. If that happens, it can lead to kidney and heart failure.
Flakka looks like its cousin bath salts; basically similar in appearance to epsom salts or rock salt. The drug can be swallowed, inhaled or injected.
As the drug wears off, it creates a severe depression effect causing users to take more of the drug to put them back in their former euphoric state of mind.
N-bomb is referred to as a legal or “natural” LSD and is responsible for at least 17 deaths since 2010.
This drug has many of the same effects on its users as Flakka including; hallucinations, psychosis, paranoia, and hypothermia.
The only way for emergency rooms to treat for the drug is to manage agitation and treat the various symptoms to prevent organ failure. External cooling of the body is also necessary.
N-bomb can come in liquid form or sold on blotter paper. In its powder form, it can be sold loose or in capsules. It can be inhaled, injected, or absorbed through the lining of any body opening.
These dangerous drugs are very cheap to manufacture compared to drugs like meth or cocaine and that low cost is creating an even greater demand for the drugs on the street. According to health experts, both Flakka and N-bomb are highly addictive.
Parents need to be aware of the presence of these drugs and be on the lookout for anything that may be similar in appearance to the drugs and for any unusual behavior among their teens.
Read more: Authorities are cracking down on the new street drug, flakka, known as ‘$5 insanity’
Binge Drinking By Teens Affects Their Adult Behavior
April 3, 2015
Binge drinking by teens can lead to genetic changes that will affect their adult behavior according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and published online in the journal Neurobiology of Disease.
The researchers used rats as a model for teens. They gave adolescent rats, at 28 days of age, alcohol for two days on and two days off for 13 days. Later, as the rats matured, they were able to observe the adult rats for behavior changes and their preference for alcohol. Compared to rats that weren’t given alcohol as adolescents, the “binge drinking” rats showed more anxiety-like behaviors as they entered adulthood and, when given a choice between water or alcohol, showed a preference for the alcohol.
While most of our genetic makeup is present at birth, some genes can be changed through exposure to chemicals in the environment that are absorbed through the lungs or consumed in food or liquids. These chemical and environmental changes to our genetic makeup are known as epigenetics.
In the study, the brains of rats that were given alcohol as adolescents showed changes in the area of the brain known as the amygdala. They found increased levels of a protein (HDAC2) that causes the DNA to be tightly wrapped. The tightly wound DNA, together with the increased level of the protein limits the ability of nerve cells to form new synaptic connections.
The researchers felt that the tightly wound DNA strands prevented the formation of new connections needed in the rapidly developing adolescent brain. That the inhibited growth leads to more anxious behaviors and the tendency toward alcoholism in adults.
The one bit of good news was the discovery that a cancer drug known to block expression of the HDAC2 protein was able to reverse the effects of the tightly wound DNA strands in adult rats. However, it will take years of research to find out if the drug will also work on adult humans and whether or not the drug will have to be given long-term to reverse the effects of the alcohol consumed during adolescence.
The best cure is prevention.
Read more: Adolescent drinking affects adult behavior through long-lasting changes in genes
Planning For A Fun And Safe Spring Break
March 3, 2015
It’s that time of year again and the warm beaches of Florida are going to be prime destinations for spring breakers. Spring break is a lot of fun and can provide a lifetime of memories but it can also, just as easily, turn tragic. If you’re headed to the coast, remember the lessons learned in your drug and alcohol course as well as our top safety tips for a safe spring break.
- Maintain a buddy system – Travel with friends and stay with those friends to keep each other out of trouble. Along with college students, spring break also attracts unsavory types such as thieves and sexual predators. Don’t go off alone with someone you don’t know.
There are a lot of reasons not to drink but, if you feel you must:
- Have a plan – Plan on how you’ll get home safely, either by cab or a designated driver. Plan to limit your drinking. If you make a plan before you go out, chances are, you’ll stick with that plan but if you wait until after you’ve been drinking to decide what to do, your judgment will be clouded and you could drink yourself into trouble.
- Limit your drinking – While the effect of alcohol is different on everyone, a general rule of thumb is that it requires at least one hour for the body to process the alcohol from one drink. The more you drink, the longer it takes for the body to process the alcohol and get it out of your system. For females, who are generally smaller, one drink can affect you much more quickly than it will for a male and can take longer for the body to process.
- Binge drinking is deadly – Your body can only process so much alcohol before it becomes toxic. Alcohol affects your motor skills. You quickly start to feel the effect on the voluntary motor skills that control your speech, vision and ability to walk but too much alcohol can shut down the involuntary muscles controlling the heart and lungs and death from alcohol poisoning is the result. Drinking games look like fun but, for your own safety, make a plan before you go out not engage in any games that could lead to alcohol poisoning.
- Know what you’re drinking – Different drinks have different amounts of alcohol. Some sweet, flavorful cocktails can have up to four shots of liquor. Depending on your body size, a single cocktail can immediately put you over the legal limit.
- Females; guard your drinks – A female who leaves her drink unattended can easily become the victim of a sexual predator who has slipped Rohypnol (the date rape drug) into her drink. If you leave your drink unguarded at any time, dump it and get a fresh drink.
- Alcohol and the sun don’t mix – If you only drink alcoholic drinks when you’re out in the sun, you can easily become dehydrated. The combination of the sun and activities can quickly wear you out and alcohol will compound that effect. Switch off with water or fruit drinks.
- If it seems like a crazy stunt, it’s probably too dangerous – After drinking, spring breakers have died trying to show off by balancing on bannisters, doing pull ups off of hotel balconies, or trying to dive from a balcony into the hotel pool. Unfortunately, instead of stopping them, their friends, also under the influence of alcohol, urged them on. If you see someone trying to pull a dangerous stunt, try to stop them or call local security. You could save their life.
- Scooters and mopeds – If you rent a scooter or moped, make sure you’re familiar with its operation and watch out for other drivers on the road who may not be watching out for you. Never try to operate a scooter or moped if you’ve been drinking.
- Don’t party to the end – Don’t try to party up to the last second before leaving for home. If you’re driving, everyone in your party should try to get a good night’s sleep before heading home. Driving drowsy is just as dangerous as drunk driving.
- Stay alert driving on the road – Share driving duties and switch off with other drivers to remain alert. Long periods on a boring interstate can lead to “highway hypnosis”; avoid that by stopping every two hours or 100 miles to refresh yourself or take a short nap. If you have a long way to drive, don’t try to do it in a single trip. Stop and get some rest before continuing.
- DON’T DRIVE DRUNK OR DRUGGED!!!! – It should go without saying but there are far too many tragedies on spring break because people ignored this simple piece of advice!
More Evidence Supports Later School Start Times
November 19, 2014
Another study has been published showing that later start times for high schools can reduce teen crashes. The study, conducted by the Eastern Virginia Medical School followed another, earlier study conducted in 2011 that looked at teen crash rates in two Virginia school districts with different high school start times.
The latest study looked at teen crash rates in Virginia’s Chesterfield and Henrico counties. After determining that there were no discernible differences in the adult crash rate between the two counties, the researchers compared the teen crash rates for the two counties. The researchers found that the crash rate for teens in Chesterfield county where school begins at 7:20 AM was significantly higher than the teen crash rate in Henrico county where school begins almost one and a half hours later at 8:45.
These findings agree with earlier, similar studies that led the American Academy of Pediatrics to issue a policy statement last August calling on school districts across the nation to adjust their high school start times no earlier than 8:30. According to the Academy statement, teen sleep rhythms naturally shift and it’s nearly impossible for teens to get to sleep earlier than 10:30 PM. Developing teens also need more sleep than adults. When schools start too early, it’s impossible for teens to get the needed amount of sleep leaving them fatigued and at risk when they drive. Other studies also point to a correlation between later start times and higher standardized test scores for teens.
All of the research points in the same direction. Later school start times for teens can save lives. School boards and administrators in districts where school starts earlier than 8:30 AM need to be made aware of this data and should be urged to move the start times to later in the morning.
For more information, read: Research reinforces link between increase in teen driver crashes and early high school start times