Risk of Death Increases in Nursing Home Residents After Exposure to Typical Antipsychotics

Elderly Health/Long-Term Care

Antipsychotic medications are commonly used in nursing homes to help patients with dementia, schizophrenia, and other behavior problems. Older drugs, called typical antipsychotics, can cause a variety of central nervous system side effects. The newer, atypical agents are preferred by many due to their better side effect profiles. Typical antipsychotics can increase the risk for mortality in the elderly, concludes a new study.

–Agency for Healthcare Research and Policy

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The Intersection of Foster Care and Mental Health

In the United States, there are more than 400,000 children and teens in foster care.  Research reveals that children and teens in the foster care system have disproportionately high rates of psychiatric disability.

One study by the National Institute of Mental Health found that nearly half (47.9 percent) of youth in foster care were found to have clinically significant emotional or behavioral problems.  Likewise, researchers at the Casey Family Programs estimate that between one-half and three-fourths of children entering foster care exhibit behavioral or social competency problems that warrant mental health services.

Youth who have “aged out” of foster care also show high rates of psychiatric disability.  According to a study by the Casey Family Programs and Harvard Medical School, a high number of former foster children have psychiatric disabilities as adults.  Over half of foster care alumni had mental health diagnoses, compared to 22 percent of the comparison group.

The disproportionate level of mental health diagnoses is perhaps most evident with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Thirty percent of foster alumni are diagnosed with PTSD, which is about twice the rate of U.S. combat veterans.

by Stephanie Orlando, Disability Blog

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Brain Patterns May Help Predict Relapse Risk for Alcoholism

Distinct patterns of brain activity are linked to greater rates of relapse among alcohol dependent patients in early recovery, a study has found. The research, supported by the National Institutes of Health, may give clues about which people in recovery from alcoholism are most likely to return to drinking.

“Reducing the high rate of relapse among people treated for alcohol dependence is a fundamental research issue,” said Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., acting director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of NIH. “Improving our understanding of the neural mechanisms that underlie relapse will help us identify susceptible individuals and could inform the development of other prevention strategies.”

Using brain scans, researchers found that people in recovery from alcoholism who showed hyperactivity in areas of the prefrontal cortex during a relaxing scenario were eight times as likely to relapse as those showing normal brain patterns or healthy controls.

The prefrontal brain plays a role in regulating emotion, the ability to suppress urges, and decision-making. Chronic drinking may damage regions involved in self-control, affecting the ability to regulate cravings and resist relapse.

–National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Half of Pregnant Teen Admissions Used Drugs or Alcohol in the Month Prior to Entering Treatment

Report reveals special challenges of pregnant teens in substance abuse treatment

A new report shows that among the approximately 57,000 teenage female (ages 12 to 19) substance abuse treatment admissions each year, about 2,000 (4 percent) involve pregnant teens. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) report finds that these pregnant teen admissions tend to face greater challenges than other female teen admissions in a number of key areas such as financial and educational status.

For example, pregnant teen admissions were three times more likely than other female teen admissions to receive public assistance as a primary source of income (15 percent versus 5.3 percent). Similarly in education, while 74 percent of non-pregnant female teen admissions who were not in the workforce were students, only 44.2 percent of pregnant teen admissions not in the workforce were students.

The report also indicates that about half (51 percent) of pregnant teen admissions reported some use of drugs or alcohol in the month prior to their treatment entry. This rate is substantially lower than that of other female teenage admissions (70.9 percent). However, nearly one fifth (19.3 percent) of pregnant teen admissions had used a drug or alcohol on a daily basis in the month before entering treatment – comparable to the rate among other female teen admissions (24.5 percent).

Marijuana was the most commonly used substance among both pregnant teen and other female teen treatment admission groups (72.9 percent and 70.2 percent respectively). However there were some notable differences in the substance use patterns between the two groups, particularly with regard to the use of methamphetamines and amphetamines. Pregnant teen admissions were twice as likely as other female treatment admissions to abuse these substances (16.9 percent for pregnant teen admissions versus 8.4 percent for other female teen admissions).

“It is critical that pregnant women of all ages have access to prevention, support, and recovery services that meet their specialized needs,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “These specialized needs are even more acute for our pregnant teens. Community programs that can address the needs of pregnant teens by providing them both access to substance abuse support services and specialized pregnant and post partum services can help ensure that these future mothers and their children live healthier, happier and more productive lives.”


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Sharp Rise in Emergency Department Visits Involving the Sleep Medication Ambien

Zolpidem is the active ingredient in Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar and Zolpimist

A new report shows that the number of emergency department visits involving adverse reactions to the sleep medication zolpidem rose nearly 220 percent from 6,111 visits in 2005 to 19,487 visits in 2010.   The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report also finds that in 2010 patients aged 45 or older represented about three-quarters (74 percent) of all emergency department visits involving adverse reactions to zolpidem.

In 2010 there were a total of 4,916,328  drug-related visits to emergency departments throughout the nation.

From 2005 to 2010 there was a 274 percent increase in the number of female visits to emergency department involving zolpidem (from 3,527 visits in 2005 to 13,130 in 2010)  — in comparison to a 144 percent increase among males during the same period (2,584 visits in 2005 to 6,306 in 2010). In 2010 females accounted for more than two-thirds (68 percent) of all emergency department visits related to zolpidem.

Zolpidem is an FDA-approved medication used for the short-term treatment of insomnia and is the active ingredient in drugs such as Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar and Zolpimist. These drugs have been used safely and effectively by millions of Americans, however, in January 2013, FDA responded to increasing numbers of reports of adverse reactions by requiring manufacturers of drugs containing Zolpidem to halve the recommended dose for females. FDA also suggested that manufacturers reduce the recommended dose for men as well.

Adverse reactions associated with the medication include daytime drowsiness, dizziness, hallucinations, agitation, sleep-walking and drowsiness while driving. When zolpidem is combined with other substances, the sedative effects of the drug can be dangerously enhanced. This is especially true when zolpidem is combined with certain anti-anxiety medications and narcotic pain relievers which depress the central nervous system. The report finds that in 2010 half of all emergency department visits related to zolpidem involved its use with other drugs. In 37 percent of all emergency department visits involving zolpidem it was used in combination with drugs that depress the central nervous system.

“Although short-term sleeping medications can help patients, it is exceedingly important that they be carefully used and monitored,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “Physicians and patients need to be aware of the potential adverse reactions associated with any medication, and work closely together to prevent or quickly address any problems that may arise.”


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