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What's New - August 1, 1999

New Methadone Regulation Proposed
Methadone programs will have to be accredited under a new proposal announced today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has set up a web page devoted to the proposal. The SAMHSA Methadone page contains the full text of the rule a press release on the proposal as well as fact sheets and a question and answer page.
The new accreditation program will be managed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and replaces a 30-year-old inspection program conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The new program mirrors the recommendations that have been made over the last decade by several independent groups, such as the Institute of Medicine, the Congressional General Accounting Office, and a consensus conference of the National Institutes of Health.
Under the proposed rule, published in the Federal Register, narcotic treatment programs would be accredited by independent agencies in accordance with standards established by SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). These proposed standards emphasize improving the quality of care, such as individualized treatment planning, increased medical supervision, and assessment of patient outcomes. This new program relies on "best practice guidelines" developed by CSAT over the past 10 years.

New Study Shows DARE Doesn't Work
A study just published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (1999,67,590-593) reported no differences between students who took Project DARE classes and other students who took standard helalth classes in terms of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana or other drug use. In this study the students were surveyed when they were in the sixth grade in 1987-1988 and again when they averaged 20 years of age. A news article about this study is available on the web at the IntelliHealth site.
This most recent study joins a body of literature which questions the effectiveness of DARE.

Herbal Cigarettes
There are a variety of products marketed as "herbal Cigarettes". Some, particularly those manufactured in China contain tobacco in the blend with other vegetable substances. Some herbal cigarettes are marketed as a safe alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes. They almost undoubtably are not safe.

Compared to tobacco, researchers have not given smoking other vegetable matter much attention. However, researchers do know that smoking herbal cigarettes exposes the smoker to roughly equivalent amounts of carbon monoxide as smoking run of the mill tobacco cigarettes. Carbon monoxide is a toxic chemical that is one of the significant known health hazards associated with smoking tobacco. In addition, smoking any substance produces combustion by-products called tars that are inhaled. Tars are most often linked to causing lung cancer.

The only difference from a health perspective between herbal and tobacco cigarettes is the presence of nicotine. Nicotine is the primary addictive agent in tobacco, but one of the least harmful chemicals in tobacco. Most herbal cigarettes do not contain any nicotine. Because of this, they are also less useful to people trying to quit smoking. Nicotine substitutes such as patches and gum plus behavior therapy is clearly the method of choice for smoking cessation.

Some herbal cigarettes are marketed as a legal alternative to marijuana, with the implicit promise that you can get high from smoking them. Most of these contain Ephedra, a plant whose principle active ingredient is ephedrine which is an over the counter medicine that opens up your air passages and makes breathing easier. It is a medicine for patients with various lung problems such as asthma or bronchitis. Known side-effects of ephedrine include:

Presumably the first few side-effects listed are what people are referring to when they claim you can get high from these drugs. Use of ephedrine over a extended period of time or at high doses can be risky. Ephedra has been directly associated with eighteen deaths and more than 800 non-fatal "adverse events." See the following sites for more information on Ephedra/Ma Huang/ephedrine: Get Netwise
A new web site launched by several Internet services helps parents keep their children away from Internet sites that offer drugs, alcohol or pornography. The Get Netwise site was created by America Online, Lycos Inc., The Walt Disney Co., Microsoft Corp., Yahoo! and others.
The site has several tools to help parents control and monitor their children's use of the internet, including commercial software programs parents can use to block web sites deemed inappropriate for children, a sample contract for computer use, software that limits online time and ways to report inappropriate sites and practices. The site also lists recommended safe sites for children ofvarious ages.

Smoke Signals
Smoke Signals is maintained by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (smokesignals.org). Their site contains photographs of lung-reduction surgery, video testimony from a woman in her twenties who is suffering from emphysema and "Smoke Signals" -- e-cards that can be downloaded and sent to family/friends to encourage them to give up smoking.

International FAS Day
International FAS Day, Thursday, September 9, '99 will begin at 9:09 a.m. in New Zealand, just west of the international dateline, and move west to Australia, across Asia and Russia, into Africa and Western Europe, across the Caribbean and Newfoundland, finally wending its way across Canada’s mainland and the United States.
The goal is for people to stop for a Minute of Reflection about the invisible plague called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Everyone should remember that during the nine months of pregnancy, or while breastfeeding or planning to conceive, a woman should not consume alcohol.

New Links
Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals

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The Web of Addictions pages Copyright © 1999 by Andrew L. Homer Ph.D. and Dick Dillon. All rights reserved.

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