Author: Justin Mckibben
We consistently hear about technological breakthroughs that change the way our world works. Like a smartphone society that thrives in a pixelated paradise, we constantly seek out the next innovation to keep our lives convenient. So of course we want to digitize the methods we use to determine when we wake up, what we do throughout the day, and when we’ve had too much to drink.
Drunk driving is unfortunately a very serious and frequent side-effect of drinking, but it is entirely preventable if we are able to stay accountable. One new innovation may be the next step to field sobriety tests, and it’s based off of how much drinking can make you blush.
No Blushing and Driving
Booze makes us blush. It is just a part of the body’s natural response to alcohol consumption. How exactly does alcohol make you blush? Well when you’re drinking the alcohol makes your blood vessels relax and widen. The expansion of the blood vessels then brings them closer to the surface of the skin, which in turn makes the face appear red and hot. The blush can be even worse if you have a deficiency in the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase, which helps in the metabolism of alcohol.
Well come to find out these fun facts about human biology can actually be turned against you when your boozing. Scientists have taught a computer algorithm to use infrared cameras in order to recognize drunk people by how much their face gets flushed during a drinking exhibition.
Research and Drunk-velopment
Researchers in Greece originally got 41 study volunteers tipsy, and snapped thermal images of each of these participants’ faces both before and after drinking 4 glasses of wine to determine if they would be able to train a computer to recognize drunk people.
Although 4 drinks will affect different people in different ways, and each reached different levels of intoxication from those 4 drinks, they all reached a blood alcohol content of at least 0.05. Even though that is below the legal driving limit of 0.08, driving with a BAC of 0.05 according to statistics would make you 38% more likely to get in a car crash compared to someone who’s completely sober.
Next the researchers use programing for artificial neural networks to compare the participant’s sober faces in contrast to their drunken faces, and the data was analyzed one pixel at a time. The scientist discovered that the best indicator of a person’s state of intoxication is the temperature of the forehead and nose.
Using those hot spots as a point of reference, the researchers designed and constructed an algorithm that could determine who was sober and who was drunk with an astounding 90% accuracy! This wasn’t just an isolated incident from what it already knew either. Even faces that it hadn’t been originally trained on it could see who was drunk, and even if it didn’t know what the person looked like sober.
After compiling the research data and considering the versatility of this projects usefulness the researchers involved in developing this algorithm suggest the computer program could help police pinpoint individuals who may be suspects in vandalism and other unlawful activity under the influence, or it could be installed in cars and heavy machinery to prevent drunk driving. The latter of those options being what many would consider a great use of resources in my own opinion. Having a program that can read an individual’s facial flush and determine how drunk they are could be utilized in many ways to prevent people from getting behind the wheel and endangering themselves and others.
With concepts like facial recognition software this invention seems all the more practical and useful. Hopefully this kind of innovation can help change the tides as far as drunk driving accidents and the many deaths that come from them every year, but drunk driving is often times just a symptom of a much deeper and more desperate disease… addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The latest bit of news on the subject of whether or not the newest wave of marijuana law reforms will be washing up on the beaches of the sunshine state is not looking so bright for those in favor of medical marijuana. This past Tuesday the Florida House of Representatives cut short its legislative session three days ahead of schedule, meaning that any hope of getting any kind of medical marijuana initiative passed will have to wait… at least until 2016.
Sunshine Swing State
The Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll was released regarding the 3 swing states that are huge in the new 2016 presidential elections and the views those citizens had on legalizing marijuana. Florida was one of those states, and according to those statistics:
- 55% of voters in Florida support recreational marijuana use
- 84% of voters in Florida support medical marijuana
- 17% of Florida voters say they “definitely” or “probably” would use it
- 81% of Florida voters say they “probably” or “definitely” would not use it
So with Florida being one of the historically essential states in elections, it seems that the states stance on adjusting pot policies is a huge influence. So it does make a lot of sense that any officials in the state would want to take their time and be able to take every aspect into consideration before leading a charge that could change the country.
Looking For the Right Legislation
There are already a couple of medical marijuana bills that had been introduced in the current session, including HB 683.
- HB 683
This particular piece of politics is being sponsored by Representative Greg Steube, and HB 683 calls for a non-smokable form of marijuana for medical purposes, and it would only be available to be prescribed to patients suffering from:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Terminal illness
Now those all seem like pretty legitimate reasons to seek out forms of treatment that would generally be unorthodox. But others suggest that even more lenient restrictions should be put in place.
- Florida Medical Marijuana Act
Senator Jeff Brandes introduced the Florida Medical Marijuana Act in late January designed to give doctors the ability to use medicinal marijuana to treat patients afflicted with similar diseases.
Senator Brandes had also introduced another bill with another senator, meaning Senator Bob Bradley, which was intended to assist patients with debilitating diseases by giving them faster access to a medicinal marijuana containing lower levels of THC.
Brandes had already admitted defeat and accepted that his initiative was off the table for the current session, but while that battle was lost Brandes believes he has not lost the war. He expressed a desire to go back over the initiative this summer to get more info from experts and rehash the bill for another try at consideration.
Calling It Early
Regardless of the status of any bill, the House’s decision to shut things down with three days left before it was scheduled effectively killed any chance of moving forward with all medical marijuana bills. The House cited the ongoing debate over health-care expansion as the reason for calling it early, but some think this is an unacceptable excuse. United for Care Campaign Manager Ben Pollara said via a statement:
“Today the people we elected to represent us in Tallahassee literally abdicated their responsibility to Floridians. The House of Representatives decided to simply quit work, three days before the end of session, and with that, medical marijuana legislation is dead in Tallahassee.”
Pollara was one of many that appeared outraged that the House decided to simply tap out on account of deadlock about something as important as healthcare, especially when so many still need answers. In regards to the Houses closing up shop Pollara stated:
“Hundreds of thousands of patients across this state are sick, suffering, and dying, but the House simply quit. Nearly 3.4 million Floridians voted ‘yes’ for medical marijuana, but the House simply quit. Despite courageous leadership from senators and representatives in both houses and both parties, Tallahassee has failed us again.”
This definitely isn’t the first problem Florida has had with getting medical weed legalized in Florida. Back in November during the midterm elections the Amendment 2 initiative fell short of passing by a mere 2% points! Leaving supports disappointed but not discouraged. Amendment 2 was as close as Florida has ever come to joining 23 other states and Washington, D.C., in legalizing marijuana.
Still, United for Care and other groups in the area were hopeful that the improvement in the polls was a sign of positive change. As a result, the group began an online petition to get the initiative back on the ballot for 2016, so to some degree they were already preparing to take this movement on the long hall. Pollara and others are extremely confident that medical marijuana will make it to the polls, and that the “voters will pass what the legislature failed to.”
One fun fact- with the numbers: did you know in Florida more people voted for medical marijuana than voted for Rick Scott?
Marijuana legalization is firmly set to become a popular topic in the coming months, especially placed in the path of the presidency. It may be on the other side of the debate on drug law reform and improving mental health and addiction treatment, but what does this mean for those already struggling with the disease of addiction?
A drug is a drug, and all of them can be dangerous for an addict. While many advocate for the medical advantages that marijuana can create, others are troubled by the potential it has to affect those who battle with substance abuse and recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
By Cheryl Steinberg
Think about it: when someone ends up in the emergency room for medical problems such as uncontrolled blood pressure, a severe asthma attack, or complications related to diabetes, medical staff often start treatment right then and there.
But what happens when the patient is brought to the ER as a result of overdosing on opiates, such as heroin or narcotic painkillers? In cases of drug overdose, the medical team can take immediate action to save the patient. However, what about the underlying issue: addiction.
After all, just like asthma or diabetes, drug addiction is a chronic condition. What if we started treating addiction in the ER and get that person who struggles the help they need?
Doctors at Yale University think it’s possible. “You can normalize this chronic disease like any other chronic disease,” says Dr. Gail D’Onofrio, chief of emergency medicine at Yale’s med school.
It should be noted that the term “normalized” here refers to accepting – and treating – drug addiction as part of a real medical condition known as substance use disorder spectrum.
The Argument for Starting Addiction Treatment in the ER
D’Onofrio and her colleagues at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut decided to test whether a combination of interventions offered to addicts in the ER would make a difference in whether they get help or continue in their cycle of addiction.
This intervention approach is a three-pronged one; it involves the prescribing of medication, such as buprenorphine (Suboxone), to ease withdrawal symptoms, a brief counseling session, as well as a focused referral to get specialized help.
Would this approach improve the chances a person would seek and follow-through with addiction treatment?
According to results of a study published Tuesday in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association), it worked pretty well.
Results of the Yale Interventional Approach Study
In fact, out of a group of patients studied, more than three-quarters of the 329 people who were screened for opioids were randomly divided among the three groups.
Those who received the Suboxone and counseling intervention, which lasted a mere 10 minutes, as well as a referral to treatment were in treatment 30 days later.
Compare that number to the 37% of people who were in treatment after 30 days and who only received the referral. Those who received the both the brief counseling and a referral were in between, with 45% in treatment at the 30-day mark.
The study’s findings are promising, as they suggest that giving patients Suboxone at the time of their ER visit and referring them to addiction treatment can make a difference. “I’m still talking to them about their motivation to start treatment, but I’m also giving them something to help them with their withdrawal,” D’Onofrio says.
Results such as these are encouraging. “I think what they did was great,” says Dr. Charmian Sittambalam, a geriatrics fellow at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, of the Yale study. “It’s not often that you see the [emergency department] taking such a vested interest in something that’s a chronic issue.”
If you or someone you love is struggling with heroin addiction, painkiller addiction, or any other kind of substance use disorder, such as alcohol addiction, please call us toll-free today at 1-800-951-6135. Being trapped in the cycle of addiction is a lonely, depressing place that seems to have no way out. But there is a way out of the darkness. We’re here to take your call 24/7 and we can discuss what substance abuse, dependence, and addiction is and how you can put an end to it.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Eating disorders are no joke. While I am the first one to admit I enjoy a touch of dark comedy and satire once in a while, I still see a certain degree of consideration as a vital part of being a human being, and recently there has been a lot of uproar about the lack-thereof with a blatantly cold and crude video game entitled “Rescue the Anorexia Girl” that has offended so many people it has found itself removed from Amazon.com.
The tasteless computer game “Rescue the Anorexia Girl” that was stirring up controversy from the moment it went on the market this year mocking anorexia sufferers was made by SmartTouch, but most people don’t see anything smart about this and Amazon.com has taken a stand against this tasteless display of discrimination and ridicule by pulling the game from its platform.
The games format is based off a well-known concept most commonly compared to a whack-a-mole game. But in this version instead of hitting a mole with a mallet, players are prompted to throw food at a female character. As if that was not enough to disgust the masses, the game developers added insult to injury by designing the game so that if the food doesn’t reach the female character, she continues to lose weight until she eventually starves to death… yea, because that’s not offensive, right?
In the introduction the designers note:
“Anorexia is a serious disease and fatal if not cured in time. When you have anorexia, the desire to lose weight becomes more important than anything else. For example, a girl from new Rescue the Anorexia Girl game has started to renounce meals and even tasty cakes cannot save the situation. But now you have come, brave hero and you can save her. We believe in you!”
If this game doesn’t scream ‘offensive’ to you, I’m not sure what will. There have been times that others have tried to make light of eating disorders, even those who have suffered themselves through mediums such as television series, but this game has pushed past the point of self-acknowledgement and raising awareness to abhorring indignity. The game is practically an extreme and aggressive form of “thinspiration” tactics that are so harmful while pretending to be helpful.
This Issue Isn’t Funny
One of the many implications the format makes is feeding into the stigma that eating disorders like anorexia are only a female problem by making the only character in the game a woman. It may be true that women do make up the majority, but there are men who struggle just the same as they do, and it has actually become a silent epidemic in our culture that we seem to sweep under the rug and do push-ups over to mask insecurity with masculinity.
Next, they imply that this woman needs a ‘hero’ to come save her by force-feeding her?! As if the only treatment there is for anorexia is to make someone suffering from this serious disorder eat, regardless of how degrading the methods may be, and that you will be her ‘brave hero’. Maybe instead of a hero, she needs consideration and support through counseling and treatment. But nah, just pelt her with pastries and she’ll be OK, right? It implies that this is a choice, not what many describe as a brain based biological disorder.
And finally…. why would anyone think it was funny to show someone starve to death? Why is it that we would find it humorous to watch this woman kill herself by starvation, even if she is an image only dropping weight pixel by pixel, why would we want to belittle and simplify the devastation caused by anorexia? Death by anorexia is more than a character dwindling, and whether these developers know or not, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychological illness.
Not long at all after the game became available online the product review on Amazon was flooded with negative reviews and angry comments from both concerned individuals and organizations. Kelly Bradley noted that,
“You don’t throw air at someone with cystic fibrosis, so don’t throw food at someone with anorexia.”
A great number of people in recovery from anorexia and bulimia also expressed concern that the game simplified an eating disorder that is too frequently stereotyped but is actually far more complex, and this disgusting game only further stigmatized those who are suffering from this disorder.
Brian Cuban, author of Shattered Image is a man who struggled with an eating disorder for over 27 years, and on his blog he commented,
“The science of eating disorders is firm. They are biologically based and not a choice. Simply feeding ‘anorexia girl’ isn’t going to cure anything.”
Amazon has not publicly commented on their decision to pull the game, but it did so quickly following the complaints. Also Barnes & Noble has removed the game from their online marketplace as well, but the game is still available on the Android platform. Hopefully not for long, as may expect it to be removed in the coming weeks due to negative backlash.
Let me just conclude this by saying that as someone who prides themselves on having a pretty strange sense of humor, and as someone who can appreciate the irony of satire, I’m personally appalled by this product. This is a sick joke about very sick people that is not at all funny, especially considering one of the primary issues with this disease is based in perception and body-image. Less should be done to make people laugh at this, and more should be done to make people aware of it.
Many young people battle with a severe eating disorder, and too many of those young people lose their lives in that struggle. But there is recovery beyond an eating disorder, and a life of freedom that every individual deserves. If you or someone you love is
Author: Justin Mckibben
To keep updated the tragic story of Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of musical superstar Whitney Houston, who was found face down in a bathtub full of water in her Atlanta area home months ago on January 31, this week a family member of her boyfriend Nick Gordon confirmed that he was released last Thursday from rehab.
Recap of Road to Rehab
25 year-old Nick Gordon had an interview last month with Dr. Phil McGraw that ultimately evolved into an intervention with Gordon being intoxicated at the time of the meeting, after which he was checked into treatment. During their conversation with Dr. Phil Nick Gordon had revealed that he’s been suffering from “panic attacks” since Kristina Brown was unresponsive and rushed to the hospital by emergency services.
Officials charged with investigating the case reportedly put some focus on Gordon as a suspect, and since then mother told McGraw during the time of the intervention that her son had tried to kill himself two weeks earlier by taking Xanax. She also said her son was still struggling with the death of Whitney Houston, Brown’s mother, and explained that:
“He has blamed himself for the condition [Brown] was in,”
Bobbi Kristina Brown is currently being treated and monitored at a rehab facility in Georgia, and according to her grandmother, Cissy Houston, remains unresponsive.
A source from Gordon’s family stated:
“He is doing awesome,”
Alicia Etheredge-Brown, wife of Brown’s father Bobby Brown, told reporters Bobbi Kristina has made some steps since her hospitalization. She has made it out of ICU, opened her eyes, and started the rehabilitation that the family suspects will be a long hard road.
Hopefully Nick Gordon’s new clarity can shed some new light or perspective on the incident that has led to Bobbi Kristina’s current condition, and hopefully both will remain on a steadfast road to recovery. With this case, as with any, the families have been vastly affected. Thankfully these families seem determined to stick by their children through this troubling time. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135