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ROC Weekly News Bites
'End Addiction Stigma' Campaign, Increased Incidence of Driving High When Substance is Legal, and Smugglers Recruited through Video Games
Here is a recap of some of the top industry-related news stories of the week:
Campaign to ‘End Addiction Stigma' Garnering Attention Across Vt.
Vermont’s governor is calling for expansions of prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts in response to the rise in overdose deaths throughout the pandemic. This effort is a renewed campaign known as “End Addiction Stigma.”
Republican Phil Scott said that focusing on prevention, treatment, and recovery will keep people healthier and thus more able to stay active in the workforce — while making communities safer.
“An individual should not be defined by an illness that they have,” said Cynthia Seivwright, a licensed mental health counselor with the Vermont Department of Health who worked on the campaign for End Addiction Stigma VT.
The project uses real people’s stories, and Seivwright said she hopes the videos encourage conversations in communities about how to support neighbors with substance use disorders and how employers can encourage people in recovery.
Seivwright said Vermont Department of Health has found 1 in 6 people who recognized they needed help didn’t get it — because they worried stigma would have impacts such as costing them their jobs.
More Folks Drive High When Pot Made Legal: Study
As marijuana becomes legal in more countries and states, there is a greater number of people who drive while impaired by the drug, leading to an increase in accidents.
"This is an emerging and extremely important area of research," Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in a statement. "One recent study found increased rates of motor vehicle crashes in the six months following medical cannabis authorization in Canada, and another study found relative increased risk of fatal motor vehicle collisions of 15% and a relative increase in associated deaths of 16% in U.S. jurisdictions where cannabis is legal," she noted.
"As more and more states seek to legalize marijuana, it is crucial that we understand the impact of legalization on addiction and a range of other health outcomes, including driving accidents, to determine strategies for implementing legalization while minimizing the potential harms," Volkow added.
Since cannabis legalization, THC has been found in twice as many injured drivers in Canada. In the US, the same effect is being noted, said lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey Brubacher, an associate professor in the department of emergency medicine at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
For the study, Brubacher and his colleagues analyzed levels of THC in blood samples from more than 4,300 injured drivers who were treated at British Columbia trauma centers between 2013 and 2020.
Before marijuana was legalized, about 4% of drivers had blood levels of THC above the Canadian legal driving limit of 2 ng/mL. That percentage rose to nearly 9% after legalization, the researchers found.
The proportion of drivers with higher concentrations of THC also rose, from 1% before legalization to 4% after.
Video Games Being Used to Recruit Smugglers in the Valley
Criminal enterprises are finding people to smuggle drugs or engage in human traffic by recruiting them while playing video games.
“Anybody that’s 16 and over that already has a driver’s license is a target to get recruited for doing smuggling,” said Jesus Vasavilbaso, Border Patrol spokesperson for the Tucson sector. “People from the Phoenix area are heavily being recruited.”
Recruiters typically promise an easy job with high pay. If you are concerned your teen may be involved in such activities, watch for changes in behavior, new items, or new clothes.
“If you see any of those red flags, talk to your kids and if they don’t want to talk you can always call our office or your local PD and get someone involved before it’s too late,” Vasavilbaso said.
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