Raising The Tobacco Use Age to 21

tobaccoWith election season upon us, most of the talk these days regarding drug use involves what is to be done about the nation’s opioid epidemic or which states will legalize recreational marijuana use next. These are two discussion points that are of the utmost importance when it comes to addiction in America. It turns out there are some other addictive substances that are being discussed as well.

The tobacco debate, despite national smoking rates long on the decline, continues as states consider upping the legal age of tobacco use. Until recently, tobacco products could be purchased in all 50 states at the age of 18. However, there are a number of politicians and health experts who would like to see that age raised to 21, put the cancerous products on the same level as alcohol and recreational marijuana use in the states where it is allowed.

Anti-Tobacco Efforts in the 21st Century

On January 1st, the legal age to purchase tobacco in Hawaii became 21. If you thought the age restriction change was an anomaly, you may be surprised to learn that the idea made it to the mainland. This week, California lawmakers approved a measure that will raise the tobacco use age to 21, the Associated Press reports. The state assembly passed the legislation, and now awaits a signature from Governor Jerry Brown. The bill would also restrict the use of the currently unregulated e-cigarettes.

California isn’t a minor player when it comes to influencing national politics. It would seem likely that other states will follow the lead of Hawaii and California in the years to come. The American Cancer Society has applauded California’s anti-tobacco efforts, according to the article.

“With California having such a huge population, it’s going to be very impactful nationwide,” said Cathy Callaway, associate director of state and local campaigns for the American Cancer Society.

The True Scope of Tobacco

It is widely accepted that tobacco use is extremely harmful to one’s health, and the younger a person starts smoking – the longer people are likely to smoke. Tobacco use has been tied to experimentation with other mind altering substances among teenagers and young adults. On top that, the brains of 18-year olds are still developing and there continues to be much researchers don’t know about the long term effects of teenage tobacco use.

If you are in addiction recovery and still use tobacco, it is advised that you seek assistance with smoking cessation. Research tells us, that people in recovery who use nicotine products are at a greater risk of relapse.

Graphic Images and Smoking

smokingSmoking rates have dropped dramatically over the last several decades. Every adult knows that cigarettes carry inherent risks to one’s health. It seems like with each year that passes, researchers add to the list of conditions and cancers linked to tobacco use. While health officials and lawmakers have made it more difficult for tobacco companies to market and sell their products, millions of Americans continue to smoke despite these risks.

In recent years there has been a lot of talk about placing graphic images on cigarette packaging, pictures that show smokers what can happen. Public health experts believe that it would be a deterrent that may stop people from picking up the habit and may influence current smokers to quit. Naturally, tobacco lobbyist have put up stiff resistance to the implementation of such warnings, which is why we still have only the Surgeon General’s warning. Interestingly, new research suggests that graphic warnings may not have the desired result and may produce a boomerang effect, Science Daily reports. The findings were published online by the journal Communication Research.

A Threat to Freedom

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois found that graphic images may be viewed by smokers as a threat to their freedom, choice or autonomy. When some people are told what to do, or have the feeling that they are being told what to, they will often do the opposite.

“What we found is that most people don’t like these warning labels, whether they are smokers or nonsmokers,” said Nicole LaVoie, a doctoral student in communication and the lead author of the study. “It makes them angry, it makes them express negative thoughts about the packaging, that they’re being manipulated,” LaVoie said. “Ultimately, it also makes them think that the source — the government in this case, mandating these labels — is being overly domineering, is being too much in their business.”

Smoking in Recovery

If you are working a program of recovery and also smoke cigarettes, you may want to seriously consider breaking the habit. Cigarettes are extremely difficult to quit and are also bad for you, but new research suggest that people in recovery who smoke are at much greater risk of relapse. In recent years, a significant number of people working a program have turned to e-cigarettes as healthier alternative; however, some e-juices that smokers vaporize actually contain a small amount of alcohol which could potentially trigger a relapse.

Benzodiazepines Are The World’s Most Popular Drugs

benzosThe Benzo Business is Booming

Benzodiazepines (aka benzos), the modern child of barbiturates, are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. The drugs are fast acting, highly effective, and extremely addictive. Common benzodiazepines include:

  • Valium ®
  • Xanax ®
  • Ativan ®
  • Klonopin ®

While doctors are aware of the habit forming, addictive nature of benzos, Xanax continues to be the world’s most popular pill, The Huffington Post reports. U.S. prescriptions for Xanax ® and other benzos grow by 12 percent annually. In the short term, benzos are miracle drugs, in the long term tolerance continues to grow and kicking them can be lethal.

Benzos Over the Long Run

When most people think of drugs that can ruin people’s lives, benzodiazepines usually do not come to mind. While your average benzo user does not pawn family heirlooms to get their next fix, in reality, benzos can have a lasting effect on how the mind forms memories and processes anxiety.

“Benzodiazepines impair the formation of new memories,” says Dr. Jason Eric Schiffman, Director of UCLA’s Dual Diagnosis Program, “so they interfere with psychotherapy, which actually heals the cause of anxiety rather than just attenuating symptoms.”

Schiffman points out that, “because benzodiazepines work right after taking them, they create a paradigm of ‘feel anxious, take a pill, feel better,’ which reinforces a sense of powerlessness over anxiety. This is one of the reasons benzodiazepines are no longer considered to be a first-line treatment of anxiety, whereas SSRIs are.”

Kicking Benzos

Withdrawing and recovering from any drug is extremely difficult. Removing a drug from one’s system that has been consumed over a continued period of time is going to be painful – physically, mentally and emotionally. Without medical assistance, benzo withdrawal can be fatal, according to the article. Post-acute withdrawal can continue for months after one stops taking the medication.

“Following a sudden withdrawal or even too-rapid taper, the brain thinks it’s being injured, so it marshals all these other mechanisms to try and mitigate these reactions,” says Dr. Peter Madill, an integrative medicine physician with a subspecialty in addiction medicine based in Sebastopol, CA. “Fatigue, disorientation, malaise, severe panic and startle reactions, nerve pain, muscle aches, short-term memory loss. Xanax withdrawal especially can be dangerous, even fatal, which is why you need a slow, individualized taper. We desperately need more research into agents that can augment the withdrawal process.”


If you are struggling with benzodiazepines, please do not hesitate to contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you be free from addiction.

CVS Agreed to Pay $22 Million for Oxycodone Charges

VicodinThe State of Florida earned reputation for being an easy place to acquire large quantities of highly addictive prescription opioids. Up until the last few years, pain management facilities in Florida, otherwise known as “pill mills,” were places that people could be seen by doctors and leave with multiple prescriptions for opioids, such as OxyContin ® (oxycodone) and Vicodin ® (hydrocodone). It was often the case that abusers would attend multiple clinics in a week and amass loads of pills and then turn around and sell them on the streets for inflated prices.

After a number of years of these types of illicit activities, the state began to crack down; pill mills were closed up, a number of doctors lost their licenses, and some pharmacies had their licenses revoked for dispensing excessive amounts of oxycodone. In 2012, two CVS pharmacies were believed to be selling oxycodone pills that were not prescribed for legitimate medical purposes, Reuters reports. CVS Health Corp has agreed to pay $22 million to resolve the federal investigation.

The DEA had alleged that the two pharmacies were “filling prescriptions far in excess of the legitimate needs of its customers.”

According to a DEA news release, “CVS acknowledged that its retail pharmacies had a responsibility to dispense only those prescriptions that were issued based on legitimate medical need. CVS further acknowledged that certain of its retail stores dispensed certain controlled substances in a manner not fully consistent with their compliance obligations under the Controlled Substances Act and the related regulations.”

Just to give you some perspective, in 2011, the average pharmacy in America ordered approximately 69,000 oxycodone dosage units, according to the DEA. The two CVS pharmacies in question, located less than 6 miles from each other, ordered more than three million units together – during the same time period.

Help Can't Wait

Get Help Now