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Heroin use, addiction up sharply among US whites: study

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Heroin use in the United States has risen five-fold in the past decade and dependence on the drug has more than tripled, with the biggest jumps among whites and men with low incomes and little education, researchers said on Wednesday.

Whites aged 18 to 44 accounted for the biggest rise in heroin addiction, which has been fueled in part by the misuse of opioid prescription drugs.

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The findings are troubling because the people most affected have few resources to deal with the problem, said Dr. Silvia Martins, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and her colleagues.

“We are seeing that heroin use has increased in the past 10 years,” Martins said in a phone interview. “It is more prominent among whites with lower incomes and education and young adults.”

Heroin use, which includes those who have tried the drug but not become dependent on it, and addiction also rose more among unmarried adults. Although a jump was seen among women, it as was not as prominent as for men.

The researchers found no differences in heroin use or addiction among the major regions of the country.

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The findings, published online in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, followed a statement from the American College of Physicians calling for drug addiction and substance abuse disorders to be treated as a chronic medical condition like diabetes or hypertension.

It also coincided with the expected appointment of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to head a federal commission to combat the problem. Christie has declared opioid drug abuse a public health crisis.

Martins agreed drug addiction should be treated as an illness.

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“By recognizing it is a disease, more people will become aware that they need to seek help, or if they are frequent users, to know that addiction is preventable,” she said.

Martins and her colleagues uncovered the trend by analyzing two studies, one from 2001-2002 and another from 2012-2013, and data from 43,000 long-term heroin users.

In 2001-2002, there were similar rates of heroin use between whites and non-whites, but by 2013 there was a significant race gap, according to the study.

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Martins called for expanding treatment programs, overdose prevention and medication-assisted treatment, and for a change in doctors’ prescribing practices for opioids.

“I think some level of regulation is needed,” she said. “At the same time people who truly need that medication should get it but with greater supervision.”

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Patrick Enright and Paul Simao)

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Joe Biden’s bizarre black family rant is rooted in a decades-old ‘culture of poverty’ mythology: columnist

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One noteworthy line to break out of the third Democratic debates was Joe Biden's line about how black parents aren't being given the cultural and educational tools to lift their children from poverty.

"We bring social workers into homes with parents to help them deal with how to raise their children," said Biden. "It’s not that they don’t want to help, they don’t know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television – make sure you have the record player on at night, the phone. Make sure that kids hear words."

Biden wasn't trying to say that black parents are genetically inferior, but rather that our society isn't built to give them cultural exposure or education that would help them succeed. That being said, this argument was still broadly criticized as racist and condescending.

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Why Bill Maher is wrong about fat-shaming

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On a recent episode of his Friday evening talk show, Bill Maher proposed that society combat obesity by body-shaming overweight individuals. He argued that “fat shaming doesn’t need to end, it needs to make a comeback” to deter people from overeating.

Obesity is a national epidemic that is placing a significant burden on our health care system. Nearly 40% of Americans are considered obese, costing upwards of US$150 billion dollars per year in health costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Cutting health benefits of 1,900 Whole Food workers saved world’s richest man Jeff Bezos what he makes in less than six hours

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When billionaire Jeff Bezos cut health benefits on September 13 for part-time workers at his grocery store Whole Foods the richest man in the world saved the equivalent of what he makes from his vast fortune in just a few hours.

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