Street gangs, crime serve as deviant leisure activities for youths

Although at-risk youths may have a variety of reasons for joining street gangs, a new study suggests that gang membership and criminal acts often serve as deviant leisure activities, fulfilling young people’s needs for excitement, a sense of belonging and social support.

Based on interviews with 30 former street gang members in Illinois, the study is one of the first to explore gang involvement as leisure activity. The paper was co-written by Liza Berdychevsky, Monika Stodolska and Kim Shinew, all professors of recreation, sport and tourism at the University of Illinois.

“Studies like this are particularly important right now, given the incidence of gun violence in cities such as Chicago and the renewed attention to gang crime nationwide,” Berdychevsky said. “Developing an in-depth understanding of what drives delinquent and criminal activities — and ways that sports and other leisure activities can be used for prosocial purposes — can help create more effective prevention, intervention and rehabilitation programs for at-risk youths and young offenders.”

Full story of deviant leisure activities for youths at Science Daily

Addiction Experts Object to Price’s Remarks on Medication-Assisted Treatment

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s description of medication-assisted treatment for addiction as “substituting one opioid for another” is inaccurate, according to addiction experts who have asked Price to “set the record straight.”

A letter to Price signed by almost 700 researchers and practitioners notes there is a substantial body of research showing that methadone and buprenorphine, also known as medication-assisted treatment, are effective in treating opioid addiction. These medications, which are opioids, have been the standard of care for addiction treatment for years, they wrote.

Full story of Tom Price’s description of medication-assisted treatment at drugfree.org

Moderate drinking may not ward off heart disease

Many people believe that having a glass of wine with dinner — or moderately drinking any kind of alcohol — will protect them from heart disease. But a hard look at the evidence finds little support for that.

That’s the conclusion of a new research review in the May 2017 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Over the years, studies have found that adults who drink moderately have lower heart disease rates than non-drinkers. That has spurred the widespread belief that alcohol, in moderation, does a heart good.

But the new analysis, of 45 previous cohort studies, reveals the flaws in that assumption: A central issue is that “non-drinkers” may, in fact, be former drinkers who quit or cut down for health reasons.

Full story of drinking warding off heart disease at Science Daily

Jeff Sessions Directs Federal Prosecutors to Pursue Tougher Penalties for Drug Crimes

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced he is directing federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe penalties possible for drug crimes.

Civil rights groups and Republican legislators oppose the sentencing changes, The Washington Post reports.

Sessions sent a memo to prosecutors that overturned former Attorney General Eric Holder’s instructions to avoid charging certain defendants with the most serious crimes that carried the longest sentences.

Full story of Jeff Sessions on penalties for drug crimes at drugfree.org

Family Can Play Lifesaving Role in Overdoses by Using Naloxone: Study

Family members can be active participants in responding to the overdose epidemic by rescuing loved ones with the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, a new study finds.

Boston University researchers studied almost 41,000 people who underwent naloxone training, and found family members used the antidote in about 20 percent of 4,373 rescue attempts. Almost all the attempts were successful, HealthDay reports.

Full story of families lifesaving role in overdoses at drugfree.org