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Atlanta Legal Nurse Consultant At "Illicit Drugs And Their Impact On The Community"


Atlanta, Georgia – Atlanta legal nurse consultant Liz Buddenhagen, RN, CLNC, attended the 2009 Illicit Drug seminar presented by Piedmont College in Athens, Georgia, May 15, 2009.

“Piedmont College did a bang-up job putting this seminar together” said Buddenhagen. Many community groups attended including the Athens Clarke County police, University of Georgia police and division of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) social workers from several counties.

Here’s what was presented:

Dr. Merrill Norton, clinical assistant professor of UGA Pharmacology School and of the Commencement Center, a drug and alcohol rehab in Athens, lead off with a spirited lesson on the development of the adolescent brain with emphasis on the neurobiology and how addiction can be easily introduced and take hold in that age group.

District Attorney Investigator Felicia Fortson and Assistant District Attorney Brian Patterson discussed current gangs and gang activity in Athens.

District Attorney Kenneth W. Mauldin of Clarke and Oconee Counties delivered a luncheon lecture about the “War On Drugs” and thanked local agencies for the hard work they have done to fight the fight.

Special Agent Michael Karnbach, Pharm. D. for the Drugs and Narcotic Agency of the State of Georgia spoke next and educated everyone on Prescription Drug Use. “In the 12-17 year old age group, more young people abuse Rx drugs, except marijuana, than all other illicit drugs combined.” He broke down the return on investment for this business, which is more lucrative than the methamphetamine trade.

The commonly abused Rx drugs abused include: opiates – Fentanyl, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone; Robitussin cough syrup; stimulants – Ritalin, Adderall, Dexedrine, Concerta, Metadate – these are dangerous when combined with cold preparations containing decongestants; benzodiazepines (tranquilizers) – Valium, Xanax and Ativan; and hypnotics – Ambien and Lunesta. Some particularly dangerous combinations are Xanax/alcohol, Methadone/alcohol and barbiturates/alcohol. Other dangerous drugs commonly abused: Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, Ultram, Toradol, and Nubain. Methods of ingestion can heavily influence the damage the body sustains from the pills.

Kids in Georgia are dying from overdoses or dangerous combinations of these drugs. S.A. Karnbach noted that although “pill cases” are the fastest growing, law enforcement programs offer little or no pill abuse training. Other barriers to investigating and prosecuting these cases are that there is no common data base for prescription medicines and “they’re just pills” attitudes within law enforcement. Teens obtain 70% of the pills from friends or relatives.

Finishing out the seminar, Miriam Boeri, Ph.D. Sociologist from the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice of Kennesaw State University and David Gibson spoke about her research project on methamphetamine abusers in the Atlanta suburbs and drug courts. Drug courts address an increasing number of inmates whose primary criminal offense is illicit drugs. Research shows drug courts can decrease recidivism and promote positive outcomes that address alcohol and drug problems. Boeri advocates treatment approaches that are tailored to each person’s drug abuse patterns and expanding social networks in recovery.

About Liz Buddenhagen:

The Atlanta legal nurse, Liz Buddenhagen, owns Buddenhagen & Associates. The firm assists Atlanta attorneys with the medical issues of any kind of case: criminal, negligence, products liability, workers’ compensation, toxic tort and personal injury. For more information or a free initial consultation view, email or call 770-725-2997.


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