Today’s Headlines: Pain Pills, Stress Habits, and Women Drinking

The Problem With Pain Pills: “In the new e-book “A World of Hurt: Fixing Pain Medicine’s Biggest Mistake,”the New York Times reporter Barry Meier explores the murky world of prescription pain medicine. He makes a strong case that opioid drugs used to treat chronic pain, like OxyContin, not only are addictive and deadly but often don’t work for many people who use them and lead to a range of additional health problems. It’s Mr. Meier’s second foray into the complicated world of pain relief. His first book, “Pain Killer: A ‘Wonder’ Drug’s Trail of Addiction and Death,” focused on the potential for abuse of OxyContin, particularly by teenagers. In the new, shorter e-book, Mr. Meier focuses on the long-term consequences of widespread use of opioid drugs to treat pain. I recently spoke with Mr. Meier about the problems associated with painkillers, why doctors and patients resist giving them up and some of the surprising side effects of these drugs. Here’s our conversation.” (New York Times)

Habits — Good and Bad — Stick When You’re Stressed: “It is said that in the final, frenzied months of her life, Sylvia Plath continued to maintain her daily routine of writing four to six hours a day – completing her poetry collection “Ariel.” A new study may help explain how Plath was able to continue writing so regularly and prolifically, despite being wracked by anxiety, depression and insomnia. In a word: habit. Many of us assume that people are more likely to engage in destructive behaviors – diving off the deep end of a pint of Chunky Monkey, or sitting frozen before the altar of the “Real Housewives of Wherever” for marathon stretches – when they are stressed and overwhelmed. But that’s not necessarily true, say scientists Wendy Wood and David Neal.” (CNN)

Why She Drinks: Women and Alcohol Abuse: “A few summers ago, I stuffed my car full of the last flattened cardboard boxes from a cross-country move and headed to the recycling depot of my suburban New Jersey town. I pulled up behind a queue of slender women at the wheels of shiny SUVs. Their eyes concealed by giant sunglasses, they hopped from their seats to their open trunks and, one by one, reached for the bags that are the totems of upper-middle-class life: silver ones from Nordstrom, plain ones from Whole Foods. Out poured wine bottles, clanking into the rusted recycling truck. In Portland, Ore., where I lived for six years, I would watch most Sunday nights as a neighbor deposited two giant Merlot bottles in my recycling bin.” (Wall Street Journal)