That’s my term for items from the news that may not merit a post of their own, but are still of interest. Here’s the first of three:

More people die now from smoking drugs than injecting them

It’s something of a puzzle because so much of the impact of drug use is lost in the process of smoking. That’s certainly true for tobacco cigarettes, which contain enough nicotine to poison and possibly kill the smoker, except so much of it has already (literally)  gone up in smoke.

So how do we explain this new prevalence of smoking-related OD fatalities?

My guess would be that consumers, particularly less experienced ones, are taking up smoking drugs in the mistaken belief that it’s safer than injecting, without having considered– or perhaps even being aware of– the possible presence of a toxic dose of fentanyl in the sample. Or they may have purchased what they believe to be cocaine, or methamphetamine, or heroin, any or all of which have been ‘cut’ with fentanyl or another uber-potent synthetic, in sufficient quantity to overcome their tolerance and put them in imminent danger.

Anyway, that’s only my suspicion. Next up: More from The Washington Post on the recently discovered White House ‘Pill Mill’ scandal.

‘No prescription needed’: Inside a White House clinic’s ‘systemic problems’

Turns out the situation there was probably worse than we knew. Now, fingers are being pointed in the direction of former personal physician to Presidents, Ronny Jackson MD.

Jackson later left the White House to run (successfully) for a seat in Congress, where he represents a broad swath of the Texas Panhandle. So far, his response to the news seems to be following the popular template: deny, deny, deny. How well that holds up as more becomes known, remains to be seen.

Last but not least: an interesting piece in The New York Times on how alcohol hits us in the guts — the gut microbiome, that is.

For the uninitiated, your gut microbiome is the collection of bacteria and other organisms that exist to assist you in proper digestion, and also to support key processes such as immune, cardio, and brain function. It’s pretty darn important, and alcohol makes a difference in how well things work. (And if you’re guessing “not a good difference”… well, the research isn’t at the ‘causal’ level yet, but the connections are clear. Let’s just say it’s likely that drinking isn’t good for your gut.)

Worth a read, if you’re interested.