Addiction News & Research
The U.S. surgeon general this week took historic action to stem the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic by writing a warning letter to every doctor in America about the addictive potential of prescription painkillers, blamed for the deaths of 78 people every day.
For teens who aren’t yet sure what they want to do with their futures but know they want to make a difference, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a suggestion: consider a career as an addiction or mental health counselor.
A new study has found that the rate of marijuana exposure in children younger than 6 increased by 147.5 percent from 2006 to 2013 across the U.S., with a much larger increase—of around 610 percent—in states where marijuana was legalized for medical purposes prior to 2000. Although the results of these exposures were usually mild, in some cases the children—who were primarily under 3 years old—suffered serious effects such as comas or seizures. The study is particularly relevant with the growing trend toward legalization of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes and underlines the importance of ensuring that any such moves include provisions to minimize the number of unintended exposures to the drug.
A little bit of stress every now and then can be good for you. It keeps the brain alert and fortifies the immune system. Too much stress, on the other hand, can be a killer. A shocking new study from Stanford University and the Harvard Business School finds that stress on the job can damage one’s health just as much as exposure to secondhand smoke.
Adderall is now finding its way into the hands of non-ADHD-suffering workers, who are using the ADHD drug as a “productivity-enhancer” to help them get ahead in their careers. The drug was previously known to be abused as a “study drug” by college students, but it only takes so long for those students to graduate and bring their habits to the workplace, and the attention the “study drug” phenomenon attracted undoubtedly tipped off many adult employees to its potential “benefits.” The use of quotation marks for “benefits” is no accident, though, because whether it actually improves mental performance is far from clear, and the risks Adderall abuse brings markedly outweigh any potential boosts to productivity.
A brief alcohol intervention called motivational interviewing can help teenagers and young adults receiving emergency room treatment for alcohol use or unrelated issues, a team of German researchers report in a new study.
Teenagers and underage young adults are exposed to a wide range of serious, severe or potentially fatal risks when they consume alcohol. In a study review published in March 2015 in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, researchers from two German institutions assessed the usefulness of an alcohol intervention technique called motivational interviewing in helping teens and young adults who end up in emergency rooms for alcohol-related problems or problems not directly related to alcohol use.
In a groundbreaking move, some of Colorado’s own residents and a business have joined the governments of two neighboring states in suing Colorado for allowing marijuana to be legally grown and sold. The plaintiffs hope the case will ultimately go the U.S. Supreme Court.
A team of American, British and Australian researchers examining the impact that specific genes and overall genetic profiles have on young adults’ odds of developing problems with alcohol have found four previously unidentified gene variations that lead to an increase in young adults’ alcohol-related risks.
Cigarette smoking and marijuana use are two of the most common forms of recreational drug intake in the U.S. and across the world. However, scientists have devoted relatively few resources to the examination of people who regularly participate in both of these activities. In a study published in January 2014 in the journal Addictive Behaviors, researchers from two U.S. universities evaluated the overlap between cigarette smoking and marijuana use among young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, as well as the factors that link and separate the two forms of drug intake.
The Nov. 4 decision by voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes has received much attention in the media. But in California, another ballot initiative (Proposition 47) that promises significant change in the area of drug policy also received a collective thumbs-up from the citizenry, and in the long run this type of change in the law could have just as big a societal impact as the adoption of less restrictive marijuana statutes.
Internet gaming disorder is the term used in the U.S. to describe an unofficially defined form of behavioral addiction centered on dysfunctional, impairing involvement in games played remotely through computers or other online devices. The American Psychiatric Association has created a list of possible symptoms of this disorder, which researchers throughout the world are currently testing in various types of studies. In a study published in September 2014 in the journal Addictive Behaviors, a team of Chinese researchers used advanced imaging technology to help determine if people potentially affected by Internet gaming disorder experience structural changes in their brains’ grey and white matter.
For many years, mental health and behavioral health research depended upon observation alone. Behaviors and outward responses were the only clues to understanding what happened in drug addiction, for example.
Significant numbers of American teenagers use/abuse the plant-based drug cannabis (especially marijuana); in addition, a smaller number of teens use/abuse an opioid drug or medication. In a study published in August 2014 in the journal Substance Abuse, researchers from four U.S. institutions explored the impact that cannabis use and opioid use have on teenagers’ ability to use a form of memory called working memory. All humans rely on this form of memory to record short-term information, focus attention and complete a range of essential tasks.
In the U.S., some alcohol consumers don’t take their first drink until they reach the end of their teenage years or the beginning of their 20s. However, many consumers take their first drink of alcohol at a much younger age. Addiction specialists and public health officials know that the early use of alcohol can have a range of harmful short- and long-term effects. In a study published in July 2014 in the International Journal of Drug Policy, researchers from Australia’s National Drug Research Institute specifically looked at the impact that early alcohol use has on the odds that a young adult will become a heavy drinker.
Alcoholism (i.e., physical alcohol dependence) is known to have a strong genetic component, and researchers continue to uncover specific genes and gene combinations that contribute to risks for the condition. In a study published in July 2014 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, a group of South Korean researchers used a combination of genetic testing and a screening tool called the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) to determine if multiple forms of a single gene, called HTR7, can increase the odds that any given person will become physically dependent on alcohol.