Adults aged 50 and older are among the more than 3 million people in the United States who have opioid or opiate addictions. Overuse or misuse of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone is so widespread that President Trump has declared the opioid epidemic a public “health emergency.”
Research has shown that a number of factors can influence a person’s likelihood of getting involved in substance use and maintaining that involvement over time. One of these factors is the amount of money available to spend on substance intake. In a study published in August 2014 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers from two American universities examined the impact that financial considerations can have on a person’s level of involvement in cocaine purchasing and cocaine use. These researchers found that income and other finance-related matters exert a significant effect on the obtainment and intake of this powerful stimulant drug.
When it comes to treating drug addiction, relapse is arguably the core issue. The initial detoxification phase is challenging, but the threat of relapse continues for a long time afterward, and can easily undo all of the previous hard work. For cocaine in particular, there are problems because there are no medical treatments to work alongside the core psychological care. There have been many initial pieces of research investigating potential pharmacological approaches, but a new study has provided a novel insight into why relapse occurs, and could offer genuine hope for preventing it. Interestingly, the finding concerns the brain’s opioid receptors, even though cocaine is not an opioid drug, and the prime area of focus is a type of amino acid created naturally within the brain.
Depression is the accepted term for a range of conditions, known technically as depressive disorders, that center on the presence of disruptive, “down” emotional states. There is considerable evidence that at least some of the risk for depression stems from genetic variations that affect the body’s use of a key chemical called serotonin. In a study published in April 2014 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers from three U.S. institutions conducted testing designed to determine if people affected by cocaine addiction have an unusual susceptibility to genetically based, serotonin-related depression.
Often, the very problem a person is attempting to escape through substance abuse can become magnified through their habit. In the case of cocaine, a new study indicates that chronic users harm their ability to interact socially. In which case the person seeking to intensify life’s experiences winds up isolating themselves from one of life’s key joys – social contact.
Cocaine is a stimulant derived from the coca plant which grows in the Andes Mountains. The powdered drug can be snorted or mixed with water and injected. Another form of the drug, known as crack, is smoked. The drug is highly addictive. It makes users feel highly energetic and supercharged with pleasurable emotions and frenetic thinking and speech. Users report sharpened awareness along with an overblown sense of self and personal ability.
A study conducted at the University of Zurich finds that chronic users experience a steep decline in their ability to connect with others and properly socialize. It is known that using cocaine can cause lasting harm to the brain, especially in terms of memory impairment and an inability to focus or concentrate. The drug also leads to an increased risk of stroke or heart attack.
The researchers wanted to examine cocaine’s effect on socialization. To find out how cocaine impacts social interactions, the scientists divided their subjects into two groups – one comprised of regular cocaine users, the second a control group made up of non-users.
The researchers watched to see what happened inside the brains of the subjects during various social occasions. The users showed less brain activity when it came to social reward, meaning cocaine users didn’t find much pleasure or fulfillment in social encounters.
Those in the chronic use group had a hard time seeing things from another person’s perspective and showed markedly lower empathy. They also had trouble picking up on non-verbal clues such as tone of voice. In addition, cocaine users tended to remain disengaged during social opportunities.
Regular cocaine use seems to dull the brain’s reward system so that interacting with others holds little appeal. This negative effect of using the drug may help explain why users are so seldom motivated to change by things like loss of a job or breaks in family relationships and friendships. Chronic use of cocaine causes a person to devalue relationships.
The study reveals how very isolating cocaine use can become. The way that cocaine works in the brain leaves users less motivated to work at relationships. This means that with greater use comes greater secrecy as no one is near enough to see the danger signs. Without the relational restraints cocaine users can sink into dangerously risky habits.
The researchers emphasize the need to help cocaine abusers re-learn social skills once they do make it into rehab. They will need to be re-taught many of the nuances of human interaction that those who’ve never used cocaine rely on without a thought.
Strokes are medical emergencies that occur when the brain loses part of its blood supply as a result of a blocked or ruptured artery. The vast majority of affected individuals undergo a form of stroke called an ischemic stroke. Medical professionals have known for some time that people who use cocaine have increased odds of experiencing a stroke. According to the results of a study presented to the American Stroke Association in February 2014, teenagers, young adults and middle-aged adults who use cocaine have steeply boosted odds of suffering an ischemic stroke within 24 hours of taking the drug.
With the Lifetime movie “House of Versace” airing on the cable network, people are talking about Donatella. The sister of famed and murdered fashion legend Gianni Versace took over the fashion house upon her brother’s death. In 1997, Donatella could have succumbed to her grief and let the infamous Versace fashion empire decay. Instead, she took the reins and continued the successful business her brother had started.
Aerobic exercise is the general term for any form of exercise that relies on the intake of oxygen to provide the energy required to move the body’s large muscles. People who regularly perform this type of exercise can make a variety of mental and physical changes that support long-term health and decrease the risks for chronic illness. Current evidence indicates that regular participation in aerobic exercise can also play a critical role in helping cocaine addicts stop their drug intake and remain abstinent during the addiction recovery process.
Scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College’s Department of Genetic Medicine and their associates have identified a new vaccine that can potentially combat the effects of cocaine use. Researcher Martin Hicks and a team of pharmacology, neurobiology, and immunology experts created an effective vaccine by combining a specific part of the cold virus (known as the adenovirus), which does not pose a threat of illness, with a chemical that is structurally similar to cocaine. In their study, researchers injected the vaccine into mice that were subsequently given cocaine.
Researchers at Ohio State University’s Department of Pharmacology have found that nearly 1 in 5 whites carry a genetic variant that can significantly increase their risk of severe cocaine abuse. Presence of the gene variant may help explain why some are more susceptible to cocaine addiction, cravings, and relapse.
Exciting new research may help scientists develop a pharmacological treatment for cocaine addiction that, put simply, blocks cocaine-related memories. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, California.
The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy will be using a $3.7 million grant to develop a drug to treat cocaine addiction that includes an active ingredient found in some Chinese prescription medicines. In 2007, there were 2.1 million cocaine users in the U.S., and today about one in six Americans have tried the drug by age 30.
Ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules are known to play important roles in the translation of genetic information into proteins. Over the last ten years, researchers have started noticing a population of small RNAs—called microRNAs—that represent a new class of molecules.