Archive for category Drug Addiction
Here’s a bit of good and bad news: today’s teenagers use alcohol and cigarettes less, but are found to use marijuana increasingly.
This is according to a study conducted by Penn State’s The Methodology Center. Although the recent findings point to a successful campaign against tobacco, this may have caused the interest of adolescents to shift towards marijuana. “Our analysis shows that public health campaigns are working — fewer teens are smoking cigarettes… However, we were surprised to find the very clear message that kids are choosing marijuana over cigarettes,” said study co-author Stephanie Lanza in a news release.
The study looked into data from the project entitled Monitoring the Future, where close to 600,000 high school seniors from 1976 to 2013 were asked to participate in a survey. The questions were targeted towards checking the students’ use of three substances: alcohol, marijuana and tobacco.
Results showed a significant decrease in use of cigarettes, most notably in white adolescents. Marijuana, on the other hand, was used more as years went by, especially in black teenagers. Meanwhile, alcohol consumption by teenagers has steadily dipped over the years, with white teens drinking more than their black counterparts. A correlation was also noticed between marijuana and cigarette use, citing that those who smoked cigarettes were more likely to use marijuana than teenagers who did not use tobacco products.
Details of the study were published July 20 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Cocaine addiction has always been a difficult issue to address, but a recent study sheds light on a possible relationship between genetic makeup and the use of epigenetic drugs to stop cocaine addiction.
A joint study by the McGill University and Bar Ilan University investigated the effect of using epigenetic drugs to stop addiction to cocaine. The research team conducted lab experiments on mice, which were trained to crave for cocaine using a visual or auditory cue. The rats were then observed for evidence of cocaine withdrawal for up to 30 days. Results showed that changes in the mice’s genetic switches were at their highest as the withdrawal became longer.
The researchers injected RG108, an inhibiting agent for DNA methylation, to the mice during the lengthy withdrawal just before the triggering light or sound could cause them to crave for cocaine. “We discovered that injecting the drug RG108 just before the animals were exposed to the light cue after the long withdrawal not only stopped the addictive behavior of the animals, it also lasted for a longer period. This suggests that a single treatment with RG108 could reverse or perhaps cure drug addiction,” said study co-author Moshe Szyf in a news report.
The effect of the epigenetic drug was most evident during the withdrawal phase, according to co-author Gal Yadid. “During this period of withdrawal, hundreds of genes changed their state of DNA methylation including genes that were known before to be involved in addiction,” Yadid added.
Details of the study were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
A new study discovered how a person’s likelihood to be addicted to drugs may be predicted by analyzing the brain structure. Dr. Benjamin Becker led a team of researchers whose paper published in Brain: A Journal of Neurology looked into a connection between distinctions in brain regions and a possible addiction to amphetamines and MDMA.
After analyzing the brains of 66 individuals who occasionally used the identified amphetamine-type stimulant drugs, it was discovered that those who used amphetamines more frequently within two years from the start of the assessment had smaller front-striato-limbic regions. “These findings indicate that individual differences in fronto-stiato-limbic regions implicated in impulsivity and decision making could render individuals vulnerable for the transition from occasional to escalating stimulant use,” Becker said in a news release.
Becker emphasized the importance of their study and oter future researchers on the matter. “Prospective longitudinal studies in occasional users are of great importance to determine biological vulnerability markers, which can help to identify individuals at greatest risk of developing an addiction,” Becker added.
It’s only a matter of time before scientists discover the cure for addictions to illicit drugs like cocaine.
A team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen’s Neuroscience and Pharmacology department claims to have stumbled upon the mechanisms surrounding dopamine, an amino acid found in the brain associated with processing motivation and addiction. Claus Juul Loland, one of the department’s associate professors and study co-author, said that this discovery could pave the way to eliminate addiction to cocaine. “If we have a better understanding of the dopamine transporter function we will become more proficient in developing an antidote against cocaine addiction,” said Loland in a news item.The research team investigated the dopamine transporter — which has the ability to control the mechanism of dopamine — and has found a way to manipulate the metabolism between dopamine and the transporter. Loland believes that by creating a mutated form of the transporter, the dopamine molecule can be “tricked” into binding with an inhibitor instead of cocaine. As a result, cocaine in the human body will not be processed and may subsequently prevent addiction to the drug. “Our objective here is that cocaine will not then work anymore as the antidote will inhibit the stimulatory response of taking this drug,” Loland added.
The study was recently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The latest report by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) reveals both good and bad news in terms of substance use by teenagers.
According to the annual teen tracking report by the government agency, teenage use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin has dropped this year. “Probably that relates to very aggressive campaigns for prevention,” said NIDA director Dr. Nora Volkow in a news release.
In addition, the rate of teenage smoking using traditional cigarettes has also dropped significantly, as well as the rate of teenage binge drinking. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about e-cigarette use. What’s troubling for the agency is that the dangers of e-cigarettes have not yet been exposed completely. “One of the arguments has been that when you’re vaping nicotine you are not inhaling all the combustion products from tobacco leaves that you get from a regular cigarette… The problem has to do with the fact that if these e-cigarettes are improperly manufactured, then they can deliver toxins from leakage from paint or other materials that are used in their production,” Volkow said.
Illicit use of Adderall and other similar prescription stimulant drugs is also on the rise, according to the NIDA study. “The problem of using stimulant medication to study for tests is that stimulant drugs are addictive and actually they can be highly addictive,” the NIDA director added.