Category Archives: Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

Researchers Discover Possible Cure For Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Published by:

drug addiction

The world of science and medicine has long searched for possible solutions to help people get out of drug and alcohol addiction. A newly discovered medicine could be the answer, according to a group of researchers from The University of Texas at Austin.

Isradipine, a calcium channel blocker drug designed to bring down blood pressure, was effective to make lab mice shy away from drugs that they were addicted to. The scientists inferred that drug and alcohol addiction stem from environmental factors such as sensory perceptions that people associate with their respective addictions. Study lead author Hitoshi Morikawa and his team revealed that the medication helped the rats forego their associations with environmental factors and lead them to veer away from their addiction. “The isradipine erased memories that led them to associate a certain room with cocaine or alcohol,” Morikawa shared via a news release.

The lab rats were designed to be addicted to a particular drug and associate it with either a black or white room. Upon ingestion of isradipine, the rodents showed no preference to the room that they associate with their drug addiction. This new angle in combatting substance abuse could prove beneficial to existing addiction treatments, according to the scientists. “Many addicts want to quit, but their brains are already conditioned. This drug might help the addicted brain become de-addicted,” Morikawa added.

The researchers pointed out that isradipine is already approved by the FDA for human use, so its approval as an anti-addiction drug could be carried out fast. However, the research team emphasizesd a potential need to pair isradipine with another drug that can regulate blood pressure, because taking too much of the drug may lower the blood pressure too much.

Generic-Article-Banner

Substance Abuse

Synthetic Marijuana Use Shoots Up In Austin, Texas

Published by:

spice k2 synthetic marijuana

The ongoing bout against synthetic drugs doesn’t seem to be budging anytime soon, according to a recent report from Texas.

The Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service said that 277 cases of synthetic marijuana intoxication were reported by EMS centers in Austin. Travis County EMS captain Rick Rutledge said that the use of synthetic cannabis products such as Spice and K2 triggered various physiological reactions in reported cases in the past, which include high heart rate and blood pressure, pupil dilation, panic attacks and seizures. However, recent cases were reported to exhibit the exact reverse. “After May 29 for awhile we had the opposite effect… decreased heart rate and blood pressure, comatose and a difficulty waking up,” Rutledge said in a news report. The EMS chief attributes this change in symptoms to alterations in the chemical composition of the synthetic marijuana products.

Austin Police Department Public Information Office spokesperson Veneza Bremner said that the reason behind the spike in use of synthetic pot is the lack of restriction or regulation within the city. “Currently, it is not illegal to possess or use (synthetic marijuana),” said Bremner. This will change come September, when Senate Bill 172 — to categorize synthetic marijuana under the Texas Controlled Substance Act — gets enacted.

Generic-Article-Banner

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Toddlers Exposed To Smoking Parents Have Higher Risk Of Weight Gain

Published by:

child secondhand smoke

The link may not be as direct, but a recent study found out that children tend to gain more weight when they’re exposed to secondhand smoke at toddler age.

Scientists from the University of Montreal and Sainte Justine Research Centre discovered this link after looking into data from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, which followed more than 2,000 families with growing children. Study lead author Linda Pagani said that results of the study pointed to an unexpected link between child body mass index and the smoking behavior of parents. “By the age of ten, the children who had been intermittently or continuously exposed to smoke were likely to have waists that were up to three-fifths of an inch wider than their peers. And their BMI scores were likely to be between .48 and .81 points higher,” Pagani said in a news item.

Despite the staggering results of the study, the researchers believe that the numbers don’t quite tell the real story behind the families. “We suspect the statistics we’ve established linking childhood obesity to exposure to parents’ smoking may underestimate the effect due to parents under reporting the amount they smoked out of shame,” Pagani stated. Nevertheless, the study lead author emphasized that their discovery is as dangerous as when pregnant mothers engage in tobacco use. “This prospective association is almost as large as the influence of smoking while pregnant,” Pagani added.

The research team believes that the reason behind the higher weight gain may be related to improper child development in the presence of tobacco smoke. “Early childhood exposure to second hand smoke could be influencing endocrine imbalances and altering neurodevelopmental functioning at this critical period in hypothalamic development, thus damaging vital systems which undergo important postnatal growth and development until middle childhood,” Pagani further said.

Generic-Article-Banner

Substance Abuse

Opioid Overdose in Veterans Linked To Receipt of Benzodiazepines

Published by:

take prescription medicine

A team of researchers from three medical facilities discovered via a cohort study that many of the cases of veterans drying from opioid overdose involved benzodiazepines as well.

Data from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) from October 2004 to September 2009 were traced back to identify a link between painkiller abuse and use of benzos. The results were staggering, as reported by study co-author Tae Woo Park. “The risk of receiving both opioids and benzodiazepines during this six-year period was approximately four times higher than in those who received opioids alone,” Park said in a news release. Benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs usually prescribed to patients who are taking opioid medication for their pain.

Results of the study revealed that close to half of veterans who died due to opioid overdose were also receiving benzos. “From a public health perspective, this is deeply troubling, because drug overdoses are a leading cause of death in the U.S. and prescribing benzodiazepines to patients taking opioids for pain is quite common. In 2010, 75 percent of pharmaceutical-related drug-overdose deaths involved opioids,” Park added.

The researchers hope that their study could pave the way for better methods of pain treatment. “As we learn more about pharmaceuticals and how they interact with each other, we can try to reduce the risk of harm to patients,” Park said.

The study was jointly conducted by Boston Medical Center, Rhode Island Hospital, and Veteran Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

Generic-Article-Banner

Substance Abuse

Stop Teenage Drinking By Implementing Stricter Alcohol Policies, Study Says

Published by:

alcohol testing

Want to lead teenagers away from binge drinking? A recent study said that a strict set of rules on alcohol may do the trick.

The research, published in the Pediatrics journal, looked into alcohol regulatory laws and their link to teen drinking rates across all U.S. states. A scoring system was developed to assess the degree of stringency of alcohol laws as well as the level of teenage drinking.

Results showed that each 10 points in the score for alcohol laws translated to 8 points less likelihood of teenage drinking. “There’s a strong overall relationship between [alcohol] policies and teen drinking, but if you account for the difference in youth-specific policies, you find the adult-oriented policies have an equal or greater effect on teen drinking,” according to study co-author Dr. Timothy Naimi in a news report.

Mayra Mendez, who works for the Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center as program coordinator for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health Services, said that policies that are applicable to adults also show promising results for teenagers. “Taking into consideration the power of adult influence upon youth behaviors, it is not surprising that the findings show polices that target adults have an impact on teen behaviors… There is a relationship between youth drinking patterns and adult drinking patterns, both for positive and negative behaviors,” Mendez said. Naimi agrees, saying that “some of these adult-oriented policies, such as taxes, might have a direct effect on youth because they tend not to have a lot of disposable income.”

Generic-Article-Banner

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Smoking Regulations Lead To Fewer Children Admitted To Hospitals in U.K.

Published by:

smoking cigarette ashtray

According to a study recently published in the European Respiratory Journal, England’s smoking legislation has led to a reduction in hospital admissions of children stemming from respiratory infections.

Study lead author Dr. Jasper Been of the University of Edinburgh in the UK revealed the results of their research, which evaluated more than 1.65 million cases of children up to 14 years old admitted to U.K. hospitals between 2001 and 2012. As soon as the legislation was implemented, admissions caused by lower respiratory tract infections dropped by 13.8 percent. “Our results add to the growing body of evidence demonstrating the benefits of smoke-free legislation. Although our results cannot definitively establish a cause and effect, the rigorous analysis clearly shows that the introduction of smoke-free legislation was associated with significant reductions in hospital admissions among children,” Been said in a news release.

Meanwhile, senior author Prof. Aziz Sheikh of the University of Edinburgh emphasized the significance of their study not only in England but all across the globe. “When you look at the results of this study alongside national data showing a decrease in smoking within the home, the findings greatly strengthen the recommendations for the global implementation of legislation prohibiting smoking in public places. We urge other nations to consider introducing and enforcing smoke-free legislation in order to protect the health of children – the most vulnerable members of society,” Sheikh added.

Generic-Article-Banner

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Study: Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Lead To Cardiovascular Damage in Elderly

Published by:

alcohol skin flush

Although many studies in the past have proven that a few sips of alcohol can improve health, a new research looked into the effects of moderate drinking on older people.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Scott Solomon of Harvard Medical School discovered a link between heart damage and alcohol intake in elderly people. The results of their study indicate that elderly males who drink at least two servings of alcohol in a day found themselves increasing their risk of cardiovascular damage. The same is true for women, although the effects are already evident even after just one serving of alcohol.

The research was based on participants of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, which involved close to 4,500 individuals at 76 years old on the average. Respondents were surveyed on their alcohol intake, and their heart conditions were monitored via echocardiogram. Scans showed that moderate alcohol consumption was linked to heart malfunction in elderly women. “In women, moderate alcohol consumption was associated with modest reduction in systolic function, potentially contributing to a higher risk of alcoholic cardiomyopathy… for any given level of alcohol intake,” the research team revealed in a news release.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans sets “moderate alcohol consumption” at two alcoholic drinks for men and one for women.

Generic-Article-Banner

Substance Abuse

U.K. Agency Releases Guidelines For Flavorings in E-Cigarettes

Published by:

electronic cigarette e-cigarette

Electronic cigarettes have been included in the bad reputation list for not only being an ineffective smoking cessation agent but also containing harmful substances.

This is the reason why the British Standards Institution (BSI), a non-profit organization designed to create standards for products and services in the U.K., recently released a set of guidelines for production of electronic cigarettes, including its various components. One of the highlights of the guide is the quality and safety of flavorings included in e-cigarettes. “These guidelines lay out the ‘what’ – which includes toxicological risk assessment of flavours… and our guide explains the ‘how’,” said BSI steering committee member Dr. Sandra Costigan.

Manufacturers might misunderstand the concept of edible products and how it applies to e-cigarette components. Although the flavorings used in these products are food-grade, they aren’t necessarily safe to be taken through the respiratory system. “This means that the data available is oral and there are large data gaps. Safe to eat is not the same as safe to inhale,” Costigan added in a news release.

BSI believes that the new set of guidelines is an answer to the dearth of information about the safety of e-cigarettes. None of the draft standards and regulations tell us how to do such a risk assessment… Ours is the first sensible and practical guide to help actually conduct such a risk assessment on the flavours, based on sound toxicological principles,” Costigan said.

Generic-Article-Banner

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Proof That E-Cigarettes Help People Quit Smoking Still Inconclusive, Study Says

Published by:

e-cigarette

Electronic cigarette manufacturers claim that their products are effective alternatives to help smokers kick the habit, but a recent study reveals that there is little evidence to back that up.

Researchers from the University of Toronto led by Riyad al-Lehebi, MBBS released findings of their research during the 2015 American Thoracic Society International Conference, in relation to using e-cigarettes to promote smoking cessation. “While e-cigarettes have been shown to significantly improve abstinence at 1 month compared with placebo, no such evidence is available supporting their effectiveness for longer periods,” al-Lehebi said in a news release.

More than 2,000 patients were analyzed for their use of electronic cigarettes, changes in their smoking habits as a result of using e-cigarettes, and harmful effects on their health. Although smoking cessation was successful in the first month of using electronic variants, no significant change was observed in follow-ups after 3 and 6 months. “Although e-cigarettes are widely promoted and used as a smoking cessation tool, we found no data supporting their long-term efficacy and safety,” the study lead author explained.

In light of their findings on the lack of effectiveness of e-cigarettes to help smokers quit, the research team recommends that smokers use other more effective means to help them get rid of the addictive behavior. “Until such data are available, there are a number of other smoking cessation aids available that have a more robust evidence base supporting their efficacy and safety… Individuals seeking help with smoking cessation should consider other more well-established options until more research is performed,” al-Lehebi added.

Generic-Article-Banner

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Angioplasty Patients Experience Less Chest Pain Upon Quitting Smoking

Published by:

quit smoking

It’s hardly a novel discovery for healthy individuals, but this recent study confirms the benefits of kicking the habit.

A new study conducted by a team of researchers at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute revealed that quitting smoking after angioplasty leads to a lower likelihood of patients experiencing chest pains. More than 2,700 adults who underwent angioplasty — a non-surgical treatment to address obstructed veins or arteries as a result of atherosclerosis — were asked about their smoking habits during and after the procedure.

Results showed a lower rate of chest pains in patients who stopped smoking after angioplasty compared to those who continued to use cigarettes. “It’s a no-brainer. Stopping smoking seems like a relatively easy way to increase your chances of getting the best outcomes from angioplasty,” study senior author Dr. John Spertus said in a news report.

Roughly 1 million U.S. adults undergo angioplasty, and so findings of the study could benefit thousands of patients from fewer chest pains. “It’s not just important that we do a good job treating the blockage… Cardiologists have to work with patients to help them stop smoking, whether it means nicotine replacement, a smoking cessation program or some other intervention,” Spertus added.

testcountry banner