Category Archives: Real Drug Stories

Addiction Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

New Drug May be Able to Erase Memories Associated with Drug Addiction

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A new drug may be able to help drug addicts by erasing memories they have that are associated with their drug of choice, effectively getting rid of the triggers that cause relapses.

In a study, published in the journal Molecular Psychology, researchers outline how they used the drug blebbistatin to target nonmuscle myosin II (NMII), a component in the brain that is involved in the creation of new memories. By getting rid of memories that are associated with triggers — memories attached to certain objects, or events, will often make addicts feel the need to use their drug of choice — researchers at The Scripps Research Institute hope to make it easier for addicts to live a drug-free life.

“We now have a viable target and by blocking the target, we can disrupt, and potentially erase, drug memories, leaving other memories intact,” TSRI Associate Professor Courtney Miller said in a recent press release . “The hope is that, when combined with traditional rehabilitation and abstinence therapies, we can reduce or eliminate relapse for meth users after a single treatment by taking away the power of an individual’s triggers.”

They injected blebbistatin into animal models along with methamphetamine and found that with only one injection of this compound, long-term, drug-related memories were completely blocked in the animals. Plus, the animals did not relapse for at least a month after receiving the injection.

The team was enthusiastic about its results, finding that this new pathway helps to erase triggers that often lead to relapses. Even more promising is that the injection of blebbistatin can be administered to any part of the body, whereas previous compounds meant to erase these trigger memories had to be injected directly into the brain.

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Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Patients with Severe Back Pain who Also Suffer from Mental Health Issues More Likely to Abuse Opioids: Study

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Patients who experience severe back pain, and who also suffer from psychiatric problems like depression are more likely to abuse opioid pain medication, a new study has found.

In the study, published in Anesthesiology, the official medical journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), researchers examined 55 chronic lower back patients who experienced low-to-high levels of depression or anxiety symptoms. Patients were given morphine, oxycodone or a placebo to take orally for the pain as needed over a 6-month period and recorded their pain levels and the doses taken daily.

Scientists found that patients suffering from high levels of depression or anxiety experienced increased side effects, 50% less improvement for back pain and 75% more opioid abuse when compared with patients with low levels who reported low levels of depression or anxiety.

“This is particularly important for controlled substances such as opioids, where if not prescribed judiciously, patients are exposed to unnecessary risks and a real chance of harm, including addiction or serious side effects,” said Prof. Ajay Wasan, with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PA.

testcountry banner[Photo courtesy of Tony Hall on Flickr]

 

Real Drug Stories

Drug Dealers Coating Candy with Drugs Now

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Drug dealers have apparently started coating candy with drugs.

Police in Miami-Dade County in Florida have issued a warning to the public after they discovered candy coated with a substance containing ethylone, a derivative of the synthetic drug Flakka.

Police say a drug bust in June turned up the candy, which looks just like popular candy Sour Patch Kids. However, whereas Sour Patch Kids are coated with sugar, the candy from the drug bust was coated with ethylone, which is similar to Flakka.

“For the first time, we saw a case that was submitted in the form of candy where the drug was actually substituting for the sugar coating on the candy,” said Stephen Snipes, who works in Miami-Dade police’s crime lab. “We wanted the community to be aware that this is a new way to market or distribute this dangerous substance, and it is the first time we saw it. And we want the community to know it is a danger.”

testcountry banner[Photo courtesy of Rick Cano on Flickr]

 

Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

Marijuana Could be a Replacement for Alcohol for Teens, Study Finds

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Young people could be smoking marijuana because it’s easier to access than alcohol for those under 21, a new study suggests.

Using five years’ worth of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, University of Illinois economist Ben Crost and colleague Santiago Guerrero determined that there was a stark difference between marijuana usage in people who hadn’t yet turned 21-year-old those who had just turned 21.

“Alcohol appears to be a substitute for marijuana,” Crost said. “This sudden decrease in the use of marijuana is because they suddenly have easy access to alcohol.”

Crost and Guerrero also studied men and women separately, to see which gender was more affected by the sudden change in their ability to legally purchase alcohol. They found the change was greater in women than men. Women’s frequency in marijuana use dropped 15 percent after turning 21, while men’s frequency dropped seven percent.

“Whenever there is a discontinuous threshold where something changes, it provides a way to identify a causal effect,” Crost said. “You can compare people right above and right below the threshold. They should be very similar in all other respects, except for that one difference.”

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Addiction Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Heroin Deaths Nearly Quadruple Between 2002-13

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Heroin overdose deaths in the United States nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013, according to a study by the government.

Lower costs and an increase in the abuse of prescription opiate painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet helped fuel the rise in fatal heroin overdoses. Abusing prescription painkillers increases individuals’ susceptibility to heroin addiction, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.

“Everything we see points to more accessible, less-expensive heroin all over the country,” Frieden said of the report, a joint effort by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The study analyzed national survey data on drug use from 2002 to 2013 and found:

  • nearly all people (96 percent) who use heroin also use multiple other substances
  • the strongest risk factor for heroin abuse is prescription opiate abuse
  • individuals who abuse prescription opiates have a 40 times greater risk of abusing heroin
  • the increased use has fueled sharp increases in overdose deaths
  • As many as 8,200 people died from heroin overdoses in 2013 alone

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Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

People Who Believe Alcohol is Good for Them Tend to Cite Media Reports, Drink More

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People who believe that alcohol is good for them tend to cite media reports that say this and they also tend to drink more, a new study shows.

Many studies have shown there might be a link between drinking a moderate amount of alcohol per day (usually one drink) and staving off heart disease. But, a new study led by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, found that while 39% of people believe alcohol is unhealthy for the heart, 30% believed it to be beneficial and 31% said they were unsure.

Surprising to researchers was that 80% of people who said alcohol was heart healthy said they discovered these supposed benefits via media reports. Unsurprisingly, these people also consumed an average of 47% more alcohol than those who said it wasn’t healthy.

While many studies have been published suggesting a link between moderate alcohol consumption — particularly red wine — there has been no definitive proof that it has any health benefits.

“It is particularly interesting to note that those who believe alcohol to be heart healthy actually drink more alcohol,” said Dr. Gregory Marcus, director of clinical research at UCSF’s Division of Cardiology, in a statement. “Whether their belief causes this behavior, or merely justifies it, remains an interesting unknown.”

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Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

New Research Says Marijuana May Stunt Boys’ Growth

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Researchers in Pakistan have found that marijuana use in pre-pubescent boys may impede their height growth and may bring on an early onset to puberty.

The research team, including Dr. Syed Shakeel Raza Rizvi of the Pir Mehr Ali Shah Agriculture University Rawalpindi in Pakistan, assessed levels of puberty- and growth-related hormones in blood samples collected from 217 boys who used marijuana and compared them to 220 boys who did not use the drug.

Compared with nonusers, boys who used marijuana had higher levels of puberty-related hormones, including testosterone and luteinizing hormone. However, the team also identified reduced levels of growth hormones among boys who used marijuana, compared with nonusers.

From analyzing the height and weight of all the boys, the team found that those who did not use marijuana were an average of 4.6 kg heavier and 4 inches taller by the age of 20 than those who used marijuana.

As part of their research, the team also analyzed levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol 0 – as determined through saliva samples- among 10 adult marijuana users. Compared with nonusers, those who used marijuana had much higher cortisol concentrations.

Based on this finding, Dr. Rizvi and colleagues hypothesize that marijuana use triggers stress responses that suppress growth and trigger early puberty.

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Medical Marijuana Real Drug Stories

Exploring Marijuana Legalization: The Pros and Cons

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With more and more states at least considering legalizing marijuana — either medically or recreationally — the polarizing subject continues to pick up supporters on both sides of the issue. Those who want it fully legalized and those who want to keep it illegal have entrenched themselves for a potentially long and arduous battle.

From marijuana advocates to lawyers and law enforcement officials, everyone seems to have a strong opinion about marijuana and whether it should be and will be legalized.

Pros & Cons

Kris Krane, for one, who is the principal and managing partner at 4Front Advisors, a medical cannabis dispensary consulting firm, says he sees great benefit to legalizing marijuana fully.

“The pros of legalization are nearly endless,” he said in an interview with TestCountry.

As long as it is regulated like alcohol, Krane says, legalizing it should:

  • eliminate the criminal black market for it;
  • reduce violence in American cities and in Mexico;
  • deny drug cartels of a key revenue source;
  • free up police resources to focus on violent and dangerous crimes, rather than non-violent marijuana consumers;
  • generate billions in tax revenue for cash strapped governments; and
  • generate millions of new jobs for the economy.

Freeing up police resources to tackle more violent and pressing crime and generating tax revenue is a common theme with people who advocate for the legalization of marijuana.

The court system would likely benefit, too, with fewer cases to try and the overburdened jail system would also benefit from fewer people needing to be placed in prison, Dallas criminal defense attorney Paul Saputo Jr. said.

“I think the biggest impact will be to remove a number of high-turnaround people, reducing some stress on deputies and jail systems, and to clear jails of poor people who would otherwise be able to bail themselves out quickly if they were not poor,” the defense lawyer said.

More stringent regulation of marijuana is also a common pro listed in favor of legalization.

“Marijuana could be better regulated if it was legal,” observed Arkady Bukh, a criminal defense lawyer in New York and a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “Stores and marijuana dispensaries can card kids and prevent young people from getting marijuana, while people who illegally sell marijuana don’t do that.”

But, with all the talk of the pros of marijuana legalization, plenty of people still see potential cons. Kirby Lavallee, a private investigator with Sharpline Investigations and a former DUI investigator and drug recognition expert, said some cons he can foresee are:

  • a possible increase in burglaries or robberies of business selling marijuana, due to the large quantity of marijuana and cash on hand
  • an increased number of impaired drivers on the roadway due to marijuana impairment
  • an increase in calls to emergency services due to people possibly having negative reactions

Lavallee said in his opinion he believes legalizing it would actually make it more readily available to younger people, possibly having some negative impacts on education and causing possible health issues.

He also doesn’t see it as the innocuous drug that many marijuana legalization activists do.

“I truly believe that this would be a huge issue for Law Enforcement Officers nationwide,” Lavallee said. “Most people say marijuana isn’t a harsh drug and believe that it doesn’t cause any issues. I can say in my experience as a Deputy Sheriff most of the street level violence is drug related, more specifically marijuana because it tends to be more readily available.”

Another downside to legalizing marijuana is that it will take away the police’s ability to search a vehicle or a person when they smell the odor of marijuana, which is legitimate grounds for searching a vehicle or a person as long as it’s illegal. Legalizing it would take this tactic away, Lavallee said.

“I believe that law enforcement will have some hurdles to cross with catching criminals with other illegal drugs which cannot be detected by smell, along with firearms and other illegal items normally found while conducting searches,” the private investigator said.

Lavallee also called marijuana a gateway drug that leads people to experiment with harder drugs. He also said he believes incidents of personal injury would rise, as more people would be under the influence at work or while driving, potentially causing more accidents in the workplace, on the roadways and out in public places. As personal injuries increase, Lavallee said, he believes more people will be receiving medical benefits and insurance companies will have lawsuit settlements to deal with as a result.

Opinions differ in regards to the potential for more impaired driving cases, though. Bukh called the evidence that says marijuana impairs a person’s driving to the point of being dangerous “inconclusive.”

Legalization and Medical Marijuana

Whether legalization for recreational purposes would affect its standing medically — as medication is not generally deemed to be a recreational substance — Krane said he believed legalizing it would actually be a boon to the advancement of medical marijuana, as its current standing as a schedule 1 drug means researchers cannot conduct studies on its health benefits. Full legalization would pave the way for research to be done on its health benefits and would likely lead to a wave of new cannabinoid medications, he says.

Similarly, Bukh said its legalization for recreational use may even lead to more research and development.

“Legalization for recreational purposes can also lead to more growth and development of different strains of cannabis plants that could have different medicinal benefits,” he noted.

Nationwide Legalization

As its legalization continues to be spotty, with states legalizing it either medically or recreationally one at a time and the federal government opting not to, whether it will eventually be fully legal across the country also saw disagreement.

Krane, Saputo and Lavallee all said its legalization across the country seemed like an inevitability. But, Bukh saw more of an issue with its potential for nationwide legalization.

“I believe it will be difficult for marijuana to be legalized nationwide,” he said.

Bukh pointed to progressive states like New York being slow to move forward with legalization efforts even for medical marijuana.

The courts are not going to legalize marijuana because there’s no constitutional right to the drug, the defense attorney pointed out,  and because it’s so politically polarizing, the federal government doesn’t want to really touch it at this point.

Bukh also said that not all states make policy decisions based on factual evidence. Some of them, he noted, make policy decisions based on ideology, so even if the states that have legalized it recreationally show more positive effects than negative effects, it will likely be a long time before every state legalizes it and there’s no guarantee that will happen.

Obstacles to Legalization

Standing in the way of legalization across the country is that same political polarization that Bukh pointed to before. As it is being treated as a partisan issue, people tend to get entrenched in their party’s position rather than looking at the issue from a factual perspective. To counteract this will take a grassroots movement, he said.

“There is a libertarian, conservative, liberal and progressive argument to be made for legalization and all of these arguments should be made at the grassroots level to drive support and convince party leadership of all major political parties to get on board,” he stated.

Krane agreed that the federal government largely remains the biggest obstacle to full legalization, as it has largely opposed it at every step while state lawmakers seem to be well behind the public in terms of their support for legalization.

The best way to get around this obstacle, he says, is to continue to let the voters decide on whether they want it legalized or not.

“We have been able to get around these obstacles by taking the issue directly to the voters.  Every time we have done so, in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and DC, voters have overwhelmingly supported legalization,” he said.

As it continues its slow march toward acceptance and legalization throughout many different states, marijuana will likely continue to also polarize people as they fall into either the pro-legalization or anti-legalization camps.

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Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

FDA Schedules Meeting About Female Libido Enhancer

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After rejecting it twice, the US Food and Drug Administration has scheduled a meeting for early June to discuss further a female libido enhancer that could effectively do for women what Viagra does for men.

The pill, flibanserin, is backed by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which has enlisted the help of various women’s groups and other advocates to lobby the FDA to approve the pill, saying that women’s sexual issues often get ignored by the federal government even though men’s sexual issues get much attention.

The FDA said it plans to convene a meeting of its reproductive drugs and drug safety panels on June 4. The agency is not required to follow the advice of these panels, but it often does.

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Health & Wellness Real Drug Stories

Two-Drug Combination Reduces Colon Cancer by 67%

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A combination of two new antibodies, that act against the same protein, reduces tumours in colorectal metastatic cancers that no longer respond to conventional treatment by 67%, a clinical trial has shown.

The Results of the international phase one clinical trial, led by Barcelona’s Vall d’Hebron Hospital, were published on May 11.

“This is important progress because we have showed this improvement for the first time in a clinical phase, although it is just one more step, it does not cure cancer, it only gives us more control time,” said Josep Tabernero, head of Medical Oncology at Vall d’Hebron Hospital and director of the Vall d’Hebron Oncology Institute.

The study, published in the American Association for Cancer Research’s Cancer Discovery journal, demonstrated that the drug “Sym004″, a mixture of two antibodies that act against the EGFR protein, is effective in patients with advanced colorectal cancer who had become resistant to previous treatments.

This new drug opens the possibility for a treatment with better results in these advanced colon cancer cases.

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