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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Recovering Meth Addicts May Experience Neurological Changes During Withdrawal

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Researchers at the University of Florida said that when treating methamphetamine addicts, physicians should understand that the patients may experience changes in their brains during withdrawal.

“When people treat drug addicts, they need to know that during withdrawal, people in recovery may experience cognitive consequences,” Habibeh Khoshbouei, an associate professor of neuroscience and psychiatry in the U of F College of Medicine, said in a university news release. “Their brain chemistry has changed.”

Khoshbouei and colleagues studied mice during full-blown methamphetamine addiction, examining their behavior and looking at the activity in the part of the brain known to be involved in memory retention and formation. When the mice were on drugs, the researchers did not observe short-term memory problems. However two weeks after withdrawal began, the mice had shown changes in their ability to remember things and had a decrease in neurological activity.

“Current protocols treat the addiction, but our research shows that there is more to it than that,” Khoshbouei noted. He added that meth addicts “should be treated like they have a chronic disease.”

The research, which appeared in the current issue of the journal Synapse, is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Substance Abuse

Using Meth While Pregnant May Affect Children’s Behavior

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A study conducted by Linda LaGasse of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and colleagues determined that the children of women who use methamphetamine while pregnant are more at risk for behavioral problems during childhood.

The children who were exposed to meth while they were in their mother’s womb had greater emotional reactivity, as well as higher levels of anxiety and depression, at the ages of 3 and 5. In addition, exposure to meth while in the womb was linked to acting out, as well as symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), at the age of 5.

The researchers wrote the following in an online report, prior to the release of the April issue of Pediatrics: “The ability to identify specific behavioral syndromes in children as early as preschool age could lead to the development of preventive intervention programs… early intervention may prevent escalation into delinquency and psychopathology.”

The study authors analyzed data from the Infant Development, Environment, and Lifestyle (IDEAL) study, described in an ABC News feature as “a prospective, longitudinal study of prenatal methamphetamine exposure using participants from Los Angeles, Honolulu, Des Moines, Iowa, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.”

The study included data from 166 children who had been exposed to meth, as well as 164 children who were not. The children were assessed for behavior-related issues at the ages of 3 and 5, through the caregiver-reported Child Behavior Checklist, administered by an interviewer.

Analysis of the data showed that heavy meth use, defined as using the drug at least three days a week while pregnant, was linked to attention problems and withdrawn behavior in both children aged 3 and 5.

The researchers revealed further: “Despite adjustment for demographic factors, the population differences suggest that these effects on behavior problems are quite robust and may have substantial public health implications, because problems as noted on the Child Behavior Checklist tend to persist over time and predict later psychopathology and criminal behavior that place tremendous burdens on society.”

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Young California Mom in Suspected Murder-Suicide Recorded Self Doing Meth

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A young California mother of two who is involved in a suspected murder-suicide reportedly took a video of herself smoking methamphetamine, hours before she shot her boyfriend, her boyfriend’s cousin, her two children, and herself.

Aide Mendez, 23, and her boyfriend Eduardo Lopez ,33, had an argument before the attack started on January 15. According to Lt. Mark Salazar, homicide commander for the Fresno Police Department, police found Lopez outside the Silver Lakes Apartment in Fresno, with knife and gunshot wounds.

The responding police officers then heard a muffled shot from inside the apartment. When they went in, they found Mendez and Lopez’ two children, 17-month-old Aliyah Echeverria and 3-year-old Isaiah Echeverria, Lopez’ cousin 27 year-old Paul Medina, and Mendez dead.

Lopez is the only survivor in the incident; he is currently hospitalized and in serious condition, according to Mary Lisa Russel, spokeswoman for Community Regional Medical Center.

Salazar said that drugs played a role in the killings, and that drugs other than meth may also be involved. Investigators are still trying to determine, however, to what extent that involvement was. Coroner David Hadden shared that a toxicology report will not be available for several days.

The police found 10 grams of meth, scales, nearly $8,000 cash and three handguns at the apartment. They also found an iPad, which contained a video that showed Medina and Mendez in the kitchen, smoking what seemed to be meth, hours before the 911 calls.

Substance Abuse

Methamphetamine Use Decreasing, Marijuana Use Rising

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The results of a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed conflicting trends.

While methamphetamine use among Americans is on a downward trend, the (presumably recreational) use of marijuana seems to be increasing. The survey results indicated that 8.9 percent of the US population, roughly 22.6 Americans, aged 12 years old and older, used illegal drugs in 2010. These figures were higher than statistics from previous years, which were 8.7 percent and 8 percent in 2009 and 2008 respectively.

This overall increase may have been triggered by an increase in marijuana use, with 6.9 percent of the population admitting to using pot in 2010; in 2007, 14.4 million, or 5.8 percent of the population, said that they used marijuana.

Methamphetamine use, however, showed a decline; the number of meth users was cut by about half from 2006 to 2010. The same downward trend was also found in cocaine use.

Among young Americans aged 12 to 17, rates of drinking went down to 13.6 percent in 2010 from 14.7 percent in 2009, while smoking rates went down to 10.7 percent in 2010 from 11.6 percent in 2009.

In a statement, Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, indicated that the increases were prominent in states where the use of medical marijuana has been legalized: “Emerging research reveals potential links between permitting access to smoked medical marijuana and higher rates of marijuana use… this increase was also driven in large part by a rise in the rate of current marijuana use among its population.”

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Increase in Number of Meth Labs in Georgia

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A report on The Augusta Chronicle shared that the number of meth labs in the state of Georgia has increased over the past three years. In the city of Augusta, statistics indicate a 79 percent increase in the number of meth labs discovered by the police. The percentage statewide is 82 percent.

meth labSgt. Allan Rollins of Richmond County Sherrif’s Office shared: “We’ve been on a surge recently… (The labs are) getting much more portable and easier to carry. It used to be you almost had to have a high school chemistry laboratory to make, but now you can basically make it out of a suitcase in a jar.”

Douglas Kahn, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Atlanta, explained that only an estimated 20 percent of the methamphetamine in Georgia is actually made in-state. The meth, according to Kahn, is coming into Georgia from Mexico; the purpose of the labs being set up in the state is to extract crystal meth.

Jim Langford, the executive director of the Georgia Meth Project, described the city of Atlanta, Georgia, as a “distribution hub for meth.” He explains further: “[Meth] is easy to ingest… You can snort it or inject it… you can also put it in a soft drink or in chewing gum.” It is for this reason, according to Langford, that teens are drawn to the drug; the state of Georgia actually has the third-worst meth problem among teenage users in the United States.

Based on a poll conducted by the Georgia Meth Project last year, 35 percent of teens and young adults do not see any risk in trying the meth; 23 percent, on the other hand, said that they believe that using the drug will be beneficial.