Substance Abuse

Poverty, Stress a Factor in Overdose Deaths

Drug-related deaths have grown to be a major US public health problem over the past two decades. Between 2006 and 2015 there were more than 515,000 deaths from drug overdoses and other drug-related causes. The economic, social, and emotional tolls of these deaths are substantial, but some parts of the US are bearing heavier burdens than others. Evidence from the first national study of county-level differences suggests that addressing economic and social conditions will be key to reversing the rising tide of drug deaths, reports the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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Opioid Abuse Can Be Treated in Primary Care

A new model of collaborative care - combining substance abuse treatment with regular medical care - has been found to be more accessible, more effective and at a lower cost than traditional specialty care methods, according to a RAND Corporation study.

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Drug-Use Can Hamper Moral Judgment

Regular cocaine and methamphetamine users can have difficulty choosing between right and wrong, perhaps because the specific parts of their brains used for moral processing and evaluating emotions are damaged by their prolonged drug habits. This is according to a study among prison inmates by Samantha Fede and Dr. Kent Kiehl's laboratory at the University of New Mexico and the nonprofit Mind Research Network. The findings of the study, which was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, are published in Springer's journal Psychopharmacology.

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Childhood Defiance Linked to Addiction

Children who exhibit oppositional behavior run the risk of becoming addicted to nicotine, cannabis and cocaine while inattention symptoms represent a specific additional risk of nicotine addiction. Nevertheless, hyperactivity in itself does not seem to be associated with any specific risk of substance abuse or dependence.

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Substance Use Reduces Educational Achievement

Although various kinds of substance use are associated with reduced educational attainment, these associations have been mixed and may also be partially due to risk factors such as socioeconomic disadvantages. A study of substance use and education among male twins from a veteran population has found a strong relationship among early alcohol use, alcohol dependence, daily nicotine use, and fewer years of educational attainment.

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Opioids Linked With Highest Risk of Death

People with an opioid addiction had the highest risk of death when compared with rates for alcohol and other drugs, according to a new study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). For those dependent on opioids, the risk of death was 5.71 times higher than healthy individuals in the population of the same age, gender and race.

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Chronic Cocaine Use Hastens Aging of Brain

Research by scientists at the University of Cambridge suggests that chronic cocaine abuse accelerates the process of brain ageing. The study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, found that age-related loss of grey matter in the brain is greater in people who are dependent on cocaine than in the healthy population.

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Child Abuse: Malicious Use of Pharmaceuticals

Child abuse is a serious problem that affects nearly one million children a year in the United States alone. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Department of Health and Human Services classify child abuse into four categories including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. None of these categories, however, clearly includes the abusive use of drugs on children. A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics investigates the malicious use of pharmaceuticals and attempts to shed light on this under-recognized problem.

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Addiction: a Loss of Plasticity of the Brain?

Why is it that only some drug users become addicts? This is the question that has been addressed by the teams of Pier Vincenzo Piazza and Olivier Manzoni, at the Neurocentre Magendie in Bordeaux (Inserm unit 862). These researchers have discovered that the transition to addiction could result from a persistent impairment of synaptic plasticity in a key structure of the brain. This is the first demonstration that a correlation exists between synaptic plasticity and the transition to addiction.

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Ignoring Stress Leads to Drug Cravings

Recovering addicts who avoid coping with stress succumb easily to substance use cravings, making them more likely to relapse during recovery, according to behavioral researchers. "Cravings are a strong predictor of relapse," said H. Harrington Cleveland, associate professor of human development, Penn State. "The goal of this study is to predict the variation in substance craving in a person on a within-day basis. Because recovery must be maintained 'one day at a time,' researchers have to understand it on the same daily level."

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Peer Drug Use Increases Genetic Tendency to Use

The nature-nurture debate is usually about how much of something is due to our genes and how much is caused by our environment. New research just published in the academic journal Addiction shows that the case is more interesting for young women who smoke, drink, or use drugs, for two related reasons.

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Cocaine Use a Significant Teen HIV Risk Factor

Teens with a history of crack or cocaine use are significantly more likely to engage in unprotected sex than youth who have never used these drugs, putting themselves at increased risk for HIV, according to a study in the <i>Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse</i>.

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