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Articles and health studies about addiction and alcoholism, including the most recent scientific and medical findings.
Are young smokers risking cognitive impairment as adults?
Call it “nicolescence.” It’s that time of life when certain 18-and-unders discover cigarettes. Most adult smokers begin their habit before the age of 19, and a majority of adolescents have tried cigarettes at least once. But for some of them—those who were “born to smoke,” in a sense—early exposure to nicotine may influence adolescent cognitive performance in ways that adult exposure to nicotine does not. Furthermore........ Read more »
Counotte, D., Goriounova, N., Li, K., Loos, M., van der Schors, R., Schetters, D., Schoffelmeer, A., Smit, A., Mansvelder, H., Pattij, T.... (2011) Lasting synaptic changes underlie attention deficits caused by nicotine exposure during adolescence. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2770
Child surgery makes smoking parents more likely to try quitting.
Here’s a strange one: Doctors at Mayo Clinic wanted to find out whether children undergoing surgery had any effect on the smoking behavior of their parents. And it did—but the effect appears to be short-lived.
The Mayo researchers began from the already well-tested proposition that smokers who have surgery are more likely to quit smoking. In fact, they quit at twice the rate of smokers who haven’t had surgery. Not hard to........ Read more »
(With love and apologies to Martha and the Vandellas.)
That wonderful song goes on to declare:
'Cause I know
You're no good for me
But you’ve become
A part of me.
The song is not about cigarette addiction, but it could be. Full Disclosure: I smoked cigarettes myself for almost 25 years. And then, after several failed attempts, I quit. I out myself on this subject because a paper from the May 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) decries what the authors call the “denorma........ Read more »
Colgrove J, Bayer R, & Bachynski KE. (2011) Nowhere Left to Hide? The Banishment of Smoking from Public Spaces. The New England journal of medicine. PMID: 21612464
The perils of a hypersensitive dopamine system.
The brooding, antisocial loner, the one with impulse control problems, a penchant for risk-taking, and a cigarette dangling from his lip, is a recognizable archetype in popular culture. From Marlon Brando to Bruce Lee, these flawed heroes are perhaps the ones with restless brain chemicals; the ones who never felt good and never knew why (“What are you rebelling against?” “What’ve you got?”).
A recent study at Vanderbilt University, pu........ Read more »
Buckholtz, J., Treadway, M., Cowan, R., Woodward, N., Benning, S., Li, R., Ansari, M., Baldwin, R., Schwartzman, A., Shelby, E.... (2010) Mesolimbic dopamine reward system hypersensitivity in individuals with psychopathic traits. Nature Neuroscience, 13(4), 419-421. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2510
Is your new house a thirdhand smoke reservoir?
In the first published examination of thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure, researchers at San Diego State University discovered that non-smokers who move into homes purchased from smokers encounter significantly elevated nicotine levels in the air and dust of their new homes two months or more after moving in.
100 smoking households and 50 non-smoking households participated in the study, which was published in Tobacco Control. The researcher........ Read more »
Matt, G., Quintana, P., Zakarian, J., Fortmann, A., Chatfield, D., Hoh, E., Uribe, A., & Hovell, M. (2010) When smokers move out and non-smokers move in: residential thirdhand smoke pollution and exposure. Tobacco Control, 20(1). DOI: 10.1136/tc.2010.037382
The chemistry of sorrow during nicotine withdrawal.
When you smoke a cigarette, nicotine pops into acetylcholine receptors in the brain, the adrenal glands, and the skeletal muscles, and you get a nicotine rush. Just like alcohol, a cigarette alters the transmission of several important chemical messengers in the brain. “These are not trivial responses,” said Professor Ovide Pomerleau of the University of Michigan Medical School. “It’s like lighting a match in a gasoline factory.”
E........ Read more »
Bacher, I., Houle, S., Xu, X., Zawertailo, L., Soliman, A., Wilson, A., Selby, P., George, T., Sacher, J., Miler, L.... (2011) Monoamine Oxidase A Binding in the Prefrontal and Anterior Cingulate Cortices During Acute Withdrawal From Heavy Cigarette Smoking. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68(8), 817-826. DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.82
Prison once again a place for addicts and the mentally ill.
Readers may remember the dark day of January 1, 2008, when the U.S. set an all-time record: One out of every 100 adults was behind bars. That’s more than 2.3 million people. That’s 25% of all the prisoners in the world—and the world includes some very nasty nations. What gives?
You know the answer: drug crimes. Can it really be a coincidence that over the past 40 years, ever since President Richard Nixon first declared war on ........ Read more »
Rich JD, Wakeman SE, & Dickman SL. (2011) Medicine and the epidemic of incarceration in the United States. The New England journal of medicine, 364(22), 2081-3. PMID: 21631319
The DSM-V is set to label problem gambling an addiction.
Nobody has ever bet enough on the winning horse.
— Unknown wise person
I used to gamble. Back when I did, I was also an active alcoholic and a chain smoker. Camel filters, if you’re wondering. And we had a running joke, my wife and I, although the humor leaked out of it for her pretty quickly. We would breach the doors of the gambling palace, and plunge into the dark, icy interior of a casino at Las Vegas or Tahoe, and stand on the........ Read more »
Shaffer HJ, & Martin R. (2011) Disordered gambling: etiology, trajectory, and clinical considerations. Annual review of clinical psychology, 483-510. PMID: 21219194
Another look at MDMA and serotonin.
A study by Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has confirmed earlier findings that chronic users of ecstasy (MDMA) have abnormally low levels of serotonin transporter molecules in the cerebral cortex.
While a decade of research on the effects of ecstasy on brain serotonin has been controversial and largely inconclusive, the latest study used drug hair analysis to confirm levels of MDMA in 49 users and 50 controls. An additional division ........ Read more »
Kish, S., Lerch, J., Furukawa, Y., Tong, J., McCluskey, T., Wilkins, D., Houle, S., Meyer, J., Mundo, E., Wilson, A.... (2010) Decreased cerebral cortical serotonin transporter binding in ecstasy users: a positron emission tomography/[11C]DASB and structural brain imaging study. Brain. DOI: 10.1093/brain/awq103
Research team finds brain abnormalities.
When it came to babies born to crack-addicted mothers, the media went overboard, creating a crisis in the form of an epidemic that never quite was. By contrast, when it came to babies born to alcoholic mothers, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome went unrecognized in the science and medical community until 1968.
Now comes a study on prenatal methamphetamine exposure in The Journal of Neuroscience, headed up by Elizabeth Sowell of the University of California, Los ........ Read more »
Sowell, E., Leow, A., Bookheimer, S., Smith, L., O'Connor, M., Kan, E., Rosso, C., Houston, S., Dinov, I., & Thompson, P. (2010) Differentiating Prenatal Exposure to Methamphetamine and Alcohol versus Alcohol and Not Methamphetamine using Tensor-Based Brain Morphometry and Discriminant Analysis. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(11), 3876-3885. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4967-09.2010
Smith, L., LaGasse, L., Derauf, C., Grant, P., Shah, R., Arria, A., Huestis, M., Haning, W., Strauss, A., Grotta, S.... (2006) The Infant Development, Environment, and Lifestyle Study: Effects of Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure, Polydrug Exposure, and Poverty on Intrauterine Growth. PEDIATRICS, 118(3), 1149-1156. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2005-2564
NIDA touts controversial 2009 study.
After 50 years of rumor, study, and argument in the research community, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has come out squarely behind the assertion that marijuana use in men “may increase their risk for developing testicular cancer.”
But a problem exists. The evidence just isn’t that good. Especially if you base the conclusion on a single small study, as NIDA is apparently doing.
Writing in NIDA Notes for December, 2010, Lori Whitten high........ Read more »
Daling, J., Doody, D., Sun, X., Trabert, B., Weiss, N., Chen, C., Biggs, M., Starr, J., Dey, S., & Schwartz, S. (2009) Association of marijuana use and the incidence of testicular germ cell tumors. Cancer, 115(6), 1215-1223. DOI: 10.1002/cncr.24159
Treatment dropouts do poorly on color/word match.
It’s commonly used to demonstrate behavioral inhibition, but it’s also a nifty parlor game. It is called the Stroop Test, and it plays off the fact that people are far better at reading words than they are at intentionally ignoring them. To prove it, John Ridley Stroop’s 1935 Ph.D. thesis showed how difficult it is to interfere with the automatic processing of words. In the basic Stroop test, a list of color names is presented. However, th........ Read more »
Streeter, C., Terhune, D., Whitfield, T., Gruber, S., Sarid-Segal, O., Silveri, M., Tzilos, G., Afshar, M., Rouse, E., Tian, H.... (2007) Performance on the Stroop Predicts Treatment Compliance in Cocaine-Dependent Individuals. Neuropsychopharmacology, 33(4), 827-836. DOI: 10.1038/sj.npp.1301465
A different destination for cannabinoids.
THC and its organic cousin, anandamide, do what they do by locking into both the CB1 receptor, discovered in 1988, and the CB2 receptor (as it is commonly written in shorthand), discovered 5 years later. THC and anandamide are CB receptor agonists, meaning they activate the receptors in question. (An antagonist blocks the receptor’s action.)
CB1 is a very common receptor in the central nervous system, and, when stimulated by an agonist, is responsible........ Read more »
Atwood, B., & Mackie, K. (2010) CB2: a cannabinoid receptor with an identity crisis. British Journal of Pharmacology, 160(3), 467-479. DOI: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.00729.x
Special K and Cystitis.
Normally, Addiction Inbox steers clear of alarmist stories about drug use. A lifetime of wildly overstated verbiage about “false drugs,” as the Firesign Theatre comedy group once delightfully phrased it, has left me wary of drug scare stories. Even obvious cases, like Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and crack babies, are more nuanced problems than most coverage has alleged.
For years now, rumors about bladder problems in recreational users of ketamine have periodi........ Read more »
Chu, P., Ma, W., Wong, S., Chu, R., Cheng, C., Wong, S., Tse, J., Lau, F., Yiu, M., & Man, C. (2008) The destruction of the lower urinary tract by ketamine abuse: a new syndrome?. BJU International, 102(11), 1616-1622. DOI: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2008.07920.x
Mason K, Cottrell AM, Corrigan AG, Gillatt DA, & Mitchelmore AE. (2010) Ketamine-associated lower urinary tract destruction: a new radiological challenge. Clinical radiology, 65(10), 795-800. PMID: 20797465
Common supplement may reduce cell death in pregnancies.
A common dietary supplement markedly decreases defects in the skull and brain formation of lab mice born to mothers exposed to alcohol, say researchers at the Medical College of Georgia.
Among the grisly list of potential effects caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy, one involves a relatively obscure lipid called ceramide. Ceramide can markedly increase the rate of programmed cell death—a process known as apoptosis—and........ Read more »
Wang, G., & Bieberich, E. (2010) Prenatal alcohol exposure triggers ceramide-induced apoptosis in neural crest-derived tissues concurrent with defective cranial development. Cell Death and Disease, 1(5). DOI: 10.1038/cddis.2010.22
To Africa and back again.
[Queen Nzinga (smoking a pipe) with Her Entourage, Kingdom of Kongo, 1670s]--------->
In the 17th Century, tobacco, the prototypical New World stimulant, was introduced to Africa by European traders. By 1607, tobacco was being cultivated in Sierra Leone, and in 1611 a Swiss doctor commented on how the soldiers of the “Kingdom of Kongo” fought hunger by grinding up tobacco leaves and setting them on fire, “so that a strong smoke is produced, which they inhale........ Read more »
Handler, J. (2009) The Middle Passage and the Material Culture of Captive Africans. Slavery , 30(1), 1-26. DOI: 10.1080/01440390802673773
You can lead a fish to water, but can you make it smoke?
... Read more »
Do certain strains make you more forgetful?
Cannabis snobs have been known to argue endlessly about the quality of the highs produced by their favorite varietals: Northern Lights, Hawaiian Haze, White Widow, etc. Among dedicated potheads, debates about the effects of specific cannabis strains are often overheated, and, ultimately, kind of boring. It's a bit like listening to a discussion of whether the wine in question evinces a woody aftertaste or is, instead, redolent of elderberries. For mos........ Read more »
Morgan, C., Schafer, G., Freeman, T., & Curran, H. (2010) Impact of cannabidiol on the acute memory and psychotomimetic effects of smoked cannabis: naturalistic study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 197(4), 285-290. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.110.077503
Brain protein MeCP2 in the spotlight.
Dr. Edward Sellers, former director of the psychopharmacological research program at the University of Toronto’s Addiction Research Foundation once said to me: “Every cell, every hormone, every membrane in the body has got genetic underpinnings, and while many of the genetic underpinnings are similar in people, in fact there are also huge differences. So on one level, the fact that there is a genetic component to addiction is not very surprising. What i........ Read more »
Im, H., Hollander, J., Bali, P., & Kenny, P. (2010) MeCP2 controls BDNF expression and cocaine intake through homeostatic interactions with microRNA-212. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2615
Of mephedrone, bath salts, and impaired driving.
Automobile accidents are the ninth leading cause of death worlwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). More than a million people are killed on roads annually, and that number could rise to 2.5 million by 2020. WHO estimates that traffic accidents cost developing countries an astonishing 1-2 % of their gross domestic product (GDP).
For years now, police and public health officials have puzzled over the alarming number of tr........ Read more »
Colzato, L., Ruiz, M., van den Wildenberg, W., Bajo, M., & Hommel, B. (2011) Long-Term Effects of Chronic Khat Use: Impaired Inhibitory Control. Frontiers in Psychology. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00219
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