Links for Keyword: Drug Abuse

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by Robby Berman Our problem with opioids has been in the news a lot lately, and for good reason: It’s arguably the worst drug problem the U.S. has ever faced. The leading cause of death for people under 50? Opioids. According to the CDC, between 1999 and 2015, over 183,000 Americans have died of overdoses from prescription opioids alone. The agency estimates that more than 1,000 people receive emergency treatment for prescription overdoses every day. While those numbers are leveling off a bit now — perhaps as doctors become more careful about prescribing them — the number of deaths from non-prescription opioids is rising fast. Overdoses are easy to count, but nearly as disturbing, if less visible, is how many people are dependent on these drugs. The CDC estimates that in 2014 that number was two million Americans. The top three prescription opioids causing overdoses, says the CDC, are methadone, oxycodone (including OxyContin®), and hydrocodone (including Vicodin®). The two leading non-prescription killers on the rise are heroin and fentanyl, the drug that killed musician Prince. Experts believe that prescription opioids serve as gateways for illegal ones, so getting prescription use under control may be the key first step. Meanwhile, watch this. If you’ve ever thought that those who become dependent on opioids are weak or have defective personalities — and that these drugs might be safe for others, even you — this video from Lily Fang about how they work in the human brain reveals why these pain-killers are so incredibly dangerous. The video was created for a HarvardX class. © Copyright 2007-2017 & BIG THINK,

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 24190 - Posted: 10.13.2017

By Neuroskeptic A curious flurry of headlines in praise of beer appeared this week: Beer really DOES make you happier! Key molecule boosts brain’s reward centre Drinking Beer Makes You Really Happy, Confirms Awesome New Study Drinking beer can make you happy, researchers claim It was reported that scientists from Germany have discovered that a molecule in beer called hordenine activates dopamine receptors in the brain, and thus produces a positive mood. The research in question was published back in March of this year, so I’m not sure why it only made the headlines this week – maybe Oktoberfest had something to do with it. Either way, the study did indeed find that hordenine is a dopamine D2 receptor agonist, but it’s not clear this has any relevance to beer drinkers. The German researchers, Sommer et al., are chemists, not neuroscientists. They used computational simulations to model whether 13,000 known ‘food-derived’ molecules would bind to the D2 receptor. The hordenine molecule was predicted to fit the receptor, and follow-up experiments showed that it does indeed bind to it, suggesting possible psychoactive properties.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 24162 - Posted: 10.09.2017

Paula Span In the summer, Henry Wrenn-Meleck likes to sit on the stoop of his building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, observing the passing urban parade. One day in late July, “one of my neighbors could see something was wrong,” he recently recalled. “I was sort of rolling around, obviously in a lot of pain. He said, ‘I have to call 911,’ and he did.” Mr. Wrenn-Meleck, 63, an independent music publisher and dealer in rare guitars, spent three weeks in a hospital, being treated for trauma from a fall he does not recall. But the underlying problem was “40 years of being a very serious alcoholic,” he said. “My body finally said no more.” Discharged from the hospital after detoxing, Mr. Wrenn-Meleck went to the New Jewish Home in Manhattan for physical therapy. He also entered its geriatric substance abuse recovery program where, he found, he was one of the younger participants. Epidemiologists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism last month reported a jarring trend: Problem drinking is rising fast among older Americans. Their study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, compared data from a national survey taken in 2001 and 2002 and again in 2012 and 2013, each time with about 40,000 adults. Drinking had increased in every age group, the researchers found. Those over 65 remained far less likely to drink than younger people — about 55 percent of older participants told interviewers they’d imbibed in the past year. Still, that was a 22 percent increase over the two periods, the greatest rise in any age group. More troublingly, the proportion of older adults engaged in “high-risk drinking” jumped 65 percent, to 3.8 percent. The researchers’ definition: for a man, downing five or more standard drinks in a day (each containing 14 grams of alcohol) at least weekly during the past year; for a woman, four such drinks in a day.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 24066 - Posted: 09.15.2017

By JOSH KATZ The first governmental account of nationwide drug deaths in 2016 shows overdose deaths growing even faster than previously thought. Drug overdoses killed roughly 64,000 people in the United States last year, according to the first governmental account of nationwide drug deaths to cover all of 2016. It’s a staggering rise of more than 22 percent over the 52,404 drug deaths recorded the previous year — and even higher than The New York Times’s estimate in June, which was based on earlier preliminary data. Drug overdoses are expected to remain the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, as synthetic opioids — primarily fentanyl and its analogues — continue to push the death count higher. Drug deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, accompanied by an upturn in deaths involving cocaine and methamphetamines. Together they add up to an epidemic of drug overdoses that is killing people at a faster rate than the H.I.V. epidemic at its peak. This is the first national data to break down the growth by drug and by state. We’ve known for a while that fentanyls were behind the growing count of drug deaths in some states and counties. But now we can see the extent to which this is true nationally, as deaths involving synthetic opioids, mostly fentanyls, have risen to more than 20,000 from 3,000 in just three years. Deaths involving prescription opioids continue to rise, but many of those deaths also involved heroin, fentanyl or a fentanyl analogue. There is a downward trend in deaths from prescription opioids alone. At the same time, there has been a resurgence in cocaine and methamphetamine deaths. Many of these also involve opioids, but a significant portion of drug deaths — roughly one-third in 2015 — do not. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 24027 - Posted: 09.02.2017

Nicola Davis An article suggesting that sugar should be considered an addictive substance, and could even be on a par with abusive drugs such as cocaine, has sparked a furious backlash with experts describing the claims as “absurd”. In a narrative review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine the authors write that sugar could act as a gateway to alcohol and other addictive substances, adding that like sugar, like cocaine and opium, is refined from plants to yield pure white crystals – a process they say “significantly adds to its addictive properties.” Too much sugar could increase depression risk in men, study suggests Read more The article was co-authored by cardiovascular research scientist James J DiNicolantonio and cardiologist James H O’Keefe, both from Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas, together with William Wilson – a physician with the nonprofit US group practice Lahey Health. “Consuming sugar produces effects similar to that of cocaine, altering mood, possibly through its ability to induce reward and pleasure, leading to the seeking out of sugar,” they write, citing rodent studies which show that sweetness is preferred even over cocaine, and that mice can experience sugar withdrawal. Speaking to the Guardian, DiNicolantonio said that the consumption of sugar was a grave concern. “In animals, it is actually more addictive than even cocaine, so sugar is pretty much probably the most consumed addictive substance around the world and it is wreaking havoc on our health.” © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 23999 - Posted: 08.26.2017

By Emily Underwood It doesn’t take long for tropical zebrafish to get hooked on hydrocodone. Within a week, they will risk their lives thousands of times per hour to get a dose of the opioid, shows the first study that let the fish themselves choose when to take a hit. To train them, researchers released 1.5 milligrams of hydrocodone per liter of water every time they swam over a shallow platform. The drug quickly filtered out of the tank, so they had to keep going back if they wanted to maintain their high. After just 5 days, the trained fish were visiting the opioid-delivering platform almost 2000 times every 50 minutes, the team reports online today in Behavioral Brain Research. When no drug was present, they visited the platform only about 200 times. Fish normally avoid shallow water, where they’re more likely to be spotted by predators. But over and over again, the jonesing zebrafish left the safety of deep water for the shallow platform. When the team rigged the tank so it took several visits to get a hit, the fish ramped up their efforts, returning as many as 20 times for one dose. Previous studies have shown that zebrafish exposed to opioids become stressed and anxious when the drug is taken away, displaying symptoms of withdrawal. But this is the first time scientists have shown that zebrafish will expend effort—and even court danger—to get a dose. Because zebrafish and humans share the same opioid receptor in their brains, as well as neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin that signal pleasure and reward, the team hopes to use them to screen for new treatments for opioid addiction. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 23998 - Posted: 08.26.2017

By Jessica Hamzelou People who use methamphetamine are almost five times more likely to have a stroke caused by a bleed in the brain, many of which are fatal. “We can add stroke to the list of terrible and devastating things that methamphetamine does,” says Damian Zuloaga, of the University at Albany, New York. Beyond the signature tooth decay known as “meth mouth”, methamphetamine also increases heart rate and blood pressure, and can trigger heart attacks. The drug can lead to psychosis, and has been linked to anxiety disorders, depression, and problems with movement similar to those seen in Parkinson’s disease. A handful of studies have also linked methamphetamine use to strokes. To explore further, Julia Lappin and her colleagues at the Australian National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Sydney sifted through published research on the topic. The team specifically looked for research into people under the age of 45 – a group less likely to be affected by age-related causes of stroke. They assessed the results of 77 studies in total. Most of these studies were conducted in the US, where, in 2012, around 1.2 million people reported using methamphetamine in the past year. Several of the studies the team looked at reported that strokes are responsible for between one and five per cent of methamphetamine-related deaths. And other studies found that methamphetamine was to blame for between two and six per cent of all strokes caused by a blockage in the brain’s blood flow in under 45s. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 23988 - Posted: 08.24.2017

Richard Harris It's always appealing to think that there could be an easy technical fix for a complicated and serious problem. For example, wouldn't it be great to have a vaccine to prevent addiction? "One of the things they're actually working on is a vaccine for addiction, which is an incredibly exciting prospect," said Dr. Tom Price, secretary of Health and Human Services. He was talking to reporters earlier this week, after the White House discussed the recommendations from a government commission tasked with suggesting ways to cope with the nation's opioid epidemic. Trump Says He Intends To Declare Opioid Crisis National Emergency But, as is so often the case, there's no quick fix on the horizon for an epidemic that is now killing more Americans than traffic accidents. Researchers have been working on vaccines against addictive drugs, including nicotine, cocaine and heroin, for almost two decades. "Like any other vaccine, you inject the vaccine and you use your immune system to produce antibodies," says Dr. Ivan Montoya, acting director of the division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "In this case, the antibodies are against the drugs of abuse." © 2017 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23980 - Posted: 08.22.2017

By Aggie Mika | In a report published today (August 16) in Nature, researchers uncover the mechanisms by which the psychoactive and addictive drug fenethylline, trade name Captagon, exerts its potent stimulating effects. Essentially, one component of the drug, theophylline, boosts the effects of another, amphetamine. “This combination greatly enhances amphetamine’s properties,” says coauthor and Scripps Research Institute researcher Kim Janda in a press conference this week, Reuters reports. “So this now makes sense why it’s being so heavily abused.” In exploring fenethylline’s mode of action, the researchers came upon a method to vaccinate against the drug in mice using small, antibody-eliciting molecules called haptens that target the drug’s chemical components. Once antibodies for a specific chemical are prompted by a vaccine, they bind to and prevent it from interacting with its receptors in the body, thus preventing the effects of the drug driven by that chemical. Fenethylline’s use is mostly confined to the Middle East, where approximately 40 percent of young adult drug users in Saudi Arabia are addicted to the drug, the authors write in their report. According to Reuters, the drug initially sparked Janda’s interest because of its use by Islamic State jihadists. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, “Syrian civil war combatants and Islamic State terrorists have reportedly used the drug to boost their fighting ability and to lessen fear.” © 1986-2017 The Scientist

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 23971 - Posted: 08.18.2017

By Megan Scudellari Neuropharmacology postdoc Nick DiPatrizio was stumped. His advisor, University of California, Irvine, researcher Daniele Piomelli, had discovered eight years earlier that hungry rats have high levels of endocannabinoids, endogenous molecules that bind to the same receptors as the active ingredient in marijuana. Now, in 2009, DiPatrizio was trying to identify exactly where and how those molecules were controlling food intake in rats. But under specific feeding conditions, he couldn’t locate any changes in endocannabinoid levels in the brain, which is flush with endocannabinoid receptors and the obvious place to look for behavioral signals. Piomelli gently chastised his mentee. “He said, ‘You’re being neurocentric. Remember, there’s a body attached to the head. Look in the other organs of the body,’ ” recalls DiPatrizio. So the young scientist persisted, and eventually discovered that hunger—and the taste of fat—leads to increased endocannabinoid levels in the jejunum, a part of the small intestine. Endocannabinoid signaling in the gut, not the brain, was controlling food intake in the rodents in response to tasting fats.1 The evolution of endocannabinoid research has mirrored DiPatrizio’s early thinking: ever since the first endocannabinoid receptor was identified in the late 1980s, the field has been overwhelmingly focused on the central nervous system. The main endocannabinoid receptor, CB1, was first discovered in a rat brain and is now known to be among the most abundant G protein–coupled receptors in neurons there. Plus, cannabis is well-known for its psychotropic effects. “That has led the research field to be very CNS-oriented,” says Saoirse O’Sullivan, who studies endocannabinoids at the University of Nottingham in the U.K. © 1986-2017 The Scientist

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 23954 - Posted: 08.14.2017

/ By Robin Lloyd While broadly welcomed by public health advocates as an important step to further curb tobacco use, many of the commitments in a new plan to tackle the problem, announced last Friday by Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, actually involve gathering more input for future policies, rather than taking action now. “We expect to take meaningful steps in 2017 to advance important regulatory components that address the key aspects of this new policy,” FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said in an email message to Undark. “We do not have any additional details to share at this time.” That strikes some public health advocates as a bit of foot-dragging. “A lot of these issues they’re raising that they say they have to consider have been considered, have been researched, have been studied,” says Eric Lindblom, director for tobacco control and food and drug law at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. Lindblom has a long resume for developing tobacco control policies to improve public health, including a 2011-2014 stint at the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “FDA saying that ‘We’re going to look into nicotine reduction,’ without also saying, ‘We’re going to issue a proposed rule before the end of this year, or before June of next year,’ just opens the door to continued discussion and talking and all the rest, without actually ever getting anything done,” Lindblom said. Copyright 2017 Undark

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 23928 - Posted: 08.08.2017

by Kate Travis Nearly 5 percent of U.S. adults misused prescription opioids in 2015, a new study shows. Based on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an in-person survey of more than 50,000 people, researchers estimated that 91.8 million, or 37.8 percent, of adults used prescription opioids in 2015. Some 11.5 million people misused the painkillers and 1.9 million people reported opioid dependence or abuse, Beth Han of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Rockville, Md., and colleagues report online August 1 in Annals of Internal Medicine. Among people reporting opioid misuse, nearly 60 percent used the painkillers without a prescription, 22 percent took a bigger dose than prescribed, about 15 percent used them more frequently than directed, and 13 percent of people used them for longer than directed. Relieving pain was the most commonly cited reason for misusing opioids — for 66 percent of people reporting misuse and nearly 49 percent of those with opioid dependence or abuse. These results underscore the urgent need for better approaches to pain management, the authors conclude. As part of the efforts to curb the nation’s opioid epidemic — and pain problem — scientists are searching for safer opioids and opioid alternatives. Misuse motivators Pain relief was the top reason cited for misusing or abusing opioid painkillers. Other reasons included to relax, sleep or get high. B. Han et al/Annals of Internal Medicine 2017 © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2017.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 23907 - Posted: 08.02.2017

By Laurie McGinley and William Wan An electronic cigarette is demonstrated in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File) The Food and Drug Administration said Friday it wants to reduce the nicotine in cigarettes to make them less addictive. The unexpected announcement sent shares of tobacco companies plummeting and sparked praise among some public health advocates. If successful, the effort would be the first time the government has tried to get the Americans to quit cigarettes by reaching beyond warning labels or taxes to attacking the actual addictive substance inside. The FDA rolled out a second major announcement at the same time: It is delaying for several years a key regulation affecting cigars and e-cigarettes, including flavored vaping products that studies show are especially enticing to youth. Specifically, it postponed the requirement that such products be approved by the agency. FDA’s commissioner Scott Gottlieb said both actions are part of a comprehensive plan to eventually wean smokers off conventional cigarettes and steer them toward less harmful alternative forms of nicotine like vaping. “The overwhelming amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco is caused by addiction to cigarettes — the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users,” he said. Some health proponents, however, expressed caution, pointing out that the nicotine-reduction proposal could take years to enact and could be derailed by major hurdles, including the significant lobbying power of tobacco industry. © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 23893 - Posted: 07.29.2017

People who drink three to four times a week are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who never drink, Danish researchers suggest. Wine appears to be particularly beneficial, probably as it plays a role in helping to manage blood sugar, the study, published in Diabetologia, says. They surveyed more than 70,000 people on their alcohol intake - how much and how often they drank. But experts said this wasn't a "green light" to drink more than recommended. And Public Health England warned that consuming alcohol contributed to a vast number of other serious diseases, including some cancers, heart and liver disease. "People should keep this in mind when thinking about how much they drink," a spokeswoman said. Prof Janne Tolstrup, from the National Institute of Public Health of the University of Southern Denmark, who led the research, said: "We found that drinking frequency has an independent effect from the amount of alcohol taken. "We can see it's a better effect to drink the alcohol in four portions rather than all at once." After around five years, study participants were followed up and a total of 859 men and 887 women group had developed diabetes - either type 1 or the more common type 2. The researchers concluded that drinking moderately three to four times a week reduced a woman's risk of diabetes by 32% while it lowered a man's by 27%, compared with people drinking on less than one day a week. Findings also suggest that not all types of alcohol had the same effect. Wine appeared to be particularly beneficial because polyphenols, particularly in red wine, play a role in helping to manage blood sugar. © 2017 BBC.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 23892 - Posted: 07.29.2017

By Megan Scudellari Neuropharmacology postdoc Nick DiPatrizio was stumped. His advisor, University of California, Irvine, researcher Daniele Piomelli, had discovered eight years earlier that hungry rats have high levels of endocannabinoids, endogenous molecules that bind to the same receptors as the active ingredient in marijuana. Now, in 2009, DiPatrizio was trying to identify exactly where and how those molecules were controlling food intake in rats. But under specific feeding conditions, he couldn’t locate any changes in endocannabinoid levels in the brain, which is flush with endocannabinoid receptors and the obvious place to look for behavioral signals. Piomelli gently chastised his mentee. “He said, ‘You’re being neurocentric. Remember, there’s a body attached to the head. Look in the other organs of the body,’ ” recalls DiPatrizio. So the young scientist persisted, and eventually discovered that hunger—and the taste of fat—leads to increased endocannabinoid levels in the jejunum, a part of the small intestine. Endocannabinoid signaling in the gut, not the brain, was controlling food intake in the rodents in response to tasting fats.1 The evolution of endocannabinoid research has mirrored DiPatrizio’s early thinking: ever since the first endocannabinoid receptor was identified in the late 1980s, the field has been overwhelmingly focused on the central nervous system. The main endocannabinoid receptor, CB1, was first discovered in a rat brain and is now known to be among the most abundant G protein–coupled receptors in neurons there. Plus, cannabis is well-known for its psychotropic effects. “That has led the research field to be very CNS-oriented,” says Saoirse O’Sullivan, who studies endocannabinoids at the University of Nottingham in the U.K. © 1986-2017 The Scientist

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 23870 - Posted: 07.25.2017

Laurel Hamers A common blood sugar medication or an extra dose of a thyroid hormone can reverse signs of cognitive damage in rats exposed in utero to alcohol. Both affect an enzyme that controls memory-related genes in the hippocampus, researchers report July 18 in Molecular Psychiatry. That insight might someday help scientists find an effective human treatment for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which can cause lifelong problems with concentration, learning and memory. “At this moment, there’s really no pharmaceutical therapy,” says R. Thomas Zoeller, a neurobiologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Fetal alcohol syndrome disorders may affect up to 5 percent of U.S. kids, according to estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Scientists don’t know exactly why alcohol has such a strong effect on developing brains. But the lower thyroid hormone levels commonly induced by alcohol exposure might be one explanation, suggests study coauthor Eva Redei, a psychiatrist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “The mother has to supply the thyroid hormones for brain development,” says Redei. So, pregnant women who drink might not be providing their fetuses with enough hormones for normal brain development. That could disrupt the developing hippocampus, a brain region involved in learning and memory. To counter alcohol’s effects, Redei and her colleagues gave doses of thyroxine, a thyroid hormone, to newborn rats that had been exposed to alcohol before birth. (That timing coincides developmentally with the third trimester of pregnancy in humans.) The amount of alcohol fed to the rat moms corresponded roughly to a woman drinking a glass or two of wine a day. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2017

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 23849 - Posted: 07.19.2017

By PERRI KLASS, M.D. We want to believe we’re raising our kids to think for themselves, and not to do dumb or unhealthy things just because the cool kids are doing them. But research shows that when it comes to smoking, children are heavily influenced by some of the folks they consider the coolest of the cool: actors in movies. “There’s a dose-response relationship: The more smoking kids see onscreen, the more likely they are to smoke,” said Dr. Stanton Glantz, a professor and director of the University of California, San Francisco, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. He is one of the authors of a new study that found that popular movies are showing more tobacco use onscreen. “The evidence shows it’s the largest single stimulus,” for smoking, he said; “it overpowers good parental role modeling, it’s more powerful than peer influence or even cigarette advertising.” He said that epidemiological studies have shown that if you control for all the other risk factors of smoking (whether parents smoke, attitudes toward risk taking, socioeconomic status, and so on), younger adolescents who are more heavily exposed to smoking on film are two to three times as likely to start smoking, compared with the kids who are more lightly exposed. Those whose parents smoke are more likely to smoke, he said, but exposure to smoking in movies can overcome the benefit of having nonsmoking parents. In one study, the children of nonsmoking parents with heavy exposure to movie smoking were as likely to smoke as the children of smoking parents with heavy movie exposure. To Dr. Glantz, and the other people who study this topic, that makes smoking in movies an “environmental toxin,” a factor endangering children. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 23844 - Posted: 07.18.2017

Nicola Davis People who drink coffee have a lower risk of dying from a host of causes, including heart disease, stroke and liver disease, research suggests – but experts say it’s unclear whether the health boost is down to the brew itself. The connection, revealed in two large studies, was found to hold regardless of whether the coffee was caffeinated or not, with the effect higher among those who drank more cups of coffee a day. But scientists say that the link might just be down to coffee-drinkers having healthier behaviours. “It is plausible that there is something else behind this that is causing this relationship,” said Marc Gunter, a co-author of one of the studies, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer. But, he added, based on the consistency of the results he would be surprised if coffee itself didn’t play a role in reducing the risk of death. About 2.25bn cups of coffee are consumed worldwide every day. While previous studies have suggested coffee might have health benefits, the latest research involves large and diverse cohorts of participants. The first study looked at coffee consumption among more than 185,000 white and non-white participants, recruited in the early 1990s and followed up for an average of over 16 years. The results revealed that drinking one cup of coffee a day was linked to a 12% lower risk of death at any age, from any cause while those drinking two or three cups a day had an 18% lower risk, with the association not linked to ethnicity. © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 23823 - Posted: 07.11.2017

Hannah Devlin A Catholic priest, a Rabbi and a Buddhist walk into a bar and order some magic mushrooms. It may sound like the first line of a bad joke, but this scenario is playing out in one of the first scientific investigations into the effects of psychedelic drugs on religious experience – albeit in a laboratory rather than a bar. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have enlisted two dozen religious leaders from a wide range of denominations, to participate in a study in which they will be given two powerful doses of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. Dr William Richards, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland who is involved in the work, said: “With psilocybin these profound mystical experiences are quite common. It seemed like a no-brainer that they might be of interest, if not valuable, to clergy.” The experiment, which is currently under way, aims to assess whether a transcendental experience makes the leaders more effective and confident in their work and how it alters their religious thinking. Despite most organised religions frowning on the use of illicit substances, Catholic, Orthodox and Presbyterian priests, a Zen Buddhist and several rabbis were recruited. The team has yet to persuade a Muslim imam or Hindu priest to take part, but “just about all the other bases are covered,” according to Richards. After preliminary screening, including medical and psychological tests, the participants have been given two powerful doses of psilocybin in two sessions, one month apart. © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 23814 - Posted: 07.09.2017

Elana Gordon By the time Elvis Rosado was 25, he was addicted to opioids and serving time in jail for selling drugs to support his habit. "I was like, 'I have to kick this, I have to break this,' " he says. For Rosado, who lives in Philadelphia, drugs had become a way to disassociate from "the reality that was life." He'd wake up physically needing the drugs to function. His decision to finally stop using propelled him into another challenging chapter of his addiction and one of the most intense physical and mental experiences he could have imagined: detoxing. "The symptoms are horrific," Rosado says. There are recovery and treatment centers that can help people quit using drugs — in fact, it's a multi-billion-dollar industry. But this help can be expensive, and waiting lists for state and city-funded programs are often extremely long. So can detoxing on your own be the solution? In most cases, the answer is no. In fact, a growing movement within the field of addiction medicine is challenging the entire notion of detox and the assumption that when people cleanse themselves of chemicals, they're on the road to recovery. Article continues after sponsorship "That's a really pernicious myth, and it has erroneous implications," says Dr. Frederic Baurer, president of the Pennsylvania Society of Addiction Medicine. But at the time, Rosado says, he needed to end his "longtime love affair" with codeine. Like Oxycontin and morphine, it's an opioid. In jail, these drugs were easily available, Rosado recalls, through friends and cell mates. © 2017 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 23803 - Posted: 07.04.2017