Chapter 4. The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology

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Nicola Davis The proportion of young people using marijuana as their first drug doubled in the 10 years from 2004, a US-based study has found. The government study reveals that among people aged between 12 and 21, the proportion of those who tried cigarettes as their first drug fell from about 21% to just under 9% between 2004 and 2014. However, the proportion who turned first to marijuana almost doubled from 4.4% to 8%. While some studies have suggested that, overall, use and abuse of marijuana has fallen among teenagers in the US, the latest research sought to look at trends in which drug, if any, young people turned to first. “We have, particularly in the US, done prevention programmes that are really focused on alcohol and tobacco – and they are relatively easy arguments to make to young people,” said Dr Renee Johnson, a co-author of the study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. But she said the “fear factor” is less likely to work for marijuana, noting that public programmes need instead to educate young people so they can make good decisions around drugs, and offer support to help them cope with difficulties in life and think about their life plans. “Once we teach young people about that, that will address the unhealthy marijuana use,” she said. The study, published in the journal Prevention Science, is based on an analysis of data from more than 275,000 participants aged between 12 and 21 collected as part of the US national survey on drug use and health – an annual study that involves participants across all 50 states who are interviewed in person. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24997 - Posted: 05.19.2018

by Joel Achenbach The National Institutes of Health has ordered a halt to a $100 million, 10-year study of moderate drinking that’s being funded in large part by the alcoholic-beverage industry. Thursday morning’s announcement by NIH Director Francis Collins reflects the seriousness of allegations that surfaced in news reports in recent months, including a story in March in the New York Times that described two scientists and a federal health official pitching the idea for the study to liquor company executives at a 2014 gathering in Palm Beach, Fla. The alcohol industry agreed to fund the research via a private foundation that supports NIH. The goal of the study, which involves 7,000 individuals, is to assess whether moderate drinking — a single drink a day — has a health benefit. Some research has suggested such a benefit, but the conclusion remains controversial, and the U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that people who do not drink alcohol should not start. The Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health (MACH) trial is based at Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a grantee of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Collins has ordered two reviews of the study. The first, by the Office of Management Assessment, will “determine if any process or conduct irregularities occurred with grants associated with the MACH Trial,” according to NIH. The second review, by an advisory committee to Collins, will examine the scientific merit of the study. “NIH has requested that the grantee, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, pause all study activities until the reviews are completed,” NIH said in a brief announcement that gave no further details on the reasons for the pause. NIH said Thursday that the reviews are expected to be concluded in June. © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Keyword: Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24995 - Posted: 05.18.2018

Richard Harris Children and adolescents are getting fewer prescription drugs than they did in years past, according to a study that looks at a cross-section of the American population. "The decrease in antibiotic use is really what's driving this overall decline in prescription medication use that we're seeing in children and adolescents," says Craig Hales, a preventive medicine physician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics and lead author of a study published Tuesday in JAMA. Hales says that's a good thing. "Thirty percent of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary and potentially dangerous," he says. They're often given for colds and other viral infections, where they are useless. And they may have side effects. Antibiotic overuse also increases the risk that these drugs lose their curative powers. The study is based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study, which included more than 38,000 children and adolescents. The study compared prescription drug use from 1999 to 2002 with prescriptions given in 2011 to 2014, the last period for which data were available. Overall, the proportion of children and teenagers getting prescriptions dropped from about 25 percent to 22 percent. Prescriptions for some drugs increased, such as for treatments for asthma, contraception and attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The survey also noted a large gap in prescription use among children and adolescents who were insured versus those who weren't. Some 23 percent of insured youth had recently taken a prescription of some sort, compared with 10 percent of those who were uninsured. © 2018 npr

Keyword: ADHD; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24981 - Posted: 05.16.2018

by Eli Rosenberg In what is believed to be one of the first deaths from an e-cigarette explosion, a 38-year-old man in Florida was killed when his vape pen exploded, sending projectiles into his head and causing a small fire in his house. Tallmadge D’Elia was found May 5 in the burning bedroom of his family’s home in St. Petersburg, according to the Tampa Bay Times. An autopsy report released his week blamed a vape pen explosion for his death, local news outlets reported. The cause of death was listed as “projectile wound of head” — the pen exploded into pieces, at least two of which were sent into his head, the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner said — and he suffered burns on about 80 percent of his body. The “mod”-type pen, distributed by Smok-E Mountain, is manufactured in the Philippines, according to a company Facebook page, the Times reported. The Facebook page is not currently publicly accessible. According to a report from the U.S. Fire Administration, which is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, there were at least 195 incidents in which an electronic cigarette exploded or caught fire from 2009 through 2016, resulting in 133 injuries, 38 of which were severe. But there were no recorded deaths in the study's period. The explosions usually occur suddenly, the report found, “and are accompanied by loud noise, a flash of light, smoke, flames, and often vigorous ejection of the battery and other parts.” © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Keyword: Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24980 - Posted: 05.16.2018

Michael Pollan first became interested in new research into psychedelic drugs in 2010, when a front-page story in the New York Times declared, “Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning in Again”. The story revealed how in a large-scale trial researchers had been giving terminally ill cancer patients large doses of psilocybin – the active ingredient in magic mushrooms – to help them deal with their “existential distress” as they approached death. The initial findings were markedly positive. Pollan, author of award-winning and bestselling books about botany, food politics and the way we eat, was born in 1955, a little too late for the Summer of Love. That New York Times story, however, was the beginning of an “adventure” that saw him not only explore the new research, but also detail the history of psychedelic drugs, the “moral panic” backlash against them and – partly through personal experiments with LSD, magic mushrooms and ayuhuasca, the “spiritual medicine” of Amazonian Indians – to examine whether they have a significant part to play in contemporary culture. The result of that inquiry is a compulsive book, How to Change Your Mind: Exploring the New Science of Psychedelics. This interview took place by phone last week. Pollan was speaking from his home in northern California. Do you see this book on psychedelics as a departure in your writing, or part of a continuum? Both, really. I have this abiding interest in how we interact with other plant and animal species and how they get ahead in nature by gratifying our desires. And one of those desires I have always been keenly interested in is the desire to change consciousness. You propose the idea at one point that neurochemistry is perhaps the language by which plants communicate with us. Isn’t it more that magic mushrooms have evolved a clever way of making themselves invaluable? They have. There is no intention involved, obviously. But evolution does not depend on intention. One strategy that these fungi seem to have hit on is manufacturing a chemical that can unlock these effects in the animal brain. Obviously some drug plants benefit us by relieving pain or boredom, but others do interesting things with consciousness.

Keyword: Drug Abuse; Depression
Link ID: 24965 - Posted: 05.12.2018

Katie Nicholson, Joanne Levasseur Cannabidiol oil, or CBD, is generating a lot of buzz in the world of alternative medicine and many Canadians are buying in. The oil, which is extracted from marijuana plants, doesn't have the same mind-altering effects as smoking pot. People rub it on their achy joints or put it under their tongue to help them sleep. Some purveyors say it's completely legal in Canada and can be used for a long list of ailments, including epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. But federal authorities say CBD oil, which is widely available at head shops and online, is indeed illegal without a medical marijuana prescription. And its purported health benefits are also still in question. Cannabis products not yet legal Canadian affiliates of HempWorx, a multi-level marketing company based in Las Vegas, have been pushing CBD oil products through websites that say the product is allowed in Canada. They also list how much people should take for a long list of diseases. HempWorx did not respond to multiple interview requests. But in April, one of its Winnipeg-based affiliates told CBC News that its sale is "100 per cent legal." Under current Canadian law, the possession or sale of cannabidiol oil is illegal the same way other cannabis products are illegal. The same goes for importing or exporting the substance. The fact that it doesn't get you high doesn't matter. ©2018 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Keyword: Drug Abuse; Pain & Touch
Link ID: 24961 - Posted: 05.11.2018

A new discovery shows that opioids used to treat pain, such as morphine and oxycodone, produce their effects by binding to receptors inside neurons, contrary to conventional wisdom that they acted only on the same surface receptors as endogenous opioids, which are produced naturally in the brain. However, when researchers funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) used a novel molecular probe to test that common assumption, they discovered that medically used opioids also bind to receptors that are not a target for the naturally occurring opioids. NIDA is part of the National Institutes of Health. This difference between how medically used and naturally made opioids interact with nerve cells may help guide the design of pain relievers that do not produce addiction or other adverse effects produced by morphine and other opioid medicines. “This ground-breaking study has uncovered important distinctions between the opioids that our brain makes naturally and therapeutic opioids that can be misused,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “This information can be mined to better understand the potential adverse actions of medically prescribed opioids and how to manipulate the endogenous system to achieve optimal therapeutic results without the unhealthy side effects of tolerance, dependence, or addiction.” Naturally occurring opioids and medically used opioids alike bind to the mu-opioid receptor, a member of a widespread family of proteins known as G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Recent advances in understanding the three-dimensional structure of GPCRs have enabled researchers to create a new type of antibody biosensor, called a nanobody, that generates a fluorescent signal when a GPCR is activated. This enables scientists to track chemicals as they move through cells and respond to stimuli.

Keyword: Pain & Touch; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24960 - Posted: 05.11.2018

By Lloyd I. Sederer Psychoactive drugs chemically alter the brain and change the way we feel, think, perceive and understand our world. They are ubiquitous: alcohol, cannabis, opioids, tobacco, stimulants, sedatives and hallucinogens, to name a few. Some occur naturally—nature’s contribution to our bodies and psyches—and some are synthesized in labs to impact the same brain receptors as do those found in forests, deserts and open fields. We are in a psychoactive drug epidemic in our country, most notably the opioids, because of their tragic death toll. We need solutions to the epidemic to save lives, families and communities—and government treasuries. But if we focus only on the drug itself, whatever it may be, we will miss what really matters when it comes to how human beings respond to psychoactive agents. Here are nine things that matter when it comes to drugs: 1. Age. It’s one thing to start drinking or smoking dope when you are 21. It is very different when at 12 or 13 or 15, even 18. That’s because the human brain is still under construction until well into the 20s, later for males than females. It takes almost three decades for the brain to fully lay down the fatty substance, myelin, that surrounds the nerve connections and permits reflection and controls impulsive action, for the cortex to stand a chance against the drive centers deeper in the brain. Repetitive or high doses of psychoactive drugs like cannabis, alcohol and hallucinogens interfere with the normal development of the brain. Not a good thing, and cause for controls on the access youth can have to substances. © 2018 Scientific American

Keyword: Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24952 - Posted: 05.09.2018

By Aaron E. Carroll The benefits and harms of medical marijuana can be debated, but more states are legalizing pot, even for recreational use. A new evaluation of marijuana’s risks is overdue. Last year, the National Academies of Sciences, Medicine and Engineering released a comprehensive report on cannabis use. At almost 400 pages long, it reviewed both potential benefits and harms. Let’s focus on the harms. The greatest concern with tobacco smoking is cancer, so it’s reasonable to start there with pot smoking. A 2005 systematic review in the International Journal of Cancer pooled the results of six case-control studies. No association was found between smoking marijuana and lung cancer. Another 2015 systematic review pooled nine case-control studies and could find no link to head and neck cancers. Another meta-analysis of three case-control studies of testicular cancer found a statistically significant link between heavier pot smoking and one type of testicular cancer. But this evidence was judged to be “limited” because of limitations in the research (all of which was from the 1990s). There’s no evidence, or not enough to say, of a link between pot use and esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, penile cancer or bladder cancer. There’s also no evidence, or not enough to say, that pot has any effect on sperm or eggs that could increase the risk of cancer in any children of pot smokers. (Using marijuana while pregnant does pose other risks, as discussed below.) Heart disease Another major risk with cigarettes, heart disease, isn’t clearly seen with pot smoking. Only two studies quantified the risk between marijuana use and heart attacks. One found no relationship at all, and the other found that pot smoking may be a trigger for a heart attack in the hour after smoking. But this finding was based on nine patients, and may not be generalizable. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Drug Abuse; Pain & Touch
Link ID: 24948 - Posted: 05.07.2018

Jake Harper To the untrained, the evidence looks promising for a new medical device to ease opioid withdrawal. A small study shows that people feel better when the device, an electronic nerve stimulator called the Bridge, is placed behind their ear. The company that markets the Bridge is using the study results to promote its use to anyone who will listen: policymakers, criminal justice officials and health care providers. The message is working. In the face of a nationwide crisis of opioid addiction, people are eager for new solutions. Criminal justice officials in multiple states have started Bridge pilot programs. At least one such program in Indiana received state funds. Providers with a major hospital chain in Indiana began prescribing the Bridge. And politicians in Indiana, Utah and Ohio publicly touted the device. Innovative Health Solutions, the device maker, has marketed the Bridge for opioid withdrawal for more than a year, even before it had clearance for that use from the Food and Drug Administration. Then, last November, the Versailles, Ind.-based company got that, too. Citing the study, the FDA allowed the Bridge to be promoted for opioid withdrawal. Indiana State Sen. Jim Merritt, a Republican who is known for sponsoring legislation addressing the opioid crisis, held an effusive press conference after the FDA gave its OK to the Bridge. "People will detox," he told reporters. "They will withdraw from drugs if it's a simpler process, and this is it." © 2018 npr

Keyword: Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24933 - Posted: 05.02.2018

Nicola Davis MDMA, the main ingredient of the party drug ecstasy, could help reduce symptoms among those living with post-traumatic stress disorder, research suggests. Post-traumatic stress disorder is commonly treated with drugs, psychotherapies or both. However, some find little benefit, with certain talking therapies linked to high dropout rates. Now scientists have released the latest of several small studies showing that MDMA, when combined with talking therapies, could prove effective in reducing symptoms. “It is thought that the MDMA is catalysing the therapy, [rather than] just being effective on its own,” said Dr Allison Feduccia, co-author of the research by the MAPS Public Benefit Corporation, a US-based charity focused on research into MDMA and psychotherapy, which funded the study. Feduccia added that MDMA affected levels of certain chemicals in the brain and helped individuals become more emotionally engaged in the therapy. The study is one of six that has led the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to designate MDMA as a “breakthrough therapy” for PTSD and approve the next stage of clinical trials – so called “phase three”– which must be passed before the approach can be made available to patients. “We’re starting the first phase three trial [this month],” said Feduccia. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Stress; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24931 - Posted: 05.02.2018

by Melissa Healy Sometimes forgotten in the spiraling crisis of opiate abuse is a clinical fact about narcotic pain medications: Addiction is basically an unwanted side effect of drugs that are highly effective at blunting pain. Addiction, of course, is a particularly dangerous and disruptive side effect, since it hijacks a patient’s brain and demands escalating doses of opioid drugs to hold withdrawal symptoms at bay. What if there were a drug that did the job opioids do best — relieve pain — without prompting many of their negative side effects, especially addiction? A researcher from the University of Michigan Medical School may have done just that. Tomas Joaquin Fernandez has described a process for designing opioid-like drugs that would act on pain receptors in the brain while blocking the receptors responsible for fostering dependence and building tolerance. Using pain-relieving peptides released by the brain as models, Fernandez and colleagues developed a library of “peptidomimetics.” These agents were small enough to get into the brain, and they worked on different opioid receptors in different ways. When they tested one such compound in mice, they found that it not only relieved pain, it also induced less buildup of tolerance and less physical dependence than morphine. In other words, it was less addictive. © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Keyword: Pain & Touch; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24918 - Posted: 04.28.2018

John Henning Schumann Drew was in his early 30s. His medical history included alcohol abuse, but he had been sober for several months when he became my patient. His previous doctor had given him a prescription for Ativan, or lorazepam, which is frequently used to allay tremors and seizures from alcohol withdrawal. My first inclination was to wean him off the medication by lowering the dose and telling him to take it less frequently. But inertia is strong in medical care, and Drew prevailed upon me to continue providing lorazepam at his regular dose for another month while he solidified his situation with a new job. The next time I heard about him was a couple of weeks later when a colleague read me Drew's obituary in the local paper. There was no cause of death listed. But I knew he could have run into serious trouble if he had mixed alcohol or other drugs with his lorazepam. Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine, a class of medicines known as sedative-hypnotics. They're used frequently in the U.S. to treat anxiety and insomnia. Other drugs in the same category include Valium and Xanax. The problem with benzos, as they're also known, is that they're highly addictive medications, both physically and psychologically. Abruptly stopping them can lead to withdrawal symptoms like the ones Drew hoped to avoid when he kicked alcohol. Moreover, with long-term use, our metabolism adjusts to benzos. We need higher doses to achieve the same effects. © 2018 npr

Keyword: Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24917 - Posted: 04.28.2018

By KATE ZERNIKE Recognizing what it called “the troubling reality” that electronic cigarettes have become “wildly popular with kids,” the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday announced a major crackdown on the vaping industry, particularly on the trendy Juul devices, aimed at curbing sales to young people. The agency said it had started an undercover sting operation this month targeting retailers of Juuls, including gas stations, convenience stores and online retailers like eBay. So far, the F.D.A. has issued warning letters to 40 that it says violated the law preventing sales of vaping devices to anyone under 21. The agency also demanded that Juul Labs turn over company documents about the marketing and research behind its products, including reports on focus groups and toxicology, to determine whether Juul is intentionally appealing to the youth market despite its statements to the contrary and despite knowing its addictive potential. It said it planned to issue similar letters to other manufacturers of popular vaping products as well. “We don’t yet fully understand why these products are so popular among youth,” the agency’s commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, said in a statement. “But it’s imperative that we figure it out, and fast. These documents may help us get there.” Schools across the country say they were blindsided by the number of students turning up with Juuls last fall. Nicknamed the iPhone of e-cigarettes, Juuls resemble thumb drives, produce little plume, and smell like fruit or other flavorings, making them so concealable that students can vape in class. Students who would never think to smoke a cigarette post videos of themselves doing tricks with vaping devices on social media. Schools, fearing students are becoming addicted to nicotine, are suspending students as young as middle school for vaping. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24904 - Posted: 04.26.2018

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR Over-the-counter pain pills are safer and more effective than prescription opioids for controlling the pain following dental procedures, a review of the evidence has found. Researchers analyzed five reviews of studies of medication and medication combinations for pain relief. They included only reviews of high or moderate methodological quality. The data included many randomized trials on the use of oral medication for the most severe kinds of postoperative dental pain — for example, the pain following the extraction of a molar. More than three dozen drugs and drug combinations were tested in various dosages. The study is in The Journal of the American Dental Association. The researchers conclude that the most effective pain relief with the fewest side effects comes from a combination of 400 milligrams of ibuprofen (Advil and other brands) with 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen (Tylenol). No opioid or opioid-containing medicine or any other combination of drugs was more effective. A co-author, Anita Aminoshariae, an associate professor at Case Western University, said there may be some people who can get relief only with opioids. But for most patients, she said, opioids are not only less effective, they also have unpleasant side effects, including nausea, constipation and dizziness. They also carry a high risk of addiction. “You have to start with an NSAID,” she said, meaning a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. “If that doesn’t work, add Tylenol. No one should go home in pain, but opioids should not be the first choice.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Pain & Touch; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24902 - Posted: 04.26.2018

Allison Aubrey As more states legalize marijuana, there's growing interest in a cannabis extract — cannabidiol, also known as CBD. It's marketed as a compound that can help relieve anxiety — and, perhaps, help ease aches and pains, too. Part of the appeal, at least for people who don't want to get high, is that CBD doesn't have the same mind-altering effects as marijuana, since it does not contain THC, the psychoactive component of the plant. "My customers are buying CBD [for] stress relief," says Richard Ferry, the retail manager of Home Grown Apothecary in Portland, Ore., where recreational marijuana use is legal under state law, with some restrictions. Another rationale Ferry's heard from clients about their CBD use: "Their mother-in-law is in town, and they just want to chill out!" "CBD has gotten a lot of buzz," Ferry says, as he displays an array of CBD products, including capsules and bottles of liquid CBD oil that users dispense under the tongue with a dropper. By one estimate, the CBD industry has doubled in size over the last two years, and is now worth $200 million. But with this popularity the hype may have gotten ahead of the science. © 2018 npr

Keyword: Development of the Brain; Stress
Link ID: 24892 - Posted: 04.24.2018

By SHEILA KAPLAN WASHINGTON — A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Thursday unanimously recommended approval of an epilepsy medication made with an ingredient found in marijuana. If the agency follows the recommendation, as is expected, the drug would be the first cannabis-derived prescription medicine available in the United States. The drug, called Epidiolex, is made by GW Pharmaceuticals, a British company. Its active ingredient, cannabidiol, also called CBD, is one of the chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, but it does not contain the properties that make people high. That makes it different from the “medical marijuana” allowed by a growing number of states. In those cases, certain patients are legally authorized to smoke or ingest marijuana to treat severe pain, nausea and other ailments. There are already several drugs on the market that are derived from synthetic versions of THC and other chemicals of the cannabis plant, generally used to ease nausea in cancer patients, and to help AIDS patients avoid weight loss. Advocates for development of marijuana-based treatments, and those pushing for better treatments of epilepsy, were pleased with the panel’s recommendation. “This is a very good development, and it basically underscores that there are medicinal properties to some of the cannabinoids,” said Dr. Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California San Diego. “I think there could well be other cannabinoids that are of therapeutic use, but there is just not enough research on them to say.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Epilepsy; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24889 - Posted: 04.21.2018

BREANNE SEARING, Evergreen reporter As more states have legalized recreational cannabis, it has grown more popular among pregnant women. A WSU undergraduate researcher thinks the scientific community needs to take a closer look at the behavior of adults who were exposed to cannabis while in the womb. Neuroscience senior Collin Warrick has conducted research on the effects of prenatal cannabis vapor on the cognitive flexibility of rats. Warrick said cannabis is the most common illicit drug among pregnant women. Despite this, little to no research has been done on its effects on offspring cognition as they mature. Warrick said the lack of medical warnings on legal cannabis products comes from this lack of research. “I have not come across anything that has been black labeled,” Warrick said, “there is no Surgeon General’s warning against cannabis, I think primarily because there hasn’t been enough studies looking at the negative effects.” Ryan McLaughlin, an assistant professor of integrative physiology and neuroscience who worked with Warrick, said long-term ramifications of cannabis vapor on developing offspring are unknown. “Now that cannabis is legal for the next generation of mothers,” McLaughlin said, “they may see less of a stigma and less of a perceived harm associated with smoking a joint during pregnancy, as they would maybe from having a drink of wine or smoking cigarettes.” © 2018

Keyword: Development of the Brain; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24888 - Posted: 04.21.2018

by Amy Ellis Nutt In a study published this week in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers report that an esketamine trial resulted in a “rapid improvement in depressive symptoms” in people with severe, treatment-resistant depression. Forty-nine patients completed the four-week trial. Doses were administered twice weekly, and the esketamine quickly showed an effect. Just four hours after the initial dose, people receiving the drug experienced a significant reduction in depressive symptoms. Carla Canuso, who was one of the lead researchers in the study and works with Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, called the results “robustly significant.” But a rare editorial signed by the majority of the board of the American Journal of Psychiatry that appeared in the same issue as the study expressed deep concerns about the danger of a drug with a history of abuse. “We felt it was a problem that really needed particular attention [because] it at least has the potential for causing similar problems to the opioids,” said Robert Freedman, editor of the journal. “That was our single overriding concern.” Ketamine was approved as a rapid-onset anesthetic decades ago and was an important battlefield tool for medics during the Vietnam War. During the 1970s and '80s, it became better known as Special-K for its psychedelic properties and later, more notoriously, made headlines as a date-rape drug. © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Keyword: Depression; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24887 - Posted: 04.21.2018

By BENEDICT CAREY In a widely read article on antidepressant withdrawal published on April 8, The New York Times invited readers to describe their experiences coming off the drugs. More than 8,800 people responded — teenagers, college students, new mothers, empty-nesters retirees. Dozens did write in to say the drugs had been lifesaving, literally so. “You fail to acknowledge that mood disorders can be lifelong, debilitating diseases requiring lifelong medical treatment,” wrote Rachel S., of New York. A different kind of reader query would likely have attracted thousands of responses of gratitude for drugs that offered relief to tens of millions of people with chronic mood problems. Some doctors chimed in, too, more than one calling our focus on withdrawal irresponsible and unduly alarming to those who might benefit from antidepressants. The volume and diversity of the other responses painted a different picture, showing how modern antidepressants, beginning with Prozac in 1987, have percolated through our culture and have shaped public understanding of mental health. These stories traced sharp demographic fault lines: Readers of different generations came to antidepressants, and tried to quit them, for different reasons. Readers in my age group and older (I’m 58) often came of age in an era in which depression was considered somehow a lapse in character. These readers typically reported having started on Prozac or one of its early competitors — Paxil, Zoloft — very often after a major setback like divorce, or the loss of a job, spouse or child. “My G.P. put me on Zoloft 28 years ago to deal with my husband’s cancer diagnosis,” wrote Carole Wilson, 74, of Alburnett, Iowa. Her husband has since died. “I have cut down from 200 milligrams to 100, but when I go lower I get horrible side effects, like nausea, jumpiness, crying a lot which I never do. I’m nearly 75; at this point I will continue because I cannot go through the withdrawal.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 24875 - Posted: 04.18.2018