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Archive for the ‘Addiction’ Category

BBC News (2/10, http://tinyurl.com/sweetteeth) reports that certain children are especially drawn to very sweet tastes.  These were children who had a close relative with an alcohol problem or who themselves had symptoms of depression.  But it is unclear if the preference for the very sweet is down to genuine chemical differences or environmental effects.  The researchers say sweet taste and alcohol trigger many of the same reward circuits in the brain.  Certain groups of children may be especially attracted to the intense sweetness due to their underlying biology.  In the latest study, the scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center asked 300 children aged five to 12, of whom half had a family member with alcohol dependency, to taste five sweet water drinks containing different amounts of sugar.  The children were asked to say which tasted the best and were also asked questions to check for depressive symptoms.  A quarter had symptoms that the researchers believed suggested they might be depressed.  Liking for intense sweetness was greatest in the 37 children who had both a family history of alcoholism and reported depressive symptoms.

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The AP (http://tinyurl.com/vivitrol-for-opiate-addicts 11/16, Seaman) reported, “Alkermes, Inc. said a late-stage clinical trial” including 250 patients, demonstrates that its medication Vivitrol, an extended-release version of naltrexone, “which is used to help alcoholics quit drinking, also helped opioid addicts stay off drugs.” In fact, participants “who were injected with Vivitrol once per month were more likely to pass a urine test than patients who received a placebo injection,” the company said. In addition, the medicine “also met secondary goals, as” participants “reported a lower craving for drugs, and half of” them “were clean in at least 90 percent of their drug tests.”

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junkfoodHealthDay (http://tinyurl.com/high-calorie-diet-crash 11/12, Dotinga) reported that, according to a study published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine found that “rats weaned off a high-calorie diet showed the same effects on the brain as withdrawing from drugs and alcohol.” After giving “rats a regular diet for five days and then” switching “them to a chocolate-flavored food that was high in sugar,” investigators found that the animals “didn’t want to switch back to the ordinary chow after…dining on the equivalent of rat junk food.” And, “when deprived of the sugary food, they showed signs of anxiety, and their brains acted as if they were withdrawing from alcohol or drugs.”

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THCThe  Time (http://tinyurl.com/thc-for-ptsd  11/4, Szalavitz) “Wellness” blog reported that, according to a study (http://tinyurl.com/cannaboid-receptor-study) published in the journal Neuroscience, “a synthetic” compound “that acts like one of the active components in marijuana (THC) can prevent stress-induced enhancement of fear memories in rats.” In rodents, the “marijuana-like compound” makes “extreme stress more like ordinary stress,” a result that can “also be seen in terms of reductions in a key stress hormone in their brains.” Notably, it does not “matter if the rats” are given the compound “before or after” a stressful event, suggesting that in humans, this substance could point the way to a possible new treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

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teetotallerTime (10/5, Cloud) reported that, according to a study published in the journal Addiction, “those who never drink are at significantly higher risk for not only depression, but also anxiety disorders, compared with those who consume alcohol regularly.” Researchers from Norway’s University of Bergen examined data on “more than 38,000 people,” asking “the participants how much they had drunk in the previous two weeks; the research team also asked them various questions to measure their levels of anxiety and depression.” They found that “it was abstainers who were at the highest risk for depression — higher even than the heaviest of drinkers,” possibly because “abstainers in the study sample were more likely to have illnesses, such as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, and people with chronic illnesses are more prone to melancholy.”

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The New York Times http://tinyurl.com/cocaine-vaccine-NYT (10/6, A18, Rabin) reports, “Scientists say they have developed a cocaine vaccine that can prevent addicts from getting high by blocking the drug’sCocaine effect on the brain, though it does not blunt cravings for the drug,” according to a study  http://tinyurl.com/cocaine-vaccine-gen-psych
published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Researchers reported that although “the vaccine had only limited success, it created enough of an immune response in some subjects that many of them cut their drug use by half.” The Times notes that the “trial’s success is significant, because some of the same principles are being used by other scientists in trying to create an anti-nicotine vaccine, which could have even broader appeal.  ” The AP (10/6) adds that the results from the study “come just days after” the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) “announced plans for the first late-stage study of an experimental nicotine vaccine designed to help people quit smoking,” which “has been fast-tracked by the Food and Drug Administration, and the research will be paid for with federal stimulus money.”  Bloomberg News http://tinyurl.com/cocaine-vaccine-bloomberg (10/6, Lopatto) also reports that the 12-week cocaine vaccine trial “injected patients five times with either a placebo vaccine or a cholera vaccine with cocaine hooked on to it, to provoke an immune response.”  “Thirty-eight percent of the subjects receiving the vaccine produced antibody levels strong enough to prevent cocaine highs despite many dosages of the drug, and another 37 percent had antibody levels strong enough to prevent highs to one or two doses. The rest had little or no response,” according to the Houston Chronicle
(10/6, Ackerman).   The Chicago Tribune (10/6, Roan, Kaplan) notes, “Vaccines to help people recover from addictions to such substances as nicotine, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines appear scientifically achievable after doctors reported Monday” the results of their work on the cocaine vaccine. The Los Angeles Times(10/5, Roan) “Booster Shots” blog pointed out that about “300 cocaine-dependent individuals will be enrolled in a study beginning in January to further test the vaccine.”  WebMD (10/5, Warner) and Healthday (10/5, Gardner) also covered the story.

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internet addictionThe New York Times /AP (9/6, Genarios, A18) reported that ReSTART, a program that “claims to be the first residential treatment center for Internet addiction in the United States, just opened its doors” in July. The center “offers a 45-day,” $14,000 “program intended to help people wean themselves from pathological computer use.” The AP noted that “Internet addiction is not recognized as a separate disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, and treatment is not generally covered by insurance.” Nevertheless, “there are many such treatment centers in China, South Korea, and Taiwan, where Internet addiction is taken very seriously, and many psychiatric experts say it is clear that Internet addiction is real and harmful.” Still, “whether such programs work in the long run remains to be seen.”

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propofolOn its front page, the Wall Street Journal (8/6, A1, Mundy) reports, “Abuse of the sedative suspected in Michael Jackson’s death,” called Diprivan (propofol), “is a growing problem among medical professionals, increasing pressure on the government to restrict it as a controlled substance.” The drug “is a widely used hospital sedative” that is “quick-acting and rapidly leaves the system,” which can make it “a popular sedative [and] also make it a recreational drug for some in the medical profession.” In 2007, “a citizen petition was filed at the DEA, asking that propofol be designated a controlled substance, which requires an FDA recommendation. Representatives of both agencies said they’ve been reviewing the matter. One official said a decision could come in a few months.”

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ccMedWire (7/21, Grasmo) reports that, according to a study published online July 10 in the journal Bipolar Disorders, there may be “an association between suicidal acts and smoking and coffee consumption in bipolar disorder (BPD) patients.” For the study, researchers from Germany’s University of Cologne “conducted a retrospective analysis of demographic and clinical factors among 352 patients with BPD I and II, comparing results in patients who did and did not (19 percent) consume nicotine or caffeine.” The team found that “current smoking and coffee drinking were common in BPD patients (46 percent and 74 percent, respectively) and were significantly and independently associated with suicidal acts following multivariate analysis, with corresponding odds ratios (ORs) of 1.79 and 2.42.” In addition, “patients who used either substance had a 2.66 relative risk for suicide compared with patients who neither smoked nor drank coffee (23.9 percent vs. 9.0 percent, respectively).”

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bdHealthDay (6/15, Reinberg) reported, “Binge drinking among American college students is on the rise, along with its consequences of drunk driving and drinking-related deaths,” according to a report from the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published in a supplement to the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. For the study, researchers examined “information from government databases and national surveys on alcohol use,” finding that “drinking-related deaths among students aged 18 to 24 years have increased steadily from 1,440 a year in 1998 to 1,825 in 2005.” The analysis also showed that “binge drinking also increased during this time, with the proportion of students who said they’d binged on alcohol in the past month going up from 42 to 45 percent.”

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