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Friday, January 30, 2015

Researchers Believe in Quitting Smoking Gradually

What’s the best way to quit smoking? If you are a smoker then you know that whichever way you choose, it’s going to be difficult. Today, there are many different options available to aid one in smoking cessation, find the one that works best for you can be trying.

A study was conducted on the brains immediate reaction after quitting smoking, 12 hours after quitting the oxygen uptake and blood flow in the brain decrease significantly compared to never-smokers, Science Daily reports. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen believe this could explain why it is so difficult to quit smoking for good, and that quitting smoking gradually may have the most promise for success.

"Regular smokers experience an almost dementia-like condition in the early hours after quitting, as suggested by brain scans. This can be quite an unpleasant experience, and is probably one of the reasons why it can be very difficult to quit smoking once and for all. Smokers drift back into abuse, perhaps not to obtain a pleasant effect - that ship has sailed - but simply because the withdrawal symptoms are unbearable," says Professor Albert Gjedde, neuroscience researcher at the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen.

Just like other drugs that are used over a long period, nicotine may no longer produce the desired effect. But, if you stop taking the drug withdrawal will still occur.

"After a period of time, many users of medicine will no longer experience an effect from treatment -- for example with antidepressants. However, the consequences of discontinuing treatment could still be overwhelming if the withdrawal symptoms are very unpleasant," says Albert Gjedde.

Smokers continue to smoke long after the honeymoon effects disappear, which researchers believe is done simply to keep their brain functioning normally. The researchers do not know how long it takes after quitting before the brain has regained its normal energy consumption and blood flow.

"We assume that it takes weeks or months, but we do not know for sure. The new findings suggest that it may be a good idea to stop smoking gradually -- simply to avoid the worst withdrawal symptoms that make it so difficult to stick to the otherwise very sensible decision to stop smoking," says Albert Gjedde.

The findings were published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Classic Psychedelics May Reduce Suicides

Suicide is often called a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Those who feel they have nothing to live for, or they can no longer live with what is going on inside their head, such as mental illness, will often take drastic steps. In America, approximately 30,000 people take their lives every year, more than 90 percent of those people were diagnosed with some form of mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health found that classic psychedelics might be protective with regard to suicidal thoughts and behaviors, Science Daily reports. Classic psychedelics are drugs like LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin mushrooms.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 190,000 respondents of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2008-2012, according to the article. They found that people who reported ever having used a classic psychedelic drug had a decreased likelihood of psychological distress in the past month, and decreased suicidal thinking, planning and attempts in the past year.

"Despite advances in mental health treatments, suicide rates generally have not declined in the past 60 years. Novel and potentially more effective interventions need to be explored," said Peter S. Hendricks, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior and lead study author. "This study sets the stage for future research to test the efficacy of classic psychedelics in addressing suicidality as well as pathologies associated with increased suicide risk (e.g., affective disturbance, addiction and impulsive-aggressive personality traits)."

The study, Back to the future: A return to psychedelic treatment models for addiction was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Prescription Drug Use Declining

Those in the field of addiction have seen an upsurge in heroin abuse due to the fight against prescription opioids in America. After years of poor medical practices and lack of oversight regarding doctor shopping and “pill mills,” a new study has found that federal and local governments have managed to decrease the abuse rates of prescription drugs, HealthDay reports.

Between 2002 and 2010, the prescription drug abuse in the United States increased exponentially, a problem of epidemic proportions. However, the data from a combination of five drug monitoring programs shows that between 2011 and 2013 prescription drug abuse rate decreased slightly, but heroin abuse and overdoses are increasing, according to the study.

The drug-monitoring programs gathered data from drug-diversion investigators, poison centers, substance-abuse treatment centers, and college students. They tracked the diversion and abuse of six prescription opioid analgesics:
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Tramadol
“The big ‘but’ is heroin abuse and overdose, which is increasing,” said lead author Richard Dart, Director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver. “It’s a good news/bad news story,” he said.

Dart said that decline in prescription opioids use is due to new legislation which states have adopted, implementing prescription drug monitoring programs to detect “doctor shoppers.” Making it harder for people to obtain drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone has led some users to switch over to heroin, which in many cases is stronger and less expensive.

The researchers found that the rate of heroin-related deaths increased from 0.014 per 100,000 in 2010 to more than 0.03 per 100,000 in 2013, according to the article.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Higher Taxes Prevent Binge Drinking

The prevention of binge drinking is of the utmost importance. The health consequences associated with binge drinking can be fatal. Binge drinking is consuming five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women. While education is helpful for deterring unhealthy alcohol practices, it turns out that cost may have a greater effect.

New research from Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) has found that higher alcohol taxes protect against binge drinking, Science Daily reports. The findings showed that just a one-percent hike in alcohol prices from taxes was associated with a 1.4 percent decrease in the proportion of adults who binge drink.

"This is really significant for public health," said lead author Ziming Xuan, assistant professor of community health sciences at BUSPH. Binge drinking is responsible for more than half of nearly 90,000 alcohol-attributable deaths in the U.S. each year, according to Xuan. The dangerous practice accounts for three-quarters of the $224 billion in annual economic costs.

The study found that states with alcohol taxes had the lowest rates of binge drinking. Tennessee, the state with the highest beer combined taxes, had the lowest binge drinking rate (6.6 percent) in 2010. States with low alcohol taxes, such as Montana, Wisconsin and Delaware, were found to have relatively high binge drinking rates.

"This study emphasizes the importance of assessing multiple co-existing tax types -- and possibly tax structure -- for characterizing the relationship between tax and related outcomes, evaluating the effects of tax policy interventions, and for planning tax policy interventions," the researchers said.

The researchers believe that many previous U.S. studies regarding the same subject might be underestimating the effect of higher taxes on reducing alcohol consumption.

The study, published in the journal Addiction.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Shopping Addict Sells Back for Recovery

A form of addiction often overlooked is “shopping addiction,” the practice of excessively buying things. Whether one can afford to spend inordinate amounts of money on material possessions, or not, has little bearing; just as people use drugs and alcohol, or eat their feelings away, many will shop to make themselves feel better.

A recovering shopping addict and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Buzz Bissinger, whose addiction set him back $600,000, putting his marriage and family in danger, is now selling most of what he bought as part of his recovery, reports the fix. In 2013, before entering treatment, Bissinger wrote about his addiction in a GQ essay. He would spend money recklessly at high-end designer clothing stores lines, to the point that brands started to fly Bissinger over to Italy for runway shows.

Bissinger was treated for a “variety of compulsive and dangerous behaviors,” such as self-harm and prescription drug use. After years of writing first-person essays, Bissinger found the online criticism from readers hard to stomach, which played a part in his destructive behavior. A large part of the recovery process will be to sell off the bulk of his collection, as much as three quarters.

“When someone writes something good about you, it makes you feel good for a minute. And when someone writes something bad about you, it makes you feel bad for hours and weeks and none of it makes any difference anyway,” he told Vanity Fair. “I was Googling myself four or five times a day. So I no longer write for the Daily Beast; I was doing a lot of TV, and I no longer do any of that. I’ve turned it all down.”

Many develop issues with shopping after overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction, according to Terrence Shulman, founder and director of the Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending and Hoarding. It may come as a surprise that 50 percent of the estimated 30 million compulsive shoppers in the U.S., are men, according to the article.
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