Binge Drinkers At Higher Risk of Heart Disease

New research, published in the British Medical Journal, studied the alcohol consumption patterns of middle aged men in France and Belfast. The study, led by Dr Jean-Bernard Ruidavets from Toulouse University, assessed 9,758 men considered to be free from heart disease, between the ages of 50 to 59 in the year 1991 and that resided in either three centres in France (Lille, Strasbourg and Toulouse) or Belfast.

In the study, participants were categorized as non-drinkers, former drinkers, regular drinkers or binge drinkers. “In the study, binge drinking is defined as excessive alcohol consumption (over 50g) drunk over a short period of time, for example on one day during the weekend (50g of alcohol equates to 4-5 drinks, and a drink to 125ml of wine or a half pint of beer).”

Of the drinkers, researchers questioned their drinking habits to uncover the usual type of beverage consumed and the volume consumed on a daily and weekly basis via interview and survey. “Cardiovascular risk factors, such as age, tobacco use, level of physical activity, blood pressure, and waist circumference were also taken into account.”

Results found that both countries consumed almost identical amounts of alcohol over a period of one week, however, those drinkers from Belfast had a tendency to drink the same quantity over a few days, whereas those in France paced their drinking throughout the week. Distinctively, Belfast drinkers consumed 2-3 times more over the weekend.

After a 10 year follow-up, findings suggest that binge drinkers from Belfast were more likely to suffer from heart disease than the slow and steady drinkers from France. In particular, binge drinkers were twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or death due to heart disease compared to regular drinkers. In addition, "the prevalence of binge drinking, which doubled the risk of ischaemic heart disease compared with regular drinking, was almost 20 times higher in Belfast than in the French centres."

Although these results seem to place the blame on binge drinking, there is no differentiation between type of alcohol consumed and heart disease in the study. The typical beverage consumed by drinkers France was wine, while those in Belfast tended to drink beer. That being said, previous research has concluded that drinking a moderate amount of wine could protect against heart disease, thereby possibly confounded the results in this study.

Despite the severity of the link between binge drinking and ill health effects, the behavior can have immediate consequences on one’s health, such as alcohol poisoning, injuries, assaults, risky sexual behaviors etc. These are the kinds of risks that many of the people in the binge drinker category tend to focus on. However, young people need to be more cautious and think about the potential long-term effects to protect themselves against future complications as a result of binge drinking, such as heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver, several types of cancer etc.

Binge Drinking May Lead to Higher Risk of Heart Disease


Treating Opioid Dependence With Buprenorphine Implants Proves To Be A Success

Research on the effects of the medication buprenorphine has demonstrated that it decreases opioid use when it is implanted under the skin. What exactly is an opioid? An opioid is more commonly known as heroin or prescription pain medications, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, oxymorphone, fentanyl etc.

On the other hand, buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid that is used to treat opioid addiction and to control moderate pain in non-opioid tolerant individuals. It is comparable to methadone treatment; though it is much more convenient as it does not require daily dispensing at a facility. Buprenorphine itself can be used recreationally, however in an effort to prevent injection of the drug, the Suboxone formulation includes naloxone, which precipitates opiate withdrawal and blocks any opiate effect.

Many studies have already supported the treatment of opioid addiction with buprenorphine; however, addicts often have difficulty keeping up with treatment as the medication is typically placed under the tongue to dissolve. As a result, when treatment isn’t followed accurately, it leaves room for cravings and withdrawal symptoms to creep in, which increases the likelihood that relapse may occur.
“To address these problems with adherence and nonmedical use, an implantable formulation of buprenorphine was developed that delivers a constant and low level of buprenorphine.”
Between the period of April 2007 and June 2008, Walter Ling, M.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles, and fellow researchers studied the effects of buprenorphine implants for treatment of opioid dependence at 18 different locations in the United States.

Of the addicts aged 18 to 65 years of age, diagnosed with opioid dependence, studied, 108 had buprenorphine implants while 55 had placebo implants. Four implants were placed under the skin on the inside of the non-dominant arm. Those with the real implants received gradual doses of 80 mg of buprenorphine.

In addition, all patients in the study were provided with standardized individual drug counseling. Opioid use was verified by urine samples. At the 6 month mark, all implants were removed.
“During the course of the study, the buprenorphine implant group had significantly more urine samples negative for illicit opioids during weeks 1 through 16. Patients with buprenorphine implants had an average percentage of urine samples that tested negative for illicit opioids of 40.4 percent and a median (midpoint) of 40.7 percent; those in the placebo group had an average of 28.3 percent and a median of 20.8 percent.”
Additionally, there were 65.7% of the patients that received treatment with buprenorphine who remained in the study for the full 24 weeks, whereas only 30.9% of those that received a placebo drug persevered for the duration of the study.

Consequently, the study concluded that 30.9% of patients in the placebo group had been unsuccessful in their treatment, whereas none of those that received buprenorphine failed their treatment. Furthermore, researchers claim that:

"Those who received buprenorphine implants also had fewer clinician-rated and patient-rated withdrawal symptoms, had lower patient ratings of craving, and experienced a greater change on clinician global ratings of severity of opioid dependence and on the clinician global ratings of improvement than those who received placebo implants".

Hence, this type of treatment for opioid use could prove to be very successful for many addicts once results have been replicated time and time again.

Implanting Medication to Treat Opioid Dependence Appears Beneficial in Decreasing Opioid Usage


A Receptor in the Brain Makes Cocaine Relapse More Likely

“Drugs are addictive because they "hijack" the brain's reward system, which is actually intended to make it pleasurable to eat and have sex, behaviors that are necessary for survival and reproduction.”

Cocaine, a highly addictive drug, also technically known as benzoylmethylecgonine, is a crystalline tropane alkaloid (naturally occurring chemical compound containing nitrogen) that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant.

The drug acts as a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic. Specifically, cocaine is a serotonin-norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (SNDRI), which mediates functionality of said neurotransmitters.

Basically, cocaine acts as a chemical in the brain that blocks the action of transporters of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. This blocking increases extracellular concentrations around those specific neurotransmitters and increases their affects. In this type environment, higher levels of serotonin, noradrenalin, adrenaline or dopamine can be transmitted leading to increased euphoria.

Cocaine is highly addictive because of the way it affects the mesolimbic reward pathway (a pathway for dopamine). The addiction can persist long after periods of sobriety. The effect cocaine has on the brain is long-lasting making relapse very likely. For instance, relapse may occur simply by exposure to a situation associated with its use.

New research from Link√∂ping University has pinpointed a specific molecule in the brain that may affect the addict’s chance of relapse. According to the study, led by David Engblom, associate professor of neurobiology at Link√∂ping University in Sweden, “a receptor for the signal substance glutamate (mGluR5), in a part of the brain called the striatum, plays a major role in relapses.”

Also, he continues,
"our findings show that the mice who lacked the receptor were less prone to relapse. This is due the fact that their reaction to reward had not been etched into their memories in the same ways as in normal mice. The receptor seems to be a prerequisite for objects or environments that were previously associated with taking drugs, or something else rewarding, to create a craving".
This discovery should lead to further research into the understanding of cocaine addiction and its effects on the brain, as well as, the development of new methods for treating cocaine addiction.

Why the Craving for Cocaine Won’t Go Away
Serotonin–norepinephrine–dopamine reuptake inhibitor


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Chronic Alcohol Consumption Linked to Circadian Rhythm Defects

Results shall soon be published in the Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research journal indicating that the expression of our circadian clock genes can be altered by chronic alcohol consumption.

In particular, lower levels of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) can be found in the circadian clock genes of individuals with alcohol dependence causing sleep problems and mood changes.

The term circadian comes from two Latin terms, circa meaning around and diem or dies meaning day. Circadian rhythmicity is present in the sleeping and feeding patterns of animals and it regulates our core body temperature, brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activities.

“The appropriate expression or regulation of these genes is necessary for any organism to efficiently "program" physiological and behavioral activities in order to ensure survival” says Sy-Jye Leu, a researcher with the Taipei Medical University and corresponding author for the study.

By examining the blood samples of 22 alcohol dependent males and 12 healthy subjects, Leu and her colleagues were able to discover lower levels of mRNA in the circadian clock genes of the alcohol dependent males.
"In other words, chronic alcohol consumption was associated with a destruction of normal circadian clock gene expression," said Leu. "This altered expression is closely related to circadian rhythm dysfunction and might link to a variety of physiological problems such as sleep/wake cycle dysregulation, depression, and even cancer."
Consequently, chronic alcoholism could lead to permanent damage to the circadian clock genes as patients did not show any improvement when exposed to early alcohol withdrawal treatment.

How is your biological clock functioning? The following depicts a typical circadian rhythm for an individual that rises early, eats lunch around noon and sleeps through the night:

Chronic Drinking Can Disrupt Circadian Rhythms
Circadian rhythm


Addicts in the UK May Soon Be Cut Off Welfare

As part of their efforts aimed at reducing the whopping £20billion benefits bills, the UK Government is examining the idea of a “financial benefit sanction” for applicants that fail to pursue treatment for their addiction.

The strategy is intended to push addicts into recovery and back into the workforce and off welfare. However, besides the fact that this violates human rights, Simon Antrobus, from the drug treatment charity Addaction, cautions against such actions:
“Remove financial stability during that time and you can severely damage someone’s chances of beating an addiction. More likely, you could increase their chances of turning to crime to find an alternative income.”
Indeed society will find the idea attractive because it supports recovery and getting lives back in order. Who wouldn’t find that appealing when addiction destroys lives, families and societies all over the world? And, of course, in many cases it costs taxpayers a lot of money. In spite of this, society should be asking itself if this is really the best option for improving lives, the economy and society as a whole.

Undoubtedly many users are already funding their habit by committing crimes, but taking away the pittance they may receive from social assistance will probably lead to an increase in criminal activity.

Moreover, removing social benefits will likely increase homelessness, thereby raising the rate of unemployment. That being said, perhaps the UK government should take a closer look at employment programs geared toward welfare recipients. This might actually encourage them to seek recovery and aspire to get off the system on their own.

Of course, job readiness will not be instantaneous, but as part of the recovery process, employment might actually help addicts to feel included and less marginalized in society, which can be an important component in maintaining sobriety.

It seems the UK has not completely thought this through as many questions are left unanswered. For instance, one is left wondering what criteria will be used to label recipients as addicts and who will label them.

In my opinion, the cost savings will be short-lived. What is yours?

Should addicts be allowed to receive welfare?

Addicts refusing treatment may have benefits stopped


A State-Fostered Addiction to Online Gambling in the Cards for Ontario

The Ontario Government has decided that gambling at casinos and local corner stores is not creating a sufficient amount of revenue. Therefore, they plan to introduce Ontarians to online gambling in the comfort of their own homes.

Anyone that has set foot in a casino has seen the large number of regulars with their zombie-like expressions plugged into a slot machine. Not only will this make it almost effortless for faithful gamblers to feed their addiction, it will also attract many amateurs that have shied away from the noise and chaos of the casino.
“With no pressure to say when to stop and without real tangible money being paid out at the counter, the urge to say "just one more time" while sitting at the computer keyboard will be hard to resist for those who are tempted.”
Despite any efforts the government puts forth to control online gambling, there will still be a number of minors gambling with their parents’ credit cards.

At one time, McGuinty called video lottery terminals the 'crack cocaine' of gambling, where he reflected on the obvious: that money would be better spent on basic necessities of life. It seems he has since had a change of heart.
“It's a pastime in which, as New Democrat Peter Kormos charmingly put it Thursday, a player doesn't even have to shower or bathe to pursue the constantly alluring, but rarely conquerable, Lady Luck.”
Come 2012, Ontario can expect that people with problem gambling or a susceptibility to it will be more isolated and less engaged in their life, which will eventually lead to more poverty, more homelessness, more unemployment, more impact on healthcare, more broken homes…to name a few.


Problem gambling, formally known as ludomania, is an urge to gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. It is often defined by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or others, rather than by the gambler's behavior.

Severe problem gambling may be diagnosed as clinical pathological gambling if the gambler meets certain criteria. Although the term gambling addiction is common in the recovery movement pathological gambling is considered to be an impulse control disorder and is therefore not considered by the American Psychological Association to be an addiction.


Diagnostic Criteria (5 or more of the following symptoms):

1. Preoccupation. The subject has frequent thoughts about gambling experiences, whether past, future, or fantasy.

2. Tolerance. As with drug tolerance, the subject requires larger or more frequent wagers to experience the same "rush".

3. Withdrawal. Restlessness or irritability associated with attempts to cease or reduce gambling.

4. Escape. The subject gambles to improve mood or escape problems.

5. Chasing. The subject tries to win back gambling losses with more gambling.

6. Lying. The subject tries to hide the extent of his or her gambling by lying to family, friends, or therapists.

7. Loss of control. The person has unsuccessfully attempted to reduce gambling.

8. Illegal acts. The person has broken the law in order to obtain gambling money or recover gambling losses. This may include acts of theft, embezzlement, fraud, or forgery.

9. Risked significant relationship. The person gambles despite risking or losing a relationship, job, or other significant opportunity.

10. Bailout. The person turns to family, friends, or another third party for financial assistance as a result of gambling.


Most treatment for problem gambling involves counselling, step-based programs, self-help, peer-support, medication, or a combination of these. These can include:
  • Gamblers Anonymous (GA): a 12-step model similar to AA and NA.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): therapy that focuses on the identifying gambling-related thought processes, mood and cognitive distortions and building skills for preventing relapse, becoming assertive, problem solving and reinforcing proper behavior.
  • Paroxetine: an SSRI that has proven to be efficient in treating pathological gambling.
Some U.S. Statistics:


Addiction is a high risk with online gambling
Coyle: McGuinty's gamble lacks ‘moral purpose'
Problem Gambling
Gambling Facts and Statistics


Love Really Is Like A Drug

Stony Brook University has discovered evidence in the brain that proves that breaking up is hard to do. Specifically, professor of social and health psychology, Arthur Aron, Ph.D. and former graduate students, Greg Strong and Debra Mashek observed participants that have suffered recent break-ups and discovered that particular parts of the brain associated with motivation, reward and addiction are active during this period of heartache.

Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study 15 college-age heterosexual men and women that had suffered recent rejection. Each subject reported feeling intensely in love with their ex-partner and they spent the majority of their time mulling over their loss and hoping their ex would return.

To study the neural activity, subjects were shown a photograph of their former partner. Following this, participants were asked to complete a simple math exercise to deter any romantic thoughts. Subsequently, they were given a photograph of a familiar "neutral" person to view.

The study revealed that images of former partners activated specific areas of the brain:
the ventral tegmental area in the mid-brain, which controls motivation and reward and is known to be involved in feelings of romantic love, the nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal/prefrontal cortex, which are associated with craving and addiction, specifically the dopaminergic reward system evident in cocaine addiction, and the insular cortex and the anterior cingulate, which are associated with physical pain and distress.
These brain areas were more activate when viewing photos of ex-partners in comparison to photos of neutral persons.

Accordingly, the study of individual brain images shows that those who are still in love when rejected are not simply experiencing a specific emotion; rather they possess a passion that is goal-oriented and motivated. These brain images depict similarities between brain activity associated with romantic rejection and cocaine craving.

In addition, “this study also helps to explain ‘why feelings and behaviors related to romantic rejection are difficult to control’ and why extreme behaviors associated with romantic rejection such as stalking, homicide, suicide, and clinical depression occur in cultures all over the world.” It demonstrates a need for further investigation to understand the way in which our brains process rejection in order to treat such harmful behaviors.

Although it appears that love really is like a drug, it is not clear whether being in love is an addiction; however Dr. Aron declares that this type of research could expose useful techniques for those in recovery.

Fortunately, this research revealed that time really does heal as with the passage of time; the right ventral putamen/pallidum area of the brain that is associated with attachment becomes less and less activated over time when participants observe photographs of their former partners.

Anguish of Romantic Rejection May Be Linked to Stimulation of Areas of Brain Related to Motivation, Reward and Addiction


Binge Drinking Teens At Risk of Osteoporosis Later in Life

According to a recent study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, teens that binge drink may be putting themselves at risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures later in life. Researchers at Loyola University Health System have discovered this possibility when from long-term changes to hundreds of genes involved in bone formation in rats.
"Lifestyle-related damage done to the skeleton during young adulthood may have repercussions lasting decades," bone biologist John Callaci, PhD, and colleagues wrote.

Callaci cautioned that data from animals don't directly translate to people. "But the findings certainly suggest that this could be a problem with humans," he added.
As we age, we naturally lose bone mass. Adolescence and young adulthood is a crucial period of bone mass development, therefore binge drinking or anything that inhibit this process creates a risk of osteoporosis or fractures as we age.

How did the study define binge drinking? Females that consume at least four drinks while males that consume at least five drinks per occasion are considered to be binge drinkers. Those that may drink 10 to 15 alcoholic beverages per occasion would be considered heavy binge drinkers.

Generally, binge drinking starts around age 13, peaks somewhere between 18 and 22 and gradually decreases. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration affirm that 36% of youth between the ages of 18 and 20 have report binge drinking at least in the past 30 days.
A 2008 study by Callaci and colleagues found that adolescent rats exposed to alcohol in amounts comparable to that of binge drinkers had 15 percent less bone build-up than control rats exposed to saline solution.
Now their new research studies the effects of binge drinking on genes. The researchers injected rats with alcohol to ensure a blood alcohol level of 0.28. Some rats were injected with alcohol for 3 days in a row, while others were repeatedly injected for 3 consecutive days over a period of 4 weeks, and the remainder were injected with a placebo of saline solution.

Roughly 300 bone-related genes were disrupted in rats that were injected for 3 consecutive days while 180 bone-related genes were disrupted in those injected with alcohol for 3 consecutive days over 4 weeks.
In the affected genes, alcohol either increased or decreased the amount of associated RNA. (RNA serves as the template for making proteins, the building blocks of bones and other tissue.) This change in how genes are expressed disrupted molecular pathways responsible for normal bone metabolism and maintenance of bone mass.
Most alarming is the fact that the genes were still being expressed differently after 30 days of sobriety for the rats, which translates to roughly three years for a human.

Although, this discovery may not appear to be good news, a better understanding of how alcohol abuse can affect bone loss could help to create new medications that treat the problem to avoid future bone fractures and osteoporosis when prevention is inadequate.

Are Teen Binge Drinkers Risking Future Osteoporosis?


First Known Biological Mechanisms for Addiction Uncovered

Pier Vincenzo Piazza and Olivier Manzoni, of the Neurocentre Magendie in Bordeaux, and their team of researchers are the first to discover an existing correlation between consistent impairment of synaptic plasticity in the brain and the transition to addiction.

“The results from the teams at Neurocentre Magendie call into question the hitherto held idea that addiction results from pathological cerebral modifications which develop gradually with drug usage. Their results show that addiction may, instead, come from a form of anaplasticity, i.e. from incapacity of addicted individuals to counteract the pathological modifications caused by the drug to all users.”
In 2004, this research team discovered that addictive behaviors are not restricted to the human species, but similar behaviors can be found in rats that self-administer cocaine.

From this breakthrough, Piazza and Manzoni have now discovered the first known biological mechanisms for addiction, where the transition from regular and controlled drug use can transform into a loss of control over cocaine consumption.

Researchers compared addicted and non-addicted rats and found that the brains of rats with an addiction to cocaine are permanently unable to produce a form of plasticity called long term depression (LTD).

LTD is a neurophysiologic activity-dependent reduction in the efficacy of neuronal synapses that lasts hours or more. It may occur as a result of strong synaptic stimulation or from persistent weak synaptic stimulation. It is required for learning to occur by developing engrams, which are a hypothetical means by which memory traces are stored as biochemical changes in the brain in response to external stimuli. Basically, LTD can no longer be achieved with persistent drug use.

Nevertheless, LTD is not altered after only a short period of cocaine use, but a significant deficit can be found in all users with prolonged use. A lack of LTD allows behavior to become less flexible which can easily lead to addiction.

“The brain of the majority of users is able to produce the biological adaptations which allow to counteract the effects of the drug and to recover a normal LTD. By contrast, the anaplasticity (or lack of plasticity) exhibited by the addicts leaves them without defences and hence the LTD deficit provoked by the drug becomes chronic. This permanent absence of synaptic plasticity would explain why drug seeking behaviour becomes resistant to environmental constraints (difficulty in procuring the substance, adverse consequences of taking the drug on health, social life, etc.) and consequently more and more compulsive. Gradually, control of the taking of the drug is lost and addiction appears.”
Consequently, the team is confident that new treatments for addiction can be developed by studying the brains of non-addicts, while a good understanding of the biological mechanisms that enable addiction can lead to ways counteract the anaplastic state that leads to addiction.

Addiction: A Loss of Plasticity of the Brain?
Long-term depression


Prescription Painkiller Abuse Still Rising

A new study has found that visits to United States Emergency rooms as a result of prescription painkiller abuse have increased by 111% in only 5 years. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ER visits associated with prescription painkiller abuse increased from 305,885 from 144,644 per year between 2004 and 2008.

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of the National Drug Control Policy, states: "the abuse of prescription drugs is our nation's fastest-growing drug problem". In addition, Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, says: “visits to emergency departments for non-medical use of prescription pain drugs such as oxycodone are now as common as visits for illicit drugs”.

This study identified three of the most widely abused prescription painkillers as Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and Methadone.

Of course, the study of these ER trends suggests there is also a rise in other prescription pain medications, such as morphine, fentanyl and hydromorphone, which appear to rise alongside the rate at which these drugs are prescribed in the U.S.

“The report recommends measures such as prescribing opioid medications like OxyContin for acute or chronic pain only after determining that alternatives fail to offer enough pain relief, and monitoring the patient's dose.” In my opinion, the public should be shocked and outraged that this is not already happening.

Apparently, Canada has only recently issued stricter guidelines to ensure doctors are prescribing opioids as more of a last resort treatment.

“As opioids have become more widely used and abused, the number of people who've died as a result of taking opioids has doubled since 1991 to about 300 people a year in Ontario alone, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in December 2009.” These statistics should be very alarming and society should really open their eyes. Addiction has many faces.


Oxycodone: An opioid analgesic medication synthesized from opium-derived thebaine. It was developed in 1916 in Germany, as one of several new semi-synthetic opioids in an attempt to improve on the existing opiates and opioids: morphine, diacetylmorphine (heroin), and codeine.

History: Freund and Speyer of the University of Frankfurt in Germany first synthesized oxycodone from thebaine in 1916, a few years after the German pharmaceutical company Bayer had stopped the mass production of heroin due to hazardous use, harmful use, and dependence. It was hoped that a thebaine-derived drug would retain the analgesic effects of morphine and heroin with less dependence.

OxyContin is the brand name of a time-release formula of oxycodone produced by the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1995 and first introduced to the U.S. market in 1996. By 2001, OxyContin was the best-selling non-generic narcotic pain reliever in the U.S. In 2008, sales in the U.S. totaled $2.5 billion. An analysis of data from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration found that retail sales of oxycodone jumped nearly six-fold between 1997 and 2005.

Other types/brands: Oxy•IR, COR, OxyNorm, Percocet (oxycodone with paracetamol/acetaminophen), Depalgos (oxycodone with paracetamol), Percodan (oxycodone HCl and aspirin), Proladone (suppositories of oxycodone pectinate), Eukodol/Eucodol (Injectable oxycodone hydrochloride or tartrate), Roxicodone, Targin (oxycodone/naloxone).

Side Effects: euphoria, constipation, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, headache, dry mouth, anxiety, pruritus, diaphoresis, dimness in vision due to miosis, loss of appetite, nervousness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, ischuria, dyspnea, and hiccups. In less than 5% of patients: impotence, enlarged prostate gland, and decreased testosterone secretion.

Special Precautions: In high doses, overdoses, or in patients not tolerant to opiates, oxycodone can cause shallow breathing, bradycardia, cold, clammy skin, apnea, hypotension, miosis (pupil constriction), circulatory collapse, respiratory arrest, and death. There is a high risk of experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms if a patient discontinues oxycodone abruptly.

Hydrocodone or dihydrocodeinone: A semi-synthetic opioid derived from either of two naturally occurring opiates, codeine and thebaine. Hydrocodone is an orally active narcotic analgesic (pain reliever) and antitussive (cough suppressant).

History: Hydrocodone was first synthesized in Germany in 1920 and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on 23 March 1943 for sale in the United States and approved by Health Canada for sale in Canada under the brand name Hycodan.

Other types/brands: Vicodin, Hydrococet, Symtan, Anexsia, Damason-P, Dicodid, Hycodan (or generically Hydromet), Hycomine, Hycet, Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Novahistex, Hydrovo, Duodin, Kolikodol, Orthoxycol, Panacet, Zydone, Mercodinone, Synkonin, Norgan, Xodol and Hydrokon.

Side effects: dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, sweating, drowsiness, constipation, vomiting, and euphoria. Vomiting in some patients is so severe that hospitalization is required. Some less common side effects are allergic reaction, blood disorders, changes in mood, itching, racing heartbeat, mental fogginess, anxiety, lethargy, difficulty urinating, spasm of the ureter, irregular or depressed respiration, and rash.

Special Precautions: Because all commercially available hydrocodone compounds prescribed in the United States contain secondary analgesics, there are serious health risks posed by concurrently consuming any amount of alcohol with hydrocodone compounds. Symptoms of hydrocodone overdose include respiratory depression; extreme somnolence; blue, clammy, or cold skin; narrowed or widened pupils; bradycardia; coma; seizures; cardiac arrest; and death.

Methadone: A synthetic opioid, used medically as an analgesic, antitussive and a maintenance anti-addictive for use in patients on opioids. It is commonly approved as an analgesic and for the treatment of opioid dependence. It is also known as Symoron, Dolophine, Amidone, Methadose, Physeptone, Heptadon, Phy and many other names.

History: Methadone was developed in 1939 Germany by scientists working for I.G. Farbenkonzern at the Farbwerke Hoechst who were looking for a synthetic opioid that could be created with readily available precursors, to solve Germany's opium shortage problem. Contrary to popular belief, the drug was was not named either in honour of or personally by Adolf Hitler, but it was given the trade name Dolophine from the Latin dolor meaning pain and "-phine", a typical ending, not unlike so many other trade and chemical names for analgesics of all types in German, English, French, and other languages.

Side effects: Thrombus, Hypoventilation, Constipation, Increased sweating, heat intolerance, Chronic fatigue, sleepiness and exhaustion, Constricted pupils, Nausea, Low blood pressure, Hallucination, Headache, Vomiting, Cardiac arrhythmia, Anorexia, Weight gain, Gynecomastia, Stomach pains, Dry mouth, Perspiration, Flushing, Itching, Difficulty urinating, Swelling of the hands, arms, feet, and legs, Agitation, Mood changes, Blurred vision, Insomnia, Impotence, Skin rash and Seizures.
Abuse of painkillers skyrockets in U.S.


China: Cruel and Unusual Treatments For Internet Addiction

In recent news, fourteen teenage internet addicts escaped from a treatment center in Huai'an, Jiangsu Province. After attacking a drillmaster, the teens fled by taxi. However, the escape came to an end when the cab driver dropped them off at the local police station because they failed to pay the cab fare.

According to the media, this escape attempt has forced the public to have a more in depth look at the harsh treatments that teens face at internet addiction treatment centers in China. Patients are treated poorly by drillmasters while being forced to study unchallenging curriculum and eat bad food. Many are also abused physically and mentally in these treatment centers. In some cases electric shocks and injections are part of the treatment.

“According to a survey by CCTV, the number of teenage Internet addicts in China has increased from 4 million to more than 13 million in just a few years.” Not to mention the fact that treatment for internet addiction has grown into booming business. “There are more than 300 Internet treatment centers in China, some of which are aimed purely at profit. [...] Parents spent 18,000 yuan ($2,635) on a half-year treatment for their children in the Huai’an treatment center.”

“It is ridiculous that physical punishments and mental restraints are being carried out under the guise of saving children.” Treatment for internet addiction may be successful; however these boot camp-like centers appear to be doing more harm than good to kids.

What is internet addiction?

Internet addiction disorder (IAD) is defined as excessive computer use that interferes with daily life.

There is much debate over whether to include "Internet Addiction" as a diagnosis in the May 2013 edition of the DSM-V. Some experts argue that internet addiction disorder exists and should be included, while others insist that it is neither an addiction nor a specific disorder.

Still others believe that most, if not all, internet addicts already fall under existing diagnostic labels. For many individuals, overuse or inappropriate use of the internet is simply a manifestation of their depression, anxiety, impulse control disorder, or pathological gambling. In addition, IAD has often been compared to food addiction, in which patients overeat as a form of self-medication for depression, anxiety, etc., without actually being addicted to food or eating.

How is internet addiction typically treated?

Content-control software, which controls access to specific pages on the internet, has been used to treat this disorder. Other treatment methods include counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Many treatment centers appear to be popping up all over the world. “In August 2009, ReSTART, a residential treatment center for "pathological computer use", opened near Seattle, Washington, United States. It offers a 45-day program intended to help people wean themselves from pathological computer use, and can handle up to six patients at a time.”

Violence no cure for Web addicts
Internet addiction disorder


Sex Addiction and The Medial Prefrontal Cortex

“The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is a brain region involved in decision-making and behavioral flexibility, and it has been identified as a potential mediator of behavioral inhibition.” This study suggests that people with lesions in the mPFC may be more apt to engage in risky sexual activities or to compulsively seek out sexual behavior.

Sexual addiction refers to the phenomenon in which individuals report being unable to manage their sexual behavior. It has also been called "sexual dependency," and "sexual compulsivity."
Some experts, like the infamous Dr. Drew Pinsky, believe that sexual addiction is literally an addiction, directly analogous to alcohol and drug addictions. On the other hand, some experts believe that sexual addiction is actually a form of obsessive compulsive disorder and refer to it as sexual compulsivity.

While studying whether the mPFC will inhibit sexual behavior in the face of aversive consequences, Dr. Lique Coolen and his team of researchers found that lesions in this area of a rat’s brain resulted in compulsive sexual behavior. Although behavior may be compulsive, these lesions had no effect on sexual performance or the ability to learn from reward or punishment.

However, although the rats with lesions in the mPFC were capable of linking their sexual behavior with negative outcomes, they did not have the ability to restrain their desire to seek sexual rewards.

Even though the study may not have put forth any conclusive data, it does suggest that the mPFC plays an important role in regulating the compulsive seeking of rewards. If nothing else, these results may encourage more research to more fully understand impulse control disorders and/or addictive behaviors. Individuals with compulsive sexual behavior are quite often afflicted with psychiatric disorders as well, such as substance abuse and mood disorders.

Frontal Cortex Dysfunction May Contribute to Compulsive Sexual Behavior, Study Suggests
Sexual addiction


Binge Drinkers More Likely to Report Poor Health

From recent data analysis, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have established that excessive drinking is responsible for about 79,000 deaths in the United States each year. Of those deaths, binge drinkers account for more than half.
To further investigate this phenomenon, researchers studied the self-perceptions of drinkers and found that binge drinkers are 13% to 23% more likely to report having poor health.

In the study, a woman is considered a binge drinker if she consumes 4 or more drinks per occasion, while a man is considered a binge drinker if he consumes 5 or more drinks per occasion. At the same time, heavy drinking is defined as consuming at least 14 drinks per week for men and 7 or more drinks per week for women.

"What's more, adult binge drinkers typically … consume an average of about eight drinks per binge episode, well in excess of the cut-points used to define this behavior. Even so, most binge drinkers are not alcohol dependent" says D. Brewer, alcohol program leader at the CDC. Nevertheless, binge drinking is often associated with various health and social problems, such as car crashes, violence, STDs, and unintended pregnancies.

Data from the 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) was studied, which included 89,919 men drinkers and 110,668 women drinkers. Each subject was asked to rate their health by answering only one question: "Would you say that, in general, your health is excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor?"

"Self-rated health (SRH) is a single question that has been used by many national and international health surveys to measure participants' perception of their overall health status," explained James Tsai, an epidemiologist at the CDC and corresponding author for the study. "Several decades of research has accumulated substantial and consistent evidence that SRH is strong predictor of future morbidity and mortality, as well as functional decline and health care utilization."
Results show that nearly 35 million adults reported binge drinking in 2008, where more than 40% of those adults reported four or more binge drinking episodes in only the past 30 days. Findings also illustrate that these binge drinkers are significantly more likely to report having suboptimal health. As a result, people who feel less healthy are more likely to be hospitalized and have a higher risk of death than those who report feeling healthy.

"These results support broad-based implementation of screening and brief interventions for excessive drinking in health-care settings," said Tsai. "The magnitude of the prevalence of binge drinking and the estimated population size also underscores the need to identify and implement effective population-based prevention and intervention strategies."
Brewer suggests that society needs to take a more proactive stance on reducing binge drinking by implementing certain strategies such as increasing taxes on alcohol products, limiting the number of businesses that sell alcohol within regional proximities or restricting the days and hours that alcohol is sold.

Of course, these types of strategies may not be the answer, but they may help to lower binge drinking statistics, such as self-reports of poor health, hospitalizations, deaths etc.; not to mention lowering the risk that binge drinking could develop into dependence.

Binge Drinkers Report Sub-Optimal Health Status More Often Than Non-Binge Drinkers


Medication Could Prevent Relapse in Alcoholics

McLean Hospital, an associated institution of Harvard University, has found evidence that the opioid blocker extended-release injectable naltrexone (XR-NTX) has the ability to reduce the response to cues that cause relapse in the alcoholic’s brain. Scott Lukas, PhD, director of the Neuroimaging Center at McLean, states that these findings will explain how the drug reducing cravings for alcohol and could predict who might respond better to this type of treatment.

"These data are quite important since relapse remains a significant challenge in treating patients with alcohol dependence," Lukas said. "It looks to us that XR-NTX can help people remain abstinent by reducing the importance of these cues so they are less likely to relapse." XR-NTX works by blocking opioid receptors in the brain and was approved for the treatment of alcohol dependence in 2006. XR-NTX is commercially available as Vivitrol®.
The researchers used a BOLD (Blood Oxygen Level Dependent) functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scan to test 28 individuals with alcohol-dependence. They were shown pictures of alcoholic beverages and they were exposed to odors of their favorite alcoholic drinks.

The research was conducted as a double-blind experiment where 15 of the subjects were injected with the extended-release injectable naltrexone and 13 were injected with a placebo.

Imaging results showed sudden changes in blood flow in the brain. All subjects had reported an increase in cravings within the first few minutes of exposure to the cues, however those injected with the extended-release injectable naltrexone reported that cravings diminished after a few more minutes, whereas the other 13 subjects’ cravings remained strong. In only 2 weeks, brain areas associated with the cravings were not as active in those treated with the drug.

Scans were taken at baseline and again two weeks after the injection. Scans of subjects on placebo were virtually unchanged after two weeks. But those subjects on XR-NTX showed significant reductions in activation patterns in areas of the brain having to do with cognitive and emotional processing and reward circuitry on the second scan following exposure to the alcohol cues.
Obviously there is no simple solution to cure alcoholism, but this research could help develop more effective methods for treating the addiction and maintaining sobriety.

Opioid-Blocking Medication Reduces Brain's Response to Alcoholism Cues, Study Finds



Addiction may refer to substance dependence or to behavioral addiction.

Historically, addiction has been defined with regard solely to psychoactive substances (for example alcohol, tobacco and other drugs) which cross the blood-brain barrier once ingested, temporarily altering the chemical milieu of the brain.

Now, addiction also encompasses psychological dependency on such things as gambling, food, sex, pornography, computers, video games, internet, work, exercise, spiritual obsession, pain, cutting and shopping.

This blog is devoted to the discussion of new developments and research within the field of addiction.




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