What Drives the Addict to Make Poor Choices?

Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered that the orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortex in the frontal brain regulates our choices that can result in addictive and compulsive behavior.

Jonathan Wallis, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and the principal investigator of the study researched the phenomenon in which addicts go to any length to fulfill their cravings, despite any negative consequences to health, relationships, finances etc.

“In the new study, he and fellow researchers targeted the orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex -- two areas in the frontal brain -- because previous research has shown that patients with damage to these areas of the brain are impaired in the choices they make. While these individuals may appear perfectly normal on the surface, they routinely make decisions that create chaos in their lives. A similar dynamic has been observed in chronic drug addicts, alcoholics and people with obsessive-compulsive tendencies.”

To study these areas, researchers measured the neural activity of macaque monkeys as their decision making processes are similar to that found in the human brain. The monkeys had to indentify certain pictures that would result in the delivery of juice. They quickly learned to choose the pictures that would most frequently deliver the greatest amount.

"This is the first study to pin down the calculations made by these two specific parts of the brain that underlie healthy decision-making," Wallis said.

Results demonstrated that the orbitofrontal cortex regulates our ability to differentiate and make decisions on both important and minute matters. However, the neural activity does not change based on the importance of a decision for those with damage to the orbitofrontal cortex.

Furthermore, the anterior cingulate cortex allows us to make future decisions based on whether our past decisions matched our expected outcome. When this part of the brain is not functioning normally, those signals are missing and people continue to make the same poor choices again and again.

"This research is an important contribution to understanding how the disease works. The challenge going forward is to sharpen our understanding, translate this knowledge into effective medical treatments and new prevention strategies and ultimately find a cure for this disease."

Findings Offer New Clues Into the Addicted Brain

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Appetite For Salt May Be Similar To Drug Addiction

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center along with some Australian scientists have discovered that blocking addiction-related nerve pathways in the brain can have a significant impact on sodium appetite. Basically, the nerve cells and connections affected by addictive drugs are the same as those affected by salt.
“Their rodent research shows how certain genes are regulated in a part of the brain that controls the equilibrium of salt, water, energy, reproduction and other rhythms -- the hypothalamus. The scientists found that the gene patterns activated by stimulating an instinctive behavior, salt appetite, were the same groups of genes regulated by cocaine or opiate (such as heroin) addiction.”
Researchers provoked this instinctive behavior in mice either by using a diuretic and withholding salt for a period of time or by using the stress hormone ACTH to increase their need for sodium. In doing so, this demonstrated when salt appetite genes were turned on or off and how quickly that switch can be flipped, as it took a mere 10 minutes for mice that drank a salt solution, long before sodium could even be absorbed into their bloodstream.

According to this study, even though such instincts like our hunger for salt are genetically programmed, these neural pathways can be altered through learning and cognition. As such, many scientists believe that addiction works in this same manner.
"Once the genetic program is operating, experiences that are part of the execution of the program become embodied in the overall patterns of an individual's behavior, and some scientists have theorized that drug addiction may use nerve pathways of instinct. In this study, we have demonstrated that one classic instinct, the hunger for salt, is providing neural organization that subserves addiction to opiates and cocaine" said co-lead author Professor Derek Denton, of the University of Melbourne and the Florey Neuroscience Institute.
Furthermore, the research team discovered that a certain region of the hypothalamus becomes susceptible to the effects of dopamine among animals with a healthy appetite for salt. “That suggests that the state of the instinctive need, the sodium-depleted state, "spring-loads" the hypothalamus for the subjective experience of reward which follows when animals gratify the need -- a satisfied feeling.”

Moreover, this instinctual theory of addiction may help to explain why abstinence is so difficult and maintenance approaches such as methadone are much more successful despite physical dependence.

Consequently, these findings could seriously impact the understanding of addiction as well as research and treatment, not to mention the impact on high sodium foods.

Salt Appetite Is Linked to Drug Addiction, Research Finds

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Bath Salts Trend Quickly Becoming An Epidemic

Many States are taking action against a powerful new designer drug that is rapidly gaining popularity and can be purchased legally. This synthetic drug is most commonly disguised by the name, bath salts. It is also known to many as Tranquility, Zoom, Bloom, Cloud Nine, Ocean Snow, Lunar Wave, Ivory Wave, Purple Wave, White Lightning, Blizzard, Scarface, Red Dove, Star Dust, Lovey Dovey, Snow Leopard, Aura, Hurricane Charlie and Vanilla Sky.

Still, the drug can also be purchased as products such as insect repellant or plant food with names like "Bonsai Grow". Despite serious negative effects, the drug continues to be sold legally for about $80.00USD over the internet, on the street, in convenience stores, smoke shops, gas stations, pawnshops, tattoo parlors, and truck stops etc. And, manufacturers label the product with not for human consumption to avoid prosecution.

These bath salts contain mephedrone and MDPV (methylenedioxypyrovalerone) and can be snorted, injected or ingested to create a euphoric high, similar to that of cocaine or methamphetamine.

“Mephedrone, also known as 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC), or 4-methylephedrone, is a synthetic stimulant and entactogen drug of the amphetamine and cathinone classes. Slang names include M4, meph, drone, and MCAT. Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) is a psychoactive drug with stimulant properties which acts as a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI).”

“The drug is said to last about 3-4 hours, but remains in your system for up to 72 hours and is considered highly addictive. It has become a major cause for alarm with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and federal authorities and it has been linked to several deaths in the United States.

“I've never seen a drug progress from never heard of, never abused, never seen in a period of three months, to becoming an epidemic,” says ER physician Dr. William Dempsey.
In 2010, the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS) reported 303 calls about MDPV (bath salt) products. But as of June 30, 2011 poison centers reported 3,740 calls, where 2,371 of those calls came in as of May 31, 2011.

This increasingly popular drug raises blood pressure and increases heart rate, which can lead to chest pains, heart attack or stroke. Psychologically, users can expect to experience increased alertness and awareness, increased wakefulness and arousal, anxiety, agitation, decreased appetite and need for sleep, delusions, paranoia, hallucinations, suicidal ideation, psychosis and an intense desire to re-dose.

According to recent reports…
  • Dickie Sanders, 21, shot himself in the head after using bath salts.
  • Elijah Taylor threw himself into traffic.
  • Johnny Salazar was high on bath salts when he burned his own son's hands when the child touched his bible.
A brief History:

MDPV was developed in the 1960s, and has been used for the treatment of chronic fatigue, but caused problems of abuse and dependence. The following depicts how quickly this drug has progressed.
  • 1969: Boehringer Ingelheim files a patent application for MDPV.
  • 2005: MDPV appears as a recreational drug; first mention on Drugs-Forum.
  • 2007: First seizure of MDPV as a recreational drug, by customs officials in the German state of Saxony. The drug had been shipped from China.
  • 2008: First seizure of MDPV in the United States.
  • 2009: MDPV made illegal in Denmark.
  • 2010: MDPV made a controlled drug in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Australia and Finland. First reports of the widespread retail marketing of 'bath salts' containing MDPV in the US. The US considers both Mephedrone (July, 2010) and MDPV (December, 2010) "a drug and chemical of concern".
  • 2011: MDPV sale and possession are banned in the US states of Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania (60 days after June 23, 2011), and Utah, with legislation being introduced in many other states.
To date, New York and 33 other states have already banned this deadly drug.

Cocaine-like drug sold as 'bath salts' at corner store
Comprehensive Drug Information on MDPV, Mephedrone ("Bath Salts")
Bath salts: America's newest drug addiction

© www.understandingaddictions.com

Scientists Develop Vaccine To Treat Heroin Addiction

According to researchers at The Scripps Research Institute, an “immunopharmacotherapy” type of treatment for heroin could be on the horizon. Their proven research with animal models confirms that they have developed a vaccine that counteracts the heroin high.

Additionally, the antibodies produced by this new vaccine are also capable of preventing other psychoactive compounds that are metabolized from heroin from reaching the brain and producing euphoric effects.
“‘In my 25 years of making drug-of-abuse vaccines, I haven't seen such a strong immune response as I have with what we term a dynamic anti-heroin vaccine,’ said the study's principal investigator, Kim D. Janda, the Ely R. Callaway, Jr. Chair in Chemistry and a member of The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research. ‘It is just extremely effective. The hope is that such a protective vaccine will be an effective therapeutic option for those trying to break their addiction to heroin.’”
Regrettably, authors of this study claim that heroin abuse and addiction are not only incredibly destructive to the addict, but to the world as a whole, as the cost of this disease is estimated at $22 billion in productivity loss, criminal activity, medical care, and social welfare, in the United States alone. Not to mention the high rates of HIV transmission due to needle sharing.

As a result, many other researchers have attempted to create such a vaccine without success partially because heroin is an elusive target that metabolizes into multiple substances that all generate psychoactive effects. Because of this, researchers in this study developed a vaccine that targets a chemical called 6-acetylmorphine (6AM) and morphine in addition to heroin. And, like heroin, 6-acetylmorphine (6AM) easily crosses the blood-brain barrier to latch onto opioid receptors in the brain. Essentially, the vaccine produces antibodies that neutralize a constantly changing target.
“The researchers linked a heroin-like hapten (a small molecule that elicits an immune response) to a generic carrier protein called keyhole limpet hemocyanin or KLH, and mixed it with Alum, an adjuvant (vaccine additive), to create a vaccine "cocktail." This mixture slowly degraded in the body, exposing the immune system to different psychoactive metabolites of heroin such as 6AM and morphine.”
Researchers observed differences in rats injected with a vaccine that acted on morphine alone in comparison to the dynamic vaccine, which acted on several chemical compounds. Results showed that the dynamic heroin vaccine created an immune response that generated strong polyclonal antibodies against heroin.
“In addition, the study found that addicted rats were less likely to "self-administer" heroin by pressing on a lever after several booster shots of the vaccine. Only three of the seven rats that received the heroin vaccine self-administered heroin. In contrast, all of the control rats, including those given the morphine vaccine, self-administered the drug.”
Fortunately, the heroin vaccine is highly specific as it only produces antibodies in response to the heroin and 6AM, therefore it will not interfere if used in combination with other treatments, such as methadone, naltrexone, and naloxone.

“The Scripps Research team has recently begun an exciting collaboration with researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to see if it is feasible to develop a dual-purpose vaccine against HIV and for the treatment of heroin addiction in a single shot, Janda said.”
Scientists Create Vaccine Against Heroin High

© www.understandingaddictions.com

Binge Drinking Among Young Adults May Be Causing Serious Brain Damage

A new study from the University of Cincinnati has shown that binge drinking among adolescents and young adults may be causing serious damage to their developing brains.

Researchers examined high-resolution brain images of 29 weekend binge drinkers between the ages of 18 and 25. For the purposes of their study, researchers consider binge-drinking as consuming four or more drinks at once for females and five or more drinks for males.

Results showed that binge-drinking was linked to a thinning of the pre-frontal cortex, a section of the brain responsible for paying attention, planning and making decisions, processing emotions and controlling impulses leading to irrational behavior.

A study of the brain's gray matter, the part of the brain that does the thinking, receiving and transmitting of messages, revealed the possibility that it may be affected differently than the brain’s white matter. Evidence already exists that binge drinking is associated with reduced consistency in the white matter, a tissue through which messages pass between different areas of gray matter within the nervous system, however there may be serious affects on the grey matter, regions in the brain involved in muscle control, sensory perception, memory, emotions, and speech.

Tim McQueeny, a doctoral student in the UC Department of Psychology, is concerned that binge-drinking in one’s early 20s may be altering brain development, thereby permanently damaging the way in which the brain functions.

Unfortunately, past research has focused more on male pathological and adult populations, therefore research on the affects of binge-drinking among young adults is seriously lacking.
“We're looking at developmental aspects at an age when binge drinking rates are highest, and we're also looking at gender effects," says McQueeny. "There might actually be indications of early micro-structural damage without the onset of pathological symptoms such as abuse, or dependence on alcohol."
Additional research is needed to educate people on the dangers of binge-drinking in young adulthood in order to prevent permanent damage. For instance, preliminary evidence in this study does suggest that increased abstinence from binge drinking may in fact help in the recovery of damaged gray matter. In addition, drinking just below binge level may also be less harmful.

Although the results of this small sample seem devastating, binge-drinking at that age appears to be widely accepted and very little attention is given to the threat that it may be to the developing brain, therefore further investigation may be quite eye-opening.

A few statistics according to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)…

  • Parents' drinking behavior and favorable attitudes about drinking have been positively associated with adolescents' initiating and continuing drinking.
  • Youth who drink before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.
  • An early age of drinking onset is associated with alcohol-related violence not only among persons under age 21 but among adults as well.
  • Research continues to show that young drivers are more often involved in alcohol-related crashes than any other comparable age group. Alcohol-crash involvement rates, share of the alcohol-crash problem and alcohol-crash risk all reach their peaks with young drivers, with the peaks for fatal crashes occurring at age 21.
  • Each year, college students spend approximately $5.5 billion on alcohol- more than they spend on soft drinks, milk, juice, tea, coffee and books combined.
  • Teenagers are not well informed about alcohol's effects. Nearly one-third of the teens responding to a 1998 American Academy of Pediatrics survey mistakenly believed that a 12-ounce can of beer contains less alcohol than a standard shot of distilled sprits.
  • The median age at which children begin drinking is 13. Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.
  • More than 40 percent of individuals who start drinking before the age of 13 will develop alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.
Possible Brain Damage in Young Adult Binge-Drinkers Revealed in New Study
Statistics Relating to Impaired Driving and Youth from MADD U.S.

© www.understandingaddictions.com

E-Cigarettes May Help To Butt Out

Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers report that electronic cigarettes may be more efficient than more common nicotine replacement methods. Their research has demonstrated that electronic cigarettes produced abstinence rates that nearly doubled success rates among other types of tools that help to quit smoking.

Specifically, researchers found that 31% of participants reported having quit smoking 6 months following having purchased an electronic cigarette. This device is battery-powered and provides doses of nicotine in a vaporized solution without the use of tobacco. In comparison, between 12% and 18% of participants that tried other methods, such as nicotine patches and gum, claim to have remained abstinent for at least 6 months.
The researchers conducted an online survey of 222 first-time purchasers of electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, from a leading electronic cigarette distributor. Of those who were not smoking at six months, 34.3 percent reported not using electronic cigarettes or any nicotine-containing products. Almost 67 percent of respondents reported having reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked after using electronic cigarettes.
However, the validity of this study remains questionable as researchers claim to have a low response rate. Apparently, only 4.5% of people respond. This, of course, leads one to believe that the more likely respondents are those that have successfully quit smoking. If this were true, then the entire study may be flawed because electronic cigarettes may not be any better than other smoking-cessation treatments.

Although the study may not provide concrete evidence that this method is more effective, it does focus on an important aspect of treatment for this addiction. The electronic cigarette focuses on the behavioral aspect of smoking by simulating the act. This alone may improve success rates.
Electronic cigarettes have proven controversial since coming onto the market more than three years ago. A number of anti-smoking groups have argued that e-cigarettes should not be sold because they have not been shown to be effective for smoking cessation, and several states -- including New York -- are considering banning e-cigarettes altogether.
It is obvious that more rigorous research is needed before real conclusions can be drawn, however an outright ban on this product might actually place people at a greater health risk since many people that may have exhausted all other treatment options will simply resort to smoking real cigarettes, which are clearly more harmful than e-cigarettes.

Electronic Cigarettes Hold Promise as Aid to Quitting, Study Finds

© www.understandingaddictions.com

Vancouver Safe Injection Site Reduces Deaths

North America's first supervised injection facility in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is already demonstrating positive results. According to data gathered by the University of British Columbia and the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS from 300 coroner reports between 2001 and 2005, deaths due to illicit drug overdose has decreased by significantly since the facility opened its doors in September 2003.

During the period under review, no overdoses occurred in the facility and declined by 35% in the immediate surroundings, while deaths resulting from overdose declined by only 9% in the rest of Vancouver. Researchers ensured that factors such as changes in drug supply or purity were ruled out.
"This study provides the first unequivocal scientific evidence of the benefits of supervised injection facilities, and clearly demonstrates that facilities such as Insite are saving lives and playing a vital role in reducing the harms associated with illicit drug use," says co-author Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the BC-CfE and Chair of AIDS Research at the UBC Faculty of Medicine.”
If further research could produce similar results, an expansion of the current facility and the opening of new sites in other provinces and territories could save begin saving lives all over Canada. The Vancouver site is only a pilot project at this time. It has a capacity of 12 injection seats and monitors roughly 500 injections per day in an area that is home to about 5,000 injection drug users.

Although common sense is suggesting that these lives have only been saved because drug users are being supervised in a controlled environment, could it be that society is merely delaying what might be inevitable? Personally, I have always been on the fence with respect to harm reduction methods as they tend to enable the user. However, in extreme cases it sometimes seems like the only option in order to move the user to a place where they are ready to work on their addictions. In addition, safe injection sites prevent the spread of disease, such as HIV, which evidently reduces deaths.
“Established in 2003 in response to an HIV epidemic and escalating overdose death rates in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Insite enables injection drug users to consume pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of nurses. Counsellors are also available onsite to provide support and referrals to programs, including addiction treatment. An extensive scientific evaluation by UHRI researchers has previously demonstrated the facility's ability to reduce HIV risk behaviour, increase access to addiction treatment and primary health care services, and reduce healthcare costs in the long term.”
Despite its possible negative features, safe injection sites appear to do more good than harm generally. Besides, more and more research seems to be surfacing to support this fact. Nevertheless, the federal government clearly cannot see the value in such facilities as they have submitted an appeal against the BC Court ruling that deemed Insite as a health care facility under provincial jurisdiction that ensures an individual’s constitutional right to health through an essential health service. This hearing is set for May 12, 2011 at the Supreme Court of Canada.

What are your thoughts about safe injection sites?

Overdose Deaths Down 35 Percent After Opening of Vancouver's Supervised Injection Site

© www.understandingaddictions.com

Are Wet Programs Really Effective?

Recently, Jay Leno has attracted more attention to the controversy that surrounds Ottawa's Inner City Health "wet" program by poking fun it for doling out wine to many of the city’s homeless alcoholics as a method of treatment.

Some of the participants in this Canadian treatment program are drinking up to 72 ounces or 3 bottles of wine each day depending on the severity of their addiction. Basically, chronic alcoholic residents of these programs are offered varying amounts of wine with alcohol content ranging from 0% - 12.5% every hour between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Despite fairly positive research on the effectiveness of these programs, most people cannot fathom how feeding an alcoholic wine could possibly treat alcoholism. For instance, Cyril Morgan, director of the Welcome Hall Mission in Montreal, Quebec, is not convinced that this method of treatment actually works. "It doesn't wean them off, it pacifies them for the time they're in the program," he said. "Once you take them out of that environment, then what?"

Those in favour of the program boast about its ability to give some quality of life back to severe alcoholics. For many, it could mean the difference between life and death. In addition, research on such programs has shown that some individuals have quit drinking completely and many others have greatly improved their health and hygiene. It also means that hardcore alcoholics no longer have to resort to drinking harmful substances such as paint thinner, mouthwash or aftershave. Essentially, the program works toward stabilization in order to progress toward treatment of other aspects of their lives.
“According to Wendy Muckle, a nurse and director of Ottawa City Health, said the program — which also exists in Toronto and Hamilton, Ont. — is often misunderstood, conjuring up images of taxpayers paying for homeless people to get drunk.”
Muckle also states that research has proven that 1 out of every 55 people quit drinking each year because of this program. Although the success rate is not exactly extraordinary, it does mean that one more person is taken off the street and given their life back. Critics may not realize that these kinds of programs are directed toward individuals that may have spent the past 35 years drinking themselves into unconsciousness on the street.
“Montreal has between 3,000 and 5,000 homeless people, with each one costing taxpayers on average $55,000 a year in health, corrections and social services, according to a joint report from Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia and the University of Calgary.”
Meanwhile residents of this program in Ottawa pay about $80.00 each month for their booze and cigarettes and any small amount of monthly government assistance remaining is paid directly to the program to cover board and lodging expenses.

Regardless of the cost savings, the answer to the question as to whether or not wet programs are effective seems clear. These programs take the worst of the worst alcoholics off the street and alter their lives dramatically. “Daily police pickups, ambulance rides and emergency room visits are replaced with harm reduction and far better care.” Not to mention the fact that each and every person that successfully transitions into recovery makes this program effective. Personally, I cannot comprehend how anyone might find this program comical in any way.

Ottawa alcoholism program still controversial, despite signs of progress

© www.understandingaddictions.com

Naltrexone May Soon Treat Heroin Addiction

Recent Norwegian research suggests that naltrexone implants could significantly reduce heroin dependency, which could have an enormous impact on available treatments for heroin addicts. Unlike naltrexone, current treatments for heroin addiction typically involve the use of other addictive morphine-like substances, such as methadone and Subutex.

“Naltrexone is an opioid receptor antagonist used primarily in the management of alcohol dependence and opioid dependence. It is marketed in generic form as its hydrochloride salt, naltrexone hydrochloride, and marketed under the trade names Revia and Depade.”
Researchers studied roughly 56 willing heroin-dependent patients. Twenty-three of the participants had a total of 20 pellets surgically implanted just beneath the skin, which contained naltrexone and a saline solution that allowed for a slow release of the medication to generate a six-month blockage effect.

“The researchers have been using naltrexone, a substance that works by completely blocking the effect of heroin and other morphine substances. This reduces the likelihood of overdose, physical dependency and other drug cravings.”
Participants were studied over a period of six months. Of those implanted with naltrexone, 11 out of 23 were able to abstain from using heroin or other morphine-like substances. In comparison, only 5 out of 26 in the control group were able to avoid using. In addition, the other 12 subjects treated with naltrexone were able to reduce their heroin use by more than half, whereas the remaining 19 subjects in control group continued to use daily.

In addition to these positive statistical results, participants rated this treatment method at 85 out of 100. Addicts and researchers alike can anticipate further studies confirming such positive results and possibly revolutionizing the treatment of heroin addiction some day.

Promising Treatment for Heroin Dependency

© www.understandingaddictions.com

Non-Habit Forming Painkiller May Soon Hit The Market

Researchers at Stony Brook University have developed a powerful new painkiller that is said to possess no apparent side effects or addictive qualities could be available for purchase within the next year or two. At present, this miracle drug is in Phase II clinical trials in England and Canada.

A painkiller or analgesic is any member of the group of drugs used to relieve pain. The term analgesic is derived from Greek “an”, meaning without, and “algos”, meaning pain. These drugs include paracetamol (better known as acetaminophen), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and opioids such as morphine and opium. Commonly prescribed painkillers include OxyContin, Vicodin, Methadone, Darvocet, Lortab, Lorcet and Percocet, all of which cause dependence.

During the ‘90s, Dr. Simon Halegoua, Professor of Neurobiology & Behavior at Stony Brook and fellow Stony Brook professors Dr. Gail Mandel and Dr. Paul Brehm joined forces to uncover the sodium ion channel, PN1/Nav 1.7, which is involved pain transmission. They predicted that a medication aimed at blocking this specific channel will be capable of controlling pain.
"When a patient is given an opiate like morphine, pain signals are still transmitted from sensory nerves to the central nervous system. Morphine action throughout the brain reduces and alters pain perception, but it also impairs judgement and results in drug dependence," explains Halegoua, also director of the Center for Nervous System Disorders at Stony Brook University. "With drugs targeting the PN1/Nav1.7 sodium ion channel, the pain signals would not be transmitted, even by the sensory nerves. And since the central nervous system is taken out of the equation, there would be no side effects and no addictive qualities."
Relief may be on the horizon, not only for patients suffering with cancer, arthritis, migraine headaches, muscle pain, pain from burns, and pain from other debilitating diseases, but also for those that may be battling addiction as a result of their pain management treatment.

Commonly Prescribed Painkillers:
    Brand Names: MS Contin, OxyNorm, Endone, Poladone, Oxycontin
    Street Names: Oxy 80s, oxycotton, oxycet, hillbilly heroin, percs, perks

    Brand Names: Anexisa, Dicodid, Hycodan, Hycomine, Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Tussionex, Vicodin
    Street Names: pain killer, vikes, hydros

    Brand Name: Darvon
    Street Names: pinks, footballs, pink footballs, 65’s, Ns

    Brand Name: Dilaudid
    Street Names: juice, dillies, drug street heroin

    Brand Name: Demerol
    Street Names: demmies, pain killer
Some facts and figures:
  • In 2005, roughly 4.7 million people in the US used prescription painkillers for nonmedical reasons.
  • In 2006, roughly 5.2 million people in the US used prescription painkillers for nonmedical reasons, which is nearly twice the estimated number of cocaine users nationwide.
  • In 2007, 2.5 million Americans abused prescription drugs for the first time, compared to 2.1 million who used marijuana for the first time.
  • In 2007, nearly 1 in 5 teens, or 4.5 million kids age 12-19, reportedly abused prescription medications to get high.
  • 1 in 10 US high school seniors admit to abusing prescription painkillers.
  • Almost 50% of teens believe that taking prescription drugs is much safer than using illegal street drugs.
  • Misuse of painkillers represents 3/4 of the overall prescription drug abuse problem.
  • Hydrocodone is the most commonly abused controlled pharmaceutical in the US.
  • In 2007, methadone was found to the cause 785 deaths in Florida alone.
  • Tens of thousands of people are said to be dependent on painkillers, such as Solpadeine and Neurofen Plus, in the UK.
  • Doctors and rehabilitation therapists report that prescription painkiller abuse is one of the most difficult addictions to treat.
A few signs that may suggest painkiller dependency…
    1. Increased usage
    2. Changes in personality
    3. Social withdrawal
    4. Ongoing use
    5. Increased time spent on obtaining prescriptions
    6. Changes in daily habits and appearance
    7. Neglected responsibilities
    8. Increased sensitivity
    9. Blackouts and forgetfulness
    10. Defensiveness
Powerful New Painkiller With No Apparent Side Effects or Addictive Qualities, May Be Ready in a Year
Foundation For A Drug-Free World
A Familiar Fiend: Painkiller Addiction

© www.understandingaddictions.com

Vaccine Could Eliminate Cocaine Addiction

Although there is currently no FDA-approved vaccine on the market to treat addiction, a vaccine that fights against cocaine addiction may not be too far off. “Researchers have produced a lasting anti-cocaine immunity in mice by giving them a safe vaccine that combines bits of the common cold virus with a particle that mimics cocaine.”

According to the lead investigator, Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, this research could pave the way to a simple and effective treatment for cocaine addicts, not to mention the fact that it could lead to the treatment of many other types of addiction, such as nicotine, heroin and other opiates.
“He says the antibody immune response produced in lab mice by the vaccine binds to, and sequesters, cocaine molecules before the drug reached the brains of these animals -- and prevents any cocaine-related hyperactivity. The vaccine effect lasted for at least 13 weeks, the longest time point evaluated.”
Of course, researchers have already attempted such a drug to protect against cocaine addiction. However, Dr. Crystal states this research is the first of its kind to develop a less expensive method requiring fewer infusions, which means it could be ready to test on humans rather quickly.
In this study, a team of researchers -- scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University in Ithaca, and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. -- ripped apart an adenovirus, retrieving only the components that elicit an immune response and discarding those that produce sickness. They then hooked the cocaine analog on to these proteins to make the vaccine. "We used the cocaine analog because it is a little more stable than cocaine, and it also elicits better immunity," Dr. Crystal says.
Basically, the vaccine latches onto the components of the adenovirus (i.e. the common cold), a chemical structurally similar to cocaine, which causes an immune response that recognizes cocaine as a virus. It works in the same manner as any other vaccine by creating a natural immunity to a certain agent or virus so that in the future it recognizes that agent as foreign, destroys it, and remembers it, so that the immune system can more easily recognize and destroy any of these agents when encountered later. Therefore, when cocaine is consumed antibodies built up by the vaccine will quickly surround the particles preventing them from reaching our brain.

Under the microscope, researchers found that mice that received this vaccine generated a strong immune response and their antibodies quickly engulfed the cocaine particles. In addition, behaviorally, the mice treated with the vaccine were far less hyperactive when given cocaine than those that were not vaccinated regardless of the dosage.

Evidently, more research and human testing will be required to really prove the value of this vaccine, but at present, researchers believe that the vaccine will work well for those already addicted to cocaine. So, if it is as effective as researchers say then a cure for cocaine addiction could be on the horizon.

Vaccine Blocks Cocaine High in Mice: Approach Could Also Stop Addiction to Other Drugs, Including Heroin and Nicotine

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