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Drug to treat alcohol use disorder shows promise among drinkers with high stress

Thursday, September 29, 2016

 

NIH-funded multi-site clinical trial suggests that smokers may also benefit.

 

A new medication that targets part of the brain’s stress system may help reduce alcohol use in people with alcohol use disorder (AUD), according to a new study by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

“We’re committed to developing new medications to provide effective therapy to a broader spectrum of people with AUDs.

George F. Koob, Ph.D., Director, NIAAA

“Medications have become an important tool for treating alcohol use disorders, but current medications are not effective for all people with AUDs,” noted NIAAA Director George F. Koob, Ph.D. “We’re committed to developing new medications to provide effective therapy to a broader spectrum of people with AUDs.”

As reported online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers led by Raye Litten, Ph.D., acting director of the NIAAA Division of Medications Development, conducted a randomized clinical trial of a new compound, called ABT-436, designed to block the effects of vasopressin, a neuropeptide produced in the hypothalamus of the brain. 

“Vasopressin helps to regulate the pituitary adrenal axis and other brain circuits involved in emotion,” explained Dr. Litten. “As such, it plays a role in regulating stress, anxiety, and their interaction with AUD.”

Dr. Litten, first author Megan Ryan and their NIAAA colleagues worked with NIAAA’s multi-center Clinical Investigations Group, to recruit 144 alcohol-dependent adult men and women for the 12-week study. During a 28-day baseline period, female participants consumed at least 28 drinks per week, while male participants consumed at least 35 drinks per week. Participants were then randomized to receive either placebo tablets or ones containing the ABT-436 compound. Researchers monitored participants’ alcohol consumption, as well as their mood changes and smoking habits, as these are known to co-vary with alcohol consumption.

Researchers found that participants receiving ABT-436 experienced more days of alcohol abstinence than those receiving the placebo. In particular, participants who reported high levels of stress appeared to respond better to ABT-436, in that both the frequency of their drinking and the number of heavy drinking days they experienced decreased.

“Our findings suggest that potential future studies with drugs targeting vasopressin blockade should focus on populations of people with AUD who also report high levels of stress,” said first author Ryan, a clinical project manager in the NIAAA Division of Medications Development.

Smokers may be another population that could benefit from ABT-436. In addition to its effects on alcohol consumption, study participants receiving the new compound   experienced a reduction in smoking. The researchers suspect that ABT-436 might be targeting the same areas in the brain that relate to withdrawal and stress, and, in the process, influencing both tobacco and alcohol use disorders. Additional research is needed to determine if that is the case.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, is the primary U.S. agency for conducting and supporting research on the causes, consequences, prevention, and treatment of alcohol use disorder, and alcohol problems. NIAAA also disseminates research findings to general, professional, and academic audiences. Additional alcohol research information and publications are available at www.niaaa.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

 

 

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New Pain Medication with No Addictive Properties

The addiction treatment community has wrestled for years fighting addictions and pain. Programs have developed different approaches to treating those with chronic pain issues. It is a difficult and a delicate issue that concerns many in the medical and addiction treatment industry. How to properly detoxify a patient and treat the underline pain that the individual is suffering from can be very tricky. The patient will present for drug treatment with the desire to be removed from pain medications, however the fear from the patient of the pain that will present as soon as medications are removed from the body becomes a barrier for the individual seeking treatment. It is a double edge sword and if not properly done, can create unnecessary pain for the patient.

 

A powerful new painkiller, which was developed on the basis of the research conducted at Stony Brook University and with no apparent side effects or addictive qualities, may now be only a year or two from the consumer market.

 

"This offers a major paradigm shift in the control of pain," declares Dr. Simon Halegoua, Professor of Neurobiology & Behavior at Stony Brook who in the 1990s, teamed up with fellow Stony Brook professors Dr. Gail Mandel and Dr. Paul Brehm to identify a novel sodium ion channel involved in the transmission of pain. They predicted that a drug aimed at blocking this channel, PN1/Nav 1.7, would control pain. PN1 (Peripheral Neuron 1), is uniquely expressed in peripheral nerves such as those involved in pain transduction.

 

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 judgment 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."

 

The potential for such drugs is enormous -- the reduction or elimination of pain for patients with cancer, arthritis, migraine headaches, muscle pain, pain from burns, and pain from other debilitating diseases.

 

He notes that drugs in both oral and topical ointment forms, based on the research he conducted in a basement laboratory at Stony Brook with Mandel, a molecular biologist, and Brehm, an electro physiologist, are currently in Phase II clinical trials in England and Canada.

The Research Foundation of the State University of New York is the holder of the various patents originating from the work of the Stony Brook researchers. Icagen Inc., now in partnership with Pfizer, holds the exclusive license to these patents and has announced their own drug has now entered Phase I clinical trials in the U.S.

 

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by Sober Sky) from materials provided by Stony Brook University.

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Officials fear bath salts becoming the next big drug menace

By Sheila Byrd

FULTON, MISS. - When Neil Brown got high on bath salts, he took his skinning knife and slit his face and stomach repeatedly. Brown survived, but authorities say others haven't been so lucky after snorting, injecting or smoking powders with such innocuous-sounding names as Ivory Snow, Red Dove and Vanilla Sky.

Law enforcement agents and poison control centers say the bath salts, with their complex chemical names, are an emerging menace in several U.S. states where authorities talk of banning their sale. Some say their effects can be as powerful as those of methamphetamine.

From the Deep South to California, emergency calls are being reported over exposure to the stimulants the powders often contain: mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV.

Sold under such names as Ivory Wave, Bliss, White Lightning and Hurricane Charlie, the chemicals can cause hallucinations, paranoia, a rapid heart rate and suicidal thoughts, authorities say. In addition to bath salts, the chemicals can be found in plant foods that are sold legally at convenience stores and on the Internet. However, they aren't necessarily being used for the purposes on the label.

Mississippi lawmakers this week began considering a proposal to ban the sale of the powders, and a similar measure is being sought in Kentucky. In Louisiana, the bath salts were outlawed by an emergency order after the state's poison center received more than 125 calls in the last three months of 2010 involving exposure to the chemicals.

In Brown's case, he said he had tried every drug from heroin to crack and was so shaken by terrifying hallucinations that he wrote to one Mississippi paper urging people to stay away from the bath salts.

"I couldn't tell you why I did it," Brown said, pointing to his scars. "The psychological effects are still there."

While Brown survived, sheriff's authorities in one Mississippi county say they believe one woman overdosed on bath salts there. In southern Louisiana, the family of a 21-year-old man says he cut his throat and ended his life with a gunshot. Authorities are investigating whether a man charged with capital murder in the December death of a Tippah County, Miss., sheriff's deputy was under the influence of the bath salts.

The stimulants are not regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, but are facing federal scrutiny. Law officers say some of the substances are being shipped from Europe, but origins are still unclear.

Gary Boggs, an executive assistant at the DEA, said there is a lengthy process to restrict these types of designer chemicals, including reviewing the abuse data. But it's a process that can take years.

Mark Ryan, director of Louisiana's poison control center, said he thinks state bans on the chemicals can be effective. He said calls about the salts have dropped sharply since Louisiana banned their sale in January.

Ryan said cathinone, the parent substance of the drugs, comes from a plant grown in Africa and is regulated. He said that MDPV and mephedrone are made in a lab and that they are not regulated because they are not marketed for human consumption. The stimulants affect neurotransmitters in the brain, he said.

The drugs cause "intense cravings," he said. "They'll binge on it three or four days before they show up in an ER. Even though it's a horrible trip, they want to do it again and again."

Ryan said at least 25 states have received calls about exposure, including Nevada and California. He said Louisiana leads with the greatest number of cases at 165, or 48 percent of the U.S. total, followed by Florida with at least 38 calls to its poison center.

Rick Gellar, medical director for the California Poison Control System, said the first call about the substances came in Oct. 5, and a handful of calls have followed since. But he warned: "The only way this won't become a problem in California is if federal regulatory agencies get ahead of the curve. This is a brand-new thing."

In the Midwest, the Missouri Poison Center at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis received at least 12 calls in the first two weeks of January about teenagers and young adults abusing such chemicals, said Julie Weber, the center's director. The center received eight calls about the powders all of last year.

Richard Sanders, a general practitioner working in Covington, La., said his son, Dickie, snorted some of the bath salts and endured three days of intermittent delirium. Dickie Sanders cut his throat but missed major arteries. As he continued to have visions, his physician father tried to calm him. But the elder Sanders said that as he slept, his son went into another room and shot himself.

"If you could see the contortions on his face. It just made him crazy," Sanders said. He added that the coroner's office confirmed that the chemicals were detected in his son's blood and urine.

Sanders warns that the bath salts are far more dangerous than some of their names imply.

"I think everybody is taking this extremely lightly. As much as we outlawed it in Louisiana, all these kids cross over to Mississippi and buy whatever they want," he said.

A small packet of the chemicals typically costs as little as $20.

In northern Mississippi's Itawamba County, Sheriff Chris Dickinson said his office has handled about 30 encounters with bath-salts users in the past two months alone. He said the problem grew last year in his rural area after a Mississippi law began restricting the sale of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in making methamphetamine.

Dickinson said most of the bath-salts users there have been meth addicts and can be dangerous when using them.

"We had a deputy injured a week ago. They were fighting with a guy who thought they were two devils. That's what makes this drug so dangerous," he said.

But Dickinson said the chemicals are legal, leaving him no choice but to slap users just with a charge of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

Kentucky state lawmaker John Tilley said he's moving to block the drug's sale there, preparing a bill for consideration when his legislature convenes shortly. Angry that the powders can be bought legally, he said: "If my 12-year-old can go in a store and buy it, that concerns me."

- Associated Press

To get help for problems with drugs contact Summer Sky Treatment Center at 1-888-857-8857

 

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Study: Newer Antipsychotic Drugs Are Overused

Researchers Say Many Doctors Prescribe Drugs Despite Lack of Evidence of Effectiveness

By Brenda Goodman
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD
perscription bottle close-up

Jan. 7, 2011 -- Many people taking powerful psychiatric medicationsthat increase their risk of weight gain and diabetes are prescribed those drugs when there’s little evidence that they will get any benefit from them, a new study shows.

What’s more, experts say that even when these drugs, which are known as atypical antipsychotics, are prescribed as recommended, they may not be safer or more effective than the less expensive, older medications that they’ve apparently replaced.

“Atypical agents were once thought to be safer and possibly more effective,” says study researcher G. Caleb Alexander, MD, an assistant professor in the department of medicine at the University of Chicago Hospitals. “And what we’ve learned over time is that they are not safer, and in the settings where there’s the best scientific evidence, they are no more effective.”

How Drugs Developed for Schizophrenia Became Used as Antidepressants

The first generation of drugs to treat serious mental illnesses like schizophreniawere introduced in the late 1950s and 1960s, but those drugs often had disfiguring and painful neurologic side effects like muscle spasms and tremors and caused involuntary movements like facial grimacing.

In 1989, the first of a newer generation of atypical antipsychotic drugs, Clozaril, was introduced with the promise of being more effective than its predecessors, with fewer side effects. Other medications in the class soon followed, including Abilify, Geodon, Invega, Risperdal, Saphris, Seroquel, and Zyprexa.

“Since there were all these new drugs, and it costs 700 to 800 million to bring a drug to market, drug companies needed to make that money back,” says Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, chairman of the department of psychiatry at Columbia University, who was not involved in the study. “These drugs were marketed aggressively.”

The study, which was published online in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, documents what Lieberman and others believe were the effects of that marketing.

Researchers found that the number of office visits in which a doctor documented a patient’s use of atypical antipsychotics more than doubled since the mid-1990s -- climbing from 6.2 million in 1995 to 14.3 million by 2008, making them the top-selling pharmaceutical drug class.

Over time, the way doctors prescribed those drugs changed, too, with doctors becoming more likely to prescribe these powerful medications for conditions in which they had not been rigorously studied or FDA approved, such as anxiety,depressionattention deficit disorder, and for aggression and agitation in dementia patients.

In adults, for example, the use of any antipsychotic medication -- old or new -- remained relatively stable from 1995 to 2001. But from 2001 to 2006 use of the medications doubled, the study showed, indicating that doctors were becoming quicker to turn to these powerful drugs.

In children, the use of the drugs skyrocketed, increasing 800% from 1995 to 2005.

“Time and time again what we see is medications that are prematurely adopted in populations that have little or nothing to gain, and this study is yet another example of how both doctors and patients may overenthusiastically or prematurely adopt medicines beyond the evidence base,” Alexander says.

Atypical Antipsychotics Become a Target of Lawsuits

In many cases, government regulators felt that pharmaceutical companies promoting these drugs broke the law by encouraging doctors to prescribe them “off-label.” Off-label drugs are those prescribed by doctors for purposes not approved by the FDA.

According to a report released in December 2010 by the consumer watchdog Public Citizen, some of the largest drug company settlements with the federal government in the last two decades were for the unlawful promotion of atypical antipsychotic drugs.

In 2010, for example, the drug company AstraZeneca paid $520 million to settle allegations by the federal government that it engaged in unlawful promotion of its drug Seroquel, which is the top-selling atypical antipsychotic.

AstraZeneca Responds

AstraZeneca offered the following written response to the findings of the new study:

“AstraZeneca believes that Seroquel is a safe and effective medication when used as recommended in the prescribing information and offers clinicians, patients and their loved ones an important treatment option.

Doctors need a range of options as they seek an appropriate treatment for individual patients, because they recognize a one-size-fits-all approach to treating all people with mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia is not possible. Doctors consider the needs of individual patients and the array of treatments that are available, including prescription medicines. Doctors are trained to carefully make these choices.

The company has worked diligently with the FDA to ensure that the safety profile of Seroquel is reflected appropriately in the prescribing information so that health care professionals can weigh the risk and benefit of Seroquel when making treatment decisions.

It is AstraZeneca’s policy to promote our medicines and to conduct interactions with healthcare professionals in compliance with the laws and regulations that govern the healthcare community in the United States. We train AstraZeneca employees to follow our compliance policies.”

Putting the Brakes on Inappropriate Use

Experts feel the overuse of these medications will need to be addressed on several fronts.

“There are several strategies that can be used to achieve more rational use of these and other psychotropic medicines, including patient and physician education, FDA empowerment, and denial of payments by public and private payers for uses that lack sufficient scientific evidence,” Alexander says.

Lieberman said more comparative effectiveness studies would help doctors better understand when drugs in the atypical antipsychotic class were superior to each other or to older drugs, and that would better inform prescribing practices.

“It’s a bit like going to the supermarket and trying to buy laundry detergent: This one has enzymes; this one has brighteners.” he says. “But we don’t really know how the drugs compare to each other.”

Many felt that the solution should not include preventing doctors from being able to prescribe drugs off-label.

“Off-label prescribing is an important component of practice,” Lieberman says. “The reason is that it really takes a lot of money for a drug company to jump through all the hoops to get an FDA indication. There may be good evidence that a drug is effective in a given condition, but the company doesn’t see enough of a market there to get it approved.”

But he admits that many doctors may be using too free a hand with the prescription pad.

“On the other hand, you don’t want to be promiscuous and abuse that privilege,” he says.

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Novel Vaccine That Produces Strong Immunity Against Cocaine High Poised To Move Quickly Into Human Trials

Logo of the United States National Institute o...Image via Wikipedia

 

Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Cornell University have produced a long-lasting anti-cocaine immunity in mice by giving them a unique vaccine that combines bits of the common cold virus with a particle that mimics cocaine. 

In their study, published January 4, 2011, in the advanced online edition ofMolecular Therapy, the researchers say this novel strategy might be the first to offer cocaine addicts a fairly simple way to break and reverse their habit. The approach could also be useful in treating other addictions, such as to nicotine, heroin, and methamphetamine. 

"Our very dramatic data shows that we can protect mice against the effects of cocaine, and we think this approach could be very promising in fighting addiction in humans," says the study's lead investigator, Ronald G. Crystal, chairman and professor of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. 

"The vaccine suppresses the stimulant effects of the drug," said Scripps Research Professor Kim Janda, a co-author of the paper and a pioneer in the field of developing vaccines against addictive drugs such as cocaine. "Unlike other types of treatment, a vaccine such as this one does not interfere with the neurological targets of the drug, but instead blocks cocaine from ever reaching the brain in the first place." 

In the new study, the vaccine effect lasted for at least 13 weeks, the longest time point evaluated in such an approach. Since the vaccine likely will not require multiple expensive infusions, the researchers hope that it can move quickly into human trials.

Clinically, this sort of therapy could be given to people in treatment programs to aid in their recovery. And, like most other types of treatment, it will only be useful for those who want the help. 

"This vaccine would be most applicable for addicts who are who are interested in getting off the drug," said Janda, the Eli R. Callaway Jr. Chair in Chemistry and a member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research. "In essence we view such vaccines as 'immuno-helpers' for treating substance abuse, and, in the case at hand, it might prove to be extremely useful for crack addicts whose relapse rate is exceedingly high." 

The Drug 

According to the latest statistics available from National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2008 5.3 million Americans age 12 and older had abused cocaine in any form and 1.1 million had abused crack at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. 

Cocaine, derived from the leaf of the Erythroxylaceae coca plant, is a highly potent drug that, as a salt, is either snorted or dissolved in water and injected directly into the bloodstream. The salt is also often neutralized to make an insoluble "free-base" form that is smoked. 

Once ingested in the bloodstream, the drug crosses the blood - brain barrier and accumulates rapidly in the brain. "The brain levels rise very rapidly once cocaine is taken into the system," said Janda. 

 Cocaine Drug Rehab http://www.summersky.us 

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Children of Alcoholics Likely to become Obese!

Washington (SmartAboutHealth) – According to a new study, children of alcoholics are more likely to face and suffer from obesity than kids who are not born into a family with a history of alcoholism.

The study was carried out by researchers from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and focused on seeing if there was a link between having a family history of alcohol abuse or alcoholism, and obesity.

Researchers analyzed data that came from two different surveys that involves alcoholism.

The surveys were conducted through the 1990s as well as through the 2000s and involved over 75,000 people in total.

Researchers found that those who had a family history of alcoholism were far more likely to be obese than those who did not.

The belief is that this is due to the fact that the addiction may be passed odwn in the family.

The only difference is that the new entrants into these families are becoming addicted to junk food more than they are addicted to alcohol.

As the years went by in the study, they found that the more recent adults with a family history of alcoholism were more likely to suffer from obesity than those from the early 1990s.

The family history of alcoholism and obesity are more directly linked now because the food that is available today has more calories and more fat than the food some years ago.

Still, the addictive nature between these foods and the brain is similar to the addiction that is seen from alcohol.

The study has been published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Texas Drug Rehabs New Therapy (Equine Therapy)

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Texas Drug Rehabs are starting to offer a newer type of therapy. This new type of therapy is called Equine Therapy. It has been used as a alternative form to psychotherapy for many years. Some addiction treatment programs in Texas are implementing this newer thearpy into their programs.

This alternative approach is being used to help in the healing process. With many Texas Drug and Alcohol rehabs embracing this form of therapy, we are seeing many techniques and models of this type of therapy surface. Some programs use elements of different styles and models of care around the Equine Therapy. For more information regarding this type of therapy please visit this article below.

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Alcohol more harmful than heroin or crack

Alcohol more harmful than heroin or crack'

Sacked government drugs adviser David Nutt publishes investigation in Lancet reopening debate on classification

 

Teenagers drinking alcohol

Heroin causes harm to users, but alcohol causes considerably more harm in the wider community, study finds. Photograph: Action Press/Rex Features.

 

Alcohol is the most dangerous drug in the UK by a considerable margin, beating heroin and crack cocaine into second and third place, according to an authoritative study published today which will reopen calls for the drugs classification system to be scrapped and a concerted campaign launched against drink.

Led by the sacked government drugs adviser David Nutt with colleagues from the breakaway Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, the study says that if drugs were classified on the basis of the harm they do, alcohol would be class A, alongside heroin and crack cocaine.

Today's paper, published by the respected Lancet medical journal, will be seen as a challenge to the government to take on the fraught issue of the relative harms of legal and illegal drugs, which proved politically damaging to Labour.

Nutt was sacked last year by the home secretary at the time, Alan Johnson, for challenging ministers refusal to take the advice of the official Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which he chaired. The committee wanted cannabis to remain a class C drug and for ecstasy to be downgraded from class A, arguing that these were less harmful than other drugs. Nutt claimed scientific evidence was overruled for political reasons.

The new paper updates a study carried out by Nutt and others in 2007, which was also published by the Lancet and triggered debate for suggesting that legally available alcohol and tobacco were more dangerous than cannabis and LSD.

Alcohol, in that paper, ranked fifth most dangerous overall. The 2007 paper also called for an overhaul of the drug classification system, but critics disputed the criteria used to rank the drugs and the absence of differential weighting.

Today's study offers a more complex analysis that seeks to address the 2007 criticisms. It examines nine categories of harm that drugs can do to the individual "from death to damage to mental functioning and loss of relationships" and seven types of harm to others. The maximum possible harm score was 100 and the minimum zero.

Overall, alcohol scored 72 – against 55 for heroin and 54 for crack. The most dangerous drugs to their individual users were ranked as heroin, crack and then crystal meth. The most harmful to others were alcohol, heroin and crack in that order.

Nutt told the Guardian the drug classification system needed radical change. "The Misuse of Drugs Act is past its sell-by date and needs to be redone," he said. "We need to rethink how we deal with drugs in the light of these new findings."

For overall harm, the other drugs examined ranked as follows: crystal meth (33), cocaine (27), tobacco (26), amphetamine/speed (23), cannabis (20), GHB (18), benzodiazepines (15), ketamine (15), methadone (13), butane (10), qat (9), ecstasy (9), anabolic steroids (9), LSD (7), buprenorphine (6) and magic mushrooms (5).

The authors write: "Our findings lend support to previous work in the UK and the Netherlands, confirming that the present drug classification systems have little relation to the evidence of harm. They also accord with the conclusions of previous expert reports that aggressively targeting alcohol harm is a valid and necessary public health strategy."

Nutt told the Lancet a new classification system "would depend on what set of harms 'to self or others' you are trying to reduce". He added: "But if you take overall harm, then alcohol, heroin and crack are clearly more harmful than all others, so perhaps drugs with a score of 40 or more could be class A; 39 to 20 class B; 19-10 class C and 10 or under class D." This would result in tobacco being labelled a class B drug alongside cocaine. Cannabis would also just make class B, rather than class C. Ecstasy and LSD would end up in the lowest drug category, D.

He was not suggesting classification was unnecessary: "We do need a classification system – we do need to regulate the ones that are very harmful to individuals like heroin and crack cocaine." But he thought the UK could learn from the Portuguese and Dutch: "They have innovative policies which could reduce criminalisation." Representatives of both countries will be at a summit in London today, called drug science and drug policy: building a consensus, where the study will be presented.

UK reformers will be hoping the coalition government will take a more evidence-based approach to classification and tackling drugs than Labour did. The Liberal Democrats supported Nutt over his sacking, while Conservative leader David Cameron, who got into trouble at Eton, aged 15, for smoking cannabis, acknowledged the Misuse of Drugs Act was not working during his time as an MP on the Home Affairs select committee.

Nutt called for far more effort to be put into reducing harm caused by alcohol, pointing out that its economic costs, as well as the costs to society of addiction and broken families, are very high. Taxation on alcohol is "completely inappropriate", he said – with strong cider, for instance, taxed at a fifth of the rate of wine – and action should particularly target the low cost and promotion of alcohol such as Bacardi breezers to young people.

Don Shenker, the chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said : "What this study and new classification shows is that successive governments have mistakenly focused attention on illicit drugs, whereas the pervading harms from alcohol should have given a far higher priority. Drug misusers are still ten times more likely to receive support for their addiction than alcohol misusers, costing the taxpayer billions in repeat hospital admissions and alcohol related crime. Alcohol misuse has been exacerbated in recent years as government failed to accept the link between cheap prices, higher consumption and resultant harms to individuals and society."

"[The] government should now urgently ensure alcohol is made less affordable and invest in prevention and treatment services to deal with the rise in alcohol dependency that has occurred."

The Home Office said last night: "We have not read the report. This government has just completed an alcohol consultation and will publish a drugs strategy in the coming months."

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "In England, most people drink once a week or less. If you're a women and stick to two to three units a day or a man and drink up to three or four units, you are unlikely to damage your health. The government is determined to prevent alcohol abuse without disadvantaging those who drink sensibly."Two experts from the Amsterdam National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and the Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research point out in a Lancet commentary the study does not look at multiple drug use, which can make some drugs much more dangerous – such as cocaine or cannabis together with alcohol – but they acknowledge the topic was outside its scope.

They add that because the pattern of recreational drug use changes, the study should be repeated every five or 10 years.

 

 

 

 

 


Summer Sky Treatment Center Houston Texas!

Summer Sky Treatment Center attended the 2010 Spectrum Conference hosted by the Houston Chapter of the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals. This years conference was The Thirty Seventh Annual Conference on Addiction Studies. It is a honor to help support such a great organization and be apart of addiction professionals serving those with substance use disorders across the State of Texas. Summer Sky recently opened up the new Detox Now Program. The Detox now program is created for those who do not want a 30 day stay in treatment, but desire to have detox take place. It is really geared to those who have had previous treatment or have a history of relapse. Please take a look at there website at http://www.summersky.us or call them at 1-888-857-8857.    


Brain Mechanism Linked To Relapse After Cocaine Withdrawal

Addictive drugs are known to induce changes in the brain's reward circuits that may underlie drug craving and relapse after long periods of abstinence. Now, new research, published by Cell Press in the September 9 issue of the journal Neuron, uncovers a specific neural mechanism that may be linked to persistent drug-seeking behavior and could help to guide strategies for development of new therapies for cocaine addiction.

Previous research has shown that the ventral tegmental area (VTA) is a brain region that is activated when cocaine users experience a craving for cocaine after being exposed to cocaine-associated cues. The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), which receives input from the VTA via circuits that use the "reward" neurotransmitter dopamine, has also been implicated in drug craving after cocaine withdrawal. Further, increases in the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) have been observed in the VTA and mPFC in rats after withdrawal from repeated cocaine exposure.

"BDNF plays a key role in modulating the structure and function of synapses, the sites of communication between neurons. Therefore, increased BDNF after cocaine withdrawal may drive synaptic changes that contribute to compulsive drug seeking behavior," explains senior author, Dr. Mu-ming Poo from the University of California, Berkeley. "It has been shown that increased BDNF in the VTA after cocaine withdrawal in rats promotes the drug-dependent motivational state. However, nothing is known about the potential BDNF effect on synaptic function and plasticity in mPFC neurons after cocaine withdrawal."

Dr. Poo and colleagues designed a study to examine how BDNF and the mPFC might contribute to relapse after cocaine addiction. The researchers found that the gradual increase in BDNF expression in the rat mPFC after terminating repeated cocaine exposure significantly enhanced the activity-induced potentiation of specific synapses. Dr. Poo's group went on to uncover the specific cellular mechanism linking increased BDNF with enhanced synaptic plasticity and demonstrated that interference with the key molecule in the BDNF signaling process reduced behavioral sensitivity after cocaine withdrawal in rats.

"In short, our results demonstrate that elevated BDNF expression after cocaine withdrawal sensitizes the excitatory synapses in the mPFC to undergo activity-induced persistent potentiation that may contribute to cue-induced drug cravings and drug-seeking behavior," concludes Dr. Poo. Although a clear correlation between rat and human behaviors of cocaine craving and relapse remains to be established, the cellular mechanism uncovered in this study does appear to have behavioral relevance and may represent a direct brain sensitization that is involved in triggering relapse.

The researchers include Hui Lu, Pei-lin Cheng, Byung Kook Lim, Nina Khoshnevisrad, and Mu-ming Poo, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA.

Source:
Cathleen Genova
Cell Press

via www.medicalnewstoday.com