Latest drug addiction research from CPDD: Drug use patterns among adults

I’m currently attending the annual meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) in Reno, NV.

Since there’s so much drug addiction research being presented here, I figured I would post a daily update with some of the things I found most interesting. There’s absolutely no way for me to see all the presentations I’m interested in, so what I get to see is what you get to hear about.

One of the interesting presentations today had to do with a broad study of drug use patterns among adults who are not drug addicts. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama (who ran the CARDIA study), looked at the drug use patterns of adults enrolled in a Coronary Artery Risk study over many years. It’s important to note that drug use in this case does not include smoking, drinking alcohol, or marijuana use. The researchers also didn’t distinguish between use of different drugs for the purpose of this study.

The researchers found 4 common drug use patterns:

  1. No current use – Over 80% of the participants reported no use within a month of any of the follow-up dates. More than half of those people said they’d used at least one drug at some point in their life, but their use was not common enough to ever fall within a month of their check-ups.
  2. Early use, low frequency – About 12% of people used drugs with some frequency at an early age but then reduced their use throughout the follow-up period.
  3. Persistent use, low – These users continued to use drugs throughout the study period, but their use did not escalate.
  4. Early, persistent, use – These users started early, used a lot, and though their use tapered off, it remained higher than any other group throughout the study.

I personally think that these findings are encouraging. They show that at least within this population, only a small proportion of individuals engage in what we would consider chronic, dangerous, drug use.

I reported similar findings regarding relapse in alcoholics in another post a while back (see here), and I’m glad that statistical techniques are being used to uncover larger patterns of drug use and abuse in a more general population.

More addiction research to come. There’s almost too much to report!

UCLA students speaking out about drug use… kind of.

A recent article in UCLA’s daily newspaper presented the stories of two current students who left behind a life of drug use and petty drug dealing to focus on more long-term priorities, namely school.

The students, who used pseudonyms for obvious reasons, show us once again that it is possible to turn around a lifestyle that many deem inescapable.

I think that one of the biggest obstacles to the advancement of drug addiction treatment in our society is the stigma associated with having taken part in drug use in the first place.

It’s difficult to get the stories of those who’ve made it out while they’re hiding in the shadows.

In the meantime, what we get instead is the story of those who fail in the most spectacular fashion. They don’t care enough about the stigma to shy away from revealing their story and truthfully, no one gives them a choice.

I hope this story reminds people that having a past does not doom one to eternal suffering in oblivion.

There is hope…

Making a difference one post at a timeā€¦ Helping drug users

Hi everyone,

I’ve been wanting to do something to help drug users for a long time now, so instead of just thinking about it, I’ve decided to go ahead and give this a try.

I’m a doctoral student at UCLA working on my PhD in psychology. I’ve been studying issues related to drug-addiction, sex-addiction, and gambling-addiction for the past 6 years and am continuing on my quest to discover what I call “The pathway to addiction.”

The thing is that on the way I have been, and still am, gaining an amazing amount of knowledge that I think can benefit not only those struggling with drug use and addiction themselves, but also the family members, friends, and loved ones of those being affected by this disease, condition, or whatever each of you feels comfortable calling addiction. As far as I’m concerned, this should all be about somehow actually helping drug users.

I’ve had my own experiences with drug use and addiction, and so I don’t expect my writings to be devoid of subjective input that I feel I can contribute given my experience.

My goal here is to get what we, as scientists, know about addiction to the general public.

I want to do this because I feel that knowledge is a key ingredient not only in curing and fighting conditions (be they medical, academic, psychological, or otherwise), but also in simply being able to handle and accept things as they are more completely.

We tend to be more scared of things when we feel like we don’t understand them.
I’m not going to lie to you on here and I’ll have no problem revealing personal history and experience by they related to my drug use or other aspects of my life.

I want this to be a forum for people to ask honest questions, get honest answers, and be able to look to when they feel like they’re at a loss and need someone who understands. Making a difference takes work. I hope it works…