About Addiction: Synthetic drugs, binge drinking, and recovery

You didn’t think we’d let you go a whole week without giving you another of our amazing updates about addiction news and research from around the globe did you? I’m sure you didn’t, and you were right! Here we are again with some good old discussions of marijuana, alcohol binge drinking, and other issues relevant to addiction and drug use. We hope you like it.

Synthetic Drugs and Marijuana

Greenbay Press Gazette– K2 is being sold and marketed as a legal substitute for marijuana and is also referred to as “Spice,” “Genie,” “Zohai” or simply “legal weed”. Apparently, cops in Wisconsin don’t like it too much and even though it hasn’t been banned in that state, they’re making trouble for those who sell it and store owners are complying by removing K2 products from their shelves.

Time– Another article examining the question “is marijuana addictive?” According the DSM, addiction is the compulsive use of a substance despite ongoing negative consequences, which may lead to tolerance or withdrawal symptoms when the substance is stopped. Although only about 10% of people who smoke marijuana become addicted to it by this definition, the real issue is how harmful the drug may be and what consequences it may produce for individuals who are using compulsively.

Science Daily– Speaking of negative impacts of marijuana use, this article discusses the possible neurobiological implications of marijuana and alcohol use during adolescence. Binge drinking in adolescence is a relatively common occurrence in many circles and it can detrimentally affect  cognitive functioning, especially in terms of attention and executive function.  Marijuana was found to, not surprisingly, leave adolescent users with impaired memory performance. The fact that this drug use is occurring during a sensitive developmental period likely doesn’t help.

ABC News– Kids aren’t the only ones who binge drink. Mothers who binge drink during pregnancy are increasing the chances that their babies will develop attention and memory deficits. It was estimated that about 40,000 infants are born each year with neurological and developmental damage that was caused by binge drinking. We’ve written about fetal alcohol syndrome in the past, and this piece touches on the same issues.

Addiction, recovery, and the good old drug trade

The Messenger– This article uses everyday language to explain the evolution of addiction and specifically seven signs that causal substance use is evolving into dependence. I can’t say I agree with everything said here, especially some of the statistics, but it’s a nice read, and as long as you recognize it for what it is – a very dumbed-down version of the real account of things – you’ll hopefully enjoy it!

Breaking the cycles– Sober Living Environments (SLEs)  is a term which is often spoken in  addiction/alcoholism treatment and recovery programs. Sober living houses provide recovering addicts with a drug-free environment in order to complete the transition from a residential treatment setting to stabilization and reintegration to a normal life.

Addiction Inbox– The UN has been monitoring designer drug trade. This report displays emerging trends in synthetic drug use. The drugs that are being observed are amphetamine-type stimulants, as well as designer drugs such as mephedrone, atypical synthetics like ketamine, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and old standbys like LSD. The article gives a complete list of the findings of drugs used in a variety of countries and it is very fascinating.

About Addiction: Prescription drugs, Alcohol prices, and prevention among teens

You know you care about addiction, and you know you love reading addiction news and research – A3 does it all for you and gathers things up in a nice little package we call our weekly “about addiction” post. It’s the fastest way to get the information you want, even if you didn’t know it was out there!

Prescription Drugs, drug safety, and sales

Reuters– Walgreen’s offers its customers a convenient way of disposing of their prescription drugs. This allows individuals to safely dispose of unwanted or expired drugs. The way that the program works is to place the unwanted prescription drugs in an envelope and send it to a medication incinerator. Controlled substances however are excluded from the program, I guess they’re afraid of bags of heroin and cocaine showing up at Walgreen offices?

Wales online– After being bugged to see if a man was in possession of illegal drugs, a number of men were sentenced to 48 years in jail for selling heroin. This undercover investigation lasted for six months, revealing a magnificent economy of drug use, abuse and profit.

Discovery News– Authorities discovered that eight illicit drugs, including cocaine, ecstasy, and methamphetamines, were detectable in the waterways of a Spanish national park. They’re worried about the threat of the drugs’ side effects to animals, but I have to say it makes me wonder why so many drug addicts are dumping their drugs there…

Alcohol Prices

Telegraph (U.K.)– A “price fixing”  system for alcohol prices has been suggested in the U.K., which is supposed to help reduce binge drinking encouraged by bottom priced alcohol. Economics experts in England suggest that all the policy will likely do will be increase profits for store that sell cheap alcohol. If our work here is any indication though, driving alcohol price up (as much as 100% in some stores) will certainly have an effect on some drinkers.

Health DayTax increases in alcohol prices may aid in alleviating alcohol problems. A study was conducted which showed that increasing the alcohol prices will result in significant reductions in many of the undesirable outcomes associated with drinking. So next time you go to buy alcohol and the price is too high just think of all the help you’re providing the community.

Addiction interventions and addiction treatment of teens

Time to act!- Perhaps one of the most important ways to prevent an addiction from happening is to catch it in its early stages and prevent it from ever developing. This website promotes primary prevention of as a means of addiction intervention and urges parents to act as soon as possible if you think your child is using drugs or alcohol.

DBtechno– Children who have regular meals are less likely to drink (read our coverage of teen drinking). This was attributed to parents having better, more consistent, interactions with their children at the dinner table. Kids who did not eat regular meals were twice as likely to drink and use cigarettes. Talk about a great way at starting on an addiction intervention early on in life – a nice relaxing dinner, and maybe some dessert…

ABC News– This article tells of the ill effects that alcohol can have to a child when alcohol is consumed during pregnancy. It tells the story of one family who could not stand their child’s “out of control behavior” likely brought on by FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). Read All About Addiction’s coverage of drinking during pregnancy.

Addiction Inbox– A great article using Dock Ellis’ perspective on LSD. Ellis is now speaking to inmates in correctional facilities, telling his story of how he was addicted to drugs and alcohol while playing baseball.

Drugs and Pregnancy: Drinking while pregnant

A number of questions from readers, as well as some of the searches that have landed users on this site (yes, we get to see that) have made me realize that many of you are wondering about the effects of drugs and alcohol on pregnancies. Especially given the fact that my wife is now pregnant with our first child, I think this is an important topic that deserves attention; for this reason, I’m going to dedicate a few posts to it, paying close attention to different classes of drugs. Given the fact that one of the most commonly used substance among my readers (per this poll) is alcohol, we’re going to start there.

Alcohol and pregnancy

Doctors frequently advise mothers-to-be to abstain from alcohol during their pregnancy. However, avoiding alcohol is difficult given how common it is in social situations. Also, many mothers-to-be are unconvinced and continue drinking, perhaps reducing their consumption, but not stopping altogether. So, can a glass of wine a day really have any impact on an infant’s health?

The most critical effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, aside from stillbirth (1), are a collection of symptoms known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), estimated to occur in approximately 1-7 per 1000 live births (2). FAS individuals suffer a wide range of mental handicaps including diminished intellectual ability, and learning difficulties. Children with FAS exhibit poor socialization and frequently engage in disruptive and maladaptive behaviors. Additionally, they are more susceptible to drug abuse, criminal behavior, and psychiatric disorders. Research seems to indicate that drinking more than a single daily drink at least doubles the probability of producing a significantly growth-retarded infant (3). Drinking less than one daily drink seems to bring about a much lower risk for serious growth-related effects, though the more subtle effects of any alcohol consumptions are still being investigated. Even a single drink a day has been shown to be associated with reduced infant weight and an increased probability of preterm birth (4).

Remember: When considering alcohol in research, a single drink means the equivalent of a single ounce of pure alcohol. A 12 oz. beer or an 8 oz. glass of wine, but no more, would be equivalent. Also, an average of one drink per day does not mean that drinking five drinks on Friday and laying off alcohol for the rest of the week is okay. Even a single binge drinking episode greatly increases the risk of complications! Finally, drinking during the first trimester is far more dangerous to a growing fetus than doing so later in the pregnancy.

So in short, toasting champagne at a wedding, or enjoying an occasional glass of wine with dinner will most likely not do great harm to an ongoing pregnancy. Just be very conscientious of your behavior and be sure not to let things get out of hand. This is certainly an issue where a single night of letting go could result in a lifetime of regret. If you find it difficult to reduce your use after finding out about a pregnancy, it could be an early sign of trouble drinking or even alcoholism…

Look for upcoming posts on smoking and drug use risks to pregnancy!

Citations:

1) Kesmodel, U. Wisborg, K, Olsen, S.F., Henriksen, T.B., & Secher, N.J. (2002). Moderate alcohol intake during pregnancy and the risk of stillbirth and death in the first year of life. American journal of epidemiology, 155(4), 305-312

2) Niccols, A. (2007). Fetal alcohol syndrome and the developing socio-emotional brain. Brain and cognition, 65, 135-142.

3) Mills, J.L., Graubard, B.I., Harley, E.E., Rhoads, G.G. & Berendes, H.W. (1984). Maternal alcohol consumption and birth weight. How much drinking during pregnancy is safe? Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 252.

4) Dew, P.C., Guillory, V. J., Okah, F.A., Cai, J., & Hoff, G.L. (2007). The effect of health compromising behaviors on preterm births. Maternal and child health journal, 11(3), 227-233.