December 13th, 2010
One of the perks of being an alcohol, drug use, and addiction researcher, as well as of writing for a website like this and Psychology Today, is that sometimes we get to talk to people that most can’t reach or to receive information that others might not have access to. NIDA‘s Monitoring the Future, a national survey of about 50,000 teens between 8th and 12th grades is a huge annual undertaking the results of which will be released tomorrow for general consumption.
But we got a little sneak peek before everyone else.
If you follow this sort of stuff, you know that teen alcohol and drug use is always shifting as new drugs become more popular and others lose favor with that group of Americans that can’t make up their minds. This year seems to give us more of the same.
Monitoring the future: Early alcohol and drug use results
- Daily marijuana use, after being on the decline for a short while is apparently rising once again among teens, following last year’s continuing trend of a reduction in teens’ perceptions of marijuana harmfulness – We’ve written on A3 about some of the specific issues relevant to marijuana use including writing about Marijuana’s addictive potential and its medical benefit. There’s no doubt that the national marijuana debate will continue but the idea of 8th graders smoking weed doesn’t seem to be part of anyone’s plan.
- Among some groups of teens drug use is proving more popular than smoking cigarettes – I guess this could be taken as evidence of the effectiveness of anti-smoking campaigns, though until we see the full numbers I’m not going to comment any further on that.
- While Vicodin use among high-school seniors (12th graders) is apparently down, non-medical use of prescription medications is still generally high among teens, continuing a recent upward trend – Abuse of prescription stimulants has been on the rise for a number of years as the number of prescriptions for ADHD goes up, increasing access. It is interesting to see Vicodin use go down though the data I’ve received says nothing about abuse of other prescription opiate medications such as oxycontin, so I’m not sure if the trend has to do with a general decrease in prescription opiate abuse among teens.
- Heroin injection rates up among high-school seniors (12th graders) – I think everyone will agree that this is a troubling trend no matter what your stance on drug use policy. The associated harms that go along with injecting drugs should be enough for us to worry about this, but again, I’ll reserve full judgment until I actually see the relevant numbers. I’m also wondering if this is a regional phenomenon or a more general trend throughout the United States.
- Binge drinking of alcohol is down – As we’ve written before, the vast majority of problems associated with the over consumption of alcohol (binge drinking) among high-school students has to do with the trouble they get themselves in while drunk (pregnancies, DUI accidents, and the likes), so this is an encouraging trend though hopefully it isn’t simply accounting for the above mentioned increases in marijuana and heroin use.
Some general thoughts on NIDA’s annual Monitoring the Future results
I am generally a fan of broad survey information because it gets at trends that we simply can’t predict any other way and gives us a look at the overall population rather than having to make an educated guess from a very small sample in a lab. NIDA‘s annual MTF survey is no different although until I get to see all of the final numbers (at which point there will probably be a follow-up to this article) it’s hard to make any solid conclusions. Nevertheless, I am happy to see binge drinking rates among teens going down and if it wasn’t for that pesky increase in heroin injection rates I would say that overall the survey makes it look like things are on the right tracks.
I’ve written about it before and will certainly repeat it again – I personally think that alcohol and drug use isn’t the problem we should be focusing on exclusively since it’s chronic alcohol and drug abuse and addiction that produce the most serious health and criminal problems. Unfortunately, drug use is what we get to ask about because people don’t admit to addiction and harmful abuse because of the inherent stigma. Therefore, I think that it’s important for us to continue to monitor alcohol and drug use while observing for changes in reported abuse and addiction patterns. Hopefully by combining these efforts we can get a better idea of what drugs are causing increased harm and which are falling by the wayside or producing improved outcomes in terms of resisting the development of abuse problems.
|Posted in: Education, Opinions
Tags: 12th graders, abuse, addiction, ADHD, Alcohol, alcohol drug, alcohol drug use, binge drinking, drug, drug use, heroin injection rates, high school seniors, high-school, marijuana, monitoring the future, NIDA, oxycontin, prescription drug use, prescription opiate, smoking, stimulant, teen, teen drug use, trend, use, vicodin
August 4th, 2010
Drug Marketing to teens?
The Guardian – Drug marketing has been trying to target the youthful population in order to get new generations of consumers to buy products for generations to come. Tobacco producers in particular are taking advantage of today’s electronic world by targeting individuals on social networking sites such as Facebook and going to music festivals to try to expose kids to their products.
Effects of exposure to cigarette ads
Addictive Behaviors – Increased exposure to cigarette ads is associated with increases in adolescent smoking. The reason is the adolescent’s self concept and how well they identify with models in cigarette ads. Younger individuals who are greatly influenced by others are more likely to smoke after being exposed to the models who are smoking in cigarette ads. Adults showed the opposite results – individuals who weakly identified with the models in cigarette ads were more likely to smoke and the individuals who were highly influenced by the models were less likely to smoke.
Prescription Drug Use
Addiction Inbox-Americans scored higher on prescription drug use than any other country, though this study looked at a set of drugs other than those that are traditionally considered when thinking about drug abuse. This British study study looked at prescription drug use for diseases such as cancer and Hepatitis C.
ABC News– In the last decade alone prescription drug abuse has gone up 400 percent. This finding held despite the increased number of individuals who are seeking treatment for prescription drug use problems.
Join Together– It is no surprise that college students drink, they do it for fun, to fit in, and in order to enjoy the freedom from parental supervision that is missing in college. Students however do not think of the repercussions that drinking may have on their body later on in life. Everyone has heard that drinking to much can cause liver damage or failure but research has found that binge drinking can also cause osteoporosis later in life.
|Posted in: Links
Tags: about addiction, ads, binge drinking, cigarette, cigarette ads, drug, drug use, individuals, prescription, prescription drug, prescription drug use
May 24th, 2010
Some new, different areas of addiction and some old favorites. Read on to learn more!
Check out this USA Today story about President Obama’s public health fight and goals of reducing drug usage. He said prevention and education are really what we need.
Your Brain and Addiction
Science Daily: A genetic variant of a receptor in the brain’s reward circuitry plays an important role in determining whether the neurotransmitter dopamine is released in the brain following alcohol intake.
Health Day: Children who experience psychological disorders such as depression and substance abuse appear to be headed for a financially depressed adulthood.
Science Daily: This article investigates separate and joint effects of alcohol and tobacco on the nucleus accumbens. A new study has found that alcohol abuse elevated the expression of a distinct set of genes in the NAC and VTA while nicotine blunted this effect in the VTA.
APP: This article talks about a new study on alcohol use of teens. The Partnership for a Drug Free America found in a study released in March an 11 percent increase among students in grades 9-12 who reported drinking alcohol in the past month, up to 39 percent in 2009, or 6.5 million students.
Science Daily: This article suggests that frequent alcohol use is linked to faster HIV disease progression. According to the article, HIV disease tends to progress at a faster rate in infected individuals who consume two or more alcoholic drinks a day.
Associated Press: This is a link to a short text which states that the World Health Organization endorsed a global strategy to reduce alcohol abuse. This text calls alcohol use one of the leading causes of sickness and death.
Physorg.com: In a new study was found that treatment for smoking dependence is as effective among people with severe mental illnesses as it is for the general population.
Cesar Fax: This states that cigarette excise tax increased in fifteen states in 2009. Four states have not increased cigarette taxes in more than a decade.
Reuters: Prescription drug use of US children has risen. Children were the leading growth demographic for the pharmaceutical industry in 2009, with the increase of prescription drug use among youngsters nearly four times higher than in the overall population.
Medical News Today: There are significant changes in substance use treatment admissions patterns that have occurred over the past decade. The co-abuse of alcohol and drugs has declined gradually yet significantly.
|Posted in: Links
Tags: Alcohol, Brain, children, cigarettes smoking, dopamine, education, obama, prescription drug use, reward, smoking, tobacco
March 23rd, 2010
Marijuana can certainly be beneficial.
It’s true that essentially every drug has some abuse liability. However, somewhere in the vicinity of 85% of those who try any given drug will never develop abuse or addiction problems (yes there are probably variations based on specific drugs, but that’s a good estimate). As we all know, marijuana is a drug that receives a lot of attention and drives intense debate when it comes to its benefits and harms. While most of the posts on my site focus on the other 15%, there is, and continues to be, evidence for the benefits of marijuana and other drugs that directly activate cannabinoid receptors.
Some of the shown benefits of marijuana
THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, is known to cause sedation, euphoria, decrease in pain sensitivity, as well as memory and attention impairments. But there are some aspects of the cannabinoid receptors that have been shown to be effective in AIDS, glaucoma and cancer treatments.
Stimulation of cannabinoid receptors causes an increase in appetite and therefore helps with the wasting syndrome often seen as a side effect in AIDS treatments or those with eating disorders. Since THC activation decreases intra-ocular pressure, another area in which marijuana has been proven to be effective is in the treatment of glaucoma. THC’s anti-emetic (or anti-vomiting) properties also make it a very useful tool for combating the side effects of cancer treatments.
Still, the activation of cannabinoid receptors is not synonymous with smoking weed. In fact, there are a number of other possible ways to consume THC and other cannabinoid-receptor activators. Also, THC is a potent immune suppressing agent, so in someone who already has a compromised immune system, such as AIDS patients, marijuana and other THC compounds could increase the risk of infection.
Future promise for the use of THC in medicine
There is some evidence that of the 2 major THC receptors (CB1 and CB2), one is associated with the immuno-suppression that occurs after chronic usage and the other is associated with the the more beneficial aspects we’d discussed. In the future, we may be able to produce a compound that activate only the behavioral effects and could therefore be used more safely for AIDS patients. Marijuana lovers will say that we should leave things as they are, but I’m all for less immuno-suppression with my cancer therapy.
Again, just because activation of THC receptors can provide the above benefits does not necessarily mean one should smoke marijuana. As usual, the benefits and risks have to be considered and one has to reach an educated, informed, conclusion. Still, there’s little doubt that in some situations, the use of marijuana, or other THC activators is not only prudent, but indeed recommended.
Co-authored by: Jamie Felzer
|Posted in: Drugs, Education, Marijuana, Medications, Prescription, Treatment
Tags: AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, HIV, marijuana, prescription drug use, prescription drugs, prescription medication, smoking weed, THC, weed
August 8th, 2009
A recent addiction research article combined findings from 31 different studies to assess the impact of large terrorism events on rates of alcohol, cigarettes, and drug use. The researchers noted that most of the studies occurred after the World Trade bombing of September 11th, 2001.
- After controlling for the level of exposure, type of event, and length since exposure, the evidence suggests that somewhere between 7%-14% of the population affected by the terrorism will show an increase in their rates of alcohol use.
- For cigarettes smoking, the average is somewhere between 7%-10%.
- Drug use, including narcotics and prescription medication, increased an average of 16% to as high as 50% or more. There’s no doubt that a large portion of that increase is due to increased prescription drug use, most likely anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants, etc.
Overall, the findings certainly show that a large-scale terrorism event affects the daily life of citizens, especially in terms of their coping using drugs and alcohol. Hindsight is 20/20, but hopefully next time, we’ll be ready to help people deal with such catastrophes while helping them steer away from possible dependence on drugs down the line.
DiMaggio, Charles; Galea, Sandro; Li, Guohua (2009) Substance use and misuse in the aftermath of terrorism. A Bayesian meta-analysis. Addiction, Volume 104, 894-904.
|Posted in: Alcohol, Drugs, Education, Prescription
Tags: 9-11, 911, alcoholism, cigarettes, cigarettes smoking, drug abuse, drug use, medication, prescription drug use, september 11, terrorism, twin towers, world trade center