About Addiction: Marijuana use, cigarette smoking, and crystal meth

Hey ! After a brief period of inactivity we are back and better as always ready to provide you with your 30 minute tidbit of information about addiction. If you want to learn more about marijuana use, (cigarette) smoking, and addiction stigma then read on!

Marijuana use: Harmless?

Fox News– While many think that Marijuana a harmless drug (read our marijuana driving input), a guy high on weed drove his car into a group of cyclists in Italy. Eight cyclists were killed and an additional four people were injured. This accident can serve as a lesson that marijuana is not as “harmless” as a lot of people make it out to be. Educating the public about the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana may help in preventing future incidents.

The Dome-Nobody is a stranger to the fact that voters in a number of states have been trying to legalize marijuana. But Illinois legislators just went the other way and struck down a bill which would allow medical marijuana to be legal. The legislators stuck this down with the fear that if this practice were legalized then there would be widespread use of marijuana. Right now fifteen states (and Washington DC) allow the use of medical marijuana but apparently Illinois decided they are not going to be the sixteenth.

Psychology Today– Can recreational pot smokers become addicted to marijuana? A large number of individuals only smoke marijuana recreationally and do not ever become addicted (see here), but about 10% to 30% of regular users will develop marijuana dependence (my vote is actually probably more for the 10%-20% range). About 9% will have a serious addition. Marijuana use in the U.S. has gone through quite an evolution from its early introduction in the 1970’s as an anti war statement to today when it is mostly used by teenagers and those who have been smoking for a long time. Most individuals quit when they are parents or homeowners (which is true of most drugs by the way), and this contributes to the thinking by some that marijuana is not very addictive.

Quitting smokingthrough personal stories

Bloomsburg Buisnessweek– Anti-smoking advertisements have been relying on fear appeals to persuade individuals to avoid or quit smoking smoking. But the commercials that show patients with a hole in their throat or the magazine ads showing a black and diseased lung have not really been very effective. However new research shows that advertisements that target emotions more broadly seem to work best when trying to prevent smoking. Personal testimonies seem to be the most effective because  they allow the individuals who are viewing them to emotionally identify with the person in the ad helping them find reasons why they themselves should quit smoking.

Guardian- Passive tobacco smoking kills more than 600,000 people in the world every year including about 165,000 children.  The most problematic regions in terms of these smoking deaths are third world countries due to the combination of the dangerous effects of second hand smoke and infectious diseases. Second hand smoke is most problematic in the home and although women smoke less they are more likely to be exposed to second hand smoke in the house.

Addiction Inbox– The electronic cigarette is finally here although in the past the FDA wanted to prevent these cigarettes from being marketed in the US. The decision to allow the marketing of these cigarettes was established as long as they are not targeted to minors. In addition marketing individuals cannot make any claims that the products are safe alternatives to tobacco. These products are a battery powered device that allow its users to “smoke” and inhale nicotine vapor without any fire, smoke, ash or carbon monoxide.

Alcoholism stigma and seeking treatment for drug addiction

Med– Individuals who are diagnosed with alcoholism are 60% less likely to seek treatment because they fear the stigma that is attached to alcoholism. To be an alcoholic means belonging to a stigmatized group, and no one likes that. The goal then should be to educate individuals in order to try to alleviate the stigma that is associated with alcoholism in order to allow more people to seek treatment from it. Reducing the stigma of addiction is a goal we at A3 take very seriously.

Recovery Now-If there is one thing that teenagers hate it is snooping parents by far. What is the parent is snooping for a good reason however? Is snooping around with concern that your child is using drugs or alcohol okay? Although a controversial topic this article looks at the implication of snooping and when it is okay to snoop in teenagers stuff. It is a great read, enjoy!

Crystal meth and Suicide-Veterans and Substance abuse

Honolulu advertiser– Hawaii has the worst crystal meth problem in the country and a school in Hawaii held a national crystal meth awareness day assembly. Forty percent of people arrested by police in Honolulu test positive for meth, and about 30,000 Honolulu residents are hard-core users of meth (with as many as three times more being recreational users). Government officials in Hawaii want to increase spending to make more drug treatment programs available to prison inmates. In addition the general public needs to be educated about the dangers of crystal meth.

Breaking the cycles-“Veterans at Higher Risk for Suicide,” is a radio broadcast which talks about the impacts of war on the mental health of all veterans in California. The issues that the radio broadcasts focuses on are anxiety, depression, and PTSD. The radio broadcast reported that veterans are at higher risk of committing suicide than other individuals who are not in the military. This article continues to address the topics of mental illness and how mental illness is a key risk factor to developing a substance abuse problem.

About Addiction: DUI, Psychedelics, Smoke, and the Brain!

You know it and love it – here is our weekly post about addiction research, news, and more interesting tidbits from the wonderful world of the internet. I guarantee you’ll know more about addiction, drugs, and the brain, after reading it!

DUI because you think you’re sober? Check your BAC

Science Daily– A study found that people recover their subjective feeling of sobriety before they recover functions important for driving, showing that the perception of intoxication is a bad indicator of ability to drive. A BAC of 0.02 doubles the relative risk of a motor vehicle crash among 16- to 20-year old males and this increases to nearly 52 times when the BAC is between 0.08 percent and 0.10 percent. It seems that portable BAC monitors might be a good idea to reduce DUI accidents.

Psychedelics and High-Tech Pills

Common Dreams– Scientists are giving psychedelics another look as a possible tool in psychotherapy. Many psychedelics like LSD and MDMA have been used in psychological-treatment settings before and the Swiss apparently think we should be giving them another turn. The researchers there focus on the effects of psychedelics on the brain systems involved in depression mainly. Who knows, maybe you’ll be given a little LSD or MDMA pill before beginning a weekly therapy session in the future. Probably not in the U.S. though…

Magic “smart” pill– How wonderful would it be if there was technology that alerted you as to when you are supposed to take a pill? A “smart pill” which would text individuals when they need to take it is being tested in the UK, so it may be a reality in the future! Just think about it, all those people who have to take some sort of ADHD pill won’t forget now that their pill sends signals to their phone – “Don’t forget to take meeeee!!!”

Cigarette Smoke

Science Daily– According to physician-scientists at New York-Presbyterian Hospital exposure to even low-levels of cigarette smoke, including second hand smoke, may put people at risk for future lung disease such as lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). While research showing that second hand smoke is dangerous isn’t new, this new group showed alterations in the genetic functioning of cells in the airway of those exposed. The researchers do point out that the alterations are less pronounced than in heavy smokers but say that even such low levels of smoke exposure can increase disease risk.

Brain Chemistry and regulation of cocaine intake

NIDA–  A regulatory protein, called MeCP2, that is found in the brain and best known for its role in a rare genetic brain disorder may play a critical role in cocaine addiction by regulating cocaine intake and perhaps in determining vulnerability to addiction. The researchers here found a complement to earlier NIDA research showing that as brain miRNA-212 levels increase, cocaine intake decrease. Apparently, it’s the balance between miRNA-212 and MeCP2 that is important.