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Gabapentin Abuse: Study Says DEA Should Schedule Drug As Controlled Substance

According to researchers who studied gabapentin abuse (non-medical or recreational use) the Drug Enforcement Administration should consider scheduling the medication as a controlled substance.

Gabapentin is a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that treats epilepsy and neuropathy – nerve-related pain such as shingles. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend using gabapentin as a safer alternative to prescription opioids.

Indeed, in recent years sales of gabapentin have spiked dramatically. In 2016, around 64 million prescriptions for the drug were written, reflecting a 49 percent increase from 2011.

But drug users, however, have discovered that gabapentin can enhance the effects of opioids such heroin, cocaine, and other substances.

Study author Rachel Vickers Smith, Ph.D., stated the following in a news release:

“People are looking for other drugs to substitute for opioids, and gabapentin has filled that place for some. Some have said it gives them a high similar to opioids. It had been easy to get a prescription for gabapentin, and it’s very cheap.”

Vickers Smith and her research team recruited 33 people from Kentucky who reported using gabapentin for recreational purposes and asked them about their drug use. Many stated they began using gabapentin more than a decade ago for a legitimate medical need, such as pain.

Over time, however, they starting taking the drug to help them sleep and get high.

From the study:

“Focus group responses highlighted the low cost of gabapentin for the purpose of getting high and noted increasing popularity in the community, particularly over the last two years.”

Last year, Kentucky became the first U.S. state to schedule gabapentin as a controlled substance, a move that makes it more difficult to be prescribed. Gabapentin was first approved in 1993 by Pfizer under the brand name Neurontin, and the company was later sued for promoting off-label uses of the drug.

Vickers Smith:

“Early on, it was assumed to have no abuse potential. There’s a need to examine it in further detail, especially if prescribing it is going to be encouraged.”

It wasn’t until recently, in light of the opioid epidemic, that government health officials began to examine the abuse of gabapentinoids, a class of medication that also includes pregabalin (Lyrica).

Recently, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., announced in a press conference that the agency is investigating gabapentin misuse as they are “concerned that abuse and misuse of these drugs may result in serious adverse events such as respiratory depression and death.”

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

References

More awareness, research needed on abuse risk of non-opioid painkiller

http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2017-55765-001

The post Gabapentin Abuse: Study Says DEA Should Schedule Drug As Controlled Substance appeared first on Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Recovery Information | Resources.

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Report Says Opioid Crisis Has Cost $1 Trillion

According to a new report by Altarum, the opioid crisis has now cost the U.S. $1 trillion and concludes that the cost will continue to rise unabated if conditions aren’t changed.

Altarum is a non-profit research and consulting firm that focuses on health-related issues. The findings reveal that the opioid epidemic cost $29.1 billion in 2011, and that cost rose to $115 billion by 2017. Using this data, the report estimates that the added cost accrued by the year 2020 could be more than $500 billion.

The report highlights multiple sources that have lost revenue as a result of the crisis. For example, the private has lost money due to reduced productivity, and the increasing costs of healthcare and adequate addiction treatment.

Also, local, state, and federal governments have lost tax revenue, and have incurred extra costs for social services, criminal justice, education, and healthcare. Individual victims are those who have experienced a loss of income and increased healthcare costs.

The report found that the most considerable cost of the epidemic was the loss of income and productivity from persons who died of an overdose. Considering the average age a person who died from an opioid overdose is 41, around $800,000 is lost when these workers die prematurely. This cost, for the most part, is reflected in lost wages and productivity for the employer, but there is also a cost to the government in lost taxes.

Additionally, the report noted that costs related to the opioid epidemic are being seen in the healthcare sector – estimated costs linked to the crisis totaled around $215.7 billion between 2001-2007. Many of these costs were incurred by Medicaid since it’s expansion, and include the price of naloxone, an overdose reversal drug, as well as ambulance services.

Finally, the report recommends three policy approaches to curb the epidemic: one is prevention, through prescriber and insurer education, as well as other means. Two, is treatment, via “payment and delivery system reform to engage clinicians and community support services to better manage the needs of substance users.”

The last is recovery – moreover, “in-depth understanding of the length of time to get substance users to recover from the dependency and to facilitate access to the essential local support services that are key to more successful recovery rates.”

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

References

https://altarum.org/about/news-and-events/economic-toll-of-opioid-crisis-in-u-s-exceeded-1-trillion-since-2001

The post Report Says Opioid Crisis Has Cost $1 Trillion appeared first on Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Recovery Information | Resources.

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Scent Of A Newborn May Treat Depression In Women As Well As Medication, Says Study

Shortly after my son was born, I realized that he smelled better than anything I had ever experienced before. And there’s a reason for that. Research has shown that a baby’s head has a specific scent that has a positive effect on the brain’s reward system and makes people feel happy and relaxed. Depression in women

Moreover, researchers have found that there are properties of the scent of a baby’s head that induce calm, and according to scientists in Stockholm, Sweden, this distinctive smell could one day be used as a common treatment for depression.

For the study, the research team had 30 adult female participants smell hats that had been donned by newborns. As the women smelled the hats, scientists analyzed their brain activity with a magnetic camera. For control purposes, images were also obtained as women inhaled other scents.

Findings revealed that the scent of the babies’ hats appeared to impact the women’s brains similarly to drugs commonly used to treat mental health conditions.

The team has now received funding to experiment on men, but they believe that results will indicate that men are as equally affected by the smell.

The exact reason why a baby’s smell is so appealing is unclear, and scientists are still trying to identify which of the 150 chemicals in the body odor of newborns are causing the positive effect.

The researchers hope that someday a nasal spray that administers the new baby smell could be developed and used as a safe treatment for mental illness such as depression. Although likely years off, a treatment such as this, if found effective, would be revolutionary, and likely devoid of side effects.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

References

https://www.forskning.se/2018/02/07/bebisdoft-som-medicin-mot-depre

The post Scent Of A Newborn May Treat Depression In Women As Well As Medication, Says Study appeared first on Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Recovery Information | Resources.

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Wayne, Oakland Counties Suing Opioid Drug Companies, Distributors For Driving Epidemic

Following in the footsteps of dozens of states, counties, and cities, today it was announced that Wayne and Oakland Counties are suing one dozen drug companies and distributors for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic, alleging deceptive marketing and sale of opioids.

Opioids, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, are painkillers available by prescription that are highly addictive and may be deadly if misused or combined with other drugs or alcohol.

In the lawsuit, the counties, which have collaborated in the joint effort, have named the following defendants:

AmerisourceBergen Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., Endo International, Insys Therapeutics, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Mallinckrodt PLC and Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, McKesson Corp., Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced the suit at a news conference at the Guardian Building in Detroit.

Evans:

“This is a full-blown health crisis from which the drug companies made billions. People are dying, and lives are being ruined by addiction as this horrible tragedy unfolds.”

He noted that profits made the drug companies “completely disregard” human life and that a price must be paid as a result of this disregard.

Citing escalating costs for law enforcement and medical services, Evans also said:

“It is in my mind a very very dark chapter [regarding] what it does to lives. But it’s equally a dark chapter [regarding] what it does to our collective budgets.”

“All of those things are things that impact a community of taxpayers who would much rather see those dollars obviously go to other areas that are needed and not be a part of a drug problem.”

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and alleges that one of the main contributors to the opioid epidemic was deceptive marketing on the part of drug makers and the sale of opioids as a treatment for chronic pain.

As a result, these companies reaped unbelievable profits from their misrepresentation of the drug’s safety and potential for addiction.

The Miller Law Firm in Rochester and Robbins, Geller, Rudman & Dowd from San Francisco will represent the counties in the suit.

At the news conference, lead counsel E. Powell Millers said there are over 100 such lawsuits brewing around the U.S., but currently, this is among the first targeting both the manufacturers and distributors.

The lawsuit demands a jury trial and cites the following complaints: violation of Michigan Consumer Protection Act and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, public nuisance, negligence, and unjust enrichment.

About The Epidemic

In recent years, deaths involving both prescription painkillers and illicit opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil have spiked. In 2016, Wayne County experienced 817 fatalities related to opioids, a 61% increase from 506 in 2015. In Oakland County, opioid deaths increased 267% from just nine fatalities in 2009 to 33 in 2015.

In 2015, Michigan experienced its third straight year of risking overdose deaths – nearly 2,000 people – a 13.5% increase from 2014.

Across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 64,000 people died from an overdose last year, the majority of which involved a prescription or illegal opioid.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

References

http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2017/10/wayne_oakland_county_suing_dru.html

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/wayne-county/2017/10/12/oakland-wayne-sue-drug-makers-over-opioid-crisis/758039001/

The post Wayne, Oakland Counties Suing Opioid Drug Companies, Distributors For Driving Epidemic appeared first on Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Recovery Information | Resources.

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Illicit Drugs Fentanyl, Heroin Deaths Eclipse Those From Prescription Opioids Nearly 2 to 1

A new study finds that the number of patients who visit hospitals in the U.S. for opioid abuse has declined substantially in the past decade. However, abuse of heroin and the illicit drugs fentanyl and carfentanil has surged, a finding that confirms there are shifting trends at the heart of the country’s overdose epidemic.

Standford University researchers examined national trends in emergency department and inpatient discharges for opioid misuse, dependence, and poisoning from 1997-2014. They discovered that admissions to hospitals for prescription opioid overdoses began declining in 2010, in conjunction with declining prescriptions for painkillers.

During this time, however, discharge rates for heroin poisoning began increasing at a yearly rate of more than 31%. By 2014, overdoses from heroin and fentanyl eclipsed those from prescription painkillers in ERs by nearly 2 to 1.

Researchers stated:

“After 2008, ED discharge rates for heroin poisoning increased more sharply than the rates for any opioid poisoning…while discharges for prescription opioid poisoning recently began to decline in both the ED and inpatient settings.’

The authors went on to say that these changes “could be the result of national and local policies aimed at reducing the prescribing of opioids,” but also that the increasing availability of heroin, fentanyl, and other illicit drugs could indicate that users are switching to these substances from prescription painkillers.

These findings offer additional evidence that people who have become addicted to painkillers are switching to heroin because they are less expensive and easily obtained. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 4 in 5 new heroin users begin their habit after first becoming dependent on prescription opioids.

The CDC also estimates that in 2016, more than 64,000 people died from a drug or alcohol-related overdose – most of these involved a prescription painkiller, illicit fentanyl, or heroin.

The study was recently published in the journal Health Affairs.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

References

http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/36/10/1748.abstract?sid=d792e27b-74fd-49a4-97af-0e89b6f8e8fe

The post Illicit Drugs Fentanyl, Heroin Deaths Eclipse Those From Prescription Opioids Nearly 2 to 1 appeared first on Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Recovery Information | Resources.

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Doctors Face Dilemma When Prescribing Opioids These Days

The opioid epidemic in the U.S. continues to get worse every year. New estimates recently released by the Centers for Disease and Prevention predict more than 64,000 overdose deaths from all substances up from just over 52,000 in 2015. Most of these overdose deaths involve some type of prescription or illicit opioid.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine responded by releasing an official report on the epidemic this past year, and just this month, the National Academy of Medicine released a publication urging healthcare provider to help battle the scourge.

But what are clinicians to do? Should opioids ever be prescribed? And if so, when and how much? One of the main challenges in dealing with the opioid crisis is determining a way to respond with causing harm to patients in legitimate pain.

Moreover, if opioids serve to offer pain relief, then forcing patients to simply stop using them is not the answer. One of the reasons why the opioid epidemic began in the first place is this: pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma (the makers of OxyContin) stepped in with a product intended to intervene in the under-treatment of pain that patients had been complaining of for so long.

However, opioid therapy does not come without a price, even for those who suffer from pain. For example, there is little evidence that opioid use for non-cancer pain is effective, and indeed, long-term use can cause a condition known as hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain.)

Also, prescribing opioids longer than a few days increases the risk of addiction, not to mention other unwanted side effects. And of course, addiction increases the risk of an overdose. Given these facts, many members of the medical community believe that opioids are not a good choice in many cases, and weaning long-term opioid patients off their medication may be a better option.

But prescribing opioids can be prudent under the right circumstances. When all else fails, and it’s the only alternative for someone suffering from debilitating, long-lasting pain, refusing them the drugs may not be a very good idea.

And for those receiving long-term therapy, they may honestly believe that the opioids are what is keeping them going, and are fearful of experiencing withdrawals if they are forced to stop using.

So this is why careful weaning of patients is so important. Forcing abrupt cessation is not only agonizing for the patient, but many are also inclined to turn to heroin instead to feed their habit.

According to the CDC, an estimated 4 in 5 new heroin users report initiating their habit after first becoming addicted to prescription painkillers. The most common reasons given include the unavailability or the expense of the formerly prescribed prescription drugs.

There’s also a serious gap in the system getting patients who needed treatment into recovery services. Are many doctors routinely sending long-term opioid patients to addiction counselors and therapists? The answer isn’t clear.

And for the treatment of acute pain from say, injuries or surgeries, opioids can be very beneficial. I myself received a round of hydrocodone for two conditions, one for an injury and one for skin cancer. I was prescribed only a few days worth and started weaning myself toward the end.

In fact, I found that near the end of the course, the medication didn’t seem to be doing as much for me as it did initially – moreover, they worked the best when I needed them the most.

Physicians And Responsible Prescribing

Battling the crisis is going to require continual attentiveness and awareness from healthcare providers. And it’s not always going to be cut-and-dry. It can’t be easy for physicians to decide on a case-by-case basis who can handle painkillers and who can’t.

In theory, healthcare providers should only be prescribing when appropriate, and non-opioid pain approaches should be employed as a first-line defense – acetaminophen, ibuprofen, physical therapy, yoga, and even TENS devices, for example.

Also, providers must be willing to manage long-term prescriptions and should be cautious of prescribing opioids for chronic, non-cancer conditions. When appropriate, physicians should only write scripts for the least amount necessary.

Also, patients need to educate themselves, and physicians need to inform patients of the risks and benefits of opioid therapy and discuss a care plan, including a strategy for tapering off the medication. And patients need to be reasonable in their expectations. Unfortunately, there is only so much science can do for pain.

Sometimes, you see, pain is a necessary part of life. Several years ago I injured a disk in my spine in a sledding accident, and I have suffered intense pain that waxes and wanes ever since. I understand that engaging in opioid dependence is not going to solve the problem. I use ibuprofen, stretching techniques, and chiropractic services instead.

Moreover, we cannot expect to always receive pain treatment for moderate pain from short-term conditions, dental procedures, and whatnot. If we want to help curb the epidemic, we need to expect that we are not an exception to the rule when pain happens to us.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

Related

Why Relationships And Alcoholism Don’t Mix

Carfentanil: Deadly Drug To Sedate Elephants Now Found On Streets

The post Doctors Face Dilemma When Prescribing Opioids These Days appeared first on Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Recovery Information | Resources.

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Teenage Binge Drinking May Result In Detrimental Impact To Brain Structure And Function

According to a new review, recently published in Frontiers in Psychology, heavy drinking can have a severe impact on the brain of adolescents. Moreover, it is strongly associated with a thinning or reduction in areas responsible for critical tasks that humans need to function, such as attention, awareness, consciousness, language, and memory.

Heavy alcohol consumption among adolescents is common – for example, nearly 1 in 4 high school seniors report becoming intoxicated in the past month. In the new analysis, lead author Anita Cservenka (Oregon State University) examined the impact that heavy drinking has on the brains of young people.

Heavy episodic alcohol consumption, or binge drinking, is defined as at least four standard alcoholic drinks in one session for females, and five for males. This review focused on current research that examines the detrimental effects of this drinking habit with the aim to inform future research.

The findings in the review suggest that teenage binge drinking is linked to “systematically thinner and lower volume in the prefrontal cortex and cerebellar regions and attenuated white matter development.”

These young people also exhibit increased brain activity during working memory, learning, and inhibition control. When compared to controls, heavy drinkers show increased neural response when exposed to alcohol-related stimuli, especially in regions such as the hippocampus and amygdala.

The review also noted that long-term adolescent alcohol abuse has been linked to severe psychosocial problems, such as psychopathology, poorer academic performance, and other “detrimental neurocognitive consequences.”

The authors concluded:

“These findings suggest altered neural structure and activity in binge and heavy-drinking youth may be related to the neurotoxic effects of consuming alcohol in large quantities during a highly plastic neurodevelopmental period, which could result in neural reorganization and increased risk for developing an alcohol use disorder.”

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

References

Anita Cservenka, Ty Brumback. The Burden of Binge and Heavy Drinking on the Brain. Frontiers in Psychology, 2017; 8.

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01111/full

Related: What’s The Difference Between Opiates And Opioids?

The post Teenage Binge Drinking May Result In Detrimental Impact To Brain Structure And Function appeared first on Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Recovery Information | Resources.

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What Is Methamphetamine? What Is Meth Made Of?

Methamphetamine is a very powerful stimulant drug that is extremely addictive. It is also commonly known as meth, ice, or chalk, among other names. Crystal is a form of meth that looks like clear ice crystals. Meth can be consumed by snorting, swallowing, or injecting (skin popping) but smoking is the most common method.

Methamphetamine was developed in a lab in the early 19th century and was meant for use in nasal decongestants and inhalers. The desired effects of meth use include increased energy, decreased appetite, and feelings of well-being (euphoria.) A meth high can last for several hours.

Meth is derived from amphetamine but is more potent and its effects, both positive and negative, tend to last longer. Some users have reported becoming addicted to meth after just one use. Long-term use may result in a myriad of health problems, such as aggressiveness, memory loss, psychosis, organ damage, and stroke.

After multiple uses, the user builds a tolerance to meth, and ever-increasing amounts of the drug are needed to achieve a high. Also, extremely unpleasant side effects (withdrawals) occur when he or she attempts to stop using, leading to the user consuming more meth as a means to avoid those feelings.

Where Is Meth Made?

Meth is most often manufactured in covert labs in homes and building. The necessary ingredients are pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, which are found in cold and antihistamine medications. These are extracted and mixed with other amphetamines and toxic chemicals which include red phosphorus, battery acid, and drain cleaner.

The extremely flammable nature of these substances greatly increases the risk of an explosion. Many “cooks” have been severely burned in fires due to meth manufacture. These disasters also endanger others, and cooking produces toxins that are highly poisonous.

What Is Meth Made Of?
  • Pseudoephedrine and ephedrine found in common cold and antihistamine medications
  • Acetone, a chemical found in paint thinner and nail polish remover
  • Lithium, found in batteries
  • Toluene, a solvent found in paint thinners, nail polish, and brake cleaner
  • Hydrochloric acid, an extremely corrosive acid used to remove rust from steel
  • Red Phosphorus, a chemical found in explosives such as road flares
  • Sodium hydroxide or lye, found in drain cleaners
  • Sulfuric acid, found in toilet and drain cleaner
  • Anhydrous ammonia, found in fertilizer
  • Lantern or lighter fluid, ether in starting fluid
  • Antifreeze and iodine

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

The post What Is Methamphetamine? What Is Meth Made Of? appeared first on Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Recovery Information | Resources.

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Excessive Drinking and Changes in Brain’s Reward Center Found Linked To Specific Protein

A recent study by a team of University of California San Francisco investigators identifies a protein that provides a link between heavy alcohol consumption and a reward center in the brains of mice. When allowed access to alcohol, mice develop a pattern much like what we call problem drinking in humans. However, the exact mechanisms that cause this effect have remained elusive.

The research, which was published online this month in Neuron, reveals new insights about the molecular chain of events that alcohol triggers and causes long-term changes in brain cells that encourage excessive drinking.

While alcohol is legal and accessible, it remains a somewhat of a mystery as an addictive drug to scientists. For example, researchers still are unsure how ethanol, a molecule that lacks a specific site of action, can change brain function and spur excessive consumption and alcohol-seeking behavior despite adverse consequences.

Dorit Ron, Ph.D., study senior author and professor and Endowed Chair in Cell Biology of Addiction, UCSF Department of Neurology, as reported by UCSF’s website:

“There is – rightfully – a lot of media attention right now on opiate abuse and addiction. But alcohol abuse and addiction are much bigger problems, and the human cost is staggering: 3.3 million people die every year in the world from alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, there are only a few medications on the market to reduce craving and relapse, and none of them work very well.”

How Prevalent Is Excessive Drinking?

Indeed, another recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported a 49% increase in alcohol abuse in the United States – a trend that is now costing society an estimated $250 billion each year. In fact, nearly 13% of adults meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder.

The study focused on data culled from around 80,000 persons aged 18 and older who participated in two surveys – one in 2001-2002 and the other in 2012-2013. It discovered problematic drinking had increased most among young women (84%), blacks (93%), people 45-64 years of age (82%) and in persons aged 65 years or older (107%.)

Also, those with alcohol use disorders were likely to carry hefty health care costs associated with a history of heavy drinking. The study defined high-risk drinking as consumption of four or more drinks on one occasion and five for men.

About The Research

Past research on mice by the Ron lab and other have found that a protein, mTORC1, may also play a vital role for many drugs, including alcohol, cocaine, and morphine. The lab has revealed that excessive drinking increases mTORC1 activity in an important part of the brain’s reward circuitry. This heightened activity is also linked to alcohol-seeking.

This research suggests that mTORC1 may initiate structural changes in the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain’s reward system that reinforces a positive relationship to alcohol.

Also, previous research from the Ron lab discovered that by obstructing mTORC1 activity with rapamycin, a common drug used to suppress the immune system, rodents exhibited a significant decrease in alcohol use and alcohol-seeking. This drug did not, however, affect their inclination toward other desirable substances, such as sugar water.

Unfortunately, rapamycin has notable side effects and is, therefore, not suitable to treat those with an alcohol use disorder. So to assist in the search for new drugs to treat alcoholism, the research team sought to improve their understanding of mTORC1’s impact on alcohol abuse.

Because mTORC1’s usual function is to encourage the synthesis of new proteins, in the study, researchers in the Ron lab implemented a technique called RNAseq to find new proteins that could be associated with mTORC1 activity in the mice’s brains after alcohol consumption.

Researchers identified one dozen proteins but focused on one – prosapip1. This protein had been shown in a past study to play a role at synapses – it’s specific function, however, remained unclear. They discovered that this particular protein alters the composition and activity of neurons in the nucleus accumbens after mice consumed alcohol for an extended period.

Thus, when they genetically obstructed the production of prosapip1, such changes promoted by alcohol were substantially reduced. When given a choice between water and alcohol, mice with the blocked protein exhibited a reduced preference for alcohol.

Ron said that these findings “open up research into the protein’s role in neural plasticity, and also into how alcohol and other drugs of abuse alter our brains” and she believes the discoveries “may be a gateway to understanding drug addiction.”

This research finds that mTORC1 and similar molecules are routed firmly into the neural pathways that permit drug misuse. Ron hopes that future research will allow investigators to design new, highly-targeted approach to the treatment of addiction.

The research was supported by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Belgian American Educational Foundation.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels

References

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/study-shows-increase-in-alcohol-abuse-in-us-is-a/article_98eaa03c-80fe-11e7-965e-6b912663cb64.html

http://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(17)30780-8

The post Excessive Drinking and Changes in Brain’s Reward Center Found Linked To Specific Protein appeared first on Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Recovery Information | Resources.

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Some States Enacting Laws To Curb Owner Abuse Of Pet Medication, Such As Opioids

Amidst the opioid epidemic, some states are targeting veterinarians offices – not just regular health care providers – in an attempt to prevent people addicted to opioids from using their pet medication for their own purposes.

For example, recently both Colorado and Maine put forth laws that either permit or require veterinarians to review the prescription histories of pet owners, in addition to their pets. Also, Alaska, Virginia, and Connecticut have enacted limits on the number of opioids a veterinarian can prescribe.

Vets don’t usually prescribe the drugs that humans most commonly misused, such as oxycodone. However, they do prescribe others that could be abused, such Tramadol, ketamine, and hydrocodone.

Still, as some states are moving towards requiring vets to examine the prescription histories of pet owners, many veterinarians believe they are not qualified to do so. And in fact, this action is banned in about two-thirds of U.S. states.

And if a veterinarian does suspect an owner is misusing drugs, what are they to do? Call law enforcement? Or just deny the pet medication?

Almost every state has a prescription monitoring database, but most do not require its use even in the case of human clients.

These programs allow physicians to review a patient’s prescription record. However, at least 32 states do not require vets to report prescribing data to the database.

Before the Internet, most states required vets to mail in reports when they dispensed a narcotic. But when stated moved to electronic programs in the early 2000’s, many vets stated that their offices did not have the technology needed to comply. Thus, many states stopped requiring veterinarians to report prescriptions for pet medication.

How Well Are These Laws Working?

This year, both Maine and New Hampshire put forth laws that required vets to review the state prescription monitoring database before dispensing narcotics, but the New Hampshire legislature repealed the law after vets contended that their responsibilities did not apply to humans.

Maine has one of the strictest laws in the nation and requires vets to review the medical records of any owner requesting a painkiller or benzodiazepine for an animal. They are also obligated to contact law enforcement if the vet finds anything they consider suspicious on the owner’s record. Also, vets are required to get three continuing education hours in opioid prescribing every two years.

But despite the fact that vets in Maine are required to check an owner’s record, they cannot themselves enter information into the database – only pharmacists are permitted to do this.

Thus, an owner can take a pet to several vet offices and receive drugs without the prescription being entered into the record.

Some believe that stricter reporting requirements for vets are unnecessary because veterinarians see animals typically much smaller than humans, and the number of drugs they prescribe is relatively low. However, higher doses are sometimes required since animals have faster metabolisms, so someone desperate for these drugs may find them of great interest.

Vet Shopping – It Happens

For example, in Virginia last year, a pet owner took his dog to several different vets to get benzodiazepines and opioids for his own personal use until he finally got caught.

Reportedly, he told the vets that his boxer, Dolly, had a lot of anxiety, and in the past, this has been solved with diazepam.Five vets were seen every month with Dolly, but apparently, Dolly received none of the medication.

In another case in Kentucky in 2014, a woman sliced her golden retriever with a razor twice to get drugs.

Still, another man from Ohio trained his dog to cough on command so he could receive painkillers. This owner also went to several veterinarians per month, and this went on for some time.

In Virginia, the Fairfax County Police Department released an educational pamphlet to veterinarians explaining how to identify someone vet shopping for drugs. They said to look for new clients bringing in severely injured animals, or requesting narcotics or early refills or contending that the meds had been lost or stolen.

Also, the Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine released emergency regulations in June restricting the duration of controlled drug prescription that vets and others may dispense. A veterinarian can only prescribe a seven-day regimen, plus another seven days only after re-assessing the pet. For chronic conditions, veterinarians may dispense opioids for six months but must see the animals before prescribing additional medication.

Vets Have Also Been Guilty

Like regular physicians, vets can also be involved in drug diversion, either abusing them themselves or dealing them to others.

For example, an Ohio vet would write prescriptions for animals with severe injuries, stating that they were being cared for at the clinic’s kennel. The vet would then pick up the pills from the pharmacy for dogs that didn’t exist.

Another vet obtained large quantities of phentermine from a distributor. Eventually, these actions would be brought to the attention of a drug task force by an over-purchase report. He claimed he had an overweight dog at home that he was treating with diet drugs – but in reality, he had an overweight family member who was receiving the weight-loss medication.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

References

http://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2002/2002-10/2002-10-7007

The post Some States Enacting Laws To Curb Owner Abuse Of Pet Medication, Such As Opioids appeared first on Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Recovery Information | Resources.

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