30 Jun 2011
Location of Drug Rehab May Help Recovery
Once someone addicted to drugs has made the decision to enter drug rehab, she then must decide where to go. Drug rehabs have proliferated across the United States and overseas, making it very likely that there is a drug rehab right in the person’s own back yard. However, should a person attend a drug rehab too close to home? There are pros and cons for each option that need to be carefully considered before a decision is made.
A new government study shows that more people are getting treatment for prescription drug abuse than they were ten years ago, and alcohol treatment is increasing after declining for several years.
In a collaborative report released earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of North Carolina, and Duke University Medical Center, it was revealed that accidental overdoses from prescription opiate-based pain medications such as OxyContin killed more people in 2007 than heroin and cocaine combined.
A new study from Great Britain found that heavy cocaine users have abnormal brain scans, and that the abnormalities may be what causes the addiction, and not vice versa.
23 Jun 2011
The Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana
Synthetic marijuana has been available since 2006 but has recently gained in popularity. Sold under the names of K2, Spice, Black Mamba, Blaze, and Red X Dawn, it was touted as the legal marijuana and was, therefore, a very attractive alternative to the real thing. But, as the prescription drug epidemic has shown, legal doesn’t mean safe.
In March of 2011, the DEA issued a statement that prohibited the production, possession, and sale of any of the five different chemicals that are used to produce fake marijuana. This makes its byproducts such as K2 and Spice illegal as well.
Harmful Side Effects of Fake Marijuana
Synthetic marijuana was sold at tobacco shops and gas stations, and was marketed as tea, incense, or herbs. The herbs were sprayed with chemicals that mimic the psychoactive properties of THC. Unlike marijuana, though, fake pot cannot be combined with alcohol without making the person extremely ill. Dawn Dearden, spokeswoman for the DEA also points out that since these synthetic marijuana substitutes are not produced in a controlled environment, their purity and dosage are not regulated or consistent.
Since these compounds have only been around since 2006, their long-term side effects have not been well-studied or documented. However, acute side effects of fake marijuana include trouble breathing, heart palpitations, panic attacks, hallucinations, vomiting, and seizures. There have also been two reported cases of suicide that have resulted from hallucinations.
Synthetic Marijuana’s Chemicals Stay in the Body Longer than THC
While chemicals in synthetic marijuana mimic the effects of THC, they are very different. THC doesn’t stay in a person’s system for very long, whereas, the chemicals used to make K2 and Spice are stronger and bind more permanently to receptors in the body. They remain longer in the brain and other organs. They are also not as quick to bind to receptors in the body as THC, which means that there is an increased risk of overdose as individuals ingest more because they can’t immediately feel its effects.
K2 and Spice do not show up in traditional urine analysis either, which makes them even more attractive. According to the Los Angeles Times, ten individuals in one month were admitted to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego for treatment of psychosis resulting from the use of Spice. Many of the individuals experienced paranoia, delusions, and suicidal thoughts that did not go away for up to a week. Others, however, were not so lucky, with symptoms persisting three months after the exposure.
Synthetic Marijuana Hard to Detect in Tests
The drugs also are a cause of concern for residential drug rehab patients. With only one very expensive test available to test its presence, many drug rehabs cannot afford to test everyone; those in recovery could easily sneak it on the side and appear “clean.” Because of its accessibility, teens are also another target for the drug. Rehabilitation centers have already documented incidences of teens addicted to the strong chemicals lacing K2 and Spice.
Those who have developed a dependence on fake marijuana can benefit from treatment at a marijuana rehab center.
People in residential treatment for both depression and substance abuse could benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, according to a new study from the RAND Corp.
22 Jun 2011
Diagnosing Alcohol Dependence
Diagnosing a mental disorder is often a complicated process, with a long list of criteria often presenting very differently in each individual. Much of the information gathered to determine whether a diagnosis is appropriate is gathered using reports from the individual being diagnosed, and some of the information may not be reliable.
When compared with other psychiatric disorders, the reliability of the diagnostic tools set forth by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition is relatively stable. When interviewing individuals from the general public, however, their estimates of past experience or lifetime history of psychiatric or substance abuse disorders are often unreliable.
A new study examined the reliability of the DSM-IV lifetime history of alcohol dependence in a population-based sample. The researchers found that when a diagnosis is based on a single interview, the results are reliable. The study, which will be published in the September 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, was conducted by Eivind Ystrom and colleagues at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Ystrom explained that the researchers wanted to explore the accuracy of diagnostic interviewing because people tend to be very inaccurate when interviewed about a history of psychiatric symptoms. This is usually because people don’t recall when prompted about certain events. As a result, the researchers hoped that by interviewing individuals several times about the same disorder that it might be possible to quantify how often people are accurate.
The researchers recruited a sample of 4,203 male twins in Virginia who had been assessed for lifetime alcohol dependence two different times, with the assessments occurring one year apart. The researchers used logistic regression analysis to identify clinical features that might be reliable for diagnosing alcohol dependence. The team also examined whether genetic and environmental influences were a factor.
The researchers found that certain variables were useful in predicting the reliability of the diagnosis. Not all of the symptoms that are predictive of alcohol dependence were useful in achieving a reliable diagnosis for the patient.
One of the key discoveries that the researchers identified was that men who are diagnosed with lifetime history of alcohol dependence accurately using a clinical interview had at some point in their lives sought treatment for alcohol dependence. In addition, they had experienced a relatively long period of alcohol dependence, and they spent extensive time in obtaining alcohol or recovering from alcohol use.
The results of the study show that the diagnosis of alcohol dependence may be measured accurately by determining the individual’s history on a few key measures.
Researchers have officially confirmed that when people use marijuana, certain malfunctions occur within the cannabinoid brain receptors – resulting in a clearer picture of how to treat people with marijuana addictions. They also collected evidence that the damage to brain receptors may be reversible if the marijuana use is ended.
The research, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health together with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, shows how a person’s ability to experience pleasure, to focus on a task, to understand the passage of time and to remember or have coordinated movements is affected by marijuana. The active chemical found in marijuana, THC, adheres to cannabinoid receptors at the brain level and impairs these functions, in addition to cannabinoid receptors found elsewhere in the systems related to digestion, breathing and cardiovascular health.
During the study, researchers looked at biological processes of 30 marijuana users for a month, using PET scanning and injections that allowed a view of how the marijuana was affecting their bodies.
When the half of the participants stopped using marijuana, they were examined again, according to a recent study report. Results showed that the receptor activity in the brain had jumped significantly without the marijuana usage, in comparison with receptor activity when the research started. Researchers summarized that marijuana causes reduced activity of certain receptors responsible for body processes and functions, but that with a cessation of marijuana use, this activity can return.
Further implications from the study include the importance of using PET imaging for studying several types of human illness.