New Collaboration Offers Promising Future for Addiction Research

casalogAddressing the addiction problem in the United States requires more than the work of official agencies and treatment centers. Understanding all of the aspects of addiction and how to combat it can take much more research and collaboration. In an effort to tackle more of these subjects, the Yale School of Medicine has partnered up with The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia). The combined forces of these renowned institutions will likely produce further breakthroughs in the field of addiction and relapse prevention.

“Combining the resources and talent of Yale, a leading source of research findings in almost every aspect of addiction, with CASAColumbia, an institution on the cutting-edge of translating scientific findings and disseminating information, is a momentous achievement in the fight against the disease of addiction,” explained the Chairman of CASAColumbia, Jeffrey B. Lane.

In order to get the most mileage out of this new partnership, directors have promised to focus on a variety of addiction-related issues. Psychiatry, public health, neuroscience, clinical trials, healthcare policy and biostatistics are all areas that will be explored by researchers at the new facility. Researchers will also investigate other addictions, such as gambling and food. Examining why and how a person can become so compulsively driven to do the same thing over and over again, despite health and relationship consequences, is important when looking for solutions to the problems by providing greater understanding.

CASAColumbia was founded in 1992 by Joseph A. Califano, Jr., former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare as well as Presidential Advisor. The organization originally focused on alcohol, tobacco, and drug use, abuse, and addiction, and assembled under one roof the skills needed to assess the impact of all addictive substances in all sectors of society.

Survey Says that Curiosity is the Leading Reason College Students Try Fake Pot

jdesarpThe main reason college students are trying synthetic marijuana is curiosity, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Cincinnati.

More than 330 students in undergraduate and graduate health programs at a public university were surveyed on their use of the drug. The University of Cincinnati researchers found that 17 percent of students surveyed said they used synthetic marijuana at least once in their lifetime, and 3 percent reported recently using the drug.

The students’ leading reasons for trying synthetic marijuana included: curiosity, having the highest response rate of nearly 20 percent; to get high, for the “fun of feeling high”; to fit in; and peer pressure.

Females were more likely to first try synthetic marijuana at a younger age than males. Freshmen and sophomores who had tried the substance did so at about age 16 and a half, while upperclassmen and grad students started using the substance at just under age 19.

The survey’s results suggest preventative measures should target younger children. The researchers suggested that preventative programs should begin as early as high school. “Perhaps, targeting middle and high school students with education programs on the negative effects of THC is needed to prevent initiation and regular use,” they wrote.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical compound in the cannabis or marijuana plant that causes the “high” effect. Synthetic marijuana is produced with chemicals to mimic the effects of THC. Synthetic pot is also known as K2, fake weed, herbal incense, plant food, Spice and synthetic THC. College students get synthetic marijuana primarily from head shops, friends, tobacco shops, hemp shops, online, gas stations and convenience stores.

Negative effects from using synthetic marijuana products include racing heartbeat, nervousness, paranoia, nausea and headaches, according to the study in the Journal of Drug Education.

Study Looks Into Gender and Environmental Links to Drug Abuse

geneticsandaddictionA group of researchers at Indiana University are studying the effect that gender and environment have on drug abuse. The study examined men and women to see the effects that gender, social environment and genetics had on drug addiction. The results of the study indicated that there is a definite link between the three areas of study and drug abuse.

While scientists have known for a long time that gender plays an important role in the type of experiences a person has, it was interesting for researchers to add in the element of genetics. Men and women go about their day differently, get treated by their families differently, have different responsibilities and have different ailments that they are predisposed to. Taking all of this into account, researchers looked at the different sex’s susceptibility to drug use. For instance, men who have strong ties to their families and who are protected by their families are less likely to abuse drugs. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to abuse drugs if they are sheltered by their families. The data gathered indicates that women have too many pressures on them when they are isolated like that and can resort to drugs and alcohol as coping mechanism.

“It is likely that gene-environment interactions may operate differently for men and women, perhaps because they experience some aspects of the social world in divergent ways. In families and communities, for example, women often bear more responsibility for developing and maintaining relationships, and do more of the care work that is required in those contexts. We cannot assume that a social environment that is favorable for men, and thus reduces the harmful impact of a risky genotype, is also beneficial for women, or vice versa,” explained Brea Perry, medical sociologist and lead researcher of the study.

The conclusion of the study was important because it shows people that men and women respond to environmental factors differently. While genes and gender play a large role in determining a person’s susceptibility to drug use, environment factors play an equally large role as well.