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Kids in high-achieving schools: 2-3x addiction rates?

"We found rates of addiction to drugs or alcohol among 19 to 24 percent of women in the older cohort by the age of 26, and 23 to 40 percent among men. These rates were 3 and 2 times as high respectively, as compared to national norms," Luthar said. "Among the younger cohort by the age of 22 years, rates of addiction were between 11 and 16 percent among women (close to national norms) but 19 to 27 percent among men, or about twice as high as national norms." Luthar said a look into the lives of these adolescents provide some clues to the cause of these high rates of addictions. When the NESSY groups were first assessed, they all attended the best schools in the region -- suburban schools with very high-standardized test scores, rich extra curricular offerings and high proportions of their graduates heading off to very selective universities. In general, kids at such schools experience enormous pressures to achieve, and many come to live by the dual credos of "I can, therefore I must" and "we work hard and we play hard" with the playing involving parties with drugs and alcohol. Also implicated is affluence in the school community. "Not all of these students were from wealthy families but most were; as parents typically had advanced educational degrees and median incomes much higher than national norms," Luthar said. "And without question, most of the parents wanted their kids to head off to the best universities, as did the kids themselves."

Psychiatric drugs killing more users than heroin, cocaine: experts | Vancouver Sun

“The interesting thing about this is that it’s a prescription drug and people think they’re safe,” Ahamad said. “But as it turns out, we’re probably prescribing these drugs in a way that’s leading to harm.” Kerr noted that the rise in BZD-related deaths — “It’s been an epidemic brewing for many, many years” — very closely mirrors a rise in opioid-related deaths that has been widely documented. He cited a fourfold increase in BZD-related deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2014, and also noted that there are 50 per cent more deaths each year in the U.S. due to psychiatric medicine than heroin. “These studies really reveal how very dangerous these drugs are, and they should be used with great caution,” Kerr said. “We can’t just focus on opioids, we need to look at other medications that are used in combination.”

Even small quantities of opioids prescribed for minor injuries increase risk of long-term use -- ScienceDaily

patients who received their first opioid prescription for an ankle sprain treated in U.S. emergency departments (EDs) commonly received prescriptions for anywhere from 15 to 40 pills, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Those who received 30 or more pills compared to less than 15 pills were twice as likely to fill an additional opioid prescription within three to six months.

Highest odds for stimulants: male, US, upper year medical student

Psychostimulant use was significantly correlated with use of other drugs (Table 1). Lifetime use of psychostimulants was significantly associated with male gender (21 % male (519/1,087) versus 15 % female (568/1,087), Chi squared p = 0.007, 28 no response). Students who mainly grew up outside the U.S. were significantly less likely to report any lifetime psychostimulant use than their U.S.-reared counterparts (outside of U.S. psychostimulant use prevalence = 4 % vs. 20 % U.S. reared; Chi squared p = 0.013). Overall prevalence of psychostimulant use while in medical school was significantly associated with current year in medical school, with first year students being least likely to report use compared to their second, third, fourth and fifth-year colleagues (41 % first year (n = 42/196), 66 % second year (n = 59/196), 60 % third year (n = 52/196), 71 % fourth year (n = 41/196), 50 % fifth year or beyond (n = 2/196); Chi squared p = 0.048, two no response). Students who self-reported attending a school that determined class rank were significantly more likely to respond that they had used psychostimulants while in medical school (class rank assessed 68 % versus no class rank 51 %, Chi squared p = 0.018). Items not significantly correlated with psychostimulant use included age, marital status, estimated class rank (split by quartiles), tobacco use, caffeine intake, or weight loss supplementation.

Drug Abuse Among Doctors: Easy, Tempting, and Not Uncommon

Another reason that physicians don't report their colleagues, researcher Lisa Merlo says, is because medical schools fail to educate them about the disease of addiction. Most medical schools include only a lecture or two on addiction, she says. By contrast, the University of Florida requires all third-year students to complete a 2-week rotation in addiction medicine. "Every physician in the United States has to deliver a baby to graduate, but how many of them are ever going to deliver babies in practice?" she asks. "But every doctor is going to see addicted patients."

Drug Abuse Among Doctors: Easy, Tempting, and Not Uncommon

Access rapidly becomes an addict's top priority, he notes, and self-medicating physicians will do everything in their power to ensure it continues. "They're often described as the best workers in the hospital," he says. "They'll overwork to compensate for other ways in which they may be falling short, and to protect their supply. They'll sign up for extra call and show up for rounds they don't have to do." Physicians are intelligent and skilled at hiding their addictions, he says. Few, no matter how desperate, seek help of their own accord.

Tanning dependence linked to other addictive behaviors, new study finds -- ScienceDaily

The connections between tanning dependence and other disorders revealed by the study represent an opportunity for clinicians to address those related conditions. "People who are tanning dependent could also be assessed for SAD," said Cartmel. "There are ways of addressing SAD other than indoor tanning. Regarding the alcohol dependence association, it may be possible that addressing that behavior could help address tanning dependence." The underlying mechanisms for the addiction to UV light are not yet fully understood. According to other studies, "The biological rationale for tanning dependence is that exposure to UV light results in both melanin, and endorphin production," said Cartmel. She also added that there was another interesting preliminary finding: those with tanning dependence were five times more likely to exhibit "exercise addiction." She said it is too early, however, to determine the implication. "Exercise addiction" itself has really not been well researched," she said. "One hypothesis behind the finding is that people who exercise excessively do so because they are very aware of their appearance, and they also feel that being tanned improves their appearance. Or it may be that we will eventually find out that these individuals have more of an addictive or risk-taking personality type. If you have one type of dependence, you may be more likely to have another addiction," Cartmel said.

Do children inherit drug protection from parents exposed to nicotine or drugs? Study suggests link between children and fathers -- ScienceDaily

What researchers found is that the offspring of nicotine-exposed fathers, compared to the offspring of fathers that were never exposed to nicotine, were protected from toxic levels of nicotine. Researchers then tested whether this resistance was specific for nicotine by treating both sets of offspring with cocaine, which acts via a wholly distinct molecular pathway than nicotine. Surprisingly, the children of nicotine-exposed fathers were also protected from cocaine. This multi-toxin resistance is likely a result of enhanced drug metabolism in the liver, and corresponds to an increase in expression levels of genes involved in drug metabolism. These genes were also packaged in a more open and accessible configuration in the liver cells, allowing for increased expression.

Do children inherit drug protection from parents exposed to nicotine or drugs? Study suggests link between children and fathers -- ScienceDaily

"Children born of fathers who have been exposed to nicotine are programmed to be not only more resistant to nicotine toxicity, but to other chemicals as well," said Dr. Rando, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology. "If a similar phenomenon occurs in humans, this raises many important questions. For example, if your father smoked does that mean chemotherapy might be less effective for you? Are you more or less likely to smoke? It's important to understand what information is specifically being passed down from father to offspring and how that impacts us."

Nicotine withdrawal leads to reckless behavior?

The first period of nicotine abstinence proceeded as expected. The surprise came after three months when the lab rats suddenly became fearless and sought out well-lighted areas that prey animals normally avoid. At the same time, signaling in the brain's reward system changed, as shown by a study at Sahlgrenska Academy. "This indicates very long-lasting changes caused by nicotine that were previously unknown. The nicotine appears to create a cascade of effects that only get worse and worse over time," says Julia Morud Lekholm, researcher in addiction biology at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology. The experiment was done another two times. The researchers wanted to make sure that the unexpected results were not an isolated case. In total, 108 animals were tested, of which half received nicotine and half a salt solution over a three-week period. The outcome was the same every time. "The nicotine treated animals spend much more time in these more frightening areas compared with those that only received salt solution injections. We don't see this right after the nicotine treatment, only after three or more months into abstinence. So then the animals have not received any nicotine for three months, and suddenly they demonstrate an increased spontaneous impulsiveness, which is very strange," says Julia Morud Lekholm. Strong impact "What's interesting is that at the same time we can also begin to see changes in the GABAergic system in the brain, which is the system that normally slows the brain's signaling," she continues. After another four months, the GABA system in the studied region of the rats' brains was so strongly affected that it had been completely reversed. Instead of dampening the nerve cell signaling, it increased it. In other words, a highly activated system, and an extensive risk of relapsing into smoking, for example, if people had been involved. "Of course, rats and people are very different, but in terms of the type of brain circuit that we study, the brain's reward system, we are very much alike. Also in terms of risk-taking behavior, it's possible to translate to humans to some extent. Having poor impulse control isn't good for life in general, of course. One can end up in many bad situations and this may also have effects on the consumption of other drugs later in life," says Julia Morud Lekholm.

Potential way to reduce drug cravings: Vagus nerve stimulation therapy -- ScienceDaily

"They still check a couple of times each session, thinking that maybe something will happen. They go from 60 lever presses down to something like 10 per session. They clearly haven't forgotten what the lever used to do and still have cravings for the drug," Kroener said. Eventually, the light and tone (but not the drug) were reinstated, causing intense cravings in the animals and a relapse to drug-seeking, which results in more lever presses. However, the animals that experienced VNS treatment during the extinction phase of the experiment pressed the lever less frequently, by nearly 40 or 50 percent which, Kroener said, means their craving was very much reduced. "That's what you want in addiction treatment," he said. "You want to have less craving and less responsiveness to the old cues and the old environment that previously signified drug taking.

Gambling addiction triggers the same brain areas as drug and alcohol cravings: Gambling addiction activates the same brain pathways as drug and alcohol cravings, suggests new research -- ScienceDaily

Gambling addiction activates the same brain pathways as drug and alcohol cravings, suggests new research.

Use your words: Written prisoner interactions predict whether they’ll clean up their acts -- ScienceDaily

The first, called "pushups," are congratulatory notes to a peer -- something like, "Good job talking about your triggers in group today, man." The second, called "pull-ups," are meant to steer a fellow prisoner toward better choices -- something like, "Hey brother, next time try talking to me instead of getting into a fight." Once approved as appropriate for group consumption, the written notes are typically read aloud to the group during meal time or a meeting. Doogan and Warren examined how these communications changed for each of 2,342 men included in their study. They looked at pushups and pull-ups in each inmate's first two to three months in the program and held those up against the messages they sent fellow prisoners in the second two to three months. In all, the researchers analyzed about 267,000 messages. Only graduates of the program were included in the study. The more their word combinations shifted, the greater the chance the men didn't return to prison. In cases where the inmates did return, those who showed the least change in how they thought and wrote tended to return to prison most quickly. The study didn't focus on "positive" or "negative" word choice, but on change in general, with the goal of getting a handle on whether the program was reshaping the participant's way of thinking, Doogan said. "It wasn't so much sentiment, but whether we could measure some form of change in the individual," he said. The sheer number of interactions for an individual resident didn't seem to make a difference -- only the changing nature of those notes. That's important because it seems to mean that simply interacting isn't enough and that a person has to be engaged and evolve in his thinking, the researchers said. Shifts in how we put together our thoughts and express them in writing are a good indication of a true evolution in how we think, Warren said. "Learning is a change in connections between ideas," he said. "In a therapeutic community, you would hope that they are abandoning some old connections and developing some new ones." The researchers created a tool for analyzing word choices, identifying 500 words that could potentially be combined in a note to one participant from another. Doogan and Warren counted change when inmates added new word combinations or abandoned old ones. They attempted to control for variables outside of changed language including race, age and education level. Understanding -- and being able to measure -- changes linked to reduced rates of repeat incarceration could eventually help program directors refine how they approach different participants, the researchers said. For instance, if it was clear an addict's communications with others in the program were not changing in nature, it might be a clue that the individual needed more one-on-one attention, Doogan said.

What I’m Talking About When I Talk About Social Media - Study Hacks - Cal Newport

I like the Internet and I like its potential to connect, energize, and inform people (while also recognizing, of course, its scary potential to misinform and divide on a mass scale). But I’m wary of the small number of services that have conquered our culture by claiming to be synonymous with these goals while in reality plotting to squeeze every last cent of value out of our scarce attention.

Generation Adderall - The New York Times

During the first weeks of finally giving up Adderall, the fatigue was as real as it had been before, the effort required to run even a tiny errand momentous, the gym unthinkable. The cravings were a force of their own: If someone so much as said “Adderall” in my presence, I would instantly begin to scheme about how to get just one more pill. Or maybe two. I was anxious, terrified I had done something irreversible to my brain, terrified that I was going to discover that I couldn’t write at all without my special pills. I didn’t yet know that it would only be in the amphetamine-free years to follow that my book would finally come together.

Speaking Up for Mental Illness – Running for Mental Health | Trail And Ultra Running | Community. Industry. Adventure.

After years of struggling, hitting rock bottom and not having the strength to get back up, I finally decided to get help. I moved back home with my parents. Away from temptation, away from people. Somewhere that I could start again. I slowly built my life back from there, I started a new career, I reduced my drinking, I met a lovely girl named Jess. And I started running. Running was my outlet and my therapy. That feeling while running is indescribable, and when I’ve finished a long run I’m exhausted and sore but feel 10 feet tall and the strongest I’ve ever been.  In the space of 2 years I went from an extremely depressed alcoholic, barely able to run 5km, to completing over 6 ultra marathons and running from Burnie to Hobart (340km). Things just kept escalating from there, but now in a good way. Jess and I have been engaged for over a year now and are blessed with a gorgeous 4 month old daughter named Poppy. I’m still terrified of things getting back to the way they once were, but i’m in an extremely good place right now with a huge amount of support at my side.

Speaking Up for Mental Illness – Running for Mental Health | Trail And Ultra Running | Community. Industry. Adventure.

After years of struggling, hitting rock bottom and not having the strength to get back up, I finally decided to get help. I moved back home with my parents. Away from temptation, away from people. Somewhere that I could start again. I slowly built my life back from there, I started a new career, I reduced my drinking, I met a lovely girl named Jess. And I started running. Running was my outlet and my therapy. That feeling while running is indescribable, and when I’ve finished a long run I’m exhausted and sore but feel 10 feet tall and the strongest I’ve ever been.  In the space of 2 years I went from an extremely depressed alcoholic, barely able to run 5km, to completing over 6 ultra marathons and running from Burnie to Hobart (340km).

Is Donald Trump a Sociopath? - The Atlantic

A famous case study in psychopathy complicated by exogenous chemistry, Adolf Hitler used high-dose amphetamines, which can produce many of the symptoms described above. Historians have noted that the drug use correlates with the escalating brashness in his military strategy. But Trump’s personality patterns have been present in news stories and biographical accounts for decades, and he has remained “high-functioning,” a clinical term meaning that his life hasn't fallen apart due to any sort of drug abuse in all that time, which would be rare.

Too much time online 'damages immune system and makes users more likely to catch flu' - Mirror Online

The surveyed 500 people, aged between 18 and 101, and discovered that those who go on the web too much have 30% more cold and flu symptoms than those who do not. It also suggested that internet addicts may suffer stress when they are disconnected from the net and the cycle of "stress and relief" may lead to altered levels of cortisol - a hormone that impacts immune function.

Improved sleep can help addicts recover

Study participants either received a placebo or 400 mg of modafinil — a mild stimulant drug often used to treat narcolepsy or shift-work-induced daytime fatigue. Compared to the group that received the placebo, cocaine addicts who received the 400mg of modafinil had more consecutive cocaine-free days during outpatient treatment and higher daily rates of abstinence. The study found that these protective effects were associated with increased slow-wave sleep, which modafinil promotes, suggesting that improved slow-wave sleep can help treat addiction.

Self-redemption narrative makes healing more durable

research examined whether the production of a narrative containing self-redemption (wherein the narrator describes a positive personality change following a negative experience) predicts positive behavioral change. In Study 1, we compared the narratives of alcoholics who had maintained their sobriety for over 4 years with those of alcoholics who had been sober 6 months or less. When describing their last drink, the former were significantly more likely to produce a narrative containing self-redemption than the latter. In Study 2, we examined the relation between the profession of self-redemption and behavioral change using a longitudinal design, by following the newly sober alcoholics from Study 1 over time. Although indistinguishable at initial assessment, newly sober alcoholics whose narratives included self-redemption were substantially more likely to maintain sobriety in the following months, compared to newly sober alcoholics who produced nonredemptive narratives; 83% of the redemptive group maintained sobriety between assessments, compared to 44% of nonredemptive participants. Redemptive participants in Study 2 also demonstrated improved health relative to the nonredemptive group. In both studies, the effects of self-redemption on sobriety and health held after controlling for relevant personality traits, alcohol dependence, recovery program involvement, initial physical and mental health, and additional narrative themes. Collectively, these results suggest that the production of a self-redemptive narrative may stimulate prolonged behavioral change and thus indicate a potentially modifiable psychological process that exhibits a major influence on recovery from addiction. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

Brain scans show compulsive gamers have hyperconnected neural networks

“Hyperconnectivity between these brain networks could lead to a more robust ability to direct attention toward targets, and to recognize novel information in the environment,” says Anderson. “The changes could essentially help someone to think more efficiently.” One of the next steps will be to directly determine whether the boys with these brain differences do better on performance tests. More troublesome is an increased coordination between two brain regions, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and temporoparietal junction, a change also seen in patients with neuropsychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, Down’s syndrome, and autism. Hyperconnectivity between the two regions is also observed in people with poor impulse control.

From meth to ultras

After her arrest, she was thrown in the women’s jail […] Her boyfriend accepted the blame, and the judge, taking her job and first offense into account, let her go through diversion. […] She moved away from her friends, and her old life, and decided to get a job at Whole Foods, more for the discount on produce than a paycheck. […]She went to the gym, mainly because it gave her a way to fill her life and burn off her excess energy since she wasn’t clubbing anymore. She started walking her dog three miles a day, and two years after she got clean, she decided to run the distance she usually walked. […] She finished the three miles and was proud of herself, so she looked for a 10K to run because her father loved that distance, and she wanted to honor him after his death from an unexpected heart attack at 49. […]The 10K was tough — she wore black and ran too hard — but afterwards saw a flyer for the San Francisco marathon on her windshield.[…]Her first long run was supposed to be nine miles, so she drove the distance to measure it. When she finished, she was thrilled.

From meth to ultras

After her arrest, she was thrown in the women’s jail with everyone else, the grandmothers and the gangsters. […] Her boyfriend accepted the blame, and the judge, taking her job and first offense into account, let her go through diversion. She called her mother and told her about her addiction. […]She moved away from her friends, and her old life, and decided to get a job at Whole Foods, more for the discount on produce than a paycheck. She’s still there, and has been there 16 years, now as a supervisor in the nutrition and body care department. […]She went to the gym, mainly because it gave her a way to fill her life and burn off her excess energy since she wasn’t clubbing anymore. She started walking her dog three miles a day, and two years after she got clean, she decided to run the distance she usually walked[…]She finished the three miles and was proud of herself, so she looked for a 10K to run because her father loved that distance, and she wanted to honor him after his death from an unexpected heart attack at 49.

The voices of our habits and addictions

Obsessions, compulsions, addictions, and other "inner demons" aren't the only agents with real power to control and explain our behavior; our brains are host to 'benevolent' agents as well. Our consciences, for example. These are agents that live inside our brains, who are being trained throughout our lives, but especially in childhood, by our interactions with parents, authority figures, and other moral teachers, and by various rewards and (especially) punishments.

The agency of the addiction module

When you take an addictive drug for the first time — nicotine, let's say — a new agent begins to bud around that source of pleasure (i.e., the neurotransmitters that flood your brain while smoking). The agent starts out small and weak. But the more you feed it, the bigger it grows, until there are many neurons, many modules, and even other brain-agents under its influence, feeding off the nicotine and craving it in ever larger doses, co-opting your planning and reasoning skills so it can scheme about how to get more of it.