Marijuana worse for teen brains than alcohol, study finds

Teen brains are more vulnerable to the effects of marijuana than alcohol, a new study finds.

Adolescents who begin using marijuana regularly may suffer lasting repercussions in their thinking ability, according to scientists at the University of Montreal.

The study, published Wednesday in the American Journal of Psychiatry, followed over 3,800 adolescents from 31 Montreal-area schools over four years. The teens, who started participating in the study when they were 13, agreed to provide annual reports of how frequently they used marijuana and alcohol. They also took computer-based cognitive tests that measured recall memory, perceptual reasoning, inhibition and short-term memory.

Full story at NBC News

Lay interventions for depression and drinking

Brief psychological interventions delivered by lay counsellors in primary care were effective and cost-effective for patients with depression and harmful drinking in India, according to two studies in PLOS Medicine by Vikram Patel of Harvard Medical School, USA, and colleagues from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK and Sangath, India. The authors have previously reported the effectiveness of the two interventions, Healthy Activity Programme (HAP) and Counselling for Alcohol Problems (CAP), at 3 months; however, the longer-term benefits of the interventions were previously unknown.

In the first trial, 493 adult primary health care attendees with moderately severe or severe depression were randomly assigned to either the HAP treatment plus enhanced usual care (EUC), or enhanced usual care (EUC) alone. The researchers found that HAP participants maintained the benefits they showed at the end of treatment through the 12-month period, with significantly lower symptom severity scores (adjusted mean difference in BDI-II: ?4.45) and higher rates of remission (PHQ-9 score < 5: 63% versus 48%) than participants who received EUC alone.

Full story at Science Daily

ADHD medication tied to lower risk for alcohol, drug abuse in teens and adults

The use of medication to treat attention deficient hyperactivity disorder is linked to significantly lower risk for substance use problems in adolescents and adults with ADHD, according to a study led by researchers at Indiana University.

The risk of substance use problems during periods of medication use was 35 percent lower in men and 31 percent lower in women in the study. The results, based upon nearly 3 million people with ADHD in the United States, are reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

“This study contributes to growing evidence that ADHD medication is linked to lower risk for many types of harmful behavior, including substance abuse,” said Patrick D. Quinn, a postdoctoral researcher in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, who led the study. “The results also highlight the importance of careful diagnosis and compliance with treatment.”

Full story of ADHD medication and teen substance abuse risk at Science Daily

Rewards treat alcohol abuse in those with mental illness

Researchers at Washington State University have shown that offering prizes — from simple shampoo to DVD players — can be an effective, low-cost treatment for alcohol abuse, the nation’s third leading preventable cause of death.

The treatment was studied in Seattle-area participants with serious mental illness. Their lifespan is estimated to be 20-25 years shorter than the average person’s.

A surprise benefit of the treatment was that it decreased study participants’ tobacco and drug use.

Findings from the study, which appears in the current American Journal of Psychiatry, could expand treatment options for an estimated 15 million U.S. adults who abuse alcohol.

Full story of treating alcohol abuse with rewards at Science Daily

Drug and alcohol addiction treatment results improved when teens stopped smoking, researcher finds

A Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine researcher has found that addiction treatment results improved when teens in a residential program stopped smoking. The findings are published in a new study in the November issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. They hold important implications for success in treating addiction since up to three out of four people with such disorders are smokers, a significantly higher proportion than the overall national smoking rate of one out of every four Americans.

The study found that teens who stopped smoking benefited from lower cravings for alcohol and drugs, and did as well as their peers who smoked in terms of treatment duration, 12-step participation, and global functioning (a numeric scale used by mental health professionals to rate how well clients respond to various psychological and social situations and difficulties). In contrast, young people in the study who smoked were discharged with significantly higher cravings for alcohol and drugs, which has been shown to increase the risk of relapse.

Full story of teens smoking and addiction treatment at Science Daily

Stressed-out rats consume more alcohol, revealing related brain chemistry

Stress, defined broadly, is a well-known risk factor for later alcohol abuse; however, the brain chemistry underlying interactions between stress and alcohol remain largely unknown. Reinforcement of addictive substance use and stress signaling involves common neural systems, including the brain reward center. Better understanding the brain chemistry involved in stress and increased alcohol consumption could have implications for getting to the root of such disorders as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A team led by John Dani, PhD, chair of the department of Neuroscience in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, found that rodents that had been exposed to stress had a weakened alcohol-induced dopamine response and voluntarily drank more alcohol compared to controls. The blunted dopamine signaling to ethanol arose due to changes in the circuitry in the ventral tegmental area, the heart of the brain’s reward system. The team published their findings in Neuron.

Full story of stress and alcohol consumption at Science Daily

Harmful drinkers would be affected 200 times more than low risk drinkers if a Minimum Unit Price was introduced

Published today in Clinical Medicine, the peer review journal for the Royal College of Physicians, the researchers studied the amount and type of alcohol drunk by 404 liver patients, and also asked patients how much they paid for alcohol. They found that patients with alcohol related cirrhosis were drinking on average the equivalent of four bottles of vodka each week, and were buying the cheapest booze they could find, paying around 33p per unit, irrespective of their income. In contrast, low risk moderate drinkers were paying on average £1.10 per unit.

If the government set a MUP at 50p, it wouldn’t affect pubs or bars and would have no impact on moderate drinkers; the average cost would be £4 per year and 90 per cent would not be affected at all, the research shows. The impact on heavy drinking liver patients would be at least 200 times higher.

Full story of drinkers and alcohol pricing at Science Daily