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

Mental illness genetically linked to drug use and misuse

There are many reports of drug use leading to mental health problems, and we all know of someone having a few too many drinks to cope with a bad day. Many people who are diagnosed with a mental health disorder indulge in drugs, and vice versa. As severity of both increase, problems arise and they become more difficult to treat. But why substance involvement and psychiatric disorders often co-occur is not well understood.

In addition to environmental factors, such as stress and social relationships, a person’s genetic make-up can also contribute to their vulnerability to drug use and misuse as well as mental health problems. So could genetic risk for mental illness be linked to a person’s liability to use drugs?

This question has been addressed in a new study, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Genetics.

Full story of mental illness genetically linked to drug use at Science Daily

College students who misuse stimulants more likely to have ADHD, substance-use disorder

A new study by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators finds that college students who misuse stimulant drugs are more likely to have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder or substance-use disorder than are students not misusing stimulants. The report published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry also finds immediate-release stimulants are more likely to be misused than extended-release versions of the drugs.

“Our data suggest that college students who misuse prescription stimulant medications are more likely to exhibit clinically relevant psychiatric dysfunction,” says Timothy Wilens, MD, chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) and co-director of the MGH Center for Addiction Medicine, corresponding author of the report. “In addition to higher levels of ADHD, conduct disorder, and alcohol or drug use disorders, the majority of those misusing stimulants met or approached criteria for stimulant-use disorder.”

Full story of college students misuse of stimulates and ADHD at Science Daily

Long-term opioid use associated with increased risk of depression

Opioids may cause short-term improvement in mood, but long-term use imposes risk of new-onset depression, a Saint Louis University study shows.

The study, “Prescription Opioid Duration, Dose, and Increased Risk of Depression in 3 Large Patient Populations,” was published online Jan. 11 in the Annals of Family Medicine. Jeffrey Scherrer, Ph.D., associate professor for family and community medicine at Saint Louis University, and his co-authors speculate that findings may be explained by long-term opioid use of more than 30 days leading to changes in neuroanatomy and low testosterone, among other possible biological explanations. The link was independent of the known contribution of pain to depression, and the study calls on clinicians to consider the contribution of opioid use when depressed mood develops in their patients.

“Opioid-related new onset of depression is associated with longer duration of use but not dose,” Scherrer wrote. “Patients and practitioners should be aware that opioid analgesic use of longer than 30 days imposes risk of new-onset depression.”

Full story of long-term opioid use and depression at Science Daily

Long-term study links common psychiatric disorders with increased risk of violent reoffending in ex-prisoners

Ex-prisoners with common psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder) and alcohol and drug abuse are substantially more likely to commit a violent crime after release than other prisoners, according to new research published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal. The study of almost 48000 ex-prisoners suggests that diagnosed psychiatric disorders are potentially responsible for up to a fifth of violent reoffending by former male prisoners and two-fifths by female ex-prisoners.

“One in seven prisoners have a psychotic illness or major depression and around one in five enter prison with clinically significant substance abuse disorders. As these disorders are common and mostly treatable, better screening and mental health services before and after release are essential to prevent future violence and improve both public health and safety,” says Seena Fazel, lead author and Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at the University of Oxford in the UK.

Full story of ex-prisoners and psychiatric disorders at Science Daily

Cocaine changes brain, makes relapse more common in addicts

Cocaine use causes ‘profound changes’ in the brain that lead to an increased risk of relapse due to stress — according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

New research published in The Journal of Neuroscience identifies a molecular mechanism in the reward centre of the brain that influences how recovering cocaine addicts might relapse after stressful events.

Importantly, the study identifies a potential mechanism for protecting against such relapses with treatment.

The research team looked at the effects of cocaine in rat brain cells (in vitro) and in live rats — particularly their ‘cocaine seeking’ response to stress.

Full story of brain change with cocaine at Science Daily

Less than half of UK prescriptions for antipsychotics issued for main licensed conditions

Less than half of UK prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs are being issued to treat the serious mental illnesses for which they are mainly licensed, reveals research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Instead, they may often be prescribed ‘off label’ to older people with other conditions, such as anxiety and dementia, despite the greater risk of potentially serious side effects in this age group, the findings indicate.

The researchers analysed family doctors’ prescribing patterns for first and second generation antipsychotic drugs across the UK between 2007 and 2011, using data submitted to The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database.

Full story of UK anti-psychotics at Science Daily

Is there a better way to treat substance use in adolescents with co-occurring mental health disorders?

The majority (55-74%) of adolescents entering substance use treatment also have psychiatric disorders, such as depression, ADHD and trauma-related problems. Unfortunately, these youth face poorer treatment outcomes (e.g., relapse), and their mental health issues are often not directly addressed. Furthermore, few studies exist to guide those clinicians who would like to use integrated care to treat adolescent with co-occurring disorders.

A review published in the new Substance Abuse Special Issue: Evaluating and Addressing Adolescent Alcohol and Other Substance Use Disorders proposes that the Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA), which is a combination of cognitive-behavioral and family therapies, may be an ideal treatment method for this patient population.

Full story of treating substance abuse at Science Daily

Link between depression, abnormal brain response to visceral pain in patients with IBS

High rates of anxiety and depression amongst patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have led many researchers to believe there could be a causal relationship between psychological factors and IBS symptoms. Now, scientists in Germany have found clear evidence that patients with IBS process pain signals from the gut abnormally, and that disturbed brain responses to pain are particularly pronounced in patients with more depression symptoms.

At the 22nd United European Gastroenterology Week (UEG Week 2014) in Vienna, Austria, Professor Sigrid Elsenbruch from the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, will be presenting a new study which suggests that depression, but not anxiety, contributes to the abnormal pain processing observed in IBS in a model that addresses central pain inhibition during placebo analgesia. “Our study has shown that patients with IBS are less able to suppress pain signals in the brain coming from the bowel and that depression plays a role herein,” she says. “This study confirms the complex relationship between the gut and the brain and shows that affective disorders may contribute to the development or maintenance of disturbed pain processing in IBS.”

Full story of links in the brain with IBS at Science Daily

This is your brain’s blood vessels on drugs

A new method for measuring and imaging how quickly blood flows in the brain could help doctors and researchers better understand how drug abuse affects the brain, which may aid in improving brain-cancer surgery and tissue engineering, and lead to better treatment options for recovering drug addicts. The new method, developed by a team of researchers from Stony Brook University in New York, USA and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was published today in The Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express.

The researchers demonstrated their technique by using a laser-based method of measuring how cocaine disrupts blood flow in the brains of mice. The resulting images are the first of their kind that directly and clearly document such effects, according to co-author Yingtian Pan, professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Stony Brook University. “We show that quantitative flow imaging can provide a lot of useful physiological and functional information that we haven’t had access to before,” he says.