Talent. A Football Scholarship. Then Crushing Depression.

Something was wrong. He could sense it.

The feeling had been stalking him for months. The lights were off in his bedroom, and the darkness closed in on him.

Isaiah Renfro, a top freshman wide receiver at the University of Washington, was at his home in South Los Angeles. He had to leave in the morning for spring practice, which was about to start in Seattle. But he could tell: Another storm was coming, a gale of anxiety and depression.

He slammed his suitcase shut and stood near his bed, steeling for a struggle that he was never sure he could win. He breathed hard, and tried to stay on his feet. Now the tempest was upon him. All the pressure. The worries. Football. Family. The feeling that he could never measure up.

Full story at The New York Times

Chronic pot use may have serious effects on the brain, experts say

As marijuana legalization builds momentum across the United States — with Michigan becoming the latest state to allow recreational use by adults — researchers are warning that more studies are needed on the long-term effects of chronic pot smoking on the human brain.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, but little is known about its effect on health or how addictive it is.

According to a 2017 poll conducted by Marist College and Yahoo News, more than half of American adults have tried marijuana at least once in their lives, and nearly 55 million of them, or 22 percent, say they use it currently. Close to 35 million are what the survey calls “regular users,” people who say they use marijuana at least once or twice a month.

Full story at NBC News

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

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

Link found between witnessing parental domestic violence during childhood and attempted suicide

A new study by the University of Toronto (U of T), found the lifetime prevalence of suicide attempts among adults who had been exposed to chronic parental domestic violence during childhood was 17.3% compared to 2.3% among those without this childhood adversity.

“We had expected that the association between chronic parental domestic violence and later suicide attempts would be explained by childhood sexual or physical abuse, or by mental illness and substance abuse. However, even when we took these factors into account, those exposed to chronic parental domestic violence still had more than twice the odds of having attempted suicide” reported lead author Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Institute for Life Course and Aging.

The study examined a nationally representative sample of 22,559 community-dwelling Canadians, using data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health. Parental domestic violence was defined as “chronic” if it had occurred more than 10 times before the respondent was age 16.

Full story of parental domestic violence and suicide at Science Daily

Primary care-based addiction treatment lowers substance dependence in people with HIV

A program developed at Boston Medical Center (BMC), which integrates addiction treatment into primary care for patients with or at risk for HIV, has been shown to lower patients’ substance dependence and encourage their engagement in treatment. The findings are published online in theJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

Injection drug use is the third most frequently reported risk factor for HIV infection in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Similarly, those who ingest or inhale drugs such as alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamine, are at an increased risk for contracting HIV because their inhibitions are reduced, making them more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior.

“We know that this patient population often seeks care in emergency rooms where they see physicians who may not know their medical history,” said Alexander Walley, MD, attending physician in general internal medicine at BMC and the study’s lead author. “As a result, unhealthy drug and alcohol use often goes unaddressed. Our model aims to integrate evidence-based addiction treatment into primary care.”

Full story of primary care treatment lowers substance dependence in people with HIV 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

A minority of women seek health care after military sexual assault

Despite growing public awareness of sexual assault of women during their military service and increased efforts by the Department of Defense to deter sexual crimes and encourage reporting and help-seeking, a VA study suggests most female service members who experience sexual assault are still unlikely to seek post-assault health care, at least in the short term. The study, published in Medical Care in April 2015, found that fewer than a third of sexually assaulted servicewomen sought such care.

The low numbers are notable, say researchers, because women who experience sexual assault tend to become heavy users of health care resources in the years following their assault.

“There are numerous health consequences associated with sexual assault,” says Dr. Michelle Mengeling, an affiliate investigator with VA’s Comprehensive Access and Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE) team and lead author on the study. “Examples include gynecologic, gastrointestinal, chronic pain symptoms, and sexual dysfunction. There are also mental health outcomes such as PTSD, depression, substance abuse, and anxiety.”

Full story of minority sexual assault and health care at Science Daily

Time-based training can reduce impulsivity

A study conducted by researchers at Kansas State University is the first to demonstrate increases in both self-control and timing precision as a result of a time-based intervention. This new research may be an important clue for developing behavioral approaches to treat disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, substance abuse and obesity.

The study, “Mechanisms of impulsive choice: II. Time-based interventions to improve self-control,” was published online in the Journal of Behavioral Processes and will be part of a special publication in March. To look at impulsivity, researchers studied rat behavior, as rat brains are fairly similar to humans, especially in terms of timing and decision-making systems.

Full story of time-based training at Science Daily