Archive for December, 2009

Marijuana Use by Teens More Detrimental than Previously Thought

Monday, December 28th, 2009

New research from the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Qc. suggests that the effect of daily cannabis use on the teenage brain is worse than previously thought. Moreover, the long-term effects appear irreversible.

Marijuana, the most used illicit drug, has long been considered a ‘soft’ drug—minimally damaging in comparison to most other, ‘hard’, drugs such as cocaine or heroin. Marijuana’s addictive properties have also been long argued.

However, according to researchers at the McGill University Health Centre, daily cannabis use leads to depression and anxiety, as it impacts both serotonin and norepinephrine—the chemical compounds that help control mood and anxiety in the brain.

Researchers observed 18 teenage rats as they were exposed to cannabis. The rats showed decreased levels of serotonin, affecting mood, and higher levels of norepinephrine, making them more susceptible to long-term stress (anxiety).

Permanent changes in these parts of the brain, say researchers, are linked to several different mental illnesses.

Even if the cannabis exposure was stopped, the study continues, at the end of the teenage years, the changes were still detectable in the rats in adulthood. T

he study’s lead researcher says that the study shows that the effects of cannabis use in teenagers is far more devastating, than in adults. Cannabis, it seems, interferes with the development of the serotonin and norepinephrine systems.

Next, researchers say they will observe young marijuana smokers.

Findings were published in The Neurobiology of Disease.

Source: Canadian Press

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 25th, 2009
Image courtesy of DryIcons

Alcohol Addiction Found in Fruit Flies

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

According to a new study, fruit flies show both desperation and relapse when exposed to alcohol for a length of time.

Researchers say their study may shed light on the genetic roots of alcohol addiction.

Fruit flies, it may seem strange, are often used for genetic studies due both to their rapid reproductive rate, as well as their chemical pathways similar to humans. Previously, fruit flies were used for intoxication and tolerance studies.

This new study out of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) looked specifically at addiction, with the hope of later working “out the genes underlying addiction-like behaviours,” co-author Anita Devineni told National Geographic News.

For the first experiment, fruit flies were presented with two different liquids—one containing ethanol (a form of alcohol) and the other without. The flies were given unlimited access to the liquids, although feeders were only refilled once a day. The fruit flies showed an overwhelming preference for the alcohol-filled liquid.

Furthermore, the more they drank of it, the more they seemed to crave it—their bouts of drinking became more frequent over time.

In the second experiment, researchers tainted the alcoholic liquid with substances known to normally repulse fruit flies. However, they drank on!

Researchers then forced the flies into a three-day dry spell—quite a bout of time when your lifespan is about 30 days. As soon as the flies were offered the alcoholic liquid again, the flies returned to drinking at the same levels as before the enforced dry spell, very similar to an alcoholic’s relapse.

The next stage of research is in hopes of identifying the genes behind relapse, potentially leading to a lasting and effective addiction treatment for alcoholism.

The findings appear in Current Biology.

Source: National Geographic News

Dark Chocolate Found to Help Lower Stress

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Just in time for the Holidays, yet another reason to eat chocolate!

The “healing” properties of chocolate have long been suspected—the euphoric rush of endorphin triggered love-like feelings, the surge of satisfaction. For some, chocolate is even an aphrodisiac. Dark chocolate, with its high levels of antioxidants, has been purported to have a number of health benefits, from anticancer, to cough preventer and antidiarrhoeal effects.

There are also many connections between the foods we eat and addiction, with a great deal of research on addiction and nutrition. Good nutrition has proven to positively impact symptoms of withdrawal and craving. At Heritage Home, we have seen it for ourselves, taking great care to incorporate a healthy menu into our holistic addiction therapy program.

New research from the Nestle Research Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland now suggests that a daily dose of dark chocolate reduces stress in those experiencing high levels—great news for all of us here as we approach this chocolate-filled time of year. Recovering from alcohol or drug addiction can be a highly stressful experience as you learn to live and experience your life free of drugs and alcohol. And a new stress reliever is always welcomed news.

In their most recent study, Nestle researchers studied 30 healthy adult men and women who consumed two portions of 20 grams of dark chocolate daily for 14 consecutive days. Participants were split into two groups—low stress and moderate stress as measured by a questionnaire.

Individuals reporting higher levels of stress had such anxiety traits as experiencing higher levels of everyday stress, showing distinct differences in energy and hormonal metabolism, and differences in gut microbial activities.

With the daily dose of dark chocolate, these subjects showed reduced levels of stress-associated hormones and the normalization of stress-related metabolic differences, suggesting that a daily dose of dark chocolate positively impacts stress-related metabolic differences in individuals with higher levels of stress.

Source: Behavioral Health Central

Drug Addiction in Vancouver Epidemic

Friday, December 18th, 2009

A new report released last month found that the hard drug problem in Vancouver is “epidemic”, according to a new article.

The report from the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS cites a ten-fold increase in the use of crack cocaine and a major increase in the use of crystal meth by Vancouver’s street youth over the last 10 years.

Specifically, researchers found that an approximate 90 percent of adult drug users could score crack or cocaine within 10 minutes, and 60 percent of street youth claimed to be able to score crystal meth in the same time frame. Furthermore, 40 percent of street youth surveyed reported having injected drugs publicly.

The study, the “first comprehensive look at the epidemic of hard drugs in Vancouver”, concludes that the federal government’s drug strategy is “failing”, according to authors Evan Wood and Thomas Kerr.

They argue, instead, for more harm reduction policies, like the controversial supervised injection sites, as the key to reducing the various harms related to drug addiction. Insite, one such injection site, and initiatives are cited as the reason for significant reductions in both HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C cases from the reduction in needle sharing.

Consequently, the Canadian government is in the process of trying to shut down Insite. At the moment, the government is appealing a May decision from the BC Supreme Court that keeps their doors open while their fate is being decided.

Critics, however, argue that Vancouver has the more harm reduction programs in place and yet has the largest drug problem in the country. Although harm reduction policies, they say, successfully reduce harms to addicts, the programs don’t necessarily work to curb or end drug use.

At Heritage Home Drug Rehab Centre, we work closely and intensely with all of our clients to achieve total abstinence through a psychotherapeutic addiction program.

However, we also recognize that this can be unrealistic goal for some and so we also provide services such as Methadone Therapy, also considered a harm reduction program, to support and enhance our holistic addiction treatment program.

Source: Maclean’s