NIH Announces It Will Not Create Single Institute Devoted to Addiction
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced it will not pursue the proposed creation of a single institute devoted to substance use, abuse and addictions. The proposal would have dissolved the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and replaced it with a single body, according to the Nature News Blog. NIH Director Francis Collins said in a statement that instead of dissolving the two institutes, he will seek their “functional integration,” along with related research in the NIH’s other institutes. NIDA has an annual budget of $1 billion, while NIAAA’s budget is $459 million, the article notes. Citing budget uncertainties, Collins noted, “The time, energy, and resources required for a major structural reorganization are not warranted, especially given that functional integration promises to achieve equivalent scientific and public health objectives.” In June, Collins told his committee of external advisers that leaders in the alcoholic beverage industry were concerned about the new single institute. According to the article, the industry’s opposition suggested it was not comfortable with a single body that would more closely align the public’s perception of alcohol consumption and abuse with drug addiction.
FDA Releases Reports on Injuries Possibly Involving Red Bull Energy Drink
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday released reports of injuries that cited the possible involvement of the nation’s top-selling energy drink, Red Bull. The reports follow the release of similar reports for other energy drinks, The New York Times reports. Red Bull’s manufacturer said it was unaware of cases of potential injuries involving their product, the article notes. The FDA posted 21 reports filed since 2004 that mentioned Red Bull, including ones that involved hospitalization for heart problems and vomiting. The newspaper notes the mention of a product in a report of an injury or death does not mean it caused or contributed to it. The FDA also recently reported filings involving Monster Energy, 5-Hour Energy and Rockstar. The FDA is investigating reports that five people have died since 2009 after they consumed Monster energy drinks. The FDA also received reports of 13 deaths over the last four years that may have involved the highly caffeinated drink 5-Hour Energy. Last year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issued a report that found a sharp rise in the number of emergency department visits linked with the use of non-alcohol energy drinks, from 1,128 visits in 2005, to 13,114 in 2009. The report noted that energy drinks are marketed to appeal to youth, and are consumed by up to half of children, teenagers and young adults.
U.S. Teens Smoking Less, New Report Shows
American teenagers are smoking less, according to a new government report. The report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found current cigarette smoking among teenagers declined significantly between 2002 and 2010 in 41 states. Nationwide, teen cigarette use fell from 12.6 percent to 8.7 percent, UPI reports. “Although this report shows that considerable progress has been made in lowering adolescent cigarette smoking, the sad, unacceptable fact remains that in many states about one in 10 adolescents smoked cigarettes in the past month,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a news release. “The report also shows that we must collectively redouble our efforts to better educate adolescents about the risks of tobacco, and continue to work with every state and community to promote effective tobacco use prevention and recovery programs.” The report found Wyoming had the highest teen smoking rate—13.5 percent—more than double Utah’s rate of 5.9 percent. Teens’ perception of great risk from smoking a pack a day or more increased overall, from 63.7 percent to 65.4 percent.
Alcohol Reported as Primary Substance of Abuse in 62% of Veterans’ Treatment Admissions
There were nearly 58,000 admissions of veterans to substance abuse treatment facilities in 2010, according to the most recent data from the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS). TEDS, a database of treatment admissions to primarily publicly-funded substance abuse treatment facilities, excludes admissions to Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities. Therefore, the veteran admissions in TEDS represent veterans who chose to seek substance abuse treatment in a non-VA facility.* While alcohol was most likely to be reported as the primary substance of abuse among veterans and nonveterans alike, veterans were much more likely than nonveterans to report alcohol as their primary substance of abuse (62% vs. 42%). Veterans were less likely than nonveterans to report marijuana (7% vs. 15%) or heroin (8% vs. 16%) as their primary substance of abuse. No other substance besides alcohol was reported by more than 10% of veterans as a primary substance of abuse, suggesting that use prevention, intervention, and treatment programs for military personnel and veterans should focus their resources on alcohol.
SOURCES: Adapted by CESAR from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA), online analysis of the concatenated1992-2010 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), based on data received through 10/10/11, conducted 11/14/12
Study Links Marijuana Psychosis With Genetic Variation
A new study suggests a specific genetic variation may increase the risk of developing marijuana-related psychosis. Researchers found people with the variation were twice as likely to develop a psychotic disorder when using marijuana. The risk increased up to sevenfold if they used marijuana daily, HealthDay reports. The findings could help lead to new treatments for marijuana-induced psychosis, the researchers say.
In the journal Biological Psychiatry, they note evidence is increasing that marijuana use during the teenage years may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia. Their study of more than 700 people found marijuana-related psychosis was linked with a variation in the AKT1 gene. The gene is involved in the regulation of the brain chemical dopamine, which plays an important role in mental health, the article notes.
“Our findings help to explain why one cannabis user develops psychosis while his friends continue smoking without problems,” the researchers from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry note in a news release.
A study published last year suggested marijuana may accelerate the onset of psychotic disorders in some young users. Researchers conducted a review of the literature examining the effects of marijuana, alcohol, and other drugs on the onset of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. They found patients with psychotic disorders who smoked marijuana at an early age developed symptoms almost three years sooner than those who did not. The link was strongest among those who started smoking at ages 12 to 15 or younger.
Many Teen Hookah Smokers Don’t Recognize Health Risk
Many teenage hookah smokers do not recognize that the practice carries serious health risks, suggests a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An estimated 18.5 percent of 12th graders said they used a hookah in the previous year.
More needs to be done to decrease the number of teens who smoke flavored tobacco from hookahs, the CDC states in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease. The report notes hookah smoke contains many of the same toxins as cigarettes. It has been associated with lung cancer and respiratory illness, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The researchers conclude the same interventions used in reducing cigarette smoking can be successfully used to reduce hookah smoking. These include raising the price of flavored tobacco smoked from hookahs, called shisha. They point out the price for a pound of hookah pipe tobacco is $22 lower than that for cigarette tobacco.
The CDC also calls for graphic labels on hookah tobacco products to warn smokers about health dangers, as well as removing sweet flavorings from shisha. Hookah bars should no longer be exempt from smoke-free laws, the researchers argue.
Ecstasy May Help Treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
A new study suggests Ecstasy may help treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to The New York Times.
Researchers in South Carolina found Ecstasy combined with psychotherapy helped 15 of 21 patients recover from severe post-traumatic stress. Most of the patients in the study were rape victims.
It is unknown whether the treatment is effective in war-related PTSD, the article notes. The researchers are beginning to test the drug in veterans. “We’ve had more than 250 vets call us,” researcher Michael Mithoefer told the newspaper. “There’s a long waiting list, we wish we could enroll them all.” He and his wife, Ann, will work with other scientists to test the treatment in no more than 24 veterans, in order to comply with Food and Drug Administration rules for testing an experimental drug. Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is not approved for any medical uses. Previous studies of the drug suggest it induces release of the hormone oxytocin, which increases sensations of trust and affection. The drug also appears to reduce activity in the brain that increases during fearful, threatening situations.
The study appears in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
Five Percent of Teens Use Steroids to Increase Muscle
About one in 20 teenagers have used steroids to increase their muscle mass, a new study suggests. In addition, more than one-third of boys and one-fifth of girls said they had used protein shakes or powders to increase their muscles, while between five and 10 percent used non-steroid substances to bulk up. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, included almost 2,800 students in middle and high schools in Minnesota. Most of the students had engaged in at least one muscle-building activity in the previous year. Up to one-third used what researchers considered unhealthy ways to increase their muscle mass, such as taking steroids or other muscle-building substances, or drinking too many protein shakes or engaging in excessive weight-lifting.
The study found steroid use was equally common among students who were athletes and those who were not.
“Really the pressure to start using (steroids) is in high school,” Dr. Linn Goldberg of the Oregon Health & Science University, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters. “You get the influence of older teens in high school, so when you’re a 14-year-old that comes in, you have 17-year-olds who are the seniors, and they can have great influence as you progress into the next stage of your athletic career.”