Drug and alcohol addiction and abuse is rising. Researchers have found that “fear mongering” educational efforts to combat it in adolescents doesn’t work. New science has discovered that certain personality types are predictably predisposed to addiction risk, and that educational efforts can be targeted to them effectively. Experts discuss.
Dr. Natalie Castellanos-Ryan, Assistant Professor of Psychoeducation, University of Montreal
Maia Szalavitz, author, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction
Does addiction affect all of us in some degree? A noted addiction specialist and author believes we are all somewhere on the addiction spectrum, from bad habits to full-blown addiction. He discusses how small triggers can push people to seek relief, producing deepening decline.
Dr. Paul Thomas, author, The Addiction Spectrum: A Compassionate, Holistic Approach to Recovery
More than 80 percent of teenagers and millions more adults have acne… and not all of them respond to treatments that are available. But an acne vaccine could end all of that within a few years. A study in the “Journal of Investigative Dermatology” finds that, at least in mice and human cell samples… a newly developed vaccine can markedly reduce inflammatory response to skin bacteria, the process that causes acne. However, researchers say not all acne is caused by the same thing.
Doctors have believed for many years that high levels of so-called “good cholesterol” help protect against heart attacks. But a study presented to the European Society of Cardiology shows you can have too much good cholesterol. In fact, people with very, very high levels have a risk of heart attack that’s just as bad as for people with very, very low levels. Extremely high levels of good cholesterol affect only about one percent of people… while about half of us have low levels. Researchers aren’t sure why high levels are so bad for the heart.
If you’ve got persistent pain in your neck and upper shoulders, you might be suffering from “iPad neck.” A study in the “Journal of Physical Therapy Science” shows iPad neck results from sitting without back support while using devices such as an iPad or tablet. Researchers say the condition is more prevalent among young adults and women. Not ready to say goodbye to your device? Experts suggest sitting in a chair with back support, using a posture reminder device and exercise to strengthen neck and shoulder muscles.
And finally… it’s a good thing to designate a driver for a night out drinking. But a new study suggests it might be a good idea the morning after, too. The study in the journal “Addiction” shows that when you’re hungover, your memory, attention, coordination, and driving skills are all still below normal. Researchers admit more work is needed to show just how much erosion drivers suffer the morning after.
After criminal convictions, many people with substance use disorder are placed on probation with the condition they remain completely drug-free. They are often jailed when they relapse, setting back recovery and removing them from treatment that helps keep them clean. Is that fair, when relapse is a common symptom of their disease (and many others)? Addiction and legal experts discuss.
Lisa Newman-Polk, attorney and social worker, Ayer, MA
Michael Botticelli, Executive Director, Grayken Center for Addiction, Boston Medical Center and former Director, National Drug Control Policy
Dr. Barbara Herbert, Immediate Past President, Massachusetts Society of Addiction Medicine
Dr. Sally Satel, addiction psychiatrist and Lecturer, Yale University School of Medicine and Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
America’s opioid epidemic has taken 64,000 lives in 2016. While many people support prosecution and strict punishment for drug users, Vancouver in British Columbia has taken a different approach with their drug use policy of harm reduction. Travis Lupick, author of Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle with Addiction, explains more about how harm reduction works and where it came from.
Harm reduction seeks to solve the problems of drug addiction by alleviating the harms caused by the prohibition of drugs, rather than the drugs themselves. In Vancouver, a supervised injection facility, established based on the recommendation of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), provides a safe and clean place for drug use, without providing drugs. This has resulted in the reduction of diseases caused by unclean needles, for example, and has even provided many with a lifeline to abstinence and detox from drugs.
Although counterintuitive, harm reduction has been met with resistance within Vancouver and in several cities in the US, as well. But, the effects of this program have been undeniably positive and have been supported by medical research. By providing a space where drug users feel safe, the city is providing drug users with the chance to use drugs safely and also to eventually transition into a drug-free life. Lupick calls for more American cities to consider the benefits of this program, as well as encouraging more doctors to enter the field of addiction medicine, where they are sorely needed.
For more information about Harm Reduction or to purchase a copy of Lupick’s book, visit the links below.
Travis Lupick, author of Fighting for Space: How a Group of Drug Users Transformed One City’s Struggle With Addiction
In the past, healthcare has spent thousands of dollars on treating the homeless, and often times the hospitals are never paid for these treatments. Homelessness affects an individuals health and severely decreases their life expectancy. Stephen Brown, Director of Preventive Emergency Medicine at University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences, Chicago, explains that homeless people are admitted to the hospital more than the average person and on a more consistent basis. Yet, following these treatments, the homeless are often sent back to the streets and forced to fend for themselves again.
However, some hospitals around the nation are beginning to acknowledge their role in helping homelessness. In light of this growing problem, bigger cities around the nation have started to provide housing to the homeless. But, they have replaced the traditional model that required people to be clean of their addiction before they were provided with housing with a much more efficient model that has already shown higher success rates. Shannon Nazworth, President and CEO of Ability Housing in Jacksonville, Florida, explains that the new “housing first” model takes people straight from the street and provides them with shelter, and then gives them access to resources that help them get back on their feet. She explains that they have the responsibility to pay rent, but the program helps the individuals access funds through benefits. The end goal of this program is to help the person work toward a financial position in which they are able to to move from program housing to different community housing.
Since “housing first” programs began, they have shown a significant increase in getting homeless individuals off the streets and keeping them off the streets. But, the programs have still faced backlash. Nazworth explains that due to stigmas associated with mental health and homelessness there have been misconceptions about the individuals that would be allowed in these programs. In order to change this, Nazworth states that the program allows people to come in and observe the housing to acquire more knowledge on it. By providing homeless individuals with the opportunity to receive housing and aid, many of them are capable of redeeming their health and eventually no longer rely on the programs for help anymore.
Stephen Brown, Director of Preventive Emergency Medicine at University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences, Chicago
Shannon Nazworth, President/CEO of Ability Housing, Jacksonville, Florida
Dr. Robert Lustig, pediatric endocrinologist, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at University of California, San Francisco, President of Institute for Responsible Nutrition, and author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease explains that generally people believe that obesity is a calorie problem: people eat too much and exercise too little. But, he states that there is something else at play here–the enormous increase in the consumption of dietary sugar across the country.
However, it is hard to place the blame on a lack of self-responsibility. Dr. Lustig explains that evidence shows sugar is addictive and it is capable of exciting the brain in a similar way that other substances of abuse do, too. Dr. Lustig believes there are two reasons sugar has become so prevalent in the human diet: first, sugar became cheaper, and second, the food industry put an emphasis on “low-fat”and “fat-free” diets that encouraged people to eat these foods that are higher in sugar.
The negative effects of sugar are not only seen through the increase in obesity, but also in the rise of diabetes which is increasing at a far quicker pace. Dr. Lustig states that this growth in diabetes is not just affecting those who are obese, it is affecting all people who consume sugar at a high rate. He further explains that diabetes is not about obesity, but that it’s about how our bodies metabolize what enters it and the damages that these bad foods cause in the process. In order to decrease the number of people being affected by diabetes and obesity, sugar consumption must go down.
Dr. Robert Lustig, pediatric endocrinologist, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at University of California, San Francisco, President of Institute for Responsible Nutrition, and author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease