Enzyme dysfunction and binge drinking ……

A new study in mice shows that restoring the synthesis of a key brain chemical tied to inhibiting addictive behavior may help prevent alcohol cravings following binge drinking.

A malfunctioning enzyme may be a reason that binge drinking increases the odds of alcoholism, according to a study by scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Full story, click here

Research into cocaine addiction

New research by scientists at  Michigan University show insight into way cocaine works in the brain, and how addiction loop might be broken

‘Researchers say cocaine alters the nucleus accumbens, the brain’s pleasure center that responds to stimuli such as food, sex, and drugs.

“Understanding what happens molecularly to this brain region during long-term exposure to drugs might give us insight into how addiction occurs,” says A. J. Robison, assistant professor in the department of physiology and the neuroscience program at Michigan State University.’

via futurity

Published in The Journal of Neuroscience 

Abstract : The transcription factor ΔFosB and the brain-enriched calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKIIα) are induced in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) by chronic exposure to cocaine or other psychostimulant drugs of abuse, in which the two proteins mediate sensitized drug responses. Although ΔFosB and CaMKIIα both regulate AMPA glutamate receptor expression and function in NAc, dendritic spine formation on NAc medium spiny neurons (MSNs), and locomotor sensitization to cocaine, no direct link between these molecules has to date been explored. Here, we demonstrate that ΔFosB is phosphorylated by CaMKIIα at the protein-stabilizing Ser27 and that CaMKII is required for the cocaine-mediated accumulation of ΔFosB in rat NAc. Conversely, we show that ΔFosB is both necessary and sufficient for cocaine induction of CaMKIIα gene expression in vivo, an effect selective for D1-type MSNs in the NAc shell subregion. Furthermore, induction of dendritic spines on NAc MSNs and increased behavioral responsiveness to cocaine after NAc overexpression of ΔFosB are both CaMKII dependent. Importantly, we demonstrate for the first time induction of ΔFosB and CaMKII in the NAc of human cocaine addicts, suggesting possible targets for future therapeutic intervention. These data establish that ΔFosB and CaMKII engage in a cell-type- and brain-region-specific positive feedforward loop as a key mechanism for regulating the reward circuitry of the brain in response to chronic cocaine.


Is smartphone addiction a real problem ?

Smartphone addiction may be hiding a real problem, or is it just people wanting to jump on an addiction bandwagon ?

Interesting article with some seemingly valid research here : One in ten people have revealed that they are addicted to their smartphone, according to a new study.

The US study conducted on 2,000 college students has found that ten per cent respondents have claimed to have a full-blown addiction to the gadgets, the Sun reported.

The study found that 85% people constantly checked their phones for the time, while three-quarters slept beside it.

Via DNA India


Crystal Meth Addiction Story

Harrowing story of the reality of addiction to crystal meth

A 32-year-old elementary school teacher — we’ll call her Jamie to protect her identity — never felt like she belonged. Not in her small town, not in the home she was raised in, and not in her own skin.

Now a recovering methamphetamine addict, she tells the story of why she made the choice to use meth as a way to lose weight, as a way to help make her feel like she belongs.

Jamie knew what junkies looked like and she’d smile at herself driving down empty stretches of highway. All she’d see were her white teeth filling up the rear view mirror, looking past the purple cheek lesions and hollowed-out shadow of a meth addict.

Via :


Eating disorder awareness

Interesting piece about a student run awareness week for eating disorders – education is a key part of helping to deal with this problem, and initiatives like this can help significantly.

The aim of promoting awareness spread further than just Portsmouth with a Parliamentary debate taking place in Westminster Hall on 14th February 2013.

The inquiry – which heard from academics, magazine editors, the public, and other experts – were informed that 1.6 million people in the UK have eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

The SRSH has created groups to support students with eating difficulties with the aim of revolutionising access to support across university campuses.

These groups provide low level support from trained students and allow a safe and informal space in which peers are able to reflect, listen, be listened to and have a chance to share pro-recovery stories.

Article via  Galleon news


Hazelden introduces maintenance programme

For the first time, Hazelden will begin providing medication-assisted treatment for people hooked on heroin or opioid painkillers, starting at its Center City, Minnesota facility and expanding across its treatment network in five states in 2012

This so-called maintenance therapy differs from simply detoxifying addicts until they are completely abstinent.

Instead, it acknowledges that continued treatment with certain medications, which can include some of the very opioid drugs that people are misusing, could be required for years.

Via : Time Magazine


Does Bloomberg need a beer policy?

Any attempt by anyone to improve public health is always going to have critics, and always potentially run into problems

Whatever happens eventually to Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to limit the size of soda that Americans can drink, the point made in this article in the New York Daily News has some merit.

Written prior to the introduction of the mayors attempt to limit sugary sodas to 16 ounces, the article makes the point that it would still be possible to buy beer in 24 out containers.

Whilst not wishing to get into a debate as to which is worse view, there is some  value in the realisation that public health needs priorities, and if limiting size of soda is a real priority over limiting size of beer then that is a conscious choice.

The danger is that it is not necessarily a conscious choice but simply a reflection of a view, accurate, about the danger of sugary soda drinks.

The real issue is about education.

Only through a long and sustained period of education will any sense of understanding of what the dangers to an individual’s health are come through.

The only real problem with education is that it is competing  with $1 billion industry that has a huge territory to defend.

Full story New York Daily News


University of Iowa chosen for addiction training

The University of Iowa has been chosen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to become a national center to help train people working with native North American and Alaskan people who have addiction problems.

The University of Iowa was chosen “because it already has provided such education throughout the Midwest since 1995 and has focused specifically on improving the treatment that’s available for American Indian populations in states such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said Anne Helene Skinstad, the center’s director and a clinical associate professor of community and behavioral health”

Full Story via press-citizen


Research into high energy levels and alcoholism

Research into why people drink excessively, become alcoholics, or simply heavy drinkers with an alcohol problem (if there is such a thing) is a hugely complex area because of the diverse nature of people, alcohol and the effects of alcohol on people.

This piece of research done at Yale, and published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, is potentially very significant because it identifies one of the factors that most alcoholics in recovery would confirm – that alcohol can induce a sense of energy to the brain. In the book Alcoholics Anonymous, a doctor writes something to the effect that alcoholics drink because they like the sensation that alcohol effects within them.

It is certainly true that alcohol can produce a different effect internally on alcoholics that it does not affect on people who are not alcoholics. Understanding what that effect is and how it contributes to the illness of alcoholism is hugely important. This piece of research could make a significant contribution to that evolving debate.

The research is titled

Increased brain uptake and oxidation of acetate in heavy drinkers


‘When a person consumes ethanol, the body quickly begins to convert it to acetic acid, which circulates in the blood and can serve as a source of energy for the brain and other organs. This study used  13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy to test whether chronic heavy drinking is associated with greater brain uptake and oxidation of acetic acid, providing a potential metabolic reward or adenosinergic effect as a consequence of drinking.

Seven heavy drinkers, who regularly consumed at least 8 drinks per week and at least 4 drinks per day at least once per week, and 7 light drinkers, who consumed fewer than 2 drinks per week were recruited. The subjects were administered [2-13C]acetate for 2 hours and scanned throughout that time with magnetic resonance spectroscopy of the brain to observe natural  13C abundance of N-acetylaspartate (NAA) and the appearance of13C-labeled glutamate, glutamine, and acetate.

Heavy drinkers had approximately 2-fold more brain acetate relative to blood and twice as much labeled glutamate and glutamine. The results show that acetate transport and oxidation are faster in heavy drinkers compared with that in light drinkers. Our finding suggests that a new therapeutic approach to supply acetate during alcohol detoxification may be beneficial.’

J Clin Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI65153.

Published March 8, 2013

Full article on The Journal of Clinical Investigation website, click here

For homepage of Graeme mason, lead rsearcher , click here

For the main Yale website, click here


Targeting young addicts

Article about how authorities in southern California are aiming to crack down on heroin addiction amongst young addicts

‘A heroin addict for years, Taylor Beatty is 22 years old, has been sober for a month, and says she faces a daily struggle against the drug that is addicting an increasing number of young people.

“I started using at 12 and this has been the biggest struggle I’ve had to go through in my life,” she said.

Taylor has been homeless for several years trying to regain her family’s trust. She recently overdoses and said she didn’t think she was going to make it. Luckily, she did.

Now, she’s in her 17th treatment center.’

Full Story – NBC