Individual Differences, Not Just How Much You Drink, Influences Risk of Blackout

There is no safe amount of alcohol to drink before people put themselves at risk of blacking out, a review of studies concludes. Individual biological differences, not just alcohol consumption, influence the risk of blackouts, Medical Daily reports.

Scientists from the Research Society on Alcoholism reviewed 26 studies on alcohol-induced blackouts published in the past five years.

Alcohol-induced blackouts, or memory loss for all or portions of events that occurred during a drinking episode, are reported by approximately 50 percent of drinkers, the researchers wrote in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Blackouts are associated with a wide range of negative consequences, including injury and death.

Full story of alcohol and blackouts at drugfree.org

Suicide Rate on the Rise; Experts Say Rising Drug Use May Be Contributing Factor

The suicide rate in the United States rose 24 percent between 1999 and 2014, according to anew report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The researchers say increasing drug use may be one of the contributing factors.

The economy is another possible factor in the increasing suicide rate, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Suicide is the tenth-leading cause of death in the United States, the report notes. The suicide rate continued to increase in the first half of 2015, the CDC found in a separate study. There were more suicides among men than women, but the suicide rate for women increased faster during the study period.

Full story of suicide rates rising due to drug use at drugfree.org

Nations’ Widely Varying Approach to Drug Policy on Display at UN Conference

At this week’s three-day special session to address global drug policy, nations’ widely varying approach to drug policy is striking, the Associated Press reports. It is the first special session to address the topic in almost 20 years.

Jamaica has decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, while Cuba opposes legalizing drugs or declaring them harmless. Iran seized 620 tons of drugs last year and said it is helping protect the world from “the evils of addiction.”

Canada’s Health Minister, Jane Philpott, announced her government’s plans to introduce a measure next spring to legalize marijuana. Indonesia’s Ambassador, Rachmat Budiman, called for a “zero-tolerance approach” to suppress and eliminate illegal drugs. Indonesia and Iran impose the death penalty on drug traffickers.

Full story of drug policy at the UN Conference at drugfree.org

Scientists Warn About Mental Health Consequences of Using Marijuana

A group of scientists in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Australia is warning about the potential mental health consequences of marijuana use, The Guardian reports. They say frequent use of marijuana increases the risk of psychotic disorders in vulnerable people.

The scientists are calling for global public health campaigns to warn the public about marijuana’s risks. They say the vast majority of people who smoke marijuana do not develop psychotic disorders. But those who do can suffer from hallucinations, delusions and irrational behavior. Most people recover from these episodes, but some go on to develop schizophrenia, the article notes. Heavy marijuana use is associated with an increased risk.

“It’s not sensible to wait for absolute proof that cannabis is a component cause of psychosis,” said Sir Robin Murray, Professor of Psychiatric Research at King’s College London. “There’s already ample evidence to warrant public education around the risks of heavy use of cannabis, particularly the high-potency varieties. For many reasons, we should have public warnings.”

Full story of mental health consequences of marijuana at drugfree.org

Just One Counseling Session in the ER Can Help Reduce Opioid Misuse: Study

A single 30-minute session with a trained therapist during an emergency room visit can motivate people who misused prescription opioid painkillers to reduce their use, a new study concludes.

In the six months after their ER visit, patients were less likely to misuse opioid drugs, UPI reports. They also reduced risky behavior that could lead to an opioid overdose. In contrast, a group of similar patients who did not receive counseling did not have as much of a drop in opioid misuse and risky behavior.

The therapists conducting the counseling sessions used a technique called motivational interviewing, which helps people understand the risks they face from drug use. They learn about the factors that can increase that risk, such as drinking alcohol or taking other drugs such as benzodiazepines while they are taking painkillers. The technique is designed to help people increase their desire and commitment to change their behavior.

Full story of counseling session in the ER and opioid abuse at drugfree.org