Why the marijuana and tobacco policy camps are on very different paths

The regulatory approaches to marijuana and tobacco in the United States are on decidedly different paths and, according to researchers from the U.S. and Australia, neither side appears interested in learning from the other.

“The two policy communities have shown very little interest in each other’s policy debates,” Wayne Hall and Lynn Kozlowski write in a new paper published in the journal Addiction.

Hall, the lead author, is a professor at the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland, Australia, and is an expert on marijuana and other drug use issues. Kozlowski is professor of community health and health behavior in the University at Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions and an expert on tobacco use and control.

Full story of marijuana and tobacco policy camps at Science Daily

Bill Would Create Tough New Penalties for People Caught With Synthetic Opioids

Two senators on the Judiciary Committee are preparing a bill that would create tough new penalties for people caught with synthetic opioids, NPR reports.

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who have supported reducing some drug sentences, are preparing the new bill. Grassley is the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Feinstein is the committee’s ranking member.

Full story of new penalties for synthetic opioids at drugfree.org

Oxytocin reduces cravings for methamphetamine

Many people have suggested that addiction hijacks the body’s natural drives in the service of compulsive drug use. A new study now suggests that hijacking another natural system in the brain may help overcome drug addiction. Published in Biological Psychiatry, the study shows that administration of oxytocin — a naturally occurring molecule well known for its role in social bonding and childbirth — reduces drug-seeking behavior in methamphetamine-addicted rats.

“There are virtually no pharmacotherapeutics for methamphetamine addiction, a chronically relapsing disease that destroys many lives,” said first author Dr. Brittney Cox, now at the University of California Irvine. “Our results are important because they support development of novel, oxytocin-based therapeutics for methamphetamine abuse in humans.”

Full story of oxytocin and methamphetamine cravings at Science Daily

Studying children at increased risk of suicide

Teenagers injured through drinking, drug abuse or self-harming have a five-fold increased risk of dying from suicide in the next decade.

Children and young people admitted to hospital in England with injuries related to self-harming, drugs or alcohol faced an increased risk of killing themselves over the following 10 years, according to new research.

While previous studies have shown that children and adolescents who self-harm are at a higher risk of suicide, the paper by academics from UCL and the University of Leeds, argues that the risks apply to a larger group of adolescents.

Cost-effective ways to combat HIV risk among intravenous drug users identified

With the abuse of opioids on the rise in the United States, Stanford University researchers are concerned that increased HIV transmission from shared needles won’t be far behind.

“There’s an opioid epidemic in our country, and there’s a real public health crisis associated with injecting,” said Cora Bernard, a graduate student in management science and engineering. “We think it’s important to understand what investments give highest value because HIV prevention programs, and especially programs that reduce the prevalence of injection drug use, can have outsized, positive impact on individuals, families and public safety.”

Bernard is the lead author of a study on prevention programs that could head off a resurgence of HIV and perhaps decrease the effects of the opioid crisis. The study will be published online May 24 in PLOS Medicine. The senior author is Margaret Brandeau, PhD, professor of management science and engineering.

Full story of cost effective ways to combat HIV risk at Science Daily