How do people decide: Should I go, stay, drink?

Many studies of alcohol use disorders (AUDs) use tasks that involve monetary rewards or losses to examine individual decision-making vis-à-vis alcohol and other substance use. Yet drinking typically occurs in specific social and incentive contexts that do not involve economic decision-making. This study examined decisions about attending, and drinking in, hypothetical drinking/social contexts wherein several different incentive and disincentive options were provided to the individual.

Researchers used community advertisements to recruit 434 adults (240 men, 194 women), between 18 and 30 years of age, who varied widely in lifetime alcohol use as well as antisocial problems. Using a computer screen, all participants were presented with six different hypothetical scenarios of drinking at a party; incentives involved party-time fun activities and disincentives involved next-day responsibilities.

Full story at Science Daily

Democrats Ask Drug Policy Office to Do More to Combat Opioid Epidemic

Twenty Democratic senators are asking the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to do more to combat the opioid epidemic, according to the Associated Press.

In a letter to ONDCP Acting Director Richard Baum, the senators urged the Trump Administration to implement recommendations made by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. The senators criticized an administration budget proposal that would cut almost $400 million from drug and mental health programs. They also voiced opposition to the Department of Justice’s increasing insistence on treating drug addiction as a criminal justice issue.

Full story of the Democratic party’s fight on the opioid crisis at drugfree.org

The dangers of driving after restricted sleep and moderate alcohol intake

In a recent study, combining moderate alcohol consumption (within legal limits for driving) and moderate sleep restriction led to greater drowsiness and increased deficits in attention, compared with either sleep restriction or alcohol intake alone.

The synergistic effects lasted between 2 and 3 hours. Also, peak impairment occurred not at peak alcohol levels but 30 to 60 minutes after, despite receiving rest intervals in between testing.

Full story of alcohol intake and sleep at Science Daily

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

The study led by UW Medicine researchers interviewed 521 students recruited from four Seattle public middle schools. Researchers used data from annual assessments when students were ages 12-15 and then again when they were 18. The results were published in the journal Addiction.

“The findings suggest that if we can prevent or reduce chronic depression during early adolescence, we may reduce the prevalence of cannabis use disorder,” said lead author Isaac Rhew, research assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Full story of depression among young teens related to cannabis at Science Daily

National strategy to reduce opioid epidemic, an urgent public health priority

Years of sustained and coordinated efforts will be required to contain and reverse the harmful societal effects of the prescription and illicit opioid epidemics, which are intertwined and getting worse, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report, requested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), says it is possible to stem the still-escalating prevalence of opioid use disorder and other opioid-related harms without foreclosing access to opioids for patients suffering from pain whose providers have prescribed these drugs responsibly. The committee that conducted the study and wrote the report recommended actions the FDA, other federal agencies, state and local governments, and health-related organizations should take — which include promoting more judicious prescribing of opioids, expanding access to treatment for opioid use disorder, preventing more overdose deaths, weighing societal impacts in opioid-related regulatory decisions, and investing in research to better understand the nature of pain and develop non-addictive alternatives.

“The broad reach of the epidemic has blurred the formerly distinct social boundary between prescribed opioids and illegally manufactured ones, such as heroin,” said committee chair Richard J. Bonnie, Harrison Foundation Professor of Medicine and Law and director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. “This report provides an action plan directed particularly at the health professions and government agencies responsible for regulating them. This plan aims to help the millions of people who suffer from chronic pain while reducing unnecessary opioid prescribing. We also wanted to convey a clear message about the magnitude of the challenge. This epidemic took nearly two decades to develop, and it will take years to unravel.”

Full story of national strategy to reduce the opioid epidemic at Science Daily