Addiction Issues Magnified During Hurricanes

Authorities planning for natural disasters such as hurricanes must prepare for its effect on people struggling with drugs or alcohol, experts tell the Associated Press. The stress of hurricanes leads to an increased danger of relapse and overdose.

Before Hurricane Irma hit Florida, a needle exchange program in Miami distributed extra syringes, while patients at methadone clinics picked up advance medication. Florida, in cooperation with the federal government, allowed methadone clinics to provide up to five days of medication ahead of the hurricane.

Full story at drugfree.org

Marijuana may produce psychotic-like effects in high-risk individuals

Marijuana may bring on temporary paranoia and other psychosis-related effects in individuals at high risk of developing a psychotic disorder, finds a preliminary study from researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC).

The study was published last month in an online edition of Psychiatry Research.

Individuals who have had mild or transient psychotic symptoms (such as unusual thoughts, suspiciousness, perceptual disturbances) without using substances such as marijuana or alcohol and have a family history of psychosis or other risk factors are considered at clinical high risk for psychotic disorder. Previous studies have found an association between marijuana use and psychosis in the general population, but none have rigorously examined marijuana’s effects in those at greatest risk for psychosis.

Full story at Science Daily

Reversing the negative effects of adolescent marijuana use

Researchers at Western University have found a way to use pharmaceuticals to reverse the negative psychiatric effects of THC, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana. Chronic adolescent marijuana use has previously been linked to the development of psychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia, in adulthood. But until now, researchers were unsure of what exactly was happening in the brain to cause this to occur.

“What is important about this study is that not only have we identified a specific mechanism in the prefrontal cortex for some of the mental health risks associated with adolescent marijuana use, but we have also identified a mechanism to reverse those risks,” said Steven Laviolette, professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

Full story at Science Daily

Do we need to reform international drug treaties as more countries legalize cannabis?

The future of international drug control treaties is in doubt because of recent treaty-violating decisions to legalize cannabis use in Canada, the United States and Uruguay. Professor Wayne Hall, whose 2014 review of 20 years of cannabis research made world headlines, thinks so. If decriminalization is the way of the future, Hall advocates a cautious approach to policy reform that would involve trialling and evaluating the effects of incrementally more liberal drug policies. His suggestions, outlined below, are published online today by the scientific journal Addiction.

The international drug control treaties are endorsed by most member states of the United Nations (UN). The treaties prohibit the non-medical use of amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine and heroin. They aim to reduce the harmful use of prohibited drugs and facilitate access to these drugs for medical and scientific purposes. Critics claim that the treaties have failed to tackle non-medical use of prohibited drugs and have justified policies that conflict with UN human rights treaties by incarcerating large numbers of drug users.

Full story at Science Daily

Trump Has Not Yet Taken Action to Declare Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency

Although President Trump announced in August that he was declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency, he has not yet taken formal steps to do so, CBS News reports.

If he does officially declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, then FEMA can make money available to states, the article notes. States could also request aid, and public health workers could be redeployed to fight the epidemic.

Full story at drugfree.org