Crack Cocaine Increasingly Laced With Fentanyl

A Philadelphia hospital is reporting a spike in the number of patients who are being treated in the emergency room for overdoses from crack cocaine laced with fentanyl. Experts say fentanyl is being mixed with a number of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and ketamine.

In a recent four-day period, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania treated 18 patients for an apparent overdose of crack cocaine laced with fentanyl, HealthDay reports. Three of the patients died from their overdose, the researchers report in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.

Full story at drugfree.org

Cutting societal alcohol use may prevent alcohol disorders developing

Society must take collective responsibility to reduce the harm caused by alcohol use disorders, a University of Otago academic says.

Dr Charlene Rapsey, of New Zealand’s Dunedin School of Medicine’s Department of Psychological Medicine, says while alcohol is commonly enjoyed by many people and only a minority of people develop an alcohol use disorder, the negative consequences of such a disorder can be severe and long-lasting.

Her research paper, published in Alcohol and Alcoholism, used data from Te Rau Hinengaro, The New Zealand Mental Health Survey, to study transitions from alcohol use to disorder.

Of the nearly 13,000 participants, 94.6 per cent had used alcohol at least once, 85.1 per cent had had at least 12 drinks in the past year, and 16 per cent had developed an alcohol disorder.

Full story at Science Daily

How lights and sounds encourage risky behavior

A recent study provides fresh insight into gambling addiction. According to the findings, the sounds and lights that accompany a win on slot machines increase the likelihood of making risky decisions.

An addiction to gambling affects a significant proportion of adults in the United States.

The North American Foundation for Gambling Addiction Help estimate that 2.6 percent of U.S. adults are addicted to gambling, which equates to around 10 million people.

The cost to the economy is equally shocking, with experts estimating it to be close to $6 billion per year.

Full story at Medical News Today

What are the symptoms of addiction?

Addiction is a disease with a range of harmful conditions and behaviors. Recognizing these signs can help a person with addiction receive the treatment they need.

Doctors currently diagnose addictions under a category known as “substance-related and addictive disorders.”

The main symptom of an addiction is a problematic pattern of use, which leads to clinically significant impairment or distress.

The specific symptoms vary according to the addictive disorder.

Full story at Medical News Today

Sex, drugs and estradiol: Why cannabis affects women differently

Cannabis use is riding high on a decade-long wave of decriminalization, legalization and unregulated synthetic substitutes. As society examines the impact, an interesting disparity has become apparent: the risks are different in females than in males.

A new review of animal studies says that sex differences in response to cannabis are not just socio-cultural, but biological too. Published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, it examines the influence of sex hormones like testosterone, estradiol (estrogen) and progesterone on the endocannabinoid system: networks of brain cells which communicate using the same family of chemicals found in cannabis, called ‘cannabinoids’.

Animal studies

“It has been pretty hard to get laboratory animals to self-administer cannabinoids like human cannabis users,” says study co-author Dr Liana Fattore, Senior Researcher at the National Research Council of Italy and President of the Mediterranean Society of Neuroscience. “However, animal studies on the effects of sex hormones and anabolic steroids on cannabinoid self-administration behavior have contributed a lot to our current understanding of sex differences in response to cannabis.”

Full story at Science Daily