Surgeon General’s Marijuana Warning Omits Crucial Context

Speaking about a recent federal advisory on marijuana, Dr. Jerome Adams, the surgeon general, put a new spin on long-standing admonitions about the drug.

“Marijuana has a unique impact on the developing brain. It can prime your brain for addiction to other substances,” Adams said at a Washington, D.C., substance abuse conference held late in August and sponsored by Oxford House, a recovery center network.

This is a reiteration of the old “gateway” argument: the idea that marijuana is frequently an entree to using other, harder drugs. And the surgeon general’s emphasis comes just as many states are loosening restrictions around its medicinal and adult recreational use.

Full story at Kaiser Health News

Targeting one gut bacterium may treat alcoholic liver disease

Precision targeting of bacteria in a different way to antibiotics shows promise as a treatment for alcoholic liver disease, according to new research in mice.

A recent Nature study paper describes how an international team of scientists used bacteriophages, which are viruses that kill bacteria, to eradicate alcoholic liver disease in mice.

They used a particular mixture of phages to selectively eliminate Enterococcus faecalis, a gut bacterium that releases a toxin that kills liver cells.

They found that people with alcoholic liver disease had more E. faecalis in their guts than people without this condition.

Full story at Medical News Today

Specialists call for ‘aggressive’ measures against e-cigarettes

After uncovering a key mechanism that could explain how e-cigarettes harm the lungs, brain, and cardiovascular system, a team of researchers now calls for much stricter regulation of these electronic devices.

Electronic cigarettes — e-cigarettes, for short — were developed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, in an effort to help wean smokers off their harmful habit.

However, evidence has increasingly come to light that the liquid that goes into an e-cigarette and the materials of the devices themselves contain dangerous levels of toxic substances that can harm health.

Full story at Medical News Today

‘Benzos’ Are Rising in Popularity Among Teens and They’re Getting Them On Social Media

Teen addiction to benzodiazepines, called “benzos” for short, is on the rise, and these drugs are easier for teens to access—and get addicted to—than most parents think. In fact, they can be as easy to order as direct-messaging a dealer on Instagram.

“Benzodiazepines are one of the most commonly prescribed classes of psychoactive drugs,” says Lawrence Weinstein, M.D., chief medical officer at American Addiction Centers. “In the past 20 years, benzodiazepine prescriptions for adolescents have doubled. With the medication being so prevalent, it is not uncommon for a teen to either be prescribed the medication themselves, have a parent who keeps a prescription in the home, or know of someone with that prescription.”

Even if teens do not have direct access to a prescription, finding a supplier can be as simple as logging into their social networks like Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. “Where teens are getting these drugs from is simple: If they are social and tech-savvy, they can access them,” says Dr. Weinstein.

Full story at Parents.com

Meth Causes More Overdoses Than Any Other Drug in Western States

Methamphetamine caused more overdose deaths than any other drug in western states in 2017, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Nationwide, fentanyl remains the most common cause of drug overdoses, The Wall Street Journal reports. Meth was the fourth-leading cause of drug overdoses nationally. Of the 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2017, fentanyl was involved in 39%, compared with 23% for heroin, 21% for cocaine and 13% for meth.

The CDC said 2018 could be the first year that overdoses deaths have dropped since 1990. The agency is still calculating 2018 drug overdose statistics.

Full story at Partnership For Drug-Free Kids