Moving the motivation meter

Two novel drugs kickstart motivation in rats suffering from apathy and a lack of oomph, UConn researchers reported at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego on Nov. 5.

Apathy steals the excitement from life. It’s a feeling of being fatigued, uninterested, and emotionally flat. People who suffer from apathy find it hard to exert effort, and life can seem tremendously difficult. One of the primary symptoms of depression, it’s also a side effect of certain medications. It can also be caused by inflammation from an infection or chronic disease such as multiple sclerosis.

Apathy and lack of motivation are hard to treat. Many medications that help with other symptoms of depression don’t help much with them.

But now, UConn behavioral neuroscientist John Salamone and graduate student Renee Rotolo have found that two new drugs can restore normal behavior in rats who lack motivation, pointing the way to potential treatments.

Full story at Science Daily

Pain isn’t just physical—why many are using painkillers for emotional relief

Australians are increasingly using prescription or over-the-counter painkillers to ease emotional, rather than physical, pain. Our cultural understanding of pain is changing, and as a result it’s becoming more difficult to distinguish intoxication from relief.

In my recently published book A Fine Line: Painkillers and Pleasure in the Age of Anxiety, interviewees who used painkillers non-medically said they did so mainly to ease forms of suffering they acknowledge may not be medically defined as pain. Yet they experienced them as “painful”.

The US is currently going through what many term an “opioid epidemic”, while more than 1,000 Australians died of an opioid overdose in 2016, with 76% of these deaths related to prescription opioids. Recently, the ABC reported that the high-dose opioid patch fentanyl has fuelled an opioid dependence crisis in regional Australia.

Full story at Medical Xpress

What are the treatments for addiction?

Addictive disorders are a group of disorders that can cause physical and psychological damage. Receiving treatment is essential for breaking the cycle of addiction.

However, as a chronic disease, addiction is difficult to treat and requires on-going care.

In the United States, around 8.1 percent of the population, or 21.7 million people, either need or regularly receive treatment for substance use disorders, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

First steps

The first step towards recovery is acknowledging that substance use has become a problem in the person’s life which is disrupting the quality of their life. This can result from impairment in school, work, social, recreational or other important areas of function.

Full story at Medical News Today

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