Teen brain volume changes with small amount of cannabis use, study finds

At a time when several states are moving to legalize recreational use of marijuana, new research shows that concerns about the drug’s impact on teens may be warranted. The study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, shows that even a small amount of cannabis use by teenagers is linked to differences in their brains.

Senior author and University of Vermont (UVM) Professor of Psychiatry Hugh Garavan, Ph.D., and first author and former UVM postdoctoral fellow Catherine Orr, Ph.D., say this research is the first to find evidence that an increase in gray matter volume in certain parts of the adolescent brain is a likely consequence of low-level marijuana use.

Few studies have looked at the effects of the first few uses of a drug, says Garavan. Most researchers focus on heavy marijuana users later in life and compare them against non-users. These new findings identify an important new area of focus.

Full story at Science Daily

Meth’s Resurgence Spotlights Lack Of Meds To Combat The Addiction

In 2016, news reports warned the public of an opioid epidemic gripping the nation.

But Madeline Vaughn, then a lead clinical intake coordinator at the Houston-based addiction treatment organization Council on Recovery, sensed something different was going on with the patients she checked in from the street.

Their behavior, marked by twitchy suspicion, a poor memory and the feeling that someone was following them, signaled that the people coming through the center’s doors were increasingly hooked on a different drug: methamphetamine.

Full story at Kaiser News

Kratom: Everything you need to know

Kratom is a plant that grows in Southeast Asia. Its leaves have psychotropic and opioid-like pain-relieving effects.

People living in areas where kratom grows sometimes use it to treat diarrhea, pain, cough, and fatigue.

People living in the United States have shown increasing interest in using this substance as an alternative to opioid pain relievers. Other people use kratom to experience the psychotropic effects, or the “high.”

While kratom is currently legal in the U.S., the Drug Enforcement Agency list it as a “Drug of Concern” due to several potential safety issues.

Full story at Medical News Today

Through my eyes: Addiction and recovery

Growing up, I had the picture-perfect family. I lived in a beautiful home in the suburbs of Detroit with my parents and younger brother. I had every opportunity in the world, attended private schools, and even made it onto the honor roll. I was involved in dance, theater, and many of the school sports teams.

Beneath the surface, however, I always felt a lot of pressure to be perfect.

I was the first of 12 grandchildren, and this led to me feeling that I had to be the best at everything I did, which gave me terrible anxiety from the early age of 5.

Full story at Medical News Today

Drugs of abuse: Identifying the addiction circuit

What happens in the brain of a compulsive drug user? What is the difference in brain function between an addict and a person who takes a drug in a controlled manner? In an attempt solve this puzzle, neurobiologists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland; have been looking at this difference in a rodent addiction model. They have discovered that the brain circuit connecting the decision-making region to the reward system is stronger in compulsive animals. The researchers also found that by decreasing the activity of this circuit, compulsive mice were able to regain control and that conversely, by stimulating the connection a mouse that initially remained in control became addicted. The work is published in this week’s edition of the journal Nature.

Addiction is an disease that develops in stages: it starts with the initial exposure to a substance followed by a phase where consumption remains controlled. Some individuals however will start using drugs compulsively in spite of the major negative effects it has on their lives (such as mounting debt, social isolation or incarceration). Clinical estimates suggest that only one person in five moves from controlled to compulsive use.

“We do not know why one person becomes addicted to drugs while another doesn’t,” begins Christian Lüscher, senior author and professor at the Departments of Basic and Clinical Neurosciences of the Faculty of Medicine. “But our study identifies the difference in brain function between the two behaviors.”

Full story at Science Daily