The dangers of driving after restricted sleep and moderate alcohol intake

In a recent study, combining moderate alcohol consumption (within legal limits for driving) and moderate sleep restriction led to greater drowsiness and increased deficits in attention, compared with either sleep restriction or alcohol intake alone.

The synergistic effects lasted between 2 and 3 hours. Also, peak impairment occurred not at peak alcohol levels but 30 to 60 minutes after, despite receiving rest intervals in between testing.

Full story of alcohol intake and sleep at Science Daily

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

The study led by UW Medicine researchers interviewed 521 students recruited from four Seattle public middle schools. Researchers used data from annual assessments when students were ages 12-15 and then again when they were 18. The results were published in the journal Addiction.

“The findings suggest that if we can prevent or reduce chronic depression during early adolescence, we may reduce the prevalence of cannabis use disorder,” said lead author Isaac Rhew, research assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Full story of depression among young teens related to cannabis at Science Daily

National strategy to reduce opioid epidemic, an urgent public health priority

Years of sustained and coordinated efforts will be required to contain and reverse the harmful societal effects of the prescription and illicit opioid epidemics, which are intertwined and getting worse, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report, requested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), says it is possible to stem the still-escalating prevalence of opioid use disorder and other opioid-related harms without foreclosing access to opioids for patients suffering from pain whose providers have prescribed these drugs responsibly. The committee that conducted the study and wrote the report recommended actions the FDA, other federal agencies, state and local governments, and health-related organizations should take — which include promoting more judicious prescribing of opioids, expanding access to treatment for opioid use disorder, preventing more overdose deaths, weighing societal impacts in opioid-related regulatory decisions, and investing in research to better understand the nature of pain and develop non-addictive alternatives.

“The broad reach of the epidemic has blurred the formerly distinct social boundary between prescribed opioids and illegally manufactured ones, such as heroin,” said committee chair Richard J. Bonnie, Harrison Foundation Professor of Medicine and Law and director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. “This report provides an action plan directed particularly at the health professions and government agencies responsible for regulating them. This plan aims to help the millions of people who suffer from chronic pain while reducing unnecessary opioid prescribing. We also wanted to convey a clear message about the magnitude of the challenge. This epidemic took nearly two decades to develop, and it will take years to unravel.”

Full story of national strategy to reduce the opioid epidemic at Science Daily

Medicaid Spending on Opioid Addiction Treatment Has Risen Dramatically: Report

A new report finds spending on Medicaid-covered prescriptions for the treatment of opioid use disorder and opioid overdose increased dramatically between 2011 and 2016, according to NPR. The largest increase occurred after 2014.

The report by the Urban Institute found between 2011 and 2016, Medicaid spending on opioid use disorder treatment prescriptions for buprenorphine, naltrexone, and naloxone increased 136 percent, from $394.2 million to $929.9 million. Most of the money went to buprenorphine (sold as Suboxone), for which spending increased 98 percent between 2011 and 2016, from $380.9 million to $753.9 million.

Full story of risen Medicaid spending on opioid addiction treatment at drugfree.org

In rats that can’t control glutamate, cocaine is less rewarding, staving off relapse

Rats missing a neuroreceptor that controls the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate are less amenable to the rewarding effects of cocaine, increasing their chance of kicking the habit once addicted, researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) find. Their work, appearing July 11 in Cell Reports, suggests that the receptor, which protects nerve cells from fatal inundation by excess glutamate, is involved in modulating the reward-seeking behavior associated with drug addiction.

By silencing the gene responsible for expressing the receptor, called mGluR2, the researchers studied its effect across the stages of the cocaine addiction cycle. Rats without the receptor were more likely to consume cocaine when it was made freely available but less likely to seek out cocaine when they had to demonstrate more effort to obtain it. When cocaine was no longer available to them, the rats were quicker to cease the behaviors that had previously resulted in the drug’s delivery. Even when cocaine was subsequently re-introduced, they showed reduced interest for drug seeking, constituting a lower rate of relapse.

Full story of glutamate control from control use at Science Daily