Stop-Smoking Drug Makes Booze a Turnoff

By Dori F. Zaleznik, MD

Chantix Makes Booze a TurnoffVarenicline (Chantix), a drug that helps some smokers kick the habit could also reduce problem drinking by diminishing the pleasurable effects of alcohol, researchers suggested.

In a randomized, cross-over trial, dysphoric sensations after drinking an alcoholic beverage were greater when preceded by a dose of varenicline (Chantix) than placebo, reported Emma Childs, PhD, of the University of Chicago, and colleagues online inAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Alcohol-induced impairments in a measure of cognitive function also were less severe when participants took varenicline, the researchers indicated.

“This study, combined with previous evidence, suggests that varenicline may reduce alcohol drinking behaviors among light smokers by increasing the negative subjective effects of a low dose of alcohol, thus reducing the likelihood of a drinking episode becoming a binge,” Childs and colleagues concluded.

Full story at Med Page Today

Whitney Houston’s Death: Hallmarks of a Battle Against Addiction and Overdose

By Maia Szalavitz

Whitney Houston Battle of AddictionPop legend Whitney Houston was apparently found unresponsive in her bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, with bottles of prescription sedatives in her room. The cause of the singer’s death at age 48 has not been confirmed as an overdose — and the results of a toxicology report may not be available for weeks — but it bears many of the hallmarks of such a death.

Like most overdose victims, Houston had a long history of addiction. Her ongoing and distressingly intense battle with cocaine had received extensive media coverage. She had tried rehab at least three times; her latest stay was in May. Like her, the majority of overdose victims have typically attempted rehab previously.

Victims of unintentional overdose also or show clear signs of drug misuse before or at the time of their death. In a 2008 study in West Virginia — a state with a high rate of overdoses — researchers found signs of drug misuse, including shooting drugs intended to be taken orally or drinking alcohol while taking depressant drugs like Xanax, in 95% of the deaths.

Full story at Time

DSM-5, the new mental illness ‘bible,’ may list Internet addiction among illnesses

By Rheana Murray

Internet Addiction a Mental IllnessSurf the web too much? That might soon land you on a psychiatrist’s couch.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is catching heat over proposed amendments to its newest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) — widely considered the “bible” of psychiatric symptoms in the mental-health industry.

Opponents say the new version would label millions more people as “mentally ill” for conditions such as extreme shyness — and qualify them for psychiatric drugs they don’t need.

“[It’s\] hard to avoid the conclusion that DSM-5 will help the interests of the drug companies,” said Allen Frances of Duke University, according to Reuters.

The DSM-5, as the new edition will be called, is scheduled to be released in May 2013, and could list “Internet addiction” among its diagnoses.

The association says it is still considering how to address non-substance-abuse addictions.

Full story at NY Daily News

Is Twitter Really More Addictive than Alcohol? The Vagaries of Will and Desire

By Maia Szalavitz

Twitter AddictionTwitter and Facebook are harder to resist than alcohol and cigarettes, but so is the urge to work, according to new research on people’s daily struggles with self-control and desire. The counterintuitive findings may reveal more about the complexities of defining addiction and self-discipline than anything else.

Researchers gave BlackBerrys to 205 adults and signaled them seven times a day at randomly selected daytime hours for one week. When they were contacted, participants reported whether they were experiencing desire for something, what it was that they wanted, how strong the urge was, whether they wished to resist this desire and if they did in fact yield to the temptation.

The most strongly felt desires were for sleep and sex. Unexpectedly, cravings for cigarettes and alcohol were reported as weakest. In terms of actual behavior, participants had the hardest time stopping themselves from checking social media when they preferred not to, and from working when that was not what they truly wanted to do, suggesting that these urges actually drove people’s actions more than drugs or sex did.

Full story at Time

More heroin for heroin addicts – is the Department of Health quite off its head?

By Kathy Gyngell

Doctor Giving Heroin For AddictsFree heroin dispensing on the NHS is getting closer. For seven years now the Department of Health has pumped our money into its ‘injectable opiate treatment trials’ to prove that it ‘works’. Now, according to announcement this week, it plans to pour good money after bad, efficacious or not and regardless of other austerity measures. With lifesaving drugs being denied to people in need, there can be no justification for its ‘Phase Two programme roll out’

According to NTA accounts we have already funded this ‘experiment’ to the tune of £4.5 million, and nearly £2 million just in the last two years. The total spent since 2005 when the trials started, I have not yet been able to elicit, though one dedicated centre cost a cool half million to set up and run. The press officer I was directed to could not tell me. Nor did he know how much had been budgeted for the future of this ‘programme’.

The DoH declared on the press release that Injectable Opioid Treatment (IOT) is a ‘clinically-effective second-line treatment’ for people with chronic heroin addictions. This is based on its trial results. An alternative view of them, however, is that they prove the adage that an addict always wants more. For the 127 addicts initially involved in the trials it must have seemed all their Christmases had come at once.

Full story at The Daily Mail