Opioid users could benefit from meth-relapse prevention strategy, study finds

New research raises the possibility that a wider group of people battling substance use disorders may benefit from a Scripps Research-developed relapse-prevention compound than previously thought.

The research, published recently in the journal Learning and Memory, shows that the compound appears to be effective even if multiple drugs of abuse are involved, such as methamphetamine in combination with either opioids or nicotine. Polysubstance use is common among people addicted to methamphetamine, in part because the rate of smoking is high among meth users. In addition, the meth available today is so potent that many users turn to opioids to dampen the high.

The potential medication, a modified form of the compound blebbistatin, works by breaking down methamphetamine-linked memories that can trigger craving and relapse. The opportunity to boost treatment success by modulating emotional memory is a novel concept, and a promising one, says Courtney Miller, PhD, associate professor on the Florida campus of Scripps Research and senior author of the study.

Full story at Science Daily

Using the immune system to combat addiction

According to new research, harnessing specific proteins that the immune system produces may lead to improved treatments for addiction, which is a notoriously difficult condition to treat.

In 2011, at least 20 million people in the United States had an addiction, excluding tobacco.

An estimated 100 people per day die from drug overdose, a figure that has tripled in the past 2 decades.

Addiction is a complex topic, involving interplay between neuroscience, psychology, and sociology.

Full story at Medical News Today

FDA Calls Youth E-Cigarette Use an Epidemic and Announces Steps to Curb Use

Youth e-cigarette use in the United States is an epidemic, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday. He announced new steps the agency is taking to prevent youth vaping.

The FDA will stop sales of flavored e-cigarettes if major manufacturers cannot prove they are doing enough to keep them out of the hands of children and teens, USA Today reports. The agency is giving manufacturers 60 days to submit plans to prevent youth e-cigarette use. If the FDA does not approve the plans, it could order their products off the market.

Full story at drugfree.org

Binge drinking affects male and female brains differently

Gene expression in an area of the brain linked to addiction is affected differently by repeated binge drinking in males and females, finds a new study published today in Frontiers in Genetics. It reveals for the first time that genes associated with hormone signaling and immune function are affected by repeated binge drinking in female mice, whereas genes associated with nerve signaling are affected in males. These findings have significant implications for the treatment of alcohol use disorder as they emphasize the importance of tailoring effective therapies towards male and female patients.

“We show that repeated binge drinking significantly alters molecular pathways in the nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain linked to addiction. A comparison of activated pathways reveals different responses in each sex, similar to that reported in recent research on male and female mice tested during the withdrawal phase following chronic alcohol intoxication,” says Deborah Finn, a Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University and a Research Pharmacologist at the VA Portland Health Care System, USA.

She continues, “These findings are important as they increase our understanding of male and female differences in molecular pathways and networks that can be influenced by repeated binge drinking. This knowledge can help us identify and develop new targeted treatments for alcohol use disorder in males and female patients.”

Full story at Science Daily

Can cannabis be a sleep aid?

Cannabis has long been used to aid sleep. A frequent lack of sleep can have a significant impact on mental and physical wellbeing. But using cannabis requires caution, not least because it is currently unclear whether the drug has proven benefits for sleep.

Several states in America have recently allowed healthcare professionals to use cannabis as a treatment for various medical conditions. Others are also currently considering their position on the medical use of cannabis.

With the legislation around cannabis use rapidly changing, the question of whether it can help with sleep is becoming ever more critical.

Full story at Medical News Today