Chronic Alcohol Use Can Disrupt Sleep Long After Person Stops Drinking

Chronic use of alcohol can disrupt a person’s sleep months or even years after a person stops drinking, according to researchers from Boston University School of Medicine.

The researchers say chronic alcohol use can disrupt cells in an area of the brain stem involved in regulating many aspects of sleep, Boston Magazine reports. As a result of prolonged exposure to alcohol, the activity that excite neurons in the brain increases, while at the same time decreasing the activity of a chemical that inhibits activity of these neurons. This causes over-activity of brain chemicals, and leads to a disruption in the normal sleep cycle, the researchers write in Behavioral Brain Research.

Lead author Subimal Datta says more research is needed to identify exactly how these brain changes are occurring, and to create medications to treat alcohol-related sleep disorders. “Identifying the specific mechanisms that lead to change in brain activity will allow us to develop targeted medications, which could help treat people suffering from sleep issues related to alcohol use disorders,” Datta said in a news release.

Full story of alcohol use and sleep disruption at drugfree.org

Medical Marijuana Researchers One Step Closer to Starting PTSD Study

Medical marijuana researchers are a step closer to being able to start a study on whether the drug helps treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), after the Public Health Service gave its approval to the study. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) must still approve the research.

Suzanne Sisley at the University of Arizona told USA Today there is a “mountain of anecdotal evidence” that marijuana helps with PTSD. She wants to conduct a controlled trial to see how marijuana suppresses symptoms including insomnia, flashbacks and anxiety.

Full story of marijuana and PTSD study at drugfree.org

Study: Effectiveness of Prescription Monitoring Databases Varies Greatly by State

The effectiveness of prescription drug monitoring programs, designed to reduce “doctor shopping” for opioids, has varied greatly by state, according to a new study by Columbia University researchers. They also found opioid prescribing rates, after surging in recent years, have stabilized.

The researchers used data from the Drug Enforcement Administration on prescriptions for the seven most commonly distributed opioid painkillers: fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, meperidine, methadone, morphine, and oxycodone.

Full story on the prescription monitoring at drugfree.org

Researchers Make Progress in Finding Medicines to Treat Addiction

Researchers are making progress in the search for medicines to treat addiction, according to The Wall Street Journal. They are learning more about how heavy drug and alcohol use affects the brain.

A study published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine found the drug gabapentin, used to treat epilepsy and some types of pain, can help people with alcoholism quit drinking.

The 12-week study of 150 alcohol-dependent participants found gabapentin decreased the number of days people drank heavily, and at least tripled the percentage of people who were able to stop drinking altogether, compared with those receiving a placebo. The drug also reduced alcohol craving and improved mood and sleep quality.

“There’s been a huge amount of progress understanding what drives alcoholism and makes it difficult to stop,” lead researcher Barbara Mason of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, told the newspaper.

Full story of medicines for addiction treatment at DrugFree.org

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Two-Drug Combo Helps Adolescents With ADHD, Aggression

Prescribing both a stimulant and an antipsychotic drug to children with physical aggression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), along with teaching parents to use behavior management techniques, reduces aggressive and serious behavioral problems in the children, according to a study conducted by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

The study was conducted in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh, Stony Brook University in New York and Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. The findings published online this week ahead of publication in the January issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

“Combination pharmacotherapy is becoming common in child and adolescent psychiatry, but there has been little research evaluating it,” said first author Michael Aman, director of clinical trials at Ohio State’s Nisonger Center and emeritus professor of psychology.

“Our findings may be considered somewhat controversial because they appear to support the use of two drugs over one for treating children with aggression and disruptive behavior when things do not seem to be going well. Many practitioners have been taught to ‘Keep things simple and safe’ in their medical training. In general, this is good advice.”

Full story of drug combo for ADHD and aggression at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education