Daily use of marijuana among non-college young adults at all time high

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) announced that the latest Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey results on substance use trends as teens transition to adulthood are now available online, comparing substance use patterns of full-time college students to their non-college peers. Most notably, more than 13 percent of young adults not in college report daily, or near daily, marijuana use; alcohol use is more common among college students; some opioid use is declining in both groups, and the most sizeable difference is the higher rate of cigarette smoking in the non-college group.

Below are the highlights from the 2017 MTF survey results on drug use among college students compared to their peers not attending college (ages 19-22).

  • Daily, or near daily,marijuana use among non-college young adults has continued to rise, reaching its highest level (13.2 percent).  As a result, daily, or near daily, marijuana use is now nearly three times as high among non-college young adults as among college students.

Full story at drugabuse.org

New clinician screening tool available for substance use

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Clinical Trials Network has unveiled a new scientifically validated, online screening tool designed to assess a patient’s risk for substance misuse and substance use disorder, and assist the health care provider with prevention and treatment strategies. The Tobacco, Alcohol, Prescription medication, and other Substance use (TAPS) Tool is available on the NIDAMED Web Portal and consists of a comprehensive screening component followed by a brief assessment for those who screen positive. NIDAMED disseminates science-based resources to health professionals on the causes and consequences of drug use and addiction, and advances in pain management. NIDA is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Full story at drugabuse.org

Study upends conventional view of opioid mechanism of action

A new discovery shows that opioids used to treat pain, such as morphine and oxycodone, produce their effects by binding to receptors inside neurons, contrary to conventional wisdom that they acted only on the same surface receptors as endogenous opioids, which are produced naturally in the brain. However, when researchers funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) used a novel molecular probe to test that common assumption, they discovered that medically used opioids also bind to receptors that are not a target for the naturally occurring opioids. NIDA is part of the National Institutes of Health.

This difference between how medically used and naturally made opioids interact with nerve cells may help guide the design of pain relievers that do not produce addiction or other adverse effects produced by morphine and other opioid medicines.

Full story at drugabuse.gov

Study changes long-held concepts of cell decoding

Scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Intramural Research Program (IRP) have uncovered evidence that shows a more complex and elaborate role for the body’s hard-working G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) than previously thought, suggesting a conceptual advance in the fields of biochemistry and pharmacology. With more than 800 members in the human genome, GPCRs are the largest family of proteins involved in decoding signals as they come into the cell and then adapt the cell’s function in response. NIDA is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Manipulating how cells respond to signals is key to developing new medications. Although pharmacologists have studied GPCRs for many years, there is still a debate on how they operate — are they isolated units that randomly collide with each other or are they deliberately coupled together to receive signals? The NIDA scientists conclude that GPCRs form part of very elaborate pre-coupled macromolecular complexes. Simply put, they act as little computing devices that optimally gather and process information coming into the cell, allowing the cells to adapt and change their function.

Full story at drugabuse.org

Vaping popular among teens; opioid misuse at historic lows

Nearly 1 in 3 students in 12th grade report past year use of some kind of vaping device, raising concerns about the impact on their health. What they say is in the device, however, ranges from nicotine, to marijuana, to “just flavoring.” The survey also suggests that use of hookahs and regular cigarettes is declining. These findings come from the 2017 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey of eighth, 10th and 12th graders in schools nationwide, reported today by the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, along with scientists from the University of Michigan, who conduct the annual research. The survey asks teens about “any vaping” to measure their use of electronic vaporizers. It is important to note that some research suggests that many teens do not actually know what is in the device they are using, and even if they read the label, not all labeling is consistent or accurate.

The survey shows that 27.8 percent of high school seniors reported “vaping” in the year prior to the survey, which was taken in the beginning of 2017. When asked what they thought was in the mist they inhaled the last time they used the vaping device, 51.8 percent of 12th graders said, “just flavoring,” 32.8 percent said “nicotine,” and 11.1 percent said “marijuana” or “hash oil.” The survey also asks about vaping with specific substances during the past month. Among 12th graders, more than 1 in 10 say they use nicotine, and about 1 in 20 report using marijuana in the device.

Full story at drugabuse.gov