Chemicals between us: Surprising effects of oxytocin on cocaine addiction

A team of addiction researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) report in Psychopharmacology that oxytocin, a hormone produced naturally in the hypothalamus, has significant gender differences when used as a treatment for cocaine-addicted individuals with a history of childhood trauma.

The MUSC team was led by Jane E. Joseph, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Neuroscience, and Kathleen T. Brady, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and MUSC vice president for research.

Oxytocin has been shown to have therapeutic action in addiction, reducing cravings that could result in a relapse while also reducing brain activity associated with stress. Despite previous studies showing some potential therapeutic actions of oxytocin, it was not yet known how oxytocin influenced cravings induced by the sight of cocaine paraphernalia or whether gender-based differences existed.

Read full article at Science Daily

Thousands of LA jail inmates should receive community mental health support

A new report has found that more than half of the people with mental health conditions currently confined in Los Angeles county jails would benefit from mental health treatment in specialized community centers instead of incarceration.

he Los Angeles (LA) county jail system holds thousands of inmates at any one time, and past reports have suggested that these include many people who were previously homeless and who experience mental health issues.

As a result, if they do not receive appropriate support, these people have a high chance of recidivism, as well as a high likelihood of experiencing homelessness once more after their release from jail.

Full article at Medical News Today

A tiny wage increase could have prevented 13,800 deaths in 6 years

The world has been facing a suicide crisis over the past few years. In the United States alone, tens of thousands of people die by suicide each year. But new research shows that a $1 increase in the minimum wage might prevent thousands of deaths.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, in 2017, the latest year for which data is available, “[s]uicide was the 10th leading cause of death overall in the United States,” accounting for more than 47,000 deaths.

People can experience suicidal thoughts or be at risk of attempting suicide for a variety of reasons, including physical and mental illness, social isolation, substance abuse, and traumatic experiences.

Full article at Medical News Today

U.S. saw big rise in meth, fentanyl use in 2019

A study of over 1 million urine drug tests from across the United States shows soaring rates of use of methamphetamines and fentanyl, often used together in potentially lethal ways.

The drug test results came primarily from clinics dealing with primary care, pain management or substance abuse disorders.

The results showed that between 2013 and 2019, urine samples testing positive for methamphetamine (“meth”) have skyrocketed sixfold, from about 1.4% of samples testing positive in 2013 to about 8.4% in 2019.

Similarly, the percentage of drug urine tests coming back positive for the highly potent—and sometimes fatal—opioid fentanyl have more than quadrupled since 2013, the study found. In 2013, just over 1% of the urine samples tested positive for fentanyl, but by 2019 that number was nearing 5%, said a team led by Dr. Eric Dawson, of Millennium Health in San Diego.

Full article at US News

Veterans benefit from pain treatment without drugs

A new study finds a lower risk of adverse post-treatment outcomes among returning military service personnel with chronic pain who received nondrug therapy.

Many people returning from military deployment experience physical and mental health issues.

These can include chronic pain, post-treatment alcohol use disorder, drug addiction, depression, thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or a combination.

Now, a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine concludes that receiving treatment that is not drug-based can reduce the likelihood of such outcomes in veterans with chronic pain.

Full article at Medical News Today