In The War on Drugs – Are We Trying to Kill Drug Users?

Prison is not a particularly safe place to live. For newly freed inmates however, the streets are even more dangerous.

Australian researchers examined the mortality rate of newly released prisoners, looking at the risk of death during the first two weeks after release. They call it carnage. Newly released men are 29 times more likely that the general population to die during that first 2 weeks – women are 69 times more likely to die – 69 times more likely.

What’s killing them?

Drug overdoses mostly. It seems as though prison isn’t doing much to break long dormant opiate habits, and the newly released addicted are soon back to their old ways – minus any real tolerance for the drugs. They are shooting heroin, and what used to be a manageable dose is now a fatal dose, and that’s the end of that story. We think that a death sentence for non violent drug crimes is unreasonable – but what we give, when we sentence heroin addicts to prison – is pretty close to capital punishment anyway.

Read more about it in the February 2008 edition of the journal, "Addiction".

Prison is not a particularly safe place to live. For newly freed inmates however, the streets are even more dangerous.

Australian researchers examined the mortality rate of newly released prisoners, looking at the risk of death during the first two weeks after release. They call it carnage. Newly released men are 29 times more likely that the general population to die during that first 2 weeks – women are 69 times more likely to die – 69 times more likely.

What’s killing them?

Drug overdoses mostly. It seems as though prison isn’t doing much to break long dormant opiate habits, and the newly released addicted are soon back to their old ways – minus any real tolerance for the drugs. They are shooting heroin, and what used to be a manageable dose is now a fatal dose, and that’s the end of that story. We think that a death sentence for non violent drug crimes is unreasonable – but what we give, when we sentence heroin addicts to prison – is pretty close to capital punishment anyway.

Read more about it in the February 2008 edition of the journal, "Addiction".

Meth Addiction – Saving Kids by Saving Moms

In Utah, 58% percent of women who sought out drug treatment had children living with them at home.

Women of childbearing age are the biggest users of meth, and they don’t fit in well with our stereotypical perception of the typical meth addict. Moms are on meth, and unless we reduce the scale of this meth epidemic, the repercussions in a generation to come, when these meth-mom raised kids grow up, will be tragic.

Getting mothers into treatment saves everyone money. The cost to jail a meth using woman in Utah is $25 700 and if that woman has kids that need to be placed into foster care, the cost increases by $33 000, per year, per child.

In contrast, the cost to treat a meth using mom is $3500 per year, and in most cases, kids can safely remain in the home with their moms. Treatment beats incarceration hands down. It benefits society, it helps women beat terrible addictions, and it saves kids from an institutional upbringing.

Getting a meth using women into treatment is always the right thing to do.

Wondering if a woman you know is struggling with meth?

Be concerned if you witness symptoms of meth abuse, such as:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Erratic sleep patterns
  • Irritability
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Mood changes (includes hostility, abusive behavior, depression)
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Poor judgment

Or take the warning signs quiz on meth addiction, at End Meth Now

In Utah, 58% percent of women who sought out drug treatment had children living with them at home.

Women of childbearing age are the biggest users of meth, and they don’t fit in well with our stereotypical perception of the typical meth addict. Moms are on meth, and unless we reduce the scale of this meth epidemic, the repercussions in a generation to come, when these meth-mom raised kids grow up, will be tragic.

Getting mothers into treatment saves everyone money. The cost to jail a meth using woman in Utah is $25 700 and if that woman has kids that need to be placed into foster care, the cost increases by $33 000, per year, per child.

In contrast, the cost to treat a meth using mom is $3500 per year, and in most cases, kids can safely remain in the home with their moms. Treatment beats incarceration hands down. It benefits society, it helps women beat terrible addictions, and it saves kids from an institutional upbringing.

Getting a meth using women into treatment is always the right thing to do.

Wondering if a woman you know is struggling with meth?

Be concerned if you witness symptoms of meth abuse, such as:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Erratic sleep patterns
  • Irritability
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Mood changes (includes hostility, abusive behavior, depression)
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Poor judgment

Or take the warning signs quiz on meth addiction, at End Meth Now

Impulsive? Stay Away from Cocaine – Impulsive Rats Show That You’re at High Risk for Addiction!

Thrill Seeking RatResearchers have long known of a relationship between people with impulsivity and/or thrill seeking traits, and addiction. But what’s causing what? The problem has been that since researchers tend to deal with addicts only after they become addicts – they haven’t been able to say whether getting addicted to drugs like cocaine causes people to act in impulsive ways, or whether impulsive people tend to become addicted to cocaine!
 
But!
 
Scientists are now able to measure the character traits of impulsivity and thrill seeking in rats (Which is kind of neat in itself). Here’s how they can differentiate:
 
  •  Rats with impulsive character traits are those that are unable to follow tasks that involve waiting, like waiting to push a button until signaled – even when they would be rewarded if they did wait.
  •  Thrill seeking rats are those that will enter into a new environment and immediately investigate unfamiliar smells and stimuli. Normal rats will wait until they are comfortable and feel safe before risking such exploration.
 
So, now that researchers can segregate these behavior types in rats, they can now investigate what effect these character traits exert over things like cocaine usage patterns.
 
So…
 
Psychologists David Belin and Barry Everitt, of Cambridge University, decided to take a look. They constructed a study whereby rats with either the impulsive character trait or the thrill seeking character trait were able to inject cocaine directly into the brain as often as they wanted to. They had complete control over this self administration.
 
In the beginning, the thrill seeking rats injected huge quantities, and injected it often; while the impulsive rats were much more reserved – seeking cocaine only sporadically and in small quantities.
 
After 40 days of free access though, the tables had turned drastically. The thrill seeking rats no longer had much interest in cocaine – the thrill and novelty was gone, and they rarely self administered. The impulsive rats though were incredibly addicted, and administered the drug in large quantities and with great frequency.
 
Which tells us…
 
These character trait effects are likely the same in humans – meaning impulsive people are probably at a greater risk to develop addictions. And since certain anti-depressant medications can reduce impulsivity, the researchers are excited that their research findings may lead to a new methodology in the treatment of addiction.
 
People with diagnosed impulsivity traits could potentially receive targeted drug prevention programming, and addicts in treatment could also get tested for impulsivity, and perhaps benefit from existing medications that would help to minimize the influence of impulsivity on their addiction.
 
Rats with impulsivity issues could also be cautioned against experimenting with cocaine.
 
You can read the full study in the June 06/2008 edition of "Science"
 

 

Thrill Seeking RatResearchers have long known of a relationship between people with impulsivity and/or thrill seeking traits, and addiction. But what’s causing what? The problem has been that since researchers tend to deal with addicts only after they become addicts – they haven’t been able to say whether getting addicted to drugs like cocaine causes people to act in impulsive ways, or whether impulsive people tend to become addicted to cocaine!
 
But!
 
Scientists are now able to measure the character traits of impulsivity and thrill seeking in rats (Which is kind of neat in itself). Here’s how they can differentiate:
 
  •  Rats with impulsive character traits are those that are unable to follow tasks that involve waiting, like waiting to push a button until signaled – even when they would be rewarded if they did wait.
  •  Thrill seeking rats are those that will enter into a new environment and immediately investigate unfamiliar smells and stimuli. Normal rats will wait until they are comfortable and feel safe before risking such exploration.
 
So, now that researchers can segregate these behavior types in rats, they can now investigate what effect these character traits exert over things like cocaine usage patterns.
 
So…
 
Psychologists David Belin and Barry Everitt, of Cambridge University, decided to take a look. They constructed a study whereby rats with either the impulsive character trait or the thrill seeking character trait were able to inject cocaine directly into the brain as often as they wanted to. They had complete control over this self administration.
 
In the beginning, the thrill seeking rats injected huge quantities, and injected it often; while the impulsive rats were much more reserved – seeking cocaine only sporadically and in small quantities.
 
After 40 days of free access though, the tables had turned drastically. The thrill seeking rats no longer had much interest in cocaine – the thrill and novelty was gone, and they rarely self administered. The impulsive rats though were incredibly addicted, and administered the drug in large quantities and with great frequency.
 
Which tells us…
 
These character trait effects are likely the same in humans – meaning impulsive people are probably at a greater risk to develop addictions. And since certain anti-depressant medications can reduce impulsivity, the researchers are excited that their research findings may lead to a new methodology in the treatment of addiction.
 
People with diagnosed impulsivity traits could potentially receive targeted drug prevention programming, and addicts in treatment could also get tested for impulsivity, and perhaps benefit from existing medications that would help to minimize the influence of impulsivity on their addiction.
 
Rats with impulsivity issues could also be cautioned against experimenting with cocaine.
 
You can read the full study in the June 06/2008 edition of "Science"
 

 

Can Heavy Drinking Turn You Gay?

A lot of people do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do while drunk – and more than a few marriages have ended over the indiscretions of a drunken spouse. There is something magically horrible in alcohol, which makes us feel increased sexual desire, while losing the ordinary good sense to just go home at the end of the night.

But if you’re wondering why alcohol makes you so weak – take some solace from the humble fruit fly – alcohol intoxication can actually turn him gay.

It’s true, researchers have known that acute alcohol intoxication decreases sexual inhibition in fruit flies, but it turns out that when given repeated doses of alcohol, over a matter of days (designed to replicate the experience of alcohol abuse or alcoholism) male fruit flies, who are normally quite macho, will seek out other males for copulation.

The researchers say that fruit flies are a fairly accurate model for the neurobiological effects of alcohol on mammals, like humans, and research using them can help to explain human alcohol affected sexual behavior.

A lot of people do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do while drunk – and more than a few marriages have ended over the indiscretions of a drunken spouse. There is something magically horrible in alcohol, which makes us feel increased sexual desire, while losing the ordinary good sense to just go home at the end of the night.

But if you’re wondering why alcohol makes you so weak – take some solace from the humble fruit fly – alcohol intoxication can actually turn him gay.

It’s true, researchers have known that acute alcohol intoxication decreases sexual inhibition in fruit flies, but it turns out that when given repeated doses of alcohol, over a matter of days (designed to replicate the experience of alcohol abuse or alcoholism) male fruit flies, who are normally quite macho, will seek out other males for copulation.

The researchers say that fruit flies are a fairly accurate model for the neurobiological effects of alcohol on mammals, like humans, and research using them can help to explain human alcohol affected sexual behavior.

Commit a Crime – Win Free Drug Treatment!

Yay Drug Courts! It’s hard to find anyone these days with much of anything bad to say about drug courts. These alternative sentencing vehicles are saving tax payers a huge amount of money, they are freeing up space in overcrowded jails, they are helping people in need beat terrible addictions, reuniting families and the recidivism rates for drug court graduates are far lower than for offenders processed through the traditional court system. Yay! Seriously, they work, and they save everyone money, and it’s great news that drug courts are now in operation in all 50 states, with a total of 2000 in operation or in the works. But They have created a rather strange set of circumstances.

  • If you are poor, addicted to drugs and alcohol and really want some help to get better – but are not a criminal – you are out of luck.
  • If you are poor, addicted to drugs or alcohol, don’t care if you get help or not, and commit crimes – then you get free drug treatment.

It’s an absurdity, and I have spoken with a few people over the last months who find themselves in this frustrating predicament. It seems to them, that the only way they are going to be able to get drug treatment, is by being arrested for a crime. Not ideal Drug courts aren’t going away, nor should they. They work better than the traditional court system, they are more humane and they treat the root cause of such a lot of the criminal behavior in this country today. But why should we wait to provide funding for people only after they commit crimes? Why not give them a leg up before it gets to that stage? Let’s keep the drug courts, but expand the programming so that anyone in need can have access to the same sorts of treatment programs. Maybe that will cut down on the eventual need for courts and drug courts alike, while saving a great deal of tax-payer money on everything from law-enforcement to welfare to health care. Besides, it’s the right thing to do – and it’s only fair.

Yay Drug Courts! It’s hard to find anyone these days with much of anything bad to say about drug courts. These alternative sentencing vehicles are saving tax payers a huge amount of money, they are freeing up space in overcrowded jails, they are helping people in need beat terrible addictions, reuniting families and the recidivism rates for drug court graduates are far lower than for offenders processed through the traditional court system. Yay! Seriously, they work, and they save everyone money, and it’s great news that drug courts are now in operation in all 50 states, with a total of 2000 in operation or in the works. But They have created a rather strange set of circumstances.

  • If you are poor, addicted to drugs and alcohol and really want some help to get better – but are not a criminal – you are out of luck.
  • If you are poor, addicted to drugs or alcohol, don’t care if you get help or not, and commit crimes – then you get free drug treatment.

It’s an absurdity, and I have spoken with a few people over the last months who find themselves in this frustrating predicament. It seems to them, that the only way they are going to be able to get drug treatment, is by being arrested for a crime. Not ideal Drug courts aren’t going away, nor should they. They work better than the traditional court system, they are more humane and they treat the root cause of such a lot of the criminal behavior in this country today. But why should we wait to provide funding for people only after they commit crimes? Why not give them a leg up before it gets to that stage? Let’s keep the drug courts, but expand the programming so that anyone in need can have access to the same sorts of treatment programs. Maybe that will cut down on the eventual need for courts and drug courts alike, while saving a great deal of tax-payer money on everything from law-enforcement to welfare to health care. Besides, it’s the right thing to do – and it’s only fair.

Jailed Monkeys Use More Cocaine

Monkeys in nicer cages use less cocaine than monkeys in standard cages. That’s one of the more interesting research findings coming out of Wake Forest University Medical School this month. 

Monkeys are used as a good predicative animal model for the administration of drugs in humans. Essentially, if monkeys like something, then we probably will too.

Researchers wondered what effect the monkey’s environment would have on their desire to self administer cocaine. They put some cocaine using monkeys in larger cages for three days and then gave them access to cocaine and food self administration – and the monkeys that were given access to larger (nicer) cages, administered less cocaine than the monkeys that didn’t get the upgrade.

The researchers stress that the environmental improvement was relatively minimal, and suspect that if the monkeys were given access to a larger cage, and also given interesting activities to do while in the cage, the decrease in cocaine self administration would be larger.

The human extrapolation suggests that environment plays a greater than previously thought of influence over drug use, and that people in more pleasant environments are likely better able to reduce their cocaine usage.

On the flip side, and not entirely surprisingly – monkeys that were subjected to three days of more stressful living, instead of more spacious accommodations, used more cocaine than before.

Hmm…

I wonder why putting people in small jail cells doesn’t seem to help them quit drugs very well?

Monkeys in nicer cages use less cocaine than monkeys in standard cages. That’s one of the more interesting research findings coming out of Wake Forest University Medical School this month. 

Monkeys are used as a good predicative animal model for the administration of drugs in humans. Essentially, if monkeys like something, then we probably will too.

Researchers wondered what effect the monkey’s environment would have on their desire to self administer cocaine. They put some cocaine using monkeys in larger cages for three days and then gave them access to cocaine and food self administration – and the monkeys that were given access to larger (nicer) cages, administered less cocaine than the monkeys that didn’t get the upgrade.

The researchers stress that the environmental improvement was relatively minimal, and suspect that if the monkeys were given access to a larger cage, and also given interesting activities to do while in the cage, the decrease in cocaine self administration would be larger.

The human extrapolation suggests that environment plays a greater than previously thought of influence over drug use, and that people in more pleasant environments are likely better able to reduce their cocaine usage.

On the flip side, and not entirely surprisingly – monkeys that were subjected to three days of more stressful living, instead of more spacious accommodations, used more cocaine than before.

Hmm…

I wonder why putting people in small jail cells doesn’t seem to help them quit drugs very well?