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?

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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?

Which Drug is Most Addictive? A List Ranking the Addictive Properties of Commonly Abused Drugs

Surfed across this today, and thought I would pass it along. It is a list ranking the addictive properties of various drugs. Drugs are ranked based on "how easy is it to get addicted?" and on "how tough is it to quit?"

These two questions were given to a community of addiction experts, who ranked each drug on a variety of measures. The scores below reflect the ranking scores offered by these addiction experts. The numbers are only relative opinions, and are based only on the experience and expertise of experts in the field. In other words – these are just opinion scores, but interesting none the less.

The Addiction Scores of Illicit or Abused Drugs

  • 100 – Nicotine
  • 99 – Ice, Glass (Methamphetamine smoked)
  • 98 – Crack
  • 93 – Crystal Meth (Methamphetamine injected)
  • 85 – Valium (Diazepam)
  • 83 – Quaalude (Methaqualone)
  • 82 – Seconal (Secobarbital)
  • 81 – Alcohol
  • 80 – Heroin
  • 78 – Crank (Amphetamine taken nasally)
  • 72 – Cocaine
  • 68 – Caffeine
  • 57 – PCP (Phencyclidine)
  • 21 – Marijuana
  • 20 – Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • 18 – Psilocybin Mushrooms
  • 18 – LSD
  • 18 – Mescaline

Research was conducted by John Hastings, and the full text article can be found at "In Health" journal.

Surfed across this today, and thought I would pass it along. It is a list ranking the addictive properties of various drugs. Drugs are ranked based on "how easy is it to get addicted?" and on "how tough is it to quit?"

These two questions were given to a community of addiction experts, who ranked each drug on a variety of measures. The scores below reflect the ranking scores offered by these addiction experts. The numbers are only relative opinions, and are based only on the experience and expertise of experts in the field. In other words – these are just opinion scores, but interesting none the less.

The Addiction Scores of Illicit or Abused Drugs

  • 100 – Nicotine
  • 99 – Ice, Glass (Methamphetamine smoked)
  • 98 – Crack
  • 93 – Crystal Meth (Methamphetamine injected)
  • 85 – Valium (Diazepam)
  • 83 – Quaalude (Methaqualone)
  • 82 – Seconal (Secobarbital)
  • 81 – Alcohol
  • 80 – Heroin
  • 78 – Crank (Amphetamine taken nasally)
  • 72 – Cocaine
  • 68 – Caffeine
  • 57 – PCP (Phencyclidine)
  • 21 – Marijuana
  • 20 – Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • 18 – Psilocybin Mushrooms
  • 18 – LSD
  • 18 – Mescaline

Research was conducted by John Hastings, and the full text article can be found at "In Health" journal.

Wanna Know Why It’s So Hard to Quit Drugs?

  • How can you control cravings at the subconscious level?
  • How can you avoid cues that lead to cravings when these cues get processed unconsciously, and it all happens so quickly that you may start craving drugs, with no idea of why?
  • How can you control cravings that stimulate a system of the mind responsible for self preservations acts such as sex and eating, cravings that provoke this system strongly enough to override all other impulses (including towards food or sex)?

Well the answer is that you can, but it’s really really hard! A study released today in PLoS One, funded by NIDA and the National Institute of Health, reveals that cocaine addicts can experience cravings after being shown pictures of drugs for only 33 milliseconds – so fast that the cocaine patients weren’t even aware of having seen them, but were aware of all of a sudden wanting cocaine!

Study authors Dr. Anna Rose Childress and Dr. Charles O’Brien, at the University of Pennsylvania used MRI imaging to observe brain response after cocaine patients were presented with pictures of crack, or a crack pipe, pictures flashing by so fast, that patients were not consciously aware of them. The brain however does see, even when we are not aware of it, and after each provocative stimulus, researchers saw a dramatic response in the limbic system of the brain.

The limbic system is responsible for reward and pleasure, and is known to be involved with addiction.

Cocaine addicts can see things in their environment, not even realize that they see them, and start feeling strong urgings to use cocaine. When a major strategy for early relapse avoidance involves minimizing these types of cravings provoking stimuli, this is obviously very problematic.

Researchers claim that greater understandings of the neurological underpinnings of addiction and craving takes them closer to medications that may work to minimize this effect in the limbic systems, and give cocaine addicts (and likely all addicts) a much better chance at quitting. Willpower is essential for recovery, yet willpower has nothing to do with addiction. We cannot call addicts who relapse weak for failing to manage impulses they can’t control. Willpower keeps addicts in treatment, fighting, but willpower alone is just not enough.

  • How can you control cravings at the subconscious level?
  • How can you avoid cues that lead to cravings when these cues get processed unconsciously, and it all happens so quickly that you may start craving drugs, with no idea of why?
  • How can you control cravings that stimulate a system of the mind responsible for self preservations acts such as sex and eating, cravings that provoke this system strongly enough to override all other impulses (including towards food or sex)?

Well the answer is that you can, but it’s really really hard! A study released today in PLoS One, funded by NIDA and the National Institute of Health, reveals that cocaine addicts can experience cravings after being shown pictures of drugs for only 33 milliseconds – so fast that the cocaine patients weren’t even aware of having seen them, but were aware of all of a sudden wanting cocaine!

Study authors Dr. Anna Rose Childress and Dr. Charles O’Brien, at the University of Pennsylvania used MRI imaging to observe brain response after cocaine patients were presented with pictures of crack, or a crack pipe, pictures flashing by so fast, that patients were not consciously aware of them. The brain however does see, even when we are not aware of it, and after each provocative stimulus, researchers saw a dramatic response in the limbic system of the brain.

The limbic system is responsible for reward and pleasure, and is known to be involved with addiction.

Cocaine addicts can see things in their environment, not even realize that they see them, and start feeling strong urgings to use cocaine. When a major strategy for early relapse avoidance involves minimizing these types of cravings provoking stimuli, this is obviously very problematic.

Researchers claim that greater understandings of the neurological underpinnings of addiction and craving takes them closer to medications that may work to minimize this effect in the limbic systems, and give cocaine addicts (and likely all addicts) a much better chance at quitting. Willpower is essential for recovery, yet willpower has nothing to do with addiction. We cannot call addicts who relapse weak for failing to manage impulses they can’t control. Willpower keeps addicts in treatment, fighting, but willpower alone is just not enough.

We the People – The Hypocrites (Why Obama’s Drug Use is Irrelevant)

Barack Obama has used drugs – he has broken the law. He admits to experimenting with cocaine and marijuana while a young man, and although his candor is refreshing, his drug use has complicated his political aspirations, and political opponents from within his own party have been casting subtle digs about his past.

We expect leadership and moral correctness from our elected officials, and when yet another politician falls from grace, caught in lies about past or present acts, we bemoan the low ethical standards seemingly so prevalent among the Washington elite. Yet why, when we ask the impossible – perfection – are we surprised when imperfect humans (as we all are) prove themselves so?

Looking at the 2007 NIDA released statistics on drug use amongst high school seniors; we can see that although drugs may be illegal, more people than not in our society will try them, at least once. About half of all high school seniors will have used illegal drugs by graduation, and three out of four will have drunk alcohol, under age.

The democratic foundations of this country call for a person of the people, representative of the people, to serve in the best interests of all the people. In reality, we ask for a person who exhibits an impossible perfection of character and even of youthful judgment – a person very unlike most of us! Some may argue that Obama’s youthful indiscretion is not an issue of drugs, but rather of lawfulness; and that whether you can forgive him for his drug use, he did knowingly and willfully break the law. But once again, we all break the law!

We are all essentially guided by two often complimentary laws of action – our moral compass and the statutes of law. We do (mostly) what we perceive to be ethically right based on what we believe, and we follow laws of the state out of a fear of legal repercussions. And as such, when we do not perceive an act to be morally wrong, and when we feel that we are unlikely to face legal sanctions for engaging in it (getting caught) we are somewhat likely to break a law of the state barring this action.

  • Running a red light on a deserted country road at 3am is against the law, but as we perceive no moral need to stop, and feel we are unlikely to get caught, most of us will at some point creep through an intersection, without waiting for a green.
  • Taking drugs, as an individual act, is illegal, but it is not immoral – the act of using alone harms no one but the user. It may show poor judgment, but as teens, who amongst us can boast of uniformly good judgment?

Obama took drugs, like well more than half of us have. He does not take drugs now, and he has not for decades. Obama broke the law, like all of us have; he did not break any moral laws. What about all the politicians who claim never to have used drugs? Seems unlikely, based on the statistics.

Obama has told the truth. He is human. We should laud him for his courage. He may or may not be the right choice for president, but his past use of drugs should have no bearing on his legitimacy as a candidate today.

Hear Obama’s Views on Drug Policy

 

Barack Obama has used drugs – he has broken the law. He admits to experimenting with cocaine and marijuana while a young man, and although his candor is refreshing, his drug use has complicated his political aspirations, and political opponents from within his own party have been casting subtle digs about his past.

We expect leadership and moral correctness from our elected officials, and when yet another politician falls from grace, caught in lies about past or present acts, we bemoan the low ethical standards seemingly so prevalent among the Washington elite. Yet why, when we ask the impossible – perfection – are we surprised when imperfect humans (as we all are) prove themselves so?

Looking at the 2007 NIDA released statistics on drug use amongst high school seniors; we can see that although drugs may be illegal, more people than not in our society will try them, at least once. About half of all high school seniors will have used illegal drugs by graduation, and three out of four will have drunk alcohol, under age.

The democratic foundations of this country call for a person of the people, representative of the people, to serve in the best interests of all the people. In reality, we ask for a person who exhibits an impossible perfection of character and even of youthful judgment – a person very unlike most of us! Some may argue that Obama’s youthful indiscretion is not an issue of drugs, but rather of lawfulness; and that whether you can forgive him for his drug use, he did knowingly and willfully break the law. But once again, we all break the law!

We are all essentially guided by two often complimentary laws of action – our moral compass and the statutes of law. We do (mostly) what we perceive to be ethically right based on what we believe, and we follow laws of the state out of a fear of legal repercussions. And as such, when we do not perceive an act to be morally wrong, and when we feel that we are unlikely to face legal sanctions for engaging in it (getting caught) we are somewhat likely to break a law of the state barring this action.

  • Running a red light on a deserted country road at 3am is against the law, but as we perceive no moral need to stop, and feel we are unlikely to get caught, most of us will at some point creep through an intersection, without waiting for a green.
  • Taking drugs, as an individual act, is illegal, but it is not immoral – the act of using alone harms no one but the user. It may show poor judgment, but as teens, who amongst us can boast of uniformly good judgment?

Obama took drugs, like well more than half of us have. He does not take drugs now, and he has not for decades. Obama broke the law, like all of us have; he did not break any moral laws. What about all the politicians who claim never to have used drugs? Seems unlikely, based on the statistics.

Obama has told the truth. He is human. We should laud him for his courage. He may or may not be the right choice for president, but his past use of drugs should have no bearing on his legitimacy as a candidate today.

Hear Obama’s Views on Drug Policy