Motivational interviewing is a counseling technique designed to (among other things) increase the willingness of people with significant alcohol problems to seek help for their excessive, dysfunctional alcohol intake. Current evidence supports the usefulness of this technique for adults affected by problematic drinking behaviors. In a study review published in August 2014 in The Cochrane Library, researchers from the United Kingdom’s Oxford Brookes University assessed the usefulness of motivational interviewing for teenagers and young adults who consume alcohol in dangerous ways. The researchers concluded that the technique may produce a substantially smaller benefit for people in these younger age groups. Full Story
Most college students drink alcohol on a regular basis, and public health officials are well aware that college drinking leads to serious harms for hundreds of thousands of people each year. In a large-scale review published in 2014 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, researchers from two U.S. institutions assessed the effectiveness of the various interventions used to curb alcohol consumption among college freshmen. These researchers concluded that no one type of alcohol intervention has a universal impact on all students; still, many specific types of intervention do successfully address key aspects of the problem, either on their own or in combination with other interventions. Full Story
Despite growing concern about the effect of alcohol advertising and regulatory changes prohibiting the ads in some places, a new study has suggested that there is little, if any, overall impact of alcohol advertising on how much Americans drink. The research showed that while advertising affects the type of alcohol consumed or the brand chosen, more advertising doesn’t directly lead to more drinking. The authors suggest that moves to ban advertising may not accomplish their intended goal of reducing drinking, and they instead argue that providing information on the risks of alcohol consumption is a more logical approach to cutting down on America’s drinking. Full Story
Public health officials and the general public have a vital interest in tracking how many teens and adults use substances of abuse, as well as how many substance users develop serious problems with abuse or addiction. In the U.S., the most broad-based statistics on these topics commonly come from three ongoing, nationwide federal projects called Monitoring the Future, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Monitoring the Future tracks information on middle school and high school students enrolled in three specific grades, while the Youth Risk Behavior Survey tracks information on students in all four grades of high school. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health tracks information on all American adults, as well as on children age 12 or older. Full Story
Medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease may make patients more susceptible to compulsive behaviors, which can lead to addictions. The drugs are from a class called dopamine agonists, and the problem with them may be severe enough to warrant the Food and Drug Administration’s most serious warning label: the black-box warning. Full Story
Alcohol interventions are brief discussions designed to encourage people at risk for serious alcohol problems and people already affected by alcohol abuse or alcoholism to change their drinking behaviors. Professionals not directly involved in substance treatment sometimes receive instruction on how to administer an intervention to potential problems drinkers they encounter while doing their jobs. In a small-scale study scheduled for publication in 2014 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review, researchers from the United Kingdom’s University of Stirling sought to estimate how often these trained, non-expert professionals actually provide brief alcohol interventions when appropriate. Full Story
Researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School have assessed the potential effectiveness of brief interventions for teenagers involved in the serious misuse of alcohol or marijuana, concluding that brief interventions are more effective for mild to moderate instances of substance abuse than for severe cases. Full Story
Topiramate is the generic name of a medication that doctors in the U.S. increasingly use as an adapted treatment for people in recovery for alcoholism. The medication appears to make drinking less likely to occur during the recovery process, but no one knows precisely how or why. In a study published in October 2014 in the journal Addiction Biology, researchers from three U.S. institutions sought to determine the specific reasons why topiramate improves the prospects for successful alcoholism treatment. These researchers concluded that the medication produces its primary effects by reducing the body’s sensitivity to alcohol cravings. Full Story
In drug maintenance therapies for opioid addiction, less dangerous narcotics called methadone and buprenorphine are substituted for heroin and prescription painkillers. Doses are administered in a clinical setting and over time an attempt is made to phase out the maintenance drugs and eliminate opioid dependency entirely. Legally obtained methadone and buprenorphine have become increasingly popular with addiction specialists looking to guide their patients back to good health, as drug replacement therapy has been shown to produce excellent results in both controlled studies and real-world conditions.
But on a worldwide basis, methadone and buprenorphine are not the only options for treatment professionals interested in trying drug maintenance therapy. In a half-dozen European countries, heroin itself, in synthetic form, is also being used as a replacement drug to help addicts control their heroin dependency. Full Story
A professor and director of research at Cambridge University has completed research that could lead to a dramatic new method of addiction treatment: targeting and eliminating memories related to addiction.
Professor Barry Everitt, one of three winners of the 25th annual Neuronal Plasticity Prize of the Fondation Ipsen, recently revealed his research targeting the memory plasticity of rodents and its effect on their addictive substance use. Much of Everitt’s career as a behavioral neuroscientist has been directed toward understanding how learning and memory relate to addictive drug use. Full Story