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
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
Addiction is a disease. This simple fact is one that is only now finally taking root. For decades, most people, even the experts, viewed addiction as a moral weakness. The truth is coming to light now that researchers have uncovered the mechanisms in the brain that drive substance abuse and addiction. The newest of that research comes to us from three studies conducted at Brigham Young University’s neuroscience department. Full Story
Perhaps no two words in the English language used in conjunction with each other have ever been quite so obvious yet so mysterious at the same time as “gender differences.” We inherently understand that men and women are different and often behave in vastly different ways under similar circumstances, yet best-selling books like John Gray’s Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus spend hundreds of pages discussing gender differences in opposite-sex relationships alone. But it’s not just in these types of relationships that gender differences play a role; when it comes to our relationships with drugs and alcohol, there appear to be gender differences there as well.
The U.N.’s newly released World Drug Report 2014 supplies critically important information on global drug use. The U.N. estimates that in 2012, 243 million people had used an illicit drug during the preceding 12 months. Those drugs were most likely to be cannabis, opioids, cocaine or an amphetamine-type stimulant. The numbers of users amounts to 5.2 percent of the world population.
People affected by long-term alcoholism have clearly increased risks for developing various forms of nerve damage or neuropathy. When this damage appears in either of the optic nerves that link the eyes to the brain, experts in the field commonly refer to it as optic neuropathy. In a pilot study published in June 2014 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, a team of French researchers sought to determine how often optic neuropathy appears in people with alcoholism. These researchers concluded the condition appears in a relatively small but significant number of individuals.
Many individuals who experiment with drugs or alcohol move on from the experimentation and experience little to no negative consequences associated with use. For others, however, experimentation leads to a behavior pattern that eventually develops into addiction. Understanding why some people develop an addiction and others do not, is the subject of many research studies. Full Story
Problematic alcohol use is firmly linked to increased risks for getting injured in an accident or receiving an intentional injury. Doctors and other health professionals can potentially reduce the chances that any given person will drink in hazardous ways with the help of informational and educational sessions called brief alcohol interventions. In a study published in May 2014 in the journal Substance Abuse, researchers from three U.S. universities assessed the effectiveness of brief alcohol interventions in people who receive hospital treatment for a serious alcohol-related injury. These researchers concluded that some groups of problem drinkers receive relatively major benefits from interventions in a hospital setting, while others receive smaller benefits.
Weight loss surgery is the common term for a group of surgical procedures that change the structure of the digestive system and thereby help people affected by serious weight-related issues reduce their food intake. In a study published in January 2014 in the journal Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases, researchers from several U.S. institutions examined the impact that undergoing a weight loss procedure can have on participation in risky drinking behaviors associated with the onset of alcohol abuse or alcoholism. These researchers found that most weight loss surgery recipients decrease their involvement in risky drinking.