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Monday, January 26, 2015

Self-Control Shields Urban Minority Youth From Drug Abuse And Depression

It should certainly interest many of those families considering young adult recovery programs to read the findings of recent research by Dr. Kerstin Pahl and colleagues at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine. The study found self-control among 14 year old urban African Americans and Puerto Ricans to strongly predict low levels of both marijuana use and depressive mood up to age 29.

The findings suggest that when the self-control of ethnic and racial minority children and early adolescents is bolstered, they can be better shielded from both drug abuse and depression into adolescence and young adulthood. The study built on past research suggesting that low self-control in white populations heightened the risks for substance abuse and depressive mood, when the two are considered in isolation.

The new research goes further in not only replicating those results in an ethnic/racial minority population, but also showing the impact of self-control on the likelihood of a young person developing both marijuana use and depression. When the Harlem Longitudinal Development Study began in 1990, the self-control of students across 11 schools in the East Harlem area of New York was assessed.

Those students were asked to agree or disagree that a set of eight statements, which characterized a lack of self-control, applied to themselves, examples including "You'll do anything on a dare", "You feel like losing your temper at people" and "When rules get in the way, you ignore them". The students were also quizzed by the researchers on the amount of marijuana they used and whether they had an unhappy, sad or depressed and hopeless attitude to the future.

Re-interviews of the participants about their drug use and mood took place every five years until they reached 29 years of age, with a total of 838 participants completing at least three of the four interviews. About one quarter of respondents consistently stated that they seldom or never used marijuana, in addition to experiencing minimal or no depressive mood. However, the 15 years of study also saw almost 1 in 7 follow a trajectory of increasing marijuana use as well as high depressive mood levels.

For the other 60 per cent of participants, mixed trajectories were reported of minimal or increasing marijuana use with low or intermediate depressive mood. The self-control level of the respondents in adolescence strongly predicted the trajectory group to which they belonged, with those indicating high levels of self-control at 14 having a significantly greater likelihood of reporting slight or no marijuana use, alongside low depressive mood levels.

However, with depressive mood also becoming less prevalent among the participants up to the age of 29, Dr. Pahl also emphasized the positive effect of maturity and the malleable nature of self-control, commenting: "The good news is that self-control can be improved over time, and that early interventions can make a difference." That is certainly a lesson to be taken in by those comparing young adult recovery programs like Red Oak Recovery®.

How To Respond If You Suspect Drug Addiction In Your Young Adult

Have you noticed your young adult or adolescent behaving differently recently, with no obvious explanation? Perhaps they always seem to be tired, hostile or depressed? Alternatively, they may simply appear withdrawn. If this is the case, your loved one may have a drug-related problem necessitating the right attention - such as from a young adult rehab program.

It's easy for even conscientious parents to overlook all manner of behaviors and changes in their young adult as simply a normal part of puberty. However, if you see particularly unexplainable signs as mentioned above, potentially along with such others as a decline in academic performance, change in peer group or carelessness towards personal hygiene, they may have a developing addiction to alcohol or drugs.

Other potential first signs of a problem that may require the intervention of a young adult rehab program include deteriorating family and friend relationships, changing eating or sleeping habits, trouble with school or the law, missing school classes or work and/or decreased interest in favorite activities.

The important thing in identifying such signs is to intervene quickly. Recent scientific advances have taught us about the effects of drugs on the brain, with one of the most crucial of these lessons being that addiction in young people can be best treated at the earliest stages.

Even in cases of more established addiction, a young adult rehab program and associated help can be highly effective in leading your adolescent back to a healthy and productive life. The changes wrought on the brain from repeated drug use can make it difficult for those who feel ready to quit to do so. Your young adult should know that their drug abuse is an illness that requires treatment, not a moral failing.

The first step for parents or guardians wishing to help their young adult is to seek help from a professional. You may initially decide to bring your loved one to a doctor, so that they can be screened for signs of drug abuse and other associated health issues. Your chosen doctor should be comfortable with this kind of screening - otherwise, you should request a referral to a doctor with skills in this area.

Your loved one may be subsequently referred to a relevant young adult rehab program - or you could get in touch with one directly. The right rehab program will be able to provide the best-tailored care, courtesy of suitably seasoned and skilled professionals in young adult drug addiction treatment, addressing both substance abuse and underlying emotional issues.

How Marijuana Use And Mental Illness May Be Linked

If there is one explanation for the popularity of services offering mental health support in North Carolina among the families who may be concerned about the drug use of their teen or young adult, it is because of the correlation between mental illness and the abuse of drugs like marijuana.

Indeed, studies have been carried out in the past drawing associations between marijuana use and an increased risk for such mental illnesses as depression, anxiety and psychosis (schizophrenia). However, it has been more difficult to pinpoint marijuana use as a direct contributor to these conditions, and if so, to what extent.

What is known is that the relationship has been shown to be affected by how much of the drug is used, the teen or young adult's age at first use and their genetic vulnerability. There is an especially strongly-evidenced link between marijuana use and psychotic disorders in those with a preexisting genetic or other vulnerability.

Recent research has indicated a heightened risk of the development of psychosis for those marijuana users carrying a specific variant of the AKT1 gene, which codes for an enzyme that affects dopamine signaling in the striatum. This is a part of the brain that becomes activated and flooded with dopamine in the presence of certain stimuli.

According to one study, daily marijuana users with this gene variant face a seven times higher risk than those who use the drug infrequently or not at all - another reason for concerned families to inquire about the appropriate mental health support in North Carolina when they suspect their teen or young adult of marijuana abuse.

Another study suggested that an increased risk of psychosis also applied to adults who used marijuana in adolescence and while carrying a specific variant of the gene for catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), an enzyme responsible for the degradation of such neurotransmitters as norepinephrine and dopamine.

Patients who already have schizophrenia have also been shown to see the course of their illness worsen as a consequence of marijuana use. Even non-schizophrenic users of the drug have been known to experience a brief psychotic reaction, particularly from a high dose, although this does fade as the drug wears off.

Nonetheless, with marijuana also having known - if less consistent - associations with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and personality disorders, it's clear just how crucial the right mental health support in North Carolina is to the teen and young adult abusers of marijuana.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Male And Female Brains Affected Differently By Cigarette Smoking

It is of interest to those benefiting from gender-specific programs of the leading addiction rehab centers in North Carolina to read of the difference in brain activation during smoking between men and women. Yale University researchers drew upon a new method of brain imaging scan analysis for a recent study, which received funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Research on Women's Health.

The researchers discovered that when nicotine-dependent men smoked, dopamine release occurred in the part of the brain (ventral striatum) linked to drug reinforcement. Meanwhile, in women, the dopamine response was found within the dorsal striatum, a part of the brain associated with habit formation.

According to the scientists, these findings support data previously published that showed men to generally be reinforced by the nicotine in cigarettes, while women, in comparison, were no less dependent on nicotine, but nonetheless tended to smoke instead for possibly mood or habit-related reasons. A better understanding of the effect that nicotine has on both male and female brains could be useful in the identification of effective gender-specific approaches to smoking cessation.

The full article detailing the study's findings, entitled Sex Differences in the Brain's Dopamine Signature of Cigarette Smoking, was published online in The Journal of Neuroscience on 10 December 2014. The research abstract commented, "Cigarette smoking is a major public health danger. Women and men smoke for different reasons and cessation treatments, such as the nicotine patch, are preferentially beneficial to men. The biological substrates of these sex differences are unknown."

Adding that "Earlier PET studies reported conflicting findings but were each hampered by experimental and/or analytical limitations," the study abstract said that the researchers' new image analysis technique, Ip-ntPET had "been optimized for capturing brief (lasting only minutes) and highly localized dopaminergic events in dynamic PET data.

"Our main finding is that male smokers smoking in the PET scanner activate dopamine in the right ventral striatum during smoking but female smokers do not. This finding—men activating more ventrally than women—is consistent with the established notion that men smoke for the reinforcing drug effect of cigarettes whereas women smoke for other reasons, such as mood regulation and cue reactivity."

Success Of Smoking Cessation Treatments May Depend On Nicotine Metabolism Rates

Anyone contemplating the services of North Carolina treatment programs offered to young adults may wish to take time out to read some recent research. A new study took the form of a randomized clinical trial of smokers attempting to quit, and found that the speed with which a given person's body metabolizes nicotine may impact on the effectiveness of certain smoking cessation therapies.

Success rates of the nicotine patch were compared by the study with those of the prescription medication varenicline. Participants with "normal" nicotine metabolic rates found that varenicline was much more effective at assisting them to refrain from smoking, both at the end of treatment and six months after treatment.

"Slow" metabolizers, meanwhile, didn't experience as many side effects when they used the nicotine patch as when varenicline was used, but there was no difference in success rates between the two. Such information is sure to interest prescribers looking to make the most appropriate smoking cessation treatment recommendations on the basis of the individual profiles of their patients.

The research benefited from funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The article, Use of the nicotine metabolite ratio as a genetically informed biomarker of response to nicotine patch or varenicline for smoking cessation: a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled trial was published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. The article summary commented that "Substantial variability exists in therapeutic response and adverse effects with pharmacotherapies for tobacco dependence. We tested whether a genetically informed biomarker of nicotine clearance, the nicotine metabolite ratio (NMR; 3′-hydroxycotinine:cotinine), predicts response to nicotine patch or varenicline for smoking cessation."

The clinical trial took place across four sites from November 16, 2010, to September 12, 2014, and involved 1246 participants - 662 of which were slow metabolizers of nicotine, with 584 being fast metabolizers of nicotine - who were randomly assigned to three interventions. 420 were given varenicline, 418 were assigned the nicotine patch and 408 received the placebo.

The subsequent findings led the researchers to conclude that "Treating normal metabolizers with varenicline and slow metabolizers with nicotine patch could optimize quit rates while minimizing side-effects" - an interpretation that may help to improve future North Carolina treatment for smoking cessation.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What My Life Was, How Red Oak Recovery Helped Me Grow, And Where I Am Today

Before I chose to make a change and go to Red Oak, I did not live my life; I merely existed. I spent my days waking up and not wanting to be there. I sought to have peace and contentment within myself and with my life, and it always seemed to evade me. At least that is how I perceived it. My answer to what I was feeling was to run, and drown it away with the use of drugs and suppression.

When I arrived at Red Oak, I had hit a bottom that finally put enough fear into me that I asked for help. I did not really know what to expect when I showed up in Sandy Mush, but I did know that the people that greeted me were there to help, and I did not have to face it alone. Throughout my stay at Red Oak, I was taught to be teachable and grow as an individual. I learned tools to apply to my life, in areas I thought I’d never face and areas I did not know I struggled with after years of suppression. Most importantly, they allowed me to gain my family relationships back, be the son and friend I was not capable of being, and find a sense of peace within myself.

Since I left treatment, my life has only continued to grow in sobriety. Red Oak prepared me for the next phase in my journey and helped me move forward from the darkest place I’ve ever been. I owe a lot to the people I can call family that make Red Oak the special place that it is.

Sam M., Red Oak Recovery Alumni

Friday, January 9, 2015

Marijuana Use May Increase Likelihood Of Nicotine Consumption

In news of relevance to anyone using the services of a young adult treatment center as well as their relatives and loved ones, research has recently been conducted suggesting that marijuana use may add to the pleasure experienced with tobacco use and may heighten the user's risk of nicotine addiction. These are the findings of recent experiments that found rats to work harder for nicotine and self-administer it more readily when exposed to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Cigarettes are smoked by most marijuana users, with about 1 in 5 people who use both substances - 1 in 3 among African Americans - using marijuana first. Recent research has also suggested that the initiation of tobacco use is more likely among adolescents who use marijuana weekly than those who use marijuana less frequently or not at all. These patterns partly arise given that some of the personal traits and social and environmental exposures that lead people to use marijuana may also predispose them to try other drugs.

The findings of the new research indicate that even with these influences taken out of the equation, marijuana use itself influences users to become regular smokers, making it more likely that they will become addicted to nicotine. The study was conducted by Dr. Leigh Panlilio and Dr. Steven Goldberg, alongside colleagues at the National Institute on Drug Abuse's (NIDA) Intramural Research Program (IRP), the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the University of Poitiers in France.

The researchers tested the hypothesis that marijuana's psychoactive ingredient, THC, might serve as a "gateway" drug for nicotine. According to this hypothesis, the brain is pharmacologically sensitized by the brain to be more responsive to the rewarding and addictive effects of nicotine, making marijuana users who try tobacco more likely to continue their use of it. The researchers used laboratory rats to conduct their experiment, in order to isolate THC's pharmacological effect from other possible factors affecting the consumption of nicotine.

From the 10th session of nicotine self-administration onwards, significantly more nicotine injections were self-administered by THC-exposed rats than animals that had not experienced THC exposure. The rats were required to poke their noses into a hole in the wall of the testing chamber in order to obtain a nicotine infusion. When the number of times that the rats needed to nose poke for a nicotine dose was increased, THC-exposed rats remained - on average - motivated to obtain an injection even up to 17 nose pokes. However, for saline-exposed control animals, motivation declined when the price increased to more than 11 nose pokes.

In light of this new evidence that THC exposure intensifies the rewarding and addictive effects of nicotine in rats, the researchers called for more examination of the possibility that people's susceptibility to nicotine use and addiction is increased when they use marijuana.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Driving After Marijuana Use Now More Prevalent Than Drunk Driving Among High School Seniors

One recent study highlighting the need for a young adult treatment center in 2014 to be as well-equipped to cater for marijuana-addicted young adults as for those with other substance abuse issues came from the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The 2011 survey found that almost 1 in 6 high school seniors reported that in the two weeks beforehand, they had driven a motor vehicle following heavy drinking or illicit drug usage. Nearly 1 in 4 said that they had recently accompanied such a person on a drive in a vehicle.

28 per cent of respondents in total had put themselves at risk in that short timeframe, by spending time in a vehicle driven by someone who had been using marijuana or another illicit drug, or who had drunk a minimum of 5 alcoholic drinks. The last four years had seen these rates increase by 20 per cent, almost entirely attributable to an increase in drinking after smoking marijuana.

These statistics were taken by Dr. Patrick M. O'Malley and Dr. Lloyd D. Johnston from how 22,000 12th graders responded to a questionnaire in the annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) study. What also emerged from the students' answers was that driving after marijuana use has become more common among 12th graders than drinking and driving.

Whereas 12.4 per cent - 1 in 8 - of the students said that during the last two weeks, they had driven following marijuana use, only 1 in 11 (8.7 per cent) had driven after consuming alcohol. Compared to the 2008 version of the survey, there was a sharp increase in the percentage of high school seniors driving after using marijuana, from 10.4 per cent. Drinking and driving, meanwhile, had declined from a 16 per cent peak in 2002.

These changes are in keeping with general trends in students' use of marijuana and alcohol. However, while it is widely known how detrimental an effect alcohol can have on road safety, the similarly dangerous effects of marijuana have not been so commonly acknowledged.

The study found, for example, that there was a similar likelihood of an accident for high school seniors who drove after marijuana use as for those who drank heavily - 26.9 per cent and 30.2 per cent respectively - 12 months prior to taking the survey. They were also similarly likely to have been given traffic tickets or warnings, at 42.1 per cent and 43.2 per cent respectively.

Recommended measures to reduce both drunk and drugged driving among American adolescents, as outlined in a recent Institute for Behavior and Health (IBH) report prepared at the request of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), include the evaluation and improvement of drugged-driving laws, educational programs and data collection. They also included the development and standardization of drug testing methods in drivers.

However, there can be little doubt that the right young adult treatment center - such as Red Oak Recovery® - can also play an integral role.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Teens Put At Risk By Anti-Anxiety Medication Prescriptions

Anyone with a stake in young adult treatment in North Carolina will take an interest in new research suggesting that there is a greater likelihood of teens who have been prescribed anxiety or sleep medications abusing them later, than those who have never had such a prescription. Teens reported that they used these medications for the self-treatment of insomnia or anxiety or to get "high."

Prior to this research, there had been no longitudinal study examining adolescents' nonmedical use and medical misuse of anxiety and sleep medications. It was conducted by scientists at the University of Michigan, with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

The findings of the study indicate a need for strategies aimed at preventing prescription medication abuse among youths. According to the research abstract, the longitudinal study was carried out with the aim of determining whether there was a link between adolescents' recent medicinal use of anxiolytic or sleep medication and an increased incidence of using someone else's prescription for these classes of medication (nonmedical use).

The research entailed the collection of data from adolescents attending five secondary schools in the Detroit area between December and April in three consecutive academic years from 2009 to 2012. There were three mutually exclusive groups to which respondents were assigned for the analyses: those who had never been prescribed anxiolytic or sleep medication in their lifetime, those who had been prescribed such medication in their lifetime, but not during the study period and finally, those who had been prescribed the medication during the study period.

Of the sample, nearly nine percent had received a prescription for anxiolytic or sleep medication during their lifetime, while 3.4 percent had received at least one prescription during the three year study period. When compared to adolescents who had never been prescribed such medication, those who had been prescribed them during the study period were 10 times more likely to use it for such nonmedical reasons as "to get high" or "to experiment". There was also a three times greater likelihood of such adolescents engaging in nonmedical use to self-treat anxiety or to sleep.

Meanwhile, adolescents who had received an anxiolytics prescription during their lifetime, but outside the three year study period were 12 times more likely to use another person's anxiolytic medication than those who had never been prescribed it. In the concluding words of the abstract, and as will be heeded by many of those involved in or receiving young adult treatment in North Carolina, "these risk factors have significant implications for later substance use problems."

Improved Chances Of Employment For Women Who Receive Gender-Specific Substance Abuse Treatment

The importance of gender-specific substance abuse treatment programs is widely recognized within the young adult recovery community. Young women, certainly, stand to benefit from a program that is centered around their unique requirements in early recovery. Now, research has been conducted revealing that women receiving treatment in gender-specific programs are more likely to be employed 12 months after treatment admission than those in non gender-specific treatment programs.

The research, which was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), also found a greater likelihood of women who completed treatment being employed than those who did not complete treatment. The study involved the analysis of data from 5,109 women admitted to 13 mixed-gender intensive inpatient programs in Washington State. The importance of this research is due to the barriers to employment that have been reported for women with substance abuse disorders. Furthermore, employment can help to protect against relapse.

The study abstract stated that employment problems were common among low-income, substance abusing women. The research linked an empirically developed quantitative measure of substance abuse treatment to employment outcomes among the aforementioned group of substance-abusing women. The relationship between gender-specific treatment and subsequent employment was tested through the use of hierarchical linear models.

Meanwhile, the preexisting differences among women were controlled for through the use of propensity scores and receipt of public assistance. The study also used men's employment outcomes to control for potential confounding at the program level. It was subsequently discovered by the study that women treated in gender-specific programs were more likely to be employed 12 months following their admission for treatment, albeit not for the hypothesized 24 months.

Nor was the relationship between gender-specific treatment and employment affected by treatment completion. The researchers concluded that the findings pointed to recent progress in the tailoring of generic substance abuse treatment to the requirements of women. The results of the study certainly signal the hugely positive role that can be played by individualized women trauma recovery programs that are clinically centered around such needs as co-occurring disorders, trauma, depression, anxiety, family relationships, body image, self-esteem, identity issues, and other issues.