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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Important Facts About Marijuana For Teens

Regardless of the widespread prevalence of drug addiction programs in North Carolina, it is far from the case that every teen smokes marijuana - indeed, only about 1 in 7 teens do. There has actually been a steep drop in the proportion of teens using marijuana since the 1990s, but with the last few years having seen usage figures creep up again, we should not presume that it has ceased to be a threat to our young people.

More teens seem to be turning once more to marijuana and it may be an indication of the increasing misconception that it is not a harmful drug, perhaps due to it being "natural". This is despite the fact that not all natural plants are good for one's health, tobacco being one example. It all means that addiction remains a serious risk to American teens and young adults, with almost 4.2 million people 12 and older having a marijuana abuse or addiction problem as of 2011.

A person may smoke marijuana for many reasons, such as to fit in socially, feel better or even feel different. Whatever the reason for such use, there can be no denying the very real consequences, particularly given marijuana's addictive nature. Although not everyone who smokes marijuana becomes addicted, about 9 percent, or 1 in 11 people, do - a rate that rises to 17 percent, or around 1 in 6, for those starting in their teens. For daily users, there is a 25-50 percent risk of addiction.

Marijuana has many more potential consequences besides addiction, however. The adverse effect that the drug has on alertness, coordination, concentration and reaction time makes driving unsafe, and sure enough, there is no illegal drug that is more frequently involved in auto fatalities. Marijuana is also linked to academic failure due to the negative impact it has on attention, memory and learning, while psychosis or panic is another possibility when taking high doses of the drug.

The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the amount of which determines the strength or potency of the drug. The amount of THC content in marijuana has been on the increase since the 1980s. Furthermore, THC is rapidly absorbed by the body's fatty tissues, with traces often being detectable several days after use.

The many unwelcome short-term and long-term effects of marijuana on the human body - including the brain - only make it all the more crucial for the right drug addiction programs in North Carolina to be offered to teens and young adults to assist them on the road to recovery.  

National Drug Facts Week 2015 Educated Teens On Dangers Of Abuse

January 26 to February 1 2015 was the fifth annual National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) held, which helped teens, young adults and families learn the facts surrounding drugs and drug abuse, directly from the scientific experts. With sponsorship from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a part of the National Institutes of Health, the event was much welcomed throughout the North Carolina rehab community.

NDFW was intended to shatter the myths about drugs and drug abuse, subjects that are of great relevance to so many American teens and young adults. This aim was supported by the delivery of teen-oriented community events, NIDA's Drugs Facts Chat Day and partnerships with leading organizations, media outlets and other government agencies.

Drugs Facts Chat Day, for instance, took the form of an annual live chat between high school students and NIDA scientists. It gave students from across the United States the opportunity to ask whatever questions they wished to ask about drugs and drug abuse, including drug effects, the causes of addiction and how drug abusers among their friends and family could be helped. Participants were given the facts by NIDA's expert scientists.

Although the Drugs Facts Chat Day was held online and involved hundreds of high school students, the week saw similar question and answer sessions between teens and scientists taking place across the United States. Students on the Chat Days have previously asked such questions as "Are there any medical benefits to illegal drugs?", "Is smoking marijuana more harmful than smoking cigarettes?" and "How many young people are addicted to drugs?"

NIDA even challenged both teens and adults to take its Drug IQ Challenge, an interactive 10-minute quiz designed to test their knowledge on drugs and drug abuse. Answering the quiz questions allowed the risks and side effects of drug use to be better understood by participants. For example, despite marijuana's active ingredient - THC - being more than four times higher than it was two decades ago, most high school seniors do not consider regular marijuana smoking to be harmful.

Dr. Wilson Compton, NIDA Deputy Director, commented: "An open and honest dialogue that connects teens with leading experts on drugs, National Drug Facts Week has grown exponentially – from 92 events at its inception to now more than 1000. The continued popularity of this effort demonstrates the value in giving teens science-based facts that counter widespread misinformation about drugs."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Long-Time Drug Addicted Young Adults May Be Assisted By Mindfulness

Substance abuse therapists across the United States will be interested to learn of recent research pointing to the usefulness of mindfulness training in reducing the deficits in natural reward processing that may arise for those with more chronic pain and drug addiction issues.

This should be reassuring news for those drug-dependent people who do not show as much behavioral and brain reactivity to natural rewards as non-drug users. This typically leads drug-dependent individuals to spend less time attending to natural rewards, and more time attempting to obtain the drug.

However, new research suggests that opioid-dependent users' natural reward processing could be restored with the help of a cognitive-based intervention. The study involved the randomization of chronic pain patients at risk for opioid misuse to eight weeks of either a support group (control) or a Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) intervention.

The MORE intervention's participants used mindfulness meditation to focus on all of a pleasant experience or object's (such as a sunset or other beautiful natural scene) sensory features, while reflecting on any positive emotions that they experienced as a result of this event. Meanwhile, in the support group, topics and emotions related to chronic pain and opioid use/misuse were discussed.

These interventions were followed by images representing natural rewards (such as endearing animals, appealing foods and landscapes) and neutral images - like household items, furniture or neutral facial expressions - being shown to all of the participants. Late positive potential (LPP) brain activity was also measured by the researchers as the images were viewed, to indicate the attention paid by the participants to emotionally salient information.

When compared to the control group, those participating in the MORE intervention displayed greater LPP responses to the natural reward images than to the neutral images. Furthermore, participants reporting higher LPP responses tended to report decreased opioid cravings.

Such findings indicated that misusers of opioids could be assisted in the control of their cravings by being taught to mindfully attend to positive aspects of their life, given how this may heighten the perceived value of natural rewards. Such processes can be diminished in those with chronic pain or addiction issues, as is well-recognized by substance abuse therapists.

What The Young Adult Needs To Know About Comorbidity

A great many of those who are admitted to a young adult rehab program present with more than one disorder or illness, a phenomenon known as comorbidity. Any given young adult may have both emotional and substance abuse issues simultaneously, or they may have developed one prior to the other. Indeed, the two coexisting illnesses or disorders can interact to the point of mutually worsening.

It is important for those considering a young adult rehab program to realize that drug addiction and mental illness may occur simultaneously, meaning that both mental and alcohol or drug issues need to be tended to by therapists. The brain is fundamentally changed by addiction, with a person's normal hierarchy of needs and desires being disturbed and substituted with new priorities connected to the procurement and use of the drug.

The resultant compulsive behaviors of those who abuse substances result in their impulses becoming progressively more difficult to control, despite the all too real negative consequences. Such a pattern has been observed in other mental illnesses. Nor should one doubt the widespread prevalence of comorbid drug addiction and other mental illnesses.

It is all too common for drug addicted young adults to also be diagnosed with other mental disorders, to the extent that they are about twice as likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders as the general population - the reverse also being applicable.

However, it would be inaccurate to presume that a drug use disorder and co-occurring mental illness are linked to the extent of one having caused the other, even if one appeared first. There have, however, been a few possible reasons for such common co-occurrence suggested by research. These include that symptoms of another mental illness may be brought about by drug use, a hypothesis supported by the heightened risk of psychosis for marijuana users.

Alternatively, mental disorders can be a precursor to drug abuse, perhaps as a result of 'self-medication'. Anxious or depressed patients may try to temporarily alleviate their symptoms through reliance on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. There are other shared risk factors for such disorders, ranging from overlapping genetic vulnerabilities and overlapping environmental triggers to the involvement of similar brain regions.

The high comorbidity rates between drug use disorders and other mental illnesses only makes it all the more crucial for a comprehensive treatment approach to be taken that identifies and evaluates both. Such an approach is embraced today by any good young adult rehab program offering clinically dynamic, combined treatments and therapies.