Addiction News | Drug Abuse & Alcohol – The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

healing ptsd


How Smoking Pot May Alleviate PTSD Symptoms



This article first appeared on AlterNet.

Marijuana has been shown to be an effective treatment to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in rats, according to a recently published study in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology. Roughly 2.5 million combat veterans have returned to the United States from Iraq and Afghanistan, many of them coping with the often crippling symptoms of severe PTSD.

The study, performed by Nachshon Korem and Irit Akirav of the University of Haifa’s Department of Psychology in Israel, examined the interactions between cannabis and trauma reminders. A trauma reminder is a stimulus that would not be stressful out of context, say a picture of a helicopter, but which reminds a PTSD sufferer of a traumatic event, for instance an event related to war, which can cause intense stress. The study found that rats who were given an electric shock, then injected with synthetic marijuana, showed significantly reduced symptoms of PTSD compared to rats not treated with cannabinoids. Specifically, when exposed to a trauma reminder, these rats did not have typical symptoms, such as an increased startle response, altered pain sensitivity and neurological issues related to learning and the brain’s reward response. Cannabinoids also did markedly better than the pharmaceutical drug sertraline in the same study. Sertraline is in the SSRI family along with many common antidepressants such as Prozac.

It is difficult to come up with a good estimate for the number of people with PTSD—symptoms are often invisible, and can even difficult to identify even for the sufferer. According to the US Department of Veterans' Affairs, an estimated 7.8% of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. The study lends scientific backing to the claims of many veterans who have long advocated for marijuana as a way to manage PTSD. The Iraq War is finally over, and the war in Afghanistan is reportedly coming to a close this year. Approximately 2.5 million veterans from these wars are now living in the U.S. Due to the obstinate stance of the federal government that cannabis is a criminal drug, many of those veterans will be denied an effective medicine with negligible side effects.

With 23 states having a medical marijuana law on the books, and a handful more allowing for high CBD/low THC pot for a short list of conditions, most of the U.S. has now acknowledged the healing power of cannabis. By maintaining its Schedule I status, and even mandating an additional review process for research that only applies to marijuana, the federal government remains stodgily behind the times.

The study by Korem and Akirav shows a pressing need, both for additional research on cannabis and a loosening of the restrictions that have kept it out of the hands of patients who stand to benefit from its use. It is past time for the U.S. to undo the holds on the study and use of marijuana.

Add a Comment  

By Owen Poindexter

gateway drug?


Study Describes E-Cigarettes as Gateway To Illegal Drugs


On the path to cocaine? Shutterstock

In a red flag-raising study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, neuroscientist Eric Kandel and his wife, Dr. Denise Kandel, warned that electronic cigarettes very likely could be a gateway drug for adolescents. Basing their findings on recent research done on mice, the study reveals that e-cigarettes prime the brain for the use of illegal drugs like cocaine and marijuana.

As e-cigarettes deliver highly addictive "pure nicotine," the brain chemistry of the mice in the study was altered. Such alterations primed the animals for cocaine addiction. "One drug alters the brain's circuitry in a way that enhances the effects of a subsequent drug," Professor Kandel explained.

The couple from Columbia University wrote extensively on the subject of the heightened risk to young people. At the end of their report in the New England Journal of Medicine, they clearly raised a red flag when they wrote:

"Our society needs to be concerned about the effect of e-cigarettes on the brain, especially in young people, and the potential for creating a new generation of persons addicted to nicotine. The effects we found in adult mice are likely to be even stronger in adolescent animals. Priming with nicotine has been shown to lead to enhanced cocaine-induced locomotor activity and increased initial self-administration of cocaine among adolescent, but not adult, rats… Nicotine clearly acts as a gateway drug on the brain."

Although the typical e-cigarette user is a long-term smoker who has been unable to quit, more and more young people are taking up the habit as it has evolved into a popularized fad. A problem is nicotine has a much more powerful effect on the adolescent brain. As Professor Kandel, who in 2000 shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on the physiological basis of memory, said, “The effects we saw in adult mice are probably even stronger in adolescent animals.”

Add a Comment  

By John Lavitt

celebrity DUI


Gold Medalist Michael Phelps Arrested for DUI



Michael Phelps, the multi-gold medal winning swimmer who rose to international stardom during the 2008 Summer Olympics has allegedly been arrested for driving under the influence.

First reported by celebrity site TMZ, Phelps was busted in Baltimore, Md., during the wee hours for reportedly driving 84 mph in a 45 mph zone. An officer pulled over his white Land Rover around 1:40 am and noticed right away that he "appeared to be under the influence," according to a police statement.

Though cooperative, Phelps failed a variety of field sobriety tests, including a breathalyzer, which determined that he was almost twice the legal limit. He was brought to a station and booked on a DUI, before being released.

Unfortunately, this wasn't the first time Phelps has been arrested for driving under the influence. In 2004, when he was 19 years old, he was arrested in Salisbury, Md., for drunk driving. He pleaded guilty and was given 18 months probation, fined $250, and told to speak to students about the dangers of drinking and driving.

More famously, Phelps was photographed in 2009 while smoking weed from a bong while partying at the University of South Carolina. He was suspended from competing for three months and lost Kellogg as a sponsor. Phelps readily admitted his mistake in an apology, calling his actions "inappropriate."

Add a Comment  

By Shawn Dwyer

number one


America Consumes 80% of the World's Prescription Painkillers


USA! USA! Shutterstock

Congressional testimony by the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians recently revealed that Americans consume a staggering 80% of the world's painkillers.

According to the BBC, this high percentage translates into more than 110 tons of addictive opiates consumed every year. Although pharmaceutical opiates such as OxyContin and Zohydro are legal with a prescription, they also have proven to be incredibly addictive.

In the 21st century, the number of users of painkillers has increased 600% in the United States. Crimes committed by drug abusers addicted to oxycodone and hydrocodone, the main ingredients in most pharmaceutical opiates, have skyrocketed as well. The prescription painkiller plague has become the gravest drug problem in the country.

Doctors in the United States prescribe more than 259 million prescriptions for painkillers annually. Behind the façade of the American dream, the first-world country seems to be suffering from far more pain and disease than much of the rest of the world. As a result of this flood of painkillers, prescription drug overdose is now the leading cause of acute preventable death in United States, exceeding even the death rate from car accidents.

A further problem is prescription drug abuse often becomes a gateway for illegal drug addiction. When addicts can no longer convince doctors to write scripts, they often move on from opiate painkillers to heroin. Without question, if the plague of prescription painkiller abuse in the United States is not effectively addressed, the problem is bound to worsen.

Add a Comment  

By John Lavitt

drugs in sports


Student Athletes In Oregon Demand School Drug Testing



Parents and students in several districts throughout the country have been protesting drug testing in schools, but one school district in Oregon has implemented them at the request of students.

Student-athletes in the South Lane and Junction City school districts, located in Eugene, Ore. will be required to submit to drug tests this year. Both school boards have approved plans to drug test students at least once per season and also administer random tests. Any student who fails three tests will be banned from sports teams. Students in South Lane have even made bracelets in the school’s colors that read, “I am drug free. Test me.”

Students in the district are already required to take a Breathalyzer test before entering a school dance. They had previously tried implementing voluntary drug-testing in the early 90s, but scrapped it after students who were using drugs unsurprisingly didn’t volunteer to be tested.

"This isn't about busting kids," said Cottage Grove High School Principal Iton Udosenata. "It's about helping kids. It's not about infringing on kids' rights. The outcome we want is for more kids to have the opportunity to say 'no.'" Senior Jarrett Reade, the co-chair of the athletes’ council, supported the measure because “it’s an easy way to see who is using and who is not.”

However, some parents and students in the district believe the new policy is misguided and will drive students away from extracurricular activities. It’s a sentiment that’s echoed by many across the country. The Perry County school district in Pennsylvania sparked controversy over their mandatory drug testing being administered to pre-teens. Natalie Cassell, 10, was drug tested three times this past year at Susquenita Middle School because she is part of a leadership club.

Her mother, Kristin, said she was upset that she wasn't notified when one of the tests took place. School officials said that a nurse is required to inform parents that their child is being drug tested, but doesn't have to wait for them to respond back.

Add a Comment  

By McCarton Ackerman

drug cartels


Son Of Cartel Leader Faces Life In Prison On Drug Charges


Photo via

The son of one of the most feared cartel leaders in Mexico could spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to drug trafficking charges.

Serafin Zambada, 24, is the son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, a leader in Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel. The younger Zambaya will face at least 10 years in prison and could be sentenced to life behind bars after admitting that he conspired to bring over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana and 100 kilograms of cocaine from Mexico to the U.S. Zambada was arrested last year and has remained in custody ever since.

Serafin was born in Zambada and spent most of his life in the U.S. He attended high school in Phoenix and was on his way there to arrange legal status with his wife with U.S. immigration authorities when he was arrested. His attorney, Saji Vettiyil, said that Serafin “has a family, has a university degree and his involvement was quite limited compared to little people.” He is also hoping that his client’s clean criminal record will lead to a shorter sentence than the 10-year minimum.  Somewhat surprisingly, Serafin’s father did not pay for the attorney and provided no legal advice.

Last February, Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was arrested after a yearlong investigation between U.S. and Mexican officials. Under Guzman’s leadership, the Sinaloa cartel smuggled billions of dollars worth of drugs into the U.S., including methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. The Chicago Crime Commission even named him their “Public Enemy No. 1” in February 2013 due to his responsibility for narcotics entering the city.

Guzman was able to bribe his way out of a Mexican prison 13 years ago, but authorities have made it clear there is no chance of that happening again. "He's locked up in the most reliable prison we have in Mexico and certainly once bitten twice shy,” said Eduardo Medina Mora, Mexico's ambassador to the United States. "We will take our precautions in this case."

Add a Comment  

By McCarton Ackerman


Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
the fix tv
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

Addiction News

Alcohol and Drug Abuse News Articles

For the latest addiction news, bookmark This Just In. From legal matters and celebrity troubles to addiction studies and recovery stories, this section features the hottest topics in alcohol and drug abuse news. We sort out the sometimes overwhelming world of addiction-related news and opinion and bring it to you conveniently in one place in an easy to understand format. News Junkie? Get a weekly hit of our top addiction news stories by signing up for The Fix newsletter.