Manipulating addicts' memories may be a way to treat drug addiction with out pharmaceuticals, according to a new study published in the journal Science. The research—built on an earlier study from New York University—focused on a simple behavioral procedure that reduced the cravings of heroin addicts and may even prevent relapse. "We used a very simple classical conditioning paradigm in which a blue square was paired with a mild electric shock to the wrist," said lead researcher Liz Phelps. The participants then associated the blue square with the shocks, which would lead to a fearful response when looking at the square. After the classic conditioning sessions, the participants were then shown the square with out receiving any shocks, this is called extinction procedures. "We did the extinction training during reconsolidation, and what seems to have happened is that we somehow updated the old fear memory," says Phelps. "In those particular subjects we didn't see any evidence of the fear memory returning. We brought the subjects back a year later and showed that the fear did not come back in the group that got extinction during reconsolidation." The results of the study show that the memory retrieval-extinction procedure could be a non-pharmacological method for tackling drug addiction and preventing relapse, which helped the development of a new procedure in development that, like extinguishing the blue square's fear response, will eliminate the association of paraphernalia and its usage with a high.
- Marijuana Laws: Up in Smoke [The Economist]
- Memory "Trick" Relieves Drug Cravings [Nature]
- Stanton Peele: Is Almost Alcoholic a Useful Concept? [Huffington Post]
- Are Cigarillos Any Better Than Cigarettes For Jack White? [Washington Post]
- Walmart Janitor Discovers Meth Lab in Women's Restroom [Opposing Views]
- Woman Naked In Airport Was 'Smoking Mad' (Video) [Examiner]
- Charlie Sheen's Post-Rehab Distress Soothed by Bavaria Lemon [Fast Company]
"A bridge back to life" is a metaphor often applied to Alcoholics Anonymous. But perhaps no one could find more truth in this phrase than a suicide addict. "Suicide Anonymous" is a 12-step group for people who are hard-wired to crave death, in the same way that an alcoholic or drug addict is hard-wired to drink or use. Modeled on AA, the group emphasizes personal responsibility, mutual support and belief in a "higher power" to help members recover from an addiction to self-destruction. The SA community is small; there are currently just five regular meetings in the US, in Philadelphia and Memphis—where the program was founded in 1996. SA founder Kenneth Tullis, 68, attempted suicide seven times. He credits extensive 12-step work and therapy for his own recovery. A psychiatrist and addiction specialist, Tullis explains that suicide addicts are "hooked" on the high they get from contemplating suicide, just as alcoholics are addicted to the relief they get from drinking. "If the '12 Steps' work for everything else," Tullis says, "why not for preventing suicide?"
Phil, a member of Philly's Westhampton group, thanks SA for saving his life. "I wanted to rid the world of me," he says of the time when he slit his wrists and swallowed a mouthful of pills. "I would never have attempted it if I'd had SA." Janet, a 54-yr-old artist and mime, thinks the groups provide a vital place for sufferers like her to open up about a widely-stigmatized subject. "People don't want to talk about suicide," she says. But in SA meetings, "We have no secrets." Perhaps the most stirring tribute comes from Eric, a 52-year-old man who has a terminal illness. The program "helps me keep going," he says. "Even on my deathbed, I want to live."
To add insult to literal injury, a pair of British sailors who woke up from their blackouts with mysterious injuries were asked to testify against their aggressors—a pair of 13-year-old girls. The drunken shipmen were beaten in the street by the teens—who were also inebriated—at one in the morning after an argument. Neither sailor remembers what happened on account of alcohol's memory-erasing qualities, but their injuries were serious enough to stand as evidence: one man reported tenderness on the back of his head and a grazed knee after being slammed into a shop window, while the other bears scratches and a swollen face. CCTV footage of the night's events depicts a scrimmage so vicious that one of the teens was “appalled” when she was made to watch her own violent actions. One girl pleaded guilty to two charges of assault, and the other received a reprimand from the judge. Despite one of the teens having a previous violent offense on her record, defense lawyers argued that they were not completely at fault since the sailors had cussed at them: “There was some provocation from these two much larger men.”
Here's something you won't see on America's Got Talent: 23-year-old Philly native Ray Woods was pulled over last weekend for a broken rear light and turned out to be in possession of no fewer than 89 small bags of heroin and cocaine—all tied to his penis. Cpl. Christopher Eiserman made the seemingly routine stop on Woods before discovering marijuana in the car. A further search of Woods revealed a "large bulge" in the front of his pants, before Eiserman discovered the even more impressive package. The situation became almost surreal when Woods began to urinate uncontrollably as Eiserman attempted to remove the drugs from the unit. "I've seen it down their pants, in their ass, but I've never seen it tied to their penis," said Eiserman in wonder. "I couldn't believe it. I guess they figure the police officers aren't going to check down in that area."
What sounds like every parents nightmare—your child's sitters are drug criminals!—has become a reality for one group of Bronx parents. On Wednesday, authorities charged six local residents with operating a national prescription drug ring and using a local day care center as a major distribution base. According to federal court complaints, the defendants have been distributing drugs including ecstasy, Percocet, Viagra, and Xanax to various locations across the nation since October 2011. Drug Enforcement Administration agents discovered approximately 122,000 pills at four Bronx locations, many of which were being stored at an area day care center. “As alleged, these six defendants operated a veritable pill mill,” says Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York. “The charged conduct was especially dangerous, as the defendants potentially victimized young children whose unsuspecting parents sent them to a day care center that allegedly doubled as a warehouse for thousands of their illegal pills.” A large quantity of pills were found in a closet just "several feet away" from the children's toys and furniture. The defendants were charged with conspiracy to violate the narcotics laws of the United States, and distribution and possession with intent to distribute oxycodone.