Yale researchers and other scientists have discovered that the adolescent brain launches a strong defensive reaction when first exposed to cocaine. Two new studies identify the genes responsible for this reaction; the hope is to determine why the risk of drug addiction drastically increases if a person starts using as a teenager. In the first study, researchers found that teens have a much higher vulnerability to cocaine than adults mainly because the adolescent brain is shifting from an explosive, plastic growth phase to more settled and refined neural connections. Past studies at Yale have shown that this change in the brain’s shape is regulate by the gene "intergrin beta 1," which plays an essential role in the development of the nervous system."This suggests that these structural changes observed are probably protective of the neurocircuitry, an effort of the neuron to protect itself when first exposed to cocaine," says Anthony Koleske, senior author of both papers. In the second study, Yale researchers found that when cocaine-using mice had their integrin beta 1 pathway knocked out, they needed three times less coke to bring about behavioral changes. "If you were to become totally desensitized to cocaine, there is no reason to seek the drug," says Koleske. The results suggest that the intergrin beta 1 pathway plays a huge role in why some teen cocaine users become addicted and others don't.
- Are Recovering Addicts Happier Than Everyone Else? [PsychCentral]
- Is Anyone Surprised Bobbi Kristina Showed Up Drunk To Whitney Houston's Burial? [Crushable]
- Doctors And Teens At Opposite Ends On Marijuana [KUNC]
- Many Americans Support Lower Nicotine Levels in Cigarettes [Health.com]
- Drugs On The Menu For Aussie Tourists In Laos [NineMSN]
- Men Gave Girls Alcohol And Drugs And Forced Them To Have Sex, Court Hears [The Guardian]
- Man Kills Wife Nagging Him To Give Up Drugs [TwoCircles]
- Three Frightening Teen Drug Trends [Lansing Injuryboard]
It’s been widely reported that two-time Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid died at 43 last Thursday of an asthma attack, apparently triggered by an allergy to horses. But much less mentioned is that Shadid—a brilliant and dedicated reporter and by all accounts a humane and generous man—was also a longtime heavy smoker who wanted to quit and couldn’t. And that smoking has life-threatening effects for people with asthma. A very few mentions of Shadid’s nicotine habit appear on the Internet: “He knew he shouldn’t smoke because of his asthma, but he felt it was a forgivable peccadillo,” wrote one former colleague in The Atlantic. “RIP Anthony Shadid. Last december he told me he was quitting smoking in a month,” tweeted another the day after Shadid died. The Times has yet to respond to our questions about why it didn't mention that Shadid was a smoker.
Neil C. Thomson, MD, honorary senior research fellow at the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, tells The Fix, “Cigarette smoking in asthma is associated with high rates of life-threatening asthma attacks and greater asthma mortality.” Thomson, a world leader in research about the effects of smoking on asthma, says it’s difficult to tell whether smoking directly causes a fatal attack, but notes, “In general, smokers with asthma are at risk of developing more severe symptoms, higher frequency of attacks of asthma, and worse asthma-specific quality of life compared to never-smokers with asthma.” Crucially, he adds, smoking also appears to make asthma patients less sensitive to the effects of medications used to manage attacks. Follow-up stories about the dangers of asthma in the aftermath of Shadid’s death have suggested that perhaps his condition wasn’t well controlled by the medications he carried with him.
Thomson’s research has found that between one fifth and one third of asthmatic adults in developed countries are smokers. The best treatment for smokers with asthma? Quit smoking. But quit-rates are low, as Thomson writes in an article published in this month's issue of Chest journal. Because of the critical dangers of smoking for asthmatics he calls for more large randomized clinical trials of drug treatment in asthma patients who are active smokers.
Twenty years before Jerry Maguire started working out of his house as a sports agent, Leigh Steinberg did the same thing. It's not a coincidence either. Director Cameron Crowe tailed Steinberg for a year before writing the screenplay that would go on to be nominated for an Oscar. Just like Maguire, Steinberg eventually made the big-time. Unlike Maguire though, Steinberg didn't get a happy ending.
Once the agent to half of the NFL's starting quarterbacks, Steinberg is now a 62-year-old has-been, working his way through bankruptcy and searching for a second chance. Like so many before him, his downfall can be traced back to booze, which he says he used to hide from his problems. Naturally, the 1750mL jug of vodka he lugged around each day only made those problems worse. "All I wanted was more alcohol. At a certain phase, it became synonymous with breath itself," he tells Armen Keteyian on Real Sports. Rock bottom came when he found himself in a hospital wearing a diaper, after being picked up from the middle of a vacant lot where he was "just singing away and making noise."
That was in 2007. It took him three more years to get sober. Now he hasn't had a drink in two years. Although his agent days seem long gone, Steinberg's still hoping to have an impact. “If my story is a cautionary note to anyone out there who’s struggling with any kind of substance abuse, there is help,” he says.
Presidential candidate Ron Paul says he supports the legalization of growing industrial hemp during his campaign tour in North Dakota. "There is no reason, in a free society, that farmers shouldn't be allowed to raise hemp," the libertarian Republican told a crowd. "Hemp is a good product." Advocates say the alternative crop can be grown quickly and turned into a wide range of products including paper, rope, textiles and even food products. Despite hemp being a legal multi-million dollar export crop in Canada, the US government has banned its cultivation; the Drug Enforcement Agency lumps it together with its plant cousin, marijuana, even though it shares virtually none of its mind-altering properties. North Dakota lawmakers once filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against the DEA's hemp ban.
A man and woman were arrested in Culver City last Wednesday in the biggest PCP bust on record, with 139 gallons of the hallucinogen—valued at nearly $100 million on the street—seized by the LA County narcotics task force, LA IMPACT. Darryl Dwayne Burton, 55, and Lagina Bell Huckaby, 31, were arrested at a UPS store where they were allegedly to trying to ship drugs. Two semiautomatic rifles were also confiscated, along with chemicals for making about 500 more gallons of the drug. Enough PCP was seized to dose 10 million people at a cost of $15 each. "It's the largest PCP seizure I've ever heard of," says Lt. Scott Fairfield of LA Impact. Burton is believed to have been part of the Bounty Hunter Bloods street gang, an active PCP manufacturer. The drug ring included 10 other people locally and was distributing to places including Texas, New York and Washington, DC. Investigators intercepted suspicious deliveries addressed to locations in Texas and tests confirmed that the boxes contained PCP. PCP is a hallucinogenic drug that comes in either powder or liquid form, and is typically sprayed onto leafy material such as cannabis, mint or oregano and smoked.