Alcohol is known to make you forget things, but a new study shows that it only impairs your explicit or conscious memory, while your implicit—or unconscious—memory remains intact. Implicit memory is when previous experiences help condition your response to something, "priming" you to respond the same way in the future—for example, learning to play pool or pulling your hand away from an open flame. Explicit memories, on the other hand, are the conscious recollection of a past event—and include remembering someone's name, a childhood visit to the zoo or the time of a dental appointment. The study, conducted by Suchismita Ray, a professor at the Center of Alcohol Studies at Rutgers University, examined individuals' ability to retain memories while sober or intoxicated, and found that even a drunk brain retains implicit memory—particularly when those memories are more emotionally charged. "Alcohol dampens overall emotional reactivity, but the brain still allocates more neural resources for emotional cues compared to neutral ones," says Ray. "And with good reason—emotional memories are important for survival." So after a night of heavy drinking—even if you don't remember the bouncer dragging you out of the bar—the next time you walk by that establishment, you may still feel a sense of humiliation and dread.
In stark contrast to the party animals at WVU and elsewhere, Brooklyn College just came in seventh out of 377 schools as a top "stone cold sober" campus on the Princeton Review's national list. The survey also found that the school boasts the fifth lowest amount of beer consumption, the fourth lowest liquor consumption and 12th lowest weed consumption. Officials say the student demographics, commuter culture, and busy schedules all lend to a non-party atmosphere, and most students are fine with that. “There’s no frat house around here,” says student Arrion Fletcher. “I just come here, go to school and jet out. I think a lot of people do the same thing.” Students at Brooklyn College tend to be a little older than the traditional, fresh out of high school crowd, and many work at least one job. “Our campus is comprised of a student body that is very focused and here to earn a degree," says school spokesman Jeremy Thompson. "We all let our hair down sometimes, but it’s just not done here through the use of alcohol and marijuana.”
Teachers find this a blessing; journalism professor Ron Howell says no one has ever come to his class under the influence, and the worst he sees are stressed chain-smokers: “You don’t see beer cans, you don’t smell liquor around here—not even late in the evenings.” And most students approve: "This is a place to learn—it's not a bar,” says Francheska Brown. “I'm glad the campus is the way it is. I don't want to smell weed while I'm going to class." Of course, there are always some hoping for a more Animal House-style experience. “When school is out everyone should be smoking weed and doing whatever they want. It’s college,” claims student Ricky Telfort. “Everyone I know goes to class and goes home and that’s wack.”
New research highlights a link between smoking and drinking in your teens, and painkiller abuse in adulthood. The Yale University study, to be published in the upcoming issue of Journal of Adolescent Health, collected data from 18-25 years olds, using the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2006-2008. Of the young adults surveyed, 12% said they were currently abusing prescription opioids—and of this group, 57% said they had abused alcohol as teens, 56% had smoked cigarettes, and 34% had used marijuana. “About 3.5 million young adults abuse prescription opioids, and this number is growing," says study lead author Dr. Lynn Fiellin, associate professor of medicine at Yale. Researchers also found that these correlative behaviors were different between genders: among women, only marijuana was linked to abusing prescription drugs later in life, whereas among men, cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana contributed to an increased risk of Rx abuse. The researchers note that the study shows a correlation—rather than proving a cause-and-effect relationship—between teen substance abuse and prescription drug abuse.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is a chocoholic—calling herself "madly" obsessed—and her compulsion for cocoa is nothing to scoff at. "I don't know what it is. But some call it dedication, some call it an addiction, others call it an affliction," Pelosi says. She even describes eating chocolate ice cream while exercising—saying, "If you can't eat ice cream while you're doing it, why would you do it?"—and recalls downing an entire pint of New York Super Fudge Chunk while her driver waited to take her to a political event. She admits to often eating chocolate right before bed and waking up at 3 am with a sugar high, but the Democratic congresswoman seems far from willing to give up her vice—claiming that she relies on it to get through difficult career challenges. During a major 2009 debate—on health care, of all things—Pelosi admits to keeping Ghirardelli squares stashed in her office during pivotal meetings with Democratic lawmakers. After the bill passed in March 2010 and Pelosi was asked how she made it through the ordeal, she replied: "Chocolate. Very, very dark chocolate." And no one is pressuring her to quit anytime soon; in fact, Pelosi is surrounded by enablers on Capitol Hill, including POTUS himself—for her birthday two years ago, Obama gifted her with a box of dark chocolate with sea salt.
NASCAR reinstated driver Aaron Fike yesterday, now that he's completed his recovery program for a heroin addiction. Fike was arrested in July 2007, while he was injecting himself in an amusement park parking lot. He avoided jail time by delivering anti-drug speeches at schools and race tracks, while also participating in NASCAR's Road to Recovery program. While NASCAR never actually caught Fike using drugs, he admitted in 2008 that he'd been a heroin user for eight months, and a painkiller addict for six years before that. In the weeks before his arrest, he was using heroin every day. His habits hadn't yet deprived him of professional success however: at the time, he was eighth in the Camping World Truck series standings. Fike's confession likely influenced NASCAR's decision to instate a random drug-testing policy in 2009—before that, drug tests were only conducted based on "reasonable suspicion." “I was able to race with it in my system, so [that policy] didn't work with me,” Fike said in an April 2008 interview. Now, the 29-year-old driver is eligible to race again, but he doesn't appear to have any sponsors yet. And he's not the only NASCAR driver in trouble for using drugs—A.J. Allmendinger is also in the recovery program after a drug test found amphetamine in his system this year. Three other drivers have been suspended since the random testing began, and none of them have returned to race.
American high school students say that around 17% of their peers use drugs, alcohol or cigarettes during the school day—a total of around 2.8 million teens—according to the 17th annual back-to-school teen drug-use survey from the National Center on Addiction and Substances Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia). Eighty-six percent of the high-schoolers surveyed confirm that this happens. And almost half of them know where to buy drugs at school. As for what's on offer, 91% of kids surveyed report cannabis for sale on school property, and 24% prescription drugs. Private high schools are also rapidly catching up with public ones: 54% of such students now say drugs are rampant at their schools—that's shot up from just 36% in 2011.
Significantly, three-quarters of the 12-17-year-olds surveyed said coming across photos of other kids drinking or smoking on Facebook and other social networking sites encourages them to want to get high—and almost half the teens say they see photos of kids passed out or using drugs. Compared to kids who haven’t seen pictures like these, kids who have are four times likelier to have smoked cannabis, more than three times likelier to have drunk booze, and almost three times as likely to be cigarette smokers.
Those who conducted the survey say the lesson for parents is that they have to show their kids they clearly disapprove of drug-use and drinking, which counters one strain of conventional parental wisdom: “I can’t believe how many parents of our teens say they always thought that, if their kids were drinking at home, it was OK because it was under their own roof,” says Nicole Kurash, program director for inpatient adolescent programs at Gateway Rehabilitation. Emily Feinstein, CASA’s senior policy analyst and the report’s director, tells The Fix, “Parents need to say they don’t want their kids to drink because it’s illegal and bad for them. They need to start talking to their children early—by the time they’re 7 or 8—about what’s going on in their lives.” Feinstein emphasizes that teenage brains are more vulnerable than adults’ to the effects of drugs and alcohol.