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gambling addiction

9/25/12 12:49pm

Does Giving Kids Lotto Tickets Get Them Hooked?

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The gift that keeps on taking Photo via

Buying lottery tickets and letting your kids scratch them off may sound like fun family bonding to some parents, but it could be planting the seeds for a gambling problem—and other addictive behaviors—later in life. This is according to a new study led by author Priya V. Kundu and investigators Corey E. Pilver, Rani A. Desai, and Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin from the Yale School of Medicine, who observed 2,000 high school students in Connecticut. They found that students who had been given lottery tickets as children developed more permissive attitudes towards gambling than those who did not receive tickets; they also found a correlation between the age at which a child started playing lotto, and the severity of their gambling problem as an adult. Problem gambling was also linked to other conditions such as depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and has been previously linked to suicide. "Our research suggests that family members and friends should consider the possible negative impact of giving children or adolescents lottery tickets as gifts," said Marc Potenza, professor of psychiatry, child study, and neurobiology, and senior author of the research. However, the study couldn't determine whether early gifts of lottery tickets influenced problem gambling in later adulthood, since researchers did not follow students over time.

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By McCarton Ackerman

marijuana bust

9/25/12 12:08pm

Chris Brown Busted For Pot While On Probation

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Even Breezy has to obey the law. Photo via

Here's one woman Chris Brown won't be able to abuse: the judge in his probation case. Judge Patricia Schnegg ordered the rapper to court yesterday after the singer tested positive for marijuana while still serving a five year probation sentence for assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna back in February 2009. Chris told the probation department in Virginia (where the assault took place) that he had a medical marijuana card in California and took the drug there. The judge also took issue with Brown not completing the mandatory 180 days of community labor as part of his agreement, but he claims he did most of the hours alone and simply "didn't sign in." She ordered him to register with California probation within 72 hours and attend a probation-violation setting hearing on November 1. However, Brown will not have his probation revoked because she had not imposed drug testing as a condition. "You are not only in the public eye but you are on probation to me," Patricia warned him. "You are on probation for five years and you still have a couple left. Your conduct is important." Speaking of altered judgment, Rihanna wished Brown the best with the hearing, tweeting: “Praying for you baby, my best wishes are with you today! Remember that whatever God does in our lives, it is WELL DONE!!! #1Love.”

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By McCarton Ackerman

chocoholism

9/25/12 11:00am

Is Chocolate as Addictive as Heroin?

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Chocolate can lock the brain into a cycle of
“addiction, joy, and despair.” Photo via

If an insatiable appetite for chocolate has you ravaging your nearest vending machine, you may be experiencing an addictive cycle similar to that of an opiate addict. A study conducted at the University of Michigan by a neuroscience student Alexandra DiFeliceantonio found that eating chocolate locks the brain into a cycle of “addiction, joy, and despair” similar to drug addiction. The researchers examined rats that were given M&M's, and found that they produced enkephalin—a naturally occurring opioid-receptor binding compound in the brain that is also released by addictive drugs such as morphine and heroin. Following that, researchers gave the rats a painless opioid-stimulating drug injection in their brain, and found that the rats ate double the amount of M&M's after the injection. “The same brain area we tested here is active when obese people see foods and when drug addicts see drug scenes,” DiFeliceantonio says. “So it seems likely that our enkephalin findings in rats mean that this neurotransmitter may drive some forms of overconsumption and addiction in people.” The researchers believe the findings may explain why some people cannot put down a bag of chocolate or candy bar after one serving. DiFeliceantonio writes: “Finding the brain mechanisms for overconsumption is a step towards designing better biological-based treatments for obesity and binge eating disorders.” 

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

9/25/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: September 25, 2012

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Rihanna's drug use is no secret. Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

designer drugs

9/24/12 6:01pm

Meet "Smiles": The Next Scary Designer Drug

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The white powder can be mixed with candy
before ingesting. Photo via

Just as bath salts mania seems to have (mostly) simmered down, a new designer drug known as "smiles" may be lining up to induce parental panic. A synthetic hallucinogenic otherwise known as 2C-I, it's most often sold as a powder, which can be mixed with candy or chocolate before ingesting. Like its synthetic predecessors, such as K-2 and bath salts, smiles seems to appeal to a younger demographic—half of those exposed to it in 2011 were teenagers, according to the American Association of Poison Control. Little research into the possible dangers of the new drug yet exists, although it's thought to have been responsible for two teen deaths in East Grand Forks, North Dakota in June. One of them, 17-year-old Elijah Stai, stopped breathing several hours after an alleged overdose caused him to "smash his head against the ground" and act "possessed," "shaking, growling, foaming at the mouth," say witnesses.

Smiles elicits intense aural and visual hallucinations that may last for days, users report. Some describe side effects like nausea, vomiting, anxiety and panic attacks; one online commenter describes the high as a "roller coaster ride through hell." Like LSD and psilocybin (or "magic mushrooms"), the drug causes hallucinations by interfering with the brain's serotonin system, Dr. Harris Stratyner, vice president of Caron Treatment Centers, tells The Fix. But unlike better-known hallucinogens, it has stimulating effects—meaning it carries some of the risks of meth and other uppers, like potentially fatal dehydration, arrhythmia and stroke. "Combining a psychedelic with a stimulant—it's pretty frightening. It's like taking ecstasy and LSD together," says Dr. Stratyner. But the effects are highly unpredictable when you're talking about synthetic compounds that have yet to be thoroughly researched. 

The DEA has been quick to classify 2C-I as a Schedule 1 substance, making it illegal to manufacture, distribute or possess. Still, reports of teens using smiles across the US are popping up rapidly, which Dr. Straytner attributes largely to teens' tendency to spread "misinformation" through chat rooms, Facebook and blogs. He emphasizes the importance of parents sitting down with their kids to educate them on the dangers of smiles, and other synthetic drugs. K-2 and bath salts, once considered benign, have been made illegal since they were linked to a slew of hospitalizations earlier this year. "These kids are playing russian roulette," Dr. Staytner. "It's absolutely ludicrous that anyone would put this into your body. Its like trying to get high off arsenic or rat poison."

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By May Wilkerson

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9/24/12 5:31pm

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