A new study by scientists at Brown University claims that women who appeared in drug court while suffering from major depression are almost twice as likely to be doing crack again four months later, compared to other women in drug court. Curiously, the same findings do not hold true for women who have undergone past episodes of depression. If you've undergone a major depressive episode in the past, you're not at a greater risk of relapse. “We found that current major depression increased the risk of crack use, but depression in the past year that had gotten better did not,” said assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior Jennifer Johnson, lead author of the Brown University study published in Addiction. What this suggests for treatment is that “screening for depression and effective depression treatment may be important components of drug court services,” Johnson said.
Scientist have long believed that addiction and depression are often related. When both conditions are found in the same patient, a situation known as comorbidity, treatment outcomes are significantly worse than for patients without major depression. The study concentrated solely on women, a relative rarity in addiction studies. Of the 261 women in the study, 16% said they were currently undergoing an episode of depression, while 40 admitted to a prior depressive episode. Among women who were currently depressed, a whopping 46% used crack during the following four months. Only 25% of non-depressed women were using crack at the four-month mark.
So which comes first, the chicken of cocaine, or the egg of depression? Johnson says it's well known that “crack use can cause depression and depression can contribute to crack use,” and since depression in the study was associated with future crack use, not baseline use, Johnson believes that “depression may have led to crack use and not vice versa.” If the study holds up, it provides still more evidence that depression is more likely to be a cause of drug and alcohol abuse, rather than its inevitable result.
An instinct deeply imbedded in the human brain—the craving for sodium—has been the subject of a lot of talk in scientific circles the past few days. This rather mundane subject interested a team of Duke University Medical Center and Australian scientists, who have found that the ancient appetite for salt may have been a biological ancestor of today’s craving for addictive drugs.
Salt appetite has been evolving for more than 100 million years, the researchers argue, in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, while psychoactive drugs and addiction are comparatively recent by comparison. Such drugs “likely reflect usurping of evolutionary ancient systems with high survival value by the gratification of contemporary hedonic indulgences.” In other words, primitive reward systems designed to make sure we don’t starve, or die of malnutrition, or die of thirst, or fail to propagate, have no defense against the artificial reward stimulation provided by alcohol, cigarettes, or heroin. In this theory, drugs of abuse are an evolutionary trick played on a human brain not evolved to cope with such chicanery.
“Though instincts like salt appetite are basically genetic neural programs, they may be substantially changed by learning and cognition," said co-lead author Derek Denton of the University of Melbourne and the Florey Neuroscience Institute. "Once the genetic program is operating, experiences that are part of the execution of the program become embodied in the overall patterns of an individual's behavior, and some scientists have theorized that drug addiction may use nerve pathways of instinct. In this study, we have demonstrated that one classic instinct, the hunger for salt, is providing neural organization that subserves addiction to opiates and cocaine." Deeply embedded pathways in the brain, furrowed by an ancient instinc, may explain why addiction treatment with the chief objective of abstinence is so difficult, said Denton.
Actor Daniel Baldwin told Portland television station KOIN today that his decision to file for divorce was an attempt to help convince his wife to undergo more therapy for alcoholism. Baldwin, 50, said his 41-year old wife Joanne “ripped the house to shreds” recently in front of the children. Mrs. Baldwin is on probation for a DUI conviction but has been accused of violating her probation and is currently in jail pending a court hearing scheduled for next week.
He got an extra week added to his sentence, but rapper Earl "DMX" Simmons was not caught smuggling drugs into prison, as earlier reports indicated. Barrett Marson, a spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Corrections, squashed the rumors, telling RapFix: “He did not smuggle drugs into prison. He failed a drug test, I don't know what drugs he took, but that's it. He was due to be released today but will now be released on July 19th.”
The 40-year-old has been at a state prison in Yuma, Arizona, since his probation was revoked last January for failing to submit to drug testing and driving on a suspended license. According to several gossip sites, this isn't the first time the rapper has broken the rules while behind bars. Prison records show he has gotten into trouble with drugs before, and has been disciplined for being disrespectful, disruptive and disorderly. According to Billboard, DMX plans to release a new album once he gets out. He told Vibe magazine, "I realized that [change] is something that I want do this time. Like the last few times I couldn't wait to get out and go have a drink. Now, I'm in a frame of mind where I'm like 'right into the studio and get my grind on.’"
All drivers face serious consequences after being arrested for a DUI. But for soldiers, the risks include possible loss of rank or discharge, even if a soldier is simply flagged by a commanding officer for problem drinking. U.S. Army statistics show that nearly 20% of Army personnel report problem drinking, and recent studies show that binge drinking in the military continues to rise. A post-deployment health survey of some 103,000 redeploying soldiers showed that nearly 14,600 of them said they thought they might be drinking too much. "If I had to say a specific incident where we have to contact the military, a lot of those times [it] is for DUIs, for drinking and driving," a Washington State Trooper Guy Gill told
NPR. "If we can stop one of those guys from this weekend going out and getting in their car drunk and getting into a collision and killing himself or his buddy, we're doing good."
So, a confidential testing program for alcohol abuse among the ranks would seem like a no brainer, right? And in fact, the Army's Confidential Alcohol Treatment Education Pilot (CATEP), which started in 2009 at three different bases, has now expanded to six. It is designed to get soldiers into treatment anonymously, and offers weekly meetings and off-duty counselings. Soldiers can even attend in civilian clothing, allowing them to keep their rank private. But how effective is an anonymous, completely voluntary program that doesn’t engage in any formal follow-up? According to Dr. Jolee Darnell, head of the Army Substance Abuse Program at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, 41 participants dropped out during the first 18 months of the program. NPR says that the program's extended off-duty hours “have strained counseling resources at the base, and critics are concerned about the lack of accountability and follow-up in a confidential program where command isn't involved.” In addition, the program is limited to soldiers who feel they might have an alcohol abuse problem, and have not been previously cited for an alcohol-related incident. Still, Darnell is reluctant to call the program a failure. But Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli said that the “unconventional nature of the program has also hindered Army-wide implementation. I don't want to institute a program where somebody comes in and says, 'I'm having a problem with alcohol,' and I look at him and say, 'Come back in five weeks, that's the first available appointment I have,'" he told NPR.
How do you get to New York’s world-famous Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway? Drink, drink, drink. Go on a late-night whiskey-filled bender and trash the lobby of the building in which David Letterman records his show, or at least that was the answer for 22-year-old Jimmy Whittemore. Early Sunday morning, the aspiring actor from Harlem, NY, wrecked the lobby of the famous Ed Sullivan Theater. The unprecedented uproar, in which Letterman’s studio went unscathed, was preceded by hours of partying and drunk karaoke performances, according to a Daily News report. Whittemore reportedly told the News that his ill-advised act was the consequence of “whiskey shots and way too many Yuengling beers.” The karaoke blues abruptly ended when the police arrived to put the damper on Whittemore’s party. That’s when he began his boozed-up rampage—in which he kicked out windows, tossed trashcans, destroyed cell phones, and urinated in the Ed Sullivan Theater lobby.
Whittemore is a 2009 graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, but has yet to make a name for himself on the screen. But who knows? A day after the incident, his name was getting big laughs on Letterman’s show. Whittemore even inspired the show’s famed Top 10 List Monday night. “Excuses of the Guy Who Broke into Ed Sullivan Theater,” was the topic that night—“had an allergic reaction to Four Loko,” read #4. We can’t help wondering whether all this was premeditated—a way to garner the fame and notoriety that has eluded him thus far.