Monthly Archives: August 2014

Legal Pressure Reduces Domestic Violence by Problem Drinkers

Legal Pressure Reduces Domestic Violence by Problem DrinkersAlong with intimate partner violence, domestic violence is one of the terms commonly used to describe various violent acts that take place between people involved in sexual relationships. The presence of alcohol abuse and/or alcoholism (alcohol use disorder) is a known factor in boosting the risks for this type of violence. In a study published in August 2014 in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, researchers from four American universities analyzed the impact that the pressures of legal considerations have on the drinking behaviors of people who commit domestic violence.

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Addiction Severity Impacts Effectiveness of Drug Treatment

Tips to Help Bipolar Patients Stay HealthyA new animal model study from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom suggests that the effectiveness of drug treatment for addiction may depend on the phase of the addiction. Using lab rats, the researchers found that their subjects responded differently to drug treatment depending on whether their cocaine addiction was in its early stages or fully-fledged.

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What Explains the Link Between Cannabis Use and Social Anxiety?

What Explains the Link Between Cannabis Use and Social Anxiety?People affected by significant social anxiety often use marijuana or other forms of cannabis. In turn, people with anxiety problems serious enough to qualify for an official diagnosis of social anxiety disorder often also have cannabis-related problems that qualify them for a diagnosis of cannabis use disorder. In a study published in June 2014 in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, researchers from two U.S. universities explored the connection between social anxiety and cannabis intake. Specifically, these researchers looked at the role that the desire to avoid unpleasant emotional states plays in the behaviors of socially anxious cannabis users.

Cannabis and Cannabis Use Disorder

In the form of marijuana, cannabis ranks as the most widely used illegal or illicit drug in the U.S. For a number of reasons (including a common and only partially relevant comparison with the risks of alcohol use), many people see the drug as essentially harmless, or even view it primarily as a medication. However, ongoing scientific findings repeatedly identify a number of serious risks associated with both casual and habitual cannabis/marijuana use. One of the main risks is the potential for the development of cannabis use disorder, a condition that includes the symptoms of cannabis addiction and a non-addicted but clearly dysfunctional pattern of cannabis abuse. The rate of diagnosis for this disorder ranges from a low of 9 percent for the combined pool of all casual and habitual users to a high of 25 percent to 50 percent for habitual users alone. Cannabis use disorder is classified as a subtype of a condition called substance use disorder. Affected individuals have at least two and as many as 11 abuse- or addiction-related symptoms of problematic cannabis use.

Cannabis Use Disorder and Social Anxiety

Mental health professionals use the term social anxiety to refer to unusually strong feelings of dread or fear that arise in common social situations. If a socially anxious person has feelings strong enough to seriously interfere with his or her ability to maintain an overall sense of well-being or function in everyday life, he or she typically qualifies for an official diagnosis of social anxiety disorder. According to recent research findings reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people diagnosed with cannabis use disorder are unusually likely to also meet the criteria for a social anxiety disorder diagnosis. In four out of five cases, the symptoms of social anxiety disorder appear before an affected person develops cannabis use disorder. This may indicate that highly socially anxious people frequently use cannabis/marijuana in attempts to ease their anxiety. However, it may also mean that current heavy cannabis users may rapidly develop social anxiety problems as a result of their level of cannabis intake.

Cannabis use disorder and social anxiety disorder are comorbid disorders. This means that a person simultaneously affected by both of these conditions commonly experiences worse outcomes than a person who has only one of them. In addition, people with comorbid cannabis and social anxiety problems are overwhelmingly likely to have diagnosable problems with another form of mental illness such as a personality disorder, a mood disorder (bipolar disorder or depression) or a second type of anxiety disorder.

What Explains the Link?

In the study published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, researchers from Louisiana State University and the University of Houston used an examination of 103 adult cannabis/marijuana users to explore the underlying link between diagnosable cannabis problems and diagnosable social anxiety problems. Specifically, the researchers wanted to know if socially anxious people use cannabis/marijuana as part of an effort to cope with or avoid unwanted emotions that arise during social situations. All of the participants had used cannabis/marijuana in the 30-day period prior to the start of the study.

After analyzing the social anxiety levels and patterns in the study participants, the researchers concluded that cannabis users affected by significant anxiety do indeed commonly use the drug as part of an attempt to avoid experiencing their unpleasant emotional states. This emotional avoidance is apparently unique among all coping techniques used by socially anxious cannabis users and goes a long way toward explaining why the drug is consumed by these individuals. Based on their findings, the study’s authors believe that the desire to avoid unwanted emotions may form an important part of the picture for general motivations for cannabis intake. This desire is especially prominent in those individuals with high levels of social anxiety.

Molecular Discovery May Aid in Treating Depression

Molecular Discovery May Aid in Treating DepressionThough it has become widely publicized in the U.S. due to awareness campaigns, depression remains a serious problem for those who experience its debilitating symptoms. More people are seeking treatment, but they may not see immediate improvement.

Antidepressants typically require approximately two weeks to begin making an impact on the patient. However, in many cases, the medication may not be effective, or patients may discover that the unpleasant side effects are not outweighed by any benefit of taking the drug. A patient may endure multiple rounds of medication trials before one is determined to be a good match.
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Untreated Mental Disorders Are Just as Deadly as Smoking

Untreated Mental Disorders Are Just as Deadly as SmokingMost of the developed world has made concerted efforts to discourage tobacco use. A practice that once engulfed the planet has now, in many places, become socially taboo. In the U.S., warnings about the dangers of smoking appear on every pack of cigarettes, and tobacco use among younger people has gone down. When the public and the government join hands to address a problem, things turn around.

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Do Alcoholism’s Effects Vary With Age at Onset?

Do Alcoholism’s Effects Vary With Age at Onset?Alcoholism is one of the diagnosable forms of alcohol use disorder, a condition that includes both dysfunction associated with a physical dependence on alcohol and dysfunction associated with a non-dependent pattern of drinking. Some people develop alcoholism-related symptoms at a relatively early age, while others develop them in middle age or later in life. In a study published in April 2014 in the journal European Addiction Research, researchers from three Dutch institutions explored the role that age at alcoholism onset has on the negative mental, physical and social outcomes associated with dysfunctional alcohol dependence.
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Does Alcohol-Related Stigma Increase Risk for Mental Health Problems?

Does Alcohol-Related Stigma Increase Risk for Mental Health Problems?Psychologists and mental health experts use the term stigma to identify the seriously negative associations and judgments that can build up toward individuals or groups on the basis of their appearance, behaviors or other personal or group characteristics. People affected by alcohol abuse or alcoholism often experience such stigma either before or after they begin seeking treatment. In a study published in May 2014 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, researchers from four U.S. institutions examined the potential role of stigma in the well-established connection between serious alcohol problems and the presence of other prominent mental health conditions. Continue reading

Saying No to Addiction Treatment?

Saying No to Addiction Treatment?It is incredibly difficult to come to the realization and to make the admission that you need to get help for substance abuse or addiction. There are so many excuses and ways in which we try to deny our problems. We claim we can control it. We say we can stop any time we want, we just choose not to. We refuse to see the harm it has caused us and those we love. When it’s finally time to get treatment, you might still drag your heels. There are many excuses to be made as to why a particular treatment or rehab facility just isn’t going to work. Some may be valid, but learn to recognize the excuses that are just more forms of denial. Continue reading