Manitoba Addictions Knowledge Exchange

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What’s Happening

On-site ecstasy pill-testing services may reduce user risks at concerts and raves

At least some recreational users of illegal drugs may choose not to take them if tests show the pills are adulterated or fake, shows data collected over five years by volunteers who tested pills free of charge at music festivals and raves across the United States.  The results also revealed that pills/powder sold as “Molly” – believed by users to be a purer and safer version of the illegal stimulant drug MDMA – contained as many harmful additives as the version known as Ecstasy. Read more

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Prenatal ethanol exposure causes abnormalities in the brain, behavior that may be passed on for many generations

Soon-to-be mothers have heard the warning – don’t drink while pregnant. Experts have issued numerous statements about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, as it can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Now a new study finds that prenatal ethanol exposure (from maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy) causes abnormalities in the brain and behavior that may be passed on for many generations. Read more

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Childhood psychiatric disorders increase risk for later adult addiction

Children’s health and well-being while growing up can be indicators of the potential health issues they may encounter years later. A new study suggests that a childhood psychiatric disorder increases the risk of developing addiction later in life. Read more

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Benefits of middle school prevention program extend into emerging adulthood, according to long-term study

Children who participated in the PROSPER (PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience) program over seven years ago showed lower rates of substance abuse after high school graduation, according to a new study. The PROSPER model is designed to reduce risky youth behaviors, enhance positive youth development and strengthen families. Read more

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Oxytocin reduces cravings for methamphetamine

Many people have suggested that addiction hijacks the body’s natural drives in the service of compulsive drug use. A new study now suggests that hijacking another natural system in the brain may help overcome drug addiction. The study shows that administration of oxytocin — a naturally occurring molecule well known for its role in social bonding and childbirth — reduces drug-seeking behavior in methamphetamine-addicted rats.  Read more

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Exposure to alcohol before birth may make drinking more appealing to teens

Fetal alcohol exposure (FAE) reduces the taste system’s responsiveness to the bitter flavor and burning sensation of many varieties of alcoholic beverages, new research shows. These factors make alcohol unappealing to some people, but, for reasons that are unclear, are less of a deterrent in young people exposed to alcohol before birth. Read more

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Binge drinking accelerates alcohol use disorder, but stable daily drinking may be just as risky in the long-term

Binge drinking may increase people’s risk of developing alcohol use disorders (AUDs), especially adolescents and young adults, research shows. It is unclear whether different drinking patterns – for example, intermittent versus regular drinking – have a different impact on the compulsive drinking that characterizes people with AUDs. This study used rats to examine whether chronic intermittent alcohol access facilitates a transition to compulsive-like drinking. Read more

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Marijuana use and vulnerability to psychosis

Going from an occasional user of marijuana to a weekly or daily user increases an adolescent’s risk of having recurrent psychotic-like experiences by 159%, according to a new Canadian study. The study also reports effects of marijuana use on cognitive development and shows that the link between marijuana use and psychotic-like experiences is best explained by emerging symptoms of depression. Read more

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Drop in violence associated with smoke-free policy at psychiatric hospital

New research reveals a 39 percent drop in physical assaults — both between patients and towards staff — following the introduction of a smoke-free policy at a psychiatric hospital in London, England. The study has important implications for the introduction of smoke-free policies, not only in psychiatric hospitals but also in other institutions such as prisons Read more

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Drinking during adolescence can alter brain cell nerve growth

The developmental period from adolescence to adulthood is accompanied by a greater vulnerability to addictions than is seen in other periods of life. A new report describes a study in mice of the neurobehavioral impact of chronic, intermittent alcohol-vapor exposure during adolescence, in an effort to model periodic heavy drinking and compare it with similar drinking behavior during adulthood. Read more

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