Recent research has determined that simply smelling alcohol can have an impact on substance abuse and behavior, causing individuals to have more difficulty in controlling their behavior. Researchers at Edge Hill University in England gave study participants a face mask, with some receiving a face mask that was alcohol laced while others received a mask that was laced with a citrus scent instead. The study participants had to press a specific button when they saw either a beer bottle picture or the letter K on the computer screen. Study participants who were wearing the face mask laced with alcohol tended to have a higher number of false alarms.
Edge Hill University psychology senior lecturer Dr. Rebecca Monk explained the study on alcohol and substance abuse, saying “We know that alcohol behaviors are shaped by our environment, including who we’re with and the settings in which we drink. This research is a first attempt to explore other triggers, such as smell, that may interfere with people’s ability to refrain from a particular behavior. For example, during the experiment it seemed that just the smell of alcohol was making it harder for participants to control their behavior to stop pressing a button.” Edge Hill Professor Derek Heim, a fellow researcher, noted that “Our hope is that by increasing our understanding of how context shapes substance-use behaviors, we will be able to make interventions more sensitive to the different situations in which people consume substances.” More studies are needed, and this study must be replicated in a real world environment for further validation.
Regular marijuana use among young adults could cause altered brain patterns when these users are exposed to social exclusion according to a new research study by Harvard Medical School researchers. During the study the 42 young adults, with roughly 50% of the study participants consisting of young adults who used marijuana on a regular basis and the other half of the study participants not using the drug at all. The participants played a computerized game while they underwent a brain scan that was non invasive. What the young adults in the study did not realize was that the other players involved in the game of catch on the computer were other computers that had been programmed to exclude the study participant for part of the game. The study results and details have been published in a recent issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.
Regular marijuana use by young adults caused altered brain patterns when the study participants were excluded by the computerized players programmed for the exclusion. Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor and first author of the study Dr. Jodi Gilman explained “Peer groups are one of the most important predictors of young adult marijuana use, and yet we know very little about the neural correlates of social rejection in those who use marijuana. In this study, during peer rejection, young adult marijuana users had reduced activation in the insula, a brain region usually active during social rejection. This may reflect impaired processing of social information in marijuana users. Reduced activity in the insula to peer rejection could indicate that marijuana users are less conscious of social norms, or have reduced capacity to reflect on or react to negative social situations.”
A new molecule has been identified by researchers at Hiroshima University which could show incredible promise in treating neuropathic pain treatment and possibly in reducing the rate of opioid addiction among individuals who suffer from chronic pain. The researchers identified the specific molecule responsible for maintaining pain after a nerve injury occurs, and determined that it was possible to block the pain impulses caused by this molecule in mice. A therapeutic strategy to treat chronic and neuropathic pain could be developed as a result of the research. The researchers injected mice with drugs designed to block the specific activity of two different molecules, and pain symptoms delivered from the nearby nerves were blocked. Mice who had injured sciatic nerves displayed less pain after the drug injections to block the molecule activity.
The mice in the study on neuropathic pain treatment received multiple injections of a specific drug that blocked high-mobility group box-1molecules. After the injections the mice showed less pain symptoms. Another drug used to block matrix metalloprotease-9 or MMP-9 molecules required just a single injection in order to alleviate the chronic pain the mice experienced. The team was led by Hiroshima University’s Institute of Biomedical and Health Sciences researcher and professor Yoshihiro Nakata, PhD. The current high rates of opioid addiction have caused alarm, but not treating chronic pain with effective treatments is not an option. Blocking pain impulses could lead to the development of pain management methods that do not rely on dangerous and addictive drugs, and this could reduce or even eliminate addiction caused by narcotic pain medications.
A new study performed by researchers at Binghamton University has some alarming results, showing that even 4 alcoholic drinks during pregnancy can increase the risk of alcoholism for several generations to come. The study is not talking about binge drinking while pregnant or having all 4 drinks in one setting. The 4 drinks could be consumed throughout the entire pregnancy and it could still have a negative impact on future generations when it comes to alcohol use. The study used rats, and the equivalent of 4 glasses of wine were given to each rat during the second trimester of pregnancy. Researchers found that even this small level of alcohol exposure had an impact on the offspring and future generations of their offspring’s offspring.
Nicole Cameron, the lead author on the study for pregnancy and alcoholism, explained the findings. “Our findings show that in the rat, when a mother consumes the equivalent of one glass of wine four times during the pregnancy, her offspring and grand-offspring, up to the third generation, show increased alcohol preference and less sensitivity to alcohol. Thus, the offspring are more likely to develop alcoholism. This paper is the first to demonstrate trans-generational effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy on alcohol-related behavior in offspring.” In spite of the risks associated with alcohol use during pregnancy 10%-15% of pregnant women in the USA use alcohol. This study shows that even a few glasses of alcohol spaced out during a pregnancy can have an impact on the children and grandchildren of the expectant mother.
A new study shows that veterans who suffer from chronic pain may be helped by meditation and this has applications for civilians as well. The pilot study was performed by researchers at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The researchers determined that meditation could help veterans with chronic pain experience less stress and fewer negative emotions associated with the pain that they feel. Meditation also helped to boost the coping skills that the veterans had so they were better able to cope with the pain that they suffered. In the USA returning veterans tend to have the highest rates of chronic pain and they typically experience multiple trauma while serving. Many healthcare providers struggle to find ways to treat these veterans for their pain while preventing addiction when opioid pain medications are prescribed.
Opioid based drugs can be used to treat chronic pain but these medications have a wide range of negative side effects and a very high addiction potential. Meditation can be used to help alleviate chronic pain without all of the negative side effects that pain medications have in many veterans, and this method shows great promise in helping the individual have a better quality of life while avoiding the possibility of dependence and addiction. According to D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center researcher and American University’s Department of Health Studies lecturer Thomas Nassif, Ph.D. “Meditation allows a person to accept pain and to respond to pain with less stress and emotional reactivity. Our theory is that this process increases coping skills, which in turn can help veterans to self-manage their chronic pain.”