New York, (IANS) Vitamin D deficiency strongly exaggerates the craving for and effects of opioids, potentially increasing the risk for dependence and addiction, a new study suggests.
The findings suggest that addressing the common problem of vitamin D deficiency with inexpensive supplements could play a part in combating the ongoing scourge of opioid addiction.
"Our results suggest that we may have an opportunity in the public health arena to influence the opioid epidemic," said researcher David E. Fisher from the Massachusetts General Hospital.
For the study, published in the journal Science Advances, the research team addressed the question from dual perspectives.
In one arm of the study, they compared normal laboratory mice with mice that were deficient in vitamin D (either through special breeding or by removing vitamin D from their diets).
Importantly, when the mice were conditioned with modest doses of morphine, those deficient in vitamin D continued seeking out the drug, behaviour that was less common among the normal mice.
When morphine was withdrawn, the mice with low vitamin D levels were far more likely to develop withdrawal symptoms.
The study also found that morphine worked more effectively as a pain reliever in mice with vitamin D deficiency.
The lab data suggesting that vitamin D deficiency increases addictive behaviour was supported by several accompanying analyses of human health records.
One showed that patients with modestly low vitamin D levels were 50 per cent more likely than others with normal levels to use opioids, while patients who had severe vitamin D deficiency were 90 per cent more likely.
Another analysis found that patients diagnosed with opioid use disorder (OUD) were more likely than others to be deficient in vitamin D.
Back in the lab, one of the study's other critical findings could have significant implications, said Fisher.
"When we corrected vitamin D levels in the deficient mice, their opioid responses reversed and returned to normal," he said.
In humans, vitamin D deficiency is widespread, but is safely and easily treated with low-cost dietary supplements, notes Fisher.
London, April 21 (IANS) The time spent alone and in isolation during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic led to an increase in opioid overdoses. Now scientists are planning for an annual or bi-annual jab that could prevent opioid addiction.The team led by University of Houston researchers aims to develop an adjuvant opioid use disorder vaccine. An adjuvant molecule boosts the immune system's response to vaccines, a critical component for the effectiveness of anti-addiction vaccines."This could be a game changer for addiction," said Therese Kosten, Professor of psychology at the varsity.An anti-opioid vaccine would protect the brain and nervous system by stimulating the body to create powerful antibodies that target and bind to opioid molecules, preventing them from crossing the blood-brain barrier to reach the brain. By blocking opioids from the brain, the vaccine would reduce respiratory depression brought on by opioids when they reach the brain.The new vaccine will target fentanyl -- a synthetic and very potent opioid. Fentanyl poses an especially difficult problem because it is often added to street drugs like cocaine, methamphetamines, and even counterfeit benzodiazepines like Xanax, which adds to the amount of fentanyl overdoses, the researchers explained."Fentanyl is different than heroin or other opioids in the way that it stimulates the nervous system. It activates the same receptors in the brain as heroin or morphine but does so by a different mechanism, which makes drugs that can reverse a heroin overdose, like Narcan, almost ineffective against it," Kosten noted."We will also evaluate multi-dose strategies, followed by single dose immunisation, heterologous vaccination strategies, and the impact of waning immunity," said Kosten.According to the American Medical Association, more than 40 states in the US are reporting increases in deaths from opioids. In June, a survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that 13 per cent of adult respondents in the US reported starting or increasing opioid use to deal with stress or emotions related to the pandemic.--IANSrvt/rs
New York, March 2 (IANS) While traditional addiction research has focused on three aspects of substance use disorders, namely craving, impulsivity, or habit, a new study suggests that frustration could also lead to escalation of drug use and addiction.The new study published in the journal Psychopharmacology noted that research into the role of frustration and substance use disorders is sparse, but a number of studies suggest that persons with substance use disorders have lower frustration tolerance. Studies have shown that sensitivity to frustration correlates with relapse among those with substance use disorders.For the latest study, the researchers used a rat model to focus on frustration-related behaviour. "An example of frustration behaviour is when someone can't get the channel on the TV to change or when an elevator takes too long to arrive. People will often respond to both situations by pressing the button repeatedly or holding the button longer with repeated attempts," said Thomas Green from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB)."This typical human response to frustration is the same in rats. In our study, rats were trained to press a lever for delivery of either a sucrose pellet or an intravenous infusion of a synthetic opioid. If they didn't get what they expected, they would press the lever more frequently and for longer periods of time." The study showed all rats would press a lever for intravenous infusions of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, but about 10 per cent of rats would escalate their intake of fentanyl to about double that of the average rat, said Tileena Vasquez, a doctoral candidate at UTMB and the lead author of the paper."Even as the escalating rats take massive amounts of drug, their bar presses get longer (in some cases up to 10 minutes long), even though long bar presses do not increase the amount of drug delivered," Vasquez said.The study has obvious implications for future studies of opioid use disorder and will help scientists understand how frustration, as well as craving, impulsivity and habit can lead to opioid escalation, said Green.--IANSgb/sdr/
London- Loneliness has become increasingly prevalent among adolescents, who spend longer and longer periods of time online, says a new study.
"In the coronavirus period, loneliness has increased markedly among adolescents. They look for a sense of belonging from the Internet. Lonely adolescents head to the Internet and are at risk of becoming addicted," said researcher Katariina Salmela-Aro from the University of Helsinki.
According to the researchers, adolescents' net use is a two-edged sword -- while the consequences of moderate use are positive, the effects of compulsive use can be detrimental. Compulsive use denotes, among other things, gaming addiction or the constant monitoring of likes on social media and comparisons to others.
For the study, published in the journal Child Development, the team involved a total of 1,750 participants to investigate detrimental Internet use by adolescents. The subjects were studied at three points in time -- at 16, 17 and 18 years of age.
The risk of being drawn into problematic Internet use was at its highest among 16-year-old adolescents, with the phenomenon being more common among boys.
For some, the problem persists into adulthood, but for others it eases up as they grow older, the researchers said.
The reduction of problematic Internet use is often associated with adolescent development where their self-regulation and control improve, their brains adapt and assignments related to education direct their attention, it added.
In the study participants, compulsive Internet use had a link to depression. Depression predicted problematic Internet use, while problematic use further increased depressive symptoms.
Additionally, problematic use was predictive of poorer academic success, which may be associated with the fact that Internet use consumes a great deal of time and can disrupt adolescents' sleep rhythm and recovery, consequently eating up the time available for academic effort and performance. (IANS)
New York, Dec 24 (IANS) Even if you consider yourself a light or "casual" smoker, it does not necessarily mean that you have completely escaped nicotine addiction, warns new research.Many light smokers -- those who smoke one to four cigarettes per day or fewer -- meet the criteria for nicotine addiction and should therefore be considered for treatment, said the study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine."In the past, some considered that only patients who smoke around 10 cigarettes per day or more were addicted, and I still hear that sometimes," said Jonathan Foulds, Professor at Pennsylvania State University in the US. "But this study demonstrates that many lighter smokers, even those who do not smoke every day, can be addicted to cigarettes. It also suggests that we need to be more precise when we ask about cigarette smoking frequency."The researchers examined an existing data set from the National Institutes of Health in the US, including more than 6,700 smokers who had been fully assessed to find out if they met the 11 criteria listed in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) for tobacco use disorder. They found that 85 per cent of the daily cigarette smokers were addicted to some extent -- either mild, moderate or severe addiction."Surprisingly, almost two thirds of those smoking only one to four cigarettes per day were addicted, and around a quarter of those smoking less than weekly were addicted," Foulds said.The researchers found that the severity of cigarette addiction, as indicated by the number of criteria met, increased with the frequency of smoking, with 35 per cent of those smoking one-to-four cigarettes per day and 74 per cent of those smoking 21 cigarettes or more per day being moderately or severely addicted."Lighter smoking is correctly perceived as less harmful than heavy smoking, but it still carries significant health risks," said Jason Oliver, Assistant Professor at Duke University in the US.--IANSgb/sdr/
Parents, take it easy if your kids are spending more time on various screens. New research claims that parental restrictions on tech use have little lasting effect into adulthood and fears of widespread and long-lasting tech addiction may be overblown.
The study is among the firsts to examine how digital technology use evolves from childhood to adulthood in the mobile Internet era.
The data were gathered prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in dramatic increases in the use of technology as millions of students have been forced to attend school and socialise online.
But the study authors said the findings should come as some comfort to parents worried about all that extra screen time.
"Are lots of people getting addicted to tech as teenagers and staying addicted as young adults? The answer from our research is 'no'," said lead author Stefanie Mollborn, a professor of sociology at the Institute of Behavioral Science at University of Colorado Boulder in the US. "We found that there is only a weak relationship between early technology use and later technology use, and what we do as parents matters less than most of us believe it will".
Published in Advances in Life Course Research, the paper is part of a four-year National Science Foundation-funded project aimed at exploring how the mobile Internet age truly is shaping America's youth.
Even before the pandemic, adolescents spent 33 hours per week using digital technology outside of school.
For the latest study, the research team shed light on young adults ages 18 to 30. The researchers also analysed survey data from a nationally representative sample of nearly 1,200 participants, following the same people from adolescence to young adulthood.
Surprisingly, parenting practices like setting time limits or prohibiting kids from watching shows during mealtimes had no effect on how much the study subjects used technology as young adults.
"This research addresses the moral panic about technology that we so often see," said Joshua Goode, a doctoral student in sociology and co-author of the paper.
"Many of those fears were anecdotal, but now that we have some data, they aren't bearing out".From the dawn of comic books and silent movies to the birth of radio and TV, technological innovation has bred moral panic among older generations.
"We see that everyone is drawn to it, we get scared and we assume it is going to ruin today's youth," said Mollborn.
In some cases, excess can have downsides. For instance, the researchers found that adolescents who play a lot of video games tend to get less physical activity.
But digital technology use does not appear to crowd out sleep among teens, as some had feared, and use of social media or online videos doesn't squeeze out exercise.
In many ways, "teens today are just swapping one form of tech for another, streaming YouTube instead watching TV, or texting instead of talking on the phone".
"That is not to say that no one ever gets addicted, or that parents should never instill limits or talk to their kids about its pros and cons", Mollborn stressed.
"What these data suggest is that the majority of teens are not becoming irrevocably addicted to technology. It is a message of hope." (IANS)