Blogrolling: Addiction Inbox

October 22, 2009

I have no idea why it has taken me so long to find the Addiction Inbox blog penned by one Dirk Hanson. Lots of great stuff here for my readers that are interested in the substance-abuse topics.
Kudzu for Alcoholism?
600 comments on a post on Marijuana Withdrawal ?
A take on the infamous Vandrey et al., 2008, study- Marijuana withdrawal rivals nicotine ?
Coverage of the recent news stories such as: Russian Heroin Addiction “Spreads Like Wildfire”
Go read.

Abel Pharmboy’s recent post remembering his father is evocative, emotional and an all around brilliant bit of writing. I can’t help but note, DearReader, that his post strikes me hard as a father and as a son. I think it had a similar effect on many of his readers. There is an additional component, though, in that it puts a personal face on the motivations of those of us who work on issues related to substance abuse. It isn’t a collection of incontrovertible data. No. It is a personal anecdote. But pain distributed is pain diffused. And the statistics loose much of their impact this way. This memorial of Abel’s though. This is concentrated. And for those of you lucky enough to never have a substance dependent individual in your lives, perhaps even this is not enough. For many of us, however, only a couple of stories like this are sufficient justification.

When I think back, though, I believe you died some eight years earlier, just after your 50th birthday party. For your wife, my Mom, it was even long before that – she is a saint for staying with you as long as she did – no offense, Dad – and I know she still loves you no matter what.
Our family runs rich with depression and alcoholism but you died exceptionally early; my Dad – the young, fit, handsome fella you were in those pictures with little me at the Jersey shore, at home, or with me in that horrible Easter outfit – had died back then and was replaced for the last eight, ten, fourteen years by someone else.

Go read the rest, this can wait.

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The Research Society on Alcoholism will be holding its 2009 scientific meeting *June 20-24 in San Diego. I have just received notice that they are holding a workshop on grantsmanship on Jun 20th from 9am-4pm. From the email:

The Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) Education Committee is sponsoring a one-day satellite devoted to strengthening knowledge and skills in the grant preparation process. The morning session is focused on the grant writing process. The presenter will discuss crucial aspects of the process, such as laying out the groundwork of an application and avoiding common pitfalls, with the goal of providing new investigators with a better understanding of producing a successful and competitive grant application. The afternoon session is focused on the NIH peer-review process. Investigators observe an updated NIH video of a mock review of how NIH grant applications are evaluated for scientific and technical merit. The overall aim of the mock review is to reduce misconceptions, provide a better understanding of the grant review process, and provide a foundation for how to interpret reviewers comments to develop more competitive applications.
A panel of experienced CSR and NIAAA study section members that represent neuroscience, psychosocial, and/or biomedical (basic) research areas will comment on the mock review and answer questions. The panel will also discuss the thought processes that serve as a basis for reviewers comments, how this varies by grant mechanism, and forthcoming changes in the NIH peer review process. Participants are encouraged to discuss issues concerning the review process with the panel.
To register, please visit http://www.rsoa.org.

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Wet Blanket

December 31, 2008

As you prepare to welcome in the New Year, do me a favor will you? Reflect on the past month or so of the drinking season. Have an Uncle Joe or Aunt Sally who just seems to be wasted all the freakin’ time? Realizing just how many bottles Grampa goes through in a week? Maybe think you, yourself, may be getting a little out of control?
This is not the place for diagnosis, of course. Not of yourself, and not for Cousin John. Internet sources of information on addictive disorders and alcoholism can help but these are best simply at getting you to contact professional medical care.
Oh yes. That’s my main plea. Addiction is a medical problem with medical solutions. They are not highly effective solutions at present in the sense that current practices cannot easily or immediately cure every dependent individual. Clinical intervention can be extremely helpful to some individuals.
What about New Year’s Resolutions? Can willpower do the job? Sure, just as with metabolic disorders where willpower in controlling the amount and types of food one eats can be helpful. Some people will be able to cut back on drinking simply by realizing that they need to do so. Again, as with metabolic disorders, some cases require or can be improved further by clinical care. If we thought we had diabetes we would not resist seeking medical attention, would we? Or hesitate to recommend it to Dad? Let us think of alcohol use disorders the same way. Make a Resolution, will you?

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Field studies of primates in their natural and semi-natural habitats have resulted in fantastic public communication about the lives and behavior of charismatic species most people will only ever experience briefly in zoos. If that. Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Frans de Waal….these are familiar names to many with even a passing interest in the fauna of the natural world.
Today I would like to encourage you to read Behind the Stick which is a new blog by a penetrating observer of the habits of one of the more charismatic primates.

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A field study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research manipulated sound levels in a bar while observing the beer drinking behavior of male patrons.

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Members of San Diego State University are expressing an interesting attitude in the aftermath of the drug sweep which arrested 75 students of SDSU. According to the initial reporting it is clear that members of an organized drug marketing organization were targets.

One alleged dealer, Theta Chi member Kenneth Ciaccio, sent text messages to his “faithful customers” announcing that cocaine sales would be suspended over an upcoming weekend because he and his “associates” planned to be in Las Vegas, authorities said.
The same message posted “sale” prices on cocaine if transactions were completed before the dealers left San Diego.

It is equally clear that some individuals arrested were merely customers. Drug users, not dealers. Presumably this is why elements of SDSU are now questioning the appropriateness of calling in undercover federal agents on this case.

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This week’s fax from the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland touches on an issue of continual interest, namely the determination of “how addictive” different drugs of abuse may be. As I have mentioned a time or two (or three) before, I believe this is an area where the scientific research tends to skirt a key issue. From my perspective, this is one of the hardest questions to answer on the basis of the available human data and the animal models tend to drive right over the essential concepts.
This week’s CESAR fax (sign up here) reports rates of discontinuation, continued use without dependence and dependence for most major drugs of abuse. These data can help us to answer the question of “how addictive” are various recreational drugs.

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YHN and other parent bloggers (Abel Pharmboy, Dr. Free-Ride, DuWayne Brayton) have been musing on what DuWayne called “the conversation that never ends”. To wit, the conversation that parents anticipate having with their children over the use of recreational psychoactive substances and their attendant risks. The discussion touched on several topics related to parental involvement in teen alcohol consumption which led me to a simple proposal for your consideration DearReader.

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