While plans to involuntary commit drug users have “received virtual across-the-board support,” Susan Sered from TruthOut reports that “there is little to no evidence showing that coerced drug treatment is effective,” and that “having abstained from opiates for several days may set them up to overdose when they return to their former level of drug use, with a reduced tolerance for the drugs.”
Joan Cook, professor of Psychology at Yale, writes than in her work with military veterans she realized that her psychotherapy techniques mattered much less than her training had indicated. Instead, what mattered was “the bond forged over years of therapy,” known as “the therapeutic alliance.”
ServiceNet, a mental health and human service agency in western Massachusetts, received a three year, two million dollar grant to launch a program designed to support young adults who have recently experienced their first episode of psychosis. The Prevention and Recovery Early Psychosis (PREP) program is funded by the Massachusetts department of mental health and is designed to treat psychosis as a symptom, not an illness, resulting from other health problems, substance abuse, trauma, or extreme stress.
The German news agency DW features a video report on whether cannabidiol, an active substance derived from marijuana, can help relieve the symptoms of schizophrenia.
In 2014, then National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) director, Thomas Insel, speculated that ketamine “might be the most important breakthrough in antidepressant treatment in decades.” A recent review of the research suggests that while ketamine may produce a rapid short-term improvement in depression, the effect is short-lived and the potential for addiction and dependence warrants considerable caution.
A small study of 30 participants in Germany claims that cannabis can be used to treat “ADHD” because it increases the availability of dopamine. "This then has the same effect but is a different mechanism of action than stimulants like Ritalin and dexedrine amphetamine, which act by binding to the dopamine and interfering with the metabolic breakdown of dopamine." According to the report, 22 of the 30 participants opted to discontinue their prescriptions in favor of medical marijuana.
The UK Independent reports that Ireland is moving toward a policy of decriminalizing small amount of drugs like heroin, cocaine, and cannabis in what amounts to a “radical cultural shift.” While it would remain a crime to profit from the sale of these substances, users will have specially designated areas for safe use. The chief of Ireland’s National Drugs Strategy told the paper: “I am firmly of the view that there needs to be a cultural shift in how we regard substance misuse if we are to break this cycle and make a serious attempt to tackle drug and alcohol addiction.”
In an op-ed for the Guardian, cardiologist Aseem Malhotra writes: “Corporate greed and systematic political failure have brought healthcare to its knees. There are too many misinformed doctors and misinformed patients. It’s time for greater transparency and stronger accountability so that doctors and nurses can provide the best quality care for the most important person in the consultation room – the patient.”
NPR interviews Dr. Lance Dodes, author of The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind Twelve-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry. Despite the fact the 12-step programs have become our “go-to solution for addiction in all its forms” and are often “mandated by drug courts,” and “prescribed by doctors,” their success rate hovers between five and ten percent and, worse, “they are harming the other 90%.”
This week the drug monitoring and patients' rights website, RxISK, launched the Centre for Medication Withdrawal, a page dedicated to establishing what causes dependence and how to treat it.
ITV features and article and video today about the widespread problem of addiction and withdrawal from benzodiazepine drugs used to treat anxiety, including Ativan, Librium, Diazepam and Temazepam. Mother of three Sandra Minshull shares her story and discusses how Ativan “robbed her of her life.”
While a great deal of the excitement about advances in psychological treatments comes from the potential for research in neuroscience to unlock the secrets of the brain, many mental health experts would like to temper this enthusiasm. A special issue of the Behavior Therapist released this month calls into question the predominant conception of mental illnesses as brain disorders.
“Underscoring the incredible momentum to legalize marijuana is the misconception that the drug can’t hurt anybody,” Dr. Sushrut Jangi writes in the Boston Globe. “It can, especially young people.” He suggests that the biochemistry of marijuana effects "systems ordinarily involved in healthy behaviors like eating, learning and forming relationships” and “throws the finely tuned system off balance.”
Medscape Psychiatry reports that the “man-made epidemic” of opioid abuse in the United States is the result of over-prescription and poor research. Doctor Gary Franklin, vice president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, has done research which indicates that opioids are being overused for conditions that they are not intended to treat. "Not only is there no evidence to support their use in these conditions, there is quite a bit of evidence against doing so, and these are probably the most routine patients we have who are on chronic opioids and who have become dependent and addicted to them in our country."
New York State has investigated five large insurance companies for violating state and federal mental health parity laws by illegally denying to cover claims for behavioral health conditions and drug abuse treatment, according to a report by North County Public Radio (ncpr).
Parents Opposed to Pot, a group opposed to the legalization of marijuana, criticizes a recent University of Pittsburgh study which found no correlation between pot use and mental health. They contest the results and insist that since the long-term study began in 1987, “skunk” or high THC pot has been on the rise.
Bertha Madras, professor of psychobiology at Harvard Medical School, has printed a critique listing 20 flaws to a recent study finding no differences in physical or mental health problems between users and non-users of marijuana. More →
Writing for Truth-Out, hurricane Katrina survivor G. Maris Jones writes: “To adapt to a changing climate, survivors of these catastrophes - especially those in marginalized, low-income communities - need long-term physical and mental health services.” She adds a concurrent call to “assume our responsibility to make positive change through action on climate change.”
Tania Lombrozo for New Hampshire Public Radio (nhpr) asks, “could it be that some people believe psychiatric disorders can be contagious?” A new study in the Journal of Memory & Cognition says “yes,” and adds that this perception influences the way people interact with mental health category members.
Willingness to interact with someone with a mental health diagnosis may be tied to the misperception that disorders can be transferred from one person to another, according to a new study published in the Journal of Memory & Cognition. More →
A long-term study that followed 408 seventh-graders for over 20 years found no association between marijuana use at a young age and an increased risk of psychosis, depression, and anxiety in adulthood. The study, published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, was led by Jordan Bechtold of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. More →
A Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health survey of 1000 US primary care physicians found that many do not understand important facts about the addictive nature of the opioids they are prescribing or about how people become addicted to them. The study was published in The Clinical Journal of Pain. More →
In what a press release described as "a major advance in the field of neuropsychiatry," researchers from Oregon Health & Science University said they believe that they have gained a clearer understanding of precisely how cocaine, amphetamines and related psychostimulant drugs "disrupt the normal functioning of the dopamine transporter in the brain." The study appeared in Nature. More →
There are strong links between substance abuse and homelessness, according to three Australian researchers writing in Social Science & Medicine. However, they argue, contrary to common beliefs, there seem to be no causal relationships between the two, with the possible exception of "risky" alcohol consumption. More →
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