drug addiction

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Mom’s Rich, Fatty Diet May Trigger Taste For Drugs In Offspring

Yesterday, we reported on a powerful link between kids who gulp down sweet, sugar-laden drinks and their increased risk of becoming obese. Here’s a sad, what-goes-around-comes-around postscript to that story:

sugarMothers (at least mother rats) fed high-fat, high-sugar diets while pregnant may have kids with a “taste” for alcohol and a sensitivity to drugs, according to research presented at an annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

Here’s some of the APA news release:

Vulnerability to alcohol and drug abuse may begin in the womb and be linked to how much fatty and sugary foods a mother eats during pregnancy, according to findings from animal lab experiments presented at APA’s 121st Annual Convention.

“The majority of women in the U.S. at child-bearing age are overweight, and this is most likely due to overeating the tasty, high-fat, high-sugar foods you find everywhere in our society. The rise in prenatal and childhood obesity and the rise in number of youths abusing alcohol and drugs merits looking into all the possible roots of these growing problems,” said Nicole Avena, PhD, a research neuroscientist with the University of Florida’s McKnight Brain Institute.

Compared to pups of rats that ate regular rodent chow, the offspring of rats that ate high-fat or high-sugar diets while pregnant weighed more as adults and drank more alcohol, and those on high-sugar diets also had stronger responses to commonly abused drugs such as amphetamine, Avena said. Her presentation examined experiments from three studies, each lasting about three months and involving three to four adult female rats and 10 to 12 offspring in each dietary condition.

Researchers compared weight and drug-taking behavior between the offspring of rats fed diets rich in fats, sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup with the offspring of rats fed regular rodent chow during gestation or nursing. They tested both sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup because they are chemically different and could cause different outcomes, Avena said. Sucrose occurs naturally and is commonly processed from sugar cane or sugar beets into table sugar, whereas high-fructose corn syrup is synthesized from corn.

To determine effects of the mothers’ diets during gestation, the offspring of rats fed the high-fat, high-sucrose or high- fructose corn syrup diets were nursed by mother rats that were eating regular chow. To determine the effects of the mothers’ diets on the offspring during nursing, the pups with mothers that had eaten regular chow were nursed by mother rats that were eating either the high-fat, high-sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup diets.

The pregnant rats’ high-fat diet contained 50 percent fat, Continue reading

The Heroin Wars: Drug Use Surges In East — And Beyond

The New York Times reports that heroin use is surging in small towns and cities around New England, driven in part by restrictions on doctors prescribing painkillers (and pill that are harder to crush and snort) coupled with relatively easy access to cheap heroin:

From quaint fishing villages on the Maine coast to the interior of the Great North Woods extending across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, officials report a sharp rise in the availability of the crystalline powder and in overdoses and deaths attributed to it. “It’s easier to get heroin in some of these places than it is to get a UPS delivery,” said Dr. Mark Publicker, an addiction specialist here…Heroin killed 21 people in Maine last year, three times as many as in 2011, according to the state’s Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. New Hampshire recorded 40 deaths from heroin overdoses last year, up from just 7 a decade ago. In Vermont, the Health Department reported that 914 people were treated for heroin abuse last year, up from 654 the year before, an increase of almost 40 percent.

michelle.irish/flickr

(michelle.irish/Flickr)

Heroin is all over the news these days, with the tragic death of 31-year-old “Glee” star Cory Monteith, who authorities say overdosed on heroin and alcohol.

And WBUR’s On Point aired an excellent segment yesterday on heroin’s “new reach,” including this riveting exchange between Rock Star Raven, a 32-year-old woman from New York who actually spoke with host Tom Ashbrook on her way to score some heroin. From the transcript:

RAVEN: I’ve worked at a bank for a while now and it doesn’t really discriminate. And it’s very, very difficult to stop and you can continue to be successful, to some degree, while continuing that lifestyle and it’s very difficult to get off. I agree Suboxone can be extremely helpful, however if you don’t continue using it responsibly you can continue your problem.
TOM: Raven, let me be very clear, you’re on the way to pick up heroin right now?
RAVEN: That is correct. Continue reading