man with hand on forehead looking down

Posted on August 21, 2017
Last modified on May 13th, 2019

Vaccine for Addiction Would First Target Opioid Addicts

Hopes are running high for an addiction vaccine in the wake of recent comments by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who called the prospects for such a shot “exciting.”

An inoculation would make it easier for people to stop using opioids. That is, after receiving the vaccine, individuals would no longer get a rush or feeling of euphoria from the drugs.

“One of the exciting things that they’re actually working on is a vaccine for addiction, which is incredibly exciting,” Price said at a news conference on the opioid epidemic. And according to the National Institutes of Health, vaccines will one day “be available to sustain abstinence, even prevent addiction.”

That’s a tall order. Medical experts say such vaccines are a ways off, pointing out that none has begun human trials. Even then, the vaccine would have to go through phase one, two and three trials before being submitted to the FDA for approval. That process takes years. And the first such inoculations to reach the market would treat people in recovery as opposed to being of the preventive order given in childhood for such diseases as the measles and mumps.

“I can’t imagine the vaccine would be on the market before the Trump administration is over,” Dr. Thomas R. Kosten, a professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN. For his part, Kosten is working on a shot that targets fentanyl, an opioid considered to be up to 100 times stronger than morphine.

But the vaccine approach is indeed showing promise at a time when the country is desperately in need of a fix in the battle against heroin and other opioid drugs. The most recent federal data shows that in 2015, 33,000 deaths were blamed on opioid overdoses. The epidemic affects all demographics, teens and seniors, rich and poor. Going forward, the situation looks even more dire. “The numbers in 2016 are no better, and the numbers in 2017 are even worse than 2016,” Price said.

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Isolation and Recovery

Posted on June 6, 2017
Last modified on May 13th, 2019

Why Are Some People More Susceptible to the Effects of Trauma?

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor Frankl, MD, PhD, author of Man’s Search for Meaning and Holocaust survivor

Two people are in a motor vehicle accident. They are trapped in the car and require that the rescuers use the “jaws of life” to pry away the twisted metal and pull them from the wreckage. Each sustains serious, but survivable injuries. When they are discharged from the hospital, one returns to work and resumes a “normal” routine. The other experiences severe pain and has difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, let alone returning to regular activity. He is prescribed medications to quell the pain and finds that he develops a tolerance to them, such that he requires increasing amounts to experience relief. In short order, he has become addicted to the opiate effect. He exhibits symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as flashbacks and nightmares, difficulty driving and is emotionally triggered when going by the scene of the accident.

What is the difference between them?

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Posted on June 5, 2017
Last modified on May 9th, 2019

Dabbing: What It Is, Who Is Doing It and Why It Is a Problem

If you’re worried about your kids experimenting with marijuana, dabbing probably won’t be their first exposure to it. The word dabbing refers to a complicated way of inhaling marijuana.

To be sure, a simple joint is far more likely to make it into your teen’s hands than all of the equipment needed to do a dab. Still, it’s wise to be aware of the current trends so that you can talk to your teen about it with ease.

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Young Teens at Risk for Addiction

Posted on May 31, 2017
Last modified on May 8th, 2019

‘Immigrant Paradox’ Doesn’t Protect Youngest Kids From Substance Abuse

New research has found that when Hispanic children come to the U.S. before the age of 14, they lose the protective factor that is the immigrant paradox. This paradox holds that first-generation immigrants have better health, better mental health, fewer risky behaviors and other favorable outcomes when compared to second- and third-generation immigrants. Researchers have tried to figure out just what protects these first-generation immigrants, but we now know that there is a limit. It is possible to be too young to be a part of the immigrant paradox.

The Immigrant Paradox

If you haven’t heard of it before, the immigrant paradox refers to the fact that first-generation Hispanic immigrants are healthier and generally better adjusted than their children and grandchildren. Rates of mental illness and substance abuse are lower in first-generation immigrants. This population is also healthier physically and lives longer. We call it a paradox because there are many reasons to think the opposite should be true of first-generation immigrants. They are at greater risk for poverty and discrimination. They face language barriers and stress associated with acculturation. Many have fled their countries of origin as refugees. In spite of these factors, they thrive when compared to subsequent generations.

Age of Immigration and Substance Abuse

One of the most important aspects of the immigrant paradox is substance abuse. Drug and alcohol abuse are serious problems for both individuals and for public health. First-generation Hispanic immigrants to the U.S. are less likely to turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with stress and other issues than are later generation immigrants or white Americans. Unfortunately, recent research has found that there is a limit to this protective status afforded to first-generation immigrants. The age of immigration has an impact on later life choices in terms of substance abuse.

To understand how age of immigration could impact later substance abuse, it is important to understand what is likely at the heart of the immigrant paradox. Most researchers who study the effect agree that first-generation immigrants enjoy better health because of a close connection to their culture and native values. The Hispanic culture in most non-U.S. countries protects people from risky behaviors, including substance abuse. Second- and third-generation immigrants are more likely to be disconnected from that protective culture.

What researchers have now found is that it is possible to be too young to maintain that important and protective cultural connection. Hispanics who immigrated before the age of 14 do not benefit from the immigrant paradox. They were too young at the time of immigration, researchers hypothesize, to have a strong cultural connection and to have absorbed the protective values of their original culture. Young immigrants come to the U.S. and acculturate more quickly than older immigrants. They take on the values and culture of the U.S. along with the risky behaviors typical of young people here.

Protecting Young Immigrants

The research into the immigrant paradox and acculturation of young Hispanics is important. Too many young people fall victim to the lure of substance abuse and suffer serious consequences. If we can better understand how most immigrants are protected from these risky behaviors, we can figure out how to translate that for everyone else. What is clear is that strong family support systems and an attachment to native values and culture are important for everyone and can help protect young people from making mistakes and bad choices.

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Can an Epilepsy Medication Reduce the Risks for Morphine Addiction?

Posted on May 22, 2017
Last modified on May 9th, 2019

Hispanic Teens and Prescription Drug Abuse: A Worrying Trend

The number of Hispanic teens in the U.S. abusing prescription drugs is growing. Teens tend to abuse these drugs because they are easier to access than other substances and because they perceive them as being safer to abuse than illegal drugs. The major prescriptions of abuse among teens are narcotic painkillers and stimulants used to treat ADHD. Drug abuse during the teenage years puts young people at risk for a number of health, emotional and legal problems. Not least of these issues is addiction. Most addicts began abusing drugs at a young age.

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girl leaning against school lockers sitting on the floor looking sad

Posted on May 19, 2017
Last modified on May 9th, 2019

Discrimination and the Immigrant Paradox for Hispanic Teens

Recent research shows that Hispanic teens born in the U.S. suffer more mental health issues as a result of discrimination than their foreign-born peers. This is yet another example of the immigrant paradox, which has been seen in study after study: foreign-born Hispanics in the U.S. suffer fewer mental health issues and are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than Hispanics born here.

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unhappy couple in bed

Posted on December 28, 2015
Last modified on May 13th, 2019

Why and How People Cheat

The most extensive survey ever conducted on the topic of infidelity has been published in a book called The Normal Bar. The book provides insight into what happy relationships look like and how to develop your own. It also includes the results of a poll of over 100,000 people regarding cheating in relationships. The results are fascinating and shed light on the real reasons people cheat on their partners and how many people are doing it.

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prom night

Posted on December 21, 2015
Last modified on May 10th, 2019

How to Stay Safe on Prom Night

Prom is a night that almost all teens look forward to, and yet it can end in disaster for some with consequences that are far-reaching. Staying safe on prom night isn’t just a matter of luck. There are smart steps and good choices that all teens can make to ensure they have a great time with no regrets.If you are anticipating your prom night, know what to do to be safe and healthy and to have fun.

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pills pouring out

Posted on December 14, 2015
Last modified on May 13th, 2019

Teens, Toddlers at Highest Risk for Poisoning From Medications

A recent report from the organization Safe Kids Worldwide analyzed calls to poison control centers across the United States for medicine-related poisoning among children and teenagers. The report revealed that teens aged 15 to 19 caused the second-highest number of calls and that teenagers have the highest number of serious outcomes from medicine-related poisoning.

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