Author: Shernide Delva
Each year, more than 300 million people are affected by depression. Depression is a debilitating illness that is difficult to treat.
What if there was one gene that played a key role in depression? Furthermore, what if that gene could be identified and even manipulated to actually treat depression?
Shockingly, this could all be a possibility. Researchers have discovered a gene that may play a central role in depression. This gene either protects us from stress or triggers a downward spiral depending on its level of activity.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM). It was the first to pinpoint in detail how one particular gene, known as Slc6a15, is a key role in depression. The study found the same link in both animals and humans.
“This study really shines a light on how levels of this gene in these neurons affects mood,” said the senior author of the study, Mary Kay Lobo, an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology.
“It suggests that people with altered levels of this gene in certain brain regions may have a much higher risk for depression and other emotional disorders related to stress.”
Potential Treatment Solution?
A study like this could help with treating depression in the future, and that help is desperately needed.
Nearly 800,000 people die annually from suicide. It is the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 to 29. Beyond that, depression destroys the quality of life for tens of millions of patients, and their families suffer too. Although environmental factors play a significant role in many cases of depression, genetics are equally as important.
This is not the first time this gene was studied. Back in 2006, Dr. Lobo and her colleagues found that the Slc6a15 gene was common in specific neurons in the brain. They recently demonstrated that these neurons were important in depression.
Connection to Anhedonia
Her lab decided to investigate the specific role these neurons have in depression. In the latest study, she and her team focused on a particular area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This region is crucial in the brain’s “reward circuit.”
When you eat a delicious meal or participate in any kind of enjoyable experience, neurons in the nucleus accumbens are activated letting you know the experience is enjoyable. When a person is depressed, it ‘s hard to experience any kind of enjoyment, a condition known as anhedonia.
Researchers discovered subset neurons in the nucleus accumbens called D2 neurons. These neurons respond to the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a central role in the reward circuit.
Mainly, these subset neurons responded to feel good chemicals like dopamine which is lacking in those with depression. Next, they studied mice susceptible to depression. These mice tended to withdraw from activities and exhibit behavior indicating depression such as social withdrawal and lack of interest in the food they would normally enjoy.
Dr. Lobo found that when the mice were subject to social stress, the levels of the Slc6a15 gene in the D2 neurons of the nucleus accumbens was noticeably reduced. The researchers also studied mice in which the gene had been reduced in D2 neurons. When those mice were subjected to stress, they also exhibited signs of depression. Furthermore, when researchers increased the levels of Slc6a15 levels in D2 neurons, the mice showed a resilient response to stress.
So what does this mean?
Next, Dr. Lobo looked at brains of humans who had a history of major depression and who had committed suicide. In the same region of the brain as the mice, the gene Slc6a15 was reduced. This indicates that the link between gene and behavior is found in both humans and mice.
In the future, manipulating these genes could help improve depression. While it is still unclear how Slc6a15 operates in the brain, Dr. Lobo states it may work by altering neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
This research could lead to therapies that focus specifically on this particular gene to treat depression. If you are struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, call now. Do not wait.
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Author: Shernide Delva
In the past, we’ve talked about the effects opioids have had on the workforce. We’ve analyzed issues such as how employers handle addiction and how to take time off to seek treatment.
However, a recent article delved further into the complications opioid use have on the workforce.
What if I told you that fewer people were looking for a job or had a job because of opioid addiction?
It turns out, this is a real possibility.
Workforce participation is defined as the number of people working or actively looking for work. Workforce participation has decreased significantly, despite increases in job creation and decreases in unemployment.
One economist points out this decrease may be due to an unlikely cause: opioid addiction.
“Use of both legal prescription pain relievers and illegal drugs is part of the story of declining prime-age participation, especially for men, and this reinforces our doubts about a rebound in the participation rate,” said David Mericle, senior U.S. economist at Goldman Sachs, who prepared a report on the issue earlier this week.
This belief is contrary to recent CBS reports which noted that the decline in workplace participation was due to less demand for lower skilled workers and rising disability rates.
On the contrary, David Mericle argues the reduction in workplace participation has more to do with opioid abuse.
“Data on substance abuse treatment episodes also reinforce the narrative: Of admissions of individuals not in the labor force, 58% described themselves as being out of the labor force for ‘other’ reasons—meaning they aren’t students, disabled, retired, inmates or homemakers—and 47% of these admissions were for opioids, well above the average rate,” he wrote in the report.
This issue simply cannot be ignored.
The opioid crisis has a clear impact on workplace participation because those who struggle with opioid addiction may quit their jobs or get fired. Then, those same people will not apply for other jobs due to their concerns regarding their ability to meet the demands of the work or even pass a drug screening.
“Especially in companies that hire drivers, we hear a lot about how the drug tests are a problem there,” Gad Levanon, chief economist for North America of The Conference Board told CBS. “Many of [the applicants] don’t pass it, so they can’t hire them—and they don’t know many aren’t even trying.”
Opioid abuse is rampant in the same demographic that has seen the largest decline in workforce participation. Opioid use is prevalent in rural areas which commonly struggle economically. A report stated that 22 out of 25 most impacted by opioid abuse are in rural areas or the South.
Which Came First: Economic Hardships or Opioid Abuse?
Mericle did not elaborate on how economic hardships may have influenced opioid abuse in these rural areas or vice versa. He concluded that the opioid epidemic “is intertwined with the story of declining prime-age participation, especially for men.” Essentially, it is hard to determine what led to what.
What do you think? Should we blame the decrease in workforce participation on opioid abuse or do other factors play a more significant role? Regardless of the effect opioids have on the workforce, the reality remains that it is a serious problem.
People who struggle with addiction often quit their jobs, or refuse to look at all because of their addiction. Therefore, a push for treatment is critical. If you are struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, call now. Do not wait.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
True Blood star Nelsan Ellis passed away from heart failure due to attempting to detox from alcohol on his own. The 39-year-old actor is best known for his role as Lafayette Reynold’s on the HBO hit. Reports originally stated the actor’s death was due to heart complications. No other details were stated. However, days later the actor’s family opened up about the cause of death as a “cautionary tale” to help others.
Rather than shy away, the family of Nelsan Ellis revealed that it was a long battle with alcoholism that ultimately led to Ellis’ death.
The Illinois-born actor studied at the prestigious New York performing arts school Juilliard and played the role of Lafayette on True Blood from 2008-2014. More recently, he was working on the CBS detective series Elementary.
Prior to his death, Ellis was attempting to quit drinking. According to the reports, Ellis felt shame about his drinking and had already gone to rehab a few times before. Therefore, he decided to hide his drinking and quit on his own.
Detoxing from alcohol without medical supervision can result in a variety of medical issues including heart failure.
Warning: Alcohol Withdrawals are Deadly!
It is so important others learn from Ellis’ mistake to stop drinking on his own. Many people are unaware of how severe alcohol withdrawals are. In fact, alcohol withdrawals are more dangerous than any other drugs, even prescription painkillers, and heroin.
In severe cases alcohol withdrawals can result in:
- Severe tremors
- Racing heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Brain Damage
Alcohol leads to more deaths than all other drugs combined. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) estimates that alcohol causes 88,000 deaths every year.
Nelsan Ellis’ Family Comes Forward to Help Others
It was very brave of the family to come forward with the reality of their loved one’s condition. The original news reports released after the actor’s death did not mention anything regarding the actor’s alcoholism. It would have been extremely easy for the family not to say anything and go along with the reports
Instead, they released a statement so that others struggling with alcoholism know the importance of seeking treatment before it is too late.
“Nelsan has suffered with drug and alcohol abuse for years,” the actor’s manager said on behalf of the family.
“After many stints in rehab, Nelsan attempted to withdraw from alcohol on his own. According to his father, during his withdrawal from alcohol he had a blood infection, his kidneys shut down, his liver was swollen, his blood pressure plummeted, and his dear sweet heart raced out of control.”’
“On the morning of Saturday, July 8th, after four days in Woodhull Hospital, Nelsan was pronounced dead. Nelsan was a gentle, generous and kind soul…Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life. His family, however, believes that in death he would want his life to serve as a cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.”
From the statement, it is evident the family decided to make the death of their loved one a warning to others. Many addicts would rather hide in shame or attempt to detox on their own instead of getting the help they desperately need.
Alcohol withdrawals vary from person to person, and for some, detoxing without medical supervision is highly risky. Individuals may experience what is known as delirium tremens (DTs) characterized by disorientation, severe agitation, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and fever.
DTs can last up to 3 or 4 days, according to Dr. Richard Saitz in “Introduction to Alcohol Withdrawal,” a paper published on the website of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
“About 5% of patients who experience DTs die from metabolic or cardiovascular complications, trauma or infections,” Saitz state.
One should never detox on their own.
This unfortunate death serves as a message to those considering withdrawing from drugs on their own. Don’t do it. The detox process should be monitored by medical professionals that can provide the tools needed to do so safely.
Overall, we must commend Nelsan Ellis’ family for choosing to come forward about the adored actor’s condition. The stigma of addiction prevents addicts from seeking treatment. Do not try to fight your addiction on your own. Instead, call today. We are waiting for your call.
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Author: Shernide Delva
The United States has slowly begun to see more and more states approve medical and even recreational marijuana. But the U.S. is far from the only country seeing major shifts in marijuana policies.
Greece just joined six other European Union countries in approving some form of medical cannabis. Greece is “turning its page” on drug policy by allowing qualified citizens to access medical cannabis. The announcement by Greek officials occurred on June 30 at a press conference.
“Greece is now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal,” according to Greece’s Government Gazette.
Now that the government had reclassified cannabis from Table A to Table B, it is now possible for certain patients to access marijuana for medical purposes legally. This move is like moving cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II of the United States’ Controlled Substances Act.
In the U.S., cannabis is still classified under Schedule I, alongside heroin and LSD. Although various states permit marijuana use, it is still not legal on a federal level. Drugs like oxycodone, methadone, and methamphetamine are in Schedule II, a less restrictive drug category.
With these new implementations, Greece can now import products from other countries like Canada and the United States. There are qualifying conditions required by the Ministry of Health that patients must have to access medical marijuana.
These health conditions include:
- Chronic or Neuropathic Pain
- Nausea & vomiting from chemotherapy
- Some eating disorders
“From now on, the country is turning its page, as Greece is now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal,” said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Greece joins six other European Union countries that have approved medical cannabis in some form.
Other countries include:
- The Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
Germany is a recent addition to the list. Their law went into effect this past March to help “critically ill” citizens.
Another country approving cannabis in June is Mexico, where the new law passed legislation with overwhelming support.
A country like Greece supporting medical marijuana is a major shift in the country’s mentality. Greece has a long known history of strict anti-drug laws. However, the debt-ridden country is moving in a different direction. The government legalized the processing of hemp in April, “ending 60 years of prohibition of the traditional, non-psychoactive plant,” Leafly reported at the time.
Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for mass use. Although hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, they are distinctively different. Hemp has low THC levels, which means it does not produce a high. Hemp is processed into a variety of useful products including paper, textiles, clothing, plastics, biofuel, and food.
Marijuana reform remains a controversial topic. However as the medical benefits of cannabis continue to reveal themselves, more countries are opening up to the idea of legalization. What do you think about the recent legalization of medical marijuana in Greece?
Like any substance, marijuana can be abused. If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please seek help. Regardless of whether a drug is legalized or not, if you feel out of control with your substance use, please reach out. We want to help.
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When we are in a crucial time of combating substance use disorder and drug addiction in America, it could be useful to remind everyone of the key differences in different drug categories and which common drugs can qualify for these descriptions.
Needless to say, this is not a complete list of every known drug. Truthfully, there is a vast library of known chemical combinations that are utilized as either medical treatments or abused as a means of recreational intoxication. There are the more abstract medications that have no known recreational use, and there are many synthetics that can be far more complicated.
Still, plenty of drugs that we know of have been put into different classes. Here is a brief breakdown of the different drug categories and what drugs qualify.
Prescription Medical Drugs
First we will make a more solid distinction between medical drugs and recreational drugs. Sadly, prescription drug abuse has become a major problem in the country. The opioid crisis has been largely impacted by the abuse of drugs created for medical use. It is important to be aware of the dangers of prescription medical drugs.
Many medical drugs have side effects that make them appealing to people who don’t have a real medical reason to be prescribed these substances. Common medical drugs to be abused include:
The tragedy we have learned through the opioid crisis is that even though these drugs are typically prescribed for medical purposes, they can be extremely dangerous. That includes people who use them recreationally, and for those who are prescribed the medication because of the risk of physical dependence.
Some prescription drugs are more addictive than others, and many can be deadly when taken improperly or with other drugs, especially alcohol.
Recreational drugs are substances specifically used to achieve a desired feeling, or to get ‘high’. Most recreational drugs are illegal. Some legal drugs are recreational, and some recreational drugs are legalized in certain areas for medicinal purposes.
Recreational drugs are typically categorized into three main categories: depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens.
Depressants, which are also called ‘downers’ are drugs that depress activity in the body, meaning they slow down the messages sent to and from the brain. Examples of depressant drugs include:
- Opiates (such as heroin and morphine)
- Sedatives (such as Valium)
- Some glues, petrols and other solvents
An individual is at an even higher risk of overdose from depressant drugs when consuming different types of depressants at the same time. Large amounts of depressants can cause life-threatening respiratory issues and loss of consciousness.
Stimulant drugs are also known as ‘uppers’. The term refers to the way these drugs make someone feel ‘up’ or ‘alert’ by speeding up the messages sent to and from your brain. Examples of stimulants include:
- Amphetamines (such as speed or ice)
Some of the hazardous side effects of stimulant drugs include:
- Severe strain on the heart
- Increased body temperature
Combining different stimulant drugs, or using stimulants with depressant drugs can create even more strain on the heart and the body, which can cause major health problems or even death.
Hallucinogen drugs are psychoactive agents which can cause hallucinations, anomalies in perception, and other substantial subjective changes in thoughts, emotion, and consciousness. Examples of hallucinogens include:
- LSD (acid)
- ‘Magic’ mushrooms
- High doses of cannabis
Hallucinogen drugs do a number on the mind, and therefore they tend to make people experience things like:
- Risk taking behavior
Legal VS Illegal
One thing that we should always keep in mind is that a drug isn’t necessarily safe just because it is legal. Whether or not a drug is illegal, it can still pose a great deal of problems to different people for different reasons.
Consider alcohol. This is a legal substance, but it is still considered by many to be the most dangerous drug there is. That isn’t to say that it is as potent as drugs like heroin, but the danger rating comes from the fact that it is deadly, addictive AND highly accessible! For one, someone can get alcohol poisoning and die if they drink too much. Also, alcohol withdrawals can be some of the most dangerous there are. Add in the fact that it is extremely addictive, even more lethal when combined with other drugs, and can be purchased on pretty much every corner in America.
THAT is a dangerous drug.
Then, there are synthetic drugs. These substances can be ambiguous when it comes to being flat out illegal. For a while there were constantly news stories about new dangerous synthetic drugs being sold as “legal highs” that were making people deathly ill. In some cases, people did die.
Synthetic drugs can also fall into any of these categories, for example:
These drugs can be far more dangerous than others because of the often random chemical combinations they come in, being cooked in homemade labs with substances that have no clinical trials on human biology.
Drug and alcohol rehab programs are designed to put you in the best position to succeed with as many resources as possible, and it all starts with a healthy detox. Understanding the different drug categories may help you better understand the importance of a safe and effective treatment program. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135