An international review study has examined the relationship between high school student substance abuse patterns and psychiatric symptoms. The study involved a collaboration between researchers from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and the Federal University of Sao Paulo. The researchers determined that the respondents who had clinically significant scores when taking a behavioral screening questionnaire were also more likely to have engaged in substance abuse in the month previously when compared to those who did not have symptoms. This is the first study of this kind, which highlights the link and association between substance abuse and psychiatric symptoms in teens from a county with a middle level of income but high social inequality levels. The respondents represented more than 4,000 high school students between 10th and 12th grade, and these students came from 128 schools in San Paula. Both public and private school students were represented in the survey.
The latest study on teen substance abuse and mental health disorders showed that the type of substance abuse that the teen engaged in varied according to the psychiatric symptoms experienced. Some of the symptoms were emotional, others involved problems with conduct, and peer relationships and hyperactivity were also examined. According to associate professor of epidemiology Silvia Martins, M.D., Ph.D., “Studies to determine which specific mental health symptoms are associated with substance use among adolescents in different settings are crucial. In developing countries such as Brazil where a wide gap of social inequalities is observed, this is particularly important. Mental health policies should focus on these populations, especially since providing early treatment for psychiatric symptoms may have a direct impact on mental health prevalence and its costs among adults.”
PTSD symptoms can vary widely for college freshmen who have been diagnosed with this mental health condition after experiencing previous trauma, and University at Buffalo researchers have determined that alcohol use can slow the recovery from PTSD for many students. Young adults who have post traumatic stress disorder start out with a higher risk for problem drinking and other forms of substance abuse, and these behaviors can make any PTSD symptoms worse and set back any recovery that the student has made to this point. University at Buffalo Department of Psychology professor Jennifer Read was one of the authors who published a paper on this research in the Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, and Policy journal.
According to Read “You have a group of young people exposed to some trauma who are away from many of the things that would otherwise provide them with support. Even those who are commuting have still entered into a new way of life.” This can make the PTSD and alcohol use combination even more dangerous. Read also explained that “This is relevant to college administrators for a few different reasons, One is to know that there is a class of students whose symptoms are getting worse or staying bad. While students are first transitioning the symptoms are the most malleable. So early detection and intervention are important. If these people can be identified, then outreach could be provided. It’s encouraging that people with PTSD symptoms are getting better on their own. Resilience is common in human behavior. People can have bad things happen to them, but will most likely be okay. It doesn’t mean they won’t affected, or that they won’t be changed in some way, but they will probably be okay. Drinking affects this. If someone is drinking regularly or excessively, the likelihood is less that they’ll move from a high category to a lower category.”
According to a recent Kaiser Permanente San Francisco outpatient addiction treatment clinic patients who have access to interactive rehab tend to experience an improvement in overall health. The study involved 503 people who were assigned to receive standard care or standard care plus the LINKAGE intervention interactive rehab. Those who received the enhanced care did much better and learned many skills that they needed. According to Constance M. Weisner, DrPH, the lead study author, “Patients with alcohol and other drug use disorders have high rates of medical and psychiatric conditions requiring complex treatment, but often rely on emergency services and seldom use preventive services, even when they have health insurance. We know that patients who are more engaged with their health care tend to manage their condition better and our study found that alcohol and drug treatment patients are no different.”
Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research researcher Stacy A. Sterling, DrPH, MSW, the senior study author, discussed the study findings on interactive rehab and an improvement in overall health. “Alcohol and drug treatment patients often suffer from other medical conditions, and their care needs to be integrated with mainstream health care. Teaching addiction treatment patients how to access and use health care may empower them to better engage in managing their health and well-being. It will be instructive to see whether this approach is helpful in avoiding relapse and in improving their overall health when we conduct additional follow-up.” For the study standard care included a variety of medical, substance abuse, and mental health services and information.
A recent University of Michigan study shows that ADHD medication timing is key to reducing adolescent substance abuse risks. The researchers found that using stimulant ADHD medications early in life did not increase the risk of teen substance abuse, but when teens used these same medications starting in adolescence for even a short period during their middle or high school years then they faced a greater risk of substance abuse. The study is believed to be the very first study on a national level that compares early use, later use, and longer duration of ADHD medications in both stimulant and non stimulant categories. The assessment was performed as part of the Monitoring the Future study and it included answers from over 40,000 people.
If later ADHD medication timing can increase the risk of adolescent substance abuse risk then some may argue that starting stimulant medications at an early age might be better because of the lower risk of adolescent substance abuse but others believe that stimulant medications are being commonly prescribed to kids when they are not always necessary. Today children are expected to sit still for longer periods, they are expected to learn a lot more at a much younger age, and often they have limited opportunities to simply run, play, and be a kid. An large increase in ADHD diagnosis in the last decade is attributed by some to better diagnostic tools, but others say that this shows that many of the children diagnosed may simply have excessive energy that they are not allowed to get out.
Managing adult ADHD symptoms could be done with even a small amount of exercise according to researchers at the University of Georgia. The study determined that even a single round of exercise has many adult psychological benefits. Some common symptoms of adult ADHD include motivation that is suppressed, anxiety, a low level of energy, and depression. All of these symptoms can cause problems in work or school performance. According to healthcare providers roughly 6% of Adults in the USA report symptoms that could indicate adult ADHD. The study data and findings can be found in the medical journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. The researchers found that following exercise the participants had more motivation to tackle tasks, they experienced more energy and less fatigue, and they had less confusion.
University of Georgia College of Education’s kinesiology department professor Patrick O’Connor, the senior author of the study on adult ADHD symptom management and exercise, concluded that “Exercise is already known as a stress reducer and mood booster, so it really has the potential to help those suffering with ADHD symptoms. And while prescription drugs can be used to treat these symptoms, there’s an increased risk of abuse or dependence and negative side effects. Those risks don’t exist with exercise.” University of Georgia doctoral student and co-author of the study Kathryn Fritz explained “The reduced feelings of confusion and increased motivation to perform a cognitive task suggest that other types of acute exercise also may benefit cognitive performance. We speculate that a different mode or duration or intensity of exercise, other than a boring cycle ride in a sterile lab, may show larger cognitive effects for those suffering from ADHD symptoms.”
A dual diagnosis for addiction and borderline personality disorder can be an immense challenge when it comes to treating both conditions successfully. People with BPD have a much higher risk of substance abuse as well, they are impulsive and prone to mood swings and rages, and they are often highly unstable. Many studies show that more than half of the people who are diagnosed with BPD also have substance abuse problems, and some studies put the rate of these co-occurring disorders as high as 70%. Patients with this type of dual diagnosis can be especially difficult and challenging to treat because of the various symptoms and the impulsivity that these individuals exhibit. Many people with addiction and BPD can be resistant to treatment even though the research shows that the longer these individuals are in treatment the better the outcome will be.
Another big challenge when it comes to treating people who have both borderline personality disorder and addiction is establishing a healthy and positive client therapist relationship. People with BPD can see the therapist as someone helpful and a great source of support but this can change very quickly. As soon as the patient feels criticized, rejected, or disapproval in any form the therapist can be viewed as an enemy. This often leads to missing therapy appointments or even discontinuing therapy completely. This cycle can be just as frustrating for the therapist as it can be for the patient. People with this type of dual diagnosis typically engage in dysfunctional relationships and they have higher than normal relapse rates, and both of these issues can also pose serious challenges during therapy.
Recent research has discovered a possible link between sleep disturbances and future pain episodes in young adults. The researchers found that for at least some young emerging adults disturbances and problems with sleep could help predict chronic pain and pain that becomes more severe over time in the future. The investigators in the study did note that sleep problems which become worse during the period when an individual transitions from adolescence to young adulthood were not predicted by the presence of pain. The researchers were trying to determine whether the sleep problems were preceded by pain or if they occurred after the pain started. University of Groningen, the Netherlands, investigators led by Dr. Irma J. Bonvanie engaged in a relationship assessment that was bidirectional, and that examined pain and sleep problems in young adults between the ages of 19 and 22 years old.
The researchers found that sleep disruptions could predict future pain with a surprising degree of accuracy, and that the relationship between these two factors tended to be stronger in females than in males. The focus of the study included general overall pain, abdominal pain, headaches, and musculoskeletal pain. 1,750 Dutch adults participated in the study, and the study subjects included both sexes. According to the researchers “Emerging adulthood…is characterized by psychosocial and behavioral changes, such as altered sleep patterns. Our findings indicate the sleep problems are not only a precursor for pain, but actually predict the persistence of chronic pain and an increase in pain levels. Our findings suggest that sleep problems may be an additional target for treatment and prevention strategies in female emerging adults with chronic pain and musculoskeletal pain.”
Opioid treatment is a common medical treatment for cancer, severe pain, and certain other conditions. The use of opioid drugs could lead to other problems and conditions though, even depression according to a recent research study that examined a link between treatment with these narcotic drugs and the onset of depression. Not only are these drugs very addictive and carefully controlled but new guidelines have been released about patient monitoring and the possibility of drug dependence when opioids are used for any extended period of time. The new study shows that the length of the use of the opioid drug is a more important factor in developing depression than the strength of the narcotic that is prescribed. The research study review was performed by researchers at the St Louis University School of Medicine, Missouri, and the data for over 100,000 patients was examined and evaluated.
The study on opioid treatment and depression had some alarming findings. The researchers concluded that individuals who had never previously been diagnosed with depression developed this condition after they started treatment that involved opioid drugs. This can lead to a dangerous cycle, where opiods are needed for pain and medications for depression are needed because of the effect that the opioid drugs have on the individual. Right now the number of antidepressant drugs prescribed in North America is enormous, and the same is true of opioid drugs as well. Patients could end up needing to take a number of drugs just to keep an even keel, and this is not an ideal situation or even one that should be allowed to continue. Any chemical or drug can have an impact on various areas of health and well being, and these substances can start a cascade of changes in the body that can lead to the development of other conditions that may then require treatment as well.
Radiological Society of North America researchers have used imaging research on obese kids and discovered that food smells activated parts of the brain which are typically associated with impulsive behaviors. These brain areas are also linked with obsessive compulsive disorder development. Mexico City Hospital Infantil de México Federico Gómez chief radiologist Pilar Dies-Suarez, M.D. explained the study by saying “In order to fight obesity, it is crucial to understand the brain mechanisms of odor stimulus. This study has given us a better understanding that obesity has a neurological disorder component, and the findings have the potential to affect treatment of obese patients.” Further understanding about obesity is needed but all the evidence so far points to obesity being similar to other mental health disorders, and this could lead to the development of new treatments for obese kids which provide better outcomes and results for the patient.
The imaging research on obese kids is an important step. In the USA childhood obesity is a growing problem, one that has been classified as an emerging health crisis. America has almost 13 million obese kids, and these children face higher than average risks for many health problems and medical conditions. The study involved 30 kids, 50% of them were at a normal BMI that ranged from 19 to 24 and 50% of the participants were classified as obese because their BMI was over 30. Each study participant was exposed to 3 different smells: chocolate, onion, and an odor that was neutral. During this time there were 2 MRI techniques used to monitor brain activity. The obese kids showed different activity patterns in their brains when they were exposed to chocolate than the normal BMI group did. There were also brain pattern differences when both groups were exposed to the smell of onions. According to Dies-Suarez “If we are able to identify the mechanisms that cause obesity, we will be able to change the way we treat these patients, and in turn, reduce obesity prevalence and save lives.”