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Of Note

November 1, 2006
by root
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Malibu Center Hosts Series on Innovative Treatments

The Renaissance Malibu addiction treatment facility in California is serving as the backdrop for an Internet radio series designed to address new ideas and approaches in the treatment of addictions. Addiction and Transformation airs each Friday at 4 p.m. Eastern time (1 p.m. Pacific) on the VoiceAmerica Channel. Hosted by clinical psychologist and addiction treatment specialist Daniel Gatlin, PhD, the show emphasizes that with the problems surrounding addiction in society showing little sign of abating, old treatment models are being discarded in favor of innovative and sometimes controversial approaches.

Among the programs that aired in August and September were those addressing the use of neurofeedback in addiction treatment, the association between mindfulness and recovery, and an exploration of dreams. The host and guests discuss new research and new directions in treatment, and answer questions from listeners. For more information about Addiction and Transformation, visit http://www.voice.voiceamerica.com.

Researchers Study Receptor With Possible Link to Relapse

A new study indicates that a specific receptor for a stress-response transmitter may play a significant role in alcoholism's defining characteristic of stress-induced relapse. The study was first published online in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on October 2.

Using a group of rats that were bred to have a greater-than-normal preference for alcohol, researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and at Camerino University in Italy conducted behavioral experiments to document that the alcohol-preferring rats were more sensitive than other rats to stressful situations. The rats learned and then unlearned a bar-pressing routine that gave them access to an unlimited amount of alcohol. Researchers then found that when they introduced a stressful stimulus-a mild electric shock-the alcohol-preferring rats resumed alcohol seeking under shocks of much lower intensity than what was required in the other group.

The researchers then compared gene expression patterns in the brains of rats from both groups. Looking at stress-related genes, they found that alcohol-preferring rats had higher expression levels of a gene encoding the corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 1 (CRH-R1). Subsequent research showed that the compound antalarmin, which blocks the corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor, impeded stress-induced reinstatement of drinking in the alcohol-preferring rats. According to those who worked on the studies, the research community has begun to develop antalarmin for use in humans. Researchers say the new data “provide a functional validation for antagonism at CRH-R1 receptors as a mechanism for novel treatments aimed at relapse prevention in susceptible individuals,” according to an NIAAA news release.

New Data Offer Clearer Picture of Methamphetamine Use Prevalence

The latest methamphetamine-related statistics released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offer state officials an unprecedented level of detail on use prevalence among various age groups in their jurisdictions. The report, released in September, is based on four years of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and is called The NSDUH Report: State Estimates of Past Year Methamphetamine Use. Overall, the report indicates that members of the 18-to-25 age group are most likely to be using meth. Still, overall meth use pales in comparison to use of drugs such as marijuana in the United States. There were about 1.3 million meth users in the country in 2005, versus about 25.4 million marijuana users.

The report, derived from analyses of surveys involving more than 250,000 people, states that the highest prevalence rates for methamphetamine use overall are in Nevada, Montana, and Wyoming. The lowest prevalence rates are in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. The report is available online at http://www.oas.samhsa.gov.

Play About Recovery Completes N.Y. Run

Visions, a play about addiction and the promise of 12-Step recovery that has reached more than 20,000 people in locations such as treatment centers, shelters, and correctional facilities, was scheduled to complete a weeklong run in New York City in late October and early November. For the New York performances, held October 30-November 5 at the Hudson Guild Theatre, half of all seating was donated to area treatment centers and addiction-affected communities in need. A $15 advance ticket fee for the remaining seating subsidized the free attendance for treatment clients and others in need.

The play began in 1991 as a 20-minute presentation and is now a show of about one hour. All participants in the production are volunteers. The play depicts destruction from substance addiction and points to the 12 Steps as a vehicle for recovery.

In a September letter to Visions author Bob L. from the New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers, Inc., association executive director John J. Coppola praised the play for its message of hope to people in recovery. Coppola added that discussions have begun toward performing the play before New York State lawmakers during the 2007 legislative session. For more information about Visions, call (201) 281-4215 or e-mail Info@VisionsRecoveryPlay.org.