Please see below selected recent addiction-related change.
- Farmers in Colombia cultivated a record 230,000 hectares of coca in 2022, a 13% increase over the previous year. Coca is the key ingredient in cocaine, of which Colombia remains the leading exporter. President Gustavo Petro criticised coca eradication programs as failed policy, but he has reportedly struggled to contain armed trafficking groups and has made little progress alleviating poverty in rural areas where the crop is grown.
- Many younger employees shun alcohol to the point that employers are losing their taste for offering office drinks or after-work outings. Compared with older colleagues, Generation Z workers dislike top-down invitations to drink at company events or team gatherings, BBC Worklife reported. When supervisors initiate drinking, employees worry about implications for their social and professional standing, researchers from the University of Stavanger, Norway, found.
- Global cocaine production surged by 35% in 2020-2021, according to a UN report. One of the main reasons was that drug cartels took over coca-cultivating areas of Colombia previously run by the FARC and competed to churn out more powder for Americans and Europeans to buy.
- Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the world, and is the cause of three million deaths each year and has been linked to many other long-term illnesses. In addition, the loss of productivity due to hangovers has an outsized impact on some economies.
- An estimated 270+ million people around the world consume drugs, a 30% increase on the 10 years before. Close to 13% of these people have a substance abuse disorder, a condition that can affect a person’s brain and behaviour such that they have little control over their consumption of drugs. Groups such as people sleeping rough or the homeless are hit particularly hard by addiction: according to the Mental Health Foundation, the majority of homeless people struggle with substance abuse (more than 60%).
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- The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) granted Johnson Hopkins Medicine a $US 4 million grant to investigate the use of psilocybin for the treatment of addiction. Psilocybin is the primary psychoactive ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms. The NIH funded research to understand how psychedelics could be used to treat mental health disorders as early as the 1950s, funding over 130 studies on LSD alone over the course of two decades. The effort was slowed after the Thalidomide issue when the US government placed tight regulation around pharmaceutical research and halted completely after Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act, classifying psychedelics as having “no accepted medical use”. noted Future Today Institute.
- In another small pilot study, Johns Hopkins researcher Dr. Matthew Johnson, conducted a study to understand whether psilocybin could help people quit smoking. After 12 months, 67 percent of participants remained abstinent from cigarettes.
- Meanwhile, the US Food and Drug Administration is encouraging psychedelic-based drug research by granting psychedelics the status of “breakthrough therapy” to accelerate drug approval.
- According to a meta-study of prevalence, it is thought that 2.5% of the general population are hoarders, with men and women represented equally. Once thought to be a peculiar kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder, it is now classified as its own condition. Indeed, hoarding can be a symptom of a few different underlying pathologies.
- There is a specialised form of counselling available to loved ones of people who misuse alcohol and drugs, called Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT). Studies on CRAFT show that family members who undergo this training are more likely to see their loved one seek addiction treatment or reduce their substance use than are those who don’t do CRAFT. Psyche analysed key ideas from CRAFT, as well as other guidance drawn from research on what actually motivates people to seek treatment or change their use.
- There was reportedly a 54% surge in alcohol sales during the first week of the pandemic, and it remained persistently high in the following weeks and months.
- Cigarettes, alcohol and cannabis are each used by hundreds of millions of people for their psychoactive properties. Someone might wish to drink away their sorrows after a bad break-up, try to relax after a stressful exam week by getting high, or light a cigarette because they think it will help them concentrate. While this sort of substance use is commonplace, Psyche noted that smokers, heavy alcohol users and cannabis users are at higher risk of mental illnesses, such as a depressive or anxiety disorder. Science shows that life events that can increase the risk of mental illness – such as childhood trauma or the unexpected death of a loved one – can also lead to increased substance use. But the reverse might also be possible: that using psychoactive substances leads to mental illness.
- Drug overdose deaths in the United States rose 30 percent in 2020, according to CDC data. Medical professionals have long been accused of overprescribing opioids in exchange for kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies. (A documentary The Crime of the Century documented how one pharma company allegedly helped engineer the current crisis.)
- The School of Life warns that many of eat too much because we hate ourselves too intensely to have the necessary respect for our own bodies. Our tragedy isn’t our unconstrained appetite. But rather, the difficulty we have in getting access to the emotional and psychological things that would nourish our broken souls. The diet industry has latched onto the symptoms of our unhappiness, not their causes - and therefore the solutions it offers can only ever be temporary and fragile. It can’t make us lastingly thin because it is not engaging with what made us manically fat.
- According to Psyche, about 270 million people around the world consumed drugs in 2018, a 30 per cent increase on the 10 years before. Close to 13 per cent of these people have a substance abuse disorder, a condition that affects the person’s brain and behaviour such that they have little control over their consumption of drugs. Groups such as people sleeping rough or those who are homeless are hit particularly hard by addiction: according to the Mental Health Foundation, the majority of homeless people struggle with substance abuse (more than 60 per cent) causing a dangerous number of deaths.
- Before the pandemic, alcohol was a central part of how many people socialised with their co-workers, even though research is clear that alcohol negatively impacts productivity and company performance. Experts are therefore now suggesting that companies support the abstainers and those who are just seeking to cut back, during the pandemic and beyond. In this spirit (no pun intended), Quartz published a guide to the "joy" of sobriety.
- Deaths caused by alcohol hit a new high during the first nine months of 2020, provisional figures for England and Wales showed. Between January and September, 5,460 of these deaths causes were registered - up 16% on the same months in 2019. It was the biggest toll recorded since the records began in 2001. As in past years, rates of male alcohol-specific deaths were twice those seen for women.
- Three million deaths occur every year as result from harmful use of alcohol, according to the World Health Organisation.In a study published in Scientific Reports, a Nature Research Journal, a team of researchers presented a proof of concept of a simple method that could become a game-changer in rescue therapy for severe alcohol intoxication, as well as just "sobering up". The team used a device that allows the patient to hyperventilate off the alcohol while returning precisely the amount of carbon dioxide to the body to keep it at normal levels in the blood - regardless of the extent of hyperventilation. The equipment is the size of a small briefcase and uses a valve system, some connecting tubes, a mask, and a small tank with compressed carbon dioxide.
- Addiction is not a moral failure, claimed Big Think, adding that it is a learning disorder, and viewing it otherwise stops communities and policy makers from the ultimate goal: harm reduction.Yet society's perceptions of drug addiction and its drug policies are illogical. Drug addiction is not a moral failure and the stereotypes about who gets addicted are not true. Policy that is built to punish drug users for their immorality only increases harm and death rates, adds Big Thnik.
- Curiosity lies at the heart of human achievement, including cave dwellers’ tools and complex societies. However, natural curiosity in children often diminishes as parents and others unwittingly discourage it. It then appears to be difficult for adults to (re-)develop. The authors of The Curiosity Advantage counter by arguing that, contrary to conventional wisdom, most people crave the ambiguity, change and novelty that ignite the curiosity that leads to learning. Curiosity can tap the reward and pleasure centres of your brain, they believe, sparking the release of dopamine, which permits new connections between neurons. Like anything that delivers pleasure, curiosity can grow addictive.
- About 300,000 people in the UK reportedly quit smoking because of the coronavirus pandemic and half a million more were trying to, according to a survey by the anti-smoking campaign, Ash. Another 2.4 million smokers were trying to cut back, having recognised that Covid-19 is a respiratory disease and that smoking wrecks lungs and harms immune systems.
- Alcohol abuse in Russia may have fallen sharply over the past 15 years, but with millions of Russians under home quarantine orders, vodka sales leapt 65% in just one week of March 2020, with hospitals saying they were gearing up for a host of alcohol-related admissions.
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- Drink is associated worldwide with 2.8m premature deaths a year. That’s about a million more than are killed by war, homicides and traffic combined. And alcohol’s supposed protective effects on the heart have been overblown.
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- Brewer Heineken gave away cans of its 0.0% alcohol-free beer to US-based customers to mark Dry January 2020, the public health alcohol abstention campaign. Customers sign up on a dedicated January Dry Pack website to receive a limited edition white and blue calendar, with one can of beer to open for each day of the month. To make the drink taste similar to ‘regular’ beer Heineken brews its 0.0% drink using the same ingredients, A-yeast and processes as alcoholic beer, before removing the alcohol.
- The number of men who smoke has dropped for the first time. The World Health Organisation believes that global smoking has reached a “turning point,” with the number of male smokers no longer rising, although its report did not look at vaping. The number of women smokers started declining earlier.
- While China accounts for a fifth of the world's population, the country lights up about one third of the world's cigarettes every year. Health experts say that's one factor behind soaring rates of diabetes there.
- Abstaining can be a form of self-discovery. Often we fall into a particular pattern or behaviour not because we’ve actively chosen it, or because it makes us happy, but because it’s become the default. Giving up alcohol or social media or online shopping or whatever for a spell can be a way to find out whether there’s a point at which it stops feeling like an absence at all, and starts feeling like life.
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- Russians are reportedly sobering up. Alcohol consumption dropped 43% from 2003 to 2016, and average life expectancies promptly spiked.
- A study published in the British Medical Journal found that people in Scotland are buying less aclcohol after it became the first country in the world to introduce minimum alcohol pricing, in 2018.
- People in Europe continue to consume more alcohol than in any other place in the world, according to the World Health Organisation. Rates of harmful alcohol consumption in Europe have not dropped as expected, even though all countries have signed the European Action Plan to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol 2012–2020, the WHO report shows. The “Status report on alcohol consumption, harm and policy responses in 30 European countries 2019”, which uses data gathered from 2010 to 2016, shows that over 290 000 people lose their life in Europe per year from alcohol-attributable causes, and urges stronger policy action by countries to help reduce the numbers. On average, adults in EU countries plus Norway and Switzerland (EU+) drink the equivalent of more than 2 bottles of wine per week.
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- The relationship between alcohol and antisocial behaviour is well documented - both anecdotally and in research. Plenty of arguments and fights stem from someone having had one too many. Scientists believe we behave like this when drunk because we misinterpret social situations and lose our sense of empathy. In essence, once we start slurring words and stumbling, our ability to understand or share the emotions of others goes out the door, too.
- The Financial Times noted that alcohol is largely confined to certain countries. Much of the world does not, for religious or cultural reasons, drink at all. Worldwide, in 2016, 57 per cent of those aged 15 or over had not drunk alcohol in the previous 12 months, according to World Health Organisation figures. Much drinking is confined to certain parts of the world. The only regions where more than half the over-15 population drank alcohol were the Americas, Europe and the western Pacific, the WHO said. The highest per capita consumption was in Europe, although European drinking had decreased, from 12.3 litres per person in 2005 to 9.8 litres in 2016.
- The idea of “binge drinking” typically conjures up images of college frat parties and the dread of the next day’s (days’) hangover. But not all binge drinkers are young adults - in fact, a growing number of them are senior citizens. A study published in 2018 analysed data from the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which asks thousands of respondents questions about their alcohol and drug use annually. Specifically, they homed in on alcohol use among adults 65 or older, and defined binge drinking as having four drinks in one sitting if respondents were women, and five drinks if respondents were men.
- Drinkers worldwide are slowing down, but not drying out entirely. The temperance movement for the new millennium is all about “sober-curiosity,” dabbling in a lower alcohol lifestyle, encouraged by a growing ranges of low/no alcohol substitute drinks.
- The price of opium extracted from poppies - the precursor of heroin - fell by 90% in parts of southwest Mexico over 18 months, possibly due to increased competition from heroin alternatives like fentanyl. Such price crashes hurt local farmers, contributing to other problems, such as a surge of migrants headed to the US border.
- Sober nightlife is emerging all over the world. While drinking alcohol has traditionally been a staple of grown-up social life in many countries, younger generations are changing that. Nonalcoholic beer is the fastest-growing segment in the beer industry. And individuals who don’t want to drink (for whatever reason - religion, recovery, health, or just because) value nonalcoholic or lower alcohol drinks and bars for what they don’t have. These consumers want the experience, without the hangover, and will pay just as much for it, believes TrendWatching.
- Nearly 1,200 people died from drugs in Scotland in 2018 - around 86% of cases involved opioids like heroin. Per capita, that's nearly three times the drug death rate for the whole UK and more than any other EU country.
- The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than 8 million people a year. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Around 80% of the 1.1 billion smokers worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest. Tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of healthcare and hinder economic development.
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- The Economist pointed to a study showing that regular use of potent cannabis, with levels of tetrahydrocannabinol above 10%, increases the risk of developing psychosis five-fold. The study, which looked at weed smoking in a group of patients newly diagnosed with psychosis, formed part of a growing body of evidence linking cannabis use to mental-health problems in Europe. In London, 30% of new cases of psychosis in the study were reckoned to be linked to strong cannabis.
- In 2017, the production of opium, the major ingredient in heroin, in Afghanistan increased by 65 percent to 10,500 tonnes, the highest total recorded by the UN Office of Drugs and Crime since it began collecting data in 2000. That’s in part because the Taliban has boosted production of the lucrative crop as it’s expanded control over Afghan territory, noted GZEROMedia.
- The School of Life warned that there are far more addicts than we think. Indeed, if we look at the matter squarely: we are pretty much all addicts. We need to define addiction in a new way: addiction is the manic reliance on something, anything, in order to keep our dark or unsettling thoughts at bay. What properly indicates addiction is not what someone is addicted to, for we can get addicted to pretty much anything. It is the motives behind their reliance on it.
- Dry January is mainly an exercise in mind training, claimed Quartz. Taking a break from alcohol has some physical benefits, but its biggest payoff is the skill of breaking a habit.
- China agreed to crack down on exports of the illicit drug fentanyl and its chemical precursors as part of a deal to diffuse trade tensions agreed with the US, at least according to the Trump administration. A record 70,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017 – many of them from opioids laced with fentanyl.
- Skin grafts could treat cocaine addiction, reported Quartz. A natural enzyme that breaks down the drug could be introduced by stem cells carrying a certain gene.
- The area under coca cultivation in Colombia reached a record high last year of 422,550 acres, according to a new UN report. That’s a 256 percent increase since 2013. Health-related cutbacks on crop spraying, poorly implemented crop substitution plans, and the entrance of narcotraffickers into regions surrendered by FARC guerillas have all contributed to the surge.
- Drug overdoses killed 72,287 people in the United States in 2017, a new record, noted GZEROMedia. A majority of the deaths, nearly 49,000, was caused by opioids. Compare that with 58,220 Americans killed in the Vietnam War.
- Alcohol consumption across North Africa and the Middle East is particularly low - in many countries, close to zero. At the upper end of the scale, alcohol intake across Eastern Europe is highest at 14-17 litres per person per year across Belarus, Russia, Czech Republic and Lithuania.
- A large new global study published in the Lancet confirmed previous research which has shown that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. The researchers admit moderate drinking may protect against heart disease but found that the risk of cancer and other diseases outweighs these protections. A study author said its findings were the most significant to date because of the range of factors considered. The Global Burden of Disease study looked at levels of alcohol use and its health effects in 195 countries, between 1990 and 2016.
- There is a moral panic over “addiction” to tech that’s based on weak data, argued Quartz.
- A renowned psychologist called for a stronger recognition of the social nature of our worsening global addiction problem, warning that, beginning in the 19th century, western society has tried all the religious, coercive, medical, and compassionate solutions that we have on addiction but the problem is, if anything, getting worse.
- Many people now find it genuinely hard to control and limit the time they spend on the internet, and show signs not just of distraction but of real addiction. The reward pathways of our brain can perhaps be hijacked by stimuli, leading us to become addicted to "consumptive behaviours".
- A Scottish Clinic Will Now Treat "Cryptocurrency Addiction"
- There is a lack of consensus as to what may properly be termed "addiction". Addiction describes a chronic pattern of behaviour that continues despite the direct or indirect adverse consequences that result from engaging in the behaviour. It is quite common for an addict to express the desire to stop the behaviour, but find himself or herself unable to cease.
- Positive addictions may prevent violence. Getting children into the habit of participating in activities such as school sports or music can, according to researchers lead to less fighting and fewer court referrals and gang-related activities. Such programmes cultivate the development of protective assets, such as stronger relationships with family members and mentors and the pursuit of "positive addictions" such as fitness, learning a musical instrument etc.