Please see below selected recent addiction-related change.
- 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.
- Further reading:
- 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.
- Further reading:
- 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.
- Further reading:
- 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.
- Further reading:
- 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.
- Further reading:
- 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.