200 Million Illicit Drug Users Worldwide

Illicit drug usage is practiced by approximately 200 million people globally, Australian researchers reported in the medical journal The Lancet. High-income nations have the highest rates, and disease burdens related to drugs are comparable to the health toll caused by alcohol consumption. The authors explained that expert estimates of global illicit drug usage range from 142 to 271 million people - approximately 1 in every 20 people aged from 15 to 64 years. Authors, Professor Louisa Degenhardt, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, and the Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia; and Professor Wayne Hall, University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, Brisbane, Australia, wrote that the disease burden caused by illegal drug usage is very high in rich nations, for example, in Australia it is about the same as the burden caused by alcohol consumption, but significantly less than tobacco. Because of the very nature of illicit drugs - they are illegal - it is difficult to gather accurate and reliable data and statistics. It is a serious challenge for health authorities and services to properly determine how many of their citizens are problem users, dependent, or being harmed by taking cocaine, amphetamines or cannabis. The authors explain that these are some of the unintentional negative consequences of making such drugs illegal. The limitations in gathering accurate and reliable data on the related harms and health burdens attributable to inhalants, non-medical usage of benzodiazepines, or anabolic steroids means that their extents of use have never been properly estimated. According to data the authors managed to collect, there are globally about: 125-203 million cannabis users 14-56...

What Is a Hangover? What Causes a Hangover?

A hangover is a collection of signs and symptoms linked to a recent bout of heavy drinking. The sufferer typically has aheadache, feels sick, dizzy, sleepy, confused and thirsty. Hangovers can occur at any time of day, but are usually more common the morning after a night of heavy drinking. As well as physical symptoms, the person may also experience elevated levels of anxiety, regret, shame, embarrassment, as well as depression. The severity of a hangover is closely linked to how much alcohol was consumed, and whether the sufferer had enough sleep. The less sleep the worse the hangover. It is impossible really to say how much alcohol can be safely consumed to avoid a hangover - it depends on the individual, his/her circumstances that day, how tired they were before their drinking started, whether they were already dehydrated before the drinking began, whether they drank plenty of water during their drinking session, how much sleep they got afterwards, etc. In the vast majority of cases, hangovers go away after about 24 hours. Responsible drinking can help avoid hangovers - this is covered further down the page. What are the signs and symptoms of a hangover? A symptom is something the sufferer or patient feels and describes, such as feeling thirsty or a headache, while a sign is something everybody, including the doctor or nurse can detect, such as bloodshot eyes, or a rash. The signs and symptoms of a hangover generally start to occur when the drinker's blood alcohol drops considerably - typically, the morning after a night of high alcohol consumption, and may include: Accelerated heartbeat Anxiety Bloodshot eyes...

Facebook Addiction – New Psychological Scale

Researchers in Norway have published anew psychological scale to measure Facebook addiction, the first of its kind worldwide. They write about their work in the April 2012 issue of the journalPsychological Reports. They hope that researchers will find the new psychometric tool useful in investigating problem behavior linked to Facebook use. However, an accompanying article suggests a more useful approach might be to measureaddiction to social networking as an activity, rather than addiction to a specific product like Facebook. This is particularly relevant given that Facebook is now more than a social networking site (for instance users can watch videos and films, gamble and play games on the site) and social networking is not confined to Facebook. The new measure is called the BFAS, short for the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale and is the work of Dr. Cecilie Andraessen at the University of Bergen (UiB), Norway, and colleagues. Andreassen currently leads the Facebook Addiction research project at UiB. In their paper, Andraessen and colleagues describe how they started out with a pool of 18 items made up of three items for each of the six core elements of addiction: salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, and relapse. In January 2011, they invited 423 students (227 women and 196 men) to complete the draft BFAS questionnaire, along with a battery of other standardized self-report scales of personality, sleep, sociability, attitudes towards Facebook, and addictive tendencies. Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale Eventually, Andraessen and colleagues finalized the BFAS to six basic criteria, with participants asked to give one the following 5 responses to each one: (1) Very rarely, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, and...

Internet Addiction Linked To White Matter Differences In Teen Brains

Researchers in China who compared the brain scans of 18 teenagers diagnosed with Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) with those of 18 non-addicted teenagers found differences in white matter density in over 20 brain regions. A report on their findings was published online in the 11 January issue of PLoS ONE. All the participants had a brain scan from which the researchers assessed the density and structure of the white matter. White matter contains fibers that carry the signals various parts of the brain use to communicate with each another. The researchers, who came from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other research centers in China, also assessed a range of behavioral features such as addiction, anxiety, emotional disorder, social relationships, family functioning and time management and compared the results from the group diagnosed with IAD with the non-IAD group. They found the participants in the IAD group performed less well in some of the behavioral assessments, including an additional measure of addiction, a questionnaire that assesses emotional conduct and problems in relationships, and a measure that screens for anxiety-related emotional disorders. Also, when the researchers compared brain regions they observed to be different between the groups with the results of their behavioral assessments, they found that worse (ie less "healthy") scores on two of the behavioral measures were linked to lower white matter density in two specific brain regions. The researchers conclude that their findings show IAD is "characterised by impairment of white matter fibres connecting brain regions involved in emotional generation and processing, executive attention, decision making and cognitive control". At this point we might mistakenly assume that because the researchers...
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