Christian Drug Rehab

Why Drug Studies Aren’t Enough

Drug studies are essential because they create awareness about particular drug problems. They are most impacting as a prevention tool. However, after one has crossed the line into addiction, awareness had to be coupled with the willingness to get better in order to effect real change. Two important drug studies published this week were related to ecstasy and bath salts – drugs that are mostly popular among teens and young adults in the US.

On Wednesday, July 25th the journal Addiction revealed that ecstasy, even if used over short periods of time, may impair memory function. Scientists analyzed 149 new ecstasy users who had used ecstasy less than 5 times total and then re-examined them a year later. Out of the 109 subjects who returned, 66 took an average of 32 ecstasy pills each throughout the year. Despite the high average, some took as few as 10 throughout the year. Regardless of how much was taken, they all showed impaired function of their immediate and short-term memory compared to how they performed on tests initially. This suggests damage to the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory function. These findings hardly came as a surprise, as ecstasy has long been suspected as cognitively dangerous by health officials.

The Journal of Behavioral Science revealed the addictive qualities of bath salts this week through a study using the  “intracranial self-stimulation” (ICSS) method. This method tests the reward system in the brain, often used on mice by training them to run on a wheel in order to be rewarded by stimulating electrodes implanted in their brains. The ICSS models addiction because, over time, the brain craves the reward associated with an activity, even if the activity, like drug addiction, causes self-harm.According to Dr. C.J. Malanga of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, “If you let them, an animal will work to deliver self-stimulation to the exclusion of everything else—it won’t eat, it won’t sleep.” Scientists have found that mice will continue to run and ignore other needs particularly when the reward is cocaine, because it increases their sensitivity to reward stimulation. The study published this week revealed that the mice’s sensitivity to reward stimulation was just as strong with bath salts as it was with cocaine.

Both studies provide excellent cautionary evidence – if you do ecstasy you risk memory impairment, and if you do bath salts, you are at risk of getting addicted to the drug known for making people tail-spin into psychosis to the point of suicide, violent acts and even murder. These informational warning serve as a great deterrent for those who have not yet used drugs. However, for the one who is already addicted, information and warnings often aren’t enough. Addicts can know the ill effects of the drugs but until those effects have started impacting their lives directly, until they can see the devastation clearly or until they have reached their “bottom,” the warnings are ignored.The person struggling with addiction has to see how the warnings have come true in their lives and often need a sense of willingness to get help. That willingness comes through experiencing the devastating impacts of their drug abuse.  Sometimes this is difficult with the subset of the population that uses ecstasy and bath salts because they are younger, more susceptible to peer pressure. However, willingness can come after one has been intervened upon and placed into addiction treatment. Once the addict is removed from the drugs – ecstasy, bath salts or others – through drug treatment, they are able to think more clearly. It is then they are able to see the actualization of the warnings in drug studies and a sense of willingness to stay drug free creeps in.

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