Around 40 percent of people in the study were either self-confessed addicts or addicts-in-denial.
The addict’s failure to form an accurate mental model of their behaviour is partly why they find it so hard to quit.
People sensitive to the temptations of alcohol could focus on their mission, purpose and values in life.
Cheap supplements could help to fight opioid addiction.
Vitamin D deficiency may exaggerate the desire for opioids, so increasing the risk of addiction, a study finds.
It suggests that simple and cheap vitamin D supplements could help to fight opioid addiction.
The study found that mice with a vitamin D deficiency more easily became addicted to morphine, a type of opioid.
When the morphine was taken away from them, those with vitamin D deficiency suffered more withdrawal symptoms.
An analysis of health records also showed that humans with a severe vitamin D deficiency are 90 percent more likely to use opioids than those with normal vitamin D levels.
Similarly, those deficient in vitamin D are more likely to be diagnosed with an opioid use disorder.
Dr Lajos V. Kemény, the study’s first author, said:
“Our goal in this study was to understand the relationship between vitamin D signaling in the body and UV-seeking and opioid-seeking behaviors.”
Why humans are sunseekers
The study was inspired by the question of why human beings seek out sunshine when it is potentially so bad for the skin.
Exposure to the sun is the primary cause of skin cancer and ages the skin prematurely.
One answer is that sunshine is necessary for the production of vitamin D in the body.
Without it, people are at risk of weak bones and a host of other health conditions.
When the sun strikes the skin, not only does it help the body manufacture vitamin D, it also produce endorphins.
Endorphins, which make people feel good, are chemically related to morphine, heroine and other opioids.
All these compounds activate the same receptors in the brain.
So, people seek out the sun not just because the body needs to produce vitamin D, but also because they want the feel-good rush of endorphins.
Vitamin D and addiction
These ideas led to the current mouse study, which tested the effects of vitamin D deficiency on their addictive behaviours.
Dr Kemény said:
“We found that modulating vitamin D levels changes multiple addictive behaviors to both UV and opioids.”
Professor David E. Fisher, study co-author, said:
“When we corrected vitamin D levels in the deficient mice, their opioid responses reversed and returned to normal.
Our results suggests that we may have an opportunity in the public health arena to influence the opioid epidemic.”
The study was published in the journal Science Advances (Kemény et al., 2021).
As many as one-in-six people could have signs of ‘severely problematic’ news consumption, which suggests an addiction-like state.
Vaping doubles the rate at which people quit smoking compared to nicotine patches.
Electronic cigarettes are almost twice as effective as previous therapies to quit smoking, research finds.
Almost one-in-five people using e-cigarettes in the study were smoke-free after one year.
This compares to the usual rate of just one-in-ten people using nicotine replacement therapies.
The use of e-cigarettes, also known as ‘vaping’, may be more effective because it is easier to get the right nicotine dose.
They also mirror the behavioural aspects of smoking, which other nicotine replacement therapies do not.
E-cigarettes deliver the addictive drug nicotine in a vapour that is inhaled, without the damaging effects of real cigarettes.
Professor Peter Hajek, who led the study, said:
“This is the first trial to test the efficacy of modern e-cigarettes in helping smokers quit.
E-cigarettes were almost twice as effective as the ‘gold standard’ combination of nicotine replacement products.
Although a large number of smokers report that they have quit smoking successfully with the help of e-cigarettes, health professionals have been reluctant to recommend their use because of the lack of clear evidence from randomised controlled trials.
This is now likely to change.”
The UK study included 886 smokers who either received nicotine replacement therapy or e-cigarettes.
Not only were e-cigarettes almost twice as effective at getting people to quit, the results showed, they were also more popular.
E-cigarette users reported:
- Fewer cigarette cravings.
- Less irritability and inability to concentrate
- Less coughing and phlegm production after 52 weeks.
Dr Dunja Przulj, study co-author, said:
“The UK specialist stop smoking services will now be more likely to include e-cigarettes among their treatment options, and health professionals will feel more comfortable in recommending e-cigarettes as a stop-smoking intervention.
This may ultimately further accelerate the reduction in smoking and in smoking related diseases.”
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Hajek et al., 2019).
Even low-level gambling is linked to poor health, social isolation and death.
Frequent gambling increases the risk of dying by over one-third, new research finds.
It may be partly because gamblers spend less on their health and well-being, including fitness activities, education and hobbies.
The most frequent gamblers spend 58 percent of their income on gambling, with one-in-ten spending 8 percent on their habit.
Gamblers take out more payday loans, miss mortgage payments and take unplanned overdrafts.
Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that gamblers are more likely to be awake and spending at night as well as being socially isolated.
Dr Naomi Muggleton, the study’s first author, said:
“To me, the striking finding is the extent to which even low levels of gambling are associated with harm.
For many years, there has been a focus on outcomes among the most extreme gamblers.
Our work shows that financial distress, social ills, and poorer health are more prevalent among low level gamblers.”
The study examined the banking transactions of over 100,000 people in the UK.
These revealed that the average spending on gambling was £1,345 per year, with some gamblers spending a lot more.
Gambling was linked to all sorts of problems: with credit cards, mortgages, loans and overdrafts.
The study revealed that gambling is a very ‘sticky’ behaviour, with gambling quickly becoming a habit.
They study’s authors write:
“We find that, for example, three years earlier around half of the highest-spending gamblers were already gambling heavily, while only six months before, over 6.9% of these heavy gamblers were not gambling at all, highlighting the fast acceleration with which some individuals can transition into heavy gambling.”
As with any associational study, the cause is unclear, said Dr Muggleton:
“It’s unclear whether gambling causes negative outcomes, or whether already vulnerable people are disproportionately targeted by bookmakers, for example through advertising and locating betting shops in impoverished neighborhoods.
Either of these relationships is worrying and could have implications for public health policies.”
The study was published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour (Muggleton et al., 2021).
Young people are at particular risk now because of the COVID pandemic.
The emotion protected people from problem gambling.
Deaths from overdoses of opioids, methadone, cocaine and heroine are at all-time highs in the US.