Friday, 31 May 2013

Males and females show differences in binge eating tendencies

A Michigan State University led study has revealed differences in how male and female rats are likely to binge eat.This study is the first of its kind to discern full sex differences in the rates of binge eating likelihood amongst animals.

This is, of course, exciting in its potential to help humans. The recorded chance of binge eating in female rats was discovered to be a huge four to ten times higher when compared to their male counterparts.

The difference between sexes if profound and intruiging. Kelly Klump, main author of the study states that “Most theories of why eating disorders are so much more prevalent in females than males focus on the increased cultural and psychological pressure that girls and women face,” “But this study suggests that biological factors likely contribute as well, since female rats do not experience the psychosocial pressures that humans do, such as pressures to be thin.”

This is a critical element of the study. Tell your standard individual that women are more likely to suffer from eating disorders and it is likely to be rationalized; women at greater pressure to conform to the standards of beauty, made to feel inadequate by constant bombarding with advertisements and magazines shouting the idea of the illusive perfect body. But of course, rats have none of these issues. The difference in likelihood to suffer from an eating disorder has been discovered in animals, not humans.

The study was conducted in the manner of a feeding experiment. A total of sixty rats divided evenly between male and female were used over a period of fourteen days. Slowly, the food was replaced with frosting. This gave the results of the female rats being up to six times more likely to binge eat when compared to the male group.

The difference may be down to the structure of the brain and how it differs between sexes. The researchers of the study are continuing their testing, attempting to discern if the female rat brain is wired to have a different level of sensitivity in regards to reward stimuli like high fat or sugar dense food.

If further specific results can be found in this area, it is hoped that it will lead to greater understanding of the differences between men and women with eating disorders, helping treat sufferers more specifically and accurately.

For more information on eating disorders and addiction, please visit the Life Works Community website.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Heroin users are branching out to new drugs

Recently released research from the charity, Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI), shows 75% of heroin addicts in Dublin are also dependent on other drugs.

During a study at an MQI needle exchange, researchers found that half of heroin addicts shot up at least 6 times per week and two thirds of addicts were also using drugs like methadone, benzodiazepine tranquilisers, cannabis, alcohol, steroids and cocaine.

In an interview, Tony Geoghegan, MQI chief executive said, "The report confirms people are still using heroin, but polydrug use is now the dominant trend. This means detox services in Ireland have to match the need. In Ireland there are currently no detox options for this group."

Most of the current crop of detox centres focus on people addicted to a single drug. This makes them less effective for people with multiple addictions and often leaves people with only a partial solution to their drug problem.

Potentially more worrying is the fact that 27% of the 338 study participants admitted to sharing needles or other injecting equipment in the past month. This risky behaviour contributes to both the prevalence of HIV in and hepatitis in the injection drug community.

Read more.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Virtual reality could be used to treat eating disorders

Research conducted in Spain has highlighted the possibility of virtual reality computer programs as a means to help educate individuals suffering from eating disorders.

The study was based around several different scenarios created electronically. The subject of body image disturbance is a significant indicator of possible eating disorders, with individuals suffering from, for instance, bulimia or binge eating viewing their bodies as smaller or larger than reality, respectively. The idea of employing technology in the form of computer programs was first analyzed in 2003, with the recent Canada based follow-up shedding new light on the possibilities of this type of support.

In one of the scenarios created for the purpose of the study, participants were tasked with adjusting the proportions of a computerized body until they felt it matched their own physical bodies. This allowed for clear and immediate indication of an individual being out of touch with their true physical size.

 Another scenario portrayed a door, with a body shown as prepared to enter sideways. In this computerized scenario, the participant was asked to remove strips within the doorway until they felt their body could fit through the door sideways.

 The results of the study have been both interesting and promising. It was found that the addition of these virtual reality scenarios indeed aided in reduction of eating disorder symptoms. This was compared to just cognitive therapy and was found to be more effective.

Read full story here.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Does smoking cannabis mean you are lazy?

Individuals who smoke cannabis on a regular basis may find they experience lower energy levels compared to those who do not, researchers from the Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction have suggested.

Acknowledging that only nine per cent of people who use marijuana become dependent on the substance, scientists did not that the drug can still cause several problems for those people who smoke it fairly often.

The study revealed that a person's likelihood of experiencing cannabis-related problems can be linked to their working memory and impulsivity.

By using subjects who were smoking marijuana around two times per week, the study - which was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence - concentrated on those people who did not experience withdrawal symptoms after refraining from inhaling the substance for 24 hours.

Read more.

Friday, 17 May 2013

online porn is ruining romance in relationships?

According to a study conducted by Cosmopolitan magazine, some couples are experiencing problems with their romance as a result of a growing desire among young men to watch adult films on the internet.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

More Teens Abusing Prescription Drugs

A national study in the USA has found that one in four teens have misused or abused prescription medications at least once in their lifetime. This is an increase of 33% in the last five years alone.

The research, which was run with data from The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study or PATS shows that 13% of teens report taking Ritalin or Adderall without a prescription.

“This data makes it very clear: the problem is real, the threat immediate and the situation is not poised to get better,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Partnership at

“Parents fear drugs like cocaine or heroin and want to protect their kids. But the truth is that when misused and abused, medicines — especially stimulants and opioids — can be every bit as dangerous and harmful as illicit street drugs.”

A big part of the problem may be caused by ill-informed parents. Research indicates that almost one third of parents believe prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin can help students study even if they are not prescribed and the child does not have ADHD.

Read More.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Can changing the way companies advertise alcohol save people lives?

With the average Irish drinker consuming the equivalent of a bottle of whiskey per week in Ireland, doctors are looking for ways to lower the countries consumption rates. 

In 2012 A proposal was put forward to the Department of Health Steering Group  that would phase-out alcohol sponsorships for sporting and cultural events by 2016. The group Alcohol Action Ireland sees the practice of alcohol sponsorship as a form of early indoctrination. They described Irish drinking culture as a conveyor belt that creates a steady supply of heavy drinkers that will support the alcohol industry. The alcohol advertising is a sign of this trend they say.

Professor Joe Barry of Alcohol Action Ireland said that many of the sporting bodies that benefit most from alcohol advertising flat out deny or dismiss the evidence of the harm they are incurring.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Springwatch presenter opens up about Anorexia past

A television presenter has opened up about the eating disorder she suffered with for several years while attempting to maintain some control in her life.

Michaela Strachan said the anorexia that saw her weight plummet to dangerous lows came about as a result of her "sheltered middle-class world" falling apart.

During an interview with the Daily Mail, the Springwatch and Autumnwatch presenter admitted she would fast and survive on as little food as possible in a bid to keep the excess pounds off.

The 46-year-old also revealed that she became obsessed with monitoring her weight on the scales and would make herself vomit if the needle edged even slightly above her ideal weight.

"I ate virtually nothing all day. You’d think I would have collapsed with exhaustion, but the feeling of light-headedness was addictive," Strachan explained.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Addiction Invades Afghanistan

While Afghanistan produces 90% of all the opiate derived drugs world-wide, they have never had a major addiction problem until now.

There are now more than one million drug addicts out of a total population of 35 million. This makes Afghanistan the country with the most drug addicts per capita. These addicts are not simply people living on the fringes of society either. There are doctors, engineers, and other professionals.

The cause of this rise in addiction rates is complex. Many of the countries former addicts fled to escape the violence that has been rife for the last 30 years. These addicts took shelter in Pakistan and Iran where there is a high rate of addiction and a ready supply of drugs.  Now that Afghanistan is in a period of relative peace, the addicts are returning and bringing both their drug habit and their narcotics connections with them.

Another factor driving the high rate of addiction is the 40% unemployment rate in Afghanistan. In an interview with the BBC, one addict said that if he had a job, he would never be buying drugs.
Besides the high rate of unemployment and the returning addicts, A major reason for the skyrocketing rate of addiction in Afghanistan is refinement. Historically, the poppies that are used to make heroin were grown in Afghanistan and then the raw plants were transported to other countries to be refined. Now many more Afghans are simply refining the drug themselves which has made a cheap and abundant supply readily available. That means people who may never have seen drugs like heroin have easy access and no education as to the drugs consequences.

"Traditionally, what we tend to argue is that the demand causes the supply," says Jean-Luc Lemahieu, regional representative of the UN drugs agency UNODC, in a BBC interview. “What we have forgotten, though, is that… the sheer appearance of that product on the market causes a local demand."

This is made worse by the fact that opiates like heroin have been used as a traditional medicine in Afghanistan for centuries. People see it as a cure all and it is often taken as a cure all for everything from headaches, coughs and pain. This means there are many families where both parents and children are addicted and in need of help.

Currently women and children make up around 40% of the countries addicts and there are few if any treatment options available. The entire country has 95 addiction treatment centres with enough beds to hold 2,305 people. These are run on a budget of $2.2million per year. That means there is about $2 to spend on each addict per year.

Many of these treatment centres only offer a detox which consists of going cold turkey for 72 hours. This will leave many addicts without the proper treatment or help they need to reclaim their lives and start meaningful recovery.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

What can we learn from youth binge drinking?

It is a simple fact that many of us begin drinking at different ages. While a taboo
subject, it is now increasingly common that children just before or just entering their
teenage years are drinking heavily. While an unpleasant subject it is one that cannot
be ignored. That said, some individuals start drinking much later in their teenage
years, around or on the legal limit. Others do not touch alcohol until they are in their
twenties. This can depend on a huge variety of different reasons, such as location,
upbringing and family nature.

New information has come to light that shows how those that choose to drink alcohol
from a much earlier age may be affecting their adult lives in ways we just did not
consider before. This is a new trend of thought that is backed up by recent research,
and the results of it are as intriguing as they are alarming. Risky behaviours, for
instance sexual activity or the choice to experiment with drugs are seen to be a
possible end result of the choice to drink alcohol at a younger age.

This is opposed to the more understood topic of adult alcohol consumption. Until
much recently, it was generally considered as a stable and more consistent subject
across most age rangers, but these new studies are showing this up as not true at all.
While adults are more socially accepted as drinkers, it is the simple fact of the matter
that children younger and younger are starting to drink, and drink heavily. This new
aspect of our culture must be addressed and understood in more detail if we are to
ensure the health of our future generations.

The key to this issue and solving it to as extensively a degree as is possible is
removing the taboo. It is vital that we become more willing to openly discuss the
matter of the very young experimenting with drugs and alcohol, instead of viewing
it as a blanket failing. With increased access to information and a globalized society,
it is not suprising that children are becoming much more aware of the possible
enjoyments available to them at a younger age. This is a new problem that has come
with technology and has its own challenges and issues that come with it.

These new studies are encouraging in that they show the clear possibility of distinct
differences in adults that have begun drinking at an early age, compared to those who
have not. Armed with the awareness of this difference we can justify more research
into the problem of youth drinking, and as a result of this research serve our future
generations in a more complete and compassionate manner. It goes without saying
that burying our heads in the sand regarding the unpleasant subject of youth substance
abuse will do worse than nothing; it will allow time to pass that could have been used
learning, and that learning could save and alter the paths of many lives.

For more information, please visit the Life Works Community website.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Are the parents to blame for their children's addictive personalities?

Addictive personality types are a set of traits that many people have which make
them vulnerable to addiction. Studies indicate to some degree that these types of
people use their addictive vices as a way to overcome different types of stresses in
their lives.It is a typical theme that these people that abuse various substances have
negative self image or look down upon themselves and their lives.

Drugs are not the only thing these people usually tend towards. It is the case that
there are many people that will end up harming others or themselves through their
addictions. Common outlets for these personality types tend towards being things
like alcohol, video gaming or pornography, along with drugs. These behaviors
appear to be addictive due to the psychology of the individual that creates this
response. There are however many different outlets for the personality type of
addictive. It is often the case that the person in question will swap between different
addictions at distinct times.

There is however much debate over how these personality types emerge. Quite a
few people believe that it is based on psychological influences, although some others
believe it to be biological. Studies do exist that appear to show that adults who have
parents that are already addicted to something are up to 70% more likely to form an
addiction of their very own. Some think that these psychological influences cause
addictive behaviour due to the simple fact that we now have personality traits
responsible. Researchers have studied these kinds of factors, discovering that
existing addictions tend to be in people that are impulsive, stressed and sometimes
lacking in ambition.

Environmental factors may also have a part in these situations, causing triggers of
addictive responses in people prone towards it. As an individual gets significantly
more stressed and overwhelmed in where they are, if an addictive personality type is
found it is likely they will respond with an addictive move. There are studies that
seem to prove that those that have had poor upbringings are more likely to grow
addictive personality types as a way to cope.Various signs and symptoms exists for
people such as this.Impulsive actions are widespread. These people, when put in a
harmful situation, are much more likely to not look at the effects of their choices and
act impulsively.Antisocial nature can also be common in these forms of people.
Insecurity and the sense of being disliked is common, making them distance from
their friends and society. Other frequent signs are depression, with many feeling as if
they are the only ones on the planet that suffer from their issues, and that help is not
possible. Whether or not personalities prone to addiction are generated by the
environment, traits or the genetics of the individual, signs of this always exist and
favorable outlets are possible for those suffering.

For more information about addiction and addictive personalities visit the Life Works Community site.

Does liking strange food combinations indicate an eating disorder?

The nature of eating disorders is usually extremely secretive, as many sufferers keep their conditions behind closed doors for as long as possible. In many cases, individuals are too ashamed to come clean to their loved ones about their struggle with food, as they are embarrassed their illness will not be taken seriously. Very often, they spend a lot of time hiding their bodies under baggy clothes in a bid to keep their condition - during which they starve themselves or binge eat - to themselves. Please click to read more.