News From Our Blog

Brain Research Shows how Nicotine can be a Gateway Drug

Over 90 percent of adult cocaine users between the ages of 18 and 34 report that they smoked cigarettes before using cocaine. This led scientists to wonder if nicotine changes our brains by making them more sensitive to cocaine and other illicit drugs.

A recent study in mice showed that nicotine had an effect on certain genes in the brain that could make them more susceptible to cocaine addiction.

When exposed to nicotine those genes worked harder, making it easier for the brain to become addicted to cocaine. The effect only happened to mice brains exposed to nicotine before cocaine, and not the other way around. The research suggests that reducing smoking in young people may help reduce the risk of later cocaine abuse and addiction.

To read more about this research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), visit the NIH Research Matters Blog.

Drop Off Your Unused or Expired Medications

More than seven million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs. Studies show that most of the drugs are obtained from family and friends’ home medicine cabinets.

This Saturday, October 29, you can dispose of unused, unwanted, or expired medications at a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day collection site. 

Find a drug collection site near you. New collection sites are being added daily.

If you can’t participate in Prescription Drug Take Back Day, lean how to safely and properly dispose of unused medicines.

Drug and Alcohol Overdoses for Young Adults Up Dramatically

According to the National Institutes of Health, hospitalizations among 18 to 24-year-olds increased between 1999 and 2008 by

  • 25 percent for alcohol overdoses
  • 56 percent for drug overdoses
  • 76 percent for combined alcohol and drug overdoses.
  • 122 percent increase for poisonings from opioid pain meds like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin

Signs of alcohol or drug overdose can vary. Some signs to look for include abnormal breathing, drowsiness, sweating, agitation or confusion.

If you suspect that someone has overdosed on drugs and/or alcohol, call 911 immediately. People who have passed out could die, so you shouldn’t wait.

Learn more about first aid for overdoses of drugs and alcohol. You can also find a substance abuse treatment center for yourself or a friend.