Monday March 30, 2020

Social environment may influence alcoholism and drug abuse

"Alcohol problems involve biological, psychological and social aspects. Therefore, intervening in the social connections of alcohol abusers may help to mitigate the damage done by alcohol misuse"

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Drug abuse Image Source: ncadd.org
  • The findings showed that the links between substance use and social connections are bi-directional and strong
  • Nearly 20 per cent of relationship terminations pose a relapse risk to the patients
  • On the other hand around 10 per cent of relationship terminations occur because of the patients’ continued use of substances.

Social relationships including family and friends play a key role in an individual’s recovery from substance-abuse problems and at the same time may also negatively influence them to become an addict, finds a study.

The findings showed that the links between substance use and social connections are bi-directional and strong.

“Our data show that social mechanisms substantially affect clinical outcomes over long periods of time,” said Robert L. Stout, a scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, a US based non-profit organisation.

Often after treatment for substance abuse problems, clinicians urge patients to avoid ‘bad’ social contacts and foster ‘good’ ones, the study said.

Alcohol desgracia Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Alcohol desgracia Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

“How clients change their social connections after treatment is a strong indicator of substance abuse outcomes one year and three years later,” Stout added.”

Nearly 20 per cent of relationship terminations pose a relapse risk to the patients.

On the other hand around 10 per cent of relationship terminations occur because of the patients’ continued use of substances.

Family and partner relationships are the least likely to end (roughly 20 per cent over two years), but about half of friendships seem to end over the span of two years.

Substance abuse strongly affects families and friends of alcohol abusers, accounting for much of the harm due to alcohol abuse, said the paper that underlines the importance of investigating how we can address social mechanisms in treatment to improve outcomes.

“Alcohol problems involve biological, psychological and social aspects. Therefore, intervening in the social connections of alcohol abusers may help to mitigate the damage done by alcohol misuse,” Stout suggested.

The team followed patients’ undergoing treatment for drugs and alcohol for two years to examine how changes in new and old relationships are linked to substance abuse.

They focused on factors associated with relationship break ups, observing how different types of relationships affect and are affected by substance use.

The researchers also looked at how relationship changes ultimately affected treatment outcomes.

The results were presented at the 39th Annual Research Society on Alcoholism in New Orleans, recently. (Source: IANS)

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    Yes, social environment does affect a person’s indulgence in alcohol and drugs

Next Story

Coronavirus Turns Patient’s Cells Into Virus Factories

When COVID-19 Attacks, Patient's Cells Turn into Virus Factories

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corona virus
Having no equipment of its own, the virus commandeers the cell's machinery to make copies of its genetic code. Pixabay

By Steve Baragona

When the COVID-19 virus attacks, it turns the patient’s own cells into virus factories. This is the latest health and science research.

It starts at the surface of the cell, when the virus latches on to a protein that normally helps regulate the patient’s blood pressure. The cell unwittingly brings the virus inside, where the attacker unloads its cargo: instructions for making more virus.

Having no equipment of its own, the virus commandeers the cell’s machinery to make copies of its genetic code, manufacture more virus shells and deliver packaged germs to the cell surface, where they go on to infect more cells.  

Drugs already on pharmacists’ shelves act on various parts of that machinery. Though they may not be intended as antiviral drugs, in the scramble to treat the rising toll of COVID-19 infections, scientists are hoping that these existing drugs might offer some help.

corona virus
An employee of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, demonstrates research workflow on a vaccine for the corona virus (COVID-19) disease at a laboratory in Tuebingen, Germany. VOA

“We don’t have the luxury of a five-year drug discovery program. We need the agents now,” said Warner Greene, a physician and researcher at the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology. 

The search has turned up some oddball candidates. Anti-cancer drugs, heart disease medications, a drug against schizophrenia and a treatment for Parkinson’s disease have all turned up as possibilities. Testing is already under way for chloroquine, an antimalarial drug.

Mysterious ways 

Despite all the science behind drug development, scientists often don’t know exactly how medications work.

“In a lot of cases, we don’t know all their mechanisms of action. Sometimes we actually find that there are effects that we didn’t recognize initially,” said University of Manitoba virologist Jason Kindrachuk.

These therapies also may prove useful because drugs frequently have multiple effects. Our cells often use the same machinery to do different jobs, Kindrachuk said, and a drug that acts on one part of the machinery may produce more than one result.

Sometimes the results are unwanted side effects. But sometimes they offer opportunities to treat entirely different conditions.

When bald men taking the blood pressure medication minoxidil grew hair, the drug was repurposed as the blockbuster hair-growth product Rogaine.

Viagra was originally developed to treat chest pains from heart disease. Its impacts on erectile dysfunction were an unexpected — and lucrative — surprise.

corona virus
Researchers at the Microbiology Research Facility work with coronavirus samples as a trial begins to see whether malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine can prevent or reduce the severity of the corona virus disease (COVID-19), at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. VOA

Better together 

But a drug designed for something else may not work as well against a virus.

“I do think that we might find a drug that’s moderately effective, or several drugs that are moderately effective.” And then the question is, what if you put those two moderately effective drugs together? Can they synergize and can you get a very potent antiviral? That’s our plan,”  Greene said.

His group is screening thousands of drugs to see if they work against the virus in a test tube. He hopes to have results in two or three months. Several teams are pursuing similar strategies, using robots to run large numbers of tests at once.

Other scientists are working to unravel how the virus interacts with the different processes happening inside human cells, and looking for drugs that act on those processes.

Also Read- WhatsApp Experiences Greatest Gains Amid Lockdown

It’s very early-stage research. Any drug that looks good in these tests would need to be tested on animals, and then on small groups of people, to be sure it does not do more harm than good.

Greene cautions there is a long way to go.

“It’s a first step,” he said. “There’s lots of false leads there. But there are leads.” (VOA)