Tag Archives: cocaine

Americans spend $150 billion a year on illicit drugs

The amount of money spent by Americans on cannabis, cocaine, and heroin in 2016 reached $150 billion, according to a RAND Corporation report. The study showed that most of the spending came from a small share of people who use drugs on a daily or near-daily basis.

Credit: Flickr

The amount spent on these four drugs fluctuated between $120 and $145 billion per year between 2006 and 2016, according to the research. This is comparable with the $158 billion spent by Americans on alcohol in 2017, according to a different analysis.

“To better understand changes in drug use outcomes and the effects of policies, policymakers need to know what is happening in markets for these substances,” said Greg Midgette, the study’s lead author, an assistant professor at University of Maryland and an adjunct policy researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization

Apart from estimating expenditures on drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, researchers from RAND used a variety of sources of information about drug use and drug prices to also estimate the number of people who use these substances and how much they consume, and how much they spend on consumption.

Looking specifically at cannabis, from illegal and state-licensed sources, the report showed its spending increased by 50% from 2006 to 2016, going from $34 to $52 billion. The market for cannabis is roughly the size of the cocaine and methamphetamine markets combined.

From 2010 to 2016, the number of individuals who used cannabis in the past month increased by nearly 30 percent, from 25 million to 32 million, according to the report.

At the same time however, the consumption of cocaine dropped from 2006 to 2015 and then picked up in 2016, the report showed. There were 2.4 million individuals who used cocaine on four more or days in the past month in 2015 and 2016, the results show.

The consumption of heroin increased by approximately 10 percent per year between 2010 and 2016, according to the analysis. Whereas most heroin consumed in the United States comes from poppies grown in Mexico, the introduction of synthetic opioids like fentanyl into heroin markets has increased the risk of using heroin.

There was a steady increase in the amount of heroin seized within the United States and at the southwest border from 2007 through 2016. Changes in the composition of heroin users, potentially involving increased use among individuals without criminal histories, have increased the uncertainty underlying these estimates.

Estimates about methamphetamine use are subject to the greatest uncertainty, largely because national data sets do a particularly poor job of capturing its use, the researchers explain. The federal government discontinued a critical data collection effort in 2003, the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring, or ADAM.

“While there is considerable uncertainty surrounding national methamphetamine estimates, multiple indicators suggest methamphetamine use has exceeded its previous peak around 2005,” concludes Beau Kilmer, co-author of the report and director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center.

Asian heroin. Credit: DEA, Wikimedia Commons.

What are the most addictive drugs on Earth?

Asian heroin. Credit: DEA, Wikimedia Commons.

Asian heroin. Credit: DEA, Wikimedia Commons.

What are the most addictive drugs? This question seems simple, but the answer depends on whom you ask. From the points of view of different researchers, the potential for a drug to be addictive can be judged in terms of the harm it causes, the street value of the drug, the extent to which the drug activates the brain’s dopamine system, how pleasurable people report the drug to be, the degree to which the drug causes withdrawal symptoms, and how easily a person trying the drug will become hooked.

There are other facets to measuring the addictive potential of a drug, too, and there are even researchers who argue that no drug is always addictive. Given the varied view of researchers, then, one way of ranking addictive drugs is to ask expert panels. In 2007, David Nutt and his colleagues asked addiction experts to do exactly that – with some interesting findings.

1. Heroin

Nutt et al.’s experts ranked heroin as the most addictive drug, giving it a score of 3 out of a maximum score of 3. Heroin is an opiate that causes the level of dopamine in the brain’s reward system to increase by up to 200% in experimental animals. In addition to being arguably the most addictive drug, heroin is dangerous, too, because the dose that can cause death is only five times greater than the dose required for a high.

Heroin also has been rated as the second most harmful drug in terms of damage to both users and to society. The market for illegal opiates, including heroin, was estimated to be $68 billion worldwide in 2009.

2. Cocaine

Cocaine directly interferes with the brain’s use of dopamine to convey messages from one neuron to another. In essence, cocaine prevents neurons from turning the dopamine signal off, resulting in an abnormal activation of the brain’s reward pathways. In experiments on animals, cocaine caused dopamine levels to rise more than three times the normal level. It is estimated that between 14-20m people worldwide use cocaine and that in 2009 the cocaine market was worth about $75 billion.

Crack cocaine has been ranked by experts as being the third most damaging drug and powdered cocaine, which causes a milder high, as the fifth most damaging. About 21% of people who try cocaine will become dependent on it at sometime in their life. Cocaine is similar to other addictive stimulants, such as methamphetamine – which is becoming more of a problem as it becomes more widely available – and amphetamine.

3. Nicotine

Nicotine is the main addictive ingredient of tobacco. When somebody smokes a cigarette, nicotine is rapidly absorbed by the lungs and delivered to the brain. Nutt et al’s expert panels rated nicotine (tobacco) as the third most addictive substance.


More than two-thirds of Americans who tried smoking reported becoming dependent during their life. In 2002 the WHO estimated there were more than 1 billion smokers and it has been estimated that tobacco will kill more than 8m people annually by 2030. Laboratory animals have the good sense not to smoke. However, rats will press a button to receive nicotine directly into their bloodstream – and this causes dopamine levels in the brain’s reward system to rise by about 25-40%.

4. Barbiturates (‘downers’)

Barbiturates – also known as blue bullets, gorillas, nembies, barbs and pink ladies – are a class of drugs that were initially used to treat anxiety and to induce sleep. They interfere with chemical signalling in the brain, the effect of which is to shut down various brain regions. At low doses, barbiturates cause euphoria, but at higher doses they can be lethal because they suppress breathing. Barbiturate dependence was common when the drugs were easily available by prescription, but this has declined dramatically as other drugs have replaced them. This highlights the role that the context plays in addiction: if an addictive drug is not widely available, it can do little harm. Nutt et al’s expert panels rated barbiturates as the fourth most addictive substance.

5. Alcohol

Although legal in the US and UK, alcohol was scored by Nutt et al.‘s experts 1.9 out of a maximum of 3. Alcohol has many effects on the brain, but in laboratory experiments on animals it increased dopamine levels in the brain’s reward system by 40-360% – and the more the animals drank the more dopamine levels increased.

Some 22% of people who have taken a drink will develop dependence on alcohol at some point during their life. The WHO has estimated that 2 billion people used alcohol in 2002 and more than 3m people died in 2012 due to damage to the body caused by drinking. Alcohol has been ranked as the most damaging drug by other experts, too.

Eric Bowman, Lecturer in Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St Andrews

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Pot twist: Cannabis component helps fight addiction in new study

A new study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology has revealed that a non-psychoactive and non-addictive ingredient of the Cannabis sativa plant can help reduce the risk of relapse among cocaine and alcohol addicts. According to lead author Friedbert Weiss, non-psychoactive cannabinoids could have important medical benefits in the fight against substance addiction.

Image via Pixabay/futurefilmworks

Addiction is a powerful, vicious monster that lives inside yourself. The battle is an extremely hard one and it often carries stretches out over years and years — potentially for an entire life. Many abstinent addicts find it even harder to control themselves in drug-related settings or when they experience stress or higher levels of anxiousness. For them, it’s a true struggle to dismiss their impulses when offered an addictive drug like alcohol or cocaine.

Researchers wanted to study the effect of Cannabidiol (CBD) on drug relapse in a rat model. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound of the plant Cannabis sativa (I suppose you already know that’s weed). CBD has been considered as a treatment for neurological and psychiatric disorders, and more recently also as a treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.

“The efficacy of the cannabinoid [CBD] to reduce reinstatement in rats with both alcohol and cocaine – and, as previously reported, heroin – histories predicts therapeutic potential for addiction treatment across several classes of abused drugs,” says Weiss.

Scientists applied a gel containing CBD once per day for a week to the skin of lab rats. The rodents had a history of deliberate daily alcohol or cocaine self-administration, leading to addiction-like behavior.

Next, they performed a number of tests to observe the rats’ reaction to stressful and anxiety-provoking situations, as well as behavior tests that measured impulsivity — a psychological trait associated with drug addiction. The research team reported that CBD reduced relapse provoked by stress and drug cues. CBD also reduced anxiety and impulsivity in the rats.

The authors wrote: “CBD attenuated context-induced and stress-induced drug seeking without tolerance, sedative effects, or interference with normal motivated behavior. Following treatment termination, reinstatement remained attenuated up to ≈5 months although plasma and brain CBD levels remained detectable only for 3 days. CBD also reduced experimental anxiety and prevented the development of high impulsivity in rats with an alcohol dependence history.”

Authors hope that insight into the mechanisms by which CBD exerts these effects will be investigated in future research. They believe that the findings are proof of CBD’s potential in relapse prevention, CBD’s major benefits being its actions across several vulnerability states, and long-lasting effects with only brief treatment.

“Drug addicts enter relapse vulnerability states for multiple reasons. Therefore, effects such as these observed with CBD that concurrently ameliorate several of these are likely to be more effective in preventing relapse than treatments targeting only a single state,” Weiss concludes.

Buy art not cocaine.

Scientists successfully undo cocaine-induced cardiovascular damage in mice

Researchers at the Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, discovered a potential new pathway to treat the devastating effect of cocaine on the cardiovascular system. They found out that excess levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), molecules known to be found in the aortas of hypertensive animals and humans, are also involved in cocaine-related cardiovascular disease.

Buy art not cocaine.

Image credits Dave O / Flickr.

ROS are a type of unstable molecules that contain oxygen and rapidly react with other chemical molecules in a cell. An excess of reactive oxygen species inside cells may cause DNA, RNA, and protein damage, and can lead to cell death.

Scientists discovered that cocaine activates the molecule microRNA (miR)-30c-5p, increasing ROS levels in the circulatory system. The team also found that by blocking the activation of miR-30c-5p, they could dramatically reduce damage to the cardiovascular system.

“The biggest surprise to us was that the modulation of a single miRNA-mRNA pathway could have such a profound effect on cardiovascular function,” says Chunming Dong, M.D., study senior author and professor of medicine at the University of Miami.

“This also suggests that targeting this one pathway may have significant therapeutic benefit, which is an exciting possibility.”

The team performed their research using mice. They injected the animals with cocaine and assessed their circulatory health: the mice had high blood pressure, excess levels of ROS, and stiff blood vessels. All these are markers of cardiovascular disease. Researchers also observed a buildup in the miR-30c-5p molecule. When scientists administered cocaine but treated the mice with antioxidants, they managed to inhibit the excessive accumulation of miR-30c-5p and the mice showed no changes in blood pressure, vessel elasticity, or ROS levels.

Doctor Dong says that this is the first study to identify the role of miR-30c-5p in cocaine-related cardiovascular disease. He also notes that the study has some limitations due to the fact that the experiments were only conducted on mice. His research team plans to examine human patients as well, to see if this targeted pathway is viable.

The paper was published in the journal Hypertension, on February 26, 2018.

Brain sculpture.

Mitochondria in the brain changed by cocaine use — the findings could help us better fight addictions

Exposure to cocaine leads to significant changes in the mitochondria of certain brain cells, new research reports. They are now investigating whether these changes play a hand in shaping addiction, for both cocaine and other classes of drugs.

Brain sculpture.

Image via Pixabay.

We’ve known that mitochondria embedded in brain cells play a role in brain disorders ranging from depression, generalized anxiety, and exaggerated stress responses, all the way to bipolar disorders. New research by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) has found that cocaine use also brings about changes in the little cellular powerhouses, with currently-unknown effects.

The team discovered the changes while working with mice. After repeated exposure to cocaine, cells in the rats’ reward pathways (nucleus accumbens, NAc) showed an increase in dynamin-related protein-1 (Drp1), the molecule that underpins mitochondrial division (fission). Higher levels of Drp1 in the mice’s NAc area caused mitochondria to divide — and thus multiply — faster.

[Read More] If you want to freshen up on your brain anatomy and see exactly where the NAc is, take a minute to peruse 3D Brain.

Such changes could, in turn, explain the chemical fluctuations we’ve seen in the brains of addicts. They report having successfully blocked these changes using a chemical dubbed Mdivi-1. Furthermore, they also blocked responses to cocaine by genetically manipulating the fission molecule within the mitochondria of brain cells.

“We are actually showing a new role for mitochondria in cocaine-induced behavior, and it’s important for us to further investigate that role,” said Mary Kay Lobo, Associate Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology and corresponding author on the paper.

The team later harvested post-mortem brain tissue samples from individuals with a documented cocaine addiction to confirm that the changes also take place in human brains. Dr. Lobo says these findings could help us better understand how addiction impacts the brain, both from cocaine and other addictive substances.

“We are interested to see if there are mitochondrial changes when animals are taking opiates. That is definitely a future direction for the lab,” she added.

The paper “Drp1 Mitochondrial Fission in D1 Neurons Mediates Behavioral and Cellular Plasticity during Early Cocaine Abstinence” has been published in the journal Neuron.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we need to discuss snortable chocolate

The latest snuff craze sweeping through America is not even that worrying; it’s just silly.

Razor blades and mirrors: no longer snorting coke, but chocolate. Image credits: Sarah R. / Creative Commons.

Some words just go together like peanut butter and jelly — just hearing one makes your brain want to churn the butter I mean the other. This is the case with “snort.” You hear someone is snorting and you immediately think cocaine. Or some other drug. But a recent craze is forcing us to rethink that association because nowadays, kids are snorting… chocolate.

Legal Lean, an Orlando-based supplement company, introduced Coco Loko, an “infused cacao snuff,” taking the country by storm. Several products have already emerged, though Coco Loko is definitely the big boy here. The product promises to give you a 30-minute legal buzz which involves “euphoric energy,” “calm focus,” and a “serotonin rush.”

So what does Coko Loko contain?

Well, in the words of its founder — and I’m not making this up — “chocolate and other crazy stuff.” He also said that he didn’t talk to any doctors or health professionals, and he just sort of saw there was no negative publicity around it so he just went with the flow.

“There’s really no negative publicity, so I felt we’re good to go,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday.

In real life, it features cacao powder, as well as gingko biloba, taurine, and guarana, ingredients commonly found in energy drinks.

Nick Anderson, the 29-year-old founder of Legal Lean, says it all started when he heard about something similar happening in Europe.

“At first, I was like, ‘Is this a hoax?,’” he recalled. “And then I tried it and it was like, okay, this is the future right here.”

So he set out, developed his own product, and now it’s selling like hot cakes — so much that Senator Charles Schumer, the Senate minority asked for an investigation.

“This suspect product has no clear health value,” he said in a statement. “I can’t think of a single parent who thinks it is a good idea for their children to be snorting over-the-counter stimulants up their noses.”

Should we worry?

Ehh, probably not. The thing is, the concept is so new that doctors just don’t know what to say.

“The question is, what are the risks of doing it?” said Dr. Andrew Lane, director of the Johns Hopkins Sinus Center, in an interview with the Washington Post. “There’s no data, and as far as I can tell, no one’s studied what happens if you inhale chocolate into your nose. When I mention it to people, nobody’s ever heard of it.” (“Maybe,” he added, “I’m not in the in-crowd.”)

The good thing is, this is extremely unlikely to turn into a gateway drug. It’s not like one day you’re snorting chocolate and the other you’re doing coke in the bathroom.

“If you’re going to do drugs, you probably don’t start with chocolate,” he said. “Certainly this is better than using an illicit drug.”

But still, there are some risks. For starters, since it contains some of the ingredients common in energy drinks, it raises similar concerns to those. Secondly, the snorting process is not exactly the most hygienic and healthy — when’s the last time your doctor told you to snort some aspirin? There’s a good reason we don’t do that.

“There are a few obvious concerns,” he said. “First, it’s not clear how much of each ingredient would be absorbed into the nasal mucus membranes. And, well, putting solid material into your nose — you could imagine it getting stuck in there, or the chocolate mixing with your mucus to create a paste that could block your sinuses.”

At the end of the day, it’s probably not dangerous, it’s just silly. Colo Loko just doesn’t do what it says it does. If you want the “ecstasy-like buzz” it promises, you can just chug an energy drink — add in a smidge of chocolate for good measure, and you’re good to go.

Ironically, although Anderson says he took inspiration from Europe, the old continent has much stricter regulation when it comes to nutrition and labeling.

How long different drugs stay in your body: what you need to know

Who hasn’t wondered at one point how long different drugs stay in the body? There seems to be a general idea that stronger drugs remain in the body more than weaker ones, but that couldn’t really be farther from the truth. Heroin, for example, is generally undetectable in urine after three to five days, while marijuana, a much weaker drug can be detected up to 90 days after use. But let’s take it one step at a time.

The moment you smoke, snort or swallow a drug, your body starts to break it down; it metabolizes it. In the process, your body also produces metabolites or by-products of the drug. These by-products can be detected, which is why drug screens have become much more common, even for job interviews. However, drug tests have taken a lot of flack lately, and for good reasons. Business Insider went as far as calling them a “colossal scam” because some of the least dangerous drugs such as marijuana can be detected in your urine, blood, and hair for much longer than harder drugs such as heroin and meth.

The chart above is not even up to scale – cannabis can be detected almost a year after usage through blood tests. LSD for example vanishes after 3 days, while all traces of cocaine and methamphetamine last a month and a half at most. For urine tests, the situation is quite similar – cannabis stays detectable for much longer.

Hair tests are becoming more and more common, and I feel like this is a good thing – they seem to be less flawed than the alternatives, in that almost all drugs are detectable for up to 90 days, again with the exception of LSD, which seems determined to vanish from your body after three days.

Here’s the full list of how long drugs remain in your body:

  • Alcohol 3 – 5 days in urine, up to 90 days in hair and around 10 – 12 hours in your blood.
  • Amphetamines 1 – 3 days in urine, up to 90 days in hair and around 12 hours in your blood.
  • Barbiturates 2 – 4 days in urine, up to 90 days in hair and 1 – 2 days in your blood.
  • Benzodiazepines 3 to 6 weeks in urine, up to 90 days in hair and 2 – 3 days in your blood.
  • Cannabis 7 to 30 days in urine, up to 90 days in hair, two weeks in your blood.
  • Cocaine 3 – 4 days in urine, up to 90 days in hair, 1 – 2 days in your blood.
  • Codeine 1 day in urine, up to 90 days in hair, 12 hours in your blood.
  • Heroin 3 – 4 days in urine, up to 90 days in hair, up to 12 hours in your blood.
  • LSD – 1 – 3 days in urine, up to 3 days in hair, 2 – 3 hours in your blood.
  • MDMA (ecstasy) 3 – 4 days in urine, up to 90 days in hair and 1 – 2 days in your blood.
  • Methamphetamine (crystal meth) – 3 – 6 days in urine, up 90 days in hair, 24 – 72 hours in your blood.
  • Methadone – 3 – 4 days in urine, up to 90 days in hair, 24 – 36 hours in your blood.
  • Morphine 2 -3 days in urine, up to 90 days in hair, 6 – 8 hours in your blood.

Smart kids more likely to take drugs in adulthood

A new study which capitalized on an extensive ongoing survey, shows that children with high IQs, especially girls, are more likely to indulge in illicit drug use in their 30’s than people with lower IQs.

Dr. James White of Cardiff University and his team of researchers used data gathered from the British Cohort Study, an ongoing social experiment first started in the 1970’s, which follows and surveys 8,000 individuals from their childhood to present day. The population based study examined lifetime drug use, socioeconomic factors and educational attainment. Factors such as social class and levels of depression were controlled for.

The data from the study shows that, by the age of 30, one in three men and one in six women had used marijuana in the previous years. As for cocaine,  the figures were 8.6 percent of men and 3.6 percent of women, with a similar pattern of use for the other drugs.

The participants had their IQ scores measured at age 5 and 10. Confidential psychological distress and drug use surveys were made for each participant at age 16, and 30. Assessed drugs included cannabis and cocaine, while for the most recent survey of 30 year olds, amphetamine and ecstasy had also been added.

When the researchers correlated IQ scores with drug use, a curious stat emerged. Men with high IQ scores at the age of five were around 50 percent more likely to have used amphetamines and ecstasy as adults, and the link becomes ever more evident when studying women. Seems women were more than twice as likely to have used cannabis and cocaine as those with low IQ score – despite fully understanding the negative effects of drug use.

“Although most studies suggest that higher child or adolescent IQ prompts the adoption of a healthy lifestyle as an adult, other studies have linked higher childhood IQ scores to excess alcohol intake and alcohol dependency in adulthood,” says Dr White.

“Although it is not yet clear exactly why there should be a link between high IQ and illicit drug use, previous research has shown that people with a high IQ are more open to new experiences and keen on novelty and stimulation.”

The report was published in the latest issue of Medical News Today

Cocaine found at Kennedy Space Center… again

NASA’s Inspector General’s Office says an investigation is under way after a white powdery substance found at the Kennedy Space Center tested positive for cocaine.

I wanted to insert some puns somewhere in this post about astronauts, cocaine, high and outer space, but by the time I finished researching for this post I remembered that N.A.S.A. is through some though times at it is.

“Law enforcement personnel field tested the substance, which indicated a positive test for cocaine,” said Renee Juhans, an executive officer with the office.

“The substance is now at an accredited crime lab for further testing,” she said.

The find was made last week when a small bag containing 4.2 grams of white powdery substance, which wouldn’t you know it turned out to be cocaine, was stumbled upon. Embarrassing enough, this wasn’t a premiere for N.A.S.A. either, as last year a small quantity of cocaine was found as well, this time in a secure part of a hangar that housed space shuttle Discovery. That time almost 200 space shuttle workers were tested for drug use, but no one was found positive. The investigation was eventually closed without any disciplinary or legal actions.

NASA has a zero-tolerance drug policy. All employees may be randomly tested. It is not known whether any employees have been asked to submit to drug testing in this investigation.

Two hours worth of gaming is like snorting a line of coke…therapist says

It’s ignorance like this that never sees to baffle me. Steve Pop is an overnight notorious psychotherapist who, like most of today’s center stage and tomorrow’s props, became famous after stating live on BBC Radio that “spending two hours on a game station is equivalent to taking a line of cocaine in the high it produces in the brain.

“It’s the silent killer of our generation.” He goes on to say.

“We’re now onto second generation game station players who have always grown up with it. Computer game addiction can also spiral into violence as after playing violent games, they may turn their fantasy games into reality.

“It is the fastest growing addiction in the country and this is affecting young people mentally and physically.”

Describing his campaign against gaming as a “personal quest to spread the message”, Pope urged any parents listening to the broadcast to “go upstairs to your kids bedroom and try and take the game station controller out of their hands“.

He said most kids will react “in the same way as an alcoholic would if you tried to take their booze – it’s scary“.

I can agree to an extent that gaming addiction is VERY real, and for some people it can cause a lot of problems, 99% of the time of social order – I would never compare gaming with high danger drug use. Actually you can tell from his description of PS3s and XBOXs like “gaming stations” and the aforementioned relation to cocaine that Mr. Pop has no idea what he’s talking about concerning gaming or cocaine. Putting the two in a sentence together is preposterous enough.

In fact this very much reminds me of misinterpreted and misinformation anti-drug campaigns that actually do a lot more harm than good. How about providing facts and real solutions to problems, be it drug use or excessive gaming?

I take thee…Cocaine

Of all drugs, cocaine creates the greatest psychological dependence, because it stimulates key pleasure centers within the brain and causes extremely heightened euphoria. Drugs like this mess with the brain’s circuitry and hijack the reward system. Cocaine cravings are said to be so strong that just the memory of the feelings associated with use of the drug trigger the desire to use it again, even after long periods of abstinence.

A new rat study has shown that the chemical effect the drug has is less important then the psychological factor in creating the addiction.

“Cocaine use triggers long-lasting cellular memories in the brain, the study found—but only if the user consumes the drug voluntarily.”

A team led by Billy Chen and Antonello Bonci, both at the University of California, San Francisco, trained three groups of rats to press levers that delivered cocaine, food or sugar. The researchers injected cocaine into a fourth group. When they examined the rats’ brain tissue, they found an increase in synaptic strength within the reward center in those rats that had self-administered sugar, food or cocaine. These cellular memories were short-lived in the sugar and food groups, but in rats that had self-administered cocaine they persisted for up to three months after consumption had stopped. Most interestingly, the brains of rats that had consumed cocaine involuntarily did not show such imprints.

So the pharmacological effects of cocaine alone are not enough to create pleasurable memories connected to the use of cocaine. The motivation for taking the drug seems to me a much stronger component to the process of getting hooked.

Dr.Chen working on the project states that the team is working to find ways to remove the long-term cellular memory left by voluntary cocaine use, which eventually could help treat addiction in humans by taking away the desire

This fact throws into question a lot of previous studies with cocaine, where rats or monkeys or others were injected involuntarily.

By the way…if somethings works on mice, why does it necesarily have to work on humans? It doesn’t, but researching on animals always gives some good clues, here’s why.

And it’s not only mice and humans that partake: waterways in Canada have been found to contain relatively high (pun intended) levels of cocaine, morphine, and oxycodone.

9 reasons why there wasn’t stress in the good old days

Everyone seems stressed nowadays, even when they don’t have that much going on. Researchers invested a lot of time and money into the study of stress and have a number of sound theories and advice — but really, don’t let those fool you. Here’s the real deal, here’s why it was so easy back in the good old days.

Bayer’s Heroin

bayerOh yeah, between 1890 and 1910, heroin was sold as a ‘less addictive form of morphine’. At some point, it was even recommended to treat the usual cough, but only in children — because the makers tried to be responsible, presumably. This is a well-known fact by now, but it’s less known that Bayer advertised Heroin as a cure for children’s cough as late as 1912.

Diacetylmorphine (or heroin) was first synthesized by Alder Wright, who concluded it was even more addictive than opium, and abandoned research in this direction. However, the Bayer company concluded that it was very effective in treating moderate pains and dealing with diseases such as asthma or tuberculosis, so they branded it as Heroin and started advertising it. By 1899, there were reports  that people were developing tolerance to the effects of heroin,

By 1924, heroin was restricted to prescription-only use in the US and was eventually banned by the nascent FDA altogether in 1924, although it was still sold under strict medical conditions.

What’s interesting is that it was branded pretty much at the same time with acetylsalicylic acid, that became later known as aspirin. It’s hard to say which one of these had more success…

Boehringer & Soehne

Paperweight advertiser


Boehringer & Soehne were located in Mannheim, Germany. Never heard of them? Well, if they were doing today what they did about a century ago now, you probably would have.

They proudly advertised their products, claiming to be the best makers of quinine and cocaine. It wasn’t only that they were good products, but Boehringer & Soehne also claimed a good price; as their ads said: “Prices no higher than for any other brand”. You just don’t see that anymore, sadly.

Opium for newborns, and not only


Nowadays, Stickney and Poor’s are known today mostly for their spices and mustard, but back in the day, they also sold a type of baby that was, well, a bit out there. It’s not just that it contained opium, but if the opium inside wasn’t enough, then the 46% alcohol would definitely do the trick. Presumably, babies would quickly fall asleep after such a treatment.


The dosage was important — there’s only so much alcohol and opium you want to give your baby. The product could also be used by adults, in a larger dose of about a teaspoon. Presumably, it also got the job done in adults.

Coca wine

Ahh, yes — the simple pleasures in life: cocaine and wine.


Believe it or not, wines with cocaine were not that uncommon at some point. Metcalf Coca Wine was one of the famous brands and had a reputation for making drinkers happy, and it was also used as a medicinal treatment. Maltine Coca Wine was also used a lot in the U.S., especially in New York, where it was produced. It was recommended for health reasons – a glass after each meal, and for the children, just a half glass of course.


Without a doubt, though, the most appreciated such wine was the Mariani Wine. It was so good, that pope Leo XIII never left the house without a bottle of it. He even awarded the producer with Vatican’s Gold Medal.


Amphetamine inhalers

Benzedrine (racemic amphetamine) inhalers were available in the U.S. until the mid-50s, and they were so appreciated that even airlines gave them to passengers to treat discomfort when the plane was taking off and landing. It was also proclaimed that more than 10 million Benzedrine inhalers had been distributed in the first 7 years it was released, which means they sold even better than mister McDonald’s hamburgers.


In 1959, the FDA claimed to ban the use of amphetamines — but they only banned amphetamine and
dextroamphetamine, not methamphetamine or other amphetamine derivatives. This loophole was heavily abused, as amphetamine inhalers were still produced and sold for years to come.


Opium for Asthma


It’s not sure how good this treatment was, but at least, the National Vaporizer Vapor-OL (opium) Treatment no. 6 for asthma (as it was called) provided a unique way of smoking opium. You had a pretty volatile liquid that went in a sort of frying pan, heated by a small kerosene lamp placed under the pan.


Dragees Antiseptiques Au Menthol: cocaine for sour throat

The early 20th century apparently liked cocaine in all forms, including mints or throat tablets.


So yeah, everything seems to be good, at least if you go by the name, but these ‘dragees’ were basically Cocaine throat lozenges.  Cocaine in this form, its producers claimed, was not only fun like the wine, but also useful. This Belgian product was claimed “indispensable for singers, teachers, and orators”. Word.

Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup


Of course, as a working mother, things are never easy. So when you get home, you want to get some peace and quiet, and that’s exactly what this soothing syrup was doing. Because no matter how noisy and restless a child is, 65 milligrams of morphine per fluid ounce does the trick.

Cocaine toothache drops


Without a doubt, cocaine is our winner (perhaps there’s a lesson here, somewhere, I’m not sure). These cocaine toothache drops were absolute miracle drugs, and they cured aches almost instantly and they also came with a bonus: after taking them, children were always happier.

In Madrid and Barcelona cocaine is in the air

It’s quite impossible not to be aware of the fact that someone is smoking marijuana somewhere around you because of its particular smell. However, who would have suspected that the air people breathe in a certain area of a city could in fact hide traces of 5 powerful drugs in it?

This is what researchers discovered when they analyzed the air from Barcelona and Madrid, where two air-quality stations detected something a bit out of the ordinary. The “little something” included traces of amphetamines, opiates, cannabinoids and lysergic acid, which is a relative of LSD. Cocaine was found in the biggest quantities.

But before thinking that everyone in these cities is a bit high or before buying your ticket to Spain find out that even though the drugs should not be in the air in so large quantities,  not even breathing it for 1000 years would be the equivalent of a dose.

The scientists have also pointed out that these levels are not the ones to be found throughout these cities. The areas where the air was analyzed were well-known for drug consumption. One test site was near a derelict building believed to be used by drug dealers and the others were close to universities.

Higher concentrations were noticed during the weekends when drug consumption is thought to be higher. Cocaine was found in quantities which varied from 29 to 850 picograms ( 1 picogram = 1 trillionth of a gram).

Even though the numbers may not seem very impressive, they are much superior to the ones found in Rome and Tranto ( 100 picograms).

The drugs were detected by using quartz microfiber filters in the air-testing stations, which allowed the research to have an anonymous character. This method is aimed at assessing drug consumption in a certain area of a city and the results are yet to be analysed.

source: The Guardian

Honey bees on cocaine dance more

A study conducted by entomology and neuroscience professor Gene Robinson from the University of Illinois sheds new light on the way insect brain works proving that honey bees on cocaine tend to overreact.

Usually, foraging honey bees alert the others from the hive about food sources only when more food is necessary or when the quality of the discovered food is superior. The bee performs a special dance called ”round” or “waggle” through which they can send complex messages related to the exact location of the discovered food.

“The honey bee dance is this incredibly complex set of activities,” Robinson said. “It’s a very integrated communication system, very elaborate and very elegant, one of the seven wonders of the animal behavior world.”

When on cocaine, honey bees tend to dance no matter what the quality of the food or the situation of the hive is. This shows that, just like people, bees are motivated by the feeling of reward, altruism being also important in their relations.

Being more and more interested in the subject, Robison started to study octopamine, a neurochemical which affects insect behavior especially the one related to movement and eating.

Some solitary insects respond to this substance by eating more, but bees accept lower-quality food. While trying to see what the effects were on the way bees dance, Robinson discovered that foragers had the highest level of octopamine. When this level was increased, the bees started to dance more often, this giving the first clues regarding the evolution of the altruistic behavior.

This proves that when it comes to selfish behavior at solitary insects, they simply eat more; however, altruistic insects don’t do that, but tell the others so that they could benefit too.

Cocaine has other effects as it interferes with the octopamine transit also having some strong effects on mammals’ and people’s reward system. It also affects the dopamine system, this substance being very important for the way people respond to pleasure or reward, one of the stimuli being altruistic behavior.

The fact that cocaine makes bees dance more means that they do, in fact, have a reward system related to this kind of behavior.

Further studies showed that cocaine does not make bees simply move more or in inappropriate places as the others bees seemed not to be affected while the foragers became more active only when it came to sending messages through dancing. Moreover, bees do not dance every time they go on a search trip and the information they send is intact, which proves that a reward system exists indeed.

Just like people, bees experienced withdrawal symptoms when the drug was no longer given to them, which proves that bees could be used as subject for substance-abuse research.

Source: The University of Illinois