Tag Archives: heroine

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.

A new study found a worrying trend about female characters in Disney movies

Disney’s early princesses were all stereotypical: very beautiful and vulnerable, but willing to endure hardships without complaining. Today, Disney heroines are a lot sassier and willing to take their fate into their own hands, but a problem still persists: even when they have the starring role, they peak only a minority of the dialogue, considerably less than what they did in the ’30s and ’50s.

Male characters with speaking roles vastly outnumber female characters – in every Disney movie. Even in Frozen, a story about two sisters enduring through an icy relationship, over 50% of all speaking roles are men. Linguists Carmen Fought and Karen Eisenhauer believe this is worrying, because of what they teach about gender roles.

“We don’t believe that little girls naturally play a certain way or speak a certain way,” says Fought, a professor of linguistics at Pitzer College. “They’re not born liking a pink dress. At some point we teach them. So a big question is where girls get their ideas about being girls.”

The Disney princess research is still in its preliminary stages, but the data is already starting to shape up – and as time passes, female protagonists seem to get less and less speech time. In the “three classics”, women speak quite a lot: 50% in Snow White, 60% in Cinderella and a whopping 71% in Sleeping Beauty; and this makes sense. These are all movies about women, where the main protagonist is a woman. But when Disney pioneered the new generation of female heroes (Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Mulan), a subtle shift happened: women didn’t speak out so much. The big shocker comes from Frozen: men claim 59 percent of the lines in that film.

Belle, from 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast” for instance, was designed as a feminist role model. She was supposed to be strong and independent, an active woman who gets stuff done. But the thing is, the surrounding cast is always overwhelmingly male.

“If you watch the behind-the-scenes documentaries, there’s so much explicit discourse on what the princess is going to be like, and always it’s a feminist discourse in some way,” Eisenhauer says. “They want her to be powerful. But the discourse never, ever, seems to have gone beyond the princess.”#

She doesn’t believe that this is something done on purpose, but rather from carelessness.

“My best guess is that it’s carelessness, because we’re so trained to think that male is the norm,” Eisenhauer told the Washington Post. “So when you want to add a shopkeeper, that shopkeeper is a man. Or you add a guard, that guard is a man. I think that’s just really ingrained in our culture.”

Again, it should be stressed that these are just the preliminary results. The number of words is not the only important factor, what the characters are saying also matters. If we focus just on the talk time then we can miss some valuable context. For example, heroines are often complimented and praised for their abilities and not their looks, they are more active, and they often fight stereotypes. Disney’s women protagonists have come a long way… but it seems like there’s still a way to go.