SciCombinator

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Concept: Recreational drug use

393

Background New psychoactive substances constitute a growing and dynamic class of abused drugs in the United States. On July 12, 2016, a synthetic cannabinoid caused mass intoxication of 33 persons in one New York City neighborhood, in an event described in the popular press as a “zombie” outbreak because of the appearance of the intoxicated persons. Methods We obtained and tested serum, whole blood, and urine samples from 8 patients among the 18 who were transported to local hospitals; we also tested a sample of the herbal “incense” product “AK-47 24 Karat Gold,” which was implicated in the outbreak. Samples were analyzed by means of liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Results The synthetic cannabinoid methyl 2-(1-(4-fluorobenzyl)-1H-indazole-3-carboxamido)-3-methylbutanoate (AMB-FUBINACA, also known as MMB-FUBINACA or FUB-AMB) was identified in AK-47 24 Karat Gold at a mean (±SD) concentration of 16.0±3.9 mg per gram. The de-esterified acid metabolite was found in the serum or whole blood of all eight patients, with concentrations ranging from 77 to 636 ng per milliliter. Conclusions The potency of the synthetic cannabinoid identified in these analyses is consistent with strong depressant effects that account for the “zombielike” behavior reported in this mass intoxication. AMB-FUBINACA is an example of the emerging class of “ultrapotent” synthetic cannabinoids and poses a public health concern. Collaboration among clinical laboratory staff, health professionals, and law enforcement agencies facilitated the timely identification of the compound and allowed health authorities to take appropriate action.

Concepts: United States, Gold, Morphine, New York City, Cannabinoid, Recreational drug use, Law enforcement agency, HU-210

346

Because long-term opioid use often begins with treatment of acute pain (1), in March 2016, the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain included recommendations for the duration of opioid therapy for acute pain and the type of opioid to select when therapy is initiated (2). However, data quantifying the transition from acute to chronic opioid use are lacking. Patient records from the IMS Lifelink+ database were analyzed to characterize the first episode of opioid use among commercially insured, opioid-naïve, cancer-free adults and quantify the increase in probability of long-term use of opioids with each additional day supplied, day of therapy, or incremental increase in cumulative dose. The largest increments in probability of continued use were observed after the fifth and thirty-first days on therapy; the second prescription; 700 morphine milligram equivalents cumulative dose; and first prescriptions with 10- and 30-day supplies. By providing quantitative evidence on risk for long-term use based on initial prescribing characteristics, these findings might inform opioid prescribing practices.

Concepts: Opioid, Pain, Morphine, Psychoactive drug, Medical prescription, Chronic pain, Recreational drug use, Hydromorphone

323

Hair analysis for cannabinoids is extensively applied in workplace drug testing and in child protection cases, although valid data on incorporation of the main analytical targets, ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (THC-COOH), into human hair is widely missing. Furthermore, ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A (THCA-A), the biogenetic precursor of THC, is found in the hair of persons who solely handled cannabis material. In the light of the serious consequences of positive test results the mechanisms of drug incorporation into hair urgently need scientific evaluation. Here we show that neither THC nor THCA-A are incorporated into human hair in relevant amounts after systemic uptake. THC-COOH, which is considered an incontestable proof of THC uptake according to the current scientific doctrine, was found in hair, but was also present in older hair segments, which already grew before the oral THC intake and in sebum/sweat samples. Our studies show that all three cannabinoids can be present in hair of non-consuming individuals because of transfer through cannabis consumers, via their hands, their sebum/sweat, or cannabis smoke. This is of concern for e.g. child-custody cases as cannabinoid findings in a child’s hair may be caused by close contact to cannabis consumers rather than by inhalation of side-stream smoke.

Concepts: Cannabinoid receptor, Cannabis, Cannabinoid, Cannabidiol, Cannabinoids, Recreational drug use, Raphael Mechoulam

281

To assess the association between medical marijuana laws (MMLs) and the odds of a positive opioid test, an indicator for prior use.

Concepts: Cannabis, Psychoactive drug, Recreational drug use, Legality of cannabis by country

232

To describe the incidence of recorded mental illness and challenging behaviour in people with intellectual disability in UK primary care and to explore the prescription of psychotropic drugs in this group.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Drug, Opioid, Psychoactive drug, Ketamine, Recreational drug use

179

Mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone, MMC) is a popular recreational drug, yet its potential harms are yet to be fully established. The current study examined the impact of single or repeated MMC exposure on various neurochemical and behavioral measures in rats. In Experiment 1 male adolescent Wistar rats received single or repeated (once a day for 10 days) injections of MMC (30 mg/kg) or the comparator drug methamphetamine (METH, 2.5 mg/kg). Both MMC and METH caused robust hyperactivity in the 1 h following injection although this effect did not tend to sensitize with repeated treatment. Striatal dopamine (DA) levels were increased 1 h following either METH or MMC while striatal and hippocampal serotonin (5-HT) levels were decreased 1 h following MMC but not METH. MMC caused greater increases in 5-HT metabolism and greater reductions in DA metabolism in rats that had been previously exposed to MMC. Autoradiographic analysis showed no signs of neuroinflammation ([(125)I]CLINDE ligand used as a marker for translocator protein (TSPO) expression) with repeated exposure to either MMC or METH. In Experiment 2, rats received repeated MMC (7.5, 15 or 30 mg/kg once a day for 10 days) and were examined for residual behavioral effects following treatment. Repeated high (30 mg/kg) dose MMC produced impaired novel object recognition 5 weeks after drug treatment. However, no residual changes in 5-HT or DA tissue levels were observed at 7 weeks post-treatment. Overall these results show that MMC causes acute but not lasting changes in DA and 5-HT tissue concentrations. MMC can also cause long-term memory impairment. Future studies of cognitive function in MMC users are clearly warranted.

Concepts: Psychology, Causality, Cognition, Opioid, Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, MDMA, Recreational drug use

174

Marijuana is the most widely used recreational drug in the US. Hyperemetic hydrophilic syndrome is a previously described but infrequently recognized condition of cannabinoid abuse with hyperemesis and obsessive hot showering. We present a 47-year-old male known marijuana addict with intractable abdominal pain who could not wait for physical examination, meal, or medication, because of obsessive compulsive warm baths. He had a history of epilepsy and addiction to marijuana, which he took on the day of admission. He presented to the hospital with a seizure, complicated by nausea, vomiting, and severe abdominal pain. His examination was unremarkable, except for mild epigastric tenderness. His laboratory and radiological tests were within normal limits, except for a positive urine drug screen for marijuana and opiates. He took himself immediately to the bathroom and remained under a hot shower with the exception of two 15-minute breaks for the rest of the day. He stated that it made him feel better than medication. Receiving medication and even eating was a problem because of this compulsive showering. Abstinence from marijuana during the hospital stay made the patient’s nausea and vomiting resolve significantly. Cannabinoid hyperemesis is a differential diagnosis among patients with intractable nausea, vomiting, and obsessive hot bathing. The syndrome is an unmistakable indication of marijuana addiction. A thorough history and observation is very valuable. Recognition of this entity will reduce unnecessary testing and utilization of health care resources.

Concepts: Medical terms, Opioid, Addiction, Bathing, Bathtub, Recreational drug use, Shower, Bathroom

162

Recent reports suggest that acute intoxications by synthetic cannabinoids are increasing in the United States (1,2). Synthetic cannabinoids, which were research compounds in the 1980s, are now produced overseas; the first shipment recognized to contain synthetic cannabinoids was seized at a U.S. border in 2008 (3). Fifteen synthetic cannabinoids are Schedule I controlled substances (3), but enforcement is hampered by the continual introduction of new chemical compounds (1,3). Studies of synthetic cannabinoids indicate higher cannabinoid receptor binding affinities, effects two to 100 times more potent than Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis), noncannabinoid receptor binding, and genotoxicity (4,5). Acute synthetic cannabinoid exposure reportedly causes a range of mild to severe neuropsychiatric, cardiovascular, renal, and other effects (4,6,7); chronic use might lead to psychosis (6,8). During 2010-2015, physicians in the Toxicology Investigators Consortium (ToxIC) treated 456 patients for synthetic cannabinoid intoxications; 277 of the 456 patients reported synthetic cannabinoids as the sole toxicologic agent. Among these 277 patients, the most common clinical signs of intoxication were neurologic (agitation, central nervous system depression/coma, and delirium/toxic psychosis). Relative to all cases logged by 50 different sites in the ToxIC Case Registry, there was a statistically significant association between reporting year and the annual proportion of synthetic cannabinoid cases. In 2015, reported cases of synthetic cannabinoid intoxication increased at several ToxIC sites, corroborating reported upward trends in the numbers of such cases (1,2) and underscoring the need for prevention.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Cannabinoid receptor, Cannabis, Cannabinoid, Recreational drug use, HU-210

142

Liposomes are nanocarriers that deliver the payloads at the target site, leading to therapeutic drug concentrations at the diseased site and reduced toxic effects in healthy tissues. Several approaches have been used to enhance the ability of the nanocarrier to target the specific tissues, including ligand-targeted liposomes and stimuli-responsive liposomes. Ligand-targeted liposomes exhibit higher uptake by the target tissue due to the targeting ligand attached to the surface, while, the stimuli-responsive liposomes do not release their cargo unless they expose to an endogenous or exogenous stimulant at the target site. In this review, we mainly focus on the liposomes that are responsive to pathologically increased levels of enzymes at the target site. Enzyme-responsive liposomes release their cargo upon contact with the enzyme through several destabilization mechanisms: a) structural perturbation in the lipid bilayer, b) removal of a shielding polymer from the surface and increased cellular uptake, c) cleavage of a lipopeptide or lipopolymer incorporated in the bilayer, and d) activation of a prodrug in the liposomes.

Concepts: Protein, Medicine, Cancer, Enzyme, Cure, Poison, Doxorubicin, Recreational drug use

140

Music’s universality and its ability to deeply affect emotions suggest an evolutionary origin. Previous investigators have found that naltrexone (NTX), a μ-opioid antagonist, may induce reversible anhedonia, attenuating both positive and negative emotions. The neurochemical basis of musical experience is not well-understood, and the NTX-induced anhedonia hypothesis has not been tested with music. Accordingly, we administered NTX or placebo on two different days in a double-blind crossover study, and assessed participants' responses to music using both psychophysiological (objective) and behavioral (subjective) measures. We found that both positive and negative emotions were attenuated. We conclude that endogenous opioids are critical to experiencing both positive and negative emotions in music, and that music uses the same reward pathways as food, drug and sexual pleasure. Our findings add to the growing body of evidence for the evolutionary biological substrates of music.

Concepts: Psychology, Pharmacology, Opioid, Drug addiction, Naloxone, Buprenorphine, Music, Recreational drug use