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Journal: Journal of psychoactive drugs


Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a psychoactive plant that has been used since at least 1836 in folk medicine in Southeast Asian countries. More recently, kratom has become widely available in the West and is used for both recreational and medicinal purposes. There has, however, been little scientific research into the short- and long-term effects of kratom in humans, and much of the information available is anecdotal. To supplement the increasing scientific understanding of kratom’s pharmacology and research into its effects in animals, we report the results of a qualitative analysis of first-hand descriptions of human kratom use that were submitted to, and published by, a psychoactive substance information website ( Themes that emerged from these experience reports indicate that kratom may be useful for analgesia, mood elevation, anxiety reduction, and may aid opioid withdrawal management. Negative response themes also emerged, indicating potential problems and unfavorable “side” effects, especially stomach upset and vomiting. Based on our analyses, we present preliminary hypotheses for future examination in controlled, quantitative studies of kratom.

Concepts: Scientific method, Opioid, Morphine, Quantitative research, Psychoactive drug, Ketamine, Recreational drug use, Psychoactive drugs


Abstract Alexithymia refers to difficulties with identifying, describing, and regulating one’s own emotions. This trait dimension has been linked to risky or harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs; however, the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world, caffeine, has not been examined previously in relation to alexithymia. The present study assessed 106 male and female university students aged 18-30 years on their caffeine use in relation to several traits, including alexithymia. The 18 participants defined as alexithymic based on their Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) scores reported consuming nearly twice as much caffeine per day as did non-alexithymic or borderline alexithymic participants. They also scored significantly higher than controls on indices of frontal lobe dysfunction as well as anxiety symptoms and sensitivity to punishment. In a hierarchical linear regression model, sensitivity to punishment negatively predicted daily caffeine intake, suggesting caffeine avoidance by trait-anxious individuals. Surprisingly, however, TAS-20 alexithymia scores positively predicted caffeine consumption. Possible reasons for the positive relationship between caffeine use and alexithymia are discussed, concluding that this outcome is tentatively consistent with the hypo-arousal model of alexithymia.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Linear regression, Drug, Econometrics, Caffeine, Forecasting, Errors and residuals in statistics, Recreational drug use


This study examines the risk factors predicting non-prescribed stimulant use (NPSU) among adolescents, with an emphasis on whether such factors are reflective of instrumental (e.g., studying) and/or recreational (e.g., partying) drug consumption settings. Using data from Monitoring the Future (2011), we employed a series of logistic regression models to establish predictors of 12-month self-reported Adderall or Ritalin use without a doctor’s note among eighth and tenth graders. Whereas studies of college students have found NPSU to correlate with instrumental motives and productivity-related demands, we find no association between NPSU and indicators of academic strain for this younger sample. Rather, we find that the age of onset and current use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are most predictive of NPSU, which are substances generally associated with social and recreational consumption settings. These findings have potential implications for practitioners concerned with mitigating the harms of general prescription drug misuse, as intervention efforts informed by research conducted among college students may not readily apply to younger populations. Drawing from central tenets of developmental and life course criminology, we call for continued inquiry into the broader socialization and developmental processes that influence NPSU and other prescription drug use patterns prior to early adulthood.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Regression analysis, Logistic regression, Prediction, Future, Drug addiction, Recreational drug use, Off-label use


Abstract Support for marijuana (cannabis) legalization is increasing in the US, and state-level marijuana policies are rapidly changing. Research is needed to examine correlates of opinions toward legalization among adolescents approaching adulthood as they are at high risk for use. Data were examined from a national representative sample of high school seniors in the Monitoring the Future study (years 2007-2011; N = 11,594) to delineate correlates of opinions toward legalization. A third of students felt marijuana should be entirely legal and 28.5% felt it should be treated as a minor violation; 48.0% felt that if legal to sell it should be sold to adults only, and 10.4% felt it should be sold to anyone. Females, conservatives, religious students, and those with friends who disapprove of marijuana use tended to be at lower odds for supporting legalization, and Black, liberal, and urban students were at higher odds for supporting more liberal policies. Recent and frequent marijuana use strongly increased odds for support for legalization; however, 16.7% of non-lifetime marijuana users also reported support for legalization. Findings should be interpreted with caution as state-level data were not available, but results suggest that support for marijuana legalization is common among specific subgroups of adolescents.

Concepts: United States, High school, Cannabis, Hemp, Hashish, Legality of cannabis by country, Legal and medical status of cannabis, Global Marijuana March


Abstract A new class of synthetic hallucinogens called NBOMe has emerged, and reports of adverse effects are beginning to appear. We report on a case of a suicide attempt after LSD ingestion which was analytically determined to be 25I-NBOMe instead. Clinicians need to have a high index of suspicion for possible NBOMe ingestion in patients reporting the recent use of LSD or other hallucinogens.

Concepts: Report, English-language films, Adverse drug reaction, Index Librorum Prohibitorum, Suicide, Technical communication, Documents, Business intelligence


Abstract Energy drink (ED) use among college students to improve academic performance (AP) has skyrocketed. A growing body of literature indicates that the risks associated with ED use may outweigh the perceived benefits. In this study, 486 undergraduates were surveyed on their general substance and ED usage, Social Problem-Solving (SPS) ability, and AP. It was hypothesized that: (1) ED use would be a negative predictor of AP; (2) SPS would be a positive predictor of AP; (3) SPS would be a negative predictor of ED use; and (4) SPS and ED use would account for a significant amount of the variance in AP. A linear multiple regression for AP was conducted, with predictor variables entered in the following order: total drug use, non-ED caffeine use, SPS, and ED use. The overall model was significant and accounted for approximately 7% of the variance in AP. The hypotheses of the study were supported, indicating that ED use may be related to decreased AP, SPS ability may be related to increased AP, or that students with poor AP and less effective SPS skills are more likely to use EDs. Implications of these findings are important for college students and other users of ED products.

Concepts: Linear regression, Coffee, University, Caffeine, Methamphetamine, Energy drink, Coca-Cola, Guarana


Eating disorders (EDs) are serious health conditions that are among the most difficult to treat. Innovative treatments are needed and modalities from across cultures must be considered. Ayahuasca is a psychoactive plant-based tea originally used by Amazonian indigenous groups. A growing body of research points to its promise in the healing of various mental health issues. This study explored the potential therapeutic value of ayahuasca in the context of EDs, including the perceived impact of the preparatory diet and the ayahuasca purge. Sixteen individuals previously diagnosed with an ED participated in a semi-structured interview relating to their experiences with ceremonial ayahuasca drinking. Interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. Themes presented relate to the reduction or cessation of ED and mental health symptoms, shifts in body perception, and the importance of a ceremonial setting and after-care. For some, the preparatory diet resulted in familiar patterns of concern; however, none felt triggered by the purge in ayahuasca. Ceremonial ayahuasca drinking shows promise in the healing of EDs and warrants further research.

Concepts: Psychology, Nutrition, Mind, Mental disorder, Dieting, Interview, Exploratory research, Indigenous peoples


There has been a growing focus on identifying factors that underlie and maintain bulimic symptoms and substance use disorders (SUDs), as both are associated with high mortality and poor clinical outcomes. Experiential avoidance has been an area of interest within both the eating disorder and SUD fields, as it is a robust risk factor for both disorders. No known research has examined the relationship between experiential avoidance and bulimic symptoms in a SUD treatment-seeking sample. Moreover, the extant literature has focused exclusively on female samples. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the relationship between bulimic symptoms and experiential avoidance within an understudied population: men in treatment for a SUD. Three separate hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to examine the following relationships: (1) experiential avoidance and bulimic symptoms; (2) experiential avoidance and alcohol use and problems; and (3) experiential avoidance and drug use and problems. Results demonstrated that, controlling for alcohol and drug use and problems, experiential avoidance was significantly associated with bulimic symptoms. Experiential avoidance was also significantly associated with alcohol use and problems and drug use and problems. These findings are preliminary and future research is needed to further examine this relationship.

Concepts: Drug addiction, Comprehensive examination, Exploratory research, School examinations


Given the well-established associations of the personality traits alexithymia, impulsivity, and reward sensitivity with problematic use of a variety of substances, including alcohol and cannabis, the present study sought to determine whether daily tobacco smoking is similarly linked to these traits. Male and female adults aged 18 to 40 years were recruited from the local Australian community, allowing comparison of demographically similar samples of current daily smokers (n = 47) to never-smokers (n = 59) on the relevant self-report measures. Multivariate analysis of covariance revealed that current smokers scored significantly higher than never-smokers on indices of negative mood, impulsiveness, and risky alcohol use, after controlling for social desirability. No significant group differences were found on indices of alexithymia, reward sensitivity, or punishment sensitivity. Results suggest that chronic daily cigarette smoking may be an exception to the maladaptive behaviors associated with alexithymia, and is driven primarily by mood regulation and poor impulse control.

Concepts: Smoking, Tobacco, Tobacco smoking, Cigarette, Nicotine, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Bipolar disorder, Human behavior


Nonmedical opioid use has been linked to lifetime heroin use; however, research is needed to examine associations between nonmedical opioid use and current or recent heroin use, as current users appear to be at highest risk for harm. Data were from a nationally representative sample of non-institutionalized adults (age 18-64) in households participating in the National Survey of Drug Use and Health who reported lifetime heroin use (2005-2014, N = 7,111). We examined associations between frequency and recency of nonmedical opioid use and recency of heroin use. Most (86.7%) lifetime heroin users reported no heroin use in the last 12 months, while 6.1% reported current use (use in the last 30 days). The majority of the sample (69.3%) reported lifetime nonmedical opioid use; 14.3% reported nonmedical use in the last 30 days. Adjusted odds for current heroin use increased as frequency of past-year nonmedical opioid use increased, with a quarter (24.7%) of current heroin users reporting nonmedical opioid use on 157-365 days in the last year. Over half (54.7%) of current heroin users reported current nonmedical opioid use. Prevention efforts should consider that high-frequency and current nonmedical opioid use is a robust correlate of continued heroin use.

Concepts: Sample, Sampling, United States, Report, Opioid, Drug addiction, Heroin, Wavelength