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 (Erowid.org). 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.
The psychedelic experience (including psychedelic-induced ego dissolution) can effect lasting change in a person’s attitudes and beliefs. Here, we aimed to investigate the association between naturalistic psychedelic use and personality, political perspectives, and nature relatedness using an anonymous internet survey. Participants (N = 893) provided information about their naturalistic psychedelic, cocaine, and alcohol use, and answered questions relating to personality traits of openness and conscientiousness (Ten-Item Personality Inventory), nature relatedness (Nature-Relatedness Scale), and political attitudes (one-item liberalism-conservatism measure and five-item libertarian-authoritarian measure). Participants also rated the degree of ego dissolution experienced during their “most intense” recalled psychedelic experience (Ego-Dissolution Inventory). Multivariate linear regression analysis indicated that lifetime psychedelic use (but not lifetime cocaine use or weekly alcohol consumption) positively predicted liberal political views, openness and nature relatedness, and negatively predicted authoritarian political views, after accounting for potential confounding variables. Ego dissolution experienced during a participant’s “most intense” psychedelic experience positively predicted liberal political views, openness and nature relatedness, and negatively predicted authoritarian political views. Further work is needed to investigate the nature of the relationship between the peak psychedelic experience and openness to new experiences, egalitarian political views, and concern for the environment.
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.
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.
Recent research suggests that functional connectivity changes may be involved in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders. Hyperconnectivity in the default mode network has been associated with psychopathology, but psychedelic serotonin agonists like psilocybin may profoundly disrupt these dysfunctional neural network circuits and provide a novel treatment for psychiatric disorders. We have reviewed the current literature to investigate the efficacy and safety of psilocybin-assisted therapy for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. There were seven clinical trials that investigated psilocybin-assisted therapy as a treatment for psychiatric disorders related to anxiety, depression, and substance use. All trials demonstrated reductions in psychiatric rating scale scores or increased response and remission rates. There were large effect sizes related to improved depression and anxiety symptoms. Psilocybin may also potentially reduce alcohol or tobacco use and increase abstinence rates in addiction, but the benefits of these two trials were less clear due to open-label study designs without statistical analysis. Psilocybin-assisted therapy efficacy and safety appear promising, but more robust clinical trials will be required to support FDA approval and identify the potential role in clinical psychiatry.
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.
Previous research has demonstrated the ability of non-active smoked cannabis cigarettes to induce subjective effects of intoxication (i.e., placebo effect). No studies have been conduced to test whether edible forms of cannabis, which are associated with a significant delay in onset of effect, are able to induce a placebo effect. In the present study, 20 participants were told that they would receive an edible cannabis lollipop containing a high dose of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but were instead given a placebo control. Measures of intoxication and mood were taken at baseline, 30 minutes, and 60 minutes post-ingestion of the placebo lollipop. Results of four repeated-measures ANOVAs found significant and quadratic changes across time in cannabis (ARCI m-scale) intoxication (F(2,18) = 4.90, p = .01, η(2) = .22) and negative mood (F(2,18) = 3.99, p = .05, η(2) = .19). Changes in positive mood and the overall measure of general intoxication (ARCI) failed to reach significance. The present study provides preliminary evidence that a placebo effect can be induced with inert edible agents when participants are told that they are receiving active THC. This is the first known study to demonstrate an edible cannabis intoxication placebo effect.
Recently, the anti-addictive potential of ayahuasca, a dimethyltryptamine(DMT)- and β-carboline-rich hallucinogenic beverage traditionally used by indigenous groups of the Northwest Amazon and currently by syncretic churches worldwide, has received increased attention. To better evaluate this topic, we performed a systematic literature review using the PubMed database to find quantitative studies (using statistical analysis) that assessed the effects of ayahuasca or its components in drug-related symptoms or disorders. We found five animal studies (using harmaline, harmine, or ayahuasca) and five observational studies of regular ayahuasca consumers. All animal studies showed improvement of biochemical or behavioral parameters related to drug-induced disorders. Of the five human studies, four reported significant reductions of dependence symptoms or substance use, while one did not report significant results. The mechanisms responsible for the anti-addictive properties of ayahuasca and its alkaloids are not clarified, apparently involving both peripheral MAO-A inhibition by the β-carbolines and central agonism of DMT at 5-HT2A receptors expressed in brain regions related to the regulation of mood and emotions. Although results are promising, controlled studies are needed to replicate these preliminary findings.
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.
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.