Queensland researchers work towards better treatment of drug addiction

August 21, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- The University of Queensland researchers are seeking to identify more effective ways of treating drug addiction to tackle the perceived prevalence of injecting drug use worldwide.

In 2009, Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated there were 15–39 million problem drug users globally.

Professor Wayne Hall from UQ's Centre for Clinical Research leads a research team that aims to find out what causes and the associated burden of harm and disease it has on society.

“We are assessing the impact of neuroscience on how we think about and respond to addiction,” Professor Hall said.

“Ultimately these findings may influence governments to provide more effective new treatments.”

Professor Hall said many new ethical and policy implications surround innovative treatments.

“Among these are the possible use of the courts to force addicted individuals into treatment and proposals to trial deep brain stimulation to treat addiction,” Professor Hall said.

“Deep brain stimulation has proven very effective in treating Parkinsons' Disease but there are questions about its appropriateness in treating addiction.”

The researchers are also examining ethical issues raised by proposals to monitor the use of illegal drugs in the community by measuring residues and metabolites in waste water.

Professor Hall and Professor Louisa Degenhardt from the Burnet Institute, Melbourne, were involved in a recent study published in the Lancet that estimated 155–250 million people used an illicit drug worldwide in 2008.

These comprised about 129–191 million cannabis users; 16–38 million problem users of opioids, amphetamines, or cocaine; and 11–21 million people who injected drugs.

“Cannabis was far and away the most widely used illicit drug globally, but heroin and other opiates caused the most harm, followed by amphetamine-type stimulants and cocaine,” Professor Hall said.

“Among the most common harms were dependence, overdose deaths, accidents, violence, HIV-AIDS and other blood-borne infections.”

Some of the projects the team is working on include ‘The feasibility and ethical acceptability of vaccinating adolescents against the effects of nicotine to prevent cigarette smoking'.

The ‘Neurological insights into addiction' article will be published today in the annual International Innovation journal for 2012.

Here Professor Hall speaks about his neurobiological research on and the progress made to date.

Explore further: Latest global study provides snapshot of drug-related harm

Related Stories

Latest global study provides snapshot of drug-related harm

January 6, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A new Australian drug study published today in The Lancet has found that cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug globally, while opioid use is a major cause of death.

200 million use illegal drugs: Lancet estimate

January 6, 2012
About 200 million people around the world use illicit drugs, according to a study published on Friday in The Lancet.

Cannabis link to other drugs

July 19, 2011
Quitting cannabis use in your 20s significantly reduces the chance of progressing to other illicit drugs, according to research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Brains of addicts are inherently abnormal: study (Update)

February 2, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) at the University of Cambridge have identified a brain abnormality which is found in drug-dependent individuals as well as their siblings who have ...

Possible tool to help cocaine users kick the habit

October 7, 2011
Medicines which increase levels of the brain chemical dopamine may hold the key to helping those addicted to cocaine and amphetamines kick the habit, researchers from the University of Cambridge have found.

Recommended for you

Marijuana use amongst youth stable, but substance abuse admissions up

August 15, 2017
While marijuana use amongst youth remains stable, youth admission to substance abuse treatment facilities has increased, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Report reveals underground US haven for heroin, drug users

August 8, 2017
A safe haven where drug users inject themselves with heroin and other drugs has been quietly operating in the United States for the past three years, a report reveals.

Regular energy drink use linked to later drug use among young adults

August 8, 2017
Could young adults who regularly consume highly caffeinated energy drinks be at risk for future substance use? A new study by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol ...

Gamblers more likely to have suffered childhood traumas, research shows

August 2, 2017
Men with problem and pathological gambling addictions are more likely to have suffered childhood traumas including physical abuse or witnessing violence in the home, according to new research.

Incorporating 12-step program elements improves youth substance-use disorder treatment

July 26, 2017
A treatment program for adolescents with substance-use disorder that incorporates the practices and philosophy of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) produced even better results than the current state-of-the ...

Concern with potential rise in super-potent cannabis concentrates

July 21, 2017
University of Queensland researchers are concerned the recent legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia may give rise to super-potent cannabis concentrates with associated harmful effects.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.