Welcome to the Just Say Know monthly roundup! Here we will be sharing the latest in drug education and harm reduction each month.
Happy New Year! #startmakingplans!
Hopefully, you had some time to relax and regroup during the holidays, and are ready to get back in the swing of ending the War on Drugs!
First off, don’t forget to weigh in about which sessions you’d like to see at #Sensible2020: The Young People’s Drug Policy Conference. The deadline to vote is Thursday, January 9th at 11:59 pm PST.
Be sure to register to attend the conference and talk to your Movement Building Fellow or Global Program Manager about using your hard-earned CAT points and other strategies to get you there.
New Monitoring the Future data available
The Monitoring the Future study has been measuring drug use trends among adolescents since 1975. The latest revision, posted in December of 2019, highlights the increase of cannabis and nicotine vaping among teens alongside the decrease in the use of opioids, tobacco cigarettes, and alcohol. A teleconference provides audio highlights of the study results.
Microdosing and heart issues
A recent article written by psychiatric pharmacist Kellen Thomas for Chacruna explains (in great detail) some possible cardiac risks tied to chronic LSD microdosing. Thomas notes that, “After spending some time researching this topic in detail, I became concerned about the potential risk of valvular heart disease (VHD) due to chronic psychedelic-induced changes of heart valve cells via serotonin 2B receptor (5HT2B) activation.”
Messaging makes a difference
This month, I came across a couple of items highlighted the importance of messaging in drug education. In a research article published in the Journal of Substance Use and Misuse, Slavin and Earlywine compared the effects of abstinence-only and harm reduction messaging about marijuana on psychological reactance and whether the message and reactance impacted attitudes and craving. The authors found that, “Anti-MJ messages designed to discourage use might heighten reactance and inadvertently lead to greater craving and intent to use.”
In this transcript from a CBC radio show, peers and the director of mental health from Toronto-based organization, Skylark discuss their approach to drug education, and the positive impact it is having on their community. In the episode, professor Sally Jenkins shares that her recent study “found that many responded more positively to harm reduction approaches than a don’t-do-drugs edict.
Abstinence-based approaches didn’t reflect the lived experiences of many youth, who either have already tried drugs, or encountered it among their peers or even their own family circles, she explained.”
Audio of the interview is also available in the link above.
Marijuana and mental health
USA Today published an article highlighting the debate about the relationship between marijuana, psychosis, and suicide, heavily noting the opinions of doctors and government officials.
The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry published a systematic review exploring the use of CBD (cannabidiol) as a treatment for mood disorders. Although there seems to be plenty of anecdotal evidence that CBD can be beneficial in addressing symptoms of some mood and anxiety disorders, the authors were unable to come to this conclusion, and are calling for more research to be done, “There is a lack of evidence to recommend cannabidiol as a treatment for mood disorders. However, considering the preclinical and clinical evidence related to other diseases, cannabidiol might have a role as a treatment for mood disorders. Therefore, there is an urgent need for well-designed clinical trials investigating the efficacy of cannabidiol in mood disorders.”
Cannabis legalization and other use trends
A study in the Journal of Addictive Behaviors reviewed drug use trends among college-aged people in states that have legalized recreational marijuana (RML), and found that there was an increase in cannabis and sedative use and decrease in binge drinking, “In the context of related research showing national increases in college students’ marijuana use prevalence and relative increases following state RML, we observed decreases in binge drinking and increases in sedative use that both depended on age. Findings support some specificity in RML-related changes in substance use trends and the importance of individual factors.”
Updated prevention resource
This new guide from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) includes a useful listing of outcomes, with links to the associated research of various policies, programs, and procedures used to address “substance misuse” among young adults. This listing may be useful when talking to your campus administration or community officials about what strategies they use (or should use) to address this issue, with the evidence to back up your points.
Sobriety support groups online
This article from cnet offers a few alternatives to AA-based sobriety support groups that may be better suited for some people. Many of these also have online options for people who have difficulty accessing groups in person.
Opportunity for harm reduction missed
Faced with an excellent opportunity to provide harm reduction education and services after six drug-related deaths at music festivals in Australia, the New South Wales Department of Education refused to approve drug checking as a strategy, instead opting for amnesty bins where festival goers can relinquish their drugs.
This month brought a few significant updates to the recent “vaping crisis,” including a listing of the cannabis vape brands associated with the outbreak of vaping-related illnesses, and an update from the CDC on the characteristics of people impacted by the vaping-related lung illnesses.
Additionally, one article noted how criminalization is negatively impacting the ability to accurately investigate the vaping-related deaths and illnesses, and another highlighted how nicotine has replaced marijuana in the minds of prohibitionists.