Tag Archives: mind altering substances

Meth Crossing the Blood-Brain Barrier

meth

Mind-altering chemicals, like drugs and alcohol, do just that, they change your state of mind. Naturally, each drug has its own unique effect and how a person responds depends on the substance in question. Any individual with a history of alcohol or substance use disorder has a first-hand understanding of what such experiences are like; however, few people with such pasts know what a particular chemical "actually" does in the brain, or to the most vital organ.

Those who’ve undergone treatment may have a cursory understanding of mechanisms like the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The term is defined as a filtering mechanism of the capillaries that carry blood to the brain and spinal cord tissue, blocking the passage of certain substances. When a person uses a mind-altering substance, the particular drug makes its way into the bloodstream and onto the brain. While not everything that enters the bloodstream can pass the barrier, the materials that lead to use disorders do; and, can cause damage in the process of crossing the threshold.

In a fundamental sense, the BBB lets healthy things into your brain cells and prevents anything harmful, like toxins from entering. Researchers at the Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering say that when drugs like methamphetamine pass the barrier, the substance increases the permeability of the BBB, Motherboard reports. Meaning, other harmful toxins found in the blood may find their way across, too.

Artificial Brains On Meth

Advancements in technology allow researchers to create artificial human brains involving the integration of human cell cultures into microfluidic chip platforms, according to the article. This process may sound complicated, only understandable to scientists; however, it is possible for non-specialists to grasp the concept. The research team at Wyss are using microchips lined with living human cells which are then introduced to drugs like meth, to observe responses and stimuli. The research findings appear in Nature Biotechnology.

“Our primary reason for choosing this drug is that it is one of the most addictive drugs responsible for thousands of deaths,” writes co-lead researcher Ben Maoz. “Given this tragic statistic, it is surprising that much is still unknown. Therefore, we sought to use this novel system to unveil the metabolic effect of meth on the different parts of the [neurovascular unit].”

Please take a moment to watch a short video for a basic understanding of the process:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

“Just like in the brains of people who choose to smoke meth, the BBB chips started to leak,” Kit Parker, professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics, told Digital Trends. “That’s exactly what happens when you smoke meth — and why you shouldn’t.”

Developing a more concise understanding of how narcotics interact with the human brain can have enormous implications. The research may lead to more effective methods of treating addiction, according to the article. What’s more, the findings could help scientists discover new processes of transporting beneficial pharmaceuticals to the appropriate brain targets. Lead researchers Ben Maoz, Anna Herland, and Edward Fitzgerald are developing new Organ Chip platforms applicable to neuropathology research on stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and traumatic brain injury.

We took a game-changing advance in microengineering made in our academic lab, and in just a handful of years, turned it into a technology that is now poised to have a major impact on society,” said Donald E. Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., is the Founding Director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, who was not involved in the study.

Biologically inspired engineering may have near-limitless potential when it comes to studying the impact of psychostimulants on the brain, in real time. It also means that drug research – one day – may no longer require soliciting addicts and alcoholics in the grip of use disorders to participate in studies that involve using addictive substances.

Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Please contact PACE if you or a male loved one is battling alcohol or substance use disorder. At our treatment center, we address all components of addiction and mental health. Please call to speak to an admissions counselor who can answer any questions you have about our gender-specific, extended care alcohol and drug rehab for men.

Wellness Environment: Living Drug and Alcohol Free

wellness environmentBinge drinking and drug use have long accompanied the college experience for many students. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that 1,825 college students lose their life every year from alcohol-related injuries. While it may seem like an inevitability that college students will use mind altering substances from time to time, there is nothing safe about the behavior and it can lead to serious harm for some. Scientist have also been able to prove that the brain of a teenager or young adult in their early twenties is not fully developed, and drugs can have a lasting effect on the brain. Preventing substance misuse and abuse is, naturally, a top priority among all institutions of higher learning. However, some universities are taking novel approaches to substance use prevention.

Wellness Environment

The University of Vermont offers what is known as the Wellness Environment which involves 120 freshman living in a substance-free dorm and taking the course “Healthy Brains, Healthy Bodies," NBC News reports. The program is rooted in four areas of health, which include:
  • Exercise
  • Mentorship
  • Mindfulness
  • Nutrition
"It's about behavior change," said program founder, Dr. James Hudziak, chief of child psychiatry at the College of Medicine and the UVM Medical Center."When armed with science, young people can make better decisions," he told NBC News.

Health Promoting Tools

The students who were accepted into the Wellness Environment are given tools that help them live healthier lives, according to the article. The perks include: a free Fitbit, gym pass, yoga classes and nutrition coaches. Dr, Hudziak’s class starts with meditation and then he teaches his students about the benefits, based on current research, of living a life free from drugs and alcohol. Hudziak points out that the human brain is not fully developed until the mid to late twenties, exposing underdeveloped brains to mind altering substances can have disastrous outcomes.
"The brain of a 27-year-old is like a beautifully painted new house," said Hudziak. "But at 17 to 23 or older, it will be months before the electricity and plumbing is up. It's a house under construction."

Recovery Is Possible

If you are a young adult whose alcohol or drug use has become problematic, please reach out to PACE Recovery Center. Our experienced staff specializes in young adult male addiction recovery. We can help you develop the tools necessary for living a sober, healthy life.

Addiction Recovery: No Mind Altering Substance is Safe

addiction recoveryEarly addiction recovery is arguably the most difficult, addicts and alcoholics are still developing the skills necessary to maintain a program of abstinence. On top of being newly sober, and a bit shaky, people in early recovery are often bombarded with a lot of information which can become a bit overwhelming for some. What’s more, it is common to hear conflicting opinions from those with significant time regarding the “do’s and the don’ts.” While it is important to listen to what those in recovery have to say, if you find yourself unsure about something regarding the program it is always best to run one’s uncertainties by your sponsor or therapist. Such people could be compared to a ship’s anchor, keeping you from drifting into unsafe waters. People in early recovery using the 12-steps should look to their sponsor as a model for how to work a program and maintain their sobriety. A common misconception that many alcoholics and addicts have when starting an addiction recovery program is that they still can use certain mind altering substances, and that they only need to stay away from the drug or drink with which they struggled. Sadly, that line of thinking is in error, many alcoholics who are new to recovery will smoke marijuana, and a number of drug addicts will continue to consume alcohol. More often than not, such actions will lead people back to their substance of choice. It may not happen overnight, but in time the idea will creep back in one’s mind that they can moderately use the drug that brought them to the point of needing recovery in the first place. The aforementioned misunderstanding may be in part the result of recovery nomenclature, and the multitude of 12-step modeled programs. The idea that somehow an alcoholic is different than an addict, and vice versa; alcoholics attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and drug addicts will often choose to attend Narcotics Anonymous. The reality is that Addiction is Addiction, if a person has ever used a mind altering substance to the point of despair, the likelihood that that same person could develop an unhealthy relationship with another potentially addictive substance or behavior is exponentially increased. If you are new to recovery, working a program to break the cycle of addiction, regardless of which 12-step program you attend please remember that no mind altering substance is safe. Hopefully, it is a warning you hear early on upon entering the rooms of recovery, and one that is heeded with vigilance.

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