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Research snapshot: New tools could help prevent relapse behavior in opioid addiction

Opioid addiction is a crippling problem in society, with an estimated 9 percent of Americans abusing opiates at some point in their life. In Minnesota, opiate overdose deaths have more than tripled since 2000.

Overcoming addiction is extremely challenging, and the risk of relapse persists. A new study from the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Neuroscience identified a potential target for preventing morphine relapse in mice, which brings researchers closer to providing a way for recovering addicts to stay drug-free.

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U of M expert: With codeine abuse on the rise, it’s important to remember regulation can work to curb misuse

Over the past few months, recreational use of codeine cough syrup has captured national headlines as abuse of the combination cough suppressant/antihistamine has climbed among adolescents. The coverage intensified when pop music star Justin Bieber was linked to the drug by the media last month.

Ingredients for a codeine/promethazine cocktail popularized by the rap industry as “sizzurp,” “lean” and “purple drank” were reportedly found during a police search of the star’s home in late January.

David Ferguson, Ph.D., a pharmacology and drugs of abuse expert from the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy is surprised to see the drug making headlines again.

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Just what the doctor prescribed: A lesson in Rx dangers for middle schoolers

From prescription drug abuse to “skittles parties” and medication missteps, the growing need for education about proper prescription drug use is here to stay.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs trail only marijuana and alcohol as the most frequently abused substances by people 14 and older. Teens and pre-teens nationwide are seeing more pills pop up, too, as the number of medications prescribed increases.

As the opportunities to misuse medicine grow, an education in the dangers of taking too many pills, not the right kind of pills, someone else’s pills, and counterfeit medication found online has become an important part of growing up healthy.

Programs like the University of Minnesota’s branch of AWARxE are providing just that kind of information to Minnesota’s preteens.

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Long-term effects of HGH and testosterone abuse

As discussions around performance enhancing drug scandals, doping and potential multi-game suspensions continue to plague Major League Baseball and some of its top talent; Health Talk recently talked with U of M experts about how human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone actually affect performance.

We sought out University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy pharmacology and drugs of abuse expert David Ferguson, Ph.D., and Bradley S. Miller, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric endocrinologist with the University of Minnesota Medical School who has studied growth and development associated with HGH.

Here’s what we learned…

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Expert Perspective: Adderall use in the NFL is ‘cheating’

U of M expert David Ferguson says amphetamine use in the NFL is boosting sports performance unfairly …

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New designer drug ‘smiles’ is bad for your brain

The recent deaths of two North Dakota teenagers and “Sons of Anarchy” actor Johnny Lewis have been tied to designer drug 2C-I, a drug more commonly known as “smiles”.

The most startling part of actor Lewis’s apparently drug-induced death was the violence involved.

Before reportedly killing himself, Lewis is alleged to have brutally murdered both his landlady and her cat. Later reports detailed that the 28-year-old actor had been arrested on multiple counts this year, previously attacked neighbors and suffered from other mental health issues.

According to Dave Ferguson, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy, violent actions resulting from the use of the drug smiles is somewhat unusual …

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