The National Institute on Drug Abuse is the world’s largest funder of research on psychoactive drugs and addiction. In fiscal year 2012, its budget was $1.05 billion. But that’s not the only major federal funder of addiction research in the US: We have another two national institute that covers addiction, the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, whose 2012 budget was $459 million.

So we spend nearly $1.5 billion a year, mainly on basic neuroscience research that, while generating enormous value in terms of understanding fundamental brain systems, has not yet generated much that is of direct use in treatment.

10/8/2014, Beware: Researchers To Begin Tracking Stoners Online

1/24/2012, What the Funk? Terpenes Take off in Labs, Drug Companies, and Dispensaries

Drug companies are researching the therapeutic properties of these simple organic molecules, and at least two California medical cannabis labs have begun testing for their presence in dispensary weed.

6/4/2014, GlaxoSmithKline settles charges it unlawfully promoted Advair and other popular drugs

GlaxoSmithKline will pay $105 million [small cost of doing big business] to settle charges that it unlawfully promoted its asthma drug Advair and antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin. The payment settles charges brought by 45 state attorneys general.

The attorneys general alleged GSK also illegally marketed a second antidepressant drug, Wellbutrin, to children without FDA approval. GSK also unlawfully marketed Wellbutrin as an “off-label” drug for weight loss and to treat attention deficit disorder, addiction, anxiety and bi-polar disorder.

But it was not fined for using anti-depressants to treat chronic pain?

What to do if the police knock on your door

Question: I have heard that police can come to your house for a ‘knock and talk.’ I am a patient and am scared they will smell marijuana and come busting in. How can I protect myself?

You are right to be scared, as we know many stories of this happening. As soon as the police smell (or think they smell) marijuana, most police officers think this is an invitation to forcibly push their way into your home without a warrant.

The best advice? Never open the door. If you cannot resist the urge to talk – most people can’t – then open a window. Tell them to go away. If the cops force their way inside your home, do NOT resist, this will only make things worse. Remember they have guns presumed authority. You can always file suit against them for trespass or a Section 1983 excessive force lawsuit after the fact. Repeatedly tell them you are a patient/caregiver as you are handcuffed. Have the card in your pocket or in your hand if you cannot resist the urge to open the door. Best practice is to not talk at all about anything. Zip the lip.

We have witnessed vice officers testify in court that once the door was opened and they smelled a “strong odor of marijuana” they could legally enter the house, sans warrant, over the homeowner’s vehement objection to “preserve evidence.” Remember, the police cannot lookup your address ahead of time to see if you are a patient/caregiver. When in doubt – don’t open the door. Your home is your castle.

Deaths from Marijuana v. 17 FDA-Approved Drugs

Click to access DeathsFromMarijuanaV17FDAdrugs.pdf

On June 24, 2005 sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to find the number of deaths caused by marijuana compared to the number of deaths caused by 17 FDA-approved drugs. Twelve of these FDA-approved drugs were chosen because they are commonly prescribed in place of medical marijuana, while the remaining five FDA-approved drugs were randomly selected because they are widely used and recognized by the general public.

Business offering free dental care

On Christmas Eve, Comfort Dental across New Mexico is offering free dental care. It’s part of the 31st Annual Care Day, where all their offices are offering free care. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and its first come first served. Last year over 5,000 people were seen by dentists as part of the program.

Tourism boss’ switch to CYFD secretary divides lawmakers

The head of the state’s troubled Children, Youth and Families department is stepping down and the governor’s choice to replace her with a career marketing and advertising professional is raising some eyebrows… Jacobson has been a professional marketer for more than a decade, working extensively with PepsiCo before taking her position as Secretary of Tourism for New Mexico in 2011. Her role with CYFD will be her first venture into social work.

One Size Opioid Dose Does Not Fit All

From comment section:

November 14, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Potential Policy Fixes to Curb Medicare Part D Opioid Abuse

Published on: October 22, 2014
Annually, about 11.5 million beneficiaries fill a prescription for an opioid. Removing the 1.5 million beneficiaries who have cancer diagnoses or use hospice, analysis of the remaining 10 million person data set is striking.

Okay, just look at this figure of 10 million people with non-cancer pain — that’s how many people will be affected by this war against pain patients.  But to make a comparison to the NIH’s estimate of about 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, that means only about 10% of people with chronic pain are currently being treated with opioid therapy, which is not too bad. Further though, that means about 88.5 million people are suffering from chronic pain and are NOT being treated — at least, through legal and accountable ways.

[Edit:  Okay, I forgot, we’re just looking at the beneficiaries at Express Scripts, so I can’t compare that patient population to the whole of the U.S.]

The top 5% of opioid users account for 69% ($1.9 billion) of total spending on opioids. Users in this percentile, on average, fill twenty-three opioid prescriptions per year at a direct cost of $3,716 per person.  29% receive prescriptions from four or more prescribers, and 31% fill prescriptions at three or more pharmacies.

Under authority granted by Section 6405 of the Affordable Care Act, the Center for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) has enacted changes that will go into effect on June 1, 2015. Physicians prescribing opioids to Part D beneficiaries will now have to be enrolled in Medicare, prescriptions ordered by unauthorized physicians will be denied, and Medicare enrollment will be revoked for abusive prescribing.  CMS is also working to develop a tool that will monitor abuse by both prescribers and pharmacies.

The pain doctor I saw for about 8 years initially took Medicare, but only for a few years — then he opted out, and I had to pay for this cost without reimbursement from Medicare.  It ended up being about $250 a month.  So, I’m thinking that this new change by CMS is a really big thing…

Is suffering from constant pain considered torture?

How Torture Physically Changes The Brain Forever

Whatever it’s labeled, specialists say the brain clearly can become conditioned by extreme fear and stress, notwithstanding CIA assertions that what was done would not cause any permanent mental or physical harm…

He ticked off a list: post-traumatic stress disorder, other anxiety disorders, depression, enduring personality changes.

What happens in the brain? Clues come from studies of things like memory formation and stress — not torture — in animals. For example, repeated moderately stressful experiences, such as restraining a rat’s movements over a period of time, can physically alter structures that control fear and anxiety, said neuroscientist Bruce McEwen of Rockefeller University…

In fact, enough stress and trauma can damage memory systems, he added…

The concept of learned helplessness stemmed from experiments in the late 1960s that influenced depression research: Dogs were given mild jolts of electricity that they couldn’t avoid. Then they were put in a divided box where they could escape more zaps by jumping to the other side, but they didn’t try. They’d been conditioned to accept their fate.

Animal studies show brain chemicals released in the emotional rush help a traumatic experience take root, explained neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux of New York University. The amygdala, your brain’s threat detector, absorbs the details so that later, something in the environment can subconsciously trigger an alarm — maybe a car backfiring that reminds it of a gunshot — and once again cause anxiety.

At the same time, chronic stress such as from PTSD can shrink regions involved with memory and attention that usually moderate fear responses, McEwen added, making it harder to put that car backfire into context and calm down.

9 Things We Learned About Sleep In 2014

Our brains get smaller as we age, but getting too little sleep could make that natural reduction occur at a faster rate, according to University of Oxford research.

My brain must be the size of a pea…

While the researchers noted they weren’t entirely sure what these differences mean, they uncovered more activity, greater adaptability to change and higher neuron “excitability” in the movement center of the brain in people with insomnia than in people who reported no trouble sleeping.

That’s because we can’t shut off — or calm — the activity…

Scientists discovered physical changes in the brains of people with chronic fatigue syndrome.  The condition is highly misunderstood and often dismissed as psychological, but research this year lent some welcome credibility to the often-debilitating syndrome. The small study compared the brains of 15 people with chronic fatigue syndrome to the brains of 14 healthy people and found that the brains of people with CFS had less white matter and differences in nerve fibers in a particular white-matter tract, “in theory, a sign of a better-connected brain,” Pacific Standard reported, which was strongest in the people with the most severe symptoms of chronic fatigue. The research could potentially lead to better diagnosis of the syndrome.