ALberta Health Services: Trauma Informed Care

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Many of the people we interact with every day have been affected by overwhelming stress or traumatic experiences. Traumatic experiences change a person and can create turmoil within a person and in their life. This is especially true if events and/or conditions happen in childhood.

The consequences of trauma are far reaching and can be directly or indirectly linked to mental illness, addictions, chronic disease, suicide, and overall, a failure to thrive.

The purpose of the Trauma Informed Care (TIC) Project is to increase knowledge about trauma and the impact it has by creating connection, sharing knowledge and resources. TIC offers resources for individuals who help those impacted by trauma provide patient centred care.

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For more information ploease visit: http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/info/page15526.aspx

Possible treatment for fetal alcohol damage after birth

best-vancouver-naturopathTwo commonly used drugs erased the learning and memory deficits caused by fetal alcohol exposure when the drugs were given after birth, thus potentially identifying a treatment for the disorder, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.

The scientists also newly identified a key molecular mechanism by which alcohol neurologically and developmentally harms the developing fetus.

“We’ve shown you can interfere after the damage from alcohol is done. That’s huge,” said lead investigator and senior author Eva Redei. “We have identified a potential treatment for alcohol spectrum disorder. Currently, there is none.”

Redei is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the David Lawrence Stein Research Professor of Psychiatric Diseases Affecting Children and Adolescents.

The Northwestern study was in rat pups, and the scientists are trying to raise funds for a clinical trial.

In the United States, 1 to 5 percent of children are born with the disorder, which includes learning and memory deficits, major behavioral problems, a high rate of depression, low IQ, cardiovascular and other developmental health problems.

If the drugs are effective in the clinical trial, the infants whose mothers consumed alcohol during their pregnancy potentially could be treated with them, Redei said.

The paper will be published in Molecular Psychiatry July 18.

“There are women who drink before they are aware that they are pregnant and women who do not stop drinking during their pregnancy,” Redei said. “These women still can help their children’s future, if the current findings work in humans as well. The ideal, of course, is that women abstain from drinking when pregnant, but unfortunately that does not always happen.”

In two separate arms of the study, Northwestern scientists gave either thyroxine (a hormone that is reduced in pregnant women who drink and in infants with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) or metformin (an insulin sensitizing that lowers blood sugar levels, which is higher in alcoholics) to rat pups exposed to alcohol in utero. The pups received the drugs for 10 days immediately after they were born.

Then scientists let the pups grow up and tested their memory compared to control rats also exposed to alcohol in utero but who did not receive either drug.

“We showed in the adult animals that both these treatments reversed the memory deficits as well as some of the molecular changes caused by maternal alcohol consumption,” Redei said.

Drinking alcohol reduces thyroxine levels and increases glucose in the pregnant rat—and in humans as well, according to limited human data.

“These changes are dangerous to the brain development of the fetus and are at least part of the reason for learning and of the offspring,” Redei said.

Thyroxine is an essential hormone made by the thyroid gland that regulates multiple functions in the developing brain. Children born with very low levels of thyroxine are neurodevelopmentally disabled, a condition of severely stunted physical and mental growth.

Excessive glucose reaching the fetus also has a negative impact on brain development but scientists do not yet have a deep understanding of why. It also can affect any of the developing organ systems and cause Type 2 diabetes later in life.

The surprise finding was that both of these very different drugs worked to reverse the effect of maternal .

“When we got similar results we said, ‘Wait a second. These are two completely different drugs. What could they have in common?'” Redei said. “We had no idea.”

They delved deeper and discovered both drugs normalize genes that control the expression of DNA methyl transferase1, an enzyme critical for via an epigenetic process called DNA methylation.

To further validate the role of DNA methyl transferase1 in , the scientists took normal rat pups and gave them a drug to inhibit the gene. The result was alcoholic look-alike pups. When researchers then gave the pups metformin, the pups’ memory returned to normal.

Recently, DNA methyl transferase1 has been implicated in the etiology of autism and neurodegenerative diseases.

Explore further: Could novel drug target autism and fetal alcohol disorder?

Pregnant Pause new campaign video launch event: Australia

Pregnant Pause new campaign video launch event from FAREAustralia on Vimeo.

Pregnant Pause, the innovative public health campaign that encourages mums-to-be to go alcohol free with the support of their family and friends, officially launched its latest television commercial on the big screen at a premiere screening at Palace Electric Cinema in Canberra on Monday.

Life is better with the support of family and friends. That messaging is at the heart of Pregnant Pause. It’s also the takeaway of the new, light-hearted Pregnant Pause television commercial (TVC) shot entirely on location in Canberra, which was launched by ACT Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Meegan Fitzharris, MLA.

Mums and bubs, and mums-to-be, including FARE’s very own Communications Officer, Jemima Turner joined with Pregnant Pausers, campaign stakeholders and supporters to get a first look at the new TVC – fittingly followed by an exclusive screening of the new blockbuster, Wonder Woman.

Showcasing Garema Place, Canberra suburbia and Deakin soccer stadium, the new campaign video, features local media personalities and Pregnant Pause ambassadors Kristen Henry and Rod Cuddihy from Canberra’s Mix 106.3.

With actors struggling to move house, flip a mattress, and awkwardly cheer for their favourite team without the help or company of others, the TVC makes clear that life is indeed easier and more enjoyable with the support of family and friends.

A big thank you to Meegan Fitzharris, Kristen Henry and Rod Cuddihy, and to Dr Boon Lim and ACT Health. Also a big shoutout to our campaign partners and supporters, Southern Cross Austereo, Mix 106.3, Club Lime and Palace Electric Cinema.

And finally, and most importantly, a big thank you to our Pregnant Pause community.
Missed the launch? Drink Tank has you covered. Watch our launch wrap-up video below, and take a look at our new TVC.

pregnantpause.com.au

 

New report from Canada’s Drug Futures Forum outlines recommendations for the next decade of drug policy in Canada

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Recommendations from a meeting of over 200 policymakers, public health officials, law enforcement professionals, researchers, people who use drugs, and community organizers provides an innovative roadmap to improve Canada’s policy response to illegal drugs over the coming ten years.

Toronto, Canada (July 14, 2017) – Against the backdrop of a national opioid overdose crisis and the fracturing of the global consensus on criminalization-based drug policies, over 200 participants met in Ottawa at Canada’s Drug Futures Forum in April 2017 to produce a ten year agenda for the future of Canadian drug policy. A new report outlines wide-ranging recommendations from the Forum, and calls for the exploration and implementation of innovative policies to reduce the harms of drugs and drug policy in Canada.

“The regulation of Canada’s recreational cannabis market, and a commitment to a growing public health response to the opioid overdose crisis, signal that Canada is now a leader in drug policy innovation,” said Dr. Dan Werb, Director of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy and Chair of the Organizing Committee for the Forum. “The recommendations yielded from Canada’s Drug Futures Forum build on this work to offer a roadmap for how to continue this drug policy innovation into the next decade.”

Available in both English and French, Canada’s Drug Futures Forum: Summary of Proceedings and Final Recommendations” synthesizes dialogue generated by speakers at the Forum and outlines recommendations from participants on the future of Canadian drug policy. The recommendations reflect predominant themes and areas of convergence in the Forum’s presentations and discussions, although not total consensus, and present opportunities to generate policy or amend existing policies in the short, medium, and long term across five domains, including:

  1. National drug policy reform;
  2. Criminal justice reform;
  3. Prevention, harm reduction, and treatment;
  4. Research and knowledge exchange; and,
  5. International leadership.

“Police professionals and agencies in Canada recognize that more needs to be done to assist people who use drugs in their struggles and challenges,” noted Senator Vernon White, who is also a former Chief of Police and Assistant RCMP Commissioner. “The Forum recommendations emphasize the importance of increased levels of medication-assisted therapy, which should be made available for both opioids and other substances. This would help to reduce the criminal elements involved in the drug trade, reduce crimes committed by people who use drugs, and help build recognition of drug dependence as a medical issue to be addressed by medical practitioners.”

“Canada’s recent moves on cannabis regulation, on supervised drug consumption, and on heroin prescription have provided it with a unique opportunity to establish itself as the global model in progressive and evidence-based drug policy,” explained Ann Fordham, Executive Director of the U.K.-based International Drug Policy Consortium. “The recommendation emerging from the Forum to establish a federal commission to explore regulation across a broader range of substances is a sensible next step given Canada’s pioneering work on cannabis policy reform.”

ABOUT CANADA’S DRUG FUTURES FORUM

From April 4-5, 2017, a multidisciplinary team of scholars convened over 200 researchers, policymakers, public health officials, law enforcement professionals, people who use drugs, and community organizers at Canada’s Drug Futures Forum in Ottawa, on traditional Algonquin territory, to examine the future of Canada’s domestic and international drug policies. The Forum featured speakers on four key themes: international control and management, integrating policing and public health, decriminalization and regulation, and strategies for health and social equity in drug policies. Participants joined facilitated working groups to generate policy recommendations, which have been consolidated in the report released today with the aim of adding details and caveats for clarity and accessibility while retaining the themes and spirit of the discussion. The recommendations presented in the report reflect areas of convergence but do not necessarily represent the views of all participants.

Canada’s Drug Futures Forum is supported by the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Canadian Public Health Association, Carleton University Faculty of Public Affairs, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Ottawa Global Strategy Lab, and Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

Free Online Addiction Medicine Diploma

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The Online Addiction Medicine Diploma is a free online certificate course targeted at health care professionals interested in learning more about providing care to patients with alcohol, tobacco, and opioid substance use disorders. The course is also open for anyone wishing to improve their knowledge of substance use and addiction. This program was supported by an investment by the Province of British Columbia and the Ministry of Health.

Course Objectives: 

By participating in this comprehensive online program, learners will build competence in substance use care and addiction medicine by:

  • Incorporating screening, diagnosis, and brief intervention and referral to treatment for substance use disorders in clinical practice
  • Selecting the appropriate pharmacological and psychosocial treatment interventions based on the best evidence as well as individual patient needs, circumstances, and preferences
  • Providing safe and effective treatment to patients and their families throughout the induction, maintenance, and/or discontinuation process across the continuum of care for substance use disorders
  • Setting treatment goals, monitoring and evaluating progress, and providing patient-centered support across the continuum of care for substance use disorders
  • Appreciating the complexity of substance use disorders, diversity of care, and providing informed referrals to evidence-based support services
  • Promoting recovery, safety, wellness, and harm reduction to improve patient care and support for those with substance use disorders
  • Implementing strategies for safer prescribing practices for medications with abuse/diversion potential (i.e. opioids for analgesia, benzodiazepines)

Topics Covered:

  • Introduction to Addiction Medicine
  • Screening, Diagnosis, and Brief Intervention for Substance Use Disorder
  • Opioid Use Disorder
  • Tobacco Use Disorder
  • Alcohol Use Disorder
  • Withdrawal Syndromes
  • Stimulant Use Disorder
  • Polysubstance Use
  • Co-occurring Disorders
  • Pain and Substance Use Disorders
  • Common Medical Complications
  • Safe Prescribing
  • Harm Reduction and Overdose Prevention
  • Psychosocial Interventions
  • Addiction in the Workplace
  • Recovery Oriented Systems of Care

To register or for more info0rmation please visit: http://www.bccsu.ca/about-the-online-addiction-medicine-diploma/ 

FASD: A guide for mental health professionals

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By Jerrod Brown

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), which researchers have estimated affect 2 to 5 percent of the U.S. population, are lifelong conditions that result from exposure to alcohol in utero. Kenneth L. Jones, David W. Smith and colleagues are credited with discovering the birth defects and long-term impacts on cognitive and social functioning caused by fetal alcohol syndrome in 1973.

Prenatal alcohol exposure can result in a host of issues related to:

  • Cognitive functioning (e.g., impulse control, attention, executive functioning)
  • Social functioning (e.g., communication skills, recognition of social cues)
  • Adaptive functioning (e.g., problem-solving, ability to adapt to new situations)

Furthermore, several neurological issues characterize FASD, including stunted cell and nerve growth, elevated rates of cell mortality, neurotransmitter interruptions and migration issues in organic brain growth. Complicating matters, the overwhelming majority of individuals with FASD experience an array of psychiatric disorders, increasing the likelihood that these individuals will need specialized services from mental health care providers.

Unfortunately, many of these providers and professionals lack the necessary training and expertise to accurately identify and effectively treat the unique and complex symptomatology of this population. The goal of this article is to provide a basic introduction of FASD to mental health professionals in six key areas: FASD symptoms, diagnostic comorbidity, memory impairments, tips for interacting with individuals who may have FASD, screening and assessment, and treatment.

FASD symptoms

A diverse range of symptoms characterizes FASD.

Executive functioning deficits: Impairments associated with executive functioning are a hallmark deficit of FASD, impacting the majority of individuals affected by these disorders. Executive functioning deficits are often associated with impulsivity, diminished ability to learn from consequences and impairments in planning, verbal reasoning, emotional regulation, memory and learning.

Social skills deficits: Individuals with FASD often have pervasive impairments in the domain of social functioning. Misinterpretation of social cues is not uncommon. This can lead to boundary violation concerns (e.g., inappropriately touching another person), which can in turn result in involvement in the criminal justice system. Such social skill deficits can also increase the individual’s level of vulnerability to manipulation by others and an inability to detect unsafe situations and people.

Attachment problems: Consistent with these deficits in social skills, poor attachment with the primary caregiver is relatively common in children with FASD. Poor attachment with the primary caregiver can increase the likelihood of misdiagnosis in a child. Common misdiagnoses may include attention-based (e.g., attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]) or behavior-based disorders (e.g., conduct and oppositional defiant disorders). In fact, it is not uncommon for these disorders to co-occur with a diagnosis of FASD. Given that reality, mental health professionals who work with individuals impacted by FASD should familiarize themselves with commonly co-occurring disorders such as those just mentioned.

Adaptive functioning: Adaptive functioning involves an individual’s practical, social and mental capacities to deal with everyday challenges and problems (e.g., personal hygiene, personal finances, navigating social interactions). In light of the executive functioning problems outlined earlier, as well as struggles with processing abstract information and solving problems, individuals with FASD have difficulty in the realm of adaptive functioning. The consequences can range from difficulty maintaining employment to struggles with caring for one’s self. Because of these deficits in adaptive functioning, a high percentage of individuals with FASD are dependent on the support of family and social services.

Learning problems: One of the key issues related to adaptive functioning among individuals with FASD is difficulty learning from past experiences. Furthermore, individuals with FASD often struggle to use past experience to prospectively avoid dangerous people and situations. These deficits are exacerbated by impulsivity and an inability to think strategically about decisions. Hence, FASD affects an individual’s ability to understand society’s norms and to behave within those norms.

Diagnostic comorbidity

Increasing the likelihood of negative short- and long-term outcomes, individuals with FASD often have co-occurring disorders and other issues.

Diagnostic comorbidity: It has been estimated that the overwhelming majority of individuals with FASD experience comorbid psychiatric conditions. ADHD is the most prevalent comorbid disorder observed among those affected by FASD. Other disorders frequently observed among adolescents with FASD include conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. Finally, individuals with FASD are also at an elevated risk to abuse substances later in life.

Physical complications: A number of physiological symptoms can suggest the possibility of FASD. For example, prenatal alcohol exposure can result in cardiovascular (e.g., septal defects, hypoplastic pulmonary arteries) and kidney (e.g., pyelonephritis, hydronephrosis, hypoplasia) irregularities. Prenatal alcohol exposure has also been linked to orthopedic irregularities in the structure of bones in the upper body (e.g., radioulnar synostosis), fingers and toes (e.g., camptodactyly, brachydactyly, clinodactyly).

Other brain-based injuries: Individuals with FASD may be more prone to traumatic brain injuries throughout the life span. This could contribute to the underdiagnosis and misdiagnosis of FASD. Furthermore, these traumatic brain injuries may exacerbate other secondary conditions, including ADHD, executive functioning impairments, mental health and substance use disorders, and so on.

Other life adversities: As a function of FASD and these other co-occurring disorders and impairments, individuals with FASD are disproportionately likely to be afflicted with problematic life experiences. For example, individuals with FASD often come from unstable homes, experience neglect and abuse (verbal, physical or sexual), and are exposed to substance use, mental illness and criminal justice involvement by their families and household members. As such, mental health professionals should view these co-occurring disorders and other negative life experiences as potential indicators of FASD, necessitating a need for further assessment and evaluation.

Memory

One of the most devastating cognitive deficits of FASD is short- and long-term memory impairment.

Poor memory: Individuals with FASD typically have problems associated with memory. In some instances, these issues can lead to over- and underendorsement of symptoms, contributing to missed and misdiagnosis. In other instances, these individuals can struggle with retrieving and communicating their memories, contributing to issues such as suggestibility, confabulation, fabricating stories and incorrect storytelling.

Suggestibility: The suggestibility of individuals with FASD can be detrimental in at least two ways. First, these individuals may be manipulated into participating in criminal activity by peers. Second, these individuals may be prone to falsely confessing to criminal activities that they did not commit. As such, mental health professionals must take care to verify the accuracy of statements made by individuals with FASD. Mental health professionals should also take the topic of suggestibility into account when phrasing and asking questions during the initial intake and diagnostic assessment process.

Confabulation: FASD and other disorders characterized by memory deficits often co-occur with confabulation issues. Confabulation occurs when new memories are created by filling gaps in recall with one’s real memories, imagination or environmental cues. Incidents of confabulation may occur spontaneously or be prompted. For example, confabulation is particularly likely in situations in which professionals ask leading questions or pressure the interviewee. As such, confabulation can contribute to inaccurate self-reports by the client, resulting in possible misdiagnosis and the development of an ineffective treatment plan.

Interacting with clients

The pervasive symptoms of FASD have important implications for how mental health professionals should interact with clients who may have these disorders.

Importance of simplicity: Individuals with FASD tend to perform better when tackling one task at a time. This is especially true of tasks that do not involve reliance on previous experience to complete. Multistep and complex questioning can result in individuals with FASD shutting down emotionally or responding with factually incorrect or incomplete responses. Mental health professionals should take this into account when screening, assessing and developing treatment plans for this population.

Superficial talkativeness: The propensity for individuals diagnosed with FASD to be charming and talkative may lead mental health professionals to overestimate their level of competence and comprehension of treatment goals. It is important for clinicians to have these individuals demonstrate understanding and knowledge of the question being asked by explaining it back to the professional in their own words. Overuse of yes-or-no questioning can also mask the individual’s true level of impairment.

Misinterpretation of callousness: In some cases, behaviors resulting from FASD symptoms might be mistaken as a choice rather than as a result of the disorders. The social and cognitive deficits of individuals with FASD can contribute to problematic behaviors being misinterpreted as premeditated or manipulative. In fact, many of the behaviors exhibited by individuals with FASD are the direct result of deficits caused by prenatal alcohol exposure.

Screening and assessment

The combination of nuanced symptomatology and diagnostic comorbidity makes the screening and diagnosis process for FASD difficult.

Diagnostic terminology: FASD is an all-encompassing term that includes fetal alcohol syndrome, partial fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder and alcohol-related birth defects. In the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders(DSM), neurodevelopmental disorder-associated with prenatal alcohol exposure has been added as a condition for further study. This is the first appearance of FASD-related symptoms in the DSM, which means mental health professionals can now diagnose prenatal alcohol exposure.

Missed and misdiagnosis: Missed and misdiagnoses of FASD may explain, at least in part, the limited awareness of the disorders among medical and mental health professionals. A lack of systematic education and training on FASD contributes to this situation. As a result, many children, youth and adults go unidentified and are subsequently unable to take advantage of advanced medical and psychological treatment and services that could render a better quality of life.

Detection difficulties: Another factor that likely contributes to the missed and misdiagnoses of FASD is the fact that these disorders are difficult to identify. Why is that? Visible indicators such as morphological signs are not always present, whereas cognitive deficits are difficult to detect using standardized intelligence measures. This is problematic because individuals with FASD who present with no outward signs of facial feature abnormalities can still possess severe neurobehavioral deficits. In fact, diagnosis of prenatal alcohol exposure becomes increasingly difficult as children grow into adolescence and adulthood. Specifically, many of the physical features of prenatal alcohol exposure fade as children grow physically. Furthermore, the availability of birth mothers and records decrease with time. As a result, many professionals and researchers have called FASD a “hidden disability.”

Importance of identification: Assessment and identification of FASD are essential because the likelihood of impairment related to alcohol exposure increases significantly with each subsequent pregnancy. Identification of these disorders in a first pregnancy provides a viable point of intervention to help prevent alcohol use in future pregnancies.

Treatment

Even in cases in which the individual has been accurately diagnosed with FASD, treatment can be challenging.

Problems with cognitive-based treatments: Individuals with FASD have cognitive (e.g., memory, understanding cause-and-effect), social (e.g., comprehending social cues) and adaptive (e.g., problem-solving ability, generalizing skills) deficits that complicate their participation in cognitive-based treatment. Likewise, insight-based therapy approaches are not encouraged with this population. Therapeutic approaches that incorporate modeling, coaching, teaching and skill building may be most effective with these individuals.

Problems with treatment adherence: Individuals with FASD may benefit more from treatment in structured residential facilities than in outpatient facilities because of the cognitive deficits associated with FASD. Should an outpatient program be the only option, odds of treatment success may be improved by maximizing program structure and tailoring treatment plans to the individual.

Conclusion

The disorders under the FASD umbrella are complex and lifelong. They are characterized by an array of adaptive, behavioral, emotional, executive, physical and social impairments. Considering the prevalence rates of FASD in the United States, it is highly likely that mental health professionals will come into frequent contact with individuals impacted by these disorders. Unfortunately, these disorders often go unrecognized and undiagnosed by many mental health professionals.

Other than simply improving identification of individuals with FASD, another essential step for mental health professionals is to better understand the various challenges and deficits faced by this population on a daily basis. To combat the status quo, mental health professionals are encouraged to seek training on this complex topic and consult with FASD experts when necessary. Taking this path forward will minimize the likelihood of negative short- and long-term outcomes for this population.

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Jerrod Brown is the treatment director for Pathways Counseling Center Inc., which provides programs and services benefiting individuals affected by mental illness and addictions. He is also the founder and CEO of the American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies and the editor-in-chief of Forensic Scholars Today. He holds graduate certificates in autism spectrum disorder, other health disabilities and traumatic brain injuries, and is certified as a fetal alcohol spectrum disorders trainer. Contact him at Jerrod01234Brown@live.com.

Retrieved from: https://ct.counseling.org/2017/07/fasd-guide-mental-health-professionals/

Why does prenatal alcohol exposure increase the likelihood of addiction?

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One of the many negative consequences when fetuses are exposed to alcohol in the womb is an increased risk for drug addiction later in life. Neuroscientists in the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions are discovering why.

Through a research grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Senior Research Scientist Roh-Yu Shen, PhD, is studying how prenatal alcohol exposure alters the reward system in the brain and how this change continues through adulthood.

The key appears to lie with endocannibinoids, cannabis-like chemicals that are produced by the brain itself.

“By understanding the role endocannibinoids play in increasing the brain’s susceptibility to addiction, we can start developing drug therapies or other interventions to combat that effect and, perhaps, other negative consequences of prenatal alcohol exposure,” Shen says.

Prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of birth defects and neurodevelopmental abnormalities in the United States. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) cause cognitive and behavioral problems. In addition to increased vulnerability of alcohol and other substance use disorders, FASD can lead to other mental health issues including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety and problems with impulse control.

“After the prenatal brain is exposed to alcohol, the endocannibinoids have a different effect on certain dopamine neurons which are involved in addicted behaviors than when brain is not exposed to alcohol,” Shen says. “The end result is that the dopamine neurons in the brain become more sensitive to a drug of abuse’s effect. So, later in life, a person needs much less drug use to become addicted.”

Specifically, in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the brain, endocannibinoids play a significant role in weakening the excitatory synapses onto dopamine neurons. The VTA is the part of the brain implicated in addiction, attention and reward processes. However, in a brain prenatally exposed to alcohol, the effect of the endocannabinoids is reduced due to a decreased function of endocannabinoid receptors. As a result, the excitatory synapses lose the ability to be weakened and continue to strengthen, which Shen believes is a critical brain mechanism for increased addiction risk.

Shen’s research appears in the latest issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. Kathryn Hausknecht, RIA research assistant, was the lead author of the article, with Ying-Ling Shen, PhD, former postdoctoral fellow, Rui-Xiang Wang, PhD candidate, UB Department of Psychology, Samir Haj-Dahmane, PhD, RIA senior research scientist and co-investigator, and Shen as co-authors.

RIA is a research center of the University at Buffalo and a national leader in the study of alcohol and substance abuse issues. RIA’s research programs, most of which have multiple-year funding, are supported by federal, state and private foundation grants. Located on UB’s Downtown Campus, RIA is a member of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and a key contributor to UB’s reputation for research excellence. To learn more, visit buffalo.edu/ria.

By Cathy Wilde

Communications Director
Research Institute on Addictions

Reyrieved from: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2017/07/005.html

 

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