A Project of the Empathic Therapy Center is an online library and newspaper project of the 501c3 nonprofit Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy, Education & Living, founded by Peter R. Breggin, MD and Ginger Breggin, working toward replacing the biological theories, diagnoses and treatments of "modern" psychiatry with better therapeutic and educational approaches

Peter R. Breggin, MD Websites

Drugs of Abuse

Drugs of abuse, street drugs and psychoactive substances have their own grave risks and hazards.  Where studies and other information comes up that relates to psychiatry and psychiatric drugs we will add the papers here.  For additional information see the following suggested references:

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (USA)


Ecstacy--Not Just a "Love" Drug-- It Can be Deadly

"Over the past 20 years there have been many reports of young people, mostly young women, who have had seizures or become unconscious after taking the illegal drug Ecstasy, also known as MDMA. The cause is a dangerously low level of sodium in the bloodstream. The brain is exquisitely sensitive to the exact right balance of sodium and water, and when they are out of whack, nausea, confusion and seizures can follow. It's a rare but dangerous side effect of the drug. Nearly one in five patients reported to have this complication died. Others had permanent brain damage."  Read more here.


"Cannabis use and progressive cortical thickness loss in areas rich in CB1 receptors during the first five years of schizophrenia" Rais M. etal European Neuropsychopharmacology (2010) 855-865

     This study says essentially that there is progressive grey matter volume shrinkage of the brain in schizophrenia [which increasingly is being documented as caused by antipsychotic drugs] and that the shrinkage is worse for those who are using Cannabis i.e. marijuana. 


"The Cannabis-Psychosis Link" Psychiatric Times, By Marie-Josee Lynch, MD, Rachel A. Rabin, MSc, and Tony P. George, MD, FRCPC, January 12, 2012.

" is estimated that approximately 4% of the population have a diagnosis of either cannabis abuse or dependence.  A history of cannabis misuse is even more common in patients who are schizophrenic than in the general population; 25% of patients with schizophrenia have a comorbid cannabis use disorder. Cannabis use disorders are especially common in younger and first episode patient samples and in samples with high proportions of males."


"Cannabis Use and the Course of Schizophrenia: 10 year Follow Up After First Hospitalization" D. Foti, et al, Am J Psychiatry, 2010
"Cannabis use is associated with an adverse course of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia, and vice versa, even after taking into account other clinical substance use, and demographic variables."


"Adolescent amphetamine use linked to permanent changes in brain function and behavior" Science News November 2011
New animal study shows amphetamine brain changes.


"Adolescent amphetamine exposure elicits dose-specific effects on monoaminergic neurotransmission and behaviour in adulthood" Labonte, B. et al, International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 2011


Increased Parkinson's risk from meth/amphetamine study: Significant and enduring dopamine toxicity caused by meth/amphetamine might only become clinically evident in susceptible users who have advanced to middle or older age—


"Obstetric Complications, Cannabis Use Predict Early Psychosis"  April 29, 2012 (Florence, Italy)  "Obstetric complications and cannabis use are the 2 strongest predictors of early onset of psychosis, new research shows. Presented here at the 3rd Biennial Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS) Conference, results from an early intervention for psychosis pilot service known as DETECT (Dublin East Treatment and Early Care Team) showed that after controlling for all environmental factors, obstetric complications had the strongest significant influence on age of onset, followed by cannabis use."


"Cannabis Damages Young Brains More Than Originally Thought, Study Finds" Science Daily Dec. 17, 2009


"Cannabis use and risk of psychotic or aff ective mental health outcomes: a systematic review" by Theresa H M Moore, et al Lancet 2007
"evidence is consistent with the view that cannabis increases risk of psychotic outcomes independently of confounding and transient intoxication eff ects, although evidence for aff ective outcomes is less strong. The uncertainty about whether cannabis causes psychosis is unlikely to be resolved by further longitudinal studies such as those reviewed here. However, we conclude that there is now suffi cient evidence to warn young people that using cannabis could increase their risk of developing a psychotic illness later in life."


"Psychedelic chemical subdues brain activity--Magic mushrooms' active ingredient constrains control centres" by Mo Costandi, Nature, 23 January 2012


"Clinical review: Major consequences of illicit drug consumption" by Robert J Devlin & John A. Henry Critical Care, Jan 11 2008  Overview of major acute health issues from illicit drug consumption


"Methamphetamine Brain Damage in Mice More Extensive Than Previously Thought" By Robert Mathias, NIDA Notes, Sept. 2000

Researchers "first linked this widespread loss of brain cells to a natural mechanism called apoptosis, through which the body programs unhealthy cells to kill themselves. In a study in cell cultures, they showed that treating rat brain cells with methamphetamine caused cell death marked by apoptotic patterns, such as DNA fragmentation and disintegration of cell bodies. Subsequent studies in genetically engineered mice that lacked specific genes known to promote or suppress programmed cell death suggested that at least part of the nerve damage caused by methamphetamine may result from activation of the molecular machinery that is involved in apoptosis. The strongest evidence that methamphetamine unleashes widespread apoptosis in animals came in a recent study that showed the drug caused DNA fragmentation and loss of nerve cell bodies in the striatum, the hippocampus, and the frontal cortex of mice brains."




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