Plus: Treatment inequity in the criminal justice system, the effect of cannabis use on vision, and the “narco-submarine”
By William WagnerApril 20, 2021
Is it or isn’t it? The debate continues over where—or whether—social media falls within the addiction framework, this time with a study in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions.
Additionally in this week’s “From the Journals,” we dig into the lack of MAT in the criminal justice system, what marijuana does to your eyesight, and the insidious “narco-submarine.”
An attentional bias to addiction-related stimuli is considered to be a hallmark of the changes to brain neurochemistry and attentional deployment which arise from addictive behaviours. While there is evidence for such biases in both substance and non-substance-related addictions, we found no such effect in relation to social media stimuli in a varied group of social media users.”—study in “Journal of Behavioral Addictions”
From the Journal of Behavioral Addictions:
Social Media’s Place in the Addiction Framework
Because social media is a relatively new phenomenon, we still have much to learn about its addictiveness. Researchers from Scotland and Australia are among the latest to tackle the hotly contested subject, and their study in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions tilts toward the “social media isn’t addictive” side of the argument.
“Research has largely focused on the negative outcomes which may be associated with excessive use, and there is a growing debate which relates to whether this should be categorised as a clinically relevant addictive behavior,” they write. “An attentional bias to addiction-related stimuli is considered to be a hallmark of the changes to brain neurochemistry and attentional deployment which arise from addictive behaviours. While there is evidence for such biases in both substance- and non-substance-related addictions, we found no such effect in relation to social media stimuli in a varied group of social media users.”
For their experiments, the researchers gave 100 participants iPhones with displays that were outfitted with social media “distractor apps” and then measured the reactions to those stimuli to determine if there was an attentional bias. The group says future research needs to further dissect attentional bias as it relates to social media use.
From Health Affairs:
MAT and the Criminal Justice System
A disproportionate number of people involved with the criminal justice system are vulnerable to opioid use disorder (OUD), yet they’re less likely to get the care they need. In particular, they encounter obstacles in receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which has yielded encouraging results for patients with OUD. Medicaid expansion, however, has helped to lessen this inequity at least a bit. The findings come courtesy of University of Pennsylvania researchers, who analyzed the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Episode Data Set-Admissions from a 10-year period (2008–17).
From Scientific Reports:
Marijuana’s Impact on Vision
Among the deleterious effects of marijuana use is impaired vision, according to a study out of the University of Granada in Spain. Researchers found that visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, three-dimensional vision, the ability to focus, and glare sensitivity all became much worse after smoking marijuana. Making matters potentially more dangerous, the majority of participants in the study didn’t think their eyesight had deteriorated badly following their marijuana use. The researchers hope their study’s conclusions “help generate a better understanding of the visual changes related to cannabis use and their implications for everyday tasks, raising awareness among users of the risks involved [in] consuming this drug.”
From InSight Crime:
Here Comes the “Narco-Submarine”
One of the more elaborate tools used by drug traffickers is the small semi-submersible vessel dubbed the “narco-submarine.” Now use of such craft may be growing. In March, Spain’s National Police seized a narco-sub that was manufactured in the country and capable of transporting up to two tons of drugs. Previously, all seized vessels of this type had been manufactured in Latin America. In the ever-evolving cat-and-mouse game between drug enforcement officials and traffickers, experts believe the narco-submarine will be more widely deployed. “As drug seizures targeting shipping containers have risen, narco-submarines could become more attractive to traffickers, despite their high construction costs,” reports InSight Crime.
Photo: Ravi Sharma