A team led by researchers at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom has developed a new, non-invasive test that's able to detect cocaine use in a patient by analyzing a single fingerprint. Unlike existing tests, the new technique is able to determine whether the subject has ingested the drug, rather than just touched it.
Like so many other illicit drugs, cocaine can be extremely, destructively addictive. Recent research suggests, however, that ridding people of such addictions may be as simple as zapping them on them scalp. In a study conducted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at UC San Francisco, scientists were able to turn cocaine addiction on and off in rats via pulses of laser light to their brains.
You don’t need an IQ much larger than your shoe size to realize that humanity is forever questing for an alternative reality. Apart from the behemoth industries peddling legalized drugs (alcohol, tobacco and caffeine), the extraordinary profitability of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and the rapidly growing number of synthetics now constitute the single largest income stream of criminal and terrorist organizations worldwide. Human drug usage began at the dawn of civilization and we may have sought out the first mind-altering substances by watching the behavior of animals which indulged.
One of the more interesting news items of the last week came from the release of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs’ first piece of research – Drug harms in the UK: a multi-criteria decision analysis. The findings of the committee, based on wide ranging criteria, apply scientific methodology to answering the perpetually vexing question of exactly how much harm certain drugs do to their users and those around them. The table above summarises the findings and the full paper is available free on the web, where you’ll see just how complex the equation actually is. Most interesting of all was that without government meddling and industry lobbying, alcohol was rated more harmful than any other drug, while tobacco (the only other taxed legal drug on the list), is more harmful than cannabis.
Ecstasy use is widespread across the globe, and has been for more than 20 years now. While there are occasional deaths and more frequent hospitalizations related to Ecstasy use, some argue that as illicit drugs go, it has far fewer negative effects than the real bad boys - heroin, crack, ice - so why is it treated by lawmakers as a class A or schedule 1 drug with penalties attached to it as severe as with heroin? The counter-argument is that Ecstasy's long term effects on the brain aren't well understood - but a recent UK review by a government advisory council has sifted through more than 20 years' worth of evidence to come to the conclusion that yes, Ecstasy can be shown to cause cognitive impairment, memory loss and depression. But the effects are so slight that users still fall well within the normal ranges. The report concludes with a recommendation that Ecstasy be re-classified down to the level of class B drugs like marijuana.
October 26, 2006 Prostitution is claimed to be the world’s oldest profession but in our book piracy would be a legitimate contender for the oldest profession and statistics show it is still a highly profitable and viable profession. One of our favourite blogs, slashdot
, contained the following post today - "The music, movie, and software cartels claim 'piracy' is a Number One problem not only for themselves, but for the world as a whole and so successful are their continuing dis- and misinformation propaganda campaigns that they've been able to dragoon entire governments and police forces into acting as industry enforcers. But, says p2pnet
, far from being at the top of the pile, movie and music piracy rank 16th and 20th, respectively, on a global index of illicit markets
. (Software piracy ranks 7th.) And even those positions are subject to considerable doubt." The statistics make fascinating reading with Marijuana claiming the gold for the world’s largest illicit trade ahead of Counterfeit Technology Products, Cocaine and Opium/heroin
, but it was the list of countries that are the worst offenders that knocked our socks off – looking uncannily like the gold medal count at an Olympic games, the USA wins hands down from China, Germany, UK and Russia.
The top 20 markets and countries can be found here
The wonders of pharmacology keep appearing regularly, each new drug seemingly too good to be true. In recent times there have been several killer apps for the drug industry – chemical substances that replace depression with a happy disposition or bolster a flagging sex drive to royal command performance (with encore) levels. Prozac and Viagra provided benefits so compelling they have entered everyday language and have a global following. Now there’s another “drug-most-likely-to-succeed” – this one enables you to stay awake for 40+ hours with close to full mental capacity with few side effects