The real reasons young people are choosing sobriety

Illustration © Tertia Nash Beyond booze by Eve Upton-Clark Their drinking habits have seen them derided as ‘generation sensible’, but this overlooks the complex and nuanced reasons people are turning their back on alcohol, writes Eve Upton-Clark. In 2022, the idea that young people are going sober is nothing new. While this trend has been bubbling away for a while now, over the past year, it seems to have accelerated: in fact, almost 150,000 university students have stopped drinking since last September alone, according to new research by Student Beans. This means a third of university students in the UK identify as … Continue reading The real reasons young people are choosing sobriety

Does Consuming Cannabis Boost Creativity?

One question for Christopher Barnes, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Washington who studies human sustainability, sleep deprivation, behavioral ethics, and leadership. BY BRIAN GALLAGHER Does consuming cannabis boost creativity? We conducted two studies, which we carefully designed to test your question, and found similar results across both of the studies. We found that using cannabis makes you more jovial. It puts you in a better mood, and that joviality increases the degree to which you perceive your own work as creative. It also increases the degree to which you perceive other people’s work as creative. But we also had … Continue reading Does Consuming Cannabis Boost Creativity?

Why we crave

The neuroscientific picture of addiction overlooks the psychological and social factors that make cravings so hard to resist Zoey Lavallee is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the department of philosophy at McGill University, and a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre de recherche en éthique in Montréal, Canada. Human beings crave all sorts of things: coffee, sugar, sex, gambling, Xanax, porn, binge-watching TV shows, doomscrolling on social media, cocaine, online gaming, heroin, methamphetamines, hoarding. We each find different substances and activities alluring, and we develop distinct habits of choice. Cravings are an especially forceful and persuasive class of desires. When a … Continue reading Why we crave

Opinion: Let’s Bring the Informed Consent Process Out of the Shadows

Patients are increasingly interested in experimental regimens that use drugs like LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and other forms of trauma. For scientists interested in conducting such research, consent forms used in past studies are hard to obtain. The disclosures researchers use to obtain consent in clinical trials are rarely shared with the public. They should be. BY MISHA ANGRIST TAHLIA HARRISON HAS BEEN bombarded with questions about psychedelics. A practicing therapist, Harrison recently graduated from the bioethics and science policy program at Duke University, where I teach and served as her master’s thesis supervisor. Her patients are increasingly … Continue reading Opinion: Let’s Bring the Informed Consent Process Out of the Shadows

The high life: Doing drugs with ancient Greeks and Romans

Long before tobacco arrived from the Americas, ancient civilizations in the Old World were getting high off hemp smoke and opium.  KEY TAKEAWAYS Psychoactive substances are central to many New World cultures, but their role in the Old World is poorly understood.  Archaeological research suggests that ancient civilizations, like the Greeks and Romans, consumed hemp and opium.  Though drug dependency is a modern concept, sources describe Marcus Aurelius as an opium addict.  From ayahuasca to cocaine, psychoactive substances have played an important role in many native American societies. Derived from what are often referred to as “plants of the gods,” these substances … Continue reading The high life: Doing drugs with ancient Greeks and Romans

The Limits of Drug-Based Psychiatry

“The Mind and the Moon,” by Daniel Bergner, is a deeply reported critique of the medication revolution in psychiatry. BY JOSHUA C. KENDALL ABOUT 40 YEARS AGO, Daniel Bergner’s younger brother, Bob, then 21 and a college dropout, had a psychotic break. He became delusional; he was convinced that he might be the messiah and that he could cure their grandfather’s Alzheimer’s disease. Worn down by insomnia, Bob was also neglecting his personal hygiene. Out of desperation, the brothers’ parents arranged to have Bob committed to a locked psychiatric unit, where he was soon pumped up on a heavy dose of … Continue reading The Limits of Drug-Based Psychiatry

Unlocking the Mysteries of Pain

In “Song of Our Scars,” physician Haider Warraich surveys the science and history of pain, and our many misconceptions. BY EMILY CATANEO IF YOU’VE VISITED a doctor’s office anytime in the past five decades, after you’ve had your blood pressure taken and your weight measured, you’ve probably been asked that seemingly innocuous question: “Are you in any pain?” “Are you in any pain,” and the 1-to-10 pain scale, have become part and parcel of American health care. But does it make sense to reduce pain to a yes-or-no binary, or a number on a scale? Haider Warraich, a physician and Harvard Medical … Continue reading Unlocking the Mysteries of Pain

The dropout: a history

The dropout was not just a hippy-trippy hedonist but a paranoid soul, who feared brainwashing and societal control Charlie Williams is a postdoctoral research fellow on the Wellcome Trust-funded Pathologies of Solitude project at Queen Mary, University of London. Edited by Marina Benjamin In November 1967, Robin Farquharson ‘dropped out’. After losing his job as a computer programmer along with the flat he’d been renting, he decided to forgo the dwindling funds in his bank account and live on London’s streets. In his short memoir Drop Out! (1968), Farquharson recounted his homeless wanderings and loose associations with London’s underground scene, moving from … Continue reading The dropout: a history

One ayahuasca experience could have lasting effects on the brain

New research suggests just one trip can change parts of the brain related to mood. By B. David Zarley One ayahuasca experience may be all it takes to leave a lasting change on the brain, new research suggests. The study, published in the dopely-named Journal of Psychopharmacology, found lasting changes in parts of the brain that deal with higher-order cognitive functions, like creativity, concept learning, and decision making. Researchers took 50 subjects who had never had an ayahuasca experience before, giving some a low dose of the psychedelic and others a placebo. They took functional MRI scans — which show activity in the … Continue reading One ayahuasca experience could have lasting effects on the brain

Sex, drugs, and genes: Why some people morally condemn drugs

Our moral attitudes about sex and drugs share a genetic basis, suggests a recent study that examined the attitudes of more than 5,000 twins. KEY TAKEAWAYS Studies have consistently found that people who invest heavily in long-term, committed relationships are more likely to morally condemn the use of drugs.  One hypothesis says that this is because drug use is associated with social settings and incentives that encourage more promiscuous sexual behavior.   A recent study aimed to find out the extent to which views on drugs and sex might have a genetic component.  by Stephen Johnson Why would anyone morally condemn … Continue reading Sex, drugs, and genes: Why some people morally condemn drugs