Interview with Dirk Hanson, The Chemical Carousel
Sep23

Interview with Dirk Hanson, The Chemical Carousel

I'm always tickled to death to be asked to talk about natural products pharmacology and chemistry whether anyone wants to hear about it or not. So, when I was approached for an interview by science writer and author, Dirk Hanson, I couldn't help but say, "YES!" Dirk is perhaps best known as author of the outstanding book on substance dependence, The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. I've come to know him through the blogosphere at his blog, The Addiction Inbox. As readers here know, working in natural products invariably brings one to the topic of drugs of abuse since many such compounds are used recreationally for their activity in the central nervous system. Dirk has also been doing a terrific job as writer and editor for a new webzine directed toward the recovery community called The Fix ("Addiction and Recovery, Straight Up"). He's been wonderfully kind to list us here at Terra Sig on their bloglist as a source of nonjudgmental, scientifically-based information on substances of potential abuse. I was honored to be selected as Dirk's second subject after his interview with the internationally-recognized clinical psychologist and researcher from King's College London, Vaughan Bell. So when he asked me, I said that I'd definitely do it (but sadly put it off due to grant-writing). So without further adieu, here's my interview with Dirk Hanson at The Addition...

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Interviewed by Dirk Hanson, The Chemical Carousel
Sep23

Interviewed by Dirk Hanson, The Chemical Carousel

I'm always tickled to death to be asked to talk about natural products pharmacology and chemistry whether anyone wants to hear about it or not. So, when I was approached for an interview by science writer and author, Dirk Hanson, I couldn't help but say, "YES!" Dirk is perhaps best known as author of the outstanding book on substance dependence, The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. I've come to know him through the blogosphere at his blog, The Addiction Inbox. As readers here know, working in natural products invariably brings one to the topic of drugs of abuse since many such compounds are used recreationally for their activity in the central nervous system. Dirk has also been doing a terrific job as writer and editor for a new webzine directed toward the recovery community called The Fix ("Addiction and Recovery, Straight Up"). He's been wonderfully kind to list us here at Terra Sig on their bloglist as a source of nonjudgmental, scientifically-based information on substances of potential abuse. I was honored to be selected as Dirk's second subject after his interview with the internationally-recognized clinical psychologist and researcher from King's College London, Vaughan Bell. So when he asked me, I said that I'd definitely do it (but sadly put it off due to grant-writing). So without further adieu, here's my interview with Dirk Hanson at The Addition...

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Synthetic marijuana interview by Dirk Hanson, The Chemical Carousel
Sep23

Synthetic marijuana interview by Dirk Hanson, The Chemical Carousel

A hearty welcome to readers arriving via referrals from Dr. Vaughan Bell at Mind Hacks and Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. We've been writing about synthetic marijuana science and regulation for almost two years and have been impressed by the widespread interest. For more information, click here for a handy compilation of our writing on the subject.   I'm always tickled to death to be asked to talk about natural products pharmacology and chemistry whether anyone wants to hear about it or not. So, when I was approached for an interview by science writer and author, Dirk Hanson, I couldn't help but say, "YES!" Dirk is perhaps best known as author of the outstanding book on substance dependence, The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. I've come to know him through the blogosphere at his blog, The Addiction Inbox. As readers here know, working in natural products invariably brings one to the topic of drugs of abuse since many such compounds are used recreationally for their activity in the central nervous system. Dirk has also been doing a terrific job as writer and editor for a new webzine directed toward the recovery community called The Fix ("Addiction and Recovery, Straight Up"). He's been wonderfully kind to list us here at Terra Sig on their bloglist as a source of nonjudgmental, scientifically-based information on substances of potential abuse. I was honored to be selected as Dirk's second subject after his interview with the internationally-recognized clinical psychologist and researcher from King's College London, Vaughan Bell. So when he asked me, I said that I'd definitely do it (but sadly put it off due to grant-writing). So without further adieu, here's my interview with Dirk Hanson at The Addition...

Read More
Synthetic marijuana interview by Dirk Hanson, The Chemical Carousel
Sep23

Synthetic marijuana interview by Dirk Hanson, The Chemical Carousel

A hearty welcome to readers arriving via referrals from Dr. Vaughan Bell at Mind Hacks and Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. We've been writing about synthetic marijuana science and regulation for almost two years and have been impressed by the widespread interest. For more information, click here for a handy compilation of our writing on the subject.   I'm always tickled to death to be asked to talk about natural products pharmacology and chemistry whether anyone wants to hear about it or not. So, when I was approached for an interview by science writer and author, Dirk Hanson, I couldn't help but say, "YES!" Dirk is perhaps best known as author of the outstanding book on substance dependence, The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. I've come to know him through the blogosphere at his blog, The Addiction Inbox. As readers here know, working in natural products invariably brings one to the topic of drugs of abuse since many such compounds are used recreationally for their activity in the central nervous system. Dirk has also been doing a terrific job as writer and editor for a new webzine directed toward the recovery community called The Fix ("Addiction and Recovery, Straight Up"). He's been wonderfully kind to list us here at Terra Sig on their bloglist as a source of nonjudgmental, scientifically-based information on substances of potential abuse. I was honored to be selected as Dirk's second subject after his interview with the internationally-recognized clinical psychologist and researcher from King's College London, Vaughan Bell. So when he asked me, I said that I'd definitely do it (but sadly put it off due to grant-writing). So without further adieu, here's my interview with Dirk Hanson at The Addition...

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Amy Winehouse found dead in London
Jul23

Amy Winehouse found dead in London

I just learned from wire services that 27-year-old singer Amy Winehouse was found dead this afternoon in London (here is the Scotland Yard report without her name). She was a remarkable vocal talent in the classic style but her battle with drugs was painful to watch. I saw a very hurt and confused little girl inside this beautiful woman with a rich soulful voice that stood with decades of the most prodigious singers, both African-American and white. (In my update below, Russell Brand wrote of her, "a voice that seemed not to come from her but from somewhere beyond even Billie and Ella, from the font of all greatness.") Her trainwreck of a performance in Belgrade last month told me that her demise was forthcoming unless she sought (or was forced to seek) a vigorous drug addiction treatment program. The most recent news I could find about her post-Belgrade life and concert tour cancellation was her appearance this past Wednesday evening in London at a performance by her teenage goddaughter, Dionne Bromfield. Sadly, we'll be adding to this post on the pharmacology of her death once more details become available. Update 24 Jul, 7:40 pm: In the meantime, have a read of this superb discussion on the underlying causes of drug abuse by TIME Healthland writer Maia Szalavitz. I think many people might be surprised to learn that the drugs themselves are only part of the story. One thing, however, is certain. Blaming drugs or Winehouse's “enablers” for her death misses the point: what she needed was compassion, most of all from herself. Szalavitz will also be following this week at Healthland with discussions of treatment options and strategies to minimize overdose deaths. Szalavitz speaks from firsthand experience as a person with drug addiction 20 years ago. She is co-author of Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential — and Endangered (Morrow, 2010), with Dr. Bruce D. Perry Update 25 Jul, 5:45 am - Russell Brand, the British comedian and husband of singer Katy Perry, wrote a revealing and eloquent reflection on Winehouse from his experiences knowing her before she became famous just as he completed a rehabilitation program for his own substance dependence. Finally, James Hannaham had this particularly prescient article on 14 December 2007 in Salon. His article begins, We're all expecting Amy Winehouse to die. It seems inevitable, given the ferocious soul singer's combination of youth, chutzpah, talent, substance abuse and bad taste in...

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iAroma synthetic marijuana and the loss of Max Dobner
Jul16

iAroma synthetic marijuana and the loss of Max Dobner

If you have not heard about the risks of marginally-legal, synthetic marijuana products, a NBC Today Show piece this week certainly raised national awareness of these products sold online, in convenience stores, and smoke shops. (Note: the video autoplays after clicking the hyperlink.) On June 14 a 19-year-old northern Illinois man named Max Dobner crashed into a two-story home at a high rate of speed. The family living there was out but a baby had been napping an hour earlier in the room where the car entered. According to Paul Biasco at the Daily Herald: Police said Dobner was speeding in a 1999 Chrysler Cirrus east on Mooseheart Road, blew through a stop sign at the T-intersection at Route 31 and was sent airborne when the four-door struck a retaining wall. The vehicle flew about 15 feet in the air over an 80-foot stretch before hitting a tree and then the home, Zies said. “The car hit with such force the motor came dislodged from the vehicle and went in through two more rooms and ended up in a bedroom in the back of the house,” [North Aurora Fire District Capt. Todd] Zies said. “It wiped out four rooms: a living room, bedroom, bathroom and another bedroom on the other side.” This photo gallery at the Daily Herald shows the scene of the accident. Charles Menchaca of the Batavia Patch reported this week that in the intervening month since the accident, a potential reason for this inexplicable single-car accident has emerged: Max's brother reported speaking to him about having smoked a legal "potpourri" product called iAroma about an hour-and-a-half prior to the accident. Search engine hits to one of our introductory posts here and to those of our neuroscience colleague DrugMonkey let us know that many of you are looking for information about these products. Therefore, I thought I'd put together an "explainer" for anyone interested in this topic regardless of whether they have a scientific background. Please let me know if this helps you understand - if anything is unclear, please leave a message in the comments below and I'll follow-up. For more technical information written by us and several of our neuropharmacology research colleagues, scroll to the bottom of this post. Synthetic marijuana: where did it come from? Before I suggest background reading, let's just chat about the basics behind these so-called potpourri or incense products, also known as "legal highs." Many mind-altering substances come from my specialized branch of the study of drug action: natural products pharmacology and pharmacognosy. Natural "products" doesn't refer to retail products but rather chemicals made by plants, mushrooms, microorganisms, and other...

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