Researchers Examine International Addiction Efforts

Addiction medicine researchers from Israel, Italy, and Spain shared findings Saturday from studies that examined substance abuse among recently discharged soldiers, prevalence and treatment of addiction and mental illness in the European Union (EU), and psychiatric disorders related to cocaine use.

“An International Perspective on Combined Addiction and Mental Illness” was co-sponsored by the International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Haim Mell, M.D., head of the Israel Anti-Drug Authority, presented “A Drug Treatment Program for Young Israeli Military Veterans.” In Israel, all young men and women serve in the military, and it is common for them to celebrate the end of their service by going backpacking in India.

In this environment, drug abuse is common, and the most commonly used substances are cannabis. To combat this issue, Israel has started education programs, such as putting help information on passport covers, and establishing a rescue program and Kfar Izun (harmony village) to treat and rehabilitate these ex-soldiers.

“The results excite me,” Dr. Mell says. “I can say since Kfar Izun has opened … 50 percent or more are going on with their lives without the stigma.”

Giuseppe Carra, M.D., M.Sc., Ph.D., presented “Combined Addiction and Major Mental Illness in Europe,” in which he detailed how the 27 states in the EU attempt to treat the growing issues of substance abuse and mental health disorders.

Research on drug use is readily available, but statistics for mental health disorders and treatment are lacking, he says. The overriding problem is that the many European nations and regions have very different approaches to dealing with drug use and mental health disorders.

“We have started to think about integrating programs, but the last available data shows a fragmented situation,” Dr. Carra says. “Having lost the comfort of our geographical boundaries, we must, in effect, rediscover what creates the bond between humans that constitutes a community,” he says.

Carlos Roncero, M.D., presented “Addiction and Dual Disorders,” in which he reviewed the epidemiology, risk factors, and risk factors models in the study of cocaine-induced psychosis (CIP). He is a member of the Department of Psychiatry, Hospital UniversitariVall d’Hebron, Barcelona.

Among the possible factors researchers examined as links in CIP were the quantity of cocaine consumed, body weight, comorbidities, genetic influences, and pharmacological interactions.

“The systematic evaluation of CIP can be very useful for preventing consequences or risks of psychotic states and hostile behavior that could be dangerous to themselves or others,” Dr. Roncero says of the research reviewed.