What if you were immune to chronic pain? Vaccines could make it happen.

Scientists are developing vaccines for migraines and sciatica (back pain) – a win in the war against the overprescription of opioid drugs.

  • Alzheimer's disease and unintentional deaths (like opioid overdoses and suicides) have been driving down U.S. longevity statistics for three consecutive years – a trend not seen since the Spanish flu pandemic.
  • Our current approach to treating chronic pain is drug-based, but a vaccine-based approach can cut addiction out of the equation.
  • You can vaccinate against pain! Scientists are developing vaccines for migraines and sciatica, which will lower the need for opioids, be cheaper, and make drug non-compliance a non-issue.
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MDMA shown to increase empathy over other substances

It's all about the serotonin.

German actor Jonas Dassler (L) and German director and screenwriter Fatih Akin embrace before leaving a press conference for the film 'The golden glove' (Der Goldene Handschuh) presented in competition at the 69th Berlinale film festival on February 9, 2019 in Berlin. - The Berlin film festival will be running from February 7 to 17, 2019. Nearly 400 movies from around the world will be presented, with 17 vying for the prestigious Golden Bear top prize. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
  • In a new study, MDMA is shown to produce better cognitive and emotional empathy than users of cocaine, ketamine, and alcohol.
  • This follows in the wake of criticism that MDMA use leads to social distress.
  • Illegal in America since 1985, MDMA is showing positive efficacy rates in clinical trials for treating depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
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The dos and don’ts of helping a drug-addicted person recover

How you talk to people with drug addiction might save their life.

  • Addiction is a learning disorder; it's not a sign that someone is a bad person.
  • Tough love doesn't help drug-addicted people. Research shows that the best way to get people help is through compassion, empathy and support. Approach them as an equal human being deserving of respect.
  • As a first step to recovery, Maia Szalavitz recommends the family or friends of people with addiction get them a complete psychiatric evaluation by somebody who is not affiliated with any treatment organization. Unfortunately, warns Szalavitz, some people will try to make a profit off of an addicted person without informing them of their full options.
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​Americans now more likely to die from opioids than car crashes

It marks a first for the U.S., where some 49,000 people died from opioids in 2018.

Narcan kits are available at a homeless encampment in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 22, 2018.
  • Each American has about a 1 in 7,569 chance of dying from an opioid overdose, according to a National Safety Council report. The probability of dying in a motor vehicle accident is 1 in 8,096.
  • The death rate for opioids is now six times higher than it was in 1999, with about 130 Americans dying every day from the drugs.
  • Narcan is a life-saving drug that can stop opioid overdoses in their tracks, however factors like stigma and cost are preventing this antidote from becoming more accessible.
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Humans take psychedelics. Should robots?

Psychedelics are crude drugs. Could neuroscience and super-intelligent AI help us design something better?

  • The illegal status of psychedelic substances is a terrible thing, says Ben Goertzel. With everything happening behind closed doors, our societies are not developing the right set of cultural institutions to guide people in the productive use of psychedelics.
  • Once scientists have mastered artificial general intelligence (AGI), the psychedelic experience could be engineered for the modern world – it would be safer, less haphazard, and more meaningful. We would "trip" by jacking our brains into the superhuman AGI mind cloud.
  • "We're going to be exploring states of consciousness that go way beyond anything we can imagine now and way beyond anything that the very crude psychedelic drugs that exist allow us access to," Goertzel says.
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