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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Pablo Escobar’s hippos: Why drug lords shouldn’t play God

Let the countdown begin! History and science (and danger) come together in our 10th most popular video of 2018.

  • Lucy Cooke—an acclaimed zoologist, author, and TV presenter—tells the story of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar's exotic animal menagerie, which included four hippos illegally imported from Africa.
  • Four hippos became eight, and eight became sixteen, and now this non-native creature is running wild in South America. Cooke explains why this is a moment in evolution — these hippos will evolve into a creature quite different to African hippos. She refers to them as Hippopotamus Escobarus. What will they look like thousands of years from now?
  • Lucy Cooke's latest book is The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife.
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The opioid crisis is profitable. Blockchain tech can end that.

A tech-minded approach to drug fraud could squash those who enable the deadly opioid crisis.

  • The same way blockchain technology could end the blood diamond trade, it could also stop those profiting from the opioid crisis by removing the traditional opportunities for drug fraud, explains Hyperledger's Brian Behlendorf.
  • "I tend not to blame the drug taker because I think they're just medicating to meet their needs, it's really the distributors and those writing fake prescriptions and others who are enabling a lot of this crisis, and I think distributed ledger technology can help us understand where there might be abuses in that system."
  • Blockchain technology could also revolutionize health information systems — from harnessing the IoT to ensure patients take their medication at the right time and often enough (drug adherence is a big problem), to checking the credibility of doctors, and not having to cart around a small filing cabinet of your life's medical records every time you change doctors or providers.