Monday, July 11, 2005

Scientists finally find effective schizophrenia treatment


According to researchers at the Yale School of Medicine,

"Cigarette smoking may improve attention and short-–term memory in persons with schizophrenia by stimulating nicotine receptors in the brain, according to a study by Yale School of Medicine researchers in the June issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry.

"Persons with schizophrenia smoke two to three times more than smokers without mental illness, said the researchers. They found that when study subjects with schizophrenia stopped smoking, attention and short-–term memory were more impaired, but, when they started smoking again, their cognitive function improved. No effects from stopping or resuming smoking were observed in smokers without mental illness.

"Participants with and without schizophrenia were then asked to smoke while taking a drug called mecamylamine, which blocks nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain, preventing the nicotine from acting on those receptors. Mecamylamine blocked the ability of smoking to improve cognitive deficits in schizophrenia, but not in persons without mental illness. The findings suggest that when people with schizophrenia smoke, they may in part be self-medicating with nicotine to remedy cognitive deficits."

The implications are quite profound. Cigarettes will eventually be available by prescription only to people diagnosed as mentally ill. This will lead to a huge number of previously undiagnosed people eager to qualify as mentally ill so they can obtain cigarettes. This will not be difficult since smoking is itself evidence of mental illness. Libertarians will loudly demand medical tobacco laws. Physicians who prescribe too many cigarettes will land in jail. The Association of American Physicians & Surgeons will expand its Communicate and Cooperate project to include reporting cigarette abusing patients to law enforcement. With exclusive access to the slimming benefit of smoking, schizophrenics will be the only people in America who are not diabetic. Reason magazine will feature a piece by Sally Satel urging mandatory smoking treatment. China will become the major source of illicit tobacco in the U.S., each pack having a street value of $1,500. Massive federal funding will be directed to our Chinese allies in their war to eradicate tobacco crops. The Chinese will be be able to buy our best military armaments, and we will give them logistical support. Cigarettes will be offered as inducement for schizophrenics to join the all volunteer armed forces in their Indonesia campaign. Tobacco will replace meth as the number one drug of abuse in America.

But then I jest, don't I?


At 4:43 AM, Blogger Mira de Vries said...

If Edwin Wagena is right, then what nicotine does for "schizophrenics" is counter the effects of the neuroleptics.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Sheldon Richman said...

I love it!

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Lee Killough said...

I think they have it backwards: Cigarettes are not an effective treatment for schizophrenia. Rather, deprivation of liberty in the pursuit of cigarettes, leads to symptoms labeled "schizophrenia".

Drug-seeking behavior is quite deliberate and rational, and is not the result of "loss of control". It is the deliberate and rational pursuit of altered states which increase pleasure relative to other behaviors.

Why make it so difficult for ourselves, by artificially increasing the costs, and thus the benefits, of drugs? Drugs wouldn't be so "good" if they weren't so "bad". And I'm not just speaking of the forbidden fruit syndrome -- physically, psychologically, perceptually, we are making drugs more important than they have to be. Norman Zinberg called it "set and setting".


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