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Study shows drug use and impulsivity related in prison population

A new study by University researchers examines the link between impulsive behavior and drug use in prison inmates.

The research team, composed of public health and psychology professors who focus on addiction, recruited 242 adult inmates for the study. The research centered on lifetime use of alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepine, cocaine, marijuana, hallucinogens and polysubstances. The researchers recorded participants’ drug use during the last 30 days and throughout their lifetimes and gave a survey measuring impulsive tendencies. Their results will be published in the March 2015 issue of the journal Addictive Behaviors.

Ninety-four percent of participants reported having used alcohol in their lifetimes, while 70.8 percent reported using cocaine, and 47.5 percent said they had used hallucinogens.

The researchers found that impulsivity ratings were higher for inmates who were deemed lifetime users of any of the substances. Of lifetime users, frequency of use within the past 30 days positively correlated with higher impulsivity. Previous research has shown that drug use increases the likelihood of a person’s impulsive behavior, but these findings have never been extended specifically to the prison population, according to the study.

Interventions for addicted inmates should be considered by state and federal prison systems, the authors state in the article.


Professor becomes Leopold fellow

The Leopold Leadership Program named Heather Leslie, assistant professor of environmental studies and ecology and evolutionary biology, as one of its 2015 fellows. As part of the program, Leslie will spend a year at Stanford learning strategies to influence environmental policy more effectively.

Leslie, one of 20 fellows selected, plans to continue to focus her research on marine ecosystem conservation, she said in a University press release. “I am devoting my Leopold year to exploring different perspectives on conservation success: who contributes, who wins and who loses, and how we can learn from these stories to craft more effective conservation strategies in the future,” she said in the release.

The program, which is supported by the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, selects its scholars based on promising research ability and passion for implementing knowledge beyond typical academic settings, according to its website.

“The 2015 Leopold Leadership Fellows are generating new knowledge that is critical to answering the central question of our time: how to preserve Earth’s vital systems while providing the resources that support human well-being, including food, water, energy and fiber,” said Pamela Matson, co-director of the program, in an announcement on the website.

The program aims to give promising environmental scientists the skills necessary to convert their research into tangible, sustainable outcomes, according to the website.

“Having the opportunity to participate as a fellow will expose me to a new universe of inspirational colleagues. I’m confident it also will take my science in new and exciting directions,” Leslie said in the release.


Professor receives grant to improve HIV care

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine Mark Lurie has received a $1.6 million grant for his work improving HIV testing and treatment in South Africa, according to a University press release. During the course of the five-year grant, Lurie will travel to the country to work on improving the health care structures currently in place in order to make sure men and women receive the proper care for HIV.

In collaboration with Christopher Colvin, professor of public health at the University of Cape Town, Lurie will implement a new program aiming to lower HIV rates in the Cape Town region. Men are less likely to get tested for HIV and adhere to necessary treatment in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Lurie said in the release. They also often drop out of HIV programs due to the disjointed structure that plagues many of the programs, he added.

Lurie’s program enhances the management of health information to improve coordination of testing and treatment resources, according to the release.

“We urgently need interventions aimed at men to encourage them to get tested for HIV and to link them to care if infected,” Lurie said in the release.


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