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American Addiction centers writes

Drug abuse has devastating effects on the mind, behavior, and relationships, but the permanent effects of drugs on the body can slowly destroy vital systems and functions, culminating in permanent disability or even death. Even legal drugs, taken to excess, can cause significant problems that cannot be easily undone; and for some illegal drugs, excessive consumption might not even be necessary for lifelong damage to occur.

Cocaine Use and the Body

girl cocaine As one of the most dangerous drugs in the world, what cocaine does to both the body and mind has been well documented. However, there are many factors that can influence the precise nature of the long-term physical effects that cocaine has on a user. Some of these factors include:

  • Timespan (the duration of the cocaine use)
  • Frequency of consumption
  • What type of cocaine (cocaine hydrochloride versus the freebase “crack” form of the drug)
  • How the drug was taken (whether it was snorted, smoked, or injected into a vein, as smoking cocaine makes the drug reach the brain more quickly than snorting, giving users the immediate effect)
  • The average amount of cocaine consumed per dose
  • Individual biology, psychology and physiology, which can include current mental health status, family history, age, gender, diet, the presence of other drugs, etc.

Among the long-term (and possibly permanent) effects of cocaine are a decrease in bone density and muscle mass, which can lead to osteoporosis. Cocaine suppresses appetite, so much so that it can be a cause of, and a consequence of, eating disorders. The drug significantly changes the body’s metabolism, rendering fatty foods meaningless and giving addicts much less body fat than people who don’t use cocaine.

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‘Profound Metabolic Alteration’

On its own, cocaine can also cause lasting damage to food and liquid intake, resulting in permanent changes to body weight (or a “profound metabolic alteration,” in the words of the Appetite journal) regardless of diet.


cocaine respiratory effects

Cocaine abuse can also induce a persistent cough in users due to the widespread damage that the substance does to the respiratory system; specifically, complications in the upper respiratory and pulmonary systems often result breathing troubles, which lead to an inadequate supply of blood to the heart muscles (a condition known as ischemia). Repeated exposure to cocaine through snorting and smoking can also cause infections and tissue death of the nasal linings and sinuses. Users can experience chronic cough, chest pain, and fatigue due to lung damage (pulmonary edema), as well as pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding from the lungs) and a number of other conditions, such as pulmonary barotrauma, foreign body granulomas, a cocaine-related pulmonary infection, obliterative bronchiolitis, and asthma, to name some listed by the Recent Developments in Alcoholism journal. Long-term cocaine users are often easily fatigued, have trouble breathing, and regularly experience chest pains.


Much research has been conducted into what cocaine abuse does to the heart and cardiovascular systems in the long-term. The American Heart Association noted that…

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AmericanAddictionCenters.org writes

What Are Some Drug Withdrawal Symptoms?

The symptoms of drug withdrawal, and the length of that withdrawal, vary depending on the drug of abuse and the length of the addiction. These are a few withdrawal symptoms and timelines for major targets of abuse:

  • Heroin and prescription painkillers: flu-like symptoms lasting 24-48 hours
  • Benzodiazepines: anxiety and/or seizures lasting weeks or (in some cases) months
  • Cocaine: depression and restlessness lasting 7-10 days
  • Alcohol: tremors and/or seizures lasting three days to several weeks

In 2011, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health(NSDUH) published that almost 25 million Americans over the age of 12, approaching 10 percent of this section of the population, had used an illicit drug in the month prior to the survey, classifying them as current drug users.

Addictive drugs and alcohol make changes to the way the brain processes emotions and regulates mood. Many of these changes create a flood of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which create an artificial feeling of pleasure, or a “high.”


Continued abuse of drugs or alcohol interferes with the motivation and reward chemistry and circuitry, resulting in drug cravings and dependence.


Once a dependence on a substance has formed, withdrawal symptoms will start when the substance is then removed. Different drugs and substances will have different withdrawal symptoms and timelines, depending on how they interact with the brain and bodily functions. Drugs are absorbed and remain active in the body for differing amounts of time. This is often referred to as the drug’s “half-life,”which relates to the different withdrawal timelines for each substance.

The severity and duration of withdrawal is influenced by the level of dependency on the substance and a few other factors, including:

  • Length of time abusing the substance
  • Type of substance abused
  • Method of abuse (e.g., snorting, smoking, injecting, or swallowing)
  • Amount taken each time
  • Family history and genetic makeup
  • Medical and mental health factors

For example, someone who has regularly injected large doses of heroin for several years, with a family history of addiction and underlying mental health problems, is likely to experience a longer withdrawal period with potentially more…

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The Recovery Village writes

Alcohol and substance abuse are two problems that are incredibly common among all age groups and people from all backgrounds, both on their own and in combination with one another.

Alcoholism is a problem that leads to around 88,000 deaths on its own each year, and deaths related to alcohol are the fourth-leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. This doesn’t even take into account the deaths resulting from a combination of alcohol and substance abuse.

 

People who struggle with alcohol abuse or addiction frequently use other substances as well, which may include prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, or illicit street drugs. When multiple substances are combined, it amplifies the risk of adverse side effects, as well as overdose and death.Alcohol and substance abuse that occur together are often referred to as polydrug abuse or polysubstance abuse, and for someone who regularly engages in the mixing of alcohol and substances, it’s referred to as chronic polysubstance abuse.

According to research, a significant amount of visits to the ER related to alcohol were because it was combined with other drugs. The drugs most commonly mixed with alcohol are marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.

Also commonly combined with alcohol are prescription drugs including opioids and sedatives.

There are a few reasons someone might suffer from both alcohol and substance abuse simultaneously. It might be something that starts without intention, or for some people, it’s done as a way to heighten the desirable side effects of the substances being taken.

Below are some of the results of pairing alcohol with other commonly abused substances:

  • Cocaine and Alcohol: When someone abuses cocaine and alcohol you’re mixing something that’s considered a stimulant (cocaine) with a depressant (alcohol). Depending on the person this can lead to reduced effects from both substances, or heightened effects. With that being said, when you take cocaine and alcohol together it can increase your chances of experiencing heart-related issues or death.
  • Alcohol and Opioids: It’s no surprise that America is facing a troubling opioid epidemic, and alcohol is one of the substances often combined with opioids like heroin and prescription pain medicines. Both alcohol and opioids are depressants of the central nervous system, making this an incredibly dangerous combination. When you take opioids and alcohol together, it can slow your respiration and central nervous system functionality to the point that you overdose and die, much more quickly than if you just took alcohol or just took opioids alone.
  • Alcohol and Other Prescription Drugs: There are many other prescription drugs that are very dangerous when paired with alcohol. For example, sleep medicines, sedatives and antianxiety medicines can all lead to death when mixed…

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The CATO Institute writes

The National Center for Health Statistics reported last month that a record 63,600 deaths occurred in 2016 due to overdoses. Digging deeper into that number shows over 20,000 of those deaths were due to the powerful drug fentanyl, more than 15,000 were caused by heroin, and roughly 14,500 were caused by prescription opioids, although it has been known for years that, in most cases of prescription opioid deaths, the victims had multiple other potentiating drugs onboard. The rest of the deaths were due to methamphetamines, cocaine, benzodiazepines, and methadone.

Drugs Involved in U.S. Overdose Deaths* – Among the more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2016, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids) with over 20,000 overdose deaths. Source: CDC WONDER

* Provisional counts for 2016 are based on data available for analysis as of 8/2017.

In its end-of-year report, the National Center for Health Statistics noted deaths from fentanyl increased at a steady annual rate of 18% per year from 1999-2013 and then shot up 88% from 2013-2016.

Fentanyl is not routinely prescribed in the outpatient setting, and when it is, it most commonly is in the form of a skin patch for slow…

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Health Day writes-

FRIDAY, Feb. 10, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Using illegal amphetamine drugs such as “speed” and “ice” may lead to premature aging of the arteries and heart, researchers warn.

They said their new study adds to evidence about the need to tackle the “global stimulant epidemic.”

The investigators were led by Stuart Reece, a clinical associate professor at the University of Western Australia. They assessed arterial stiffening in more than 700 Australians in their 30s and 40s. Arteries tend to harden with age.

Those participants who used illegal amphetamines showed greater aging of the arteries than others, including those who smoked tobacco or used the heroin substitute methadone, the study reported.

The link between illegal amphetamine use and greater aging of the arteries was seen in men and women. It was also independent of other risk factors for heart disease and stroke, Reece and his colleagues said.

It’s not clear if this damage is reversible, the researchers noted.

The study was published Feb. 9 in the online journal Heart Asia.

Amphetamines are stimulants that can cause heart effects such as elevated heart rate and blood pressure, and increased risk of heart attack, stroke and aneurysm rupture, the researchers said.

The study didn’t establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship or provide information on dosage.

Still, the findings suggest that “recurrent habitual amphetamine abuse ages the cardiovasculature, and likely the whole organism generally,” the researchers said in a journal news release.

“It is therefore conceivable that stimulant abusers do physiological and cardiovascular harm,” they added

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Muriwood teen write

  • Cough syrups and cold medicines. In 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to the public about the potentially harmful effects of cough and cold remedies containing dextromethorphan, or DXM. This warning followed the deaths of five teenagers who allegedly overdosed on DXM in capsule form. When taken in large doses, this cough suppressant can cause central nervous system depression, hallucinations and sensory disturbances. An overdose of DXM can lead to respiratory suppression, high or low blood pressure, seizures, fever, nausea and vomiting, sedation, dizziness, coma and death.
  • Energy pills. Over-the-counter energy pills containing caffeine and other central nervous system stimulants are usually considered harmless. But teens who take high doses of legal stimulants to stay alert, lose weight or increase their energy level may be putting their health at risk. A caffeine overdose can lead to heart problems, dehydration, anxiety attacks, insomnia and stomach distress.
  • Motion sickness drugs. Motion sickness is a common problem, and it’s not unusual to find medicines containing the chemicals dimenhydrinate or diphenydramine (the active ingredients in Dramamine and Benadryl, respectively) in American households. Teens who abuse motion sickness pills can experience mind-altering side effects, but they are also at risk of liver problems, kidney damage, heart failure, coma and death.
  • Nasal decongestants and allergy medicines. Pseudoephedrine is the active ingredient in many cold and allergy medications. But the over-the-counter drug that you buy to relieve a stuffy nose could be a stimulant with a high potential for abuse. Pseudoephedrine is an antihistamine that boosts energy and creates a euphoric buzz when taken in high doses. Because medications containing pseudoephedrine have been used illegally to make street drugs like methamphetamine, access to these products is now restricted in many states.
  • Weight loss supplements, appetite suppressants and laxatives. Whether they’re sold as tablets, capsules, powdered beverages, herbal supplements, teas or in any other form, these products have a high abuse potential for image-conscious teens. Many diet pills and laxatives contain synthetic or herbal stimulants that are supposed to boost the metabolism and facilitate fat-burning; however, these chemicals can also create a burst of energy that’s psychologically addictive. The side effects of weight-loss products range from a rapid heart rate and high blood pressure to severe dehydration, anxiety, tremors, heart failure and death.
  • Pain relievers. Pain relievers are among the most widely used over-the-counter medications, and when used appropriately, they can safely relieve discomfort. But when drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen are abused, they can cause liver failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, heart and kidney problems. A study published in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety reveals that over 450 Americans die of acetaminophen overdoses every year, and that the number of fatalities linked to this common pain reliever has almost doubled in recent years.

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Stop Medicine Abuse writes-

As a parent, it’s important for you to be aware of the warning signs that could suggest your teen is abusing OTC medicines.

Does your teen:

  • Seem depressed or withdrawn?
  • Display sudden outbursts of anger?
  • Visit to pro-drug Internet sites that have information about how to obtain and use OTC drugs to get high? View a list of these common websites here.
  • Abandon hobbies and interests he/she previously enjoyed?

If the answer to any of those questions was “yes,” don’t be alarmed; instead, try some of the following tips to learn more about what your teen may be going through and provide guidance and support if there’s a problem:

  • Talk to your teen. Speak up about your concerns and make sure your teen knows he or she can share anything with you.
  • Check your teen computer’s browser history.
  • Provide structure in your teen’s life by creating and sticking to a routine. For example, have mandatory family dinners every evening, or make sure your teen cleans his or her room every day.
  • Talk to your teen’s friends and their parents to make sure you’re in the know about your teen’s everyday activities and behaviors.

There are countless dangers when teens abuse OTC drugs, which is why these drugs are intended to be taken under the direction of a parent or guardian. If there is a problem, you have the power to be part of the solution. I know it can be difficult, but you can do it – and you’ll be glad you did.

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Medscape writes-

Today’s teens are part of the “Rx Generation.[1]” According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA),[4]7 million people of all ages used psychotherapeutic drugs for nonmedical purposes in 2006. This included 5.2 million who misused pain relievers, 1.8 million who misused tranquilizers, 1.2 million who misused stimulants, and 0.4 million who misused sedatives. A significant proportion of these are adolescents. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health[3]revealed that more than 2 million teenagers misused prescription drugs in 2005. According to SAMHSA[5]:

  • One in 5 teens has misused prescription drugs.
  • One in 3 teens has reported that there is “nothing wrong” with using prescription drugs “every once and a while.”
  • One in 3 teens has reported knowing another youth who misuses or abuses prescription drugs.
  • Every day, nearly 2500 youths misuse a prescription drug for the first time.
  • Prescription drugs are abused by teens more often than cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and methamphetamine combined.
  • Prescription drugs are the drug of choice among 12- and 13-year-olds.
  • Girls are more likely than boys to intentionally use prescription drugs to get high.
  • Most teens (57%) who use these products admit that they get prescription drugs for free from a relative or friend (47%) or take them from a relative or friend (10%) without permission. An additional 10% buy narcotic analgesics from a friend or relative.
  • Adolescents are more likely than young adults to become dependent on prescription medication.

More than 3 million young people in the United States, aged 12-25 years, are thought to have used OTC cough and cold medications nonmedically in 2006.[3] Teenagers, especially 14- to 15-year-olds, act more independently than younger children in making decisions about what to take and when to use nonprescribed medications.[6] The following additional data in regard to the nonmedical use of OTC products found that:

  • OTC cough and cold remedies were misused by 4% of 8th graders, 5% of 10th graders, and 6% of 12th graders in the past year[7];
  • From 1999 to 2004, poison control centers reported a 7-fold increase nationwide in the abuse of dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in cough and cold medicine. Most of these cases were among 15- and 16-year-olds[8];
  • Among Hispanic teens,1 in 5 (21%) or about 581,000 teens have taken prescription medications to get high[1];
  • In the same group, 1 in 8 (13%) or about 352,000 Hispanic teens reported abusing cough medicine to get high[1]; and
  • Overall, whites were more likely to report having abused OTC medications (6.2%) than blacks (2.5%). Rates were not estimated for Asian Americans or Native Americans.[3]

The challenge for parents is to become aware of the problem, remain vigilant, and to educate themselves about the various means through which their children may be putting themselves at risk with prescription and OTC drugs. Parents may simply not be aware of the consequences of this type of abuse. Despite the increase in parent-teen discussions about the risks for drugs, many parents may not be discussing the risks of abusing prescription and OTC medicines with their children. Only 24% of teens have reported that their parents had talked with them about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs or the use of medications outside of a clinician’s supervision, and just 18% of teens have indicated that their parents had discussed the risks of abusing OTC cough medicine.[6] Prescription and OTC drug misuse often begins innocently with teens “borrowing” medications from each other. Recent research found that approximately 20% of adolescents have shared prescription medications.[10]

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America recommends a 3-step approach: (1) educate; (2) communicate; and (3) safeguard. Parents are encouraged to:

  • Educate themselves about which medications can be misused or abused, and learn about the very real dangers and risks of this behavior;
  • Communicate these risks to their kids, dispelling the notion that medicines can be safely abused; and
  • Safeguard medications by limiting access to those that can be abused, keeping track of quantities, and safely disposing of medications that are no longer needed. Parents should also enlist the support of fellow parents to ensure that they do the same.

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Brief Description

Synthetic cannabinoids refer to a growing number of man-made mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked (herbal incense) or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices (liquid incense)

Since the cost is low – as little as $1 a joint ­– and the product is plentiful, making it popular among homeless populations.  New York, like many other cities, has banned the manufacture and sale of K2, reportedly bringing hospital visits down by 85 percent. But the problem is nowhere near gone.

Yesterday’s overdoses occurred near the Myrtle and Wykoff intersection in Brooklyn, an area that local news site DNA Info has reported is the epicenter of the epidemic in the city, often called “K2 Heaven” by locals. Addicts congregate under an elevated train, smoking openly in front of private homes and gardens.

The drug often makes users act erratically, experiencing respiratory problems and collapsing into the sidewalk or street. But yesterday, the problem hit new levels, and onlookers called 911 when the usual sea of “zombies” began to look more disturbing than usual, what one resident described as “a scene out of The Walking Dead.” Thirty-three people were taken to the hospital, suspected of overdoes. “Pairs of police officers walked the blocks around Broadway and Myrtle Avenue, checking the vital signs of men they found unconscious,” the New York Times reported. “Anyone who was unresponsive was loaded onto a stretcher and taken away in an ambulance.”

For those who may be unaware of the drug and its side effects, here are answers to some of the most common questions.

What is synthetic marijuana?
At its core, synthetic marijuana is a blend of industrial chemicals sprayed on dried leaves and lawn clippings, wrapped in brightly colored packages and sold under a variety of brand names – K2 and Spice being the most recognizable – though hundreds of others have been found. While it’s designed to look like marijuana, it affects the brain differently than the natural drug, and, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, users can experience “anxiety and agitation, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, shaking and seizures, hallucinations and paranoia, and they may act violently.” A constantly changing range of chemicals is used, and the combination and potency can change by brand or even by batch.

Where did it come from?
In the 1990s, South Carolina chemist John W. Huffman began researching artificial ways to mimic cannabinoids, the active chemicals found in marijuana, in order to research the therapeutic effects without facing the red tape of experimenting with Schedule 1 substance. He was somewhat successful – one of the compounds he developed was shown to help non-melanoma skin cancer and brain tumors in lab mice – so he published his findings in the mid-2000s, which included instructions for manufacture that he later said could be followed by a “halfway decent undergraduate chemistry major in three steps using commercially available materials.” Not surprisingly, many did – though Huffman doesn’t understand why so many people would try something so dangerous, comparing smoking the drug to playing “Russian roulette.”

Why is it so popular?
First off, the price. While an ounce of real marijuana can go for upwards of $350 on the street, this synthetic drug costs about $50 online or about $10 a bag in some corner stores or head shops – making it a hit among kids and the homeless. Also, since its not just a single substance, synthetic marijuana doesn’t show up in drug tests, making it first choice for people who face testing, like those in the military or under court-ordered supervision.

Is it illegal?
For the first few years of existence, manufacturers flew under the radar by stamping “not for human consumption” on the packets and marketing it as potpourri. As use and illness reached troubling levels, however, states such as New Hampshire, Nebraska and New Yorkbegan cracking down. Regulation helped drive down availability and use, but it’s by no means gone, especially since the compounds are constantly being altered to skirt federal regulation and bans. In an interview with NBC New York, one addict said that after convenience stores were banned from selling the substance last fall, it just moved onto the street. “They have guys that walk around and sell it because they know police are here watching the stores,” he said. “Everyone knows who the guys are.”

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webMD writes

Is it possible that you or someone you love is addicted to prescription drugs? Most of us take prescription drugs only for the reason the doctor intended. Nevertheless, an estimated 48 million people (aged 12 and older), according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in their lifetime. That figure represents approximately 20% of the U.S. population.

In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in prescription drug misuse or abuse. This increase has led to a corresponding increase in ER visits because of accidental overdoses as well as admissions to drug treatment programs for drug addictions.

Commonly Abused Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs
What Is a Drug Addiction?
Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease. It causes compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences to the addicted person as well as the people around that person. The abuse of drugs — even prescription drugs — leads to changes in the structure and function of the brain.
For most people, the initial decision to take prescription drugs is voluntary. Over a period of time, however, changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse affect a person’s self control and ability to make sound decisions. While this is going on, the person continues to experience intense impulses to take more drugs.

Which Prescription Drugs Are Commonly Abused?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the three classes of prescription drugs that are often abused include:

Opioids used to treat pain
Central nervous system (CNS) depressants, such as benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin), used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders
Stimulants, such as amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall) or methylphenidate (Concerta, Daytrana, Methylin, Ritalin) used to treat attention deficit disorder and narcolepsy (a sleep disorder).

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