Substance Abuse

History of Designer Drugs in the U.S.

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ecstasy pills MDMA

Designer drugs refer to a class of psychoactive drugs that mimic the effects of other well-known drugs. Many of these substances were primarily discovered through research, and the effects may potentially harm or endanger the life of an individual with prolonged used.

These drugs have similar effects as their legitimate counterparts. However, their chemical structures may be completely different. Some of the most popular designer drugs include methamphetamine, ecstasy, ketamine, LSD and GHB.


In the 1900s, drugs came from two sources – unrefined plants and animal products – and were usually taken by oral ingestion. As time passed, drugs have become more potent because chemists were able to use more plants and were able to extract and purify active ingredients. It was in 1000 A.D. when the distillation technique was applied in extracting the active ingredients from plants.

In the 1800s, morphine was isolated from opium. Meanwhile, cocaine was isolated from coca leaf about a century after. Years later, heroin was synthesized from morphine. As these have been developed, abuse of these substances followed.

Later, psychoactive drugs were developed and were introduced for clinical use, but this is a classic case where a good discovery leads to a bad effect. This is true in the case of the drug industry where designer drugs have become the center of abuse. As a result, production, distribution and use of drugs became more controlled and monitored.

To circumvent stricter regulations, clandestine laboratories mushroomed to meet the demand. From the 1960s to 1970s, the federal government has strengthened efforts to decrease the importation of natural products but the number of illicit laboratories soon increased.


An incident in the late 1950s happened when Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company distributed more than 200,000 doses of LSD for research purposes. However, when news spread about it being used as a recreational drug, stocks were pulled out. It was during this time when underground laboratories started growing.

Between late December 1979 and the end of 1980, at least 15 reported deaths were suspected to be involved in drug abuse. However, they could not identify what kind of drug killed the victims. What authorities did was they tracked down street drugs sold as heroin, but after carefully studying about the seized substances, it was found out that these white substances were “China White” or “synthetic heroin” and had no traces of heroin in them.

The drug was later on identified as alpha-methylfentanyl. This drug is a simple analog of fentanyl, a potent narcotic analgesic synthesized by a legitimate laboratory, Janssen Pharmaceutical in Belgium. This was not under the list of restricted drugs of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and so it was considered legal. It remained legal until it was classified under Schedule I in 1982.

Fentanyl is used clinically, sometimes in combination with a tranquilizer droperidol (Innovar), as a pre-anesthetic medication, an anesthetic, and a post-surgical analgesic. However, fentanyl is primarily developed for veterinary use. It is believed to be 200 times more potent than morphine and has an immediate effect but with a short duration of action which can last up to 40 minutes.

Alpha-methylfentanyl was placed under the restricted drug list as a Schedule I drug on September 1981. Sometime that year, another analog of fentanyl had appeared in the form of para-fluorofentanyl. This new compound had approximately the same potency as fentanyl, but its popularity was short-lived.

In 1984, another analog was discovered as alpha-methyl acetylfentanyl. This was always found contaminated with the acryl analog. Alpha-methyl acetylfentanyl was found to be less potent than fentanyl but longer acting than fentanyl.

The various fentanyl analogs are diluted with large amounts of lactose or mannitol. The color of the samples appears as pure white, off-white, light tan, light brown, or dark brown.

By 1990, there was increasing demand for designer drugs to the point that it was being sold over the internet. These online marketers coined the term “research chemicals” so it would not pose as a threat to the authorities. Despite all of the deceptive marketing, DEA raided suppliers involved with this trade.

In 2004, the DEA shut down internet-based “research chemical” vendors to immediately stop doing business. Among those that have been closed were two chemical manufacturers. Substances sold as “research chemicals” were hallucinogens, and bear a resemblance to mescaline and psilocybin. These substances were used for recreation, mental reflection and spiritual meditation.

The widespread use of anabolic steroids proliferated between late 1990s and early 2000. Steroids were banned by the International Olympic Committee since 1976. However, athletes have found ways to use them undetected by any form of test.

As years went by, more designer drugs emerged in the form of stimulants such as geranamine, mephredone and MDSV; designer sedatives such as premazepan and methylmethaqualone; hallucinogens; opioids; and anabolic steroids.

There are 268 new drugs discovered in four years, 35 percent of which are cannabinoids while the rest are stimulants.

ecstasy pills MDMA

Types of Designer Drugs

These designer drugs are often labeled to look like they are legal drugs used to treat a certain disease. However, these are being traded usually at parties, music festivals and concerts. Examples of these are:

  • Spice (synthetic cannabinoid)
  • Mephedrone ( synthetic stimulant)
  • Foxy Methoxy (synthetic hallucinogen)

These substances are also known as club drugs or party drugs. Some variants may also be labeled as incense, bath salts, jewelry cleaner, or plant food.

The three major categories of designer drugs are as follows:

Synthetic Cannabinoids

These are designer drugs that are chemically different from cannabis but are sold and advertised to provide the same effects of cannabis. They are commonly sold under brand names K2 and Spice, and are usually consumed through smoking.

Adverse effects due to the use of synthetic cannabinoids include hospitalization and possibly death due to overdose. Here are other health effects of synthetic cannabinoid use:

  • Tachycardia
  • Agitation
  • Hypertension
  • Myocardial Infarction
  • Hallucination
  • Vomiting
  • Psychoses
  • Seizures
  • Panic attacks

Symptoms of synthetic cannabinoids intake are as follows:

  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • High blood pressure
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Hallucination

Synthetic cannabinoids cannot be detected in urine test for THC, but can be determined using immunoassay screening method and confirmed through chromatography-mass spectrometry.

Synthetic Stimulants

These are commonly sold as “bath salts” and are often found in several retail products. These are synthetic derivatives of cathinone, a central nervous system stimulant that is an active chemical found in the khat plant.

Synthetic stimulants are known in the market as mephedrone and MDPV (3-4 methylene-dioxypyrovalerone). These are sold under the brand names Red Dove, Blue Silk, Drone, Energy-1, Ivory Wave, White Knight, Ocean Burst, White Lightening, and Stardust. These drugs are sold in powder form and placed in small plastic or foil packages that range from 200 to 500 milligrams per pack under different brand names.

Both mephedrone and MDPV are fine white or off-white in color. These are usually ingested by snorting or sniffing, but they can also be taken orally or mixed with a liquid substance to become a solution and injected directly to the vein.

Symptoms of synthetic stimulant use include:

  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Seizures
  • Panic attacks
  • Impaired perception
  • Decreased ability to think
  • Reduced motor control
  • Delusional
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Chest pains
  • Nosebleed

As of October 21, 2011, DEA published an order in the Federal Register of its emergency scheduling of synthetic stimulants used to make bath salts. The temporary scheduling will remain in effect until further studies are performed to determine if the chemicals should be permanently controlled. They are currently designated as Schedule 1 substances under the Controlled Substances Act, which signifies that they have high potential for abuse without any accepted medical use for treatment.

Synthetic Hallucinogens

These are chemical alternatives to lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). These drugs change the perception of an individual, affect the sense of thinking, and spark emotional outbursts. One popular type of synthetic hallucinogen that has recently gained notoriety is N-Bomb, which was first developed for mapping of the serotonin receptors in the central nervous system.

Some synthetic hallucinogens are derived from mescaline, which naturally occurs in peyote cactus. These have been deceptively sold as the legal counterpart or a natural alternative to LSD. These substances are sold in the form of powder, blotted paper, liquid and capsule.

A scientist at the Free University of Berlin may be credited for the discovery and formulation of synthetic hallucinogens in 2003. This type of designer drug has been sold online as a designer drug since 2010. Street names associated with this kind of drug include:

  • 25B
  • 25C
  • 25I
  • Smiles
  • Angel Dust
  • Acid
  • Blotter
  • Ecstasy
  • Wack
  • Ozone

It was in the 1950s when LSD was used in treating patients with schizophrenia and other mental disorders such as depression and alcoholism. In the 1960s, psychedelic drugs proliferated. As more and more people have become curious about this drug, there also has been an increase of hospital emergency visits, increased paranoia, and more delusional individuals locked up in jail. The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 puts LSD as a Schedule 1 drug.

Symptoms of synthetic hallucinogens include:

  • Irrational behavior
  • Dilated pupils
  • Faintness
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Distorted sense of sight, touch and hearing
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Slurred speech
  • Involuntary movements

It has been found out that prolonged used of these synthetic substance can damage the kidneys.

The body can easily form a tolerance with the use of hallucinogens, making the user feel the need to increase intake to achieve a different “high” effect. Increased use may result to severe side effects and overdose, and consequently lead to death.


The Overall Effect of Designer Drugs

Depending on the kind of drug and quantity, the user may experience prolonged periods of wakefulness, extreme relaxation, decrease in appetite, memory loss and paranoia. The worst effect would lead to coma or death.

Designer drugs usually contain other unknown substances and contaminants that make it extremely difficult to determine the level of toxicity and the potential medical consequences. Some of these drugs when mixed with alcohol can worsen the effect of the illicit drugs.

The use of these drugs may remove inhibition among teenagers to a point that they gain so much confidence enough to drive while intoxicated, engage in unsafe sex, or suffer injury. Some of these drugs may not be detected using urine test or other screening methods, making it difficult to determine intoxication level.

Withdrawal symptoms happen when an individual who used to be dependent on these illicit drugs stops taking them. These signs include tremors, sweating, insomnia and anxiety. The individual may also experience agitation, depression, vomiting, rapid heart rate and high blood pressure.

Drug Policy in the U.S.

Individuals found to be in possessing drugs or involved in any kind of drug trade may receive harsh punishment. This is evident in the number of prisoners in the country who have been prosecuted due to drugs. It was in the1970s when President Richard Nixon started his campaign on the “war on drugs”. From then on, the U.S. has been all out in pursuing drug traffickers by any legal means necessary.

Established in July 2014, the National Drug Control Strategy focuses on both public health and safety aspects of drug use and substance use disorders. It was created to recognize that there is a need to give importance in addressing addiction as the problem on drug abuse has grown to become a disease in society. The policy aims to provide information to prevent using these illicit drugs, as well as treatment options to those who need it.

Below are drug policies that concern those who are in possession of drugs, or people who are connected to trading, distribution or manufacturing of designer drugs.

  • Harrison Act of 1914: This regulated and taxed the production, importation and distribution of opiates and coca products.
  • California Proposition 215: This act allows cannabis for medical use in the state of California, despite the lack of standard Food and Drug Administration testing for safety and efficacy.
  • Controlled Substances Act: This is the federal U.S. drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use, and distribution of certain narcotics, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, anabolic steroids and other chemicals are regulated.
  • Ecstasy Law: This is a federal rule that controls the use, possession, and distribution of ecstasy.
  • Marijuana Law: This rule controls how marijuana should be used, carried, and distributed.


More designer drugs are being discovered as each day passes. While the U.S. continues its fight against the proliferation of these designer drugs, manufacturers are likewise developing ways to escape the rule of law and affect more lives.

Drug Testing

Can Bleaching Remove Drug Metabolites From Hair Samples?

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Are you scheduled for a hair follicle drug test? And is this one of your pre-employment requirements?

A hair screen is a drug examination wherein it uses a sample of hair to check and identify if a person being tested has used a specific drug. The hair follicle drug test measures specific metabolites and drug molecules produced after the human body processes a particular drug.

One of the myths circulating hair follicle drug tests is that you can pass by bleaching your hair. The truth is that whenever you consume drugs whether by smoking, injecting, or ingesting, the drug stays and metabolizes within the body. Bleaching the hair may be able to remove drug compounds in hair follicles by up to 80 percent. Moreover, they can even remove all traces of drugs found in a hair strand when multiple bleaching attempts are made.

Hair bleaching can remove the traces of drug metabolites because it cracks and damages the strands that can cause percolating of metabolites out of the hair follicles, thereby removing any evidence of drug use.

However, this is still not a guaranteed method in passing or cheating a drug test because the removal isn’t totally complete. Although the possibility of drug detection via hair screen decreases with the number of times the hair is bleached, the drug testing company may use another alternative in detecting drugs and that is through fingernail testing. Fingernail testing is extremely accurate, although it can’t provide month-by-month overview.

In short, there’s no absolute way to cheat on drug screening given that drug testing technology is now becoming more and more accurate in detecting drug use.

[Image by amber via Flickr Creative Commons]


Substance Abuse

Study Seeks To Shed Light On Marijuana Effect on Newborns

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With the legalization of marijuana in some U.S. states, there’s still relatively little research that expound on the effect of cannabis in human development.

Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center investigated previous studies on marijuana effects, and they uncover troubling results on using animals for cannabis research. This prompted their study on the effect of cannabis to human embryos, infants and newborns, as reported in a news release.

Published in the journal BioMed Central Pharmacology and Toxicology, the study suggests that there’s an urgent need to examine the link between maternal cannabinoid use and the health of newborn babies. The study delves into explaining tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana.

THC acts on cannabinoid receptors in neurons that repress the normal release of neurotransmitters. THC is a promising chemical agent in treating cancer. Because it affects and stumps the growth of tumor, a clinical study should be done to test the effectiveness of marijuana in human development. This is especially helpful since embryo development is similar with tumor formation, which means that THC compound might affect the growth of embryo.

G. Ian Gallicano, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular & cellular biology at Georgetown and the study’s senior investigator, says that the reason why there is limited research is because marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, which is proven to be a challenge in conducting research. The study started off as a project from four Georgetown medical students – Joseph Friedrich, Dara Khatib, Keon Parsa, and Ariana Santopietro.


Substance Abuse

A Quick Fact Sheet About Benzodiazepines

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One of the most commonly abused substances in recent years is a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. In this article, we will discuss relevant information about the drug, some common names and brands of benzodiazepines, side effects, and dangers of abuse.

What are Benzodiazepines?

This drug is primarily used to treat anxiety, but can also be effective in treating other conditions. It affects the neurotransmitters in the brain that is responsible for communicating with other nerves.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter responsible for suppressing the activity of nerves. It is believed that the excessive activity of the nerves may be the cause of anxiety and other psychological disorders which benzodiazepines help in reducing the activity of the nerves in the central nervous system, thus enhancing the effects of GABA.

Benzodiazepines are used for treating anxiety and panic, seizures and insomnia. These can also be used for:

  • Panic attacks
  • General anesthesia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Depression
  • Sedation prior to surgery or diagnostic procedures
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Drug-associated agitation

Differences between benzodiazepines

There are various combinations of benzodiazepines that help in treating the conditions stated above. The difference lies on the onset of action of each kind.

  • Clorazepate (Tranxene) and triazolam (Halcion) are short-acting agents. The duration of its action is from 3-8 hours.
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin) and alprazolam (Xanax) have immediate onsets of action.
  • Oxazepam (Serax) has a slow onset.
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium) and diazepam (Valium) are long-acting agents with duration of action between 1-3 days.
  • Diazepam and clorazepate usually start to effect within 30-60 minutes.

Benzodiazepines may just have one action. However, there are specific benzodiazepines prescribed depending on the condition of the patient. The most commonly used benzodiazepines to treat certain conditions are as follows:

  • Diazepam is used to relax the muscles.
  • Chlordiazepoxide is used to control agitations during alcohol withdrawal.
  • Midazolam is used in anesthesia.
  • Alprazolam and Diazepam are both used in treating anxiety disorders.
  • Estazolam and Triazolam are used to treat insomnia.
  • Chorazepate and Lorazepam are used for seizure disorders.

Side effects of Benzodiazepines

There is a need for patients to be aware of the possible adverse effect of benzodiazepines so that they will be able to know how to best handle the situation once the medication takes effect.

Here are the common side effects of taking the drug:

  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Weakness
  • Unsteadiness
  • Depressive mood
  • Loss of orientation
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Memory impairment
  • Aggression
  • Excitement

Caution should be taken in taking benzodiazepines because of its addictive property. Abruptly stopping the use of this may cause withdrawal symptoms which may include agitation, a feeling of loss of worth and insomnia.

If this drug has been used for a long time and has suddenly been stopped, it may cause seizure, muscle cramping, vomiting, tremors and sweating. In order to prevent this from happening, the dose should be gradually decreased.

Benzodiazepine Reaction with other Medications

Benzodiazepines when taken with other medications may produce adverse reactions.  Reduced elimination of benzodiazepines in the liver may result in the increase in blood circulation and side effects of benzodiazepines.

Antacids may affect the rate of absorption of benzodiazepines in the intestine. However, if administered separately and in between several hours, this may prevent any interaction.

The Dangers of Benzodiazepine Addiction

Individuals who may have become dependent with the use of benzodiazepines usually take another drug to increase its potency. It is usually combined with diazepam and alprazolam due to its rapid onset. Prolonged use of these significantly increases the risk of addiction, tolerance and withdrawal symptoms.

Each year, there is a significant number of cases involving overdoses of benzodiazepines that lead to hospitalization, and in some cases even death. The antidote used for benzodiazepine overdose is flumazenil, which is injected intravenously. To help aid during withdrawal symptoms with benzodiazepine abuse, diazepam is injected intravenously.

[Image courtesy of Literaturegeek via Wikimedia Creative Commons]


Substance Abuse

Florida Attorney General Bans Designer Drug U-47700

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As if the issue on the designer drug U-47700 hasn’t been stressed enough, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi signed an emergency order to ban the illicit substance statewide. The emergency stop order aims to ban U-47700 all throughout Florida, and took effect immediately after signing on September 27, according to a news item.

U-47700 is an opioid analgesic drug that produces different side effects like euphoria, constipation and respiratory depression. It has been circulating in the news because it was deemed harmful and fatal to users. Prolonged use of U-47700 can develop tolerance and dependence, which might result to addiction.

According to officials, the federal government has a temporary ban on the opioid, which is said to be 7.5 times stronger than morphine. Persons caught with the drug will be slapped with third-degree felony charges punishable by up to 5 years in prison when proven guilty and convicted.

Officials at the news conference held at Marion County Sheriff’s Office’s Multi-Purpose Building state that the synthetic drug compound is lethal. It is already noted to be illegal in Georgia, Ohio, Wyoming and Virginia.

Meanwhile, Pam Bondi also told reporters that U-47700 can easily be mixed with other potent and illegal drugs because it comes in powder form. In Bay Country, three deaths caused by U-47700 mixed with other potent drugs were recorded.


Pregnancy & Fertility

Everything You Need To Know About Fertility and Testing

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Not all people have the ability – or even the passion – to produce offspring by default. Some couples choose to focus on their careers at the moment, so that they can prepare enough for the future of the family.

However, when it seems like nothing is happening even after living together for more than 3 years and trying real hard to conceive, a fertility check should be your reason for your next visit to the doctor.

One of the major concerns when trying to conceive is the age of the woman. A woman is most fertile during her late 20s. After the age of 35, fertility may decrease and the increase of having a miscarriage increases. However, this may not be true to women who have already given birth. We very well know that there are women who can still give birth even beyond 35 years old.

A woman who is below 35 years old may still want to allow more time to get pregnant. However, those who are older than 35 years old might need to consider getting help.

Fertility Problems

There are several instances wherein fertility of both man and woman may be affected. These are a few instances that may cause infertility:

  • The woman’s reproductive system may be the problem due to some conditions of the fallopian tubes, uterus, or ovulation.
  • The man’s reproductive system may be affected due to low sperm count.
  • Inability to conceive may be due to a medical condition.
  • The time when couples are trying to conceive may not be the fertile days of the woman.
  • Stress can also be a contributing factor, preventing couples to conceive.
  • Exposure to environmental toxins, drugs or radiation may aggravate the condition.
  • Infections like sexually transmitted diseases may have damaged the reproductive system.

Fertility Awareness

Before you even jump into a conclusion that you may need some medical intervention, it will be a huge help if the woman learns to record her basal body temperature. This is the temperature when the woman is fully at rest. An increase in the basal body temperature may be due to ovulation.

A woman is most fertile during 2-3 days before the rise in temperature. By tracking the basal body temperature each day, the woman may be able to predict when her fertile days are. In return, she will be able to determine when the best time to conceive is.

In as much as this could be a great way to determine the perfect time to conceive, knowing the basal body temperature can be a huge help in trying to know when to avoid getting pregnant.

Prior to seeking any treatment

There may be personal issues that need to be discussed among the couple themselves prior to seeing a gynecologist or reproductive endocrinologist. These should be well taken care of, to ensure that the couple is on the same page towards the needed step in wanting to conceive.

Available Treatments

There are ways on how a couple may be able to conceive depending on what is causing the problem:

  • There are medicines that can help a woman to ovulate. These injectable hormones that help stabilize the hormone level to aid in ovulation.
  • A procedure called artificial insemination may be done. This is a procedure done where the sperm is directly implanted inside the woman’s womb.
  • Inability to conceive may sometimes be due to a medical condition in women wherein the endometrium grows outside the uterus. It is called endometriosis.
  • Seek a procedure that can help increase the sperm count.
  • The last resort may be having an in vitro fertilization (IVF). It is a process wherein egg and sperm cells are harvested from a couple and are mixed in the lab to help the sperm fertilize the egg. Then the fertilized eggs are placed inside the woman’s uterus. This procedure is done more than once to ensure positive result.


Things to consider prior to getting a treatment

The psychological effect of not having a child may be too much. But with that, a couple can do everything that they can so that they can conceive.

Note that this may be costly and stressful. Be aware of how much it would take before you can achieve your goal of becoming a parent.

  • Learn everything about the options. Decide on which options to choose that you think would be best for you to handle.
  • Be aware of the cost of your chosen treatment. Know if your insurance can cover the cost. Otherwise, decide on the treatment options that you can afford.

The adverse effect of taking these treatments is an increased potential of having multiple births – twins, triplets or more.

Ovulation Induction Defined

Ovulation induction is the term used to describe a fertility treatment that involves the use of medication to help stimulate the development of one or more mature follicles in the ovaries, in cases of difficulty in fertility and ovulation.

Those women with anovulation – or abnormal ovulation – have a condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) whose menstrual cycles are irregular. Other symptoms of PCOS include increased body hair and infertility.

There are several options for ovulation drug therapy that are used to help in stabilizing the hormone level to aid in fertility:

  • Injectable gonadotropins / FSH hormone products: This contains follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) to help in the development of one or more follicles. This is given through intramuscular injection.
  • Clomid: This is an oral drug is taken either on the third to seventh day of the menstrual cycle or fifth top ninth day of menstrual cycle. Its generic name is clomiphene.
    • The gynecologist will measure FSH and estradiol level on the third day of the woman’s menstrual cycle.
    • 100 mg of clomiphene will be given on the fifth to ninth day of menstrual cycle.
    • The FSH and estradiol level will again be measure on the 10th day of menstrual cycle. Test kits such as ZRT Fertility Profile are available in the market to determine the level of estradiol and FSH.
  • Bromocriptine: This drug is used to treat pituitary tumors and other related issues, all of which may cause infertility.
  • Femara: This is the second drug of choice if Clomid is unsuccessful in helping the woman to conceive. However, many physicians would not prescribe this drug due to an increase incidence of birth defects.


Common Female Fertility Tests

Here are some of the popular tests in the market to check fertility in women:


This scanning method checks the uterus and the fallopian tubes. This is done to see if there is blockage in the fallopian tubes and uterus.

How Hysterosalpingogram is done

  • A dye is injected into the vagina and cervix through the uterine cavity.
  • A blocked uterus will not be filled with dye.
  • If the dye spills out then it means that there is no blockage.


This is a surgical procedure that allows examination of the organs inside the abdomen.

How Laparoscopy is done

  • A laparoscope will be inserted into the abdomen.
  • A small incision is made for the laparoscope to pass through the abdomen to check the fallopian tubes, cervix and uterus.
  • If there are any pelvic structure abnormalities, the doctor may be able to treat it as well as get rid of scar tissues and blockages that may have been the cause of infertility.


This helps in identifying and treating uterine conditions.

How Hysteroscopy is done

  • A hysteroscope is inserted into the abdomen.
  • The doctor may be able to view and treat any abnormalities and may diagnose polyps, fibroids, remove scar tissues and blockage.
  • This procedure may be done in a doctor’s office with either local or general anesthesia.

Endometrial Biopsy

This procedure is done to determine any hormonal disorder that may be causing infertility.

What to expect during Endometrial Biopsy

  • A pregnancy test is performed to ensure that the patient is not pregnant.
  • The biopsy is done several days prior to menstruation.
  • A small tissue is taken out from the endometrium for observation.

Cervical Mucus and Post-coital Test

This test can best determine the quality and consistency of the cervical mucus for the doctor to know how the sperm interacts with it.

Success Rate with in using Induction Ovulation

The success with the use of this treatment varies, as it depends on the age of the woman, the type of medication used, other underlying causes that may affect fertility and several other factors.


Fertility Tests for Men

While the female may be the one bearing the child in her body, difficulty to conceive does not mean that the infertility issues are exclusive to women. In fact, some men may also have infertility problems that should be identified.

Here are some of the tests that men should undergo in order to check for fertility:

Health Evaluation

A complete medical history is needed to eliminate possible causes of infertility, such as:

  • Medications
  • Surgeries
  • Physical activities
  • Smoking
  • Sexual activity (presence or had STD)

Sperm Count and Analysis

There should be at least two tests given to confirm if the patient has low sperm count, normal sperm count, or does not have sperm at all. Having no sperm may mean that there is blockage, which may be corrected through surgery.

Physical Examination

The doctor may look for the presence of varicoceles. Such abnormal formation of veins may also need to undergo surgery.

Hormone Evaluation

This test checks for hormonal balance to determine if the level is within normal or if there is a deficiency and needs to be corrected using hormone therapy.

Genetic Testing

This test should determine if there are genetic problems, which may be the reason for not conceiving.

Anti-sperm Antibodies

A male may have a normal sperm count but may be going to a different direction instead of going to where the eggs are.

Other Factors Which May Cause Infertility in Men

Having a low sperm count will definitely not be helpful in wanting to conceive. Here are some of the causes of having a low sperm count in men:

  • There could be a blockage between the penis and testicles.
  • The male may have idiopathic infertility, a term used by doctors to denote that the cause could not be identified.


Taking necessary treatments may cause a lot of money and time to spend. In fact, the assurance to conceive after going through the methods mentioned above is not 100 percent. Still, these tests and treatments should be able to not only increase the chances of reproduction but also enhance the mindset and passion of the couple to have a child of their own.


Substance Abuse

How Does A Nicotine Patch Work?

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Smoking is considered one of the most addictive habits of our time and can be a difficult addiction to drop. An estimated 70 percent of smokers attempt to quit the practice, but do so in vain, especially when the withdrawal symptoms kick in.

For some, the nicotine patch is considered one of the best ways to kick the habit while keeping the withdrawal symptoms in check. Some smokers said that they get real relief from wearing a nicotine patch.

What is a Nicotine Patch?

There are two varieties of nicotine patches:

16-hour nicotine patch

A 16-hour nicotine patch is used for light-to-average smokers. Though it does not help quench the morning cravings to smoke, the 16-hour patch helps in preventing side effects. However, since the patch is not worn overnight, blood nicotine levels are increasingly low in the morning.

24-hour nicotine patch

Although a 24-hour patch can help you resist the urge to smoke throughout the day, there is a chance that the side effects could be greater.

Before its approval to be sold over-the-counter in 1996 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, nicotine patches were sold to smokers by prescription. Nicotine patches closely resemble an adhesive bandage and they come in a variety of sizes.

What does it do to the Smoker?

It is recommended to place the patch on a dry, clean, and relatively hairless part of the body in the morning. In between patches, switch its placement to avoid skin irritation. Once your patch is applied, wear it throughout the dosage period.

Nicotine patches work by dispensing a measured dose of nicotine into the skin. Because it comes in a variety of sizes, the nicotine doses vary per size. It takes the nicotine three hours to seep into the skin and since it delivers the dose in a slower fashion, patches are to be worn only when the craving strikes.

[Image by RegBarc via Wikimedia Creative Commons]



Medications Used to Treat Prescription Drug Abuse

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To those who do not understand drug abuse, they would think that it is merely an irresponsible act of choosing to take a controlled substance out of curiosity and finally getting themselves hooked. But more than that, some individuals who have been hooked on drugs started out as taking these drugs as part of their medication to heal a specific health condition. Unfortunately, every drug that has been developed does have its side effects and potential for abuse.

Drug Addiction Defined

Drug addiction is defined as a compulsive act of seeking a drug despite knowing its harmful consequences. The primary decision in taking a drug may be voluntary but repeated use of a drug can affect the brain, thereby interfering with the individual’s ability to resist such intense urges to take the drug.

Chemicals from some medicines are too potent that it can manipulate how the individual thinks, to the point of being unafraid of possible health risks. It should be noted that those people who have recovered from drug addiction have a high risk of getting back to the addiction (or going into relapse) even after so many years of giving it up.

Helping an individual to recover from drug addiction may require longer treatment. The treatment does not end with merely detoxifying the individual; it should also extend to a series of therapy sessions wherein a trained therapist or psychologist provides an extensive follow-up treatment until the recovering addicts has their minds “refocused” on better and healthier things.

There is a standard set of guidelines that can help speed up recovery, but each individual is given a tailor-made treatment that would fit the person’s changing needs.

When Drugs Take Over The Brain

brain functioning addiction

To better understand how drug abuse changes the human mindset, it is important to discuss dopamine, a chemical responsible for the happy or rewarding feeling of an individual. When a certain drug metabolite floods in with dopamine, the result is having an unusual “high”, which makes the individual seek for more. As a result, the person has the urge to take the drug over and over again to the point of addiction.

As an individual continuously takes drugs, it gets to a point where the brain is able to adjust to the excess dopamine by reducing the ability of cells to respond to it. This in effect reduces the unusual “high” that an individual feels compared to the time when the drug was first used. This effect is what is called as tolerance.

Once this is achieved, the individual would feel the need to take higher doses of the drug in order to achieve the same “high” effect. Having this kind of feeling lessens the individual’s interest on other things that could supposedly provide a more natural feeling of happiness and satisfaction.

Brain functions are altered with the continuous use of drugs. The following are aspects of a person’s mind that are affected by drug abuse:

  • Behavior
  • Decision-making
  • Learning
  • Stress Level
  • Memory
  • Judgment

Factors that May Increase the Risk of Drug Addiction

There is a question being raised on how some patients who are using regulated drugs to treat a certain condition do not become addicted to these drugs.  Several factors may increase the probability of drug addiction in some individuals, some of which include the following:

  • Individuals diagnosed with mental disorders may be exposed to a higher risk of drug addiction.
  • The gender and ethnicity could also be a contributing factor.
  • The kind of environment where the person lives can influence the behavior of an individual.
  • Sexual abuse, peer pressure, stress, family issues, and exposure to a family member hooked on drugs can also be contributing factors.

Common Drugs Used For Treating Prescription Drug Abuse

Although there are many options for drug abuse treatment, one of the commonly used techniques is pharmacological treatment. This may sound preposterous, but some drugs are designed to help in the treatment of prescription drug abuse.

Here are three common drugs used for pharmacological treatment of drug abuse and addiction:


Methadone bottle. [Photo by neeel via Flickr Creative Commons]

Methadone bottle. [Photo by neeel via Flickr Creative Commons]

This narcotic drug is used to reduce withdrawal symptoms in individuals who have been addicted to heroin or other narcotic drug. It is designed for pain relief, and has become a safe alternative to more addictive prescription opioids. In fact, methadone is being used as part of drug addiction detoxification and maintenance programs.

Precautions when using Methadone

Here are some necessary measures to be taken prior to prescribing Methadone to an individual:

  • It should not be used by patients with asthma or bowel obstruction.
  • It can slow up breathing.
  • It should not be used in large amounts for a long time because taking it can be habit-forming.
  • It should only be given to the patient that has been prescribed with it and should not be shared with others.

Misuse of Methadone

Abusing this drug may lead to health risks, some of which are:

  • Life-threatening heart rhythm disorder
  • Headache
  • Chest pains
  • Dizziness

It should be noted that alcohol and methadone can be a dangerous combination.

Side Effects of Methadone

There are certain adverse reactions that a patient may experience when taking Methadone. Not all described below, however, can be experienced by the patient at the same time.

  • Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, loss of appetite
  • Severe constipation
  • Shallow breathing
  • Infertility or missed periods
  • Impotence or lower sex drive
  • Light-headedness
  • Life-threatening heart rhythm disorder



This narcotic analgesic — which is also known as naloxone or the brand name Suboxone — works on the brain and the central nervous system to help decrease pain.

Precautions when using Buprenorphine

Patients should always provide the necessary information to their physicians so that they can be given the right kind of medication to ensure their complete recovery from a condition.

For instance, you should mention potential sensitivity to any ingredient in Buprenorphine. It’s also advised to mention to your doctor if you are taking sodium oxybate.

Conditions affected by Buprenorphine use

Extreme caution should be undertaken when prescribing Buprenorphine as it can affect several conditions, which may worsen the situation instead of helping in the treatment. Here are some conditions where Buprenorphine may have some impact:

  • Pregnancy
  • Currently taking other prescription medication
  • Sensitivity or allergy to medicine, food or other substances
  • History of blood problems, lung problems, adrenal gland problems, liver or kidney problems, blockage of bladder, gallbladder problems, or stomach problems
  • History of any recent head injury or brain growth
  • History of mental problems, as well as drug or alcohol abuse

Medications that can interact with Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine should be prescribed and taken with utmost care. Complete patient history should be provided so that doctors may be aware of any medications that can cause untoward reactions to Buprenorphine. Here are some of them:

  • Naltrexone
  • Azole antifungals
  • Methadone (may decrease the effect of Buprenorphine)

Side Effects of Buprenorphine

Expect a number of adverse effects when taking Buprenorphine. These side effects include:

  • Drowsiness or dizziness
  • Breathing problems
  • Seizures
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting


This drug blocks the effects of any opioid medication that can lead to opioid abuse. This drug is used as part of a treatment program for drug or alcohol dependence. It helps in keeping a drug dependent away from the feeling of having the urge to use the opioid.

Precautions when using Naltrexone

The following precautionary measures should be undertaken prior to using Naltrexone:

  • This should not be used by people who experience withdrawal symptoms from alcohol or drug addiction.
  • This should not be used if there was any opioid medication used for the past 10 days.
  • This should not be used with Methadone or Buprenorphine.
  • This should not be used by individuals below 18 years old.

Side effects of Naltrexone

Just like other drugs, Naltrexone may produce side effects that an individual may experience. Not all of the mentioned signs and symptoms below can be experienced all at the same time by a single patient.

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Depression (thoughts about suicide)
  • Mood changes
  • Upper stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Dark urine
  • Feeling anxious
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle or joint pains

Drugs that may interact with Naltrexone

Your doctor should be aware of other medications that you are taking prior to prescribing Naltrexone. This ensures that the optimum efficacy of the drug can be achieved.

The following drugs may interact with Naltrexone and affect its effectiveness:

  • Over-the-counter medicines
  • Vitamins
  • Herbal supplements

Long-term use of naltrexone is considered to be effective. In other words, it is safe to use for months without the fear of being addicted to it. Naltrexone also does not pose any danger when taken with alcohol.

Public Safety and Awareness

Scientists are continuously developing drugs, which they hope can be the cure for certain diseases and conditions. The only downside to these drugs is that there is a possibility that it can be abused because of its euphoric or pain-relieving effects.

A lot of people have been involved with drug abuse, which leads to several health complications and even to the point of death.

Drug addiction is similar to diabetes or asthma in the sense that no absolute cure has been discovered. However, proper treatment by providing medical intervention and psychological therapy can help an individual to stay away from drugs.

Although relapse may be possible, there is a need for the family, friends and the whole community to receive information on how to deal with drug abuse. In relation to this, widespread campaign programs should be conducted in order for people to be informed of the adverse effects of drugs. That way, more people can see how badly drug abuse can affect and destroy a person’s life.

Ideally, family members should be the first people to know if there is something wrong with someone in the family. Sometimes, the mere lack of time and communication may lead susceptible members of the family to resort to drugs because of the feeling of belongingness among peers. For them, the unusual “high” that they experience from taking drugs is what they want to feel because of the lack of love and concern from the family.

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Study: Alcohol May Be Able To Help People With Clinical Depression

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Can a few bottles of alcohol help those who are suffering from clinical depression? New research seems to say so.

According to a study published in the latest issue of Nature Communications, alcohol might be the best quick fix for those who are suffering from clinical depression. They found out that alcohol can produce the same biochemistry as that of antidepressants, as reported in a news release. This means that alcohol produces the same type of neural and molecular changes evident in drugs prescribed to rapidly alleviate clinical depression.

Kimberly Raab-Graham, Ph.D., associate professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest School of Medicine and the principal investigator of the research study, stated that there is now a biochemical and behavioral data supporting the hypothesis that alcohol can benefit those with major depressive disorders.

It is important to note that the study does not suggest that alcohol should be regarded as an effective treatment for depression. Raab-Graham also reiterated that there’s a potential danger in self-medicating with alcohol because it usually leads to addiction and health complications.

The study only shows that alcohol has the same biochemical pathway as rapid antidepressants when tested in animals, which resulted to favorable response. Raab-Graham stresses that additional research is still needed in this area to further provide a biological basis for the natural human instinct to self-medicate.


Substance Abuse

DEA Warning: Carfentanil is a Health and Safety Risk

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A public warning from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was issued regarding the risk of carfentanil, a potent fentanyl derivative used as tranquilizers for large animals. Administered specifically to elephants, carfentanil was linked to several deaths in the U.S. It is approximately 100 times more potent that fentanyl, and is being sold in powder, spray, blotted paper and tablet forms.

“Fentanyl is being sold as heroin in virtually every corner of our country”, said DEA acting deputy administrator Jack Riley in a news item. The drug is believed to be produced in Mexico and may have come directly from China.

DEA is greatly concerned about the possible risk that exposed individuals may have once they come in contact with carfentanil without precautionary measures. Exposure to this drug may cause drowsiness, sedation, respiratory depression and disorientation, the effect of which is almost instantaneous.

It should also be noted that in case of accidental exposure, the individual should immediately be given medical attention. Naloxone is the antidote of choice used for opioid overdose. Immediately administering Naloxone can reverse the effect, which may take more than a single dose until the exposed individual can breathe on his own.

Carfentanil closely resembles powdered heroin or cocaine. For any suspicions of the presence of this drug or any other synthetic opioid, the agency advises the public to take necessary precautions in handling the drug and report the matter to the authorities.