Category Archives: Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

Loperamide Abuse Emerging As A New Prescription Drug Problem

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According to research from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), roughly 44 people die every day due to overdose from prescription drugs.

Recently, FDA released a report that warns about taking high doses of over-the-counter and prescription drugs such as loperamide, which can lead to abuse and health problems. This stern warning stems from several cases of people who want to achieve heroin-like highs by turning to abusing loperamide.

In this article, we will discuss the emerging problem on loperamide abuse, and how it’s affecting the world at large.

What is loperamide?

Loperamide is an over-the-counter prescription drug used to control diarrhea, and it is available in liquid, tablet and capsule forms. Loperamide hydrochloride is an active ingredient that acts as an anti-motility drug, and works by slowing down the muscular contractions of the intestine.

Loperamide allows more time for water and electrolytes to be re-absorbed, making it effective to control and regulate the movement in the intestinal tract because it acts as a multi-opoid receptor.

The maximum approved dose of Loperamide for adults is 8 to 16 milligrams per day.

Concern on loperamide use

Because Loperamide is an opioid, it can induce adverse brain effects especially when consumed in massive amounts. This can be toxic and may lead to cardiac dysrhytmia and ileus, a form of paralysis of the intestine.

The American College of Emergency Physicians issued and released a case report that reveals how opiod addicts are leaning towards over-the counter medication to address their addiction, leading them to dangerous consequences. The report showcases the rise of use of loperamide as a recreational drug, which has already claimed lives.

The issue of loperamide abuse

Since 2011, the number of oral loperamide abuse posts in web-based forums has increased dramatically. Several of these online discussion boards talk about using loperamide for recreational purposes.

Loperamide abuse is a growing problem in the United States, and there is an increase in the usage of this drug to self-treat opioid addiction. In an online publication of Annals of Emergency Medicine, a case study was published to outline the history of substance abuse and its direct effect to massive loperamide addiction. The case study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine is authored by Dr. William Eggleston of the Upstate New York Poison Center.

The study outlined the case of two patients (with history of substance abuse) who are undergoing opioid withdrawal. Both patients called emergency services and were treated with standard Advance Cardiac Life Support. The research study discussed and documented two loperamide-induced deaths, and highlighted the extreme danger of loperamide abuse.

“Loperamide’s accessibility, low cost, over-the-counter legal status and lack of social stigma all contribute to its potential for abuse,” said Eggleston in a news release.

Loperamide is chemically designed not to have any psychoactive effects and it does not produce a high. High intake of loperamide can reduce symptoms of opioid withdrawal but can generate heroin-like effects. Psychoactive effects are recognized when 10 or more loperamide doses more than the recommended amount are taken.

In related news, the Upstate New York Poison Center noted a dramatic increase in relation to loperamide abuse and misuse from 2011 through 2015.

Loperamide does not require a doctor's prescription for purchase.

Loperamide does not require a doctor’s prescription for purchase.

Effects of loperamide abuse

In 2014, more than 47,000 cases of drug overdose were recorded by the FDA. About 61 percent of these account for opioid drug abuse and misuse.

The epidemic and continuous rise of opioid addiction gave birth to another form of drug abuse for addicts who cannot get their hands on prescription painkillers. This drug of choice is anti-diarrhea medication, more popularly known as Imodium and Pepto.

The primary ingredient of these medicines is loperamide, which usually produces psychoactive effects when taken in high dosages. Overdosing on this particular medication can be toxic and life-threatening. Loperamide abuse and overdose can lead to health risks and heart problems.

One potential health issue is cardiac dysrhythmia, a heart ailment characterized by an abnormal heartbeat. It can potentially be life-threatening because the heart rate can range from low to high in a second. There are two classifications in the case of irregular heartbeats:

  • Bradycardia is a slow heart rhythm and is characterized under 60 beats per minute.
  • Tachycardia is a fast heart rhythm with over 100 beats per minute.

Another possible health effect of loperamide abuse is central nervous system and respiratory depression. This medical condition causes slow breathing to the point of stopping. This physiological depression of the central nervous system may result to a decreased heart beat and may lead to loss of consciousness, and eventually to coma and early death. This condition is usually caused by depressant drugs and drug overdose, and it leads to inhibited brain activity.

High dosage of loperamide can also increase the risk of kidney and liver failure, while withdrawal symptoms of the drug may lead to cardiovascular toxicity, severe anxiety and vomiting.

Actions to take against loperamide abuse

Loperamide is fast becoming a drug of choice because it is cheap and readily available over the counter. This is one of the reasons behind the unintended epidemic in the misuse of loperamide.

Based on all of the things mentioned above, the following actions may help address the growing problem on loperamide abuse:

  • It is important that health care professionals be made aware of this dilemma.
  • The federal government must work with health care officials to investigate on this particular drug abuse problem.
  • It is highly recommended to ensure that the use of these drugs should be monitored closely, and possible make loperamide a prescription drug to avoid unnecessary abuse of the medication.
  • Proper information dissemination is needed. All health officials should be aware of the increasing incidence of loperamide abuse and its cardiac toxicity.
  • The drug should be used with precaution and must be carefully directed to the consumers and patients. The proper use of loperamide should be between 8 to 16 milligrams a day, and no more. Anything higher than that must be monitored and prohibited.
Loperamide intake must be monitored closely.

Loperamide intake must be monitored closely.

Final words

Loperamide intake may be habit-forming and may increase a patient’s tolerance for the medicine. In case of loperamide abuse, urgently discontinue the drug and start the appropriate therapy for the patient. There is a high chance that the patient will undergo opioid withdrawal, and several symptoms may manifest such as excruciating physical pain, muscle ache, anxiety and diarrhea.

The biggest take home point in this discussion is that loperamide is an effective drug in treating gastrointestinal problems, and that’s why it’s readily available over the counter. However, since it has addictive properties especially when taken and consumed in large amounts, precaution is a must.

Patients advised to take loperamide must religiously follow the dosing recommendations as prescribed by the doctors and pharmacists. Also, loperamide usage should not taken lightly. Patients and consumers should take the medication only if advised by doctors and health care professionals.

[Loperamide tablets image by Kristoferb via Wikipedia Creative Commons]

Substance Abuse

Fentanyl Lacing Aggravates Danger of Recreational Drugs

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fentanyl abuse

Known as an effective drug for relieving chronic pain, fentanyl is said to be stronger than morphine in providing anesthetic properties to moderate and lessen pain of medical patients. Its mechanism focuses on acting upon the brain and spinal cord receptors so that users may have higher pain threshold and lower reaction to pain.

The drug, once packaged into other forms of drugs like cocaine, invites additional danger to occasional and habitual recreational users given that they do not usually take fentanyl for its opioid function. With little to no knowledge of the effects of fentanyl on their health, recreational cocaine users might suffer from the severe impacts of fentanyl on their system.

In Ottawa, Canada, medical practitioners are alarmed by the increasing possibility of recreational drug users that may be affected by fentanyl intake in the form of cocaine. Given that recreational users may not immediately feel the effect of the drug on them, they might increase their intake, which could possibly lead to more harmful effects to their health.

Patients who are given fentanyl for pain management purposes are closely monitored by their doctors to ensure that there will be no side effects, as reported in this news article. This said, recreational drug users who are not aware that the substances they take in carry fentanyl could really be put in danger and might even die sooner than expected.

It is highly recommended that parents take charge in educating their children on fentanyl intake or any drug substances. To prevent harm and death related to drug abuse, elders, especially parents, should take responsibility of increasing the understanding and raising the consciousness of the youth in communities.


Substance Abuse

Kratom Ban Expanding In More U.S. States

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kratom leaves pack

More states are on a mad rush to ban kratom, the new substance that serves as an opioid replacement and is a hundred times less deadly than synthetic opioids. Despite earlier accounts of the therapeutic effects of kratom, Alabama became the latest state to ban the plant and place its active ingredients on the controlled substance list, according to a news release.

Originating from Thailand and Malaysia, kratom is still relatively new in the United States. It was banned by the Thai government in 1943 due to fears that it could destroy the opium tax revenue that the nation depended on. With cannabis no longer on the list of banned substances, it looks like there is a new plant that is set to take its place.

Kratom is available in different varieties—red vein, green vein, and white vein. Popular branded capsules with different names such as Krave are already in circulation, prompting some states to ban the plant-based drug.

The American Kratom Association revealed that anti-kratom legislation is already in the works in the states of Florida, Georgia, and Kentucky. Democrat Senator Arthur Orr was the sponsor of the Alabama bill that placed kratom’s active ingredients mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine as Schedule I.

While natural kratom is a relatively harmless plant, the active ingredient mitragynine binds opioid brain receptors – the same receptors that react to morphine, heroin, and oxycodone. Although it is much less potent than painkillers or heroin, kratom has similar qualities such as withdrawal symptoms as well as the habit-forming nature that all opioids have. Mitragynine does not bind strongly as synthetic opioids, but the same principle applies.

If there is one redeeming quality of kratom, it has to be its ability to become a gateway drug in order to escape opioid addiction. It may come in handy to a pill popper or a heroin addict. Still, a lot of research may be needed to fully understand the controversial plant, including its benefits and risks.


Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Breast Cancer Treatment Effectiveness Decreased By Cigarette Smoking

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Smoking may reduce the effectiveness of breast cancer treatment.

This was according to new research, which revealed that smoking had little or zero effect on the benefit of other drugs, such as chemotherapy or tamoxifen as well as radiation treatment. However, lead researcher Helena Jernstrom revealed in a news release that the findings of the study need confirmation. When confirmed, smoking status must be considered when choosing the kind of breast cancer therapy.

In breast cancer patients taking aromatase inhibitors, smokers were three times at risk of their cancer returning than nonsmokers, the researchers revealed. However, the study could not develop a cause-and-effect link.

Common aromatase inhibitors such as Arimidex (anastrozole), Aromasin (exemestane), and Femara (letrozole) hindered the production of estrogen in postmenopausal women. It lowers the amount of estrogen needed for the stimulation of the hormone receptor-positive breast cancer cells.

Hormone receptor-positive breast cancer is the most common type of breast cancer, which accounts for 2 of every 3 cases. The American Cancer Society reveals that early detection and treatment can mean 100 percent survival of the patients for more than five years.

The study involved more than 1,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer in a 10-year period from 2002 to 2012. From that number, 1 in 5 women were found to be smoking before breast cancer surgery. The research revealed that women 50 years and up who underwent treatment with aromatase inhibitors fared considerably worse during the follow up period if they smoked than if they didn’t.

As only a small percentage of smokers quit during the treatment, Jenstrom said that there is no information on whether quitting smoking while taking aromatase inhibitors will increase the effectiveness of the drug.


Drug Testing Substance Abuse

Heroin Abuse Truths, Detection, and Treatment

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heroin powder

Heroin addiction has become a serious epidemic in the United States. The report entitled “Results from the 2014 National Health Survey on Drug Use and Health” prepared by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Services (SAMHSA) showed that for that year, about 586,000 people of ages 12 or older  who were living in the country had a heroin use disorder.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported similar findings and pointed out that between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths had quadrupled. In 2013 alone, more than 8,200 people died from heroin overdose.

Following the warnings issued by the CDC, the White House called for intensified efforts to address the growing crisis and to prevent further escalation of the heroin abuse problem.

Heroin Use and Addiction

Heroin is a highly addictive substance that is synthesized from morphine. The latter is derived from the opium that naturally occurs in an Asian poppy plant. After being chemically processed, heroin is sold in white or brown powder form. It can also take the form of a black sticky substance (black tar heroin). Black tar heroin, however, is tainted with other substances such as coffee, burned cornstarch, or dextrose.

The drug may be smoked, snorted, or injected directly into the veins. When used intravenously, it is two to four times more potent than morphine.

Heroin may be introduced intravenously via injection.

Heroin may be introduced intravenously via injection.

Regardless of the manner of ingestion, the substance enters the brain rapidly where it is quickly converted back to morphine. It then binds itself to the opioid receptors, the cells in the brain which are associated with perceptions of pain and reward. The effects are similar to those caused by prescriptive opioid analgesics.

When administered intravenously, users immediately experience a “rush” or an elevated sense of pleasure and euphoria that can occur within a few seconds from the use. This is followed by a feeling of calmness and the users would shift between states of drowsiness and wakefulness.  Heroin is used and abused for the “rush” or pleasurable feelings that the drug elicits.

Immediate Effects of Heroin

Aside from experiencing euphoria, followed by a sense of general well-being and calmness, users have also reported negative effects. These include dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, flushed skin, and clouded mental abilities. Soon after, the users are likely to experience a different set of symptoms. The “delayed” symptoms include drowsiness, slowed breathing, slowed heart rate, heaviness of the extremities, and uncontrollable itching of the skin.

Heroin overdose can cause a suppression of breathing that affects the delivery of oxygen to the brain. It can also cause respiratory depression. Both effects are fatal and can lead to coma, permanent brain damage, and death.

Long-Term Consequences

Various studies have been conducted to determine the long-term effects of heroin use disorder. Among the effects that have been established are the following:

Health consequences

Heroin abuse has been linked to a number of serious health risks and medical complications. These include bronchial and lung infections such as pneumonia, liver diseases such as hepatitis, kidney diseases, heart diseases, collapsed veins, skin abscesses and infections, arthritis, seizures, constipation, and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Sharing of needles among fellow drug users also tremendously increases the chances of contracting HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and other blood-borne viruses.

Pregnant women are at risk of miscarriage and premature birth. They also place the unborn child at risk of low birth weight and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS is a condition where a child is born with drug dependence and exhibits withdrawal symptoms.

Among non-pregnant women, heroin abuse can cause hormonal imbalance and inconsistent menstrual cycles.

In addition, those who consume street heroin are at a high risk of overdose and death because these variants may be mixed with other addictive and toxic substances.

Tolerance and addiction

Chronic use of heroin can lead to tolerance and a user will need to use higher amounts of the substance in order to achieve the same results. Over time, he will develop a physiological dependence on heroin which is manifested by an uncontrollable compulsion to consume the drug despite knowledge of its harmful effects. This compulsive behavioral pattern is called substance use disorder, abuse, or addiction.

As with other cases of substance use disorder, the abuser will experience several withdrawal symptoms whenever he tries to quit using the drug. These symptoms include restlessness, anxiety, depression, insomnia, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, body malaise, cold sweats, chills, involuntary spasms, muscle and bone pain, fever, and intense drug cravings. These can manifest anywhere between 6 to 24 hours from discontinuation of drug use.

Heroin is extremely addictive and regardless of the chosen route of administration, a user has a high probability of developing tolerance and dependence. Once addicted to the substance, an abuser’s solitary objective is to use the drug.

Behavioral and social changes

Heroin addiction substantially affects a person’s behavior and character. As an abuser’s life revolves around drug use, drug acquisition, and recovery from use, his daily routines and concerns are significantly altered.

Addicts may begin to display sudden changes in behavior such as lying, stealing, underperformance in school or work, loss of motivation, loss of self-esteem, lack of concern for personal appearance and hygiene, lack of interest in hobbies and social activities, disassociation from friends and family members, and hostile behavior.

These changes will give rise to more serious problems that are likely to upset his family and home life, interpersonal relationships, employment, social standing, and financial stability or status.

Effects on the brain

Some research studies have shown that repeated use of heroin alters both the physical structure and function of the brain. These changes can lead to long-term neuronal and hormonal imbalances that are difficult to reverse.

Heroin use disorder also causes a corrosion of the brain’s white matter. This affects the person’s ability to make decisions, analyze and solve problems, control behavior, and cope with stressful situations and environments.

Heroin abuse affects a person's brain, health, and psyche.

Heroin abuse affects a person’s brain, health, and psyche.

Detection and Diagnosis

Knowing the initial signs and symptoms of heroin use and addiction can help a person detect if a family member, friend, or co-worker is abusing the drug. Tell-tale physical indicators include flushed skin, vomiting, sweating, and shallow breathing.

The behavioral changes that indicate drug abuse include impaired reasoning and judgment, changes in mood, aggression, irritability, depression, neglect of appearance, underperformance in work or school, financial problems, frequent lying, and criminal tendencies.

Heroin addicts also use a number of paraphernalia such as syringes, hypodermic needles, spoons, cotton or q-tips, cigarette filters, lighters, aluminum foil, glass or metal pipes, and rubber balloons where they sometimes store heroin. Finding these in their possession or hidden in their drawers or medical cabinets strongly suggest that they are abusing heroin.

The drug is retained in the body and may be detected via drug test within 24 to 48 hours from last use. A urine test is the most common method for determining whether a person has recently smoked or ingested an opioid. A hair opiate test may detect heroin for up to 90 days from the last use.

What’s great about recent developments in the field of heroin drug testing is that home-based test kits are now available in the market. Some of these products include IDenta Confirm Heroin Substance Detector and iCassette Premium Complete OPI2000 Urine Drug Test Kit.

Aside from these standard drug tests, a person suspected of heroin use must also be evaluated by a physician or drug counselor to confirm whether or not he suffers from heroin use disorder.

Treatment Options

Treatment options are available for heroin abuse including behavioral and pharmacological approaches. Either treatment method may be resorted to in order to re-establish a person’s normal brain functions. For most abusers, however, a combination of both approaches is necessary to achieve effective results.

Below is a brief discussion of these therapies:

Pharmacological treatment

Research investigations have established that the use of medications in the treatment of opioid and heroin addiction effectively manages withdrawal symptoms, promotes abstinence and supports retention of learning gained from behavioral therapies.

During the detoxification phase or the period during which the body eliminates the effects of the drug, a patient experiences withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be managed or relieved by the administration of certain medications. Some of the medicines that have been clinically proven to be effectual are the following:

  1. Methadone

Methadone is a slow-acting opioid agonist that has been used to treat heroin addiction since the 1960s. It is designed to deliver the same effects of an opioid but at lower doses to control drug cravings until the patient can successfully wean off the substance.

  1. Buprenorphine

This drug also suppresses drug cravings but unlike other opioids, it averts harmful side effects. Like Methadone, it is also administered orally and as such, prevents the “rush” or “high” that is produced by heroin or other opioid drugs.

  1. Naltrexone

Naltrexone works by blocking the opioid receptors and preventing the drug from taking an effect on the patient. It is non-addictive. Recently, the FDA approved a long-acting formulation in an injectable form called Vivitrol which is administered once a month.

  1. Naloxone

As with Naltrexone, Naloxone also blocks the effects of opioids. It is used as an emergency treatment to reverse the effects of heroin overdose. It is available in injectable and nasal spray forms.

Behavioral therapies

Following detoxification and withdrawal, a patient must undergo behavioral therapies that involve counseling sessions delivered individually or in group sessions. These forms of counseling are available in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Therapists utilize a number of psychotherapy approaches to help the patients develop coping mechanisms, self-control, and new life skills, among others. The goals of behavioral therapies include strengthening the patient’s motivation and commitment to treatment, helping him sustain abstinence, and rebuilding his self-esteem to enable him to regain a normal and productive life.

The various techniques include contingency management, cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivation enhancement therapy, 12-step facilitation therapy, and family counseling.

In addition to group support programs, specialized treatment facility centers also offer various outdoor, sports, and recreational activities to help patients utilize exercise as a stress-coping technique.

Other forms of therapies include journalizing, art, drama, music, yoga, and meditation.

Heroin addicts need the help of their loved ones during recovery.

Heroin addicts need the help of their loved ones during recovery.

The Bottom Line

It is possible to recover from heroin abuse and to regain a normal life. However, in order to find the light at the end of the tunnel, an addict must first confront the problem head on and seek professional help. Sadly, most users are unaware of their deteriorating conditions and the inception of their treatment often lies in the hands of their family members, friends, and loved ones who must initiate intervention mechanisms.

As government agencies, state authorities, and private sectors contribute various efforts to combat this national epidemic, private individuals in the home, school, or workplace must also rise to join the battle. Anyone who suspects a loved one to be in danger of heroin abuse must strive to help address the issue by reaching out to the proper rehabilitation centers and health professionals for assistance.

If every person and sector in society is actively involved in this fight, the crisis can be conquered by saving one life at a time.


Medical Marijuana Substance Abuse

TestCountry Talks About Synthetic Marijuana in K2 Spice Webinar

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The global threat of illicit drugs continues to instill fear and grip the hearts of millions of individuals who have witnessed the adverse effects of drug abuse. Amidst the huge number of substances being abused in today’s generation, more and more drugs are coming up every so often, reeling in more victims and destroying more families.

It is in this light that TestCountry decided to launch a webinar about synthetic marijuana (more commonly known as K2 or Spice). The webinar discusses some facts about synthetic marijuana, its effects on the human body, and its impact on society.

Here’s a snippet of the synthetic marijuana webinar:

Synthetic marijuana can be made with hundreds of different liquid chemicals that are blended with Acetone and then sprayed onto dried, shredded plant material. Commercial chemistry labs mostly concentrated in China and Pacific Rim countries produce these chemicals on-demand for distributors. K2 can be more potent than natural THC, potentially having much more dangerous side effects.

Watch the webinar through this link.

Addiction Home Health Hazards Substance Abuse

Is Kratom Use Good or Bad for Your Health?

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Controversy is now surrounding the use of a relatively new drug called Kratom. While it has been used for thousands of years in some Asian countries, it has not been introduced in Europe and the United States until recently. Debates abound as to the benefits and adverse effects of ingesting the substance.

While it is becoming more popular among Americans who use it for both medical and recreational purposes, there is a pronounced lack of research and clinical data to support the claims of its therapeutic properties.

Since further studies on the benefits, drawbacks, and safety of Kratom use are yet to be pursued, users of Kratom and the public in general, are strongly advised to be armed with the available information about the substance.

What is Kratom?

Kratom or ketum refers to a tropical, evergreen tree of the coffee family that thrives in the jungles of several Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, Bali, and Sumatra. It is scientifically called Mitragyna speciosa and its leaves contain potent amounts of compounds called alkaloids.

In Asia, the substance is ingested by chewing the leaves, whether raw or dried. Most users, however, prefer to crush the leaves and dissolve the powder in liquids such as water. The leaves themselves may also be brewed into a tea.

kratom abuse

In the United States, Kratom may be purchased in leaf form but the drug is more commonly sold in capsules that contain the powdered material. It may be taken by either smoking the powder from the capsule or drinking the tea brewed from the leaves. More ingenious users, however, extract a resin from the evaporated water of the Kratom tea and convert the substances to pellets which can be swallowed.

Others mix Kratom with drinks or food to mask the bitter taste. Among the popular practices are mixing or blending the substance with yogurt, peanut butter, honey, juice, chocolate drinks, and milkshakes.

The reported effects of Kratom are contradicting and vary according to the amounts taken. Lower doses promote a stimulating effect while higher doses produce a sedating outcome.

Reported Uses of Kratom

Kratom was first documented by a Dutch botanist named Pieter Korthals in 1839. The substance was traditionally used in some parts of Asia for its various medicinal properties. Currently, it is used both for both recreational and therapeutic purposes.

Here are some of its known uses:

Traditional medicine

The use of Kratom was initially explored in Thailand where it was incorporated into traditional medicinal practices to treat maladies such as diarrhea, chronic pain, and anxiety. In earlier years, it was commonly used by laborers to boost their moods and energy levels after long hours at work. Later, it was utilized to treat opioid dependence.

In neighboring countries, Kratom has been used to cure other illnesses such as intestinal infections, muscle pain, and cough.

Pain reliever

Two of the alkaloids contained in Kratom called Mitragynine and 7-OH-mitragynine have strong analgesic properties. Though the effect produced is less potent than morphine, the drug is still effective in the treatment of chronic pain.

Among the conditions that can be efficiently managed by Kratom are migraines, back pain, chest pain, neck pain, vascular pain, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, scoliosis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

While Kratom is not classified as an opiate, it behaves similarly to opiates. Thus, it has been used as a substitute for opium in some areas like Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries whenever the latter is not available.

In the United States, many users have resorted to Kratom as an alternative to prescription drug medications such as methadone and other opioids.

Treatment of opiate withdrawal

Kratom works by binding mu opioid and delta receptors in the brain. It has been said to affect a user the same way that opiates do. As such, it may be effective in the treatment of opioid dependence. It has been said to be valuable for the management and suppression of opiate withdrawal symptoms including cravings, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.

However, though there has been a significant increase in the number of users who prefer Kratom as a remedy to relieve withdrawal symptoms that arise from chronic opioid use, there is a lack of significant clinical studies to merit a conclusion as to the efficacy of Kratom in the treatment and management of opioid addiction.

Sexual performance enhancer

Several users claim that using Kratom promotes sexual endurance and performance. The alkaloids in Kratom extracts aid in enhancing libido and sexual pleasure among both men and women.

In Thailand, it is also customarily used to prevent premature ejaculation during sexual intercourse. It has been reported that consuming even as little as one gram of Kratom powder can boost the libido for as long as 12 hours.


When used appropriately, some strains of Kratom have stimulating effects that help uplift moods and promote feelings of satisfaction. The substance is said to be beneficial for those undergoing depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and similar conditions.

Taking too much of drug, however, can produce the exact opposite effect as ingesting large doses of Kratom is known to induce sedation.

Cognitive enhancer

Many users claim that Kratom produces energizing effects similar to caffeine. The stimulating effects support improved focus, concentration, and memory. The drug has been found to promote cognitive functions and to enhance mental acuity. Some users who exhibit ADHD symptoms have reported that using the substance has helped them focus on challenging mental activities. It is said to be more efficient than most nootropic supplements in the market.

Relaxant and sedative

Consuming larger doses of Kratom leaves or extracts can promote calmness and relaxation. It helps to manage stress, anxiety, and tension. The drug is also known to improve sleep quality. Many users claim that taking Kratom helps them sleep for longer periods but it does not give them a “hangover” feeling in the morning. Thus, many prefer using the substance over prescription sedatives.

Recreational use

In recent years, recreational use of Kratom has spread over the United States. Users claim that Kratom emulates the effects of MDMA and low-dose marijuana but produces the right balance of relaxation and stimulation. Young professionals maintain that using the drug is a good way to unwind after a long day at work.

It has also become a social drug as its effects help users feel more outgoing and energized during gatherings or social activities.

Adverse Effects

While most users in the United States do not report having encountered any problems with using Kratom, consumption of the substance at higher or more frequent doses may produce adverse reactions. Some of the side effects include dry mouth, nausea, reduced appetite, sleeping disorders, bowel obstruction, and darkening of the skin.

In Southeast Asia, however, where the use of the drug is more widespread, there have been accounts of more severe reactions such as delusion, aggression, and schizophrenia. Chronic users have also reported experiencing withdrawal symptoms that include irritability, weight loss, insomnia, diarrhea, muscle spasms, and fever. It is suspected that these effects were brought about by either having ingested the substance in larger doses or having used Kratom in conjunction with other drugs or intoxicating beverages.

Whether or not Kratom is highly addictive is largely debated. Narconon asserts that habitual use can increase tolerance and develop compulsion or addiction. Because of the reports gathered from other countries where it is largely consumed, it is recommended that users exercise caution in taking Kratom. It is advised that the drug should not be used more than twice a week to reduce the possibility of developing dependence.

New users should not attempt to experiment with larger doses as the physiological effects of the drug vary from person to person.

In addition, using the substance in conjunction with other drugs and opiates is strongly discouraged as overstimulation can result in increased blood pressure. When used with sedatives or benzodiazepines, it can cause over-sedation, central nervous system depression, and respiratory distress.

There has, however, been no reported case of overdose or death arising from the use of Kratom.

Legality of Kratom Use

Although the use of Kratom has been accepted to be part of Thailand’s culture and traditional practices, it has actually been outlawed since 1943 when the Kratom Act was passed. The law criminalized possession of Kratom leaves, planting, and cultivating Kratom plants.

However, implementing the law posed an enormous challenge to the Thai government because eradication efforts included setting fire to rainforests where the trees naturally flourish. The results were detrimental to the wildlife and ecosystems of the country.

In 1979, Kratom was included in the Narcotics Act and was classified as a Category 5 substance. Regulatory efforts continue to persist in Thailand where the use of the substance is most prevalent.

Kratom is illegal in other countries such as Malaysia, Myanmar, Australia, and Denmark.

In the United States, Kratom has not been declared illegal by the Federal Government. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Kratom is currently not included in any of the categories under the Controlled Substances Act.

Some states, however, have passed legislation prohibiting use and possession of Kratom. The jurisdiction includes Alabama, Indiana, Vermont, Illinois, and Tennessee.

In other parts of the country, Kratom continues to be available for purchase whether over the counter at various shops, or over the internet. No license or prescription is required to buy, possess or use the drug. Some users previously imported the leaves from some Asian Pacific countries until 2015, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated this practice by issuing directives for the immediate seizure of such shipments from listed vendors.

There have been increasing reports of emergency room visits resulting from Kratom use. The patients either complained of adverse reactions to the substance or of withdrawal symptoms. But more statistical data and scientific information are needed before the drug can be appropriately classified. The same information will validly determine whether regulatory or criminal legislation must be passed and enforced.

In the meantime, medical practitioners are rushing to find whatever resources they could to enable them to manage and treat patients who may present signs of Kratom tolerance, dependence, or withdrawal.

It is hoped that current users of Kratom who take it either as an alternative to prescription drugs or as a choice for recreational habits would use the substance responsibly and moderately to avert the negative effects that are already known or published.

Substance Abuse

Alcohol Abuse May be Identified Through Social Media Posts

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teen social media

In this modern age where social media is part of the usual teenager’s life, parents may use social media to help detect their children’s whereabouts and current vices.

Two big universities have conducted research on the so-called “alcohol identity”, which can be traced through the use of social networking sites. A research project by North Carolina State University and Ohio University discovered that college students who post about alcohol on their social media accounts have a greater risk of developing drinking problems than those who actually have active drinking habits.

According to the study as reported in a news release, social networking sites may serve as a window to unlock the drinking habits of adolescents who freely advertise and communicate their interest in alcohol consumption.

The research was conducted through an online survey of 364 undergraduate students who were all of legal age. These students were identified to have consumed at least one alcoholic drink and were active in Facebook, Twitter or Instagram in one month.

Through social the media posts, researchers said that these individuals treat drinking as part of their identity. Through this project, researches noticed two behaviors: missing school or work, and getting into physical conflict due to drinking.

The study proponents further added that a student’s post on alcohol reveals his drinking culture, either currently or in the long run.

The next time you see college students actively posting about alcoholic drinks, you should already know what’s running through their minds.


Substance Abuse

All You Need To Know About Tobacco Abuse

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tobacco abuse effects

Tobacco use continues to account for a considerable number of preventable deaths and diseases in the United States. According to the Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a report prepared by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), approximately 66.9 million people of ages 12 and older were users of tobacco products, including 55.2 million cigarette smokers. The data also disclosed that about 32.5 million people reported smoking cigarettes on a daily basis, according to this report.

Smoking or ingesting tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, hookahs, and smokeless tobacco poses dangerous health threats not just to the smoker but to those exposed to secondhand smoke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that each year, about 42,000 nonsmokers die from diseases caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.

Facts About Tobacco Abuse and Addiction

Tobacco is one of the most frequently abused substances in the country. People are drawn to experiment with tobacco use for a number of reasons such as pleasure, stress relief, weight control, enhanced mental acuity, and image building.

Because it is not declared as a controlled or illicit substance, it is highly accessible compared to dangerous drugs. The convenience of acquisition somehow causes users to overlook the addictive nature of the substance.

The main addictive chemical in tobacco products is nicotine, which is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream when tobacco is inhaled, smoked, or chewed. Nicotine stimulates an increase in dopamine levels which affect the areas of the brain that control pleasure and reward.

The other components of the products such as acetaldehyde may heighten the effects of nicotine on the brain. Over time, tobacco use can lead to physiological addiction or abuse, in the same manner as a user gets addicted to cocaine, heroin or other addictive substance.

smoking cigarette

Addiction is characterized by a compulsive drug seeking behavior, despite knowledge of the negative effects or consequences. There is a high probability of addiction when a person:

  • Cannot stop smoking or ingesting tobacco despite a desire or attempt to quit
  • Feels the need or compulsion to smoke or chew tobacco after meals, during breaks, or after long periods without using tobacco
  • Cannot function normally without tobacco use
  • Seeks a tobacco product during stressful situations
  • Continues smoking or chewing despite illnesses or health problems
  • Has developed a tolerance for the substance and requires more frequent use or higher doses to achieve the desired effects
  • Spends a great deal of time on smoking activities or on trying to obtain tobacco products
  • Continues to smoke even in hazardous conditions (e.g. in bed, near a gasoline station)
  • Experiences withdrawal symptoms whenever he attempts to quit

Withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anxiety, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, fatigue, increased heart rate, and intense cravings. Avoidance of these symptoms can prevent a user from quitting the bad habit. This prolongs the phase of addiction and increases his risks of incurring medical complications related to tobacco abuse.

Effects of Tobacco Abuse

There are several ill-effects that can arise from prolonged tobacco use or addiction. The detriment can affect several areas including personal health and societal economic costs. Here are some of the dangerous consequences of tobacco abuse:

Impact on personal health

Nicotine is only one of the thousands of poisonous chemicals found in tobacco products. Other substances such as tar, carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde, nitrosamines, formaldehyde, cyanide, and ammonia that also make up these products are toxic chemicals and carcinogenic to humans. The same components are contained in smokeless tobacco.

This is why tobacco use is the leading cause of several cancers. It accounts for about 90% of lung cancer cases, according to

Aside from cancers, it also leads to other severe medical conditions such as bronchial diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders, heart diseases, stroke, vascular diseases, aneurysm, and diabetes. In addition, smoking has been found to cause erectile dysfunction among males.

Secondhand smoke

Tobacco use not only affects the direct user. The exhaled smoke called environmental tobacco smoke or secondhand smoke is likewise hazardous for those exposed to the emissions. Frequent exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risks for developing heart diseases, respiratory infections, and lung cancer.

Secondhand smoke is especially unsafe for children. Children exposed to the smoke can develop severe asthma and other respiratory infections. In worse cases, parental smoking can result in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

child secondhand smoke

Pregnant women

Pregnant women who smoke incur increased risks of miscarriage, stillborn delivery, or giving birth prematurely. This is because exposure to nicotine and carbon monoxide may hinder oxygen supply to the fetus, which leads to severe consequences for the child including respiratory difficulties and sudden infant death syndrome.

Tobacco use during pregnancy could also result in learning and developmental difficulties in the child including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Moreover, maternal smoking affects the child’s behavioral and psychological patterns and he is more likely to become addicted to nicotine when he starts smoking.

Economic costs

Tobacco use is also costly for society. It contributes to loss of productivity and to high costs in terms of healthcare. The CDC reports that the total economic cost of smoking exceeds $300 billion a year. The amount represents expenses for medical care, premature deaths, and loss of workforce productivity.

Treatment Options

Quitting tobacco use is challenging. A tobacco addict will normally attempt to do this several times but the addiction will keep him craving to consume the substance. His dependence on nicotine becomes a chronic disease that will require a combination of treatment approaches guided by medical professionals and counseling experts.

However, with the right attitude, support, and motivation, recovery from tobacco abuse is possible. These are the treatment options for tobacco addiction:

Nicotine replacement therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a pharmacological treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective for use as a remedy for nicotine addiction. NRT works by replacing the nicotine from the cigarettes by releasing the substance in smaller amounts at a slower pace, controlling the dose that enters the bloodstream. This satisfies the cravings for nicotine that occur during the withdrawal phase.

NRT aids in reducing the withdrawal symptoms and affects the psychological aspects by moderating the patient’s mood. Thus, he is able to function normally even without using a tobacco product. Continuous use will help the patient abstain from cigarette smoking or ingesting other forms of tobacco.

The 6 types of NRT products that are currently approved include transdermal nicotine patches, nicotine nasal sprays or inhalers, nicotine lozenges, nicotine gums, and sublingual nicotine tablets. This form of therapy is most effective for heavy smokers and it increases the quit rate by 50 to 70%, based on data from this article.

However, NRT is not the ultimate remedy for smoking cessation. It is recommended that these products be used in conjunction with non-nicotine preparations to ensure better chances of recovery from nicotine addiction.

Non-nicotine medication

Another approach is to administer medications that do not contain nicotine but help to control and eliminate the physiological dependence on the substance. Two drugs have been approved by the FDA as effectual in smoking cessation therapy. These are:

  • Bupropion, also known by its trade name Zyban, controls the symptoms of withdrawal, especially depression. It has shown to double smoking cessation rates.
  • Varenicline tartrate, which also goes by the trade name Chantix, targets the nicotine receptors in the brain and ensures balanced levels of dopamine. This helps to prevent withdrawal symptoms.

The use of varenicline may increase risks for developing cardiovascular problems such as myocardial infarction, angina, coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, ischemia, and stroke. As such, this remedy should be taken with caution and should only be resorted to after proper consultation with a physician.

The other second-line therapies recognized by the U.S. Clinical Practice Guideline are Nortriptyline and Clonidine. Both drugs have shown to effectively diminish withdrawal symptoms and to elevate abstinence rates.

Combination of pharmacotherapy

In some cases, a combination of drugs and NRT approaches may be necessary to help a patient effectively quit smoking or chewing tobacco.

The use of a passive NRT product such as a transdermal patch may be used together with another medicine with an acute dosing preparation such as a gum or nasal spray. For heavy abusers, the combination of these therapies may be more efficacious than using either product alone.

NRT may also be used together with a non-nicotine medication. For instance, a nicotine patch when with the drug Bupropion may produce better results.

Combining the use of pharmacotherapy methods should be directed and supervised by a physician or a licensed treatment facility.

Behavioral therapy

It is recommended that pharmacological treatment is accompanied by behavioral therapy. The latter is an intervention mechanism that addresses psychological factors which can strengthen a patient’s resolve to focus on recovery and avoid temptations that can lead to relapse.

Methods in behavioral treatment include self-help materials and individual counseling. These are intended to help the patient develop stress management and coping mechanisms as alternative strategies to smoking tobacco during highly stressful situations. It also teaches the patient to recognize situations where he could be enticed to use a tobacco product and to avoid such settings or adeptly handle them.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy methods such as hypnotherapy and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) have also been effectual for some patients. These approaches assist the users to change their perceptions and behavior towards tobacco use.

Conventional behavioral methodologies are conducted at formal treatment facilities, smoking cessation clinics, and community health centers. The modern approach, however, permits patients to avail of treatment by phone, mail, or over the internet.

In 2004, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a toll-free number for smokers who want to quit the bad habit. The number is 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) and callers are redirected to their respective state’s cessation quitline or to the National Cancer Institute, according to this article.

Quitting smoking can be tough for a highly-dependent user and the chances of relapse are high. Because intervention programs usually last from 1-3 months, about 75-80% of patients are likely to resume the habit within the first year from treatment. To be effectual, programs are usually extended to about six months or longer. In most cases, long-term management and support including administration of low-dose medications may be necessary.

Advances in medical science research are promising and more potent remedies may be available in the near future. While the alterations to the central nervous system brought about by nicotine dependence could not be completely reversed by pharmacologic preparations, proper treatment can manage the addiction.

The success of any treatment approach ultimately lies in the strength of the patient’s determination to overcome his dependence on the substance. Help from various agencies and clinics are available. However, what a patient needs most of all is an attitude of firm commitment to recovery.


Substance Abuse

Everything You Need To Know About The Prescription Drug Abuse Problem

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prescription drug abuse global issue

The drug abuse problem in the United States isn’t limited to the category of illicit drugs. Legal medicines such as prescription and over-the-counter drugs are also a huge component of the drug abuse epidemic.

Prescription drugs are among the most frequently abused substances in the country, along with marijuana and alcohol. In fact, the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that about 15 million people from the age of 12 used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons in the past year. It also reports that an estimate of 6.5 million people of the same age used psychotherapeutic drugs non-medically in the past month.

The prevalence of prescription drug abuse is attributed to the accessibility of the products and to the popular misconception among abusers that these drugs are safer to use compared to illicit substances. In truth, the risk for developing drug dependence and addiction is high.

The use of these drugs is regulated in the sense that they should not be taken without prior medical consultation. Medication usage and dosage should also to be supervised by a physician or health care professional. Taking these drugs for non-medical reasons can lead to health complications, overdose, and death. Prescription drug abuse accounts for 60% of overdose-related deaths and for about 1.4 million emergency room visits each year, according to this article.

Misuse or abuse of prescription drugs occurs in three possible ways: by using the medication without a doctor’s prescription or prior medical advice such as by taking a friend or relative’s prescribed medication; taking it in higher doses or administering it in a way other than as prescribed by the physician such as by crushing the tablets and snorting or injecting the powder; or using it for the purpose of experiencing the feelings that the drug elicits.

prescription drug abuse cocktail drugs

Prescription Drugs Commonly Abused And Their Effects

The drugs most commonly abused include opioid pain relievers, central nervous system depressants, stimulants, and over-the-counter drugs. Here is a brief description of each type and a discussion of the effects of drug abuse:


Opioids are prescribed to relieve and manage acute or chronic pain. These medications work by reducing the intensity of pain signals sent to the brain. Some examples of opioids are hydrocodone, acetaminophen, oxycodone, fentanyl, methadone, codeine, and morphine.

Some of the side effects from taking opioids are drowsiness, nausea, constipation, and disorientation. Taken in larger doses, the drugs can produce a sense of euphoria. Those who abuse the drugs primarily seek to experience increased levels of elation and to further intensify their experience, they may inject or snort the drugs rather than take them orally, as intended. This manner of abuse can lead to several complications including overdose, severe respiratory depression, and death.

Taking the medications for longer periods than prescribed can lead to physical dependence and increased tolerance for the drugs. Eventually, dependence leads to addiction and the user will experience withdrawal symptoms when use of the drugs are reduced or stopped altogether.

Opioid misuse and abuse continues to be a major public health problem in the United States. From 1999 to 2013, the rate of death from opioid pain reliever overdose nearly quadrupled.

Central Nervous System Depressants

Tranquilizers and sedatives fall under the general classification called central nervous system depressants. These are used to treat common conditions such as anxiety, and insomnia as well as more complicated psychiatric disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other related illnesses.

These medications should be prescribed by a physician only after careful evaluation of the patient’s symptoms. They must be administered with utmost caution and their use must be supervised by a doctor. These type of drugs are susceptible to overdose and can cause potentially dangerous effects. Among frequently used depressants are benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and quetiapine.

These drugs slow down brain activity and induce drowsiness and a sense of calm. They are popularly known as “downers” and are used non-medically by abusers who seek sleep as a form of escape from the reality of their troubles.

Abuse of tranquilizers and sedatives can cause lethargy, nausea, confusion, respiratory depression, and death.

Both tranquilizers and sedatives should not be taken with other medications unless under a physician’s supervision. Taking them with other substances, especially alcohol, can cause dangerous and life-threatening complications.

prescription drugs


These drugs are prescribed to treat or manage conditions such attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Taking these medications help patients with the said conditions stay calm and focused. Examples of these drugs are methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine, and amphetamines.

Stimulants are known to increase alertness and energy levels. They can also cause an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Because these drugs affect the brain’s dopamine levels, taking them in appropriately can produce feelings of elevated euphoria.

Some drug abusers take stimulants in the belief that doing so would improve their cognitive performance because of the drugs’ known effects of increasing energy levels. Stimulant abuse is common among students who take the drugs to improve alertness during examinations and rigorous academic activities.

Taking stimulants non-medically increases risks of addiction, cardiovascular diseases, seizures, and strokes. Repeated use of stimulants can cause paranoia, hostility, and psychosis.

Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances that are associated with the male sex hormones. They are used to treat conditions such as delayed puberty in male adolescents, impotence in men, breast cancer in women, anemia, endometriosis, and other hormonal imbalance conditions. These medications include methandrostenolone, methyltestosterone, danazol, stanozolol, and oxandrolone.

Most anabolic steroids are administered orally while some are injected intramuscularly. Some come in gel or cream form and are used by applying the substances on the skin.

In the United States, these drugs are categorized as Schedule III Controlled Substances because of the probability of harmful adverse effects brought about by the alteration in hormonal production.

Abuse of anabolic steroids is common among those who want to “bulk up” their muscles’ size and reduce body fat. Athletes use anabolic steroids to enhance performance and prolong endurance.

Anabolic steroid abuse can cause severe acne, hair loss and baldness, altered mood, irritability, aggression, depression, infertility, liver disease, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and cancer. Female steroid abusers may experience irregular menstrual cycle and develop male features such as excess facial hair or deepening of voice.

Over-the-counter (OTC) Medications

These are drugs that are readily available at supermarkets, convenience stores, retail shops, and drug stores. They can be purchased even without presenting a physician’s prescription.

The problem isn’t really the drugs but the addictive substances they contain. For instance, cough and cold medications often contain the component called dextromethorphan (DXM) which is intended to suppress cough. However, when taken in higher doses, the ingredient in the drugs cause an “out-of-body” experience, a feeling of being “high”, and can trigger hallucination. Thus, cough medications are the most commonly abused OTC drugs.

Among the effects of cough medication overdose are vomiting, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, nausea, hallucination, high blood pressure, and liver damage.

Antihistamines that are sold over-the-counter are also subject to abuse. Some users take these substances for their calming and sleep-inducing effects.

Use of diet supplements are abused for their slimming and fat reducing effects. Most weight-loss products, including herbal preparations, contain a dangerous ingredient called ephedrine. The side effects of ephedrine include insomnia, restlessness, nausea, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, palpitations, and hallucinations.

As with diet supplements, laxatives and diuretics are also chosen for their properties that help promote weight loss. The use is prevalent among teens and young adults who are weight and figure-conscious. Abuse of these substances can cause serious dehydration, electrolyte and mineral imbalance.

Caffeine pills and energy drinks are also frequently abused OTC products. They are taken to achieve higher energy levels and improve performance. Abuse of these substances is common among students and professionals. Large doses can cause adverse effects such as palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, gastric reflux, and increased blood pressure.

While over-the-counter drugs are safe for medical purposes and are beneficial when taken in moderation, they can be harmful when taken in larger doses. They are especially injurious when use is combined with alcohol and illicit drugs.

excess prescription drugs

Signs and Symptoms

Spotting the signs of prescriptive drug abuse can be challenging because the symptoms vary according to the substance taken. Also, some people are more predisposed to addiction than others due to several factors such as genetics, biological make-up, social environment, and age. These presence of these factors also influence the rate and manner at which the signs become manifest. The more number of risk factors, the greater the chances for a person to develop substance addiction.

Among the common symptoms of abuse include confusion, loss of coordination, nausea, sleeping disorders, mood swings, headaches, dizziness, and vomiting.

Some signs of prescription drug abuse among teens and young adults may involve behavioral changes. These include withdrawal from family and friends, change in hobbies and interests, hostile or aggressive behavior, abrupt change in academic performance, mood swings, and changes in sleeping patterns.

When parents, relatives or friends observe these behaviors in teens and adolescents, it is best that they seek professional advice immediately and implement the appropriate intervention methods to prevent prolonged abuse that can be potentially damaging to their health.

Treatment Approaches

Prescription drug abuse can be treated effectively. For better chances of recovery, the patient’s treatment plan should be customized according to the substance subject of abuse. In many instances, a combination of approaches is necessary to achieve long-term detoxification and rehabilitation goals.

One popular prescription drug abuse treatment approach is behavioral therapy. This is implemented through individual, group, and family counseling sessions. During these sessions, patients are taught strategies to avoid drug use, and to function normally without need for the substances. Effective counseling helps the patients develop improved interpersonal relationships and work functionality.

Some addictions, particularly those where there is significant physiological dependence on the substance, require pharmacological treatments. Medications may be necessary to manage or prevent cravings, as well as to cope with withdrawal symptoms.

As mentioned, it is best that the patient’s treatment plan integrates a combination of these methods to achieve optimum recovery.

Prescription drug abuse is a persistent public health threat in the country that various federal agencies and state legislation are still trying to combat. These efforts include implementation of several regulation, monitoring, treatment, and prevention measures.

However, successful treatment and prevention begins with the individual and within the home. Individuals should not take medications or alter dosages without first seeking a physician or health care professional’s advice. Neither should they pass on these medications to their family members or friends. Personal monitoring and prevention is still the best way to fight this growing crisis.