Medical Marijuana Substance Abuse

Recreational Marijuana Use Legalized In California After Statewide Vote

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Aside from the brimming tensions in the U.S. presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, anticipation has also reached fever pitch in Proposition 64, which aims to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the state of California. As the state with the highest population in the country, California is poised to turn the tides in terms of public acceptance of recreational pot.

The votes have been cast on November 9. The verdict: Yes to recreational marijuana.

California Cannabis Industry Association executive director Nate Bradley expressed jubilation over the state support for cannabis. “Proposition 64 will allow California to take its rightful place as the center of cannabis innovation, research and development,” Bradley said in a news release.

On the other side of the fence, California Police Chiefs Association chief Ken Corney said that they will continue to fight the battle against marijuana use, especially in the recreational scene. “We are, of course, disappointed that the self-serving moneyed interests behind this marijuana business plan prevailed at the cost of public health, safety, and the wellbeing of our communities,” Corney added.

The vote turns Proposition 64 into law, legalizing the sale, possession, and use of not more than an ounce of marijuana by any person in California 21 years old or above. Individuals are also allowed to plant not more than six marijuana plants.

California now joins Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington as the U.S. states where recreational pot is legal.

[Photo by Cooljuno411 via Wikimedia Creative Commons]



Graphic Labels in Cigarette Packs May Lower Death Rates in U.S., Says Study

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The printing of graphic images on warning labels and cigarette packages that visually depict the health consequences of smoking is now being implemented in the U.S. market. Tobacco packaging with warning messages and graphic images are implemented in an effort to reach the public’s awareness of the health consequences and harmful effects of smoking.

Earlier studies confirmed that cigarette packages that contain graphic photographs of smokers work as an effective smoking deterrent.

According to a news report, the new cigarette packages could potentially save more than 650,000 lives and can also prevent preterm births and low birth weight by the year 2065. The new study authored by David Levy showcases the effectiveness of graphic images on cigarette packages. David Levy is a professor of oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC.

According to the study, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has incurred the cost to effectively study and develop the cost of the warning labels. The tobacco control policy model depicts an estimate that photographic warning labels in cigarette packs can reduce the smoking prevalence in the United States by 5 percent in the short-term perspective and around 10 to 12 percent in the long run.

There are various and differing opinions on the tobacco labels and packages. Some find it odd while find it extremely disturbing. The impact and effectiveness of the graphic warning labels highly depends on the perspective of the smokers and if they want to lessen the cigarette sticks they consume.

[Photo by Skirtick via Wikimedia Creative Commons]


Substance Abuse

All You Need To Know About Oxycodone Abuse

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Oxycodone is a semisynthetic opioid synthesized from thebaine, which is an opioid alkaloid found in the Persian poppy. It is a moderately potent opioid analgesic that acts on the central nervous system and is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. It blocks pain receptors that produce euphoric feelings by altering the levels of dopamine in the brain.

Oxycodone was known as dihydroxycodeinone or eukodal, and was first developed in Germany in 1917 in the attempt to improve several other semi-synthetic opioids. This is usually administered in a round-the-clock treatment rather than on an as-needed basis.

Oxycodone Formulation

Oxycodone is available in single-ingredient medication in both immediate and controlled release. It is available in the following dosage form:

  • Tablet, extended release
  • Tablet
  • Capsule
  • Solution


It is also available in combination with other non-narcotic analgesics such as aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen. Naloxone is used to reverse respiratory opioid depression in oxycodone overdose. When oxycodone is combined with other drugs, they are known with the following brand names: OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan and Roxicodone.

In Canada, oxycodone is known using the following brand names:

  • APO-Oxycodone CR
  • oxyCODONE
  • Oxy-IR
  • OxyNEO
  • pms-oxyCODONE

Important Information on Oxycodone

Oxycodone is not recommended for individuals who may be suffering from asthma and other breathing problems or blockage in the stomach or intestines. One of the effects of taking oxycodone is the slowing down of breathing or cessation of breathing upon initial intake as well as when there is a change in the dose.

It is also not recommended to be taken in large amounts or for a longer period of time. It is highly advised that oxycodone should be swallowed in full rather taken as crushed to avoid any potential fatal dose.

Oxycodone intake may be habit-forming, and that is why it is not recommended to share the prescribed drug by the health professional to any other person because of its high risk of being misused or abused that may lead to addiction, overdose or even death.

Oxycodone should never be taken with alcohol because the combination’s side effects can be very fatal. The medication itself can impair your way of thinking and judgment. It is highly advised not to drive or operate machinery because severe drowsiness can cause accidents.

It is important to note that patients who are previously taking other opioid drugs should be stopped. Oxycodone should only be taken with food.

Always make use of the dosing syringe provided when using oxycodone to ensure that the right dosage is taken every time.

It is possible to have similar withdrawal symptoms when using oxycodone for a long time when it is suddenly stopped. It is better to ask the doctor to know what to expect during this phase to be aware on how to handle the unpleasant feeling carried about these withdrawal symptoms.

Keeping track of the amount of medicine used from each bottle is important. Any unused pill should be discarded. Ask your pharmacist where to find a drug take-back program. If there isn’t any, flush any unused pill or liquid down the toilet. This ensures that no one can get hold of this drug to reduce the danger of accidental overdose that may lead to death.

How OxyContin is being abused. [Photo by 51fifty via Wikipedia Creative Commons]

How OxyContin is being abused. [Photo by 51fifty via Wikipedia Creative Commons]

Precautionary Measures Prior to taking Oxycodone

Oxycodone should not be used on patients with:

  • An allergy to any narcotic pain medicine or any narcotic cough medicine that contains codeine or hydrocodone.
  • Severe asthma or breathing problems
  • Blockage in the stomach or intestines

The Effects of Oxycodone Use

Oxycodone is classified under Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means that it has a currently acceptable medical use with high potential for abuse that may lead to psychological or physical dependence.

Patients who may need to be treated with oxycodone should however not fear of being dependent on the drug despite of it being habit-forming because if oxycodone is taken as prescribed by the health professionals, then there should be no cause for worry.

However, side effects are expected to occur most especially to those who may have an allergy to oxycodone and experience difficulty in breathing and swelling on different parts of the body.

Immediately call a doctor if these symptoms have become evident:

  • Light-headed feeling (feel like passing out)
  • Infertility, missed periods
  • Seizures/convulsions
  • Shallow breathing, slow heartbeat, cold, clammy skin
  • Impotence, decreased sexual urges
  • Low cortisol levels
  • Chest pain
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Postural hypotension

Other minor side effects of oxycodone include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Itching
  • Flushing
  • Mood changes

You should immediately seek medical attention if you have symptoms of serotonin syndrome, such as:

  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Shivering
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Twitching
  • Loss of coordination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

When oxycodone is taken as prescribed, the following desirable sensations are evident:

  • Euphoria
  • Extreme relaxation
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Pain relief
  • Sedation


Oxycodone Overdose

Because of the “unusual high” that one may get when taking oxycodone, some have chosen to take it regularly hoping to maintain such feeling of endless happy emotions. You should take note of the following symptoms to know if someone in your family may have succumbed to oxycodone overdose:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Limp or weak muscle
  • Cyanosis (blue color of the skin, fingernails, lips or mouth area)
  • Narrowing or widening of pupils
  • Loss of consciousness or coma

Long-Term Effects of Oxycodone

As previously stated, oxycodone has both good and bad effects. It is proven to be very effective in managing chronic pain. However, it can cause detrimental psychological and physical dependency.

Earlier studies found out that prolonged use of oxycodone may lead to kidney or liver failure, as well as a decrease in the ability of the brain to adapt to new information. There is a prominent difference with the way of thinking on how an individual taking the drug for a long time.

It poses great danger when oxycodone with acetaminophen is taken with alcohol as it may cause severe liver damage.

Drugs that may affect Oxycodone

Inform your doctor about any other medications you are taking prior to starting with Oxycodone treatment because some medications may pose more dangerous side effects when combined with oxycodone. It is important to mention to your doctor of any over the counter medications you are taking, vitamins and herbal products which may interact with oxycodone.

Statistics on Oxycodone Abuse

It has been estimated by the National Institute on Drug abuse that about 20 percent of the American adult population (12 years and older) have abused a prescription drug.

The most commonly abused drugs are prescription opiates, 75 percent of which are oxycodone. Meanwhile, about 45 percent of drug users prefers oxycodone, based on a report by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

Detox and Withdrawal

Undesirable effects are likely to happen when individuals who have become dependent on a certain drug suddenly stop taking the drug. This is when withdrawal symptoms may occur. Detoxification, on the other hand, is the actual removal of the drug itself from the individual’s system.

It takes about 8-12 hours before the withdrawal symptoms from oxycodone become evident, mostly peaking in the first 72 hours. The symptoms subside in a week although some of the psychological effects as well as drug cravings may persist for longer.

Withdrawal symptoms vary, depending on the formulation of oxycodone that was taken and the method it was taken.

An instantaneous effect is likely to occur when oxycodone is injected, snorted or smoked because it immediately goes through the bloodstream compared to taking oxycodone in the form of a pill which will take some time before its effect can be felt.

Detoxification is done before withdrawal symptoms start. The drug can be safely removed this way. Individuals are monitored 24/7 where vital signs are continually checked and appropriate medications are used to control more difficult withdrawal symptoms. Detoxification may last until 10 days on individuals who have taken oxycodone in large amounts and for a prolonged period of time. Detoxification is done to ensure that individual is in stable condition prior to taking a comprehensive substance abuse treatment program.

Dangers of Relapse

The possibility of a relapse after detoxification poses a high risk of life-threatening overdose since the brain and the body may no longer be used to the same amount that was used before. A report by the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 15,000 Americans who die each year because of prescription pain reliever overdose. Meanwhile, another report by The Drug Abuse Warning Network on emergency department treatment revealed about 175,000 cases of oxycodone abuse in 2009.

Individuals who are not given much attention on how to minimize withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings have the possibility of going back to oxycodone dependence. Decreasing these undesirable effects may prevent an individual from having a relapse.

Preventing Relapse

There are currently three approved medications for the treatment of opioid abuse and dependency as well as for the prevention of relapse. And these are:

We want the individual to recover from such dependency but abruptly stopping oxycodone may not be the best move. It is advised that the drug amount should be taken out little by little (through a process known as tapering method) until the drug is completely out of the individual’s system. This method prevents undesirable withdrawal symptoms which can actually be controlled in a way by carefully limiting the amount of oxycodone that is being taken by the individual.

Another method that can help reduce both withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings is by using opioid replacement therapy. In this case, buprenorphine may be the better choice over methadone as buprenorphine does not produce the same euphoric effects but remains active in the bloodstream for a longer time. Buprenorphine may be safer to use because after a certain amount is taken, its effect diminishes.

After Detox and Opioid Replacement Therapy

Oxycodone may have been completely taken out from an individual’s system after a successful detoxification and opioid replacement therapy. But the treatment for the individual does not stop there. More than getting rid of the bad effects which oxycodone had in the body is to also start a reconstructing program wherein psychological therapy may be needed.

Life after oxycodone may not be easy. Such therapy does not only involve having to meet up with a psychiatrist or psychologist, but also the rehabilitation of the individual in reconnecting with the outside world.

The cause of oxycodone abuse in individuals may vary. This may be brought about by some family issues or peer pressure. But whatever may be their reason, it has possibly strained relationships among the people they love. Despite the difficulties, the family members and friends of recovering addicts should continuously show their support and love and let the individuals feel that they are very much welcomed and that they are being accepted in whatever circumstances they may have undergone.

Not all people who have undergone detoxification may have been successful in recovering completely. But for those who were able to get over with the drug and are still undergoing therapy, the horrors of their past may continue to haunt them as long as they live without the support of their families and friends.


Substance Abuse

Employee Marijuana Use on the Rise

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Data released by an American drug testing company showed that illegal drug use among employees in the workforce has slowly increased over the last 3 years.

Quest Diagnostics tested more than 9.5 million urine samples, 900,000 oral fluid samples, and 200,000 hair drug samples to prove the statistics released through the company’s Drug Testing Index, an index used to examine the illegal drug use of employees in America every year. The results were presented during the yearly Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association Conference, as reported in a news release.

The index examined its results across three categories of employees: federally mandate and safety-sensitive employees, the general workforce, and the overall workforce of the U.S. Quest Diagnostics stated that the increase was “largely driven by double-digit increases in marijuana positivity” with a 2015 report showing an increase in marijuana findings by 25 percent compared to that of 2014. There was also a reported growth of employees testing positive for heroin, especially those who were categorized as federally mandated, safety-sensitive workers.

It is the hope of law enforcement officials that testing for tetrahydrocannabinol using saliva will allow them to test for illegal drug usage in a safe, non-invasive environment. Though some people question the validity of the test, courts have not halted its usage.

Despite that, results taken from oral fluid drug testing showed an overall positivity increase of 47 percent in the general workforce, causing the rating to go up from 6.7 percent to 9.1 percent. Another disturbing statistic is the growth of post-accident urine drug testing results in both the general workforce and the federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce. The index showed an increase of 6.2 percent of post-accident drug testing positivity.


Medical Marijuana Substance Abuse

Employees Using Medical Marijuana Are Protected by New Pennsylvania Law

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medical marijuana

In April, Pennsylvania legalized marijuana to regulate the use and distribution of the substance. In line with this, employees who use marijuana for medical purposes are protected under equal employment opportunity laws, based on panel discussions on Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law during a Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce gathering.

Pennsylvania’s law regulates medical marijuana use to that of pill prescribed to the patient by a legitimate physician. Once prescribed, the patient will receive a certificate from the state as well as a 30-day supply obtained from a specific provider.

According to panelist Keya Denner in a news item, businesses in Pennsylvania will have to revise their policies regarding medical marijuana in order to provide human resources training.

Meanwhile, panelist Frank Troilo, a lawyer specializing in workers’ compensation, also highlighted that employees in certain fields of work are excluded from the new regulations if their usage of medical marijuana is a risk to other employees or to the public.Troilo also stated that since medical marijuana is a regulated substance of the state, the individuals in question cannot be sued under the Americans Disability Act.

Other panelists argued that since the substance is regulated, it does not cause impairment, therefore rendering the act of discrimination moot in its existence.


Medical Marijuana Substance Abuse

Excessive Marijuana Use Increases Risk of Bone Fractures and Osteoporosis

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A lot of people may find the solution to their ailments in medical marijuana, but a new study suggests that excessive use the controversial substance may affect the integrity of the skeletal structure.

U.K. researchers discovered that people who use marijuana in large quantities may be at a higher risk of bone injuries and abnormalities. The results were based on diagnosis of close to 300 patients at a U.K. medical facility, some of which admitted to regular smoking of marijuana while others having no experience of marijuana use.

In addition, results point to a higher probability of bone thinning in people who use pot on a regular basis compared to those who haven’t smoked a single joint in their life.

The research team suggested that this may be due to the effect of the metabolites of cannabis in the bone composition. “Our research has shown that heavy users of cannabis have quite a large reduction in bone density compared with non-users, and there is a real concern that this may put them at increased risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures later in life,” said study co-author Dr. Stuart Ralston in a news release.

Despite this link between bone strength and marijuana use, the researchers found no evidence that says heavy marijuana use causes bone thinning.

Details of the study is set to be published in the next issue of The American Journal of Medicine.


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]