Substance Abuse

Expect Higher Designer Drugs Use in Night Clubs, Says Study

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As more designer drugs are being discovered in recent years, recent reports claimed that there are about 700 new street drugs circulating all over the world. Some of these substances are now infiltrating festivals and electronic dance music night clubs.

A survey taken from more than 2,200 U.S. residents revealed that almost half of them have tried using a new drug, the most common of which was synthetic cannabinoids. Joseph J. Palamar, an affiliate of New York University Center for Drug Use and HIV Research  (CDUHR) said in a news item that at least 5 percent of night club attendees are users of psychedelic drugs known as NBOMe. This drug, according to the researchers, is highly potent and dangerous.

It was also found out patrons of night clubs are unaware that the ecstasy that they’re taking may possibly be mixed with “bath salts”, as seen on hair samples taken from them.

According to researchers, frequent club goers have greater risks of taking these designer drugs, and there is also a higher risk among the unemployed to engage with these drugs.

There really should be a widespread awareness program to prevent and reduce the risk of being exposed to these designer drugs. Otherwise, more people will be hooked into using them and would be endangering their lives.

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Study: Dogs Like To Receive Praise More Than Food

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Evidence from a recent study showed that dogs prefer to be praised by their owners rather than being offered food.

In the study, fifteen dogs were tested by brain imaging to assess their reaction to different treats. The study focused on behavioral experiments on dogs to gauge what they value more: food or words of praise.

Gregory Bern, a neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta, said in a news release that the study aimed to understand the bond between dogs and humans. The study concluded that out of the 13 dogs that completed the test, most of them prefer praise from their owners over food.

Emory University’s “The Dog Project” focused on investigating the evolution of dogs. The previous research project was designed to show that dogs respond more to scents of familiar people than to other people’s odors. Meanwhile, the latest research study of the team is now focusing more on identifying the dog’s ability to understand human language.

The research is indicative that dogs are hypersocial with humans, thereby creating a unique cross-species social bonding. So the next time that you and your dogs are spending quality time together, you might want to consider giving them some praise rather than giving them snacks.

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Substance Abuse

What Is Carfentanil and Why Is It Being Abused?

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There is a huge crusade against the propagation of illegal substances in the U.S. as well as other countries. These illegal substances have claimed many lives with unlawful usage of painkillers where they are commonly sold through the black market.

People who engage in the use of illegal drugs may or may not be aware of the long-term effects. Despite reports of the proliferation of these drugs, authorities could not pinpoint as to where these drugs originated.

Opioids are the drugs of choice to relieve moderate to severe pain that cannot be alleviated using ordinary pain medications. Some common opioids include codeine, fentanyl, meperidine, methadone and oxycodone. These drugs can be purchased through a prescription by a physician with a special license.

Unfortunately, there are those who buy them through the black market beyond its appropriate medical use. What happens then is a subsequent drug abuse and increase in the number of deaths due to overdose.

Authorities have recently faced another challenge with this new street drug called fentanyl. One popular case involving fentanyl is the death of Prince in April 2016. Another drug is set to take the growing drug problem by storm, and the substance is called carfentanil.

What is Carfentanil?

Carfentanil, believed to be 100 times stronger than fentanyl, is a sedative commonly used by animal handlers for big mammals such as elephants. The drug is found to be 10,000 times stronger than morphine. It is a fast-acting analgesic that instantly immobilizes an individual after intravenous injection.

It is marketed as a general anesthetic and commercially known as Wildnil. This was first synthesized in the 1970s for veterinary purposes and not for any medical treatment for humans.

The spotlight on carfentanil emerged lately due to its high abuse potential. This drug is categorized under Schedule II – drugs having a high risk for abuse – and has now become the new drug of choice, which can pose extremely dangerous consequences because of its high potency compared to using heroin.

This substance is being sold to users as heroin or mixed with a certain amount of heroin. Carfentanil is now considered as the most potent of all opiates.

When carfentanil is laced with heroin, its potency and danger grows exponentially. Once ingested, the effect is felt instantly, which can be too much for the body to handle. This kind of drug can be injected intravenously, smoked or snorted.

Just like fentanyl, carfentanil is easily absorbed through the skin or through inhalation. Getting in contact with this drug even in minute amounts will definitely require medical help. As a result, veterinarians who administer this drug are in full protective gear (face shield, gloves and apron) to ensure their safety.

Cases of carfentanil use

Over the last few months, there has been an increase in heroin overdose cases, and law enforcement officials believe that carfentanil may be involved with these cases. The effect of the drug mimics that of the natural euphoria after having a hearty meal or being surprised by a loved one. With the use of carfentanil, a euphoric sensation may be felt by an individual who has ingested it.

If taken regularly and in large doses, carfentanil may lead to cessation of breathing, which in turn may cause brain damage, coma, and eventually death. Any mixture of drugs can pose extreme danger to our health, and its side effects can create serious damage to the body.

The deadly combination of heroin and carfentanil has been reported from Hamilton County and other areas around Akron, Cincinnati and Columbus in Ohio. Cases of rampant selling on the streets resorted to increased number of carfentanil users.

Reports revealed that for three consecutive days, there were 25 overdose cases from which four were fatal. In Columbus, out of 10 reported overdose cases, two of them resulted to death, all within a period of nine hours.

Rayshon Alexander pled guilty when he was charged for murder, for causing the death of two individuals due to carfentanil use. It was reported that Alexander sold the drug to these individuals. Survivors, however, said that they didn’t know that it was carfentamil, because the drug was sold to them as heroin.

Hamiton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram said that this particular drug would definitely kill so many people. Nalcone may be available as an antidote for opiate overdose, but it may not be strong enough to save lives.

Death involving opioid abuse has increased since 2014, leaving about 14,000 deaths due to overdose.  Cases involved with carfentanil overdose have been sprouting in different states such as Ohio, Florida and Kentucky, with the drug believed to be sold as heroin. Authorities are still unaware where these drugs are originating – whether they are stolen from a legitimate source, shipped from abroad or manufactured in the U.S. Some users say that carfentanil can be bought online from several companies in China.

The Danger in Carfentamil

The use of combination of drugs may pose a high risk of harm to individuals because of extreme effects that the heart and lungs may not be able to handle. Because of its colorless and odorless properties, carfentamil can easily pass through visual detection unless a laboratory test is performed.

A former fentanyl user may have switched to heroin. However, with prolonged use, the effect may not be the same as the first time he has used it. What he would do is to find a replacement that could give him a different kind of “high”, and that is when it becomes extremely fatal when a cocktail of two drugs is being introduced into the system.

Drug dealers have taken a step further in increasing their supply of heroin by mixing it with carfentanil. Some unknowing users would readily buy these drugs.

The Journal of Veterinary Medicine published an article pertaining to the dangers of being exposed to carfentanil. This is something that should not be ignored. Proper knowledge in the handling and counteractive treatment should be at hand; otherwise, it can cause serious health conditions.

Meanwhile, the American Journal of Emergency Medicine revealed an incident involving a man who accidentally came in contact with carfentamil. The person immediately felt the effect of being drowsy. He was hurriedly taken to the hospital and was injected with 100 mg of naltroxene. This goes to show that an individual can immediately be symptomatic even at a very small amount of exposure to carfentanil.

People who have ingested carfentanil would not easily suspect the substance as carfentanil because it is colorless and odorless. When heroin overdose is expected, a single dose of naloxone should be enough to treat the case. However, if the ingested heroin has been laced with other drugs such as fentanyl, it is required to use multiple doses of naloxone.

The drug was created for animal use only, specifically large animals such as African elephants. The weight of an average African Elephant is 10,000 lbs. A single dose of 10 mg of Carfentamil is powerful enough to sedate an elephant. Imagine the effect that it does to a human with an average weight of 180 pounds!

Information has been circulating about how carfentanil may have been used as a chemical weapon during the hostage crisis in Russia back in 2002, causing death to 170 people. The gas ultimately killed 130 of the hostages and 40 attackers. The survivors’ urine samples were tested and found to have carfentanil as one of the chemical agents pumped to kill the hostages.

Uses of Carfentanil

Carfentanil was originally designed for the following purposes:

  • Wildlife Management Programs
  • Veterinary and Animal Practices
  • Research Purposes

Administration is only done by licensed practitioners.

Extreme precautionary measures are taken when handling this drug. Animals are strictly monitored because of the drug’s potency and for its possible adverse effects. The same goes with those who are handling the drug. Extreme care is always taken because of any accidental exposure or misuse can be lethal.

It is also required to keep Naltrexone HCl within reach as a means of counteracting the effect of carfentanil in case of accidental exposure. Veterinarians who are qualified to handle this drug need to be well informed about how to properly use the drug and how to reverse the effect during unexpected exposure.

Veterinarians using carfentanil should take note of the following:

  • measurement of pulse and respiration
  • prevention of aspiration
  • relief of bloat
  • obstetrics
  • control of shock and hemorrhage
  • recognition of hyperventilation and heat exhaustion
  • immobilization of fractures

Any inappropriate use of this drug on animals may lead to respiratory and cardiovascular complications.

Animal Drug on the Street

With widespread selling on the internet and on the streets, carfentanil is indeed something that parents would want to warn their children about especially those who frequent clubs and parties. Trading happens every night.

This is not the first time that an animal tranquilizer has been inappropriately used by humans. In the 90’s, ketamine, an anesthetic designed for cats, has become popular as a date rape drug. It was reported that a dealer used a stolen DEA licensed number to order a large quantity of ketamine in vials for selling in New York City.

Carfentanil Chemistry

Carfentanil Citrate is methyl 4- (1-oxopropyl) phenylaminol-1-(2 phenylethyl)-4-piperidinecarboxylate-2 hydroxy-1, 2, 3-propanetricarboxylate (1:1).Each ml contains: Carfentanil citrate 4.46 mg (equivalent to 3 mg Carfentanil), sodium chloride 8 mg, methyl paraben 1.8 mg, propyl paraben 0.2 mg in water for injection.

In Related News

Senator Rob Portman said he will introduce a bill that will make it difficult for drugs to be shipped into the U.S. He added that the postal system should include electronic advance data on packages before it is shipped into the U.S. The following information should be filled:

  • Origin and destination of the package
  • Complete name of sender and recipient
  • Full description of the content of the package

In doing so, it will be difficult for drug traffickers to send fentanyl and carfentanil through mail.

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Substance Abuse

Los Angeles Reports Cases of Synthetic Marijuana Overdose

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The effects of marijuana have recently manifested in cases encountered through eighteen cases reported in Skid Row, downtown Los Angeles. It was mentioned via a news item that the rescue incident of overdose victims caused by the use of marijuana has been recorded two times in four days. A similar incident, wherein eighteen victims were also involved, took place a few blocks away the week before. All cases were presumed to have been connected to the use of synthetic marijuana, or more commonly known as Spice or K2.

Medical practitioners seem to have traced trends and similarities in the symptoms found in the victims. Most of them showed signs of alterations in mental states and frequent seizures. This led to the idea that there must have been a wider market for synthetic marijuana in downtown Los Angeles, specifically in Skid Row Area, causing manufacturers and sellers to easily dispose the drug.

The effects of the drug were said to be strengthened by the summer heat and other medical conditions, which may result to emergency situations.

The drug sells at one dollar per joint in the area, which is easily accessed in the streets. The presence of the said substance in the human body is said to be undetectable in drug tests, although more drug testing companies are developing new methods to facilitate detection of this kind of substance.

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Substance Abuse

Oregon Pharmacy Board Bans Synthetic Fentanyl and Other Opioids

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Oregon Board of Pharmacy alarmed the public about the widespread trading of mislabeled drugs – in the form of synthetic opioids and synthetic fentanyl – which is widely being sold as heroin. Although the effect of these designer drugs is the same as that of heroin, this is still considered as illegal, as reported in a news release.

The Controlled Substance Act (CSA) is a listing of drugs developed to be able to categorize and identify the acceptable usage of a drug or substance for medical use and the potential for dependence by an individual. There are 5 categories under this act, with the drug dependency level and abuse increasing as the category changes.

Under Schedule 1, drugs or substances have no medically accepted use and have a high potential for abuse. Among the drugs under this category are marijuana (cannabis), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), methaqualene and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy).

Schedule II are drugs or substances with high potential for abuse and may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Examples include dexidrine, fentanyl and demerol.

Among the drugs stated above, fentanyl and heroin are being carefully monitored because of how these are being marketed in the U.S. in a different form.  Heroin has a high market value, which means that only those who really have the money can purchase it. What happens now is that these drugs are being manufactured in China and are sold to the U.S. and in different countries in combination with other drugs, making them more dangerous to use.

Drug manufacturers either mislabel these substances as high grade heroin so that they can be sold at a much higher price, or add another chemical substance to give that extra “kick”, which with heroin alone may not be as potent.

These designer drugs have been able to penetrate into different countries and are widely sold, affecting a lot of people and eventually becoming the number one killer among young popular celebrities and athletes.

These drugs are now being added to the schedule of Oregon’s substances so that enforcers have a basis to prosecute those involved with trade and possession of these designer drugs.

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Substance Abuse

All You Need To Know About Krokodil

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A few years ago, some news reports said that the zombie drug called krokodil – which has caused a widespread drug addiction epidemic in Russia – may have crossed over to the United States.

Apparently, there have been some isolated reports of users who exhibited the symptoms of exposure to krokodil injections. This has caused alarm because of the known dangers of the abuse of krokodil, a synthetic drug that is said to cause the most harm compared to other illicit substances.

What is Krokodil?

Desomorphine, also known by its street name krokodil, is a derivative of morphine that produces fast-acting opioid effects including sedation and analgesia. It has been said to be eight to ten times more potent than morphine. Desomorphine is a powerful drug that renders dangerous effects, and is highly addictive.

However, synthetic krokodil is mostly impure and may not even contain the desomorphine but it contains codeine. The drug is easily manufactured and may be produced in homes in the same manner that illicit methamphetamine and pseudoephedrine are produced.

Homemade versions of the substance are concocted by “cooking” codeine-based pills that are purchased over the counter with a poisonous mixture that includes solvents (such as gasoline, paint thinner, or lighter fluid), iodine, hydrochloric acid, and red phosphorus scratched from matches. The end product is a yellow or caramel liquid that distinctly smells like iodine, resembling an antiseptic. The smell can be overpowering and it could not be washed off the clothing of Krokodil addicts. The home or the apartment where the drug was manufactured can rarely be reused for residential purposes as it could never be entirely cleansed of the lingering odor of iodine.

Because of the combination of the toxic chemicals from these substances, those who inject the drug into their veins can develop skin ulcerations, scales, discoloration, and gangrene. Their skin resembles the scales of a crocodile. This prominent effect is what lends the substance its nickname as krokodil, which means “crocodile” in Russian. In Ukraine, it is also known as “Himiya.”

krokodil desomorphine molecular structure

History of Krokodil

Desomorphine was first synthesized in 1932 and patented in 1934 in Switzerland where it went by the brand name Permonid. It was used medically for the treatment of severe pain. Due to its side effects, however, medical use of the drug was terminated in 1981.

The clandestine production of Krokodil is most popular in Russia where it has been manufactured for more than a decade. While heroin used to be the drug of choice in the country, users found Krokodil to deliver the same euphoric effects at a much lower cost.

In 2003, when the government authorities carried out crackdown operations on heroin production and trafficking, heroin users began producing Krokodil in their homes. The unavailability of heroin coupled with the cheap cost of Krokodil production prompted the drug’s popularity among addicts who belong to the lower economic strata. It was reported that between 2009 and 2011, the amount of Krokodil seized by Russian authorities increased by 23 times. In 2011 alone, there were about 100,000 people who had injected Krokodil.

In 2012, the Russian government imposed restrictions on the sale of over the counter drugs that contain codeine. While the legislation diminished the number of addiction cases, it failed to effectively eradicate the problem. It continues to be considered as the most dangerous subject of drug addiction in the country.

Cases of Krokodil use have also been reported in other countries including Ukraine, Georgia, Germany, Norway, and Kazakhstan.

Krokodil first entered the United States in 2013 with the first case being that of a 30-year-old addict in Missouri whose skin began to rot after injecting Krokodil. Following this, other cases were reported in Illinois and Oklahoma.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has categorized desomorphine as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Adverse Effects of Krokodil

The illicit production of Krokodil involves the use of considerable amounts of toxic chemicals which are “cooked.” Since no efforts are made to remove toxic by-products that result from the synthesis, injecting the concoction can produce extremely dangerous effects on the skin, blood vessels, bones, and muscles, which can lead to gangrene and amputation of the limbs.

Within a few days from the injection, the skin around the area of the point of entry can get severely infected with abscess or skin ulcerations. It can even lead to tissue damage and necrosis, leaving the bone exposed. Scaly, green patches also develop in other areas of the skin. Thus, Krokodil has earned its nickname as the “flesh-eating” or “zombie” drug.

The other adverse effects include the following:

  • Gangrene
  • Phlebitis
  • Thrombosis
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Muscle damage
  • Meningitis
  • Septicemia
  • Bone infection
  • Rotting gums and tooth loss
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Brain damage
  • Nervous system damage
  • Speech and motor skills impairment
  • Memory loss and impaired concentration
  • Weight loss
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood-borne diseases such as HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis C
  • Overall deterioration of health
  • Overdose
  • Death

Krokodil Addiction

Krokodil is highly addictive, and dependence can develop right after the first use. This is intensified by the fact that its half life is short and the euphoric effects last for less than two hours.  As a result, frequent injection is necessary to recreate the “high” as well as to avoid the withdrawal symptoms. The need to consume large amounts of the drug on a more frequent basis can prompt binge patterns where users lock themselves up in the apartment or the home to “cook” Krokodil and use it repeatedly. It has been said that being a Krokodil addict is a full-time job because of the cyclic patterns of cooking and injecting.

In addition, modifications in the ingredients and cooking process place a user at an increased risk of overdose and death. Krokodil use reduces life expectancy by two years. An addict is most likely to die from a fatal overdose or from the complications arising from Krokodil use within two to three years.

To date, no other drug causes the same destruction that Krokodil does. While it affects the brain in a manner similar to most drugs – by targeting the neurotransmitters that associated with pleasure, learning, and memory – the long-term effect of Krokodil addiction leaves a damaging mark. Most Krokodil addicts fail to fully recover their motor skills and their eyes assume a vacant, distant look.

Psychological Effects of Krokodil

In addition to dependence and addiction, chronic users of Krokodil are also likely to develop anxiety and worsening depression as the euphoric effects of the substance wear off. Krokodil addicts may develop some forms of psychosis and exhibit abnormal behavior when they are not under the influence of the drug.

In efforts to avoid the effects of withdrawal, Krokodil addicts commonly resort to illegal means to purchase supplies to cook the drug or to find other sources of Krokodil. They may steal from friends or even family members. They may also resort to other crimes.

As with most chronic drug users, Krokodil addicts will often deny their dependence on the substance and will rarely seek medical help. In most cases, they are brought to emergency rooms and referred to rehabilitative treatment only when their bodies rot away or begin to suffer tremendously from the physical damage caused by the substance.

Withdrawal from Krokodil

The withdrawal symptoms of Krokodil have been described to be similar to that of heroin, but the physical and psychological effects are long-lasting. The discomfort includes:

  • Intense flu-like symptoms
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Fever
  • Profuse sweating
  • Severe anxiety
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Muscle pain and twitching
  • Chills and goosebumps
  • Depression
  • Relapse into abuse

Going through the withdrawal phase can be very painful. The symptoms and physical discomfort may last for more than a month from the cessation of use.

Krokodil Rehabilitation

A person who displays the signs and symptoms of Krokodil abuse or withdrawal needs immediate medical and psychological attention. Since the life expectancy of chronic users is significantly reduced, a delay in seeking professional help could have fatal consequences.

Several treatment and rehabilitation centers offer intensive detoxification and recovery programs that could help users beat the addiction. These programs include medically managed detoxification, behavioral therapy, counseling sessions, and physical therapy for those whose motor skills have been impaired.

Because Krokodil has one of the highest relapse rates among opiates, enrollment in a long-term inpatient therapy is strongly recommended to help an addict sustain abstinence and regain control over his life.

While the effects of Krokodil abuse can be extensive and may last a lifetime, a timely rehabilitation can, at least, save the addict’s life.

Confronting a family member, colleague, or friend who has a dependence on Krokodil can be very challenging but a slight delay may be fatal. It is crucial that help is sought as soon as possible.

Recovering from Krokodil Addiction

In Russia, one of the documented cases of Krokodil rehabilitation is that of a former addict, Irina Pavlova, who was admitted to the rehabilitation center in a tiny village called Chichevo. Hers, however, is not a typical case because she survived six years of injecting the drug almost every day. This period is double that of an average user who is expected to die within two to three years from the inception of use.

But Pavlova did not escape the addiction unscathed. She suffered brain damage that impaired her motor skills and speech. As with other Krokodil addicts, her eyes also came to assume a vacant gaze.  She has never fully recovered from these effects and she must be assisted each time she attempts to take some steps forward only to jolt and fall back.

Pavlova recalls that she had learned to cook Krokodil and did so in her brother’s apartment where she hung out with other addicts. Sometime in 2008, she went on a binge for two weeks and did nothing but cook Krokodil and inject it into the femoral artery in her groin. Afterwards, she developed gangrene and blood poisoning around the area. She was brought to the hospital to be treated where she was invited to a rehabilitation center. She agreed to seek professional help.

Recovery did not come easy. About a year into rehabilitation, she could no longer bear the drug cravings. She escaped from the center which is about two hours away from Moscow and separated from the nearest town by vast fields and pine forests. She hitchhiked to Moscow and went all the way to Vorkuta to get high again.

During the second course of her rehabilitation, she finally passed the stage of intense and almost unendurable cravings that are characteristic of Krokodil withdrawal. She has also found the commitment to stay away from drugs for fear of returning to what she calls the “horrible swamp” of Krokodil addiction.

Pavlova’s story is only one of the hundreds of thousands who have lived the life of a Krokodil addict. Most of them are not as fortunate. They only spiral in the darkness of drug abuse until the damage sets in and leads to their deaths.

Conclusion

With accounts like these, it is hoped that the public would be forewarned of how destructive Krokodil is so that addiction may be prevented. Those who have begun to use Krokodil should also seek treatment as soon as possible. The sooner medical intervention is accomplished, the higher their chances of survival and recovery.

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Substance Abuse

Study Highlights Pros and Cons of Switching From Tobacco to E-Cigarettes

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cigarettes have become the subject of debate for many interested parties, particularly on its safety and purpose. While some people vouch for e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, other health experts say that they are laced with dangerous chemicals that keep a smoker addicted. The question remains: are e-cigarettes really safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes?

A study was published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research said that tobacco smokers who switch to electronic cigarettes get the same levels of nicotine, albeit lower levels of toxins. The study suggests that smokers who switch over to e-cigarettes have a lower risk of exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

Furthermore, the study highlighted the benefits and dangers of switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes. Here are some of the important advantages of switching to e-cigarettes, as raised in the study:

  • Researchers concluded that smoking e-cigarettes decreases the desire to smoke tobacco cigarettes.
  • E-cigarettes also dramatically decrease the consumption of traditional cigarettes without causing withdrawal symptoms. Furthermore, the nicotine concentration in their blood remained low and stable.
  • E-cigarettes produce fewer carcinogens unlike traditional tobacco products that may contain between 4,000 and 7,000 harmful chemicals.
  • Since e-cigarettes use vapor technology, using the product reduces generation of harmful secondhand smoke.
  • It is a cheaper alternative to smoking tobacco. Research studies in the U.K. show that vaping habits can be significantly less expensive than traditional smoking.

Meanwhile, here are some of the disadvantages cited in the study:

  • E-cigarettes may reduce the risk of cancer but it still uses nicotine. Nicotine impacts neurotransmitters in the brain that cause addicting behavior.
  • E-cigarette uses liquid nicotine, a highly dangerous substance even in small doses.

Whatever the preference of a smoker is, risks are always abound. Experts recommend either knowing full well the effects of using these kinds of products, or not starting the smoking habit at all.

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Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

New Painkiller Drug Removes Risk of Overdose

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An elite group of international researchers led by scientists from Stanford University, University of North Carolina and the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany has developed a new drug that works as a painkiller like morphine but without triggering and eliciting dangerous side effects such as respiratory suppression.

In a research study recently published in Nature, researchers said that they have identified the new opioid drug by using the computational techniques that allowed them to experiment and explore more than four trillion different chemical effects and interactions. The team of researchers also noted that they used the atomic structure of the brain’s receptors to reverse-engineer the novel drug that promises to block pain but does not have the potentially dangerous side effects.

While the drug compound has only been studied and tested on mice, the indication and implication of the drug may be massive. In the research experiment, the mice were exposed to a solution that contains the compound in varying degrees. Results showed that the mice displayed alternating and indifferent attitudes, which suggest that it has low addictive potential.

This novel drug compound is also known to not interfere with breathing, which remains to be the main cause of death in overdosing on painkillers. Moreover, the new drug also appears to bypass the brain’s dopamine-driven addiction to prevent drug-seeking behavior on mice.

More work still needs to be established to make sure that the compound is truly non-addictive. More tests are also needed to confirm it is as safe and effective in humans as it is for rodents. If this is confirmed, this drug could transform the fight against the ongoing epidemic of prescription painkiller addiction.

Drug Testing

Popular Cases of Cheating in Drug Tests

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The number of drug users has soared for the past years. It is no secret how many famous personalities were caught using these drugs and how some of them found several means of cheating their way through drug tests. With the help of online resources, more people have resorted to ways on how they could get themselves out of the hole.

The spotlight is often cast on celebrities and athletes when it comes to drug issues. The world has witnessed how some famous personalities have been exposed for their addiction on certain drugs. In fact, some have been busted for trying to alter their drug tests by doing questionable methods. Here are some of them:

Mike Tyson

He admitted using a fake penis to excrete fake urine to be able to pass his drug test and be able to proceed with a fight.

Alex Rodriguez

Popular Major League baseball player A-Rod took a mid-stream urine sample based on the assumption that drug metabolites are present at the start and end stream of urine excretion only.

Young Buck

This G-unit rapper was caught sneaking a yellow substance into his urine specimen but was eventually identified as being positive for marijuana. He initially claimed that he was not a user of marijuana but was just a “victim” of famous rap artist Snoop Dogg’s marijuana use.

Lance Armstrong

The world renowned cyclist ended his career in 2012 when he got busted for using, trafficking and administering erythropoietin (EPO), testosterone, and blood transfusions. He admitted that he has done these so many times during his career, leading him to winning several races.

While Armstrong was not busted at any time during drug tests, some of his fellow athletes broke their silence. News of his drug test cheating methods has reached the authorities, who conducted a drug test and found the champion cyclist to be positive for EPO.

Other athletes get away from these drug tests because they just use them in “micro-doses” a night before the race. Unfortunately, some have even asked the help of other physicians to help them with the administration of certain drugs. This has caused revocation of the medical licenses of the physicians found guilty in helping these athletes.

Tom Sizemore

The actor was caused cheating on his drug test by using a prosthetic device to falsify his urine sample. He was charged with the possession of methamphetamine.

John Anzrah

The Kenyan Coach was sent home after authorities in the recently concluded Rio Olympics found out that he was trying to pose himself as an athlete and gave sample urine to hide the doping activity of one of his athletes. He was immediately sent back to Kenya after authorities confirmed that his face does not match the photo of the athlete to be tested.

Russian Athletes at Rio Olympics

A group of Russian athletes have been found to be using performance-enhancing drugs to win themselves a gold medal. However, it has been discovered how rampant it was among their athletes. In fact, one female athlete for the track and field category accidentally leaked her adulterated urine sample onto the floor. She was trying to provide a urine sample through a device that was hidden under her clothes.

Apparently, some of these Russian athletes have their unusual way of evading drug tests. Some of them just disappear in the middle of the race or go missing among the crowd in such a way that the drug testing staff won’t be able to get to them.

There was also one incident wherein two athletes were found to be missing their drug tests. When they learned that their cheating ways have been discovered, they filed for retirement.


How People (Attempt To) Cheat on Drug Tests

The desperation of some drug users have led them to consider cheating their way through drug tests. Here are some of the most popular and infamous drug test cheating methods:

Dilution of urine

One common way of cheating a drug test is by taking in large amounts of water at least 4 to 6 hours prior to submission of the sample. In doing so, the individual is forced to urinate and by doing so, whatever chemical may be in his system will somehow be flushed out.

There is only a specific range of drug presence in the urine that can determine if the individual is indeed positive with a drug. Other individuals, however directly put water with the urine to dilute the sample. Unfortunately, this is easily detected by laboratories because now, they add a dye to their toilets and their faucets are turned off.

Sample Substitution

Some individuals would submit urine samples from another individual who is 100 percent free from any drug substance.

Surprisingly, there are concentrated urine products in powdered form, which can be bought online. Adding water to it would produce urine. However, this could be easily detected if the urine sample does not maintain the specific temperature. Too warm or too cold would mean demanding for another urine sample to be taken.

Adding a chemical

There are certain chemicals that can alter the chemical composition of the urine. This, however, is easily detected. Any urine sample that is found to have chemicals that aim to disrupt the testing process is tagged as an “adulterated sample”.

Vinegar overload

Drinking vinegar may alter the ph level of the urine and may “mask” the presence of any drug. However, with testing, vinegar is easily detected.

Tattoo

Performance-enhancing drugs are being injected by athletes through their tattoos. By doing this, only a small amount of the drug is enough to provide the needed strength or endurance that an athlete may need.

Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

This is used to boost performance of energy-inducing drugs.  By using HGH with regular low dose of blood-boosting hormone EPO, the presence of this drug may be difficult to detect, as some users would vouch.

Exemptions from Drug Testing

Some athletes who were found to be positive with some disorders like attention-deficit disorder are prescribed with Adderall or Ritalin. These drugs are highly addictive. Howver, athletes who abuse these drugs make an excuse not to undergo drug testing because they say that their use of the said drugs would affect results.

Gene Doping

This involves altering the normal DNA structure of the human body.  A gene, after it has been isolated, is injected with a “virus” (the deadly components taken out) to produce superhuman strength. This is introduced back into the body and generally improves overall performance of an athlete.

Blood Doping

There are two techniques of blood doping:

Autologous

The blood of an athlete who has injected EPO is extracted, stored in a blood bank, and injected back to the athlete at a later date.

Homologous

This is when the blood coming from another donor has been transfused to the athlete. The purpose is to dilute the concentration to evade detection but the effect of the drug will not alter the athlete’s performance.

Detoxification

Using diuretics have been used to evade detection of any presence of drugs. Frequent urination will flush out traces of drugs from the system, but this strategy isn’t fool-proof.

Using Testosterone-Based Ointments

When an individual takes on drugs, the testosterone levels greatly drops, which can sometimes lead to a “0” reading. However, with the use of this kind of ointment, it retains the normal level of testosterone in the body.

Visine

It has been found out that the presence of benzolkonium chloride in a urine sample can mask the presence of THC metabolite in drug analysis, but this hasn’t been confirmed to be effective.

Drug-Evading Kits

Whizzinator is a kit that has been marketed all over to fraudulently evade detection of presence of drugs during a drug test. This is made up of a syringe, heater pack, dried urine and a penis-shaped appendage to attempt to dispense fake urine into a drug testing cup.

Drug Tests To Prevent Cheating

Urine or blood tests may have been the most common means to detect presence of drugs in an individual. However, there have also been several strategies in trying to evade a positive result. To combat any attempts of drug test cheating, some drug tests have been developed to determine the presence of these substances with little to almost no possibility of being tampered and adulterated.

Because the urine drug test is probably the most adulterated and tampered method of all, some companies and testing firms use other kinds of drug tests. Saliva or oral tests, for instance, are much more difficult to cheat because the drug testing staff will extract the sample themselves. This is done by swabbing a piece of cotton onto a person’s inner cheek.

Conclusion

It really comes as no surprise as to why celebrities and athletes would involve themselves into drug use. After all, fame can be so overwhelming that they wouldn’t want to lose their sparkle or downgrade their performance.

Drug abuse in some celebrities start as early as childhood, when they take drug cocktails to remain awake and alert for shoots. As a result, a lot of child stars who are now in their teens or adult life have gotten themselves hooked on drugs because society dictates that they should remain active with what they do.

Sadly, the same thing also happens to athletes. The thought of bringing home a medal or trophy is something that every athlete would dream about. Unfortunately, they try to make use of these drugs to help them push beyond their limits.

Drug users will always find a way to manipulate the results of drug tests so that they can continue to use them for longer periods of time. However, knowing that drug abuse may also lead to a downfall of society at large, there should be a need to prevent individuals from getting away from it. As technology progresses, more drug tests are now becoming fool-proof to ensure that the prevalence of drug addiction may be completely eradicated from the society in the coming years.

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Substance Abuse

All You Need To Know About Hydromorphone Addiction and Treatment

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Photo by Vaprotan via Wikimedia Commons

There are certain prescription medicines that have been found to be illegally used that lead to dependency and abuse. Most of the drugs being abused are for symptoms to relieve pain. One of the commonly abused drugs is hydromorphone, also known as dihydromorphinone and is commercially known with the brand name Dilaudid.

What is hydromorphone?

Hydromorphone is a narcotic analgesic listed under Schedule II Controlled Opioid Agonist along with morphine, fentanyl and methanyl. This highly potent narcotic analgesic is said to be six to nine times stronger than morphine.

This drug is manufactured in two different kinds: extended release formula, and the instant release formula used in the hospital for surgery. Hydromorphone may come in any of the following dosage forms:

  • Capsule
  • Liquid
  • Tablet
  • Solution

Its chemical name is 4,5α-epoxy-3-hydroxy-17- methylmorphinan-6-one hydrochloride.

Precautions in using hydromorphone

Prior to usage, patient and doctor should be able to assess if this drug is the right choice to treat the immediate complaint. Several factors need to be considered:

Test for allergy

Patients should inform the doctor for any kind of allergy that they may have (food, dye, or specific medication)

Age of the patient

The effect of hydromorphone may be good in treating pain, however prescribing it to children may not be a good choice because its side effects may be too much for children to handle or tolerate.  For the elderly, they may become more sensitive to the effects of hydromorphone than younger patients, and so there should be caution in the dosage of the said drug. Failure to check the correct dosage may lead to complications with the use of other medications for the lungs, liver, heart or kidney.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding women are not to be prescribed hydromorphone because it may affect milk production. If there is no alternative medication, there is a need to check on the infant for possible side effects.

Drug Usage

Hydromorphone comes in different forms, and the dosage varies in each form. This drug is prescribed to be used several times in a day. However, if one dose has been missed, patient should immediately take hydromorphone as soon as it is remembered. If, by the time you remember, it is almost time for the next dose, skip the last dose and continue with the second dose. Doubling the dose is not recommended.

Drug Interactions

There are certain medicines that need to be combined to give optimal effect in curing a condition. But on certain instances, there may be a need to use different drugs. With these, decreasing the dose may be needed to avoid dangerous drug interactions.

The doctor may lessen the dose of one or both of the medicines.The following medicines are just a few that can be prescribed along with hydromorphone but should still be taken with utmost care:

  • Anileridine
  • Baclofen
  • Brofaromine
  • Buspirone
  • Butalbita
  • Carisoprodol
  • Chlordiazepoxide
  • Codeine
  • Desflurane
  • Diazepam
  • Estazolam
  • Fentanyl
  • Flurazepam
  • Halazepam
  • Haloperidol
  • Iproniazid
  • Ketomine
  • Lorezapam
  • Loxapine
  • Meperidine
  • Metaxalone
  • Midazolam
  • Morphine
  • Nitrous Oxiede
  • Opium
  • Oxazepam
  • Oxycodone
  • Pentobarbital
  • Quazepam
  • Rasagiline
  • Secobarbital
  • Sodium Oxybate
  • Temazapam
  • Thiopental
  • Triazolam
  • Zolpidem

It should be noted that certain food or medicine may cause interaction. The use of alcohol and tobacco can also be a factor, because they may interact with the drug.

Extreme care should also be taken by people who are diagnosed with the following medical conditions:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • CNS depression
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Brain tumor
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Some individuals may not be satisfied using hydromorphone alone to have an intense “high” that they wanted. They would sometimes incorporate it with alcohol or benzodiazepines. The combination can increase the euphoric effect, but this poses greater risk like severe respiratory depression and even death.

Hydromorphone effects

Hydromorphone works on the central nervous system to block pain receptors.  This medication is prescribed for those who need round-the-clock pain relief and could not be treated with any other kind of drug.  It is taken every 3-6 hours (liquid form) or 4-6 hours (tablet form). It is advisable to take hydromorphone at the same time every day.

The following are signs and symptoms that a person may be using hydromorphone:

  • Sleepiness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Slow breathing
  • Difficulty in urinating
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Decreased libido
  • Cold skin
  • Mood swings

Prolonged use of hydromorphone can be habit-forming, which may cause mental dependence. It should not be feared, however, if certain individuals are prescribed to use the said drug for a longer time because doctors prescribe them according to the amount that is only needed. Dependency on the drug only occurs if the individual wants to be on the euphoric state all the time. That is why this drug can only be dispensed with a medical prescription to be used according to what it is intended to cure.

Individuals who use this drug usually develop a tolerance quickly. They feel the need to quickly take another dose before the earlier dose wears off.  When this happens, dependency steps in. The following are signs and symptoms of abuse in using hydromorphone:

  • Panic
  • Anxiety
  • Psychotic disorder
  • Body cramping
  • Cold sweats
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Drug craving
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty in urinating
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Coma
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Causes of hydromorphone addiction

Drugs taken without any prescription, most especially narcotic analgesics may lead to more serious health risks.

It is to be understood that individuals who become drug dependents are caused by several factors. Most often than not, individuals who resort to drug addiction are trying to avoid certain issues in their lives, that instead of facing these problems, their means of escape is to take these drugs.

The following are risk factors that increase the probability of succumbing to hydromorphone addiction and abuse:

  • Individuals born to parents having the same drug dependency
  • Imbalance on certain chemical components
  • Influence from environment
  • Starting with illegal substance use at an early age
  • Under treatment for medical illness

Effects of hydromorphone addiction

When an individual has become addicted to hydromorphone – or to any drug for that matter – there is always a tendency of wanting to have more. The normal sensation for people engaged in drug abuse is experiencing the euphoric feeling.

Such behavioral changes may be evident in people who engage in hydromorphone addiction:

  • Stealing
  • Social isolation
  • Forged prescription
  • Reckless behavior
  • Hiding hydromorphone in different parts of the house
  • Lying on the amount of hydromorphone used
  • Choosing to wear long sleeved shirts and pants to hide needle marks

There have been studies about the relation of drug addiction to mental illness. An individual with mental condition is more likely to have a drug addiction.  Some disorders found with the use of hydromorphone are:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Alcoholism
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorders

Mental illness can be exacerbated with unusual doses of hydromorphone. It is highly recommended that individuals who may be suffering from mental conditions must be given these medications by a family member instead of the individual themselves.

Hydromorphone withdrawal

An individual may want to stop taking the drug because of the realization of the drug’s effects with prolonged and continued use. However, just like any individual who wants to discontinue the use of a drug after using it for a long time, withdrawal symptoms are likely to happen.

It may be difficult to abruptly stop because the body needs to adjust gradually. The only difference with regards to the withdrawal symptoms is that with hydromorphone, it can be a shorter process than other opiates.

Some withdrawal symptoms from hydromorphone addiction are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Drug craving
  • Dysphoria
  • Nausea
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Sleeping disorder
  • No appetite
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Seizures

Treatment options

Treating individuals with hydromorphone addiction may be much easier to handle compared to other kinds of drug addiction because its withdrawal symptoms are much bearable. The medicines used to treat such addiction may be in the form of other opiate derivatives. The only difference is that the dose is prescribed accordingly and that it is given to the individual under the care of a clinic.

Fortunately, rehabilitation centers are available to help individuals get over drug addiction. Confinement of certain number of months to a year may be necessary for completely getting treated from hydromorphone addiction. Some rehabilitation centers provide assistance to individuals that need medical intervention. Each facility may offer a program that can lead an individual to full recovery but this may be expensive.

Detoxification may be the first step in treating addiction. It would take 3-7 days to flush out the drug from the individual’s system.  This way, withdrawal symptoms can be controlled.  Stopping the intake of the drug abruptly is not recommended. In addition, relying solely on detoxification to fully recover from addiction may not be effective for every case.

There may also be a need for psychological treatment in the process to completely heal the patient. Some patients have turned into drug abuse because of some personal problems that they can’t face alone. Unless these issues are addressed properly, complete healing from hydromorphone addiction may not be achieved. Such counseling can be done inside a facility because the patient can be well taken care of without any distractions. This treatment includes peer counseling and individual therapy.

Discussions in a support group wherein fellow patients with the same condition are able to help themselves heal all together by way of sharing how they went through the ordeal.

Long term treatment on a patient decreases the chances of a relapse.Other forms of therapy include hypnotherapy, life skills development, and health and nutrition counseling. All of these can help an individual to fully recover. However, there should also be a support system in their individual homes after they have been discharged from the facility.

Patients who had been into hydromorphone addiction may need a lifetime of recovery.  An aftercare program will be helpful in aiding a patient to stay away from the addiction and be able to fully recover and may be able to live a normal life.

Conclusion

Not everyone may be able to handle their problems the same way. While others may seek expert advice or choose to involve themselves with other activities to help them with their own struggles, some resort to drugs because of fear of facing such challenges alone and feel defeated. Medicines were meant to help people to be cured from different sicknesses. However, potent drugs can have a tendency for abuse.

Be aware if a family member or a loved one starts to avoid people and completely isolates himself from the rest of the world. Any change in behavior should be a cause of alarm. Never let a loved one waste his life due to drug addiction.