Substance Abuse

What is alpha-Methyltryptamine and Why Is It Dangerous?

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Psychoactive drugs have made the news rounds in recent years, as more people get hooked on these substances. In this article, we will discuss alpha-methyltryptamine, its addictive effects, and the dangers of abusing it.

What is Alpha-Methyltryptamine?

Alpha-Methyltryptamine (α-Methyltryptamine or AMT) is a psychedelic drug that belongs to the tryptamine family. This drug is commercially known as Indopan, IT-290, IT-403, U-14,164E and 3-IT.  It is a long-lasting psychoactive drug and euphoric stimulant.  Its mode of mechanism has resemblance to that of serotonin.

This substance was developed in the 1960s as an antidepressant by workers from Upjohn but gained its popularity in the 1990s. This was legally used in Russia under the brand name Indopan until it was banned.

It was said that a 5-milligram dose of this drug can be helpful in treating depression.

History of Alpha-Methyltryptamine Development

The following timeline shows the development and rise to infamy of the controversial drug:

  • March 1968: The Bureau of Drug Abuse Control mentions in Microgramthat AMT (IT-290) is available on the street as a “new” hallucinogen.
  • 1997: AMT is briefly available for purchase on the internet through CRSB.
  • Autumn 1998: More research chemical websites emerged as AMT becomes more widely available.
  • January 2003: There was an urgency in scheduling both AMT and 5-MeO-DIPT by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
  • April 2003: Due to an increase in use and health hazard, both AMT and 5-MeO-DIPT are placed into Schedule I through the emergency scheduling procedure. This makes both chemicals illegal to buy, sell, or possess without a DEA license.
  • September 2004: AMT is placed permanently into Schedule I of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.

Why is alpha-Methyltryptamine being used?

Just like other psychoactive drugs, its effect has been sought after by individuals especially those who might be trying to escape from their personal problems or just merely wanting to belong to a group.

These drugs have the ability to alter the thoughts and moods of an individual. Examples of most common psychoactive drugs include ecstasy, cannabis, amphetamine, alcohol, heroin and cocaine.

How is alpha-Methyltryptamine taken?

The substance is available in orange crystalline powder form, and can be dissolved in water for easier ingestion. It can be taken orally as tablet or capsule in 10 mg to 100 mg. It can also be smoked with dosages ranging from 2mg to 20mg.

Between the two methods of administration, smoking the drug can produce a faster effect than ingestion.

These drugs are often purchased from chemical companies through the internet.

How is alpha-Methyltryptamine used?

AMT is typically consumed orally up to 40 mg in dosage. It will take about 3-4 hours before the hallucinogenic effects can be felt and may last up to 12-24 hours. In some instances, when higher doses are taken, the effect may last until two days.

This drug is popular among teenagers and young adults who frequent parties, raves, concerts and music festivals where the use of club or party drugs such as MDMA or ecstasy are common.

What are the effects of alpha-Methyltryptamine?

The effect of this drug varies depending on the amount or dosage used. This means that a higher dose that an individual takes will result to increased euphoric or psychedelic effecs.

Using 20-30 mg dose, an individual may experience:

  • Empathy
  • Euphoria
  • Psychedelic effect

These effects may last up to 12 hours.

What are the side effects of using alpha-Methyltryptamine?

As the effect of the drug takes place, a user may experience the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Pupil dilation
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Jaw tightness
  • Tachycardia
  • Altered state of mind
  • Hallucinations
  • Emotional distress
  • Increased energy
  • Blurry vision
  • Restlessness
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Tension
  • Insomnia
  • Diminished inhibitions
  • Death

Why is alpha-Methyltryptamine dangerous?

When alpha-Methyltryptamine is used in conjunction with other substances, it can cause a high risk of danger to an individual. This includes other forms of substances such as alcohol or other drugs.

  • The individual may experience a negative feeling of anxiety or discomfort, which can result to have an outrage. This may last up to several days and can severely affect one’s mental state, thus leading to the inability to perceive well or to make decisions.
  • The effect of the drug can provide a euphoric effect to the user and at the same time cause harm to self and others because of disorientation. Several cases involved users forcing themselves to jump off roofs of buildings or run naked in the middle of the street without realizing what they are doing.
  • Long-term use of any kind of psychedelic drugs can lead to permanent psychosis. Those who may have a history of mental illness are more prone to succumb to such condition. In worse cases, this can also lead to death.
  • The use of psychedelic drugs can lead to several other mental conditions like anxiety, depression and depersonalization.

Over-all, the use of this psychoactive drug can affect the health of the individual as well as his social behavior wherein relationships among family members and friends are slowly being eaten away because of the effect of the drug in the user’s brain.

What is the drug’s effect on the brain?

These psychoactive drugs have the ability to alter the normal functioning of the brain wherein some drugs may mimic or block the effects of neurotransmitters.

The brain is organized into different regions that serve specific functions such as:

  • The hindbrain is responsible for breathing and wakefulness.
  • The midbrain is responsible for learning and reinforcing behaviors such as eating and drinking.
  • The forebrain is very complex. This is responsible for abstract and critical thinking.

When these regions of the brain have been affected due to use of psychoactive drugs, the normal function is altered. Too much brain activity – such as the increase in dopamine release – may lead to a euphoric effect that can be uncontrollable most especially if the user has taken in large doses. Hyperactivity or too much secretion of hormones can be fatal.

The normal functioning of the brain may no longer occur after an individual has become heavily dependent on certain drugs. For this scenario, a proper detoxification process may be used to resolve the issue.

On extreme cases, psychological conditions may be irreversible. In other words, the treatment given to a user may only be able to arrest physical or other medical irregularities.

Is alpha-methyltryptamine addictive and prone to abuse?

An individual may start out as being curious of the drug. The euphoric effect may be a welcoming feeling to the user as he feels numb or out of control without any worries or inhibitions. After some time of taking the drug, though, he may not feel the same kind of effect that he used to.

The next step would probably be taking a higher dose until the certain degree of “happiness” may be achieved. At this stage, the user may have such tolerance to the drug to a point that it leads to addiction.

Diagnosis of alpha-methyltryptamine abuse

Any form of inappropriate usage of drugs can lead to permanent mental health condition or even death. That is why it is best to intervene immediately when a person whom you know is involved in using AMT.

Early diagnosis is a move to save not only the user’s life but also the lives of people who surround him. Individuals under the influence of drugs can do drastic things without thinking of the repercussions of their actions.

If you suspect some powder in your home or location as AMT, you may use drug identification test kits to check the identity of the substance in question.

Treatment for alpha-Methyltryptamine addiction

Treatment for AMT addiction is similar to other types of drug addiction. The patient may be confined to a drug rehabilitation facility where he will undergo a medically supervised detoxification process which will aid the individual in getting rid of the drug inside his system.

After detoxification, the patient may need to undergo behavioral therapy accompanied by substance abuse counseling and therapy. The length of treatment will depend on the patient’s diagnosis and progress.

Continuous research and development of drugs designed to help people suffering from specific medical conditions is under way. However, when these drugs fall in the wrong hands, they may be prone to abuse. If you are in possession of drugs that may have a high potential for abuse, the best way to prevent recovering addicts from having access is to dispose of the drugs properly.

More than wanting to ban these dangerous drugs, there should be a comprehensive public awareness campaign about its dangers and risks to avoid future problems.

Legality of alpha-Methyltryptamine use

AMT is currently categorized under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. This means that it is illegal to manufacture, buy, possess or use this drug. It has a high potential for abuse and has no legitimate medical purpose. Other drugs under this schedule are cannabis, ecstasy, heroin, and amphetamine.

Fatality due to AMT Intoxication

The drug has become popular among high school students and young professionals. The use of this substance has become widespread since it was easily bought through the internet prior to the scheduling on April 2003.

Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department revealed one of the first known fatalities in the U.S. associated with AMT, back in February 2003. Prior to the victim’s death, he informed his roommate that he was taking hallucinogenic drugs from which he was able to “discover the secret of the universe”. Twelve hours later, the young college student was found dead lying on his bed.

There was a 1-gram vial recovered from the scene. It was sent to the laboratory and its initial screening of urine by enzyme-multiplied immunoassay technique found that it has traces of amphetamine. Further research established the definitive cause of death as the presence of large doses of AMT on different organs of the body.

This case of AMT overdose, among many others, prompted the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to have an emergency scheduling of the drug.

Statistics on Illicit Drug Use

About 200 million worldwide are known to be using some form of illicit drugs such as cannabis, heroin, amphetamines, opioids and cocaine. About 8% of youth in Western Europe and more than 20% from the USA are reported to having used at least one type of illicit drug other than marijuana.

Similarly, the increase in the number of individuals using these drugs through injection has aggravated the spread of HIV worldwide.

The exact number of AMT users has not been established as some cases may have not been properly identified due to AMT not being one of the drugs that can be determined easily through regular drug testing. Standard drug tests usually identify the following substances:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

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Health & Wellness

Study: People Who Feel Inferior Tend To Eat Fattier Foods

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Bobby Cheon and Ying Yi Hong, researchers affiliated with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the Chinese University in Hong Kong, published a paper in Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences about how people who feel socially inferior tend to eat more food leaning towards the fattier kinds. The researchers conducted four tests that led to the same conclusions.

Other studies in the past have shown how people from low-income families tend to be more obese compared to those who are from the upper class of society. The reason for this may be brought about by the feeling of being inferior, according to a news release.

In the research, participants were asked to picture themselves at different levels of society. A questionnaire was given out to ask them about their food of choice at a buffet and the kinds of food that they crave for. In a similar study, volunteers were asked to participate in a buffet and can eat whatever they want.

The results revealed that those who were asked to think of themselves belonging to the lower spectrum of society ate more when offered with real food.

This may show how people from the lower end of the society may tend to eat more and eat fattier food because they do not have the ability to have this type of food all the time. When there is an opportunity for them to eat, they would rather choose food that is high in fat.

The choice of eating unhealthy food over the healthier ones among these people may be due to their accessibility to chips and other unhealthy kinds of food because that is the only type of food that they can afford to buy.

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Substance Abuse

Frequently Asked Questions About Kratom

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So much has been discussed about kratom that people have been confused about its uses and legality. Kratom is commonly grown in Southeast Asian countries, and its medicinal use has become popular for years because of its opioid-like effects. It acts as stimulant, depressant and intoxicant.

Kratom is characterized by its alkaloid content, namely mitragynine and 7-hydroxymytraginine, which are the major contributors of the effects the plant. Kratom has been used as an alternative to opiates to people who are suffering from chronic pain.

In this article, we will discuss some of the frequently asked questions about kratom, and the answers that will hopefully give you an informed decision about using this controversial drug.

Is Kratom legal?

Kratom is legal in the United States, after the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has withdrawn its notice of intent to put the drug under Schedule I classification. These days, kratom may be purchased in several key places within the U.S., and even over the internet.

However, there are certain states that have implemented restrictions with regards to shipping. Meanwhile, some other countries have banned kratom because of the potential risk on individuals who take the substance.

Why did the Drug Enforcement Agency want to ban Kratom?

DEA cited kratom as an “imminent hazard to the public” because of its potential for abuse. Back in August 2016, the agency announced that it would make kratom a Schedule 1 substance, the same as LSD, marijuana, heroin and ecstasy.

The decision has been recanted by the DEA in November 2016.

Why is Kratom banned in Thailand despite the popular Maend Da strain?

In the 1940’s, the opium was very popularly shipped from Thailand to other countries. But since Kratom was inexpensive than opium, people have opted buying opium instead. When opium sales fell, this alarmed the local businesses involved with opium, which then became the reason for banning kratom.

Kratom was not banned because of its effect but because of it being in competition with opium.

What are the different forms of Kratom?

Kratom can be sold in the form of loose chopped leaves, capsules and compressed tablets.

kratom pills dietary supplements

What makes Kratom popular?

Although there is no legitimate use for kratom, it has become very popular as a recreational drug. It is said to help improve mood, relieves pain and can be an alternative treatment for those with opiate addiction.

What are the traditional uses of Kratom?

Kratom has been widely used in Southeast Asian countries. People in this part of the world have been using it in traditional medicine.

Leaves are chewed to help enhance appetite, improve energy, relieve musculoskeletal pain, and increase libido. Its leaf extracts are used to heal cuts and wounds, and as a local anesthetic.

Its prominent positive effects include:

  • Anxiety relief
  • Pain relief
  • Mood enhancer
  • Depression relief
  • Motivation
  • Increased focus
  • Opiate maintenance/transitional substance
  • Insomnia relief
  • Immune System Stimulation
  • Anti-malarial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Nootropic

Extract from boiled kratom leaves can be used to treat cough, diarrhea and intestinal infections. People exposed to strenuous activities also take them to increase their energy, enhance mood, and alleviate pain.

How long does Kratom take effect?

An individual taking kratom may feel its effect right after 10-15 minutes of ingestion. The effect may last up to 2 hours if taken in smaller doses. If large doses have been consumed, the effect may last up to 8 hours.

What is 4×100?

4×100 is the name referring to a kratom-base concoction which became popular in 2010. It is a mixture of cough syrup, kratom leaves, cola, and ice. Drinking the concoction may produce undesirable effects.

What is Kratom tea?

Kratom tea is an ancient method of preparation to administer the substance to individuals who seek to be treated or relieved with certain illnesses.

What are the adverse effects of using Kratom?

The undesirable effects of using kratom depend on the amount of kratom used.

  • 1-5 mg dose would exhibit the following symptoms: anxiety and agitation, contracted pupils, itching, nausea, loss of appetite and increased urination.
  • Doses above 5 mg can cause the following symptoms: rapid heart rate, constipation, dizziness, hypotension, dry mouth and sweating.

Is Kratom addictive?

Kratom can trigger a person’s “happy center”, which may produce an unusual high. Some reports say that kratom is taken by some athletes as performance-enhancing drug.

According to drugabuse.com, kratom has an increased risk of dependence by individuals who take the drug. In fact, one study discovered that roughly 80 percent of kratom users find it difficult to stop.

kratom-plant-ban

What happens to the individual who becomes addicted to Kratom?

Despite its positive use to some individuals, there is a risk of being addicted to the substance. Frequent use of high doses of kratom may cause weight loss, seizures, tremors and psychosis.

How is kratom used?

Kratom may be taken orally, inhaled or injected. The powder may also be mixed with water to form a solution and injected intravenously.

Why are there different kinds of kratom being sold?

Kratom is grown in different parts of Southeast Asia. Kratom is being sold under different names based on the location where the plant extract came from.

Which regions in Southeast Asia are kratoms grown?

Kratoms are grown from the following regions:

  • Thailand
  • Borneo
  • Bali
  • Sumatra
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • The Sunda Isles

How are kratoms classified?

Kratoms can be classified according to the location where it was grown or to the color of the veins and stems.

What are the classifications of kratom according to the color of the veins and stems?

All kratom leaves bear the same green color. However, there are three varieties of kratom based on the color of the veins and stems, and these are:

  • White vein
  • Green vein
  • Red vein

How do kratom strains differ from one another?

Each color strain has different effects:

  • White and Green strains help increase energy and productivity. The leaves from white stem kratom produce more stimulating effects than the red vein variety. The green leaves aid clearer thinking and endurance, and help in treating depression and anxiety.
  • Red strains promote calmness, sedation and relaxation. The effect is the opposite of the two other strains. As soon as an individual takes this strain, a calming effect takes place. This variety is often used to provide pain relief. This can also serve as a substitute for opiate detoxification. Users claim to experience a sense of euphoria.

kratom-leaf

What is the most popular Kratom strain?

Maeng Da is the most popular strain because it is believed to be “genetically modified” to provide its effect. It is commonly used by laborers who deal with heavy tasks for longer hours. It is considered to be the “powerhouse” of strong effects. The effect of this kratom strain can last for hours.

Which strain is best in providing analgesia?

Among all strains, Bali, Borneo, Maeng Da, Indo and Malaysian strain can provide the best pain relief without having to suffer with any negative effects, according to kratom advocates.

The pain relief is possible through its two components mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.

Which strains provide a sedative effect?

Kratom can act as either stimulant and depressant, depending on the strain. Kratom strains that can produce a relaxing effect are Bali, Borneo, and Indo.

Which among the kratom strains has mood-enhancing properties?

The euphoric effect is one of the primary reasons why people take kratom as a replacement for the more expensive drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

  • Maeng Da: This strain is said to have the perfect combination of the pain killing effect and stimulating alkaloids.
  • Bali & Borneo
  • Indo & Malaysian

The effect of each strain depends on the quality of how the kratom tree has been grown. For low quality kratom leaves, the effect may not be as potent as those with high quality kratom leaves.

Which strains are used to help ease opiate withdrawal?

Individuals suffering from withdrawal symptoms are given medications to counteract the undesirable effects. Kratom has been used as a substitute because of it being inexpensive and legal (for now).

  • Borneo
  • Bali
  • Indo
  • Maeng Da

The preferred vein color strain is red and should be given in moderate to high doses.

What are the psychological effects of taking Kratom?

The effects differ depending on the type of strain and one’s own personal chemistry. Kratom may be used in treating depression, but not all strains are fit for this purpose.

pregnant women depression sedentary lifestyle gestational diabetes

Strains that are effective in treating depression are:

  • Thai
  • Maeng Da
  • Green Malaysian

Kratom is also known to treat anxiety and insomnia. Strains that can be used for such conditions are:

  • Borneo
  • Thai
  • Bali

Can Kratom be used to treat immune system conditions?

Kratom is said to be effective in immune system stimulation due to the immunostimulant alkaloids found in kratom such as:

  • Mitraphyline
  • Isomitraphyline
  • Isopteropodine
  • Isorhynchophyline

These alkaloids help in suppressing cough and cold and other serious conditions that may compromise the immune system. The preferred strains are:

  • Green Malaysian
  • Borneo

The preferred strain is the green vein kratom.

How strong is the Thai Kratom compared to other strains?

The Red Vein Thai Kratom is the most popular among all varieties of Thai Kratom because of its very potent analgesic properties. Rating it from 1-10, stimulation can be rated from 8-9.5.

Which among the vein colors is the most popularly used?

Each color strain provides different effects. The Red Vein Kratom is the most popular strain because of its high level of potency for the relief of pain, sedation as well as in treating anxiety and stress.

What is an enhanced leaf?

Enhanced kratom leaf has become very popular among kratom users because of its high potency and lack of side effects. Enhanced leaf is used by taking a highly potent kratom extract. It is dissolved in a solution where the kratom powder or leaves are soaked and left to dry.

One of the most popular enhanced leaf blends is known as Ultra Enhanced Indo. Taking this may provide some positive effects like having highly analgesic effect and does not have any side effects.

However, there is a rapid tolerance for this substance. When the individual stops taking the substance, the user may experience unfavorable withdrawal symptoms. The cost for enhanced leaf is more expensive compared to the usual forms of kratom.

What are the average dosages in grams?

  • Mild – 1 to 2 grams
  • Moderate – 2-4.5 grams
  • High – 4.5-8 grams

How can you avoid having tolerance to Kratom if you use it for medical purposes?

Kratom supporters mention “strain rotation” as a way to allow users to continue using kratom as the desired potency for medical purposes without developing dependence and tolerance.

Using one strain for a long period of time may lead to tolerance to kratom. By switching strains on a daily basis, the alkaloid levels do not become stable enough to develop tolerance to the drug’s effects.

What are “wobbles”?

Wobbles is the term often used by kratom users referring to the difficulty to focus the eyes at a certain point without strain. This may lead to headache and nausea.

kratom-effects-wobble-vision

How can you avoid experiencing the “wobbles”?

According to kratom users, the only way to prevent from having the “wobbles” is to keep the dosage low.

Which strain can cause severe episodes of “wobbles”?

The Bali strain has the highest “wobble” factor, while the True Borneo strain has the least.

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We hope this comprehensive Kratom FAQ can help you understand the substance and whether it would work for you. Before taking kratom for medicinal purposes, it is advisable to ask your doctor about it, especially if you have existing health conditions. Always remember that self-medication is never a good option, regardless of the drug that you’re planning to take.

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Medical Marijuana Substance Abuse

DEA Puts Marijuana Extract Cannabidiol on Schedule I List

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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified cannabidiol under the Schedule 1 list of drugs. Cannabidiol, or more commonly known as CBD, is one of the compounds that make up marijuana extract and covers the highest concentration besides tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The final rule of the DEA establishes that the drug is illegal, and is strictly prohibited by the federal government, as reported in a news article.

Drugs under the Schedule 1 List of Controlled Substances are those that have very high potential and probability for abuse, those that have no known medical treatment use, and those that are said to be very dangerous to human health. Aside from marijuana, the list also includes ecstasy, heroin, and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), among others.

Also under the same rule, CBD is now identified separately from marijuana to strictly track possible violations. The DEA has declared that all cannabis extracts, even those considered as non-psychoactive oils, are now illegal.

The current clamor of a number of states in the U.S. to push for the legalization of marijuana may be hampered by the recently approved rule of the DEA, despite the medicinal qualities of the drug. The rule is set to be effective on January 2017.

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Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Health Experts Warn Against Alcohol Consumption During The Holidays

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As people celebrate the holidays, health experts warn consumers against unhealthy alcohol consumption during this season, based on their report shared in a news item.

According to experts from UC Davis Health System in California, most people who attend parties are more likely to let loose and drink wine, which makes then more vulnerable to its harmful effects. Moreover, heavy drinkers may also use this season as a chance to drink in excess especially since it is just a one-off thing.

If you cannot do away with drinking this season, here are some of the things you need to consider to avoid high alcohol consumption during the holidays:

  • Drink in moderation so as to prevent alcohol-related injuries or any other health issues.
  • Don’t pressure anyone to drink unless you have a plan of sending him home safely or hiring cab service.
  • Make your party fun for everyone by providing both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Always ready a room to let your guests sleep in when they have had too much to drink.

It might be fun to catch up with your old friends and it might be even more fun to put your hair down and have a good time. However, you need to remember that nothing spells disaster as much as drunk guests who don’t care about safety and health.

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Medical Marijuana Pregnancy & Fertility

Secondhand Marijuana Smoke Exposure Evident In Infant Urine, Says Study

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Marijuana has emerged as one of the most popular psychoactive drugs because of its multiple effects that include mood changes, altered state and perception of mind, euphoria and hallucinations. Amidst the ongoing debate regarding the safety and legality of cannabis use, a new study discovered a possible danger of secondhand marijuana smoke.

In a study published in the Pediatric Research Journal last December 2, researchers concluded that children exposed to marijuana smoke are at a higher risk of health problems in later years. Children can be exposed to marijuana by breathing in marijuana smoke or eating foods that might contain cannabis, as reported in a news release.

According to the study, secondhand smoke is taken from end of the joint and by breathing in the exhaled smoke. When children ingest cannabis, they might experience lethargy and sleepiness. Some other symptoms might also include blood-shot eyes, dry mouth and anxiety.

Meanwhile, children who inhale marijuana smoke might show symptoms of asthma attacks and lung irritation. The symptoms can last up to 24 hours. As of this time, there are no reported fetal and child deaths from marijuana poisoning.

Nevertheless, if your child shows this symptom, make sure to contact the local poison center.

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Substance Abuse

Teen Smoking and Drug Use Rates At An All-Time Low

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Researchers from the National Institute of Drug Abuse released some favorable results of their survey regarding teen smoking and drug use. Compared to figures from last year, there has been a significant decrease in smoking among 8th graders to 10th graders.

The decline in the number of drug users from the mentioned age group may also be brought about the decline of cigarette smoking. It is very likely that individuals who smoke also tend to do drugs and alcohol. According to researchers, it is hard to pinpoint what really caused the decline, but this is already good news by itself.

For the past months, a lot of reports have linked illicit drug use with numerous deaths. Fortunately, there has been a huge difference in the number of users from the same age group from 40 years ago. The use of drugs has declined among teens, which should be a good sign that the youth of today are becoming more cautious with their way of life.

In addition, there is a significant decline in prescription drug abuse as well as marijuana use, which continues to plague a lot of people in the U.S. and all around the world.

Here are some more results from the survey, as reported in a news release:

  • Only 1.8% among high school seniors smoke a half pack of cigarette compared to 11% from 1991.
  • The use of e-cigarettes among high school seniors has dropped from 16% last year to 12% this year.
  • Teens are getting more sober than ever, having the lowest level at 37.3% among 12th graders compared from a high of 53.2% back in 2001.

One theory for this may be brought about by the proliferation of online games that have kept children busy. Jonathan Caulkins, a drug policy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, said that relationships between teenagers and their parents may have become better compared to relationships from the past generations.

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Substance Abuse

Synthetic Cannabinoid AMB-FUBINACA Caused New York ‘Zombies’ Last Summer

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After the scary effects of synthetic marijuana were put on full display in New York City around the middle of 2016, a group of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco discovered the exact culprit.

In a report based on the mass casualty case last summer in Brooklyn, the synthetic cannabinoid AMB-FUBINACA was identified as the chemical that led to overdose and death. The report, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, based the findings on urine and blood samples from victims of the apparent zombie apocalypse in New York City during that time. The compound is said to be 85 times stronger than the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that naturally occurs in cannabis plants.

Report co-author and University of California, San Francisco clinical chemist Roy Gerona explained that the rise in the use of synthetic marijuana may be caused by its nomenclature. “There is this false idea out there that these drugs are safe, because no one overdoses on marijuana,” Gerona said in a news article.

AMB-FUBINACA now joins the ranks of K2 and Spice in the notorious class of synthetic cannabis variants that cause heightened health risks in people. The compound was developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which abandoned the drug without pursuing human trials.

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Medical Marijuana

Incoming U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and His Stand on Marijuana and Drugs

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jeff sessions attorney general

Several states in the U.S. have voted to legalize medical marijuana and cannabidiol (CBD) to increase the options for current medical treatments which communities have access to. At present, marijuana still falls under the Schedule I classification — an identification among drugs that have no medical use, and should never be considered as treatment for medical conditions even for serious cases.

It should be remembered that during his campaign, Donald Trump was consistent in his stand that marijuana legalization will depend on the decision of the states. However, on November 18, Trump nominated Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to hold the position as U.S. Attorney General, which may turn the tides as the senator from Alabama is known for his antagonistic view on marijuana. With his new designation, Sessions has also come to forward his challenge for the states and people who are for the use of recreational and medical marijuana.

The general public is now wondering what will happen to the ongoing clamor for the legalization of medical marijuana, given that a number of debates claim that its use contributes a lot to the medical sector. Will the incoming Trump administration give full support to the cause of Sessions? Is this administration going to launch a war against marijuana? Is Trump’s pick to take on the job as U.S. Attorney General already the answer to the questions above?

Given that 100 percent of Americans live in a country where weed is still prohibited by federal law, U.S. states – especially those that have recently approved recreational and medical marijuana – are waiting for what is about to happen to their decision.

Who is Jeff Sessions?

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has been nominated for the position of U.S. Attorney General by incoming President Donald Trump, following former AGs Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, who are both African Americans.

Sessions graduated with a Juris Doctorate degree from Alabama School of Law in the year 1973. Before entering politics, Sessions practiced law in Alabama, and also served in the United States Army Reserve until the year 1986. He has sponsored bills that are related to health, immigration, international affairs, economics, and public finance. Sessions is a Republican senator from Alabama, who has served the country for two decades.

Before he expressed his support to Trump, he is known as a senator who has conservative perspectives on major issues like the U.S. pro-life movement, reforms on immigration, and same-sex marriage.

As his personal response to fight crimes in the country, he authored the Coverdell National Forensic Sciences Improvement Law of 2000 wherein additional funds were authorized to be used for blood and DNA tests that are critical in the investigation of pending crimes. Serving in the senate for two decades has earned him several awards, which include the American Conservative Union Award for Conservative Excellence, the Watchdogs of the Treasury Golden Bulldog Award, the Coalition of Republican Environment Advocates Teddy Roosevelt Environmental Award, and the Alabama Farmers Federation Service to Agriculture Award.

Because of his exemplary passion and commitment to his duty, Session was elected in the Senate for his fourth term, getting roughly 97 percent of the total votes at that time.

His Stand on Marijuana and Other Drugs

Sessions is known for his strong opposing view on marijuana, earning the dub as one of the “steadfast drug warriors” in the U.S. He has made a mark for his stand against the use of the drug, but his statement that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” has created a significant outburst in the U.S., given that twenty-nine states have already voted for its legalization, specifically its medical benefits.

Being a conservative politician that he is, it is no surprise that his antagonistic view will continue, and probably this time, will be stronger and will be more aggressive, more so because of his designation as chief of the country’s Justice Department. His stand is to protect his country from the dangerous drug which, for him, does more harm than good. His call to the government consistently leans toward his view that such concern should be taken seriously, so that they can easily convince the youth not to do drugs.

In 2014, Sessions was in the news due to his criticism against FBI Director James Comey, who suggested to loosen the government’s restrictions on applicants who have tried using marijuana. In his statement, Sessions said that giving such consideration could be interpreted as an American leadership that does not put the much-needed attention to strictly prohibit marijuana.

Conclusion

As of this writing, Sessions has not yet discussed any of his plans to combat the use of recreational and medical marijuana. However, if he decides to push through with them, expect that he will pull all the stops to implement his plans. Most likely to become the country’s top prosecutor against drug use, Sessions is expected to have strong influence on future decisions to be made by the administration that will result to significant effects on the growing cannabis industry and the use of it.

However, given that U.S. states are focusing on resolving more pressing issues such as child pornography, financial fraud, terrorism, and firearms trafficking, states are less likely to consider cannabis as a threat to their communities.

The lack of a clear stand by Trump against drugs might still be a venue for Sessions to continue his aggressive fight against it. While Trump has applauded Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for his current initiatives to curb the issue on drugs, he still has not emphasized his full commitment to what he plans to do on U.S. soil. For some of his fellow politicians who maintain their voice in the issue, Trump is less likely to create a stand that would disappoint his supporters.

If the existing plans are going to push through, Sessions will be sworn in as the new U.S. Attorney General as soon as President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20, 2017.

[Imge by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Creative Commons]

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Substance Abuse

Drug Policy Alliance Releases ‘Public Health and Safety Approach’ On Prescription Drug Abuse

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The Drug Policy Alliance recently offered a number of policy proposals that would provide increased access to effective treatment, extend harm reduction services, prevent further opioid misuse, and minimize the role of criminalization and incarceration and lessen racial disparities. Under the plan, the following recommendations shall be implemented:

Establish Safe Drug Consumption Services

These supervised injection facilities offer controlled health care, allow drug consumption under clinical supervision, and provide health care, counseling, and referrals to health and social services.

Implement Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion

Through Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), law enforcers are given the authority to immediately direct people to housing, treatment, and other services rather than arrest or book them for certain petty offenses. The program started and was evaluated in Seattle, Washington.

Research Heroin-Assisted Treatment (HAT)

This type of treatment involves the careful regulation and controlled administration of pharmaceutical-grade heroin to those who have failed other methods of treatment. Research have revealed that HAT is effective in reducing drug use, overdose deaths, infectious disease, and crime while saving money and promoting social integration.

The Drug Policy Alliance is aimed at ushering a new era of drug policy in the United States. In a news article, Nevada State Senator Tick Segerbiom said that elected officials should start embracing this new policy. “Elected officials must embrace evidence-based solutions to the growing epidemic if we are to start making a dent and protecting the people we serve. If we are to start making a dent and protecting the people we serve. The old solutions have failed.”

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