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Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

“Dr. Feelgood” Charged with Murder for Overprescribing Painkillers

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Prosecutors from Los Angeles County are set to prove that a California doctor is guilty of murder, and that she caused the deaths of three otherwise healthy men in their 20s by overprescribing painkillers.

42-year-old Dr. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa” Tseng, who has been given the nickname “Dr. Feelgood,” allegedly wrote prescriptions for such drugs as Xanax, Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Adderall at a rate of 25 per day for three years, with only brief examinations and a few questions.

Tseng was charged of being responsible for the deaths of 29-year-old Vu Nguyen of Lake Forest, who died on March 2, 2009; 25-year-old Steven Ogle of Palm Desert, who died on April 9, 2009; and 21-year-old Joseph Rovero III, a student of Arizona State University (ASU), who died on December 18, 2009.

Rovero was halfway through his senior year as a business and communications student at ASU, when he saw Dr. Tseng for the first and only time on December 9, 2009. He received prescriptions for Xanax and OxyContin on that day. Nine days later, he died of acute intoxication of the two drugs in Tempe, Arizona. Alcohol was also found in his system.

An affidavit from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) revealed that Tseng wrote more than 27,000 prescriptions for a period of three years, starting in January 2007. Her license to write prescriptions was suspended by the DEA in 2010, and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California shared that she surrendered her medical license voluntarily.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 2010, Tseng said that she was “really strict” with her patients, and that she followed legal guidelines. She was quoted as saying: “If my patient decides to take a month’s supply in a day, then there’s nothing I can do about that.”

Substance Abuse

New Painkiller Raises Concerns Among Addiction Experts

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It is unfortunate that breakthroughs in research and development in some areas of medicine can be a double-edged sword to the community that it aims to serve. While its primordial goal is to provide much-needed medical treatment for those in need, some medicines can be equally as deadly to those who find ways to abuse them.

Addiction experts share their concernes over one such drug: a painkiller that will reportedly be 10 times stronger than Vicodin, a drug that has become a favorite among prescription drug abusers.

This type of painkiller is said to contain a pure version of hydrocodone, which belong to the family of drugs called opiates. Opiates include such drugs as morphine, heroin, oxycodone, codeine, and methadone.

If and when the drug is approved, it will be the first pure form of hydrocodone that can be purchased legally, as drugs that are already in the market combine it with non-addictive painkillers.

Four companies are currently testing pills with this formulation. One such product is Zohydro, from Zogenix of San Diego, which plans to apply for permission to market the drug early next year. Zohydro is a timed-release drug for the management of moderate to severe pain.

April Rovero, president of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, expressed her concerns about the drug: “I have a big concern that this could be the next OxyContin.” Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin was developed to manage pain with timed-release doses of oxycodone.

Abusers, however, discovered that they could crush the pills to get around the timed-release feature, and get an immediate high. OxyContin is the most abused prescription drug in the United States, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The other companies testing hydrocodone drugs are Purdue Pharma, Cephalon, and Egalet.

Substance Abuse

Commonly Abused Prescription and OTC Drugs: Pain Relievers

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Pain relievers are an example of how medicines that are ideally developed to help people can instead bring them harm, because of abuse. A feature on WebMD shared helpful information regarding pain relievers that are usually abused, along with photos of these medicines.

pain relieversCodeine and morphine. Morphine is a medicine that is usually prescribed to alleviate severe pain, while codeine is prescribed to treat milder pain. On the streets, these medicines are more commonly known through their “aliases,” which include “Captain Cody” and “Cody” for codeine, and “M” and “Miss Emma” for morphine. The medicines Oramorph and Aviniza both have morphine.

Oxycontin , Percocet and Percodan. These medicines share a common active ingredient: the opioid pain reliever oxycodone. Despite having a common ingredient, however, the medicines are not identical; they all should not, however, be taken without the supervision of a doctor. They should also not be taken along with alcohol, barbiturates, antihistamines or benzodiazepines. These combinations can be lethal and life-threatening. Many spam e-mails advertise selling these medicines online.

Oxycontin is referred to as “oxy,” “O.C.,” or “oxycotton” on the streets, while Percocet or Percodan are also called “percs”.

Vicodin, Lortab and Lorcet. Vicodin is yet another medicine that is usually the subject of advertising through spam e-mails, by shady online drug stores. They contain the opioid hydrocodone and acetaminophen; Vicodin is also known by the street names “vike” and “Watson-387.”

Opioids are known to cause drowsiness and constipation. According to NIDA, it can also depress breathing, depending on the amount taken. They are to be taken only by patients who have been prescribed the drug.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Elton John Lends Eminem A Helping Hand

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Elton John and Eminem have more than just music in common. Eminem is said to be currently waging a battle against substance abuse – something that Elton John also went through at one point in his life. It is therefore not surprising that Elton John has been helping Eminem with his ongoing battle.

eminemElton John has been helping Eminem for more than a year now, and the former has been quoted as saying that Eminem is succeeding. Elton John said during an interview on BBC Radio “I’ve been helping Eminem over the last 18 months and he’s doing brilliantly. I’m there if people want my help. He also added: “If people ask for help you tell them where to go, but there’s no point advising people if they don’t want to do it,”  and mentioned that it is not unusual for people who abuse drugs to reject help since the substance can make the person cocky and arrogant.

Eminem has been rather open about his addiction, which included Ambien and Vicodin, and has talked about how his addiction has prevented him from churning out a record for almost five years. In May, Eminem was said to have mentioned that he had been asking Elton John for help, referring to him as “somebody who’s in the business and can identify and relate to the lifestyle and how hectic things can be”.

An article recounts an interview that Vibe magazine had with the American rapper, where he talked about almost dying due to a methadone overdose. Eminem said that he was taking as many as 20 pills a day and took a combination pain and sleep medication, sometimes mixing and matching. When he realized that he was suffering from an addiction and decided to sober up, he reportedly turned to John.