Category Archives: Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

Can Kratom Solve The Prescription Drug Abuse Problem?

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The drug menace has been an ongoing global battle for the past decades. Despite adding legislative measures to help prevent the use, manufacture, and distribution of these illicit substances, it continues to burden the government and affect so many lives of the people. This is the reason why some people resort to using other substances like kratom to avoid engaging in prescription drug abuse.

In this article, we will dissect some of the truths about kratom, and if it is a viable solution to the persistent opioid abuse problem.

Prescription Drug Abuse Continues To Thrive

Prescription drug abuse is a global issue that has affected people from all walks of life – whether legitimate users of prescribed medications or individuals who seek to experience different levels of euphoria by using prescription drugs outside their intended purposes.

Notwithstanding the dangerous effects of what drug abuse may do to the body, more and more people are enticed to experiment on them, which eventually leads to drug addiction.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) conducts annual surveys on drug use and health. It provides valuable information about the trends of drug use, as well as the prevalence of drug use among teens and adults.

There are two general types of drugs abused by individuals:

  • Illicit substances such as Fentanyl analogs, Ecstasy, Cocaine, Heroin, and Amphetamine
  • Prescription medication such as Codeine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, and Methadone

Prescription drug abuse is the intentional use of a certain medication without a prescription. What makes this dangerous is that some individuals would self-medicate their illnesses without realizing that certain prescription drugs may have a potential to alter the normal brain function if not taken at right doses. This is the reason why people need to consult a doctor so that an appropriate drug may be given with a specified dosage.

When these prescription drugs are not used accordingly, the possibility of abusing the drug increases in likelihood. Another way that prescription drugs can harm people is when they are not kept in a safe place, and children (most especially teens) may gain access to these substances. This may also turn into an addiction.

Interesting Facts on Prescription Drug Abuse

opioid abuse prescription drugs teen use

Approximately 7 million individuals are current users of prescription drugs – pain relievers, antidepressants, and stimulants. However, this data showed that it was used for non-medical purposes.

In the 2013 Monitoring The Future survey, it was reported that illicit substance use was highest among people in their late teens and twenties. Roughly 6.5 percent of teens at least 12 years old have used prescription drugs in the last month.

Among the deaths caused by drug use, prescription drug abuse accounts for at least 45% while street drug use was at 39%. This data shows that individuals have more access to prescription medications, and that it has become more popular among drug users.

What makes the situation worse is that prescription drugs are available in any over-the-counter pharmacy. In addition, some patients would go to the extent of “doctor shopping” so that they can get a new prescription for a specific drug. This makes it easier for them to have a refill of the prescription.

The black market is one of the most convenient places where drug users can purchase their substances of choice. The cost of the drug may be 10x more than the actual price from pharmacies, but this steep price does not stop them from buying.

Teens engaged in prescription drug abuse are twice as likely to drink booze, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia. It could also initiate teens to use other substances like marijuana and other street drugs like heroin.

Fentanyl is an opioid medication that is used as an anesthetic to prevent pain after surgery. While we see this as an effective treatment for pain, abusing this drug can become lethal. After all, it is said to be 100 times more potent than morphine.

In 2016, there had been reports of a large number of overdose deaths caused by fentanyl. Some other drugs have also been found to be laced with fentanyl, causing it to become highly potent and lethal.

One in 12 senior high schools were reported to use Vicodin for non-medical reasons while 1 in 20 reported abuse of Oxycontin.

Most of the teens reported that they were able to obtain such drugs from friends and relatives.

Most Commonly Abuse Prescription Drugs

These prescription drugs were intentionally developed to treat various medical conditions. However, along with the positive effects of using these drugs, there are unwanted side effects that are likely to happen, most especially if inappropriately used.

  • Analgesia (feeling no pain)
  • Confusion or poor judgment
  • Constipation
  • Euphoria (feeling high)
  • Itching or flushed skin
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Respiratory depression (shallow or slow breathing)
  • Sedation
  • Slurred speech
  • Small pupils

You can easily identify an individual who has become too attached to a certain prescription drug, through the following signs:

  • development of tolerance
  • having legal problems due to drug use
  • having withdrawal symptoms after stopping or reducing use (this can be seen as having depressed mood, stomach upset, insomnia, and muscle aches)
  • inability to control
  • spending large amounts of time to obtain prescription drugs
  • strong desire to use prescription drugs
  • trouble meeting social or work obligations

The medications most commonly abused are:

  • Pain relievers
  • Sedatives
  • Stimulants
  • Tranquilizers

Prescription opioids that are commonly abused are:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Meperidine
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone

Prescription sedatives slow down brain activity, which some people found to be effective in treating anxiety and sleep orders. Prescription sedatives that are commonly abused are:

  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Sleep Medications

Prescription stimulants are drugs that induce alertness, blood pressure, attention, heart rate, and breathing rate. The commonly abused prescription stimulants are:

  • Amphetamine
  • Methylphenidate

Meanwhile, using prescription drugs in combination with alcohol may decrease heart rate, and can even lead to coma or death.

Kratom for Pain Management

kratom ban DEA

Knowing that using prescription medications can be expensive and life-threatening, some patients have turned to kratom due to its reported efficacy in controlling pain and cheaper cost. However, despite the substance’s seeming ability as a painkiller, the Food and Drug Administration has considered to include kratom among the Schedule I Controlled Substances.

Kratom has been popularly used in Southeast Asia for centuries as an effective means of alleviating pain. This substance is reportedly helpful in coping with withdrawal symptoms from opioid painkillers and other street drugs. Kratom use has also been linked to positive effects such as uplifting mood and energy, and increasing focus and concentration.

The effect of kratom depends on the strain of kratom leaves and on the amount of kratom used. There are three kratom strains: Red, Green, and White. These are based on the color of the kratom veins and stems.

The most common kratom strain used is the Maeng Da. It provides an extreme kind of euphoria and can provide pain relief for a very long duration.

According to its users, using moderate doses of kratom can provide a stimulating effect, while taking it in large doses makes it effective as a depressant.

Kratom is sold in the form of kratom leaves that may be chewed or boiled, or prepared as powder or extract. Kratom has a naturally bitter taste, which is why kratom users often mix it with juice, coffee or tea. Aside from drinking different kratom concoctions, some kratom users would also smoke its leaves.

Kratom users claim that the substance offers effective treatment for chronic pain in relation to the following medical conditions:

  • Abdominal soreness
  • Arthritis
  • Backache
  • Broken bones, scrapes, and burns
  • Chest pain
  • Damaged muscles
  • Migraine
  • Scoliosis

Kratom, however, is not accepted in all states in the United States. In fact, Indiana had banned its use due to the possibility of kratom to be abused. When used more than necessary, kratom has been found to be addictive.

Moreover, while the effectiveness of kratom may be visible in some patients, it can also be harmful to the body when taken inappropriately. This is why the status of kratom as a legal drug is still pending. IN fact, it may soon belong to the list of Schedule I Controlled Substances.

Because it is an opiate, kratom may lead to a possibility of dependence.

Kratom: The Solution to Opioid Abuse?

kratom prescription drug abuse

While users see kratom as an effective treatment for those suffering from opioid withdrawal symptoms, others see it as another substance that is likely to become abused. The situation is aggravated due to the fact that kratom is accessible and less expensive compared to other street drugs.

Legalizing it the same way as marijuana is something that is probable. Knowing that it can be an extremely effective substance to alleviate pain, it may be categorized as a the controlled substance with medical use but with a potential for abuse.

In the same process of legalizing marijuana across U.S. states, kratom may need to undergo some changes with the way it is perceived by the general public. For instance, putting some form of control in the number of doses that a patient can take should somehow help ease the problem with its potentially addictive nature.

Although dependence on kratom is possible, there has been no record of anyone dying from using pure kratom. This is in stark contrast to prescription painkillers, some of which have already claimed thousands of lives over the abuse of these substances.

At present, it is legal to use kratom as an alternative pain medication. Kratom users can benefit more from this substance by being responsible in using just the appropriate amount needed, so as to avoid having to deal with unfavorable symptoms.

How Prescription Drug Abuse Can Be Prevented

prescription drug dependence percocet

Since prescription drugs are available from pharmacies, strict compliance to prescription standards should be implemented regarding the dosage prescribed to the patient. Prescription drugs should only be purchased with a prescription issued by a medical practitioner. Pharmacists will only dispense these drugs to individuals bearing the prescription by dispensing the right amount of medication as indicated on the prescription.

It is the responsibility of patients to keep all their prescription drugs away from reach of others, most especially children.

Any unused medication should be properly discarded. They can be crushed and mixed with other substances, thrown into trash bins, flushed down the drain, or handed over to collection sites that will take care of the unused medication on your behalf.

Substance Abuse

Drug Schedules of the Controlled Substances Act

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The drug problem has been a social issue for the past few decades. More than 200 drug laws have been implemented, but many of them were found to be ineffective. To address the problem, then-U.S. President Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in 1970, which combined all existing federal drug laws into one statute.

Controlled Substances Act (CSA) 1970

Prior to the implementation of the Controlled Substance Act, the Narcotic Drug of 1932 was developed for the purpose of making the law consistent in various states with regards to control of the sales and use of narcotic drugs. The Controlled Substances Act was further amended in 1990, as the problem with drugs continued to escalate.

The act regulates the manufacture and distribution of controlled substances. It has five drug classifications in which drugs are ranked based on their usefulness and benefits in the treatment for various medical conditions, as well as their potential for abuse.

This classification makes it easier for state legislatures to ratify criminal statutes by simply referring to the schedules rather than having to list all substances. It is also an easier way for drugs to be added or removed from a schedule, rather than having to entirely change the drug law.

Drug laws made by state legislatures must be in compliance with the Controlled Substances Act. This means that state drug laws are more limited than federal drug laws, and should not be in conflict with them. In simplest terms, although a certain state may have some provisions regarding drug use, the federal drug law remains more powerful should anyone fall short of meeting the requirements as stated by state law.

The Controlled Substances Act may be seen as a revenue-earning law as there are a number of people who have been linked with drug use, manufacture and sale. Penalties imposed on drug crimes depend on which schedule the drug falls into.

Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

The Drug Enforcement Agency was created by President Richard Nixon in 1973. The agency was designed to regulate the use of controlled substances.

The CSA requires that every person who manufactures, distributes, imports, and exports any drug needs to register under the law. This entails that all registrants have the responsibility for keeping accurate records of their inventory and all transactions should they be investigated by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

The DEA is the agency responsible for the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, and may initiate measures to change a drug schedule, and even to add or erase any listed drug from a certain schedule. It is also the responsibility of the DEA to ensure that all registrants abide by storage requirements and security controls proposed by the Controlled Substances Act. Furthermore, the DEA works in coordination with both state and local law enforcement through the creation of special task forces to facilitate in stopping drug trafficking and drug-related violence that affects the country.

Drug Schedules of the Controlled Substances Act

Enlisting a drug or other substance in a certain Schedule or removing it from a particular Schedule is based on 21 USC §§ 801, 801a, 802, 811, 812, 813, and 814. Every schedule specifies the potential for abuse of a substance before it can be placed in that schedule.

Some of the categorized drugs have raised controversy due to its medical benefits. Therefore, the entire regulatory scheme has come across several conflicts with the people who have found that these drugs are very beneficial to them.

Schedule I Controlled Substances

Schedule I Controlled Substances are drugs or other substances that have no current medical use in the treatment in the United States, and have a high potential for abuse. There is no accepted safe use of the drugs or other substances even with the supervision of medical experts.

No prescriptions may be written for Schedule I substances.

Drugs listed under this classification are:

  • Alpha-methyltryptamine: It is a psychedelic, stimulant, and entactogen drug that was originally developed as an antidepressant in the 1960s.
  • Benzylpiperazine : It is a synthetic stimulant which was once sold as a designer drug.
  • Bufotenin
  • Cathinone: It is an amphetamine-like stimulant found in the shrub Catha edulis (khat).
  • Dimethyltryptamine: It is a naturally occurring psychedelic drug and the main constituent of a psychedelic South American brew, ayahuasca.
  • Etorphine: It is a semi-synthetic opioid which has an analgesic potency of approximately 1,000–3,000 times than morphine.
  • GHB: It is used as a general anesthetic and treatment for narcolepsy-cataplexy and alcohol withdrawal
  • Heroin (diacetylmorphine): It is which is a potent pain reliever which I used in Europe in treating terminal cancer patients and is twice as potent as morphine.
  • Ibogaine: It is a psychoactive substance found in plants in the Apocynaceae family. Which is used for medicinal and ritual purposes within African spiritual traditions of the Bwiti.
  • LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide): It is a semi-synthetic psychedelic drug that was popularly used in the 1960s.
  • Marijuana: including its cannabinoids
  • MDMA (“ecstasy”): It is a stimulant, psychedelic, and entactogenic drug which was used as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Mescaline: It is a hallucinogen that is found in Peyote cactus that has been used by natives of Mexico for religious purposes.
  • Methaqualone: It is a sedative that can produce a range of effects.
  • Peyote
  • Pholcodine
  • Psilocybin and psilocin: These are naturally occurring psychedelic drugs and are found on psilocybin mushrooms.
  • Controlled substance analogs intended for human consumption, as defined by the Federal Analog Act.

Penalties

Except for Fentanyl Analog, LSD, Marijuana, and Heroin, use of any of the substances under the Schedule I Controlled Substances will be penalized with the following:

  • First Offense: Not more than 20 years. If it has caused death or serious injury, the penalty will be not less than 20 years, or more than Life. A fine of $1 million if an individual, $5 million if not an individual.
  • Second Offense: Not more than 30 yrs. If it has caused death or serious injury, the penalty is set to not less than life. Fine $2 million if an individual, $10 million if not an individual.

Schedule II Controlled Substances

Schedule II substances are drugs or other substances that have a high potential for abuse. However, these substances have currently accepted medical use in the United States or currently accepted medical use but with severe restrictions. Abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Drugs listed under this classification are:

  • Amphetamine: This was originally placed in Schedule III, but was moved to Schedule II in 1971. This is commonly used for the treatment of ADHD, narcolepsy, severe obesity, and binge eating disorder.
  • Barbiturates
  • Cocaine: It is used as a topical anesthetic and for cessation of severe epistaxis.
  • Codeine: It is used for the treatment of pain, cough, and diarrhea.
  • Diphenoxylate (pure)
  • Fentanyl and most other strong, pure opioid agonists: They are potent, semisynthetic opioid painkillers with a rapid onset and short duration of action.
  • Hydromorphone: It is an opioid pain medication.
  • Methadone: It is used for the treatment of heroin addiction and extreme chronic pain
  • Methamphetamine: It is used for the treatment of ADHD (rare) and in severe obesity.
  • Methylphenidate: It is used for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy
  • Morphine: a highly potent painkiller.
  • Nabilone (Cesamet): A synthetic cannabinoid that is used as an antiemetic and as an adjunct analgesic for neuropathic pain.
  • Opium tincture: It is a potent anti-diarrheal.
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Nembutal: It is primarily used today for physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia of animals.
  • Pethidine
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Secobarbital
  • Tapentadol

Penalties

Except for Cocaine, Cocaine base, Fentanyl, PCP, and Methamphetamine, use of the other substances under Schedule II Controlled Substances will merit the following penalties:

  • First Offense: Not more than 20 years. If it has caused death or serious injury, the penalty will be not less than 20 years, or more than Life. A fine of $1 million if an individual, $5 million if not an individual.
  • Second Offense: Not more than 30 yrs. If it has caused death or serious injury, the penalty is set to not less than life. Fine $2 million if an individual, $10 million if not an individual.

Schedule III Controlled Substances

Schedule III substances are drugs or other substances that have a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II. The substance may have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse of the substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

All drugs under this schedule must have a written or oral prescription in conformity with section 503(b) of that Act (21 USC 353 (b)). These prescriptions may not be filled or refilled more than six months after the date that the prescription was given or be refilled more than five times after the date of the prescription unless renewed by the practitioner.

Drugs listed under this classification are:

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Intermediate-acting barbiturates
  • Buprenorphine
  • Dihydrocodeine
  • Ketamine
  • Xyrem: It is a central nervous depressant.
  • Marinol: It is used to treat appetite loss caused by AIDS as well as nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
  • Paregoric: It is an anti-diarrheal and antitussive.
  • Phendimetrazine Tartrate
  • Benzphetamine HCl
  • Fast-acting barbiturates
  • Ergine

Penalties

  • First Offense: A penalty of not more than 5 years and a fine not more than $250,000 if an individual, $1 million if not an individual.
  • Second Offense: A penalty of not more 10 years and a fine not more than $500,000 if an individual, $2 million if not an individual.

Schedule IV Controlled Substances Act

Schedule IV substances are drugs or other substances that have a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III. The drugs or other substances have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.

Control measures are similar with those of Schedule III, but prescriptions under this schedule can be refilled up to five times within a six-month period. A prescription that is written, oral or facsimile prescription is issued by a practitioner and may be refilled if authorized.

Drugs under this classification are:

  • Benzodiazepines (temazepam)
  • The benzodiazepine-like Z-drugs: zolpidem (Ambien), zopiclone (Imovane), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zaleplon (Sonata)
  • Chloral hydrate
  • Long-acting barbiturates
  • Some partial agonist opioid analgesics, such as pentazocine (Talwin)
  • The stimulant-like drug modafinil
  • Difenoxin: It is an anti-diarrheal drug.
  • Motofen: It is an antiperistaltic medication.
  • Tramadol: It is an opioid that is used to treat moderate to severe pain.
  • Carisoprodol: It is a muscle relaxant.

Penalties (except Flunitrazepam)

  • First Offense: A penalty of not more than 3 years and a fine not more than $250,000 if an individual, $1 million if not an individual.
  • Second Offense: A penalty of not more than 6 years and a fine not more than $500,000 if an individual, $2 million if not an individual.

Schedule V Controlled Substances

Schedule V Substances are drugs or other substances that have a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV. The drug or substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule IV.

Substances classified under Schedule V may only be distributed other than for a medical purpose.

Drugs listed under this classification are:

  • Cough suppressants
  • Preparations containing small amounts of opium or diphenoxylate
  • Some anticonvulsants, such as pregabalin, lacosamide, and retigabine
  • Pyrovalerone
  • Some centrally-acting anti-diarrheals, such as diphenoxylate

Penalties

  • First Offense: A penalty of not more than 1 year and a fine not more than $100,000 if an individual, $250,000 if not an individual.
  • Second Offense: A penalty of not more than 2 years and a fine not more than $200,000 if an individual, $500,000 if not an individual.

Final Word

The importance of knowing the different drug schedules under the Controlled Substances Act cannot be discounted. Make sure that you are aware of the drugs and substances that you and your family may come across with.

Substance Abuse

Street Drug Scare in Georgia Puts Spotlight on Percocet

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percocet abuse yellow tablet in the state of georgia

A massive number of people were rushed to various hospitals in Georgia earlier this month within a 48-hour period due to difficulty of breathing. Some individuals were reported to have stopped breathing due to a mystery “yellow pill”, which was believed to be Percocet.

The state of Georgia’s Department of Public Health was alarmed to discover that patients continued to flock in hospitals and have received reports that it may be linked with drugs and a possible mass overdose.

The “yellow pill” has been allegedly identified to be Percocet, an opioid pain medication that may have been bought from the streets. Although confirmation was still pending at the time of the announcement, the health department has given out information on how extremely potent this drug. In fact, counteracting its effects would need massive doses of Narcan (a nasal spray variant of naloxone, which is a popular opioid blocker).

Apart from the scare of not being able to breathe easily, the potential drug overdose could have resulted in permanent physical and mental impairment, or even lead to death if medical treatment was not given immediately.

What is Percocet?

Percocet is an opioid pain reliever that contains a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen, and is used to treat moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone, being a semisynthetic narcotic painkiller, is the more potent ingredient of Percocet.

Taking Percocet in high doses can result in an extremely high level of euphoria, which can make an individual become physically and psychologically dependent, especially if the drug is used over a long period.

Acetaminophen, on the other hand, is an analgesic and antipyretic drug that acts similarly as paracetamol and ibuprofen to heighten the effects of Percocet. Acetaminophen does not cause any drug dependence, although taking Percocet in large doses can cause liver toxicity.

Why is Percocet being abused?

Percocet is regulated as a Schedule II narcotic by the Drug Enforcement Agency since it has a high potential for abuse and may lead to physical and psychological dependence. Among other drugs under this classification include:

  • Amobarbital
  • Amphetamine
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Glutethimide
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Meperidine
  • Methadone
  • Methamphetamine
  • Methylphenidate
  • Morphine
  • Opium
  • Pentobarbital

All the drugs mentioned above can be used for medical purposes, but can only be purchased and used with a prescription. However, these narcotic opioids and stimulants are being sold in the streets due to the extraordinary euphoric effects that some individuals have become attracted to.

These drugs have become a means of escape from the real world for some people, as users reported that it has helped them to feel great despite having difficulties in life. It is safe to say, therefore, that turning to drugs has become their invisible mask from all the negativity that they may feel. Instead of entertaining negative thoughts, they would choose to take the drugs to completely forget about their personal issues – at least, just for the duration of the effect of the drug.

The dangers of using Percocet

percocet tablet

Percocet tablets (Photo from CBS Local)

Percocet is a known drug that can help treat pain. However, with or without prescription, it can become addictive if taken in inappropriate amounts.

Percocet can be snorted, chewed, smoked or injected. When individuals use them beyond how it is prescribed, the more concentrated form of Percocet produces a high level of euphoria.

Individuals who abuse Percocet may experience its side effects. Contracting an infection or disease can be possible when needles are shared. Such an enormous concentration can poison the body, which can result in the death of the individual.

Some of its side effects include the following:

  • Coma
  • Constipation
  • Constricted pupillary diameter
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Heart attack
  • Irregular breathing
  • Liver damage
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low blood pressure
  • Mood swings
  • Respiratory depression

Meanwhile, rare adverse effects of Percocet use include:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Fast or slow heartbeat
  • Hives or rash
  • Intractable emesis
  • Obtundation
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Swelling of the throat, tongue, lips, face, eyes, hands, feet, or ankles

Percocet was designed as an adjunct treatment for acute pain. However, due to massive marketing and advertising of drug companies, Percocet has been recommended to use for an extended period of time. The use of the said drug may result in the following conditions:

  • Kidney failure
  • Liver damage
  • Physical and psychological dependence
  • Severe constipation
  • Slightly decreased testosterone levels in men
  • Tolerance
  • Urinary retention

These things are likely to happen when Percocet is taken for recreational purpose or for self-medication. Therefore, handling such drugs requires utmost care and should only be taken with a prescription.

The following are signs of Percocet abuse:

  • Consuming Percocet faster than prescribed
  • Disconnection from family and friends
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Increased use of Percocet
  • Trying to refill prescription more than necessary

The effects of Percocet overdose

Tolerance is likely to ensue when drugs are taken progressively in large doses in order to achieve the desired effect of the drug. An increase in the intake of Percocet may result in unfavorable side effects such as constipation and liver damage, and can even worsen as the dose is increased.

Additionally, there is a possibility of unintentional overdose with the increase in consumption of Percocet.

Percocet Dependence

prescription drug dependence percocet

A user becomes dependent on the drug when he feels that it is significant for him to take the drug in order to function normally. In this scenario, withdrawal symptoms become apparent when the drug use is halted. When this happens, users tend to go “doctor shopping”, hoping to be given a prescription in order to purchase Percocet and feed on the addiction all over again.

Addiction to Percocet may be manifested through the following signs and symptoms:

  • Abandoning previously enjoyable activities
  • Feeling like drugs are necessary to perform everyday activities
  • Loss of control over drug use
  • Obsessive preoccupation with the drug
  • Physiologic tolerance
  • Spending large amounts of time trying to acquire drugs
  • Taking the drug to relieve withdrawal symptoms
  • Inability to stop using the drug despite negative consequences

Drug Testing for Percocet

Despite seeing what seems to be obvious by knowing the signs and symptoms involved with Percocet abuse or addiction, it is best to let the individual undergo drug testing. Although this may not be a welcoming thought to the individual, drug testing is a good first step in trying to save the individual from possibly hurting himself in the long run.

According to SAMHSA, there are five types of drugs that can be detected by a typical drug test:

  • Amphetamines (meth, speed, crank, ecstasy)
  • Cocaine (coke, crack)
  • Opiates (heroin, opium, codeine, morphine)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP, angel dust)
  • THC (cannabinoids, marijuana, hash)

Although breathalyzer can be used to determine the level of alcohol in the blood, there are other drug testing methods used to detect the presence of drug and its metabolites.

  • Urine: This is the most common and inexpensive drug testing method. It only requires a certain amount of urine to be collected from an individual, and results may be determined after a few minutes.
  • Blood: This drug testing method is more expensive than urine drug test. It is also considered to be invasive since there is a need to poke a needle and extract blood from the individual.
  • Hair: Although not a very common drug testing method, hair drug testing can provide a more accurate result since it can detect the presence of drugs up to 90 days after drug use.
  • Saliva: This type of drug test collects the oral fluid to detect drugs and alcohol. Although the presence of drugs or alcohol does not last long in saliva, this kind of drug testing can determine current use of any drug or alcohol.
  • Sweat: This drug testing method makes use of a patch that analyzes the sweat that the person produces for any presence of drugs.

The metabolites in Percocet can only be detected in urine within 48 hours after the last use. Blood testing may even be shorter at only 1 day after the last dose. The best way to catch Percocet use is hair drug testing, because the drug compounds remain in the individual’s hair follicles for about 30 days.

When using the hair drug testing method, the length of hair sample should be 1.5 inches and should be cut near the hair follicle. It is within this range that the presence of drug can be detected as the hair grows half an inch every month. Allowing it to grow an additional inch translates to the 90-day window detection time for some drugs. Of course, it is possible that some individuals may grow their hair more quickly or slowly than others.

The belief that frequent shampooing can get rid of any traces of drugs in hair is a myth. No matter how much hair shampooing a user does, the drug will remain in the hair unless the hair has been completely cut off.

Treatment Options for Percocet Abuse

Percocet abuse is not something new in the United States. It has actually been in existence since the early 1990s. However, it may not have been as popular as other drugs. Nevertheless, the recent mass overdose in Georgia alarmed not only the state but the whole country as well.

Treatment for Percocet addiction may need admission to a detoxification center. It is through this form of treatment that a drug user will be able to gradually clean his system off of Percocet.

Unfavorable withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur, which is why the treatment recommended should be in a medical facility instead of letting the user undergo outpatient therapy. Dangerous withdrawal symptoms may also occur, which would need direct supervision of medical experts to ensure that the patient is able to take the recommended treatment. Otherwise, there is a high possibility of having a relapse.

Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Anxiety
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Panic attack

Detoxification is done by flushing out the drug from the user’s system. It is important that the user undergoes detoxification; otherwise the treatment will not be successful.

The rehabilitation process requires at least three months, which is enough time for the individual to completely get used to being drug-free. It allows the individual the time to think about the underlying cause that led him to such addiction.

Counseling is helpful so that the individual may be provided the right guidance on how to properly manage any stressful situation instead of going back to drug addiction.

There are also support groups where a recovering individual should be able to join. This way, he may be more encouraged to completely stay away from the drug.

It is recommended that the family would show their support to the recovering family member so that he would be able to feel that despite everything that has happened in the past, his family remains at his side. Moreover, a great way to ensure that relapse will not occur is to keep the individual away from people who may be responsible for introducing Percocet as a recreational drug.

Final Word

Treatment for such abuse is a long-term and intensive endeavor. The journey towards recovery may not be as smooth sailing, but the key to recovery is to stick to the kind of treatment provided.

Medical Marijuana Substance Abuse

A Guide To Responsible Marijuana Use

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responsible marijuana use

Marijuana is one of the most popular recreational drugs in the United States, making marijuana legalization a huge concern among those who are not using the substance. While the plant-based drug has been touted as a miracle cure for a lot of diseases and health issues, the main issue is on how to maintain responsible marijuana use.

In this article, we will look into the responsibilities of the marijuana user and the rest of society.

Understanding Both Sides of the Marijuana Battle

The main reason for legalizing marijuana use centered on its health benefits – as attested by medical experts – mainly in terms of alleviating pain especially on individuals who are suffering from specific forms of cancer. Recreational use of marijuana has also been allowed in certain states, as legislators have seen the potential of increasing government revenue by implementing more taxes.

On the flip side, staunch opposition groups see the legislation as a legal way to get stoned. What users and advocates are saying, though, is that they should not be seen as people who merely want to get high all the time. They’re not all junkies, if that’s what the opposition is implying. After all, many of them are relying on marijuana for medical purposes.

Marijuana Legalization in the U.S.

marijuana use in the u.s.

The legalization of marijuana in the remaining U.S. states is becoming a priority, as lawmakers see billions of dollars in terms of tax revenue. Recreational marijuana use brought in almost $200 million in Colorado, while the state of Washington had about $256 million in 2016. This clearly shows how recreational pot legalization has a significant impact on a state’s financial backbone.

Although several states have legalized marijuana, it is still considered as a federal offense to distribute marijuana in the United States. Under the federal law, cannabis is still categorized under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act set by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Illicit substances like heroin and ecstasy are under the same category.

Figures on Marijuana Use in the U.S.

It is believed that nearly 55 million people in the U.S. are engaged in marijuana use, according to the Marist poll in 2015. It may not be the exact number of marijuana users, as some people didn’t have the courage to admit their use of the drug, for fear of being caught by a member of the federal government.

From the surveys conducted, a large percentage of the respondents were in favor of using marijuana for medical purposes such as treatment of neuropathic pain, movement disorders, and glaucoma. It has also been used as a powerful appetite stimulant. Further research has shown that it can be helpful in preventing the formation of certain types of cancer.

Recreational marijuana use was not a welcome thought among 47% of the respondents.

For people who are in support of marijuana legalization and those who have tried using it, the need for marijuana is real. This is the reason why they’re advocating to treat cannabis the same way as alcohol and tobacco. Prohibiting marijuana use does not really stop the users from using the drug – in fact, the survey results revealed that almost half of all the Americans have admitted to trying pot at least once in their lifetime.

Marijuana use became popular since many Americans have the notion that “smoking weed” is socially acceptable. They have no qualms about having to smoke in front of other people, but most of the respondents vehemently oppose to smoke weed in front of children.

On an interesting (but alarming) note, a staggering 52 percent of the 55 million marijuana users are millennials.

Responsible Use of Marijuana

People disagree about so many different things, and this includes marijuana use. The only solution to this confusion is by being responsible for all our actions.

True enough, some marijuana users are responsible in handling the substance, and they would like the world to hear them out. They want to break the misconception that all marijuana users act the same way. The reality, according to them, is that those who are heavy marijuana users are entirely different from them.

marijuana use

Below are some ways on how marijuana users make use of the drug responsibly:

1. Keep away from minors

The legalization of marijuana is bound by provisions, and one of the most important ones is that it should only be used by individuals aged 21 and older. This means that no adult should encourage kids to use it, nor smoke weed in front of children. Our aim should be focused on teaching the children responsibility and accountability in situations like this.

For whatever reason that marijuana is used for, marijuana users should be responsible enough to keep the substance out of children’s reach. Ordinarily, children are curious, while most teens may be tempted to use cannabis so that they would know how it feels to be a grownup.

2. Check your line of work

Knowing the effects of marijuana on an individual, make sure that you know if it’s safe for you to use it. Remember that the amount of marijuana can significantly affect decision-making. Therefore, it is not recommended to let an individual who has just currently used pot to handle any heavy equipment or vehicles.

Although experts have said that cannabis use may be safer than alcohol use, it is still possible that cannabis users may become impaired to drive any motor vehicle.

Smoking marijuana should not be done before reporting for work. Many companies have implemented a drug testing policy, wherein employees are expected to be free from any alcohol or drug use while at work, in order to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. Companies do not have any hold on their employees after working hours, but workers should come to work mentally and physically prepared to perform all tasks.

3. Respect other people

A responsible marijuana user should be aware of the kind of place and the people who would be attending in a social gathering. In this case, respecting the right of others should be of utmost importance. You should not violate the rights of others, and you need to respect the preferences of others who wish to stay clear from marijuana.

Marijuana users should adhere to existing smoking rules in both public and private places. Non-smokers should not feel that they are being dragged into the marijuana user’s preference.

If you’re living in a conservative neighborhood, don’t flaunt about your use of cannabis. Although it may be legal in the state where you live in, it would be wise to keep the information to yourself particularly when dealing with custody battles.

Never smoke inside the car especially when someone who does not smoke cannabis is also in the vehicle.

4. Regulate dosage, and follow prescribed amount

Using an enormous amount of marijuana or any illicit substance can turn into abuse or addiction. The effects of marijuana may provide a positive outcome to an individual, provided that there is control in the quantity and frequency of use.

Some responsible marijuana users admitted that using cannabis has helped improve their quality of work by being creative and productive. The “feel good” effect that marijuana provides helps them to become more inspired to do their jobs.

Responsible marijuana users should be able to resist having to use marijuana in large amounts. Although marijuana can be a great reward after a long day, it should be taken in moderation. Never make an excuse for doing your obligations or responsibilities because you are “high”.

Cannabis has effects that can lead to unfavorable situations when paired with other substances. It is the responsibility of the marijuana user to know the contraindications of any medications that he is taking.

5. Don’t treat it as a habit

Responsible marijuana users do not use the drug as a means of bonding with a loved one. There is a huge window of possibly engaging in more “cannabis sessions” if it becomes your means of connecting with others.

Responsible marijuana users would only take a minimum amount of weed in a day to help them release their creative juices. It should not lead to a habit-forming activity with others.

6. Don’t give cannabis as a gift

Cannabis is never a good gift idea. If you are bringing some marijuana in a party or gathering, make it clear with the host that you are bringing along some with you. Remember that it is possible that not all people who would be there is a marijuana user like you.

7. Learn all about marijuana

The effects and dangers of marijuana should be clear in anyone’s thoughts. Aside from learning about marijuana yourself, educating children about the substance and the reality of drug abuse is essential.

8. Listen to feedback from others

Being open to criticism and advice from others should be followed by any responsible marijuana user. You may be unaware that you exhibit an unusual behavior whenever you take marijuana, which can become a distraction to others. In this case, you may need to re-evaluate your usage of marijuana.

9. Follow legislation

Never attempt to sell cannabis to anyone. As mentioned earlier, distribution of marijuana is considered a violation of the federal law.

Growing marijuana is not allowed. Those who have the permission to grow marijuana are for medical use only. It is best to consume within the legal limits. Shipping cannabis via mail is also prohibited as this can lead to federal charges.

Bottom line, you need to be aware of the laws and regulations governing marijuana use in your state.

Drug Testing

Although companies may have their focus on providing a healthy and safe workplace, marijuana users see this as a form of discrimination wherein the presence of the drugs are magnified more than their abilities to perform their tasks.

It is unlikely these days that companies would not let applicants undergo pre-employment testing. Therefore, if you are applying for a job that will require pre-employment drug testing, abstain from taking marijuana for as long as you can. Frequent users may need to abstain for several weeks to ensure that all drug metabolites have been completely flushed out of the system.

Conclusion

The future of the legalization of marijuana is still vague. Although there are many talented and hard-working individuals who can become members of the workforce, some of them are unable to secure a job because of their marijuana usage.

The stigma that society continuously points out to all marijuana users will never be transformed unless it realizes that marijuana advocates can also become responsible for their use of cannabis. In short, in as much as users should be responsible in taking marijuana, the rest of society should try to understand the user’s point of view and respect them as members of the same community.

Substance Abuse

5 Things That Cigarette Smoking Destroys Other Than Your Health

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cigarette smoking dangers

Cigarette smoking has become part of the world culture for centuries, despite recent studies about its dangers and health risks. In this article, we will delve into the effects of tobacco use, and how it destroys aspects of life other than human health.

A Brief History of Tobacco

cigarette smoking dangers

Tobacco has been predominantly among the common forms of trade in Europe during the 16th Century. Its widespread use was at least a thousand years after the emergence of cannabis, which was common in the Middle East. Tobacco was used during religious ceremonies and events.

The first crop grown for money was tobacco back in 1612 when the first settlers of the first American colony grew tobacco as a cash crop. By the 1800s, many people started chewing and smoking tobacco at an average of 40 cigarettes a year. It was Washington Duke who made the first cigarettes in 1865, which were sold to soldiers at the end of the Civil War.

Widespread cigarette smoking became apparent in 1881 when James Bonsack was able to create a machine that can make 120,000 cigarettes a day. He eventually started a business with Duke’s son, and as able to produce about 10 million cigarettes a year. Duke of Durham was the name of the first brand of cigarette. The first tobacco company in the U.S. was owned by Buck Duke and his father, and was named American Tobacco Company.

Practically several other substances aside from tobacco flourished through the years, which eventually became a cause of major concern for the increasing number of people who have died due to lung cancer.

Years after the proliferation of tobacco use, the dangers of cigarette smoking was first reported by the U.S. Surgeon General. It was found out that tar and nicotine in cigarettes cause lung cancer. Because of this, the U.S. Congress passed a bill called Cigarette Labelling and Advertising Act. This aimed to inform the public about the health hazards of smoking by placing warning labels on its packaging.

Several other cigarette brands flourished by 1980s, developing improved products that contain lower amounts of nicotine and tar. They also came with improved filters to encourage more customers to buy and lessen their fears about its dangers.

By the year 1984, another law was implemented where companies were asked to change the warning labels on their cigarette packs every three months and suggested to create four different labels for the companies to use alternately.

Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking

Smoking is among the top preventable causes of death, and yet a lot of people continue to use tobacco despite knowing the possibilities of developing a number of medical conditions. Over the years, tobacco companies have created different kinds of cigarettes with the hopes of lowering the amount of tar and nicotine.

In reality, no matter how much filter is used in every stick, substances found in tobacco can have a huge negative impact on one’s health, most especially for chronic tobacco users.

Cigarettes and other tobacco products are generally derived from dried tobacco leaves in which flavorings are added to make the smoke pleasant. The smoke produced is a mixture of the chemicals from tobacco leaves and additives.

There are about 70 known substances that can cause cancer in tobacco. Some of these chemicals are:

  • Ammonia
  • Arsenic
  • Benzene
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Formaldehyde
  • Hydrogen Cyanide
  • Lead
  • Nitrosamines
  • Radioactive elements
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

Whether the tobacco used is cigarette or cigar, the chemicals are the same but in varying levels. Apparently, cigars can be more hazardous because they emit more dangerous chemicals. When cigars undergo a process of fermentation, they give off a specific nitrosamine when smoked, which is a highly potent chemical that can increase the risk of lung cancer.

Moreover, cigarette smoking can lead to an array of on-going health complications that can affect the quality of life of any smoker (and the community through second-hand smoke):

  • Lung Cancer: Anyone who smokes puts himself at high risk of developing cancer.
  • Persistent coughing: This is due to damaged airways.
  • Dull sense of taste and smell: It can cause loss of appetite.
  • Bronchitis: It increases the risk of succumbing to such condition, thereby increasing the possibility of developing pneumonia and tuberculosis.
  • Constricted blood flow: The nicotine that sticks on the walls of the blood vessels does not allow normal passage of blood. This increases the risk of developing high blood pressure and stroke.
  • High cholesterol: Smoking can affect the balance of good and bad cholesterol in the body.
  • Unhealthy teeth and gums: It can cause discoloration on the teeth and can cause infection or inflammation that may lead to tooth and bone loss.
  • Immune system: The immune system may weaken, thereby making it difficult to fight off infection.
  • Cervical cancer: It can pose a high risk of developing cervical cancer in women.
  • Infertility: Smokers have a lower likelihood of conceiving a child compared to people who don’t use cigarettes.
  • Poor vision: It can increase the risk of developing cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
  • Mood stimulation: It can help you get into a good mood and with this, it can cause dependence which is why smoking can also be referred as a form of addiction.
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD): This condition is likely to happen to smokers where there is an estimate of 8 out of 10 who develop the condition due to smoking.
  • Erectile Dysfunction: Constriction of blood vessels can make it difficult for men to have an erection.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: This may rapidly develop on an individual as smoking increases the amount of insulin resistance.
  • Wrinkly skin: It causes premature aging of the skin caused by reduced blood flow.
  • Heart disease: Smokers and individuals who are exposed to second-hand smoke have an increased possibility of heart attacks.

How Cigarette Smoking Affects Other Aspects of Life

cigarette smoking risks aside from health

Smoking does not only have a negative impact on our bodies but can also affect the community as a whole. Smokers may find their vice to be innocent, but in reality, the people around them may also suffer from their unhealthy habit.

Here are five things other than health that get destroyed by cigarette smoking:

1. Cigarette and Air Pollution

The particulate matter found in cigarettes are great contributors to air pollution. Tobacco smoke is a complex mixture of about 4,000 chemical by-products of tobacco combustion, of which 172 are known toxic substances.

Did you know that the smoke emitted by cigarettes can be 10 times greater than the exhaust of a diesel car? The refinement of vehicle fuels (lead-free fuels) has cut the levels of particulate matter that comes out from car exhausts.

About 2.5 microns in size or less, particulate compounds called PM2.5 penetrate deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream, where they can cause lung cancer, asthma, heart attack, and stroke.

A cigarette may only weigh less than a gram, but it can emit 7-23 milligrams of PM2.5 when it is smoked. It may be perceived as something small considering that a cigarette weighs only less than a gram, but it can be an extremely potent source of air pollution.

The chemicals that a cigarette emits through smoke are tiny particulate matters that are very much invisible to the naked eye, but can go deep into the lungs and cause serious health complications.

Smokers are not the only ones at risk of developing different forms of illnesses due to smoking. In the midst of smokers, innocent bystanders are also able to inhale the smoke.

Consequently, it can be even more dangerous for these non-smokers because the chemicals that are emitted on each cigarette does not go through a filter, which means they can possible inhale more potent chemicals. It has been determined that secondhand smoke contains about 47 pollutants that are classified as hazardous wastes.

The average air pollution in the U.S. is measured at about 9.0 ug per cubic meter, based on 2013 estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is equivalent to 0.41 cigarettes per day per person in the U.S. At this rate, it is expected to cause 66,000 deaths per year.

2. Cigarette and the Environment

The environment impact of cigarette smoking to the environment is as alarming as it affects human health. For starters, one cause of flooding in some cities is the indiscriminate littering of different kinds of garbage, and this includes cigarette butts.

cigarette butts

Cigarette butts are also a common sight in beaches and even in the watershed, which carry water. They are also found along sidewalks, parking lots, and street gutters.

These cigarette butts are more than unsightly trash to the environment, as they can also emit toxins that can be washed out into our water system. Birds and sea mammals may also accidentally ingest these cigarette butts.

In a Coastal Clean Up performed in 2000 in California beaches, 230,000 cigarette butts were collected. It is accounted to be one of the commonly collected items found in beaches. In the United States alone, an estimated 170,000,000 cigarette butts are collected each year.

In recent years, companies have implemented a “No Smoking” policy within building premises. As a result, it has contributed to the worsening level of cigarette butt litter in the streets.

3. Cigarette Smoking as Fire Hazard

Smoking is a leading cause of fires as published in the August 2000 issue of Preventive Medicine. Smoking-related fires were estimated to cost almost $7 billion in the United States alone in 1998.

smoking fire hazard

Studies have shown that about 2 million fires take place in the United States each year, which results in about 1.4 million injuries, 54,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. The common cause of these fires is due to children under the age of 10 having access to matches and lighters, accounting for about 300-400 child deaths.

4. Cigarette Smoking and Relationships

Cigarette smoking can become a hindrance in building a stronger relationship, especially between a smoker and a non-smoker. It is a clear indication that the person who smokes has no value for his health as much as for his partner’s.

Non-smokers find smoke as an awful odor which can be disturbing. More than the smoke that swirls around the room is having to deal with the scent that sticks to their clothes and the possible foul-smelling breath that the smoking partner may have.

Passive smoking can also cause lung cancer. A compromise such as having a “No Smoking” policy indoors may make the relationship better; otherwise, the relationship is bound to end.

Apart from the smell that the smoke may emit is the possibility of the couple have a high risk of not being able to conceive a child. It is known that smoking can cause infertility, cervical cancer, and erectile dysfunction.

What could make it worse is when a pregnant woman continues to smoke, she is likely to have miscarriage or premature birth. In addition, the baby may have a low birth weight and is likely to develop birth defects.

5. Cigarette Smoking and Self-image

It is unfortunate how adolescents perceive smoking as their standard of becoming mature. Seeing how common it is in society to see people puffing smoke all the time, it has somehow created the perception that smoking makes a person feel more welcome.

quit cigarette smoking teens tobacco use

The chemicals in tobacco can improve the mood of a person, and this “feel good” attitude makes one more confident about himself. However, even the mildest cigarette smoking may lead to chronic smoking, which can eventually be difficult to give up. When this happens, the adolescent is likely to smoke more potent substances such as amphetamine, marijuana, and ecstasy.

When children are exposed to smoking at an early age, they are likely to develop several forms of addiction – from smoking pot to alcohol addiction.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of tobacco products is prevalent among the youth. This includes cigarettes, hookahs, and electronic cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes have become one of the most popularly used devices among teens these days. The increased use may be brought about by the perception that electronic cigarettes are not as harmful as traditional cigarettes. However, studies show that the chemicals used in these liquids can also cause cancer.

Final Word

Aside from considering the health risks associated with cigarette smoking, people need to understand the effects listed above. Remember that smoking affects not only smokers themselves but also the people around them and the world at large.

Bottom line, cigarette smoking may gratify or satisfy the user temporarily, but the damage against the environment and other people may be too much to bear.

Substance Abuse

Kratom Recipes You Need To Know

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kratom extract powder

Kratom may have started out in South Asian countries, but it’s now being referred to as one of the most effective ethnobotanicals worldwide. However, the controversial substance has caused heated debates between supporters and anti-kratom activists, mainly due to its safety and potential for abuse. Nevertheless, more people have formulated kratom recipes and other ways to take the substance.

For thousands of years, kratom has been used in a broad range of health benefits. The alkaloids found in the leaves of kratom were touted to be responsible for providing powerful vitality-boosting effects. Benefits of kratom include the following:

  • Achieving the state of euphoria
  • Calming of the nerves
  • Boosting energy
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Helping in concentration and focus
  • Relieving pains and body aches

The leaves of the plant may be chewed to help elderly males with any kind of ailments they may be experiencing. The plant is popular for providing strength to endure physical labor. With the positive effects that kratom provides, it has become known as an all-natural supplement for prescription pain medications.

Forms of Kratom

benefits of kratom leaves

Kratom is usually available in three forms: raw kratom leaves, kratom powder, and kratom powder extract. All of these kratom forms are known to provide great efficacy but in the appropriate dosage.

  • Raw kratom leaves: This form offers a broad range of health benefits by chewing. This releases the kratom’s alkaloids into the system. The leaves are spit out after use.
  • Kratom powder: These are leaves that have been crushed into fine powder. It may be crushed using a electric-powered blender to achieve a silky dust powder. This kratom form is sold either in bulk packages or in capsule form. The capsule is swallowed with water, or the powder may be mixed or added to food and other liquid beverages.
  • Kratom powder extract: This is made by adding liquid to the kratom powder and boiled down into a resin, which can be ground using a blender. The method produces a more concentrated form of kratom. Because of this, only a small portion of kratom powder extract must be used per dose.

Safety of Kratom Use

Kratom has not been categorized under any of the scheduled substances, although the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) published a notice informing the public that it was planning to classify kratom under Schedule I. However, the temporary kratom ban has since been recanted by the agency.

Currently, kratom is legal in 44 states.

People who are against using this substance have become worried, because it can possibly reach the hands of children since it can be freely sold online. Consequently, not knowing how to properly use kratom can lead to unfavorable situations.

Kratom users claim that using the plant-based drug has relieved them not only from their existing conditions, but also from medical expenses. Compared to opioid prescription drugs, kratom costs less than half. Apart from having the need to have a prescription to purchase theses opioids, kratom is available online and can be purchased anytime.

Kratom has more than 20 alkaloids from which the pain-reducing effect is derived. Due to its opioid-like effects, it has the ability to be used for pain treatment and as a medication for opioid withdrawal.

However, what makes it different from morphine and codeine is the intensity of its effect. When kratom is used responsibly, one can benefit from its positive effects.

Kratom Uses

Kratom is commonly used as an aid in alleviating pain. However, it can also provide other uses such as:

  • Anti-diarrheal
  • Antipyretic (for reduce fever)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antitussive (cough suppressant)
  • Antihypertensive (to lower blood pressure)
  • Anesthetic
  • Reduction of blood glucose level

Presenting you with the positive effects mentioned earlier does not mean that it is a cure-for-all medication.

Kratom provides varying effects that depend on the amount used. At low doses of 1-5 grams, it acts as a stimulant, the effects of which may be felt 10 minutes after ingestion and last for 1 to 1.5 hours.

Nevertheless, not all kratom users may experience the same positive effect, as some reported to have some form of anxiety and agitation. The stimulant-like effects of kratom are similar to the effects of amphetamine use, but at a much lower magnitude:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Heightened libido
  • Increased energy
  • Increased sociability

Moderate to high doses of kratom – between 5 and 15 grams – can provide opioid-like effects that can last for several hours. This euphoric effect is said to be less intense compared to opioid drugs. Its effects include:

  • Reduced pain
  • Reduce symptoms of opioid withdrawal
  • Calm, dreamlike mental state
  • Cough suppression
  • Drowsiness

The effects may vary depending on the dosage taken by an individual. The common side effects from kratom use are:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Facial flushing
  • Itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Pupillary constriction

Some of the unusual long-term effects from kratom use include anorexia, hyperpigmentation, and psychosis.

Kratom Types and Strains

There are three categories of kratom strains: red, white and green. The color of kratom is based on the veins and stems of the leaves, and not the leaf blades. The potency of each type of kratom also depends on the location where the kratom leaves come from.

Red Vein Kratom

This is the most popular strain that is widely available on the market. It grows predominantly in Southeast Asia. This is the usual kratom strain of choice by beginners because of its calming effects.

It can help people with sleeping problems (insomnia). It also has the ability to help the body to relax and relieve pain.

The effects of red vein strains vary depending on where the kratom grew. The Red Thai provides a sedative effect, while the Red Sumatra can enhance the mood.

White Vein Kratom

This type of kratom is well known for its stimulating effect. Some individuals have replaced their coffee intake with kratom because it has helped them increase alertness, focus, and concentration.

Green Vein Kratom

This is known for its energy-boosting effect, the magnitude of which is somewhere between the red and the white vein strains. Sometimes, it is a combination of both red and green vein strains that prevents the excessive anesthetic effect of the red strain and the overstimulating effect of the green strain.

It is most often used by those who fear to be with a large crowd. Taking the green strain lessens their inhibition, becomes more open to speaking their minds, and becomes cheerful and friendly.

To choose which is the best strain depends on each individual’s needs as well as the quality, location, climate and time of harvest of the kratom strains.

Kratom Dependence and Addiction

Just like any drug misuse, there is a possibility for an individual to become dependent on kratom. Tolerance to any kind of drug is likely to develop on individuals who no longer feels satisfied with the usual dose that he often has. By not considering the harmful effects from using kratom, taking it frequently or in large doses may lead to kratom addiction or tolerance.

When addiction steps in, the need to undergo treatment may involve long days of horror for the user, as he would experience a stream of unfavorable effects that may be hard to endure. The rehabilitation centers can provide all the necessary treatments, which may include pharmacological and psychological treatment.

Accordingly, it is through the continuous love and support of the family that a former drug user may be able to get back on his feet and gamble for a second chance in life all over again.

Kratom Recipes

kratom recipes from leaves

Interestingly, kratom users have created several concoctions by adding kratom to some of the usual drinks and food. Ordinarily, kratom powder is bitter and almost intolerable. As a result, some kratom users have been able to create recipes to provide a more pleasant experience when using kratom.

Here are some kratom recipes that are posted in websites and online resources on kratom. Note that we are not endorsing any of these kratom recipes, nor are we guaranteeing the safety and effectiveness of these creations.

Flavored Kratom Tea

People who are keen to drinking green tea may find the taste of kratom tea to be suitable as is. However, to make it more enjoyable, adding the powder with some sweetener can be satisfying.

This involves using different ingredients such as cinnamon, ginger or vanilla. The kratom powder is boiled for several minutes. A stick of cinnamon (few grams of ginger or stick of vanilla) is then placed inside the boiling kratom liquid. Continue boiling until the volume has been reduced. Filter the tea using a coffee filter. Sweeten to taste.

Kratom-Infused Coffee

Masking the bitter taste of kratom enables one to enjoy kratom more. Some kratom users who are coffee lovers would prefer adding a twist to their usual coffee. Using kratom tea as the base, add the usual amount of coffee, milk, and sugar. The result is a kratom-infused cup of coffee.

Chocolate Kratom Milkshake

To prepare this milk beverage, simply add 1-2 tablespoon of milk chocolate (liquid) to one dose of kratom powder. Stir until kratom blends well with the powdered milk chocolate until it forms a homogenous paste. Add in a few more tablespoon of chocolate milk and stir until smooth. Add the remaining chocolate milk and continue stirring until well mixed.

Kratom Beverage

You may use all sorts of beverages and mixed them with 5 grams of kratom. The sweet flavor of these beverages is able to mask the bitter taste of kratom. However, utmost care must be made to ensure that powder will not be accidentally inhaled as it can cause negative health effects.

The potency of mitragynine is enhanced by the citrus flavor of some juices like pineapple, mangoes, and lemons.

Kratom Applesauce

Make your applesauce extraordinary by adding kratom so that you can enjoy your food even more. Just mix in 5 grams of kratom to your applesauce thoroughly.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

Traditional oatmeal cookies may include different ingredients. Among them are chocolate chips, ginger, almonds and other nuts, and cinnamon, among others. With kratom users, they can also enjoy their cinnamon oatmeal cookies just by adding at least 7 grams of kratom into the mixture.

Yogurt

For those with an active lifestyle, yogurt may be part of their daily food intake. The kratom powder mixes easily with any dairy product. Just stir in 5 grams of kratom into a cup of flavored yogurt. Some kratom users claimed that adding kratom to yogurt may not be as satisfying because the bitterness of the kratom powder is not fully masked by the flavored yogurt.

Kratom Smoothie

Coconut milk smoothie is an all-time favorite. Combine 5 grams of kratom powder with a fruit of your choice (any type of berry), almonds, protein powder, crushed ice, and sugar or honey to taste. Blend them all together, and you are good to go!

Pre-Packaged Kratom Food Products

Bottled kratom beverages are available both online and in some supermarkets, but may be a little more expensive than the cost of a regular beverage or homemade kratom-based food.

Kratom may be sensationalized as an alternative for energy drinks given the positive effects it can provide. However, it should be noted that despite it giving positive results in some people, irresponsible use of the drug may lead to untoward situations, which can eventually endanger the life of the user.

Alcohol Testing Substance Abuse

Alcohol and Teenagers: A Dangerous Mix

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teen alcohol abuse

Children are exposed to a number of risks as they grow older. Parents are either too strict or too lax when it comes to disciplining their child. Sometimes, even if the intentions of parents are for their children’s own sake, certain unfavorable events happen.

Ordinarily, teens are curious and adventurous. They just seem to have an endless thirst to try something new, most especially getting involved with adult activities such as smoking and drinking. In order to feel like they belong to a group and appear cool in school, some teenagers end up getting involved in situations that unknowingly lead them to uncontrollable behavior.

Why Do Teenagers Drink Alcohol?

Generally, the cause of teen alcohol drinking cannot be pinpointed to a single factor. Teen drinking is very common among peers as it is their way to have a good time. Some of the reasons for drinking include the following:

  • It’s a way of wanting to have freedom to do things on their own. Thinking that they are no longer kids, some adolescents are likely to get into a drinking spree during their free time. Some of them feel liberated to grab hold of a bottle of beer during parties.
  • Teens are curious to try new things that despite knowing the possibilities of being caught or realizing the possible effect, they continue to drink.
  • Teens sometimes think that drinking can give them an exhilarating feeling. Seeing how others would feel so free to do whatever they want with the help of alcohol, some teens consider drinking to help boost their confidence. Moreover, because of seemingly positive social experiences, teens are likely to drink more than adults.
  • A huge influence on teen drinking is based on the behavioral and psychological factors that are directly related to their genes. Teenagers whose parents are habitual or frequent drinkers are twice more likely to become alcoholic themselves.
  • Adolescents who are depressed, anxious or withdrawn are more likely to have a greater risk of having a drinking problem.
  • Environmental factors such as peer pressure also play a significant role in alcohol use. For example, a teenage girl who has an older boyfriend may be inclined to drink when they hang out together. The same goes if her boyfriend is taking drugs.
  • Furthermore, the impact of the media may also be one of the reasons why teens are attracted to drinking alcohol. Just look at how alcohol products are being advertised on television and billboards, and how drinking alcohol has been promoted as a form of entertainment and socialization. When teens see these ads, they may think that it is alright for them to try it themselves. The dangers of drinking excessively use are not explained in these ads, and so teens see this as something positive.

Statistics on Teen Alcohol Use

alcohol drinking party

Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among teens. About half of the junior and senior high school students in the U.S. admitted to drinking on a monthly basis. Underage drinking is a predominant problem affecting the youth of today.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 7.7 million Americans aged between 12- 20 years old report regular consumption of alcohol. The good news is that there’s a gradual decline in alcohol consumption among 8th, 10th and 12th graders. Despite this, alcohol consumption remains a major concern for both the government and parents.

Here are some more facts and figures about teen alcoholism:

  • About 2,000 people under the age of 21 years old die of car accidents in which teen drinking is involved.
  • Roughly 200,000 people under the age of 21 visit the emergency room each year due to alcohol-related injuries each year.
  • Males who tend to start drinking at an early age is less likely to finish school.
  • Drinking large amounts of alcohol can most likely lead to heroin use.
  • Along with alcohol, teens are likely to combine it with marijuana.

The Role of Parents

Parents are expected to provide love, care, and support to their children. Included in this responsibility is giving them advice and information that can help them live their daily lives. Some parents may feel the need to get the approval of their children, to a point of letting their kids do things their way. Unfortunately, some parents think that allowing their children to try out alcohol and being lenient makes them better at parenting.

Some parents allow their children as young as 15 years old to drink alcohol during parties held in their homes. While parents may think that it is their way of winning their teen children’s heart, it somehow becomes the start of something dangerous. Imposing supervision over teen drinking at home with his friends should be considered a good and necessary activity to improve the life of teens.

When parents bargain with their kids and allow them to drink at home, it may actually be a starting point for excessive drinking.

The Effects of Alcohol Use Among Teens

The primary intention of teens in drinking alcohol is to have fun. Consequently, when this gets out of hand, it may lead to huge problems such as:

  • Emotional changes
  • Fatal car accidents
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Uncontrolled or unprotected sex
  • Hostile behavior

Some short-term effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Lowering of body temperature
  • Sleep disruption

Among the long-term effects of alcohol use are:

  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blackout
  • Coma
  • Death

When alcohol is mixed with drugs, the effects can be exacerbated to the point of resulting to an immediate death. This is especially true when alcohol is taken with benzodiazepines.

Other side effects from alcohol consumption can result to:

  • Liver damage
  • Cancer
  • Depression of the Immune System
  • Reduced sexual performance
  • Psychological issues

Effects of Alcohol Overdose

Alcohol overdose or alcohol poisoning is an extremely dangerous consequence of drinking a large amount of alcohol. Immediate medical care is needed when these symptoms have become visible.

  • Vomiting
  • Marked confusion
  • Respiratory depression
  • Irregular breathing
  • Cyanosis of the lips and fingernails
  • Hypothermia
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Stupor
  • Tendency to pass out

In serious cases, the following may happen:

  • Cessation of breathing
  • Heart attack
  • Dehydration may result in brain damage.
  • Risk of choking on own vomit
  • Drop in glucose level (hypoglycemia), resulting in seizures.

Alcohol Tolerance and Dependence

Alcohol has the ability to alter the normal functions of the brain. A person who takes the same amount of alcohol frequently may develop tolerance. In other words, a much larger amount will be needed in order to attain the desired effect.

Tolerance may happen eventually after a few months of constant drinking. When this happens, the person may find it difficult to function without having to drink alcohol every day.

Warning Signs that your Teen has a Drinking Problem

alcohol party

The signs and symptoms of drinking may be different for every individual. These are based on the person’s genetic make-up, the frequency of use, and amount consumed.

Some of the common behavioral symptoms of alcohol use in teens include:

  • Changing group of friends
  • Decreased personal hygiene
  • Marked behavioral changes
  • Decreased academic performance
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Sudden need for money
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home or at school
  • Argumentative/hostile behavior
  • Withdrawn from social gatherings
  • Loss of interest to be among family members or join family gatherings
  • Mood swings

Physical symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred or garbled speech
  • Coordination problems
  • Distinct difference in physical appearance
  • Smell of booze

Teachers may recognize any changes in school performance that affect the teen, such as:

  • Decreased ability to pay attention in class
  • Unable to participate in class discussions
  • Short-term memory gaps
  • Difficulty concentrating

Extreme drinking can mask mental disorders. Therefore, some teens who have been using alcohol for a long time end up having difficulty recovering, since alcohol use has severely affected the normal functioning of the brain.

Treatment for Alcohol Overdose

teen drinking alcohol

Alcohol overdose or poisoning is due to an intake of toxic amounts of alcohol in the body. The substance is absorbed by the body faster than food. Therefore, the amount of alcohol that enters the bloodstream can affect the person in a matter of minutes.

The liver is only able to process a limited amount of booze. Therefore, consuming more than a reasonable amount can lead to intoxication.

Alcohol poisoning requires immediate medical attention. While waiting for the ambulance, these should be done:

  • Try to talk to the person to keep him awake.
  • As much as possible, avoid laying him flat on the ground or on the bed. Put the person in a sitting position. If it is difficult for the person to keep him in that position, lay him down with his head slightly turned to the side to avoid possible choking from his vomit.
  • Let the person drink water.
  • If the person became unconscious, check on his breathing/respiration.
  • Never give coffee since caffeine can worsen dehydration.
  • Do not allow the person to drink more.
  • Never attempt to make the person stand or walk.

When the person is admitted to the hospital, depending on the blood alcohol level, other treatments may include:

  • The patient may be intubated to allow easier breathing.
  • An intravenous drip can be given to avoid dehydration.
  • It is also possible for a catheter to be used should the patient develop incontinence.
  • In more serious cases, there may be a need to pump the person’s stomach to flush out the alcohol from his system.

There are 2,200 deaths due to alcohol poisoning each year in the US, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Withdrawal Treatment

When approaching a teen with an alcohol problem, he may be hesitant to accept any help since he may not be aware that he has become an alcoholic. Dragging your teen to a medical facility would not make it any easier.

Instead of forcing to turn himself in, it is best that you talk to your teen in a way that both of you come into terms and understand what is going on.

There are medical facilities that offer treatment such as psychological evaluation. A common reason among teens who became alcoholics is that they feel that they’re not being heard or understood by their parents. Giving them the reassurance that every problem can be opened up to their parents should make the teen feel better.

Along with the treatment of the teen is the support of the family and friends. This way, the teen may feel that despite everything that has happened, his family and friends remain at his side while he tries to live a normal life again.

Medical Marijuana Substance Abuse

Pros and Cons of Using Recreational Marijuana

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We at TestCountry have been discussing about marijuana and its different facets for years, and it has always been a controversial topic. The legalization of marijuana in some U.S. states may have made marijuana users rejoice, but it remains to be an endless debate of whether the substance should be allowed or not due to the unfavorable effects that it may cause upon long-time users. In this article, we will delve into the benefits and disadvantage of recreational marijuana use.

Marijuana is widely used, especially among the teens and young adults. There are now about 20 million users aged 20 and older using marijuana, with some engaged in recreational marijuana use.

Marijuana is sold in the form of dried leaves, which can be smoked. The popularity of using electronic cigarettes or vapes heightened when cannabis liquids became available. Not all states have legalized recreational marijuana, therefore using vapes infused with cannabis has become an alternative way of using marijuana without being noticed by authorities.

Brief History of Marijuana in the US

The hemp plant was used as a legal tender in states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia in 1619. The Virginia Assembly passed a legislation requiring every farmer to grow hemp.

There was a proliferation of hemp production after the Civil War. By the end of the 19th Century, marijuana became a popular ingredient in creating medicinal products which were sold in public pharmacies.

In 1906, The Pure Food and Drug Act was passed and became the basis for regulating misbranded foods, drugs, liquors, and medicines.

The Mexican immigrants introduced the recreational use of marijuana to the American culture in 1910. Marijuana has become mostly associated with Mexican immigrants, which has also become synonymous with fear and prejudice. There were anti-drug campaigns to hopefully prevent the spreading of marijuana as terrible crimes have also become associated with its use by the Mexicans.

In 1931, marijuana use had been outlawed by 29 states. By 1930, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) was created. The first commissioner was Harry J. Anslinger who remained in the post until 1962.

The Uniform State Act of 1932 was created to encourage state governments to take responsibility in controlling crimes related to marijuana use.

Importation of hemp during the World War II declined. The US Department of Agriculture launched a program called “Hemp for Victory” which encouraged farmers to plant hemp and granted deferments to those who would stay at home and grow the plant. There were about 375,000 acres of hemp harvested in 1943.

1951 initiated stricter sentencing laws by setting mandatory sentences for drug-related offenses.

The 1960s had become a very significant period as it was the time when there was a widespread use of marijuana among white upper and middle-class citizens. By 1968, the FBN and the Bureau of Dangerous Drugs of the Food and Drug Administration merged.

The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act categorized marijuana as distinct from other narcotics, thus eliminated mandatory federal sentences to those in possession for small amounts.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was established in 1973. A nationwide movement composed of conservative parents insisted for a stricter regulation of marijuana as well as the prevention of drug use among teenagers in 1976. Consequently, this has become instrumental in affecting public attitudes which led to the War on Drugs in the 1980s.

President Ronald Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1985 in response to the increasing number of crimes related to drug use. This raised federal penalties for marijuana possession and dealing. Eventually, an amendment was created requiring life sentences for repeat drug offenders and providing the death penalty to “drug kingpins”.

1996 was the start of legalizing medical use of marijuana in California under Proposition 215.

marijuana plant

Statistics on Marijuana Use

Marijuana or cannabis is the most commonly used illicit substance. Recent surveys showed that there are about 94 million people in the United States alone that have admitted to using marijuana at least once in their lifetime.

Marijuana is widely used because of how some individuals use it as their means of escape from the realities of life with the hope of masking pain, anger, fear or regret. It is the most frequently found substance in the bodies of drivers involved in fatal car accidents.

From a survey made by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2007, 2.1 million Americans have used marijuana for the first time. There has also been an increase in marijuana production since 1981. Approximately $10.5 billion has been spent by marijuana users in purchasing this illicit substance.

The trends of prevalence of marijuana use among 8th Graders to 12th Graders:

Grade Level Lifetime Past Year Past Month Daily
8th Grade 12.8% 9.4% 5.4% 0.70%
10th Grade 29.7% 23.9% 14.0% 2.5%
12th Grade 44.5% 35.5% 12.5% 6.0%

According to a report by Arcview Market Research, North American marijuana sales increased by more than 30% in 2016, raising sales to $6.7B. It is also predicted to greatly increase in the coming years.

A very astonishing fact from legal sales of recreational marijuana use in Colorado reached almost $1 billion in 2015. It cannot be denied how the legalization of marijuana created some benefits, namely, jobs and an increase in tax revenues.

Accordingly, the public remains divided regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana. And more than seeing the good that it can allegedly provide is knowing that there are possible unfavorable outcomes with both short-term and long-term use of marijuana.

Notwithstanding the risks accompanied with its long-term use, the number of people using marijuana for recreational purposes is believed to have been increasing each year.

Advantages of Using Recreational Marijuana

Undoubtedly, using marijuana can offer some positive effects in the body. Although recreational use was not the main reason for making it legal, a large number of people use marijuana (as a recreational drug) as their outlet. Unfortunately, these users are branded as hippies or stoners.

Here are some benefits of recreational marijuana use:

  • Smoking has become a means of bonding among friends that it makes them less inhibited in letting out their feelings. Therefore, they are able to speak their minds freely from which deep conversations among friends make them allow them to grow closer.
  • Using marijuana heightens the senses. Somehow the taste of food becomes more appetizing.
  • It unlocks one’s creativity. Marijuana somehow makes a user feel more energized to become more artistic and creative. This enables them to become highly-artistic rather than experiencing the erratic behavior that others may see from marijuana users.
  • Creates divergent thinking. The chemicals that interact with the brain helps in thinking outside of the box.
  • The ability to persuade others in perceiving the same thoughts.
  • Marijuana can act on your mind in countless positive ways. Moreover, it can bring out the child in you, as claimed by marijuana users. This can be helpful in trying to cope up with the everyday stress.
  • It can make you feel like a different person. Some people are naturally shy. But being shy sometimes can be a disadvantage. Using marijuana can somehow help one to become more confident about himself thereby allowing him/her to become more vocal and outgoing.
  • It masks out the negativity thereby making one see everything in a different (and more positive) perspective.
  • A feel-good emotion is likely to strike after using marijuana, thus one tends to appreciate the beauty of the world that surrounds him/her.
  • Marijuana can make you feel more energized.
  • It takes you to a different dimension wherein you can feel happy and stress-free; thus you have time to be in harmony with yourself.

medical and recreational marijuana

Disadvantages of Using Recreational Marijuana

The global dilemma on drug abuse is far from over. Knowing how much it can affect both the mind and the body, these are the reasons why using it should be prevented or stopped:

  • It has a direct effect on one’s memory. The active ingredient that affects the hippocampus alters the processing of information. The use of marijuana at a young age has a great impact on the developing brain. Nonetheless, this obstruction in the formation of memory can significantly cause cognitive impairment. It also accelerates age-related brain cell loss. Studies have found that there is a deterioration in the learning and cognitive thinking that can persist into adulthood, even if they have long stopped using marijuana.
  • It can heighten fear, anxiety, panic or distrust. This is the most common side effect of using marijuana. The chemicals in cannabis make an individual have hallucinations and so with this, it affects their relationships with others.
  • THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of the marijuana’s psychological effects. This disrupts with balance, coordination and reaction time of the user, thereby making it harder for the user to walk and talk correctly (normally). This also impairs the individual’s ability to drive.
  • Frequent marijuana use can increase the risk of succumbing to a depressive condition. This is more likely to happen to individuals who have a history of mental illness.
  • Psychosis is also likely to develop in individuals taking large doses of the drug which includes delusions and a loss of sense of identity.
  • Some of the short-term effects of marijuana use include dry mouth, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and increased heart rate.
  • Smoking marijuana can lead to breathing problems such as the development of excess mucous, cough and bronchitis. It can also cause asthma and cystic fibrosis.
  • Long-term use of marijuana can decrease the amount of seminal fluid and reduce sperm count. The abnormalities in the sperm are still undetermined, although it is thought to be caused by the THC.
  • Marijuana use in females can lead to menstrual flow disruption which can result in irreversible damage to the eggs in the ovaries, thus there is likely an increased risk of miscarriages, placenta previa, and premature births.

Clearly, each state has their own laws pertaining to the manufacture, use, and selling of marijuana. Although marijuana has been approved for both recreational and medical use, still, everyone should be able to assess the benefits and its harmful effects with long-term use. The level of potency of THC has increased over the years, which makes it even more dangerous for individuals to take marijuana, especially in large doses.

Medical marijuana may have been proven to be of significant help in treating various illnesses such as arthritis, epilepsy, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis, just to name a few. However, it is recommended that those who are undergoing treatments with the use of marijuana should take the precautionary measures as the unscrupulous use of marijuana can deter treatment and would lead to more serious conditions.

Moreover, recreational marijuana use stated in this article is simply to inform and not to encourage or discourage anyone to take the drug. It is highly advisable to consult with your physician before engaging in the use of any type of drugs.

recreational marijuana

Substance Abuse

Kratom Addiction: How To Prevent Dependence and Tolerance

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kratom addiction dietary supplements

Up until 2014, kratom was being sold as a dietary or nutritional supplement in the United States. However, due to health issues and a potential kratom addiction, import of the substance has been banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In most tobacco shops, kratom is sold in power or tablet form. As it is not yet a controlled substance, it is unregulated and unstandardized.

Kratom does not have any official label that can provide warnings to individuals of the dangers or side effects of taking it. As the drug can be cut or combined with other substances that are toxic or hazardous on their own, the buyer will not be able to  determine the purity or potency level of kratom.

While a “drug of concern,” kratom is not federally controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). However, due to narcotic effects that are similar to morphine when taken in high doses, the New York State Office on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Service (NY OASAS) has classified it as an addictive drug.

In low dosage, kratom acts as a stimulant drug that increases focus, attention, alertness, and energy. In higher doses, meantime, it works like an opioid drug that produces a pleasant and mellow “high.”

What happens when the user becomes addicted to kratom?

Once a drug has been removed or leaves the system, it often results to drug withdrawal. According to DEA, withdrawal is often associated with side effects such as muscle and bone pain, nausea, tremors, fatigue, mood swings, and hostility. This is most often experienced by people who are recovering from kratom addiction.

Serious side effects may include delusions, hallucinations, and confusion. It is also associated with emotional symptoms such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, and pleasure.

In kratom addiction, an individual may take the drug in larger amounts for a longer period of time than they intended to use regardless of any side effects that may happen as a result.  The signs and symptoms may vary from one person to another. General and universal signs may include increased tolerance for the drug.

Long-term constipation may set in as the addict becomes dependent on the drug. They tend to use the drug on a daily basis or several times a day. Kratom addiction causes the individual to develop obsessive thoughts and cravings consistently.

How is kratom being used?

kratom alternatives

Most health professionals would recommend individuals to avoid using kratom in the first place to prevent addiction. However, kratom has long been used for treating various health conditions. Likewise, may people are using the drug to maximize its health benefits instead of the stronger drugs and prescription medicine.

The bottom line is that users should make sure that they use kratom in the safest and proper way possible. They should use the drug only occasionally and not daily. It is also recommended to not use the drug more than twice a week. Proper use of kratom will make them feel good without getting addicted.

The Drug Enforcement Administration is still looking at many factors before they place kratom into a drug scheduling category. The agency is still looking at its dangers before they do so.

Kratom is based from a tree that grows in the Southeast Asian region. In the 1950’s, Thailand declared kratom as illegal because addiction to the drug became rampant. In the US, it was marketed as a herbal supplement for several years.

What are the symptoms of kratom overdose?

With safety regulators having been bypassed, exposure to kratom increased as evidenced by the number of calls to poison control centers. From 2010 to 2015, there were 660 calls related to kratom exposure received by US poison control centers. Each call gradually increased yearly with about 480 kratom poisoning calls at the end of 2016 alone.

Although still not as many as reported for other drugs, kratom still had the potential for overdose. There were reports of death from kratom overdose.

The following are the symptoms of kratom addiction or overdose:

  • Listlessness
  • Hallucinations
  • Aggression
  • Tremors
  • Delusions
  • Nausea

Even at low dosage, using kratom for the long term has been associated with various symptoms such as:

  • Anorexia
  • Withdrawal
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Deadly interaction with other drugs

In high dosage, long term use of kratom could result to liver damage and kidney failure, manifested in dark urine and yellow skin. Kratom addiction may damage the liver but when it is unable to process toxins and filtered out by the kidneys, it could lead to kidney failure and liver damage.

How Quickly Does The User Develop Kratom Tolerance?

When kratom is used for a long time, the user is likely to develop tolerance with the drug. This is a normal scenario, but this could be unfortunate news to one who has received the benefits of kratom as a natural herb and have embraced the drug as part of their lifestyle.

The truth of the matter is that kratom tolerance can be prevented by following certain rules. The user can methodically change their dosage. They can also avoid high concentration extracts and refrain from frequent use. This will keep the body sensitive to the effects of kratom and ensure that it works as intended preventing the onset of any side effects.

Taking large doses of the drug can have toxic effect on the body’s tissues resulting to other health complications because the body tries to release the excess amount of the drug in order to keep the body in a state of balance. The brain and body may also become dependent since they expect and demand such high dosage. So before kratom tolerance sets in, you should already make the necessary steps in slowing down the process and keep the body in a state of balance.

Any kind of kratom tolerance – whether from medicines, substances, or herbal remedy – starts out in the same manner. The previously used dosage to achieve the desired effects slowly becomes ineffective. Eventually, the usual dose will not work anymore, forcing the user to unwillingly increase their intake to experience similar effects again.

The unusually high dosage can be potent to the human body and could lead to more serious health issues as the body tries to eliminate excess elements so it can resume normal functioning. In addition, prolonged use of kratom could lead to dependency once the body expects the same amount of dosage and demand for it more and more.

Therefore, before the craving becomes worse, it is best to reduce consumption of the drug. Kratom offers many benefits based on earlier claims, as long as you do not overuse it.

The onset of tolerance is dependent from one person to another. The dosage applicable to one user may not be applicable to the other. About 3 to 5 grams dosage may be enough not to develop any tolerance to a user, but this amount may not enough for another user. It will all depend on monitoring and responsibility.

You should have the ability to check the common signs from your body in order to determine if you are still using kratom safely. The best indicator of tolerance is none other than the body’s reaction itself.

How To Avoid Kratom Tolerance

kratom extract powder

Kratom tolerance is also known as Stagnant Stain Syndrome, a condition that results from using the same strain and dosage of Kratom for a longer period of time. When your body and mind gets used to a specific type of kratom with similar amount of dosage, chances are the reaction of the body would no longer be the same. The good news is that there are certain steps you can make to prevent kratom tolerance.

Mix up your routine whenever possible

Doing the same routine over and over again allows your body to easily adjust to the practice. This is applicable to kratom use as well. As much as possible, put variety into your routine.

For example, you may switch from Red Thai to White Malay from time to time. If you drink kratom together with orange juice, try it with tea for a change.

Once you put variety into your routine, you can prevent your body from developing kratom tolerance. This will help prevent your body from becoming familiar with the dosage. Make sure that you do not consume kratom more than twice a week, two consecutive days, or more than once every three days.

Avoid simultaneously mixing kratom with other opiates

Because opiates tend to become habit forming, it can help develop tolerance over time.  Using kratom along with opiates can be lethal as your body could become tolerant to the drug. Kratom produces the same “high” that opiates produces without any toxic side effects. It is recommended to use kratom by itself.

Record your experience for every usage

Keep a list of the type of kratom you used, the amount of dosage, the date, and the reaction of your body. By doing this, you can keep in mind your usage and make the necessary adjustments if you experience some symptoms upon using it. This will help you develop responsibility when using kratom so you will continue to reap the benefits of the drug without any worries.

Getting Rid of Tolerance

kratom leaves

So how do you know if you have developed kratom tolerance? The answer to the question is simple: What used to be a potent kratom dosage is no longer giving you the same effects as before. Another indication that you have become tolerant to kratom is that there are now minor side effects.

One effective way of preventing tolerance is to refrain from taking another medicine or changing the type or dosage of kratom. You can also prevent tolerance by refraining from using the drug. Pause from taking the drug first and let your body become completely clean from any side effects and then resume using the drug.

Another way to get rid of tolerance is to look back on what happened, determine the cause and then adjust to the situation. Try to practice responsibility when using kratom and bear in mind the rules that were previously discussed. That way, you won’t become a victim of kratom addiction.

Kratom users claim that the substance is safe and non-addictive when used responsibly. It is also non-habit forming. The important thing is to stay responsible and be mindful of how your body reacts to the substance.

Kratom addiction is a huge bump in what can be a smooth way to experience the natural benefits of kratom. By being responsible and conscious of how you use the drug, kratom tolerance can be prevented. As they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Substance Abuse

Everything You Need To Know About Stimulant ADHD Drugs

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stimulant ADHD drugs adderall

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex mental disorder that can interfere with the normal functioning or development of the brain. A child suffering from ADHD experiences difficulty in sustaining focus and wanders off when given a task. With the rise in the number of cases of ADHD worldwide, the demand for stimulant ADHD drugs has likewise surged.

Common symptoms of children with ADHD are constantly moving around, tapping, fidgeting or talking continuously. ADHD children make hasty actions without realizing any potential harm or long-term consequences – the kind of behavior that often conceivably wears out others who take care of them.

Such behavior may not be suspected as the effect of such disorder when seen among younger children, since children are naturally not easy to manage. But as soon as they grow older and their mental development does not follow with their age, seeking professional help should be considered. This condition may not be diagnosed until age 7.

ADHD affects children of all races – whites by 9.8%, blacks by 9.5% and Latinos by 5.5%. A recent survey showed an increase of at least 90% among non-Hispanic black girls from 2001-2010.

Fortunately, there are medications available that can help treat children with ADHD.

Types of Stimulant ADHD

Stimulant ADHD drugs are used to help manage symptoms such as hyperactivity, short attention span and impulsive behavior. These drugs act on the brain in a way that the individual with ADHD can slowly manage how to function normally and hopefully be completely free from all its symptoms. It helps the ADHD patient to perform and finish tasks efficiently and an improvement with relationships can be evident.

There are three types of stimulants:

Short-acting forms

This type of stimulant is taken 2-3 times a day. The advantage of taking this type of stimulant is that the patient has more control over when the medication is in the system. The disadvantage is that the patient needs to remember to take the drugs often.

Examples: amphetamine, dextroamphetmine, dexmethylphenidate, methylphenidate. Common brand names are Adderall, Ritalin, Focalin and Dexedrine.

Intermediate-acting forms

Common intermediate acting ADHD stimulants are Evekeo, Ritalin SR, Metadate ER and Methlin ER.

Long-acting forms

This type of stimulant only requires to be taken once a day and has been proven to be successful in treating ADHD.

Common long-acting stimulants are: Concerta, Focalin XR, Daytrana and Adderall XR.

The effects of each of the drugs mentioned may not be the same in all patients. Therefore, if a patient feels that the prescribed medication does not help as much as expected, it is best to seek a physician’s help to change the medication. These drugs can be in the form of a pill, patch or liquid.

Can stimulant drugs make you smart?

human brain intelligence

The effects of stimulant ADHD drugs are to increase focus, attention and concentration. Although it has been said to help people gain more focus in attending to immediate tasks, it is not advised to render it as a form of a vitamin that anyone should take. The negative effects may outnumber the positive effects if stimulant drugs are taken without prescription.

In February 2016, news broke that college students used Adderall and Ritalin as “study aid medication” to help them stay up all night and cram. Notwithstanding the ramifications of their acts, numerous college students have become addicted to these ADHD drugs. The dramatic increase in misuse led to increased emergency visits.

Using Adderall may help increase focus and concentration, however, adverse side effects may ensue such as high blood pressure, stroke or potential risk of mental disorders such as depression, aggression or bipolar disorder.

Benefits of Using Stimulant ADHD Drugs

As previously mentioned, taking stimulant drugs helps improve performance and concentration in an individual. Before seeking any medical treatment, parents must request a basic health screening for their child. This prevents putting the child at risk should he/she have any life-threatening conditions that could be worsened or induced by the use of stimulants.

In a survey conducted, majority of the parents of children with ADHD who allowed treatment reported positive changes within a span of a few days using methylphenidates or amphetamine. A small percentage among those parents of ADHD children said that they had not seen any changes.

The effects of these stimulants occur quickly and can last for longer hours compared to medications given which only usually last between 8-12 hours. Children who have positively responded to the medication show great improvements regarding the quality and quantity of tasks that they complete.

With such medications, clear improvements have become distinguishable, most especially with the relationship of children with ADHD with the people around them. Moreover, if continuous treatment is provided, this can result in children living normal lives, allowing them to do more and perform better.

Although ADHD treatment has become successful in about 80% of ADHD patients, the degree of benefits varies. Along with the positive effects that these stimulant drugs have, there are also unfavorable experiences related to using these drugs.

Dangers and Side-effects of Stimulant ADHD Drugs

adderall tablets stimulant ADHD drugs

Photo by Seppi333 via Wikimedia Creative Commons

It should be noted how people respond to some of the positive attributes of a certain medication, however, along with those are a few minor issues. But it has always been the hope of scientists to produce medications that can be of more help than harm.

Stimulant ADHD drugs have been proven to work well in treating conditions such as ADHD. But there are also some adverse effects along with it, which some parents are afraid of, in turn refusing to give medical treatment to their children with ADHD. However, it is to be noted that these adverse effects are minimal and only last for a short period of time as some of the symptoms generally disappear when the dosage is reduced.

Prior to any kind of treatment, it is strongly advised that parents should be aware of all the possible repercussions that may occur after taking such treatment so that they would know how to manage their children should any of the adverse effects occur.

Common side effects of taking ADHD stimulant drugs include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Stomachaches
  • Headaches
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Excessive staring
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Hallucinations
  • Upset stomach
  • High blood pressure

Consequently, parents should not be afraid if they happen to observe their children experiencing these. The symptoms mentioned are usually short-term. If your child happens to have difficulties in sleeping, let your physician know about this so he/she can reduce the dose of the drug.

Informing the physician of other medical concerns that your child has can be extremely significant since some medications can interact dangerously with stimulant drugs.

Are they addictive?

The ultimate concern of parents regrading taking these stimulants is the fear of their children being addicted to the drugs. However, there are no data to support such claims. Generally, stimulants are not habit-forming, in fact, it was reported that children with ADHD who have been treated with stimulant drugs are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. Therefore, if medications are taken as prescribed and is given to children under the supervision of a responsible adult, getting addicted to the stimulant drugs is highly improbable.

There have been speculations that these stimulant drugs can stunt the growth of children. And again, there are no data to support that it can affect the growth of children if they stop taking the medication during adolescence.

Stimulant ADHD drugs help boost energy and increase attention and focus, thereby being a favorable option of treatment. If a child taking such medication looks withdrawn or sluggish, then this may be due to an inappropriately high dose of medication that should be rectified immediately or else this could lead to underlying mood problems which need to be addressed.

How long should a child be under medication?

child adhd

While there is a certain percentage wherein medications may not have become beneficial to some children, teachers have observed some changes with the behavior of these children. Typically, a range of medications may be up for trial for possibly treating ADHD. Example, setting a four-week treatment of different medications for each of the first three weeks and giving placebo on the last week, the teacher should evaluate or assess the child by the end of each week. In doing so, the physician may be able to determine:

  • which dose was able to produce optimal benefits;
  • if the medication was superior to placebo;
  • to distinguish the problems encountered despite the positive effect of a specific medication; and
  • to identify any side effects

The placebo effect is a phenomenon with unknown explanation of its effectiveness on a person. Nevertheless, some patients have been seen to have improvements despite not being given the medication that is appropriate in treating their condition.

There may be a need for an annual assessment of the child’s behavior to determine whether to remain with the same kind of medication or dosage. Parents should be informed that despite the benefits of the stimulant medications for their children, there may be other situations related to behavioral or academic difficulties which should be addressed, as well.

Stimulant Drug Dosage on ADHD Patients

Typically, long-acting stimulant ADHD drugs like Adderall XR and Concerta work between 8-12 hours. Therefore, children do not need to take more than one dose a day in school. However, considering the child’s individual response and circumstances, giving a short-term stimulant medication in addition to the long-acting stimulant may be beneficial in order for the child to have the same kind of behavior at night especially when the child would need to do homework or study.

What happens when the effect of the stimulant drug wears off?

You may notice that your child would become restless, impulsive, emotional, irritable, grumpy or despondent almost the same time every day; this is a result of the stimulant drug wearing off. When the drug wears off too quickly, medical rebound is likely to happen, depending on the metabolism of the child. That is why a long-acting stimulant may last for 10 hours on one child and may only last about 6 hours on another child. Although these symptoms are likely to occur, parents should not be worried because it may just be the result of the sudden drop of the effect of the stimulant.

If you happen to notice that your child may be experiencing a rebound, talk to your doctor immediately. He may prescribe a “booster” to eliminate these uncontrollable episodes. A booster is a minute dose of quick-acting version of the same stimulant medicine that the child takes. It should be taken shortly before regular medication wears off.

Precautions Before Taking Stimulant Drugs

Prior to taking any kind of stimulant, here are a few guideline questions which can help the physician in treating your child:

  • Has the child taken any herbal supplements, dietary supplements or over-the-counter medication?
  • Does he have any medical problems? Or do any of the family members have diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney or liver problems or heart disease?
  • Does he have a mental disorder/condition?

Final Word

Any kind of disorder can be successfully treated when diagnosed early. Always consider taking medical advice to ensure that your children are given proper care and maintain optimum health.

[Featured image by Benjamin Vincent Kasapoglu via Wikimedia Creative Commons]