Category Archives: Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

Benefits of Kratom: Reasons Why Users Support The Drug

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kratom leaf

If you’ve been to Bali, Borneo, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and other Southeast Asia regions, then you might have heard about kratom. In this article, we will look at the benefits of kratom, as reported by supporters and advocates of the plant.

Its benefits quickly spread across Asia and has become popular because of two properties: energy and endurance. People make use of the leaves in different ways:

  • By chewing the leaves
  • By brewing the leaves
  • By drying the leaves ground to form a fine powder

The impact of kratom on some Asian countries has become so great, that some employers were reported to prefer workers who chewed on kratom leaves in order to improve work productivity. Employees who used kratom were found to be more focused and energetic. The effects of kratom were found to be similar to energy drinks.

Because of the high workload, some individuals use kratom to maintain the quality of work that is expected of them.

Types of Kratom

Kratom comes in three types: red, white and green. These do not represent the colors of the kratom leaves, but rather the veins. These vein colors influence the effect of the kratom leaves.

Regardless of the color, kratom can provide both simulating and sedative effects depending on the amount used. However, the color of the vein can provide the particular effect that an individual desires to receive.

Red Vein

The red vein is the most commonly sold kratom type. It provides the most sedating effect, making it the preferred type of individuals seeking to reduce their stress level and have a peaceful mood. Using red vein kratom provides an over-all sense of well-being.

In small doses, it is known to provide energy-boosting effects. However, this type of kratom is most commonly used in large doses because of its calming effect as it promotes better sleep, thereby fighting insomnia.

The red vein is also very popular because it has the strongest analgesic properties, similar to opioid substances as it triggers similar effects of pain reduction.

White Vein

The white vein has the reverse effect of the red vein as it heightens the mood and alerts the senses. Using it promotes vitality and alertness.

Some individuals choose this type of kratom to help treat depression and anxiety. Using white vein kratom can provide an uplifting mood.

White and red vein kratom types are sometimes mixed together to be used as an aid in providing a better balance of energy.

Green Vein

The effect of green vein kratom is somewhere between the effects of red and white vein. The green vein has a milder effect on both relaxation and energy levels. It is the choice of those who want to have a mild and enjoyable feeling rather than experiencing high levels of alertness and fatigue. In short, the green vein the most balanced type of kratom variety.

The green vein is also sometimes mixed with either red or white vein to create a more balanced effect.

Kratom Strains

The most effective kratom strains for pain relief include the following:

  • Bali
  • Borneo
  • Maeng Da
  • Indo

The preferred vein color is red, preferably taken at moderate to high dosage.

Here is a list of kratom strains, and the effects that they produce:

Kratom Strain Effects
Maeng Da This is the most popular strain, providing energy and better stimulation with pain-killing effects
Bali This provides the most euphoric effect among all other strains
Green Vein Kali It is a stimulating strain with pain-killing attributes
Red Vein Thai It is similar to Bali but with fewer negative side effects
Red Vein Kali It has a sedative effect
Super Indo It is similar to Bali with less euphoria
Super Green Malaysian It has stimulating effect, but with little euphoria
Thai Essence This strain is weaker than Ultra-Enhanced Indo with a bit of Maeng Da properties
Ultra-Enhanced Indo This contains the most euphoric effect, and works well in reducing social anxiety
Ultra-Enhanced Maeng Da This is a very powerful extract that has both stimulating and pain-killing properties
Full Spectrum Tincture These are formulations of Ultra-Enhanced Indo in liquid form

Basically, about one half to three teaspoons of these strains are enough to get the desired effect.

Strain Analysis

The strains of kratom may be divided into three general groups:

Effect Categories Strain Type Stimulation Effect (1-10) Pain Relief (1-10) Mood (1-10)
Stimulating Thai Kratom 8 to 9.5 4-8 6-9
Maeng Da 7-8.5 7.5-10 7.5-10
Sedating Borneo Kratom 1-2 8-10 8-10
Bali Kratom 2-4 7-9.5 7-9.5
Indo Kratom 2-3 8-10 8-10
Moderate Green Malaysian 4-6 6-8 7-8.5

Kratom Effects

Kratom has varying degrees of effects on people. Kratom can provide both stimulating and relaxing effects depending on the amount used. Taking kratom in smaller amounts may produce more stimulating effects, while taking in large amounts may lead to relaxation or sedation.

Long-time kratom users reported that they have increased focus, alertness and social confidence resulting from the responsible use of the plant-based substance.

Psychological Effects of Kratom

The benefits of kratom include helping individuals with depression and anxiety, especially when the right strain of kratom is used. However, the effect of the substance may also depend on one’s own personal chemistry.

All strains may cause a mood-lifting effect, but the differences in strain can shift the effects between sedating and stimulating.

Anxiety

Ideally, Borneo is the best strain that can help relieve anxiety. It has a subtle but powerful effect of diminishing anxiety and restlessness. The red vein Borneo strain should be given in moderate dosages.

Depression

Thai, Maeng Da and Green Malaysian strains are able to treat depression in moderate dosages.

Cognitive-Enhancing Effects

Not all kratom users suffer from any medical conditions. The benefits of kratom have led some people to take the substance because of its positive effects on the overall well-being.

Kratom has been used to increase energy, focus and alertness, which has become a great help to workers. Strains like Green Malaysian, Thai and Maeng Da are the typical strains for this purpose, usually taken in low to moderate dosages.

kratom leaves

Benefits of Kratom

Some kratom users claim that the substance can provide medicinal effects. Meanwhile, other users say that the substance is better than other plant-based medicines. Some of the benefits of kratom are:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-leukemic
  • Anti-malarial
  • Anxiolytic
  • Depression relief
  • Energy enhancement
  • Immune System Stimulation
  • Insomnia relief
  • Mood-lifting
  • Opiate maintenance substitute
  • Opiate withdrawal relief
  • Pain relief

Apart from the benefits of kratom mentioned above, the drug is also known to have high amount of antioxidants and vitamins.

Some users sat that it is safe to use for general purposes. After all, some deaths linked to kratom use were associated with taking it in combination of other drugs.

Kratom Dosage

A dose of kratom may vary depending on the strain. A substantial amount of 2-4 grams of kratom or ½ to 1 full teaspoon of kratom powder may be enough to provide the effects needed by an individual. Kratom extract as little as 0.5 gram can provide the same relaxing effect.

Kratom is widely used to treat various kinds of pain, and is believed to be more effective than over-the-counter medications. Because of this, patients suffering from chronic pain have become pharmaceutical-free because of the benefits of kratom.

Kratom has become the alternative medication to effectively reduce pain from conditions such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Chest pain
  • Cluster headache
  • Migraines
  • Minor injuries such as burns, broken bones and scrapes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neck pain and soreness
  • Scoliosis
  • Torn muscle

Is Kratom Addictive?

Kratom may have been positively introduced to the general public because of the amazing benefits that the drug can provide, most especially to individuals who are suffering from pain.

However, being a close relative of the coffee plant, using kratom daily and in large amounts may be habit-forming.  Such kratom addiction is likely to happen with irresponsible use.

Consequently, kratom is also used to treat individuals suffering from opiate withdrawal symptoms. One of the standard drugs used in treating withdrawal symptoms is naloxone, which unfortunately can be addicting if taken irresponsibly.

Kratom as treatment for opiate addiction has become popular as it has helped in combatting cravings and alleviating post-withdrawal symptoms.

Side Effects of Kratom

benefits of kratom leavesThe benefits of kratom have become reasons why the substance has become popular. However, long-time kratom use can also lead to unfavorable effects such as:

  • Agitation
  • Aggression
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Constipation
  • Loss of libido
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Skin hyperpigmentation
  • Sleeplessness
  • Respiratory depression
  • Tremors

These signs and symptoms are similar to opiate use.

Legality of Kratom Use in the U.S.

Kratom is not federally regulated in the U.S. A legislation passed in 2012 was designed to prohibit synthetic drug use, but this does not include kratom.

Although Kratom was not specifically mentioned, its main active alkaloids were identified – mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.

Here is a list of states categorized according to legality of kratom use:

  • Kratom use is legal: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine. Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
  • Kratom use is legal, but legislation to ban the substance has been initiated: Florida, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah and West Virginia.
  • Kratom use is banned: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Is Kratom Safe?

The federal government may have not completely banned kratom use yet, but knowing how its long-term use can lead to undesirable effects should be of concern. Scientists are continuously finding ways to ensure that kratom can be the best alternative medication to opiate users. Weighing between the benefits of kratom over its ill effects may take a while.

For anyone’s safety, it is still best to consult your physician if you feel that you need any help. It may also be safer to stick to prescribed medication. You should also take responsibility before taking kratom, in order to avoid unnecessary intake and eventually addiction and tolerance.

In short, every patient or individual who is under such pain management should carry complete responsibility, regardless if the substance in question is kratom or not.

Substance Abuse

Stay Away From China White, A Dangerous Designer Drug

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china white powder

Synthetic drugs are man-made compounds created to mimic the effect of controlled substances. They come in different forms such as powder, pills, liquids or herbs. In this article, we will discuss an emerging designer drug called China White.

Brief Background on Designer Drugs

Deaths due to overdose have become more rampant, particularly among the younger generation. Unfortunately, some of them who use these substances are unaware of the real dangers that they are facing as they are more focused on the euphoric effect when using the drug. This craving for pleasure makes people disregard the dangerous chemical composition up of designer drugs.

One of the common synthetic drugs these days is fentanyl, which has become increasingly popular because of its powerful effect. It is currently among the controlled substances under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.

Because of the numerous clandestine laboratories that have sprouted in China and Mexico, it has become easier to purchase these drugs. This has led to the increase in the number of overdose cases and deaths throughout the country. This also gave rise to different analogues of fentanyl, which are increasingly becoming popular and have become responsible for the recent fentanyl-related deaths in New York.

There seems to be no stopping illegal drug manufacturers from creating various forms of drugs that spread havoc in different countries. More than realizing the dangers of these drugs, synthetic drug makers are focused more on how much profit they can earn. Because of this, more people are getting hooked on designer drugs. Sadly, drug users can now be as young as 8th graders.

What is China White?

One of the very recent types of designer drugs that has emerged notoriously is China White. Several reports on China White showed that the drug has claimed a lot of lives. Most of the victims may be unknowingly using this substance as this is most often sold as “pure fentanyl”.

China White is a highly potent heroin substitute made from fentanyl. It works like any other opiate substance and it comes in powdered form, which can be inhaled or injected. Some dealers deliberately substitute heroin with China White to increase its potency.

In the 1970s, China White was the common name referring to heroin. But now, it refers to heroin laced with fentanyl, which has an extremely potent effect.

The presence of heroin in the United States has been increasing rapidly with about 517,000 people reported to have heroin addiction. The average heroin user is 32 years old.

Despite its appearance as a white powder, China White should not be mistaken as a pure form of heroin because it is actually mixed with fentanyl. This combination is about 100 times stronger than heroin alone.

The different methods of administration of China White are as follows:

Intravenous injection

The powder can be mixed with water to create a solution that can be injected into the vein. The effect can be felt 7 to 8 seconds after injection.

Intramuscular injection

The same solution of powder mixed with water is injected into the muscle, the effects of which can be felt about 20 minutes after injection.

Nasal insufflation

The powder substance can be snorted or sniffed, and can be quickly absorbed into the nasal mucous membrane and in the bloodstream at least 10 to 15 minutes after administration.

Smoking

The effect of smoking China White can be felt 10 to 15 minutes after inhalation. It is used by heating the powdered substance on aluminum foil to create smoke and vapor.

Subcutaneous injection

The powder can be injected under the outer skin. The effect is felt about 20 minutes after injection.

Oral ingestion

This form of administration is rarely used because of its slow absorption, which usually takes about 30 minutes before its effects are felt.

Most users think that China White means the pure form of fentanyl but is actually fentanyl mixed with a certain amount of heroin to provide the “higher than high” effect.

Why is China White Being Used?

As earlier mentioned, China White is a deadly combination of heroin and fentanyl. Heroin users are inclined to prefer China White with the hopes of receiving a more powerful impact than heroin alone. With this, users can enjoy a different level of euphoria, making them more satisfied.

However, along with this great euphoric effect is the increased risk of untoward circumstances, which may include death.

China White Addiction and Its Effect on the Brain

china white effect on brain

China White targets a certain area in the brain that releases dopamine, thus making an individual feel a positive disposition. Triggering the pleasure or happy center provides a feeling of satisfaction.

The effect is similar to eating when we feel hungry. The difference is that when substances like heroin or China White triggers our “happy center”, along with the pleasurable feeling comes the symptoms of slowly getting addicted to the substance.

China White excites the pleasure centers of our brains to an unusual degree. which leaves its users vulnerable to cravings for the substance. With consistent use and in large doses, the body reacts differently in a way that the body begins to solely rely on the drug to initiate stimulation of the release of dopamine. This simply means that a long-time user may no longer feel the same effect using the same dose the next time, which then leads him to take larger doses to be able to achieve the level of euphoria that he wants.

In other words, continued abuse of China White can become a very deadly habit.

Recent News on China White

A February 2016 report revealed at least 23 deaths linked to heroin overdose. Individuals may have been unknowingly using heroin laced with fentanyl, which has led to their premature deaths.

This is an alarming situation because individuals who may need treatment for pain do not have immediate access to legal medication, leading them to resort to heroin use. What has made this worse is that individuals who purchase these drugs think that they’re buying real heroin.

Deaths linked to heroin abuse are continuously increasing in number in the U.S. Because of this, providing immediate treatment for those who have been hooked in using this substance has become an important concern.

Dangers of China White Use

Just like any designer drugs, taking China White continuously and in large amounts can significantly affect the user’s health. Some of the reasons why individuals choose to take these substances include getting rid of the pain from some medical condition or using it for recreational use. Either way, it provides a sense of relief from pain, which is taken over by an intensely pleasurable and euphoric sensation

Unfortunately, the downside of China White use is an increased risk of addiction.

Just like other heroin users, China White use can pose a high risk of dependency. Repeated use creates tolerance to its effects, which in turn would make the user continue and desire more doses of this substance until the desired effect is reached.

Individuals who have become long-time users of this substance are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using the drug. Such uncomfortable symptoms may be experienced, which may lead the individual to return to his addiction.

The use of China White may affect both the brain and the body. Therefore, apart from experiencing difficult withdrawal symptoms, continued use may reduce the quality of life and cause an untimely death.

Even in small doses, China White can cause depressed breathing, which can lead to fatality. It can become exponentially dangerous when used in combination with other CNS depressants such as alcohol.

The following are adverse effects from China White use:

  • Changes in heart rate
  • Decreased immunity
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood disorders
  • Prolonged sedation
  • Respiratory depression
  • Death

Between 2005 and 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported more than 1000 deaths linked to heroin use that have been unknowingly laced with fentanyl. A dose of more than 2 mg of China White can already be fatal. Combining it with other substances is equally fatal.

China White withdrawal symptoms can be more severe than heroin withdrawal and may include:

  • Flu-like chills and muscle aches
  • Severe cravings for the drug
  • Profuse sweating
  • Changes in appetite
  • Confusion
  • Rapid breathing
  • Mood changes
  • Extreme irritability

In another report, about 34 individuals were prosecuted for allegedly selling China White for $7-10 a dose – a very inexpensive amount at the cost of human health.

Diagnosis and Testing for China White Use

Despite overdosing on fentanyl and its other derivatives, standard drug tests may yield negative results. To rely on a basic urine drug test may not be sufficient. Because of this, other diagnostic methods should be done to confirm fentanyl or China White use of the individual:

  • Pulse oximetry and ABGs: Used for monitoring respiratory status.
  • Electrocardiography: Important in assessing and management heart failure.
  • Imaging/X-ray: Useful in determining any pulmonary symptoms.
  • Laboratory testing: Includes obtaining electrolytes, creatinine, BUN, glucose and salicylate concentration.

Treatment for China White Use

The standard treatment given to individuals with opioid overdose is naloxone, which is very helpful in lifting the patient out of opioid intoxication. However, with China White overdose, a single dose of naloxone may not be enough. The withdrawal symptoms of individuals may be so severe that it may require the individual to be under naloxone treatment for several days.

Some reports revealed that China White sold in the streets may contain other agents like dry fecal matter, which may lead to other conditions that need a different kind of treatment. In this kind of case, it would be best to trace the source of China White so that its contents can be determined. From there, appropriate treatment options may be formulated, depending on the actual composition.

Final Word

The government and the rest of society should be more vigilant in battling the propagation of designer drugs. This includes sharing of information about the dangers of China White and other designer drugs, as well as being on top of your family’s personal and emotional concerns. This way, the supply of illicit drugs may run out and that long-time users may hopefully resort to restoring their health.

Substance Abuse

How Does The Pharmaceutical Industry Affect The Opioid Abuse Issue?

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opioid abuse prescription drugs teen use

Drug addiction continues to be one of the major health issues that any country is facing today. Along with the increase in the number of individuals using illicit substances is the surge in the number of deaths caused by opiate overdose. In this article, we will look into the impact of the pharmaceutical industry on the growing opioid abuse epidemic.

The Real Scenario on Drug Abuse

News reports are worsening as each day unfolds, as young individuals start getting hooked early in life. Apart from that, a large majority of the workforce are regular users of illicit drugs, costing companies so much money because of lower productivity, higher absenteeism, and higher heath care expenditure.

The opioid abuse dilemma has been a longstanding problem in the U.S. For the past couple of decades, the rate of opioid abuse has increased significantly. One report said that the amount of opiate prescription filled in 2010 was already enough to provide for each American – healthy or not – for one month. Just imagine how much pharmaceutical companies have earned over that time!

The most common opiate drugs abused are heroin, morphine and prescription pain killers. About 2.1 million Americans succumbed to substance abuse related to prescription pain killers in 2012. Meanwhile, about 467,000 were found to be addicted to heroin. These growing numbers are linked to unintentional overdose and an increased in recreational use.

With these facts on hand, the world needs to put all efforts in facing the negative impact of opioid abuse. There is a need to revisit the role of opioids in terms of healing and reducing the suffering of those who are experiencing chronic pain from varying health conditions. The government, together with the pharmaceutical companies, need to come up with scientific insights on how to strike a balance between providing optimum relief from pain while reducing the associated risks and untoward effects that could lead to addiction.

Prescription Opioid Abuse: Truths, Facts, Figures

prescription drug abuse global issue

Among the three categories of medications that are prone to abuse, prescription opioids have a more severe impact as they are the most commonly abused substances susceptible to long-term and recreational use.

The increase in the rate of drug abuse may be brought about by several factors:

These factors have allowed opioids to be accepted and available. Individuals who use it recreationally can even get access to opioids from relatives or friends who have been medically prescribed for chronic pain treatment.

The increase of opioid availability has been accompanied by a drastic increase in the negative consequences related to abuse. The number of emergency cases involving recreational use of opioid analgesics increased. From an estimated 144,600 ER cases related to opioid abuse in 2004, the number ballooned to 305,900 in 2008.

Deaths related to prescription opioids have increased in the early part of the 21st century. It was reported in 2002 that opioid analgesic poisoning was the leading cause of death among all other illicit drug overdose cases.

The effects of prescription drug abuse become more dangerous and addictive by crushing pills and then snorting or injecting the powder, or by combining the opioid with alcohol and other drugs. It poses a higher risk on individuals who take more than what is prescribed.

Meanwhile, another group of individuals who may become opioid dependent are those who are taking prescription opioid for longer periods. An estimated 100 million Americans are suffering from chronic pain, while approximately 38 million suffer from chronic back pain conditions and at least 17 million suffer from osteoarthritis. Scientists are still in the process of observing the appropriateness of long-term opioid use in outweighing the benefits over the risks associated with chronic use.

The National Institute on Health and the Food and Drug Administration decided in 2002 to require companies who manufacture long-acting and extended-release opioid formulations to organize a post-marketing research on the safety of their products.

The Effects of Opioid Abuse

Opioids such as Oxycontin and Vicodin are the most commonly prescribed medication to treat moderate to severe pain. When these drugs attached to the receptors, they help reduce the perception of pain and can result to a sense of well-being.

However, apart from the relief that individuals may experience after taking these medications, opioid use may also exhibit other signs and symptoms such as:

  • Mental confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and constipation

With continuous administration of opioid chemicals in the body, the production of endogenous opioids is obstructed. This results to the discomfort being felt when the drug is discontinued. These are the withdrawal symptoms experienced by an individual who stops opioid abuse immediately.

The use of opioids has two positive effects: the relief from pain, and a sense of well-being and pleasure that triggers the happy house of the brain. Individuals using opioids may somehow at a certain point feel that they need to intensify their experience, thereby taking the drugs in unconventional manner.

Opioids are produced in the form of extended-release tablets, which are supposedly to be slowly absorbed into the bloodstream over a certain period of time. By crushing the tablet and snorted or injected with aqueous solution, this may increase the effect, resulting to a higher risk of medical complications such as:

  • Addiction
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Coma

Non-medical use of opioids has become popular among the youth. They are able to access opioids and similar medicines from friends or from people selling them on the streets. They are most often distributed in parties and musical events wherein drugs have become part of the event.

In 2012, it was reported that more than 5 percent of opioid users aged 12 years and older were taking opioids for recreational use.

Prescription opioid abuse is very costly. Insurance companies spend billions of dollars in health care costs for treating individuals who are taking opioid pain relievers for nonmedical purposes. The rate of admission for treating prescription pain relievers has also increased tremendously.

Tolerance to opioids is likely to happen when an individual would no longer feel the same effect with the usual dose that he commonly takes. This would lead the individual to take larger doses until he is able to reach the desired effect. This in turn would lead to a possible overdose.

A contributing factor to opioid overdose is when individuals would take them in combination with benzodiazepines and/or other CNS depressants. Therefore, individuals who are under such medications should practice safe administration, and should be closely monitored.

Pharmaceutical Companies Involved in the History of Opioid Abuse

prescription painkillers abuse

All eyes are on drug companies that develop and sell opioid medication. They are mostly to blame for the opioid epidemic mainly because they have promoted their products in a way that only the positive effects are highlighted, while leaving out the risks of these drugs.

Some of the big-branded pharmaceutical companies that have significantly contributed to the growth of the opioid abuse epidemic include the following:

  • Abbot Labs
  • Covidien
  • Endo Pharmaceuticals
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Novartis
  • Pfizer
  • Purdue Pharma
  • Watson Pharmaceuticals

Purdue Pharma was able to generate at least $3.1 Billion in 2010 from Oxycontin sales. The pharma giant advertised that Oxycontin is a suitable, non-addictive medication for treating all types of pain most especially cancer-related pain symptoms. The company was found guilty of misleading the public, leading them to pay a penalty of $635 million.

Between 1995 and 2001, the number of oxycodone-related deaths increased to 400 times and the number of Oxycontin prescription has increased 20-fold, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

According to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), the drug industry is the main reason behind the opioid abuse problem. The consumer group claims the following situations:

  • Opioid pain killers have become the first choice for treating lower back pain and other pain conditions, which were then treated with other drugs with milder adverse effects.
  • The long-acting opioid pain reliever can be snorted or injected with combination of aqueous solution. This has made drug addicts prefer them over other drugs because it can provide them with a different and better kind of “high”.
  • Oxycontin became extremely popular because its eerily similar action as the illicit substance heroin.
  • Long-term use of opioids has been gravely promoted without much evidence to prove how it would affect the overall health of individuals.
  • Pharmaceutical companies have been releasing misleading information about opioid painkillers. They never informed doctors and nurses of the addictive nature of these drugs, most especially Oxycontin.

Health professionals were made to believe that these long-acting drugs can provide pain relief of up to 12 hours. In reality, however, the effect wears off less than the number of hours indicated. Therefore, patients would have to endure painful withdrawal symptoms, which lead them to take more of the drug to relieve them from discomfort.

What Pharma Companies Should Do to Help Address Opioid Abuse

drugs prescription pills abuse

While it’s true that pharmaceutical companies have every right to earn, this mindset of profit should not come at the expense of public health and safety. In fact, with the gravity of power and privilege that pharma companies have with their extensive range of medical products, they need to be more responsible in releasing products so as not to trade remedies for long-term illnesses.

What pharmaceutical companies should do is carefully develop drugs that would provide more benefits rather than risks. It may be inevitable for cancer patients to take pain medication, which is why the development of such drugs should revolve along the long-term use of the drugs. Proper and complete information about the action of the drug/s should be made open to the public.

Such aggressive marketing tactics may drive health professionals to choose a particular brand of medications, in the hope that they could provide the relief that patients suffering from chronic pain need. However, much of the work should start from the pharmaceutical companies, as they are the ones that create and develop these drugs.

Alongside this is the need for extensive physician and patient education with regards to the use of such substances, which should include following the guidelines in taking the medication at the right time and the right dose. Information about the possible adverse effects for long-term use of the drug should also be well-discussed to patients.

Physicians should also come up with other options on how to treat pain wherein there should be a limit on the number of doses that a patient should take. By doing this, patients can avoid possible dependence on the drug.

Conclusion

The battle against opioid abuse is far from over. However, aside from the constant fight of the general public against this kind of drug abuse, pharmaceutical companies should be at the forefront of maintaining public safety and health.

Substance Abuse

Benefits and Dangers of Using E-Cigarettes

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As people became more aware of the dangers of smoking tobacco, as proven by the increasing number of deaths due to lung cancer, e-cigarettes may be the solution that smokers have been waiting for. If you are thinking about using e-cigarettes, we will list down the pros and cons of using this controversial device.

What is an Electronic Cigarette?

An electronic cigarette or e-cigarette is an electronic device that makes use of flavored chemicals that vaporize when used. The vapor produced by the e-cigarette is inhaled by the user, hence the term “vaping”.

The liquid used in electronic cigarettes is usually made of propylene glycol, glycerine, nicotine and flavorings. However, not all e-cigarettes contain nicotine.

A lot of people don’t see e-cigarette use as a fad; in fact, manufacturers see it as a great potential for a new market. The popularity of e-cigarette use surged in the mid 2000s. Manufacturers from different countries created their own versions, outwitting each other on how they could come up with the best design to encourage smokers to switch from the traditional tobacco smoking to vaping.

To date, e-cigarette sales have skyrocketed into a billion-dollar business.

Chemicals in E-cigarettes

e-cigarettes electronic cigarette smoke

A paper published in the Environmental Science and Technology revealed that there are different levels of harmful chemicals found in e-cigarettes made by different manufacturers.

A test conducted at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used two different e-cigarettes and simulated vaping using different power settings. Analyzing the vapor emitted by the e-cigarettes, the research team discovered 31 harmful chemicals, including 2 cancer-causing compounds.

The chemicals produced vary on the temperature by which the liquid is vaporized by the heating coil of the device. It is safe to say that that higher the temperature inside the coil, the higher the amount of chemicals emitted by the e-cigarettes.

In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some e-cigarettes sold in the market contain diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze. In 2015, it was found that aerosols from e-cigarettes contain formaldehyde, which is also found in cigarette smoke.

Acrolein, an eye and respiratory irritant, was recently found in e-cigarettes at 0.46 micrograms on the first five puffs. As the heat increases, the e-cigarette emits much more acrolein per puff. Compared to the traditional cigarette, the mount of acrolein released in e-cigarette is much less.

GASP of Colorado (Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution) has identified 42 chemicals found in e-cigarette vapor. Here’s a list of the e-cigarette chemicals that the group discovered:

2-butanone (MEK) Lead
2-furaldehyde Limonene
Acetaldehyde m,p-Xyelen
Acetic acid Magnesium
Acetone Manganese
Acrolein Nickel
Aluminum Nicotine
Barium N-Nitrosonornicotine
Benzene o-Methylbenzaldehyde
Boron p,m-Xylene
Butanal Phenol
Butyl hydroxyl toluene Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
Cadmium Potassium
Chromium Propanal
Copper Propylene Glycol
Crotonaldehyde Sulfur
Diethylene Glycol Tin
Formaldehyde Toluene
Glyoxal Valeraldehyde
Iron Zinc
Isoprene Zirconium

Benefits of E-cigarettes

E-cigarettes are marketed to help longtime smokers who want to quit smoking. Although some e-cigarettes contain nicotine, Cancer Research UK says that the level in e-cigarettes is a lot safer than that produced by burning tobacco, in which toxins produced are the primary cause of disease and death.

Ever since e-cigarette was introduced in the market, there has been a significant decrease in the number of tobacco users. According to a study from the University College of London, roughly 18,000 people have improved their likelihood of smoking cessation in 2015.

In terms of secondhand smoke emitted by e-cigarettes, reports said that it is safer than the secondhand smoke emitted by traditional cigarettes.

E-cigarette manufacturers claim the following benefits of e-cigarette use over using traditional tobacco:

Odor

Considering that e-cigarettes produce vapors, they are relatively odorless. Traditional cigarette smell is very distinct, and can cling to clothes, fingers, or inside the car. The burning tar in cigarette is responsible for that awful smell that non-smokers would almost always complain about.

Cost

Traditional smoking may be more expensive than using e-cigarettes. Tobacco smokers may be spending thousands of dollars each year.

In contrast, for as long as the electronic cigarette device is working, the user only needs to buy the e-liquid. One container of e-liquid can last longer compared to the number of tobacco cigarette sticks consumed in a day.

Apart from the cost of each cigarette stick is the need to mask off the unfavorable smell coming out from the mouth of smokers. They would need to use breath fresheners or packs of gum to hide the “smoker’s scent”.

This can also cause stains on teeth, which would cost a lot of money to whiten. Much worse, it may lead to unhealthy oral conditions that can make the teeth fall from its sockets if not given proper care.

Social

More companies have become conscientious with regards to providing a smoke-free environment because of the hazards that traditional smoking can have – increase in absenteeism, loss in productivity and increase of health costs.

It is less likely that smokers and non-smokers would be comfortable in the same room because of the difference on their take on human health. A non-smoker would prefer to breathe fresher air than be with a smoker who puffs cigarettes the whole time.

Safety

Lighting e-cigarettes does not pose any fire hazards compared to traditional cigarettes. There have been many cases where the cause of fire was from lighting a cigarette, whether it’s from a lit match or failure to properly dispose cigarette butts. E-cigarettes would not cause fire when used, since they run on batteries.

Health

E-cigarettes may not be considered as a remedy for tobacco addiction. However, a higher risk of having different forms of cancers has been linked more to traditional cigarette use than e-cigarettes. Some conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease have also been associated with traditional cigarette smoking use.

E-cigarette users see that the device is helpful in terms of cost and consequences. The ability to lessen the impact of health issues is one of the reasons that encourage individuals to prefer e-cigarettes over traditional cigarettes.

Dangers of E-cigarette Use

e-cigarette use secondhand smoke

In some way, using e-cigarettes to replace traditional tobacco smoking may be helpful to some, most especially to those who opt to use e-liquids that contain less harmful substances.

However, some people fear that e-cigarettes may be encouraging the younger crowd to get into the smoking habit because some e-cigarettes do not contain nicotine found to be harmful in tobacco smoking.

Main danger: chemical components

E-cigarette manufacturers may focus too much on the growth of their businesses without much thought that the chemicals in e-cigarette liquids can also lead to serious health risks.

Despite the favorable flavors that e-liquids have, they contain chemicals that can cause health issues to smokers, as well as to non-smokers exposed to vapors from e-cigarettes.

Nicotine is not the only chemical that we should be concerned about with regards to smoking. In fact, out of the sheer number of chemicals found in e-cigarette vapor, half of them can significantly affect the health of users and people exposed to secondhand e-cigarette smoke.

Here are some of the chemicals from e-cigarettes, and the dangers that they pose:

Acetyldehyde

It is a poisonous solvent and is used as a paint stripper. Short-term exposure to this chemical may cause irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract.

It is also known to be a contributing factor to certain cancers from long-term use. Symptoms are similar to alcohol intoxication.

Cadmium

It is a toxic metal that is used in car batteries. Chronic inhalation or oral ingestion of cadmium may result to build-up of the substance in the kidneys, and may lead to kidney diseases.

Diethylene Glycol

It is a chemical used in antifreeze. It is capable of causing eye and respiratory tract infection, as well as cause reproductive and fetal malformation.

Formaldehyde

It is a preservative used for dead bodies. Some household products may also contain this chemical. Chronic exposure may lead to nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia.

Isoprene

This is one of the chemicals used in making synthetic rubber. It is considered to be carcinogenic to humans.

Lead

Lead is a naturally occurring element that does not have any beneficial use. Worse, it can cause serious health conditions with long-term exposure in both humans and animals.

Nicotine

Chronic exposure to nicotine may affect the nervous system and may cause heart problems.

Nickel

Only a small amount of nickel may be beneficial for both humans and animals. However, chronic nickel exposure may lead to a skin condition call nickel dermatitis, which can cause itching of fingers, hands and forearms.

Benzene

This is found in gasoline and pesticides. Chronic exposure has been known to cause various blood disorders and may affect the reproductive system in women most especially those who are conceiving at the time of exposure.

Facts and Figures on E-cigarette Use

e-cigarettes liquid dangers

The proliferation of e-cigarettes in the market has caused a tremendous increase in teen smoking. Although they may pose less health risks than traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes should not be considered a solution to smoking cessation.

A recent study has shown that as young as 8th graders have become daily users of e-cigarettes. Here are some disturbing figures on e-cigarette use, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

Grade Level Cigarette Users E-cigarette Users
8th Graders 3.6% 9.5%
10th Graders 6.4% 14%
12th Graders 11.4% 16.2%
  • Teens who start out young in using e-cigarettes are also most likely to use tobacco. More than 30 percent of e-cigarette users started smoking within 6 months.
  • Boys are two times more likely to use e-cigarettes than girls.
  • Roughly 7 out of 10 teens are exposed to e-cigarette ads.
  • About 66 percent of teens use e-cigarettes.

Are E-cigarettes Safe?

E-cigarettes may be advertised to help smokers quit smoking and get rid of the addiction from nicotine. While it’s true that e-cigarettes may pose fewer risks than traditional smoking, it should not be seen as a safer way of smoking. This is because the liquid in e-cigarettes contains harmful chemicals that can cause health problems.

E-cigarette use has not been prescribed by any physician to stop tobacco smokers. Nicotine patches are still the primary alternative to nicotine consumption, which should eventually help smokers to slowly quit smoking. With e-cigarette use, a smoker may not find the desire to stop because the habit of smoking remains, and may still be exposed to harmful chemicals.

Substance Abuse

Dangers of Kratom Use

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kratom extract powder

Drug addiction has become one of the major concerns that the world has been trying to solve. However, despite the efforts of world governments to completely end the drug menace, it has not been that easy. Kratom use, for instance, has been the subject of debates as advocates and opposition groups have clashing beliefs about the plant’s effects on human health.

We at the TestCountry blog have been discussing about this controversial plant through several articles on kratom. There’s not much information about kratom for now – and studies are still under way – and that’s why it’s important to learn as much as we can about kratom.

What is kratom?

Kratom is a plant-like tree endemic in Southeast Asia, and belongs to the same family of plants as coffee and gardenias. It has been widely used for centuries in Thailand because of its ability to relieve pain and improve mood. Kratom use is also known to manage withdrawal symptoms associated with opiate addiction.

Kratom products are distributed in the form of crushed or powdered leaves, and varies in color from light to dark green.

  • Kratom extracts are greenish in color.
  • Kratom resins are dark brown in color, and are made by boiling down the water from liquefied kratom suspension.
  • Kratom is also available in capsule and tinctures.

Kratom extract is the most expensive form of kratom.

Kratom comes in different strains: red, green and white. These color strains are determined by the veins and stem of the kratom leaves and not the color of the leaves themselves. Each strain possesses a different effect, and this has something to do with where the leaves comes from. The most of all kratom strain is Maeng Da, which is said to be very potent and highly effective in treating pain.

Kratom is usually sold at headshops, smart shops, and online stores. Most kratom supplies come from Indonesia where the plant is not prohibited or controlled.

It was in Thailand where this started to become popular. In the 1940s, kratom was  banned in Thailand not because of its unfavorable effects but because it has surpassed the popularity of opium, which was then raking in huge revenues in the country.

Methods of Kratom Use

Kratom leaves may be dried and crushed, so that they can be chewed or made into tea. If kratom is taken as tea, a certain amount of lemon juice is added to help extract the plant alkaloids, and then a bit of sugar or honey to mask out the bitter taste of the brew. Kratom leaves can also be smoked.

Some kratom users would chew 3 to 10 times in a day. They take out the stem of the leaves and chew one leaf at a time. Some people add salt to prevent constipation. Drinking of warm water, coffee or tea is done after consuming the masticated kratom.

In recent years, kratom cocktails were made and was called as 4×100 . It is a mixture of kratom leaves, caffeinated soft drink, codeine-containing cough syrup, antidepressant or analgesic drug, and ice. Much like any other drug cocktail, mixing kratom with other drugs can be extremely dangerous.

Street Names of Kratom

Kratom is also known by the following street names:

  • Krathom
  • Kakuam
  • Ithang
  • Thom (Thailand)
  • Biak-biak
  • Ketum (Malaysia)
  • Mambog (Philippines)

Kratom Potency

The strength of a specific kratom sample depends on several factors, such as variety of kratom, age of the plant, environment and the time of harvest. The total alkaloid concentration in dried kratom leaves ranges from 0.5-1.5%. Thai kratom may have up to 66% of total alkaloids, while the Malaysian kratom varieties only contain about 12% of total alkaloids.

Ketum drinks in Malaysia are prepared by boiling dried kratom leaves over long hours. Three servings of 250 ml of ketum drink in a day are said to be effective in relieving opiate withdrawal symptoms.

Why do people use kratom?

Kratom has both positive and negative effects. More often than not, people overlook the side effects as they are more focused on the positive effects that kratom can provide.

Kratom can be beneficial in the following ways:

  • Contains Antioxidant properties
  • Helps reduce effects of anxiety and depression
  • Controls diarrhea
  • Enhances energy
  • Helps to have a restful sleep
  • Provides a calm effect
  • Provides a sense of well-being
  • Helps in pain management
  • Improves focus
  • Reported to be an herbal alternative to prescriptions
  • Induces prolonged sex
  • Aids in relaxation
  • May help with losing weight

Medical Uses of Kratom

Kratom is used for various medical conditions in Southeast Asia, particularly in the treatment of diarrhea, cough, and intestinal worms. It is also used as an antimicrobial agent for wound infections. It has been also found to be helpful in managing withdrawal symptoms for opiate addiction.

Kratom is used to alleviate chronic pain. Although kratom may have somehow showed positive results to certain medical conditions, further studies are still needed to authenticate such claims made by self-medicating individuals and physicians. Scientific information about the effects of kratom is currently limited, and there have been no clinical trials conducted to fully determine if kratom is safe to use or not.

Is Kratom Safe?

Kratom contains more than 20 active chemicals that bind in the human brain. This can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Despite the long history of kratom as an alternative to prescription drugs, kratom use has become popular in countries like Thailand and Malaysia, even though the plant is banned.

Chemicals found in kratom may interact with drug-metabolizing enzymes in the liver, which may eventually lead to dangerous drug interactions with other medications.

Dangers of Kratom Use

Kratom users should be warned of the dangers that kratom may possess, most especially to those who are regularly using this kind of substance.

Kratom use within a regulated amount may provide beneficial effects to an individual. It has a natural stimulant effect, which is very helpful in adding focus, and increasing energy and alertness. However, larger doses may produce a euphoric feeling similar to opioids, and may affect a person’s decision-making.

Kratom Addiction

Frequent and progressive kratom use may lead to addiction, because it can trigger the “happy center” of the brain. When the user takes the substance, it comes to a point where the individual may no longer feel the same intensity with the same dose. As a result, the user would then take larger doses to achieve the desired result, which in turn may lead to dependence.

Insufficient Kratom Regulations

Kratom was marketed in the past as a nutritional or dietary supplement. It was in 2014 when there had been numerous reports to the U.S. Food and Drug Authority (FDA) about health concerns and toxicity of kratom. This resulted to a move to completely ban importation of kratom to the US.

Despite this measure, kratom is continuously being sold at headshops where it is labeled as “incense”. It can also be purchased online. Some bars even offer this as a cocktail drink called “ketum”.

Currently, it is an unregulated substance, which is why it continues to be available in the market. No official labels are used for selling; therefore, the potential health hazards and the level of potency may be unknown to buyers.

Undesirable Drug Interactions

Mixing kratom with other psychoactive substances may put a person at high risk of having seizures. One of the most popular kratom concoctions is 4×100, a cocktail composed of kratom and codeine-based cough syrup or caffeinated beverage. This mixture can provide a similar effect as alcohol.

Several reports of kratom use mixed with other drugs have led to serious health conditions. When kratom is used along with another mind-altering drug, it can lead to a very fatal drug interaction.

Side Effects of Kratom Use

Kratom use can lead to different effects – from stimulant-like to opiate-like effects depending on the dose taken by an individual.

At low doses of 1-5 g, kratom may produce a mild stimulant effect. An individual may feel the effect 10 minutes after taking kratom, and this feeling may last for up to 1.5 hours. The effects are less intense as amphetamine use, and may include the following:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased energy
  • Increased alertness
  • Heightened libido

At moderate to high doses between 5-15 g, kratom may provide an opioid-like effect that may last for several hours. Such effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced pain
  • Calmer state
  • Cough suppression
  • Decreased in opioid withdrawal symptoms

Unfavorable side effects may range from uncomfortable to lethal symptoms such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Blushing
  • Constricted pupils
  • Constipation
  • Itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of motor coordination

Doses of more than 15 grams are reported to cause seizures. A potent form of kratom known as Krypton is believed to be the cause of several deaths in the U.S. Krypton is a combination of kratom and O-desmethyltramadol, which causes an increase in the depressive effects on the central nervous system.

Long-term effects of kratom may cause:

  • Anorexia
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Psychosis

Kratom Addiction

kratom pills

Dependence is likely to happen after regular kratom use. This is one of the reasons why many people are clamoring for this substance to be listed among the controlled substances in the U.S. Such dependency may lead to serious health hazards.

Kratom addiction will need treatment the same as any other opioid addiction. Treatment may involve rehabilitation and detoxification, as well as management of withdrawal symptoms.

Kratom withdrawal may be experienced by kratom users who stopped taking the substance. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • High blood pressure
  • Runny nose
  • Insomnia
  • Intense caving for kratom

Legality of Kratom Use in the U.S.

Currently, kratom is not included among the list of controlled substances in the U.S. However, several U.S. states have come up with their own regulations with regards to kratom use, possession and trade.

The U.S. may still need to conduct further research on the true effects of this substance, whether it can provide substantial positive effects or not. Patients who have used kratom as an alternative pain remedy vouch for its therapeutic effects and its affordability compared to prescription drugs.

Not all states may see kratom as the alternative solution in treating certain medical conditions, though. In fact, some states have considered banning kratom completely. U.S. states that have banned kratom and its by-products include the following:

  • Alabama: Kratom has been treated as a Schedule I controlled substance since May 2016.
  • Arkansas: The banning of kratom took effect on February 2016.
  • Indiana: Kratom has been incorrectly identified as a synthetic drug, thereby categorizing kratom under synthetic controlled substances.
  • Vermont: One of the primary alkaloids of kratom (hydroxymitragynine) has been classified as a regulated substance.
  • Wisconsin: The primary kratom alkaloids mitragynine and hydroxymitragynine have been classified as Schedule I.
Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

The Truth About Opioid Abuse and Pain Management Treatment

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pain management opioid prescription drug abuse

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), at least 11 percent of Americans suffer from various forms of pain that they experience every day. Because of this, a lot of medical practitioners have focused their direction towards pain management. Unfortunately, the rise in the need for pain relief has given birth to a different kind of problem: opioid abuse.

People experience pain differently because this is based on the individual’s perception of pain. The level of pain felt by one person may be aggravated when going through difficult times, anxiety, or depression.

In this article, we will discuss pain management, what we can do to treat or alleviate pain safely, and why opioid abuse has become an epidemic all around the world.

What is pain management?

Pain management is a specialized medical treatment that deals with pain of different origins – spinal, neuropathic and musculoskeletal pain disorders. It is the primary concern of doctors to provide immediate intervention to reduce the severity of pain being experienced by individuals. Physicians may recommend or prescribe different kinds of techniques for pain management.

What is the primary role of pain management physicians?

Pain management physicians, as the name implies, are specialized doctors who help manage pain that individuals may be suffering from.

A physiatrist – and yes, that’s not a misspell of “psychiatrist” – is a rehabilitation medicine physician who helps alleviate pain suffered by any patient, may it be related to nerves, muscles, or bones. These doctors can help treat injuries or other illnesses that may affect the normal movement of an individual.

Meanwhile, an anesthesiologist is a trained health professional who treats patients suffering from chronic pain by using a wide range of procedures or medications.

Physicians may undergo specialize training on pain management to have an in-depth knowledge about the physiology of pain and to be able to properly diagnose patients through specialized tests.

Pain Management Procedures and Techniques

Pain management covers a wide variety of procedures that patients suffering from mild to severe pain may receive. Apart from medically prescribed opioid medication, doctors may have the following options to help alleviate pain, such as the following:

  • Regenerative therapy
  • Radiofrequency ablation and treatment of various nerves
  • MRI device implantation
  • X-ray-guided spinal and joint injections
  • Spinal cord and peripheral nerve stimulation

Highly skilled physicians are the only ones who can perform these techniques.

pain management issues

Proper pain management approaches

Giving the proper pain management involves being able to determine the cause of the pain being experienced by the patient. With appropriate review of the case, the best pain management option may be provided as soon as possible.

Managing pain should not be focusing solely on treating the body, but it should also include the treatment of the mind. There are a lot of pain medicines that may be prescribed to patients suffering from pain. Some of these include the following:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Antidepressants
  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Steroids
  • Opioids

Other pain management options are as follows:

Prescription Opioids Abuse

The most commonly abused drugs include stimulants, CNS depressants, and opioids, the latter of which have become the subject of much scrutiny by the medical field and the general public. A large number of Americans have become dependent to opioids to treat their pain, and this has led to a higher risk of opioid abuse.

Despite the government’s call to fight drug addiction, people still continue buying drugs from the black market for recreational use. Among the commonly abused substances include morphine, heroin, and prescription pain relievers.

Some users started out as patients who have been prescribed opioids for their pain management needs. However, over-prescription has led to opioid abuse and addiction. The rewarding effect of opioids can be increased when the drug is used rapidly and frequently.

The most commonly abused opiates include the following:

  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Meperidine
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone

It is unfortunate how some teenagers have gained access to prescription opioids from their own parents who may have been prescribed to take the medication. Some reports say that some clinics have been robbed of these specific drugs, which are sold in the streets.

Some of the reasons why opioids have become one of the popular choices among drug users are as follows:

  • It’s commonly prescribed by doctors.
  • Use of the drug is socially acceptable because it is designed as a means to help treat pain.
  • Pharmaceutical companies use aggressive marketing techniques to encourage vulnerable individuals to use it.

Facts and figures on opioid abuse

prescription painkillers abuse

Substance abuse is costing world governments a huge sum of money. With regards to illicit drugs alone, the U.S. government spends roughly $11 billion for health care costs.

Opiate abuse accounts for a great proportion of the government’s drug abuse problem. There has been a rise in the number of deaths linked to prescription opioid use since the early part of the 21st century. In 2002, opioid analgesics have become one of the most common causes of death.

Some individuals choose to use opioids over morphine and heroin due to affordability and accessibility.

The effect of opioids may be heightened when pills are crushed, injected or when taken in combination with another drug. People taking these opioids more than the dosage required may succumb to opioid addiction.

More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, and most of them are under opioid therapy. Among this number, at least 38 million suffer from back pain and approximately 17 million are suffering from osteoarthritis. Considering that pain management may last for several months, scientists are still debating on whether the long-term use of opioids is more beneficial than being a risk for drug dependence.

Patients suffering from chronic pain may need to be treated for a longer period of time. In some cases, there is a need to increase the dose up to 10 times to maintain the level of pain relief needed.

Opiate addiction is likely to happen when an individual no longer feels the kind of “high” that he wants to achieve.  The next logical step for these individuals is to take larger or more frequent doses until they are able to achieve the euphoric results that they are looking for.

Signs of Opioid Abuse

Opioids are pain killers that are most commonly prescribed to help treat pain. However, when these drugs fall into the wrong hands, there is a high risk of being abused.

The short-term effects of opiate use are the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling of euphoria
  • Pain relief
  • Sedation

Opiates initiate the release of dopamine in the brain, thereby creating a feeling of extreme pleasure. Unfortunately, opiate use may produce unfavorable effects on certain individual, which include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Intermittent nodding or loss of consciousness
  • Nausea
  • Lethargy
  • Paranoia
  • Respiratory depression
  • Social withdrawal

One of the very common signs of prolonged opiate use is having smaller-sized pupils.

Meanwhile, long-term use of opiates can cause the following:

  • Abdominal distention
  • Brain damage
  • Bloating
  • constipation
  • Dependence
  • Development of tolerance
  • Liver damage
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Some users would crush opiate pills, mix them with water and alcohol, and then inject the concoction into their bloodstream. This practice may cause heart problems as well as pulmonary embolism. Additionally, if the injection site is infected, it may result to gangrene.

Other effects of opiates abuse include lower immune system, risk of gastric problems, and potential development of cumulative hypoxic end-organ injury.

Teen Opiate Abuse

Vicodin and Oxycontin are two of the most common opioid medications abused by teenagers. According to a report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2014, about 8 percent of high school seniors have used Vicodin. It also said that teens are likely to combine opiates with alcohol to heighten the effect, which leads to more dangerous effects such as severe respiratory depression.

Continued use of opiates may lead to tolerance, which may force the user to take more doses than usual.

Opiate Dependence

prescription drug abuse cocktail drugs

Just like taking any kind of illicit drug, habitual use of opioids may lead to dependence. Dependence on the drug may be confirmed through the following signs:

  • The user ignores the consequences despite knowing them.
  • The individual starts stealing from others just to be able to buy the drug.
  • Relationships may be affected.
  • Performance in school or at work may be observed to be poorer than usual.

Failure to stop drug use may warrant the help of a rehabilitation center.

It is important to note that there is a possibility for opiate overdose. For this case, some emergency centers administer Narcan, a nasal spray that is primarily used to help the patient recover from difficulty in respiration. However, it is not considered a treatment for opiate overdose; it is used only as an emergency aid before the actual medical intervention.

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

When dealing with addiction treatment involving opioids, physicians and rehab centers may ask for the following information:

  • The length of time that the drug has been taken
  • The last intake of the drug
  • The source of the drug

Treating any type of drug addiction may involve detoxification, a process of reducing the abused drug until the individual no longer experiences withdrawal symptoms. This process usually takes several weeks to a few months, preferably in a rehabilitation center under the supervision of professionals.

Pharmacological treatment may be another option. The drug of choice to help opiate users to get over the addiction is either buprenorphine or methadone. The dose will be decreased each day until the effects of the abused drug wears off.

Withdrawal symptoms are likely to happen when a drug user has stopped taking the illicit substance. Such symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Inability to sleep
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

In the treatment of a recovering addict, residential rehab or outpatient therapy may be offered. The choice would depend on the individual’s level of opiate use, the amount of insurance coverage, the presence of family support, and any previous attempts to recovery.

During the therapy treatment, recovering users are taught a number of coping skills so that they can resist the temptation of getting hooked on the drugs again.

In the event that the individual has recovered from opioid addiction, it is highly recommended that the person undergoes an extended form of therapy such as counseling and support group sessions. This can help the individual to easily get back to his normal life.

More importantly, this kind of therapy can be made more successful when family members participate. In cases of addiction recovery, there is a need for loved ones to understand the kind of journey that the individual has gone through.

Substance Abuse

Legality of Kratom Use Around The World

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legal kratom use

For several years, Thailand and other Asian countries have been relying on plants as natural herbal remedy for a wide variety of ailments. One of the rising trends in natural medicine is kratom, which has gained both fame and notoriety. In this article, we will discuss kratom use in the global scale, and how countries are treating this controversial plant in a legal standpoint.

Popularity of Kratom Use

Depending on the dose taken, kratom may produce stimulating or opiate-like effects. Apart from these effects on an individual, kratom use may also function as an energy booster and relief from mild pain. It is also known to be helpful in the management of withdrawal symptoms associated with opiate addiction.

Over the years, there has been an increase in the rate of kratom use across North America and Europe, where the plant-based substance is being used as a recreational drug, pain relief medication, or herbal aid in opiate withdrawal symptoms. Despite what many people claim about the effectiveness of kratom in managing different medical situations, some physicians and medical experts do not recommend kratom use because of its adverse effects after prolonged use.

kratom ban DEA

What Kratom Users Say

People who use kratom have a lot of good things to say about the substance, as it provides an extensive range of benefits with regards to mood, stress and pain relief, and energy level. Those engage in kratom use say that it has helped them in the following areas:

  • Improved concentration and alertness
  • Mental drive
  • Sense of happiness

In addition, kratom advocates say that it is safe when used as directed, but can potentially lead to serious health conditions if used as a recreational drug.

Different Strains of Kratom

Kratom types are divided into three colors: red, white and green. The colors refer to the stem and veins of the kratom leaves. Each color signifies the effect of the kratom leaf on the individual’s mind and body.

Red Vein Kratom

This is the best-selling and most widely available kratom strain in the market. They produce a pleasant, calming effect that can give peace of mind and a feeling of well-being and optimism.

Red vein is said to be suitable as an aid for individuals who have difficulty in sleeping (insomnia). It can be used as a replacement for pharmaceutical painkillers.

White Vein Kratom

This kratom strain is known for inducing a positive mood. It has the most stimulating and euphoric effect among the three strains. Because of this, it is taken as a means to increase alertness, concentration and positive perspective.

Some individuals who work long hours a day would take white vein kratom to help them feel stronger and more motivated.

Green Vein Kratom

The effect of this strain is described as somewhere in between of the red and green strains. It generates a subtle effect that can help the user to become more focused and enhances alertness. This provides a balance when mixed with the other two strains.

When green vein kratom is mixed with red vein kratom, it prevents the excessive anesthetic effect of the red vein kratom. On the other hand, when the green vein kratom is mixed with the white vein kratom, it prevents overstimulation of the white vein.

Kratom Use Around the World

Many countries have seen the positive effect that kratom provides in relieving pain and managing opiate withdrawal. However, at least 4 countries have already made kratom illegal. Meanwhile, several other countries have imposed strict regulations and labeled kratom as a controlled substance.

A kratom ban is in effect in four countries: Australia, Burma, Malaysia and Thailand. Under strict regulations from these countries, anyone who is caught using or in possession may suffer jail time. In some cases, death penalty can also be given as a way of protecting the majority from getting hooked on kratom.

Harsh regulations are being imposed with kratom use in Denmark, Finland, Germany, New Zealand and Romania.

kratom use worldwide

Below is a list of kratom’s status in several countries.

Country Status
Australia It is currently listed as Schedule 9 of the SUSDP. It decision was made in October 2003 during the National drugs and Poisons Schedule Committee meeting.
Brazil Kratom is legal wherein leaves of the plant as well as kratom extracts are sold in local markets.
Belgium Kratom is not a controlled substance in this country.
Canada Kratom is a legal substance in Canada where it can be purchased, sold and used without limitations.
Denmark In 2009, kratom was declared a controlled substance.
Finland A prescription is required to be able to purchase kratom. Kratom importation is illegal.
Germany It is classified as a controlled substance under Section 73 of the Medicines Act. Penalties are imposed on individuals found to purchase kratom online.
Greece Kratom use is legal and the plant is no considered to be a controlled substance.
Hungary Kratom is sold as incense which can be purchased at head shops.
Ireland Kratom is not regulated by the country’s Misuse of Drugs Act.
Italy Kratom may be used legally, and is not considered as a controlled substance.
Lithuania Anyone caught in possession of kratom is subject to a criminal offense.
Malaysia Kratom is illegal to be sold in Malaysia, unless a government license can be provided by the seller/trader.
Myanmar/Burma It is illegal to grow and sell kratom in this country.
Netherlands This country is one of the largest suppliers of kratom in Europe. Kratom is legal and can be purchased from smartshops and from online Dutch vendors.
New Zealand It is classified under the same Schedule 1 of the Medicines Amendment Regulations Act of 2009.  It is illegal to sell kratom without prescription. Importing and possessing is not illegal.
Norway

 

This is classified as a medicinal drug, which can only be accessible with a recommendation by doctors or government officials.
Poland Kratom and its by-products are controlled substances in Poland.
Romania Kratom ban has been implemented since 2010.
Russia Kratom was illegal until its status was changed in 2011.
Sweden It is currently illegal in Sweden but is not listed in any drug schedules. There are, however, some indications that the status may change in the future.
South Korea Kratom is illegal and is strictly regulated.
Thailand It is classified as Level 5 Narcotic, which makes it illegal to grow, possess, sell, or purchase in Thailand despite being used in the past as alternative pain relief medication.
United States Kratom in the U.S. is not a controlled substance and is considered legal to grow, possess and use. There is no need for a prescription in purchasing kratom. However, several states in the U.S. are considering to regulate selling of kratom.

Legality of Kratom Use in the U.S.

Although kratom is not considered as a controlled substance in the U.S., some states have implemented regulations with regards to the use, possession and selling of kratom. It is vital to known the regulations imposed by each state before considering to bring kratom in a particular state. Some states may require that you present a license and prescription.

Kratom ban is implemented in Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Kratom is considered legal in most of the states except for Florida, New York, North Carolina and Oregon, where there are proposals to impose kratom ban.

Kratom Dangers

There are at least 20 active chemicals found in kratom, which include opioid-binding receptors that may potentially lead to physical dependence and addiction. Despite the positive effects of kratom use, some countries have imposed a kratom ban due to its addictive potential.

Kratom may have been useful in relieving pain, but continued use may interfere with drug-metabolizing enzymes in the liver and may cause dangerous interactions with other drugs. There have been reports of overdose in which some of them resulted to fatalities, most especially if kratom was used in combination with other drugs.

There are three kratom dangers that should be of major concern:

Kratom addiction

Most legislators fear that despite the positive effects that kratom use may provide, it has a higher risk of potentially being abused.

Absence of Regulation

No concrete scientific evidence can declare that kratom has an effect on human health, although the plant has been in existence for several years. There may be a need to conduct further studies to determine if kratom should be considered more of a help than a risk.

Negative Drug Interaction

Some individuals may be taking prescription medicines to help them manage their existing conditions, but a few of them may have used kratom in combination. When kratom is used with other drugs (even if they’re medically prescribed), it may cause some serious damage on the liver.

Kratom Abuse, Signs and Symptoms

kratom extract powder

Kratom is used as an herbal alternative in managing pain and withdrawal symptoms from opiate addiction. It is known under the following street names:

  • Biak
  • Ketum
  • Thom
  • Kakuam
  • Thiang

Since kratom is not a controlled substance in most countries, it can be purchase from headshops and online.

Signs and symptoms of kratom use may vary, depending on the amount of drug ingested. At low doses of kratom, they may exhibit stimulant effects, which are similar to but not as intense as amphetamine. These effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Greater alertness
  • Heightened sex drive
  • Impaired coordination
  • Increased sociability

Higher doses of kratom may produce the following opiate-like effects similar to but less intense than morphine or oxycodone:

  • Constipation
  • Cough suppression
  • Dysphoria
  • Euphoria
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Reduce pain
  • Sedation

Kratom abuse may lead to harmful physical effects most especially when used in combination with other drugs including medically prescribed drugs.

Kratom Dependence

Kratom dependence occurs after progressive intake of larger doses to achieve the desired effects. Withdrawal symptoms can also be experienced when kratom intake is suddenly stopped. Such effects are similar to opiate withdrawal, including the following:

  • Abdominal and muscle pain
  • Cravings for kratom
  • Diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritability
  • Sweating

Statistics on Kratom Use

The popularity of kratom has been increasing as the availability of the substance online continues to rise and more people are openly discussing their kratom experiences.

A 2013 study showed that there is an increase in kratom-related cases as reported by the Texas Poison Control Database.

The exact number of teen kratom users may not have been determined as drug surveys do not include questions relating to kratom use. However, there are emergency room reports where teens were said to have taken kratom to get high. This is causing a major concern among authorities because kratom can become more appealing to teenagers. The availability of kratom has made it easier to purchase the substance than any other drug, and it costs much less than other drugs.

Addiction Substance Abuse

Tobacco Use Among Adolescents: Facts, Statistics, Effects

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Despite warnings about the health hazards of tobacco use, people have continuously patronized this product, making it a seemingly essential part of their daily lives. What makes the issue alarming is the fact that teen smoking rates are increasing, and more kids have started an early addiction to tobacco. Aside from the usual cigarettes that they may have access to, teenagers also use pipes, hookahs, bidis, and the very popular e-cigarettes.

If this continues, teens who engage in tobacco use may die early from smoking-related illnesses.

To stop teenagers from engaging in the use of tobacco products, parents should become aware of the probable causes why their teens start to smoke at such an early age.

Why Do Teens Smoke Cigarettes?

cigarette smoking teens

There may be various factors why teenagers start to smoke cigarettes, some of which include the following:

Poor parental modelling

Teenagers whose parents smoke are more likely to become tobacco users themselves, especially if they see adults smoking and making it a part of their daily routine. In their young minds, adolescents may think that since it is readily available, it is part of any normal human experience.

Media influence

Movies may also have a huge influence on teenagers. At least 47% of teens agreed that seeing drugs and tobacco products on screen seem to be okay.

Another study showed that teens aged 12-17 years old who watch three or more rated “R” movies were seven times more likely to smoke cigarettes. They probably think that tobacco use is a way of being “cool” as they see it being used by their favorite actors.

Curiosity

Being a teenager is not as easy as it sounds, because it is during this stage that they try to discover things, including their own identities. When they feel unhappy, more often than not, they may turn to a substance that they have easier access to. Taking the substance may produce a different kind of feeling, which can make them happy, energized and more confident.

Boredom

Sometimes, teenagers feel the need to smoke because they don’t have anything else to do. You can’t expect them to be always studying as it may make them feel burn out and bored.

In this case, tobacco use or alcohol consumption may fill the internal void.

Peer connection

Smoking can somehow become their way of hanging out with similar-minded teens thereby instantly having a connection. Seeing that other people are also using these substances lessens a teenager’s fear of being misjudged. They get a sense that whatever crazy decisions they make, blaming it on the substance is just a fine excuse.

Identity crisis

Teens may be dealing with different issues in their young lives to a point that they turn to alcohol or drugs as a means of showing rebellion. They may choose different substances depending on their personalities.

For instance, angry teenagers may choose alcohol or methamphetamines to make them behave more aggressively. Marijuana has the opposite effect, by making them feel secluded from the whole world. Tobacco use may make them flaunt their independence, like making a statement to parents saying that they have already grown up.

A teenager’s life is a complex stage. Many shy teenagers would make use of drugs or alcohol to help them gain confidence. The effects that tobacco produces include having less inhibition and reducing social anxiety.

Wrong knowledge of tobacco use implications

Being naïve at a young age comes with a price. Some teenagers think that taking these substances will not lead to any untoward incidents. Some teenagers would influence their friends and provide wrong information about the effects of the substances.

It is best that parents should have time to talk to their children regarding the dangers of tobacco products. This way, teenagers will have greater chances of staying away from people who are trying to influence them.

Happy feeling

Teenagers turn to substance use because they feel a form of instant gratification. The initial effects of triggering the “happy center” of the brain can make a teenager down a glass of alcohol or light up a cigarette.

Teen Smoking Stats

teen smoking facts

The following data shows just how critical tobacco use is among teenagers.

  • At least 3,200 individuals each day aged 18 years old and below smoke their first cigarette.
  • Two in every 100 middle school students reported that they have smoked cigarette in the past month.
  • E-cigarette use increased among middle school students from 2011 to 2015.
  • Seven out of 100 middle school students have used some type of tobacco product.
  • At least 30% of high school male teenagers are smoking.
  • At least 8% of middle school male teenagers smoke a certain tobacco product.
  • In 2014, the most prevalent forms of smoking were electronic cigarettes (13.4 percent), hookah (9.4 percent), cigarettes (9.2 percent) and cigars (8.2 percent).

Dangers of Tobacco Use by Teenagers

Because teenagers are still in the stage of growing, they are vulnerable to the deadly effects of smoking. Health consequences from tobacco use include the following:

  • Respiration problems
  • Nicotine addiction
  • Increased risk of getting hooked on another substance
  • Decreased lung function
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Poor performance associated with decreased endurance in doing physical activities
  • Increased heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Associated with risky behaviors

The facts stated above aren’t associated with smoking, because most of the information circulating are geared towards warning the public against the effects of illicit drugs. However, although it has a legal status in any country, tobacco can cause a lot of diseases that may eventually lead to death.

This is one reason why all cigarette packs need to display graphic warnings to let the people know the hazards of smoking. Through this form of advertisement or information campaign, people who smoke tobacco may find themselves lowering their rate of consumption until they can completely get rid of the deadly habit.

Facts about Teenage Smoking

Tobacco use is something that teenagers may consider as part of regular human life just like eating or sleeping. Little do they know that getting hooked on tobacco can cause them health risks that exceed the fulfillment that they think they receive.

Here are some disturbing facts about teen smoking:

  • Female teenagers use tobacco as their means of controlling weight. However, smoking can also cause excess hair growth.
  • Smoking cigarettes decrease lung function growth.
  • Roughly 44% of teens say that they did not know bidi cigarettes would lead to cancer.
  • One bidi cigarette has three times more nicotine and carbon monoxide compared to a regular cigarette.
  • Teens who smoke produce more phlegm that those who don’t smoke.
  • Tobacco smoking can cause skin break outs.
  • Pimples often stay longer.
  • Smoking 2-3 cigarettes a day can get anyone hooked to a long-term habit in two weeks.
  • Teen smokers have a lowered immune system.
  • Sleeping disturbance may be evident among teen smokers.

How to Help Teens Stop Smoking

quit cigarette smoking teens tobacco use

There is a need to provide comprehensive regulations to reduce accessibility and affordability of cigarettes and other tobacco products to prevent teens from engaging in tobacco use.

Cigarette smoking among the youth is a global issue. Adolescents may have several reasons for tobacco use with the wrong perception that it can make them stand out from the rest and belong to the “cool” groups in school. Whatever reasons these teenagers may have, the fact remains that smoking affects overall health.

Other than merely relying on what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says about the dangers of smoking, parents should be the first people to educate their children regarding the risks of smoking tobacco products.

Teen smoking rates can be reduced with the following suggestions:

Parents should be role models

Sometimes, a parent can be more effective in teaching their children when their children see them “practice what they preach”.  The earlier the parents stop smoking, the less likely their teen kids can become smokers.

While it may not be easy for smoking parents to stop immediately, they should learn not to smoke in front of their children. Never leave cigarettes on places where your teens may find them. Let the children know that you are struggling to stop smoking.

It would be helpful to seek medical advice on how you can slowly quit smoking.

Be understanding

Instead of scolding your teens upon discovery of tobacco use, try understanding their actions. You may approach the matter through any of the following:

  • Ask if their friends are smoking too.
  • Know if there are things that could be bothering them, and let them open up to you. Listen and provide solutions.
  • Acknowledge all positive actions and correct those that are inappropriate.

Teens need their parents more during this time. With so many questions in their heads, they need to receive the right information from parents instead of getting their answers from fellow teens.

Educate them on the risks

Approach your teen in a way where you describe smoking as something that is filthy – how it can mess up with the way they look, their breath smells, and the color of their teeth appears.

Point out the consequences that will happen when they start using tobacco. Mention any relative or friend who may have been ill due to smoking.

In addition, give them a simple computation on how much it could affect their weekly school budget if some of their money is spent on buying cigarettes. Calculate the amount that they will spend on cigarettes in a year. The amount might even be the same as the cost of a mobile device.

Instill discipline

Be firm when you tell your children that smoking is never allowed. When you emphasize this to them at a young age, they are more likely to adhere to what you tell them.

Inform them about the dangers of e-cigarettes as well

Let them know that e-cigarettes can harm the body just the same way as tobacco. It can even be more dangerous because some e-cigarettes use synthetic substances that can increase the risk of health hazards.

Participate in anti-smoking campaigns

Your teens would listen more and believe you more when you get yourself involved in any local or school-sponsored campaigns against smoking.

Nicotine Test Kit

To find out if your teenager is using tobacco, you may purchase nicotine test kits. These products can be very helpful in determining recent tobacco use – whether cigars, cigarettes, pipe tobaccos, or smokeless tobacco.

A urine nicotine drug test is capable of detecting cotinine, a substance produced when nicotine enters the individual’s body. Just like any other urine drug test, a urine sample is collected and an easy-to-read dip card is used in measuring the nicotine levels.

It only takes a few minutes to determine the presence of nicotine. The presence of nicotine in the sample can be detected even 2-4 days after the last tobacco use.

Helpful Links and Sources

http://www.medbroadcast.com/channel/smoking/youth-and-smoking/why-teens-and-kids-start-smoking

https://www.drgreene.com/qa-articles/bidis-dangerous-cigarettes

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/youth_data/tobacco_use

http://www.homehealthtesting.com/nicotine-test-c-25.html

http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/15847/1/Preventing-Teenage-Smoking.html

http://www.gethealthystayhealthy.com/articles/teen-smoking-facts

https://www.teenhelp.com/smoking-tobacco/teen-smoking-statistics

Substance Abuse

Everything You Need To Know About the Synthetic Drug 2C-B

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Drug addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain and causes habitual drug seeking despite its harmful effects to a drug user. It is considered as a disease because it has the ability to alter brain structure and function. In this article, we will discuss the synthetic drug 2C-B, why it is abused, how dangerous it is, and what you can do to help someone addicted to it.

The Drug Abuse Scenario

For the past 50 years, a lot of controlled substances have become very popular among individuals who use them as recreational drugs. Illicit drug use in the United States has been increasing. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), due to substance abuse, the government spends more than $700M due to related crimes, health care and lost work productivity.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows an increasing incidence of drug use as well as how children as young as 12 years old have already been hooked in illicit substances. It is a frightening reality that no matter how much effort the government has exerted against illegal substance use, the number of users continues to increase every year.

Among the common controlled substances are designer drugs, which are made to mimic the effects of illegal substances to get away from prosecution. These substances are inexpensive alternatives to oft-abused drugs.

What is 2C-B?

2C-B is a psychedelic drug that comes from the 2C family. 2C is a general name referring to the family of psychedelic phenethylamines that contains the methoxy groups on 2 and 5 positions of the benzene ring.

The substance was first synthesized by American chemist Alexander Shulgin in 1974. He was also known to have synthesized more than 150 drugs, most of which are hallucinogens.

2c-b in powder form

2C-B is sold in the form of a white powder, and is sometimes pressed into tablets or gel capsules. Its street names include:

  • Bees
  • Nexus
  • Venus
  • Afterburner Bromo
  • Utopia
  • Spectrum
  • Toonies
  • MFT
  • Cloud Nine
  • Zenith

Law enforcement authorities have been able to seize various forms of 2C-B such as:

  • Pink, red or purple pills
  • Small, off-white, thick pills with a bullhead logo stamp
  • Off-white pills with brown specks
  • Clear, yellow or gray and blue capsules

Its drug classification is Schedule I since 1995. This substance is taken orally, vaporized or insufflated. Its effect is said to be more intense when snorted. Some users, however, consume 2C-B along with other illicit drugs like MDMA and LSD.

This is an illegal and dangerous drug that is becoming a huge concern not only in the US, but also in other countries. It was in 2004 when it started to appear on the streets as a red pill or orange powder.

Usual doses are 12-24 mg, and the effect lasts for a period between 4-8 hours.

History of 2C-B

It was in the 1970s when 2C-B was introduced to psychotherapists in the United States. It was later manufactured by a German company under the trade name Nexus. It was developed as a treatment for frigidity and impotence.

Thereafter, several other pharmaceutical companies marketed it under the names Performax and Eros. The U.S. became the largest market for 2C-B, which can be bought without prescription when it first arrived in local stores.

It was in 1993 when drug authorities were alarmed on how 2C-B has become a favorite among teens and young adults who frequented clubs and rave parties. Since it was not an illegal substance that time, it can be bought at video stores and head shops, nightclubs and bars. The drug was sold between $17-$25 per capsule.

Despite not being among the controlled substance during that time, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) ordered the closure of manufacturing laboratories in California and Arizona.

It was in June 5, 1995 when 2C-B was placed under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. It was placed under this category because it has been proven to have no medical use and has a high risk for abuse. It is currently banned in other countries such as Canada, France, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa, and the U.K.

Why is 2C-B being abused?

2C-B is commonly abused by teens and young adults who regularly go to raves, concerts and music festivals. It is commonly taken with other designer drugs or club drugs such as GHB, ecstasy, ketamine, LSD and methamphetamine.

According to the DEA, there is a significant increase in usage of this substance in the United States. This substance is already popular in Germany, South Africa, Switzerland and the Netherlands, where much of the supply comes from.

Like the other mentioned club drugs, 2C-B produces several positive effects that club goers are after, such as:

  • Euphoria
  • Feeling of empathy
  • Enhanced visual perception
  • Closed and open-eye visuals
  • Feelings of insight
  • Increased giggling
  • Mental and physical stimulation
  • Eroticism
  • Increased access to spiritual ideation

The analgesic effect experienced in most psychedelic drugs is not present with 2C-B. However, users claim to feel heightened body awareness, and increased consciousness of both physical health and energy. According to Shulgin as published in an online resource, using 2C-B is a “superb tool for learning and growth”.

Individuals who snort 2C-B have been reported to experience extreme pain in their nasal passages and sinuses, which can last up to 30 minutes after ingestion. Oral ingestion, on the other hand, may also result to increased mucus production, which may eventually lead to cough and gastrointestinal distress.

Danger of 2C-B Use

Since 2000, there have been large quantities of this drug seized in different parts of the United States.

The effect of 2C-B has been found to be a cross between the effects of MDMA and LSD. It is mildly psychedelic but may result to a psychological disorder with higher doses. The effects are unpredictable, and may even make a user more violent than usual.

When 2C-B has been used for a longer period of time and in higher doses, it may result to the following symptoms:

  • Paranoia
  • Fear and panic
  • Tension
  • Muscle twitching
  • Sweating/chills
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Unwanted and overwhelming feelings
  • Unpleasant visions

At low doses of 4-6 mg, it may give a relaxing effect to the user. At higher doses of 30 mg, 2C-B is extremely hallucinogenic and can be frightening. The effect may last up to 12 hours.

2C-B is believed to be 10 times more potent than MDMA (ecstasy).

The drug works by distorting the normal functions of the brain, whereby people under the influence of this substance may experience intense emotional swings. Hearing, vision and tactile sensations may also be altered.

Ingesting 8-10 mg of 2C-B may cause a stimulating effect and lead to an intoxicated state.

It is highly not advisable for individuals who are on monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) anti-depressants. Individuals who may be suffering from depression or psychosis may experience psychotic syndrome, panic attacks, visual illusions and depersonalization.

Long-term regular use may result to extended feelings of fatigue, anxiety and disorientation.

Here are the effects of 2C-B in different stages:

  • Onset: 20-90 minutes
  • Coming up: 15-30 minutes
  • Plateau: 2-3 hours
  • Coming down: 2 hours
  • After effects: 2-4 hours

Signs and Symptoms of 2C-B use

As earlier mentioned, 2C-B use may produce positive effects, which cause some people to consciously engage into this kind of drug. However, it may also present other signs and symptoms like:

  • Change in body temperature regulation
  • Pupil dilation
  • Restlessness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Change in perception of time
  • Unusual thoughts and speech
  • General change in consciousness
  • Flushing, chills

These symptoms may be experienced even at low doses. Some of these signs may last up to 6 hours and then drop off dramatically. The user may immediately feel an instant mood swing as soon as the effect wears off.

Detection and Testing for 2C-B Use

The Marquis reagent is a presumptive test for amphetamine-type compounds, MDMA and opium alkaloid, and can also be able to detect 2C-B. Positive result from the test will produce a bright green color. Originally, this reagent was designed to test for the mentioned drugs, which can be identified according to the color result such as:

  • Orange to purple: Positive for heroin
  • Black: Positive for MDMA
  • Orange to brown: Positive for amphetamine or methamphetamine

Despite the availability of drug testing methods and home testing kits, authorities pose concern with regards to the distribution of 2C-B as it is consistently expanding. The emergence of 2C-B throughout the United States suggests that it is again being sold to the existing wide network of MDMA users.

Treatment for 2C-B Use

Since 2C-B produces similar effects as MDMA, the proper management of individuals who have been found to become highly dependent on 2C-B follows the same treatment as with MDMA users. The treatment can take place as either in-patient or out-patient. However, it is best recommended to have the user admitted in an institution so that his health may be monitored better.

Medication such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may be helpful in addressing 2C-B addiction.

Withdrawal symptoms from 2C-B use may most likely be the same as withdrawal from ecstasy such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Delusions
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

With these symptoms present, it is likely that a user may become violent, which may lead to hurting others or himself. When this happens, minor sedation may be appropriate to help the patient to calm down. Treatment may last from a few weeks to several months.

Apart from this, psychological counseling may also be needed because with prolonged use of the drug, it could have affected the normal functions of the brain. As a result, this may need months of psychological reconstruction.

Even after the patient has been discharged, an after-care program that includes sessions with family members and loved ones should continue. This is very helpful for the complete recovery of the patient and to prevent from having a relapse.

There have been no reported fatalities associated with 2C-B use, but it is something that we should not rejoice about. It is still best to become more vigilant with the things around us and to report suspicious personalities or activities to the authorities.

Helpful Links and Resources

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics

https://www.drugabuse.gov/national-survey-drug-use-health

http://adf.org.au/drug-facts/ghb

https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/2cb/2cb.shtml

https://dancesafe.org/2c-b

http://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/health-news/what-new-designer-drug-2cb-7207061

https://scienceyourfacein.wordpress.com/tag/2cb

http://ecstasy.com.ua/2c-b-nexus

Substance Abuse

Synthetic Drug 2C-B Alarms Canadian Authorities

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2c-b overdose pill canada

After an influx of synthetic drugs that proliferate in society, another illegal substance has emerged in Canada. The psychedelic drug 2C-B recently figured in the news due to 6 overdose incidents in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

According to addiction counselor Rand Teed, 2C-B must have been in existence in Saskatchewan for many years, but it was only very recently that it hit the news. The effects of the drug to users in the past may not have been this serious to cause alarm.

In the news item, a man was charged with criminal negligence after he was found to carry the substance that caused serious health issues to 6 individuals.

Drug Analysis Service laboratories director Benoit Archamabault said that the lab handles about 120,000 drug samples, of which 85% of the positive results are found with cocaine, methamphetamine and cannabis. Roughly 15% of the samples are found to have designer drugs.

2C-B was first synthesized by Alexander Shulgin, an American chemist in 1974. This drug was intended as treatment for patients suffering from psychological disorders. However, 2C-B has been found to become popular among people and used it as a recreational drug. Its effect is said to be similar to LSD and ecstasy.

It is possible that the people rushed to the hospital for 2C-B overdose were unaware of the kind of drug that they took, or they may have mistaken it for ecstasy.

[Image by Retinafunk via Flickr]