Category Archives: Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

5 Things That Cigarette Smoking Destroys Other Than Your Health

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cigarette smoking dangers

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

A Brief History of Tobacco

cigarette smoking dangers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Cigarette Smoking Affects Other Aspects of Life

cigarette smoking risks aside from health

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

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

1. Cigarette and Air Pollution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Cigarette and the Environment

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

cigarette butts

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

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

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

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

3. Cigarette Smoking as Fire Hazard

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

smoking fire hazard

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

4. Cigarette Smoking and Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

5. Cigarette Smoking and Self-image

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

quit cigarette smoking teens tobacco use

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

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

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

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

Final Word

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

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

Substance Abuse

Kratom Recipes You Need To Know

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kratom extract powder

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

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

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

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

Forms of Kratom

benefits of kratom leaves

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

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

Safety of Kratom Use

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

Currently, kratom is legal in 44 states.

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

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

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

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

Kratom Uses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kratom Types and Strains

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

Red Vein Kratom

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

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

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

White Vein Kratom

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

Green Vein Kratom

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

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

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

Kratom Dependence and Addiction

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

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

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

Kratom Recipes

kratom recipes from leaves

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

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

Flavored Kratom Tea

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

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

Kratom-Infused Coffee

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

Chocolate Kratom Milkshake

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

Kratom Beverage

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

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

Kratom Applesauce

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

Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

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

Yogurt

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

Kratom Smoothie

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

Pre-Packaged Kratom Food Products

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

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

Alcohol Testing Substance Abuse

Alcohol and Teenagers: A Dangerous Mix

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teen alcohol abuse

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

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

Why Do Teenagers Drink Alcohol?

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

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

Statistics on Teen Alcohol Use

alcohol drinking party

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

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

Here are some more facts and figures about teen alcoholism:

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

The Role of Parents

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

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

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

The Effects of Alcohol Use Among Teens

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

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

Some short-term effects include:

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

Among the long-term effects of alcohol use are:

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

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

Other side effects from alcohol consumption can result to:

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

Effects of Alcohol Overdose

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

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

In serious cases, the following may happen:

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

Alcohol Tolerance and Dependence

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

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

Warning Signs that your Teen has a Drinking Problem

alcohol party

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

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

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

Physical symptoms may include any of the following:

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

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

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

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

Treatment for Alcohol Overdose

teen drinking alcohol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Withdrawal Treatment

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

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

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

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

Medical Marijuana Substance Abuse

Pros and Cons of Using Recreational Marijuana

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

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

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

Brief History of Marijuana in the US

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

marijuana plant

Statistics on Marijuana Use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advantages of Using Recreational Marijuana

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

Here are some benefits of recreational marijuana use:

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

medical and recreational marijuana

Disadvantages of Using Recreational Marijuana

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

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

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

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

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

recreational marijuana

Substance Abuse

Kratom Addiction: How To Prevent Dependence and Tolerance

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kratom addiction dietary supplements

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

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

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

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

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

What happens when the user becomes addicted to kratom?

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

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

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

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

How is kratom being used?

kratom alternatives

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

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

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

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

What are the symptoms of kratom overdose?

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

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

The following are the symptoms of kratom addiction or overdose:

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

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

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

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

How Quickly Does The User Develop Kratom Tolerance?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Avoid Kratom Tolerance

kratom extract powder

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

Mix up your routine whenever possible

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

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

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

Avoid simultaneously mixing kratom with other opiates

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

Record your experience for every usage

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

Getting Rid of Tolerance

kratom leaves

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

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

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

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

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

Substance Abuse

Everything You Need To Know About Stimulant ADHD Drugs

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stimulant ADHD drugs adderall

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

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

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

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

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

Types of Stimulant ADHD

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

There are three types of stimulants:

Short-acting forms

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

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

Intermediate-acting forms

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

Long-acting forms

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

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

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

Can stimulant drugs make you smart?

human brain intelligence

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

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

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

Benefits of Using Stimulant ADHD Drugs

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

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

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

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

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

Dangers and Side-effects of Stimulant ADHD Drugs

adderall tablets stimulant ADHD drugs

Photo by Seppi333 via Wikimedia Creative Commons

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

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

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

Common side effects of taking ADHD stimulant drugs include:

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

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

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

Are they addictive?

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

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

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

How long should a child be under medication?

child adhd

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

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

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

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

Stimulant Drug Dosage on ADHD Patients

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

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

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

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

Precautions Before Taking Stimulant Drugs

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

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

Final Word

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

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

Substance Abuse

Drug Abuse Statistics: Who Are Prone To Abusing Drugs?

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people prone to drug abuse

Drug addiction is not a rare issue. In fact, despite efforts in fighting the further proliferation of illegal substances in the streets and online, some individuals are still able to have access to these drugs. This has led to some people to be more prone to drug abuse than others.

Drug addiction is a complex psychological issue in which sudden cessation may not be that simple. There’s a public misconception as to how people get themselves hooked onto drugs. Some would criticize drug users, saying that they lack morals or the will to stop anytime.

In reality, drug addiction cannot be stopped by merely saying no. Turning around from drug abuse may take months, and even years before drug users can completely recover.

Fortunately, researchers continue to study how drugs affect the brain, resulting to various possible treatments. Apart from providing proper medication, addressing drug abuse involves a series of psychological treatments to ensure that the user is able to function normally and eliminate the thought of resorting to drugs once again.

What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by frequent drug seeking and use, which could be difficult to control, despite the user realizing its harmful consequences. Repeated drug use can destroy the normal brain function of the individual, affect his self-control, and interfere with the individual’s ability to resist such intense urges to take the drugs.

The changes that happen in the brain can persist for a number of years. Former drug users may experience a relapse after some time, if unfavorable circumstances would happen again.

While relapse may be common, it should not be perceived as a failed treatment. Rather, it should provide a consistent and modified kind of treatment based on how the patient responds to it.

How do drugs affect the brain?

brain functioning addiction

Majority of drugs intervene with the normal flow of dopamine, the reward circuit of the brain. Such massive flow of dopamine intensifies the body’s ability of feeling pleasure and intense happiness. The overstimulation of this chemical causes an incredible feeling of unusual “high” that can lead individuals to consume the drug repeatedly.

Continuous drug use alters the normal release of dopamine, leading the brain to produce less of this chemical. This reduces the ability of the cells to respond. Accordingly, when this happens, it decreases the heightened feeling of the individual, and leads to consuming more drugs at frequent and higher doses until the desired effect is achieved. This effect is referred to as tolerance.

Consequently, when tolerances steps in, this may lead to unresponsiveness to previously pleasurable situations or thoughts.

Long-term drug use can cause changes in other brain-related chemical systems, which include:

  • decision-making
  • behavior
  • memory
  • learning
  • judgment
  • stress

Despite the disturbances or its negative effects, users continue to consume them, thus the nature of addiction.

What are the factors that influence the risk of addiction?

You may have noticed how some individuals do not automatically become addicted to drugs despite having access to it. A combination of factors described below should determine if a person is prone to addiction.

  • Genetics: Studies have shown that genetics play an important role in an individual’s personality. This includes the presence of certain diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney problems, and even drug addiction.
  • Environment: The behavior of an individual may get accustomed to where he/she is mostly at. Nonetheless, exposure to a violent environment (say, a home where parents often fight with one another) increases a person’s tendency to resort to addiction to feel numb and to somehow become unaffected.

Drug Abuse Statistics

drug abuse statistics

There are various reasons why individuals would turn to drugs – escape, curiosity, rebellion, boredom, belongingness, and some others. No matter what their reasons are, drug addiction affects not only the user themselves, but also their loved ones.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 80 percent of individuals with substance abuse also have an alcohol use disorder. Almost 8 million American adults suffer from both mental health disorder and substance use disorder as well as other co-occurring disorders, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Based on these facts, it isn’t surprising that drug abuse has cost the U.S. government an incredible amount of $200 million for healthcare, legal, criminal justice, and decrease in workplace productivity, as reported by the Office of the National Drug Control Policy. It has been estimated by the World Health Organization that at least 5.4 percent of the population worldwide has been burdened by this global issue.

Here are some of the facts and figures on drug abuse, based on categories of users:

Gender

  • SAMHSA’s 2014 report showed that men are more likely to use almost all types of illicit substances.
  • Men are more likely to show up at the emergency department of hospitals due to drug overdose or deaths than women.
  • Men have higher rates of use than women.
  • Women can be equally addicted like men since women are susceptible to cravings.
  • In 2013, there are about 10.8 million men and 5.3 million women suffering from substance use disorder.

Race/Ethnicity

  • American Indian/Native women and African-American women are more likely to get hooked on drugs than other racial or ethnic groups. Some of the reasons include being victims of rape or other forms of violence.
  • Alaska Natives and American Indians have the highest rate of substance abuse in 2013, according to the NSDUH.
  • Native Americans have the highest rate of drug-induced deaths (17.1%) according to the 2010 SAMHSA survey.
  • Among 18.2 million Asian Americans, the rate of Asian drug users is at 4.1%. About 15.6% are Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders among people aged 12 and above.
  • The rate of substance dependence was 4.5% for Asian Americans and 10% for Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders.
  • Hispanics and whites suffered from substance abuse and dependence in 2013.

Age

12-17

  • Roughly 5% of the American adolescent population struggled from substance use disorder in 2014. This is about 1.3 million teens.
  • About 860,000 teens battled from an illicit drug use disorder in 2014, according to the NSDUH.

18-25

  • About one in every 6 American young adults suffered from drug abuse disorder in 2014. According to NSDUH, this represents the highest percentage out of any age group.
  • Heroin was the extremely abused substance in 2010 by this age group.

25 and older

  • There are at least 14.5 million American adults aged 25 and older struggling with a substance use disorder in 2014, according to NSUDH.
  • There are more school drop outs battling with substance use disorder than College graduates.

Elderly

  • About 15% of the elderly individuals may be suffering from substance abuse.
  • This age group is prone to suffer from drug abuse and dependence because of their need to take some medications to help treat their medical conditions, which unfortunately can cause addiction.

Employment Status

  • According to the NSUDH report, the rate of current illicit drug use among adults aged 18 or older was higher for those who were unemployed (18.2 percent) than for those who were employed full time (9.1 percent), employed part time (13.7 percent), or “other” (6.6 percent). The latter includes students, persons keeping house or caring for children full time, retired or disabled persons, or other persons not in the labor force.

Personality Traits

  • People who have fewer positive feelings or who are more inclined in seeing the unappealing side of life are more likely to abuse drugs. These people find it difficult to see the goodness in people around them or their environment, that to help them see otherwise would lead them to taking illicit substances.
  • A condition called neuroticism can also be a factor for an individual to resort to illicit drug use. Having anxiety issues or being in a depressed mood characterizes this condition. People suffering from this condition would choose drugs as their means of rewarding themselves to escape from the negative feeling.

Industry/Type of Work

  • Based on a 2012 SAMHSA report, individuals working from the mining industry constitute the highest number of individuals who are in use of illicit drug substances, which is about 17.5%.
  • From 2008 to 2012, individuals working with the food services industry indicated the highest rate of illicit drug use at 19.1%. This was among full time employees aged 18 to 64.

Health-related Factors

  • Individuals who may be under chronic pain medication such as narcotics are more prone to drug abuse. This is why patients who are taking this type of medications are advised to strictly comply with the doctor’s prescription. Unlawful use of these substances may lead to psychological dependence, which becomes life-threatening to the individual.
  • Adderall is used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD. Its major effect is giving the individual more focus and concentration. These are the reasons why some students have abused this drug, hoping that it can help them increase their grades in school. This kind of drug has become known as the “study pill”.

Addiction to Specific Substance

Cocaine

  • In 2014, about 900,000 Americans over the age of 11 years old battled with cocaine use disorder, according to NSDUH.

Cannabis/Marijuana

  • Nearly 6% among all full-time college students in the U.S. smoked marijuana daily.
  • About 4.2 million American adults over the age of 11 struggled with marijuana us disorder in 2014.

Heroin

  • In 2015, the American Society of Addiction Medicine reported that approximately 586,000 American adults struggled with heroin abuse.
  • Individuals who are addicted to alcohol are twice more likely to become addicted to heroin.
  • Non-Hispanic whites aged between 18-25 years old and lives in a city have higher risk of abusing heroin.

Opioids

  • Over 2 million Americans have opioid abuse disorder.
  • Women are more likely to develop an opioid abuse disorder than men.

Best Way To Intercept Drug Addiction

The U.S. government and health agencies cannot battle drug abuse by themselves. The active participation of the basic unit of society is also required.

We often hear the same excuses made by some drug users to justify their bad habits – wanting to be heard, wanting to be loved, and wanting to belong. It makes sense how some individuals have completely lost themselves in the hopes of finding their identities.

It is in this manner that the family is considered the primary support group of any drug user. Each member of the family should make everyone feel that everyone is equally valuable and equally loved. This is the best way to make sure that drug abuse treatment is successful, and drug addiction is intercepted.

Additionally, parents should always become part of their children’s lives no matter how old they get. Having gone through the stage of adolescence, parents should be aware how their teens feel, think and react to everyday situations. Instead of always pointing out the mistakes that their teens commit, it may be best to inform them of the ramifications of their unfavorable actions or unwise decisions.

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 allegedly 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 sold the majority of prescription opiate drugs 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 one of the big reasons 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.

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.