Category Archives: Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

Kratom Addiction: How To Prevent Dependence and Tolerance

Published by:

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

Published by:

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?

Published by:

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

Published by:

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

Published by:

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?

Published by:

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.

Substance Abuse

Benefits and Dangers of Using E-Cigarettes

Published by:

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

What is an Electronic Cigarette?

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

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

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

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

Chemicals in E-cigarettes

e-cigarettes electronic cigarette smoke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits of E-cigarettes

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

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

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

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

Odor

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

Cost

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

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

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

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

Social

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

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

Safety

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

Health

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

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

Dangers of E-cigarette Use

e-cigarette use secondhand smoke

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

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

Main danger: chemical components

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

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

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

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

Acetyldehyde

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

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

Cadmium

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

Diethylene Glycol

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

Formaldehyde

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

Isoprene

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

Lead

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

Nicotine

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

Nickel

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

Benzene

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

Facts and Figures on E-cigarette Use

e-cigarettes liquid dangers

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

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

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

Are E-cigarettes Safe?

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

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

Substance Abuse

Dangers of Kratom Use

Published by:

kratom extract powder

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

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

What is kratom?

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

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

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

Kratom extract is the most expensive form of kratom.

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

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

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

Methods of Kratom Use

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

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

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

Street Names of Kratom

Kratom is also known by the following street names:

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

Kratom Potency

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

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

Why do people use kratom?

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

Kratom can be beneficial in the following ways:

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

Medical Uses of Kratom

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

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

Is Kratom Safe?

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

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

Dangers of Kratom Use

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

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

Kratom Addiction

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

Insufficient Kratom Regulations

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

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

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

Undesirable Drug Interactions

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

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

Side Effects of Kratom Use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long-term effects of kratom may cause:

  • Anorexia
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Psychosis

Kratom Addiction

kratom pills

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

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

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

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

Legality of Kratom Use in the U.S.

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

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

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

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

The Truth About Opioid Abuse and Pain Management Treatment

Published by:

pain management opioid prescription drug abuse

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

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

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

What is pain management?

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

What is the primary role of pain management physicians?

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

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

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

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

Pain Management Procedures and Techniques

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

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

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

pain management issues

Proper pain management approaches

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

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

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

Other pain management options are as follows:

Prescription Opioids Abuse

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

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

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

The most commonly abused opiates include the following:

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

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

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

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

Facts and figures on opioid abuse

prescription painkillers abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signs of Opioid Abuse

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

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

  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling of euphoria
  • Pain relief
  • Sedation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teen Opiate Abuse

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

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

Opiate Dependence

prescription drug abuse cocktail drugs

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

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

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

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

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Substance Abuse

Legality of Kratom Use Around The World

Published by:

legal kratom use

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

Popularity of Kratom Use

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

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

kratom ban DEA

What Kratom Users Say

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

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

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

Different Strains of Kratom

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

Red Vein Kratom

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

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

White Vein Kratom

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

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

Green Vein Kratom

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

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

Kratom Use Around the World

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

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

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

kratom use worldwide

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

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

 

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

Legality of Kratom Use in the U.S.

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

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

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

Kratom Dangers

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

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

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

Kratom addiction

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

Absence of Regulation

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

Negative Drug Interaction

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

Kratom Abuse, Signs and Symptoms

kratom extract powder

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

  • Biak
  • Ketum
  • Thom
  • Kakuam
  • Thiang

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kratom Dependence

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

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

Statistics on Kratom Use

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

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

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