Substance Abuse

Stay Away From China White, A Dangerous Designer Drug

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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.

Drug Testing Workplace Testing

Step-By-Step Process of A Standard Workplace Drug Testing

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Businesses are built because of individuals who want to earn and to provide products and services that the public may need. However, the crippling issue on drug use in the workplace continues to plague companies of all shapes and sizes. Now more than ever, conducting workplace drug testing has become a necessity.

No company can succeed without the help of people inside the business. It’s important for the company to employ the best people for the job, and it all starts with the hiring process. This is a crucial stage wherein each applicant is interviewed and needs to undergo background checking prior to finally being hired for the position applied for.

However, the hiring process does not stop there. Part of it includes pre-employment drug testing, which has become a very vital part in deciding which applicant can be fit to perform the job.

Reasons for Workplace Drug Testing

Workplace drug testing is being implemented by companies for the following reasons:

To protect the employees and its customers

Employees who may be working under the influence of drugs or alcohol may pose danger upon themselves, fellow employees and the general public. Aside from the possible accidents that can happen, most especially those employees who are working on heavy machinery, any wrong decision could bring huge problems for the company.

To maintain productivity

Employees who are into alcohol or drug use have a higher possibility of frequently being unable to report to work. If they ever find the opportunity to push themselves to report for work, they may not be as productive as usual due to drowsiness or lack of coordination.

To decrease health care costs

Companies suffer from having to pay worker’s compensation when an employee meets an accident at work. This is why some companies would deny coverage of any injury when the use illicit drugs or alcohol comes into play.

To help the community

Companies are able to do their part in addressing drug problems in their community by way of implementing workplace drug testing. The fight against drug abuse and addiction is not something that only the government can solve; everyone in the community has a role to play.

To hopefully prevent drug use

When applicants or employees are aware that the company supports a drug-free workplace, they are more likely to stop using illegal drugs. Otherwise, they may find themselves applying for employment elsewhere.

To help rehabilitate employees

Workplace drug testing is part of a comprehensive drug program that companies implement to provide assistance to employees who are found to be positive with drugs or alcohol. By conducting workplace drug testing within the bounds of a company drug policy, employees who are found using drugs may be referred to specialists who will help them in the treatment and recovery process.

In compliance with state laws or federal regulations

Some jobs require the clearance of workplace drug testing, especially those who are working in critical and safety-sensitive industries such as aviation, transportation and mining.

Drug-Free Workplace Policy

workplace drug testing employer

Some employers may be in denial that any of their employees are using illicit drugs. However, careful scrutiny and the conduct of drug testing can change all that. In contrast, the absence of workplace drug testing may allow employees to work without the employer knowing that some of them are reporting to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The best way for any company to be spared from accidents waiting to happen is by implementing a workplace drug testing program. The employer needs to come up with a policy that will hopefully address the company’s thrust in maintaining a drug-free workplace. A drug-free workplace advisor from the U.S. Department of Labor can help guide employers in formulating such policy.

A standard drug-free workplace policy should contain the following information:

  • The purpose or goal of the program
  • The individuals covered by the policy
  • The time and date when the policy will take effect
  • The type of behavior that will be prohibited
  • Employees informing the company about past drug-related convictions
  • Implementation of drug testing
  • The consequences if the policy has been violated
  • Return-to-work agreement
  • The type of assistance available for those who were found to be positive

It should be made clear in the policy that all current employees and new hires should be informed that any use of drugs or alcohol in the workplace – no matter how small or rare – will not be tolerated.

The policy should be cascaded to all employees, who should affix their signatures as proof that they understand. The same policy and other information pertaining to the dangers of drug use and its consequences should be handed out in the form of flyers or pamphlets. In addition, opportunities for education on workplace safety and substance abuse should also be available.

What Employees Should Expect in Workplace Drug Testing

Some employees may deem workplace drug testing unnecessary and an invasion of privacy. However, when visualized in a different perspective, employees should realize that workplace drug testing is not done for the sake of the company alone but rather for the safety of all employees.

The Drug Testing Index determines the status of drug users among employees. Despite the steady decline on rates of drug use in past years, employee drug use is starting to pick up again, particularly marijuana use. This should cause alarm to both employers and employees, as a rising trend in drug use increases the likelihood of accidents and injuries in the workplace.

A drug-free workplace policy should clearly indicate that workplace drug testing may be conducted in different situations, which include the following:

1. Pre-employment drug testing

Companies are now keener in ensuring that all prospective employees are free from any alcohol or drug problems that may interfere with the quality of work. Apart from the job interview and background check, pre-employment drug testing is now included in the hiring process.

2. Random drug testing

Upon the discretion of employers, random drug screening may be conducted on workers who have been under strict performance evaluation. Results of the drug test may be used by the employer as basis for referring employees to drug treatment specialists.

Employers are allowed to carry out random testing on employees. However, singling out a particular employee may be discriminatory unless it is justified by the nature of the job.

Searches may also be done, but this should be stated in the policy signed by the employee. Searches should be carried out by the same sex only, and should take place in the presence of a witness.

3. Return-to-work drug testing

All employees found to be positive for drugs should undergo therapy and treatment. The employer may only allow the employee to go back to the job when a return-to-work drug test produces a negative result. Otherwise, the employee will be denied to report to work or may be terminated.

The Standard Process of Taking Sample for Drug Testing

In most cases, a urine drug test is performed to determine if an individual is using any illicit substances that may interfere with job performance. It is a quick, non-invasive type of drug testing that can help detect potential substance abuse.

Drug testing should be done in the presence of a Medical Review Officer (MRO), a licensed physician who is qualified to interpret and evaluate test results as well as provide medical information.

A basic urine drug test can detect 5 types of drugs, namely:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine

Specimen collection procedure for a urine drug test is as follows:

  • The area should be secure.
  • A specimen cup is given to the individual. It is important that the genital area should be cleaned with moist cloth.
  • Collect the midstream urine.
  • The collection of specimen must allow the individual to have privacy unless the particular person is believed to have the intention of cheating the drug test.
  • At least 45 milliliters of urine should be collected. If the employee fails to collect as much urine sample, he is advised to drink up to 24 ounces of fluid before sample extraction.
  • If the toilet is to be used as the place of collection, water supply should be temporarily cut-off to avoid tampering of the specimen.
  • A split sample of urine is collected. In the event that the result is positive, a confirmatory testing may be performed by the testing laboratory.
  • The chain of custody form must be completed and shipped with the specimen.

urine same day drug testing

Processing the Urine Sample

The first test is performed by an immunoassay test. This test should be able to determine and quantify the amount of drug present in the sample provided. There are cutoff levels from which the results are based, such as:

  • Amphetamines – 1000 ng/ml
  • Cannabis – 50 ng/ml
  • Cocaine – 300 ng/ml
  • Opiate metabolites – 300 ng/ml
  • Phencyclidine – 25 ng/ml

Drug testing administrators usually give the results in terms of positive or negative and not the numeric values. A confirmatory test is performed on all initial positive tests. Should the second test remain positive, the sample may be tested in a different certified laboratory to be sent within 72 hours.

Reporting and Review of Positive Results

The MRO carefully examines each confirmed positive result to determine if there are any medical reasons for the positive result. Some medications that an individual is taking may produce a positive result, and this information should be relayed to the MRO.

The MRO will discuss the findings with the employee, and will ask if the employee is taking any prescription drugs, over-the-counter-drugs or herbal medicine that could have affected the result. If it has been found out that some medications are taken by the employee, the MRO may report to the employer that the test is negative.

On the other hand, any positive result that confirms the use of illicit substances may be used by the employer as basis for refusal to hire.

workplace drug testing mining industry

Fair Reasons for Dismissal

Workplace drug testing is very significant in any workplace as it maintains a healthy and safe environment for employees while generating quality products and services to customers. However, not all employees may be complying with the company policy for a drug-free workplace.

Based on the provisions of a workplace drug testing policy, the employer has every right to dismiss any employee who is found to be:

  • Frequently missing work
  • Positive for drug or alcohol abuse
  • Engaged in theft and dishonesty
  • Performing poorly at work
  • Exhibiting behavior issues

workplace drug testing

Substance Abuse

How Does The Pharmaceutical Industry Affect The Opioid Abuse Issue?

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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

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

What is an Electronic Cigarette?

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

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

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

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

Chemicals in E-cigarettes

e-cigarettes electronic cigarette smoke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits of E-cigarettes

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

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

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

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

Odor

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

Cost

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

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

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

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

Social

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

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

Safety

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

Health

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

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

Dangers of E-cigarette Use

e-cigarette use secondhand smoke

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

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

Main danger: chemical components

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

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

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

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

Acetyldehyde

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

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

Cadmium

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

Diethylene Glycol

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

Formaldehyde

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

Isoprene

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

Lead

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

Nicotine

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

Nickel

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

Benzene

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

Facts and Figures on E-cigarette Use

e-cigarettes liquid dangers

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

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

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

Are E-cigarettes Safe?

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

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

Substance Abuse

Dangers of Kratom Use

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kratom extract powder

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

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

What is kratom?

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

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

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

Kratom extract is the most expensive form of kratom.

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

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

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

Methods of Kratom Use

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

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

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

Street Names of Kratom

Kratom is also known by the following street names:

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

Kratom Potency

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

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

Why do people use kratom?

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

Kratom can be beneficial in the following ways:

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

Medical Uses of Kratom

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

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

Is Kratom Safe?

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

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

Dangers of Kratom Use

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

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

Kratom Addiction

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

Insufficient Kratom Regulations

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

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

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

Undesirable Drug Interactions

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

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

Side Effects of Kratom Use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long-term effects of kratom may cause:

  • Anorexia
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Psychosis

Kratom Addiction

kratom pills

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

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

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

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

Legality of Kratom Use in the U.S.

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

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

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

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

The Truth About Opioid Abuse and Pain Management Treatment

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pain management opioid prescription drug abuse

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

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

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

What is pain management?

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

What is the primary role of pain management physicians?

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

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

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

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

Pain Management Procedures and Techniques

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

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

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

pain management issues

Proper pain management approaches

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

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

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

Other pain management options are as follows:

Prescription Opioids Abuse

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

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

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

The most commonly abused opiates include the following:

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

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

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

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

Facts and figures on opioid abuse

prescription painkillers abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signs of Opioid Abuse

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

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

  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling of euphoria
  • Pain relief
  • Sedation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teen Opiate Abuse

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

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

Opiate Dependence

prescription drug abuse cocktail drugs

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

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

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

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

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Substance Abuse

Legality of Kratom Use Around The World

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legal kratom use

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

Popularity of Kratom Use

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

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

kratom ban DEA

What Kratom Users Say

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

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

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

Different Strains of Kratom

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

Red Vein Kratom

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

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

White Vein Kratom

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

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

Green Vein Kratom

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

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

Kratom Use Around the World

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

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

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

kratom use worldwide

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

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

 

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

Legality of Kratom Use in the U.S.

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

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

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

Kratom Dangers

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

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

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

Kratom addiction

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

Absence of Regulation

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

Negative Drug Interaction

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

Kratom Abuse, Signs and Symptoms

kratom extract powder

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

  • Biak
  • Ketum
  • Thom
  • Kakuam
  • Thiang

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kratom Dependence

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

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

Statistics on Kratom Use

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

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

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

Drug Testing

3 Reasons Why You Should Drug Test Your Teenager

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teen drug abuse

The use of illicit drug among teens has reached a point where it is no longer something to be taken lightly. Now more than ever, the decision to drug test your teenager has become extremely essential. In this article, we will look into the troubling scenario of teen drug use, and some reasons why you need to drug test your teenager.

A Look Into Teen Drug Use

A lot of lives have been taken away because of the rampant trading at the black market. Twenty years ago, most cases involving illegal drug use were among young adults. However, in recent years, teenagers have become the target of drug dealers and manufacturers.

Teens are naturally curious, and a lot of adolescents want to explore things while they’re young. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of the vulnerabilities of the youth by selling them illegal drugs, which has become a major concern of families and the community in general.

Causes of Drug Addiction

Parents may not be aware that most of the children who get into drugs have problems at home. If these issues are not properly addressed, some kids seek refuge from fellow teens.

Unfortunately, not all of the people around them really care what their issues are. Instead of providing solutions to their problems, what these people would offer would be drugs or alcohol. This could be the spark for your kids to start engaging in drug addiction.

Other causes of drug addiction include boredom, curiosity, ignorance, rebellion, and a mere search for fun.

Why Should You Drug Test Your Teenager?

Before you drug test your teenager, help them understand that everything you do for them is because of your love as a parent. Use the blanket of care and concern to make your children secure as they agree to undergo drug testing.

friends drug test your teenager

Here are some of the important reasons why you need to drug test your teenager:

1. Behavioral changes

Notice any change in behavior of your son or daughter? Each child has his own personality that parents should be aware of. Any sudden change in behavior should concern a parent, but not to immediately imply that the child is into drugs.

Try to observe further and talk to your children to confirm if there is something that they want to talk about. If you strongly feel that they are taking drugs, then slowly introduce the idea of conducting a drug test to validate all the signs and symptoms of drug addiction.

2. Safety of your children

When your teenager readily submits to drug testing, it is easier for your teen to refuse anyone who would taunt him/her into taking drugs. Peer pressure has a strong influence over teenagers who want to feel that they belong to a group. To say “no” may result to getting ridiculed by peers.

Letting their friends know that your kids need to undergo drug testing will increase the likelihood that your teenage children will steer clear of illegal drugs.

3. Peace of mind (for you and your kids)

A court-mandated drug test may not always give the correct result, and will result to stigma for you and your children. To validate any positive result, a home drug test may be done to give you peace of mind. If the home drug testing produces a positive result, then immediate intervention should be done.

There are a lot of home drug test kits in the market that you can choose from. Some of these testing methods include shipping to the laboratory for ease in handling the sample. Meanwhile, some drug screening kits may be bought over the counter, and are priced significantly less than they used to be.

The Right Approach to Drug Test Your Teenager

Some parents are wondering why their kids are hooked on drugs despite their seemingly good image. The truth is that no matter how good the relationship between parents and their children are, some teenagers are still susceptible to being swayed into using illegal drugs.

Because of this alarming reality, many parents are undecided on whether to have their teenagers undergo drug testing or not. They fear that despite their good intentions, their teen children may see it differently, and imposing such testing may jeopardize their relationship. Some parents are afraid that their children may lose trust in them.

If you are a parent, carefully explain to your teenager the importance of having to go through drug testing. This will help ease your mind and to ensure that your teenager is safe from these illegal drugs.

The very first thing that you need to establish as a parent is to build a good relationship with your children. The way you raise them up will definitely have a strong impact on how they would behave when they grow up. Despite how busy you can be with so many things, you should always make time for your family, especially for your children.

Here are some more tips in preparing to drug test your teenager without letting him/her feel the pressure:

  • Your teenager should be willing to take the drug test. Forcing your teen to take any kind of drug test may ruin your good relationship and may lead to more serious situations.
  • Let your teens know about the dangerous implications of using illegal drugs. You must let your child understand how much it could affect everyone’s life if he chooses to take drugs.
  • Once your teen agrees to the drug testing, make sure that you properly record all the test results so that you can understand your teen’s behavior and drug use pattern.
  • If the test turns positive, it is important that you get him the help that he needs There are many rehabilitation centers that can help your child overcome his drug addiction.

teen skateboard drug testing

Teen Drug Use Statistics

It is surprising how times have changed the way these teenagers value their lives. A lot of them seem to be more fearless in doing stuff, and are more focused on spending time with friends rather than getting serious with their studies.

Drugs and alcohol have penetrated the lives of these children at such an early age. Unfortunately, we could not blame them for getting hooked on illegal substances because they are exposed to these drugs every day – from their own parents, from their favorite actors and artists, and from the glorification of drugs on social media. Too much exposure to drugs will entice these kids to try and later on get hooked on them.

Here are some of the recent findings related to drug use by teenagers:

  • Statistics showed that there are more teens dying from prescription drugs than cocaine or heroin.
  • About 60 percent of high school seniors don’t think that regular marijuana use is harmful.
  • More than 35 percent of 12th graders have used marijuana in the past year.
  • About 6 percent of 12th graders are regular marijuana users.
  • 12th graders who are using marijuana are 65 percent more likely to crash their vehicles.
  • Some of the drugs taken by 12th graders include amphetamine, opioid painkillers, synthetic marijuana, tranquilizers, cough medicine, hallucinogens, LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, sedatives and inhalants.

Drug Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Are you anxious to know if your teenager is involved with using illegal drugs? Remember that forcing your child to undergo drug testing would strain your relationship with them.

It is probably best to know the signs and symptoms of drug addiction, rather than have your child undergo drug testing based merely on suspicion. Here are some of the telltale signs of teen drug addiction:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Abrupt weight changes
  • Dilated or constricted pupils
  • Bruises or infections (which may have been caused by an injectable drug)
  • Depression
  • Change in behavior
  • Lethargy
  • Increased aggression or irritability
  • Poor decision making
  • Agitated
  • Almost always sleeping or widely awake
  • Hallucinations

What Should You Do If Your Teen Tests Positive?

Any wrong decision that a child makes may be a reflection of how his life is, and this can be a great burden on the parents. If you happen to find out that your child is positive for drug use, varying levels of emotion would probably be racing inside you – fear, anger and worry, at the very least.

The relationship between parent and child can be a major factor for young kids to get hooked on illegal substances. This is the reason why parents are encouraged to spend quality time with the whole family so that they would know what is going on with the lives of their children.

prescription drugs teen use

Here are some steps to do, in case you find out that your teenager is taking drugs:

1. Never create an aggressive environment.

Instead of helping your child speak up about what caused him to use drugs, aggression would lead him/her to become more distant. This may actually worsen the drug addiction situation.

Talk to your child in a non-confrontational manner. You need to let him/her know that you are concerned about his/her health and well-being.

Never show your child your anger because it could heighten his emotions that could make him more distant. Try to win back his trust.

2. Always let your child feel that you love them no matter what.

You may be mad at the drug use, but make it clear that you are not angry with your child. Insist on having a heart-to-heart talk so that your child will feel that you are giving importance to him/her.

A teen’s life is a very complicated stage wherein they are asked to think and behave older despite their young age. This can be confusing to them. This is the reason why families should always take time to be together.

3. Ask your child what is bothering him that led him to drugs.

Before you go all out and drug test your teenager, listen intently and provide potential solutions to the problem, if the need arises. Then, let him understand that despite what he is going through, the family remains to be by his side.

4. Gently remind him about the dangers of drug use.

Let your child know the consequence of using drugs and how it can affect his life. Part of the healing process is for your teenager to undergo rehabilitation, which he/she should understand. Explain how long it would take to completely recover. With his/her cooperation, the treatment can be shorter.

5. Introduce the idea of follow-up drug testing.

Let your child know that he/she would still need to undergo random drug testing after the treatment. This will ensure that he/she has completely turned away from drugs. Follow-up drug testing is important to help your teenager get back to his normal life by strongly refusing to get back on the old habit and to lead a life that any normal teenager should have.

Final Word

When you decide to drug test your teenager, reassure him/her of emotional security and the love of family.

Drug Testing

Hair Follicle Drug Testing Myths Debunked!

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drug testing myths hair follicles blonde

Most employers would consider implementing pre-employment drug testing to ensure that job applicants will be able to work the way they are expected to, and to refuse applicants who are found to be using illicit drugs. In the midst of conducting drug tests across several industries, there are a lot of misconceptions and false truths that destroy the integrity of drug testing. In this article, we will shed light into some of the most common hair follicle drug testing myths.

The Push For Drug Testing

Despite debates on implementing workplace drug policies, companies continue to push for drug testing in the workplace to ensure high productivity and overall workforce safety. In fact, industries involved with transportation, aviation and mining consider drug testing as a primary requirement.

At its most fundamental core, drug testing is done to maintain a healthy and safe workplace.  It does not only provide a safe place for employees, but it can also save the company from loss of revenue due to low productivity and high insurance claims.

Urine Drug Test: The Most Common Method

urine same day drug testing

The most common type of drug testing done is urine drug test, mainly because it is less expensive. This kind of test has become so common that many individuals try to look for ways to cheat the drug test. The good thing about this is that drug testing companies are now more vigilant when it comes to drug test cheating attempts or sample adulteration.

Because of the possibility that a urine drug test can be contaminated and may end up producing a false result, some employers require additional drug testing with the use of the hair drug test.

What is a Hair Drug Test?

Hair drug test is a type of test that analyzes hair samples to identify the presence of drugs and their metabolites. For testing purposes, at least 1.5 inches of hair sample close to the scalp is taken from an individual’s body and is sent to a drug screening laboratory for screening.

Hair drug testing is considered to be more accurate compared to urine drug test, because the detection period can last up to 90 days. In comparison, an individual may stop using drugs for 1-2 days and would come out clean after a urine drug test.

hair sample drug testing myths

How Does a Hair Drug Test Detect Presence of Drugs in the Body?

As soon as a substance is ingested (orally, snorted, smoked or injected), metabolites are produced by the drug and processed by the body. These drug metabolites circulate in the blood stream, nourish the hair follicle, and then become deeply seated into each strand.

Hair Follicle Drug Testing Myths and Truths

A lot of drug testing myths on hair samples have been circulating online, and the wrong information may mislead people. Here are some of the most common hair follicle drug testing myths, and the truth behind each one:

Myth #1: Hair drug testing can detect the presence of all drugs.

One of the most popular drug testing myths is that hair drug test can detect all types of drugs. The only difference with other drug testing methods is the cost and method of sample extraction.

Fact:

A standard hair drug test has the ability to detect the presence of cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, opiates, PCP, and some prescription drugs. Meanwhile, a few special products like HairConfirm 12 Panel can also detect ecstasy, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and hydromorphone.

Despite this, hair drug testing – much like any other drug testing method – cannot cover every single substance in the market these days. This is due to the continuing development of illegal drug labs to come up with unique kinds of designer drugs and synthetic substances.

Myth #2: Hair drug testing is not accurate.

Some people would say that hair drug test could not possible provide valid results because there are factors that can affect the result of an individual’s test such as frequent exposure to secondhand smoke from other substance abusers.

Fact:

Hair follicle drug testing is impossible to cheat because any drug taken by an individual is more likely to remain in the hair follicles for 90 days. Besides, positive results are crosschecked through a confirmatory test.

Myth #3: Individuals who don’t cut their hair for a year but have stopped taking any drug would still be tested positive.

Some people believe that the presence of drugs on the hair remains even beyond the 90-day detection period. As a result, it may be hard to prove that the individual has really stopped taking drugs.

Fact:

Human hair grows an average of half an inch every month. Drug metabolites in hair follicles may still be found on the end of each strand, assuming that the hair has not been cut.

However, the standard procedure for the test is to take 1.5 inches of hair sample near the scalp, while the rest of the strand is discarded. Therefore, if the individual has long stopped taking drugs, the new growth of hair would no longer show any presence of drugs.

Myth #4: Individuals with shaved heads cannot undergo hair follicle drug testing.

A lot of people believe that hair samples to be used for drug testing should only come from the head. Therefore, people who are either bald or have their heads shaved cannot undergo a hair drug testing.

Fact:

This is one of the most common drug testing myths, but it’s easy to disprove. Even if the individual is bald, hair samples from his legs, arms, or armpits can be used for hair drug testing. Only individuals who don’t have any hair at all – say, someone diagnosed with alopecia universalis – could pass up this kind of drug test.

Myth #5: Hair follicle drug testing is required before and during the course of employment.

Part of the anti-drug campaign in any workplace is a need to submit to a drug test, which includes urine drug test and hair follicle drug test.

Fact:

Pre-employment drug tests laws vary from each state. In California, for example, employers may request drug screening on current employees whom the company may observe to have inconsistencies in terms of job performance. This may also be required for people involved in accidents or injuries in the workplace.

However, workplace drug testing is not conducted without considering other factors. If an employer decides to implement pre-employment drug testing, the procedure should be applicable to all applicants and not to specific individuals.

Myth #6: You may wash your hair with a special shampoo to wash away traces of any drugs.

Some drug users vouch on the idea that traces of drugs may be easily washed off the hair by using a special type of shampoo. After using the hair product, recent drug use will not be detected. In addition, bleaching is also said to help mask out the presence of drugs.

Fact:

While it is true that any drug adhering to the surface of hair strands can be washed off, drug metabolites that penetrate deep into the core of each strand will be impossible to remove. Hair follicle drug tests determine the presence of drug compounds inside each hair strand, and do not test the surface of the each strand.

What are the advantages of hair follicle drug test?

drug testing myths hair follicles blonde

Although this method of drug testing is more expensive than urine drug tests, people should consider recommending this type of drug test over other tests because of the following benefits:

High accuracy

The presence of drugs can be detected by hair drug tests up to 90 days from last substance use. It is recommended to use 1.5 inches of hair sample cut close to the scalp, in order to easily detect current drug use.

Difficulty in cheating

Unlike using urine drug test wherein drug users may be able to temporarily stop taking drugs in 1-2 days to produce a false negative result, hair drug testing is much more difficult to cheat.

Hair drug tests cannot be cheated by using bleaching solutions or shampoos. This kind of drug screening method checks the core of the hair strand where drug metabolites could possibly adhere for a longer period of time. In comparison, urine drug tests may be tampered by making use of masking agents to cheat on the test.

Fast results

Negative results are released within 24 hours. Any positive result undergoes confirmatory in which the results are released within an additional 24-72 hours.

Simplified collection process

It is a convenient and non-invasive method of drug testing, and can be conducted anytime and anywhere.

Less risk of sample spoilage or adulteration

Hair samples are easier to transport without worries of being contaminated due to factors such as temperature and mishandling.

Eligible in court

Hair testing can be used as evidence in court proceedings. All hair follicle drug tests include a comprehensive report.

The Importance of Disproving Drug Testing Myths

More people are starting to understand the real importance of drug testing, but some individuals are still hesitant due to possible infringement of privacy. This – along with other drug testing myths – has led some people to be skeptical about the need for drug tests.

However, if the drug testing procedure is carefully discussed, people will realize that it is not going to be used as a means for discrimination. Rather, drug testing is a way of keeping the community safe.

Drug testing is performed for pre-employment purposes, for confirmation of suspected drug use by current employees, for return-to-duty requirements, and for follow-up after rehabilitation. Imagine how much safe and secure the workplace can become, if the company decides to embark on a drug testing program.

Companies are required to provide an Employment Assistance Program to help employees who have been found to be positive. The program refers the individuals to rehabilitation centers in order to help them completely stay away from illicit drug use.

Hair Drug Testing Kits

Hair follicle drug testing is a trusted method of drug testing. Fortunately, there are a lot of drug testing kits available to choose from in the market. However, not all drug test kits are made by legitimate manufacturers. It is advisable to purchase hair drug testing kits from reputable companies with years of expertise and experience to back up their product line.

HairConfirm is an ideal testing solution for individuals who want fast and accurate results. This drug testing kit is convenient to use and cheat-proof. Results are available in 24-48 hours, and may be viewed securely online.

Here are some of the reasons why HairConfirm can bust any drug testing myths:

  • Personal information is not required, which makes the test totally anonymous. It makes use of a unique specimen number and pass code for proper identification.
  • The testing facility makes use of the latest drug screening technology.
  • It is easy to use and convenient. It comes with instructions on how to take the hair sample. Mailing is easier as it comes with a pre-paid package.
  • The testing laboratory provides a comprehensive report on a positive result test.

Helpful Links and Resources

http://www.healthline.com/health/urine-drug-screen

http://www.crchealth.com/addiction/drug-addiction-rehab/drug-addiction-rehab-2/home-2/drug_test_accuracy

http://www.confirmbiosciences.com/products/hairconfirm-hair-drug-test

hair follicle drug testing myths

Addiction Substance Abuse

Tobacco Use Among Adolescents: Facts, Statistics, Effects

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

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

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

Why Do Teens Smoke Cigarettes?

cigarette smoking teens

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

Poor parental modelling

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

Media influence

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

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

Curiosity

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

Boredom

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

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

Peer connection

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

Identity crisis

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

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

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

Wrong knowledge of tobacco use implications

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

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

Happy feeling

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

Teen Smoking Stats

teen smoking facts

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

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

Dangers of Tobacco Use by Teenagers

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

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

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

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

Facts about Teenage Smoking

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

Here are some disturbing facts about teen smoking:

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

How to Help Teens Stop Smoking

quit cigarette smoking teens tobacco use

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

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

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

Teen smoking rates can be reduced with the following suggestions:

Parents should be role models

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

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

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

Be understanding

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

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

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

Educate them on the risks

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

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

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

Instill discipline

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

Inform them about the dangers of e-cigarettes as well

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

Participate in anti-smoking campaigns

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

Nicotine Test Kit

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

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

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

Helpful Links and Sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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