The subject of addiction and what causes it is rife with theories. Any area of life or behavior which is problematic and not well understood all too frequently lends itself to a plethora of complexities and proposed solutions which ultimately prove unworkable and do not result in a betterment of the condition. So it is with addiction; the speculation and theorizing as to what causes it and what cures it—and whether or not it can be genetically predicted. Continue reading
It seems like everywhere you look these days, there’s news about opiates. This is both good and bad. It’s bad because this means there are so many opiates in circulation that people need to be notified that there’s a problem. But it’s good because I think more people are becoming more aware of that something is wrong and needs attention. If they are more aware of it, they will be more alert to opiate abuse by a loved one.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, heroin abuse is on the rise. Past month use of heroin was reported by 281,000 people in 2011. In 2012, that number was 335,000. Continue reading
One of the most common things that happens with the families of drug users is that they think there is a problem, they’re sure there’s some kind of problem, but they can’t identify it. A drug user will exploit their uncertainty to deny everything and continue to use drugs.
This really is a strange phenomenon. One might think that when a drug user starts running into problems caused by the drugs, they might lay off the drugs or ask for help. Well, a few do. But when a person is truly gripped by addiction and driven by cravings, it’s very common that they cover up their drug use and manipulate those around him (or her).
Even if a family finds drugs on the person or in the home, the user will still try to manipulate the situation. “Those don’t belong to me,” or “I only did it this once.” Or maybe, “Yes, I was using a few pills [plus cocaine plus marijuana plus heroin that go unmentioned] but I can quit.”
This is one of the saddest things about addiction. The condition itself prevents the person from getting help. It’s like addicts become wired to prevent detection or recovery.
Certainly there are a few exceptions. But when this deception exists, it can delay rehabilitation by years. Meanwhile, the problems get worse and worse. Families are mystified as to why the person’s life continues to fall apart. Continue reading
These are children who never reached out for a joint, a needle or a crack pipe. Their drugs came from a different source – their mothers’ blood, carried through the placenta and umbilical cord to the tiny, growing body.
But still, these are children who must go through similar withdrawal symptoms to their mothers. They are often inconsolable, crying endlessly. They may suffer seizures and cramps and kick their arms and legs in pain. When the mothers’ drug was an opiate, the babies may be weaned off the drugs in their bodies by being given tiny doses of methadone or morphine. The dose is gradually reduced until they are clean but it still is an uncomfortable process. Continue reading
There’s some subjects that can be successfully addressed with a narrow focus. And there’s others where that just won’t work. Addiction is one of the latter.
If you just focus on one aspect of the addiction problem, you will fail to understand it. Addiction is a serious social, health, cultural, financial, justice, legislative, political and human problem. I can’t think of any stratum of life that isn’t affected by it. Everything from child abuse to rock and roll, from traffic deaths to property crimes, from success in school to success in business, every part of our lives is capable of being touched by someone’s drug use and addiction.
For example, someone was telling me a story about how, many years ago, personnel from a major hospital used to cross the street from the hospital to a grassy strip in front of her office where they would take their lunch breaks and smoke pot. I shudder to think of the mistakes they might have made when they went back to work. Continue reading
If you have not heard of this drug, is a home-cooked drug that starts with codeine extracted from headache pills. In Russia, where this drug originated, you can buy these pills over the counter. Even though the laws have changed in the last couple of years to try to prevent people from making this drug, you can still buy enough of the pills to cook up this drug. The reason you can still get this drug is because before the laws changed, some pharmacies made 25% of their money by selling this drug. When the laws limited the number of the pills you could buy, many pharmacies just cooperated with people who wanted to circumvent the law and get more pills than allowed.
Once an addicted person has the pills, he cooks out the codeine by using a mixture of toxic, harmful chemicals. Phosphorus (from the strike strips on boxes of matches), iodine, gasoline, paint thinner, hydrochloric acid all leave their traces in the dirty orange liquid that results from the cooking process. Excessive amounts of zinc, iron and lead contaminate this mix. But the cravings for this drug are so intense that the addicts will inject it into their veins, despite the damage it quickly does. Continue reading
Lately there’s been a lot of discussion and news coverage of naloxone (also known as Narcan). This is a drug that can be administered to a person who has overdosed on opiates (derived naturally from opium) or opioids (synthetic opiates). These include heroin, morphine, OxyContin, Vicodin, methadone, and many other pain medications. There are various ways to administer naloxone, including a device that pretty much automatically injects naloxone if you just hold it against the body. It even has a voice that gives you instructions. Another type of naloxone administration will send a jet of the drug up a person’s nose.
The fact is that in most cases naloxone will bring a person out of an overdose in just a couple of minutes. It reverses the effects of the narcotic which slows down a person’s breathing to the point of death when too much of the drug has been ingested. Time is always an issue when you are trying to save someone’s life. You have to reach him (or her) before he is too far gone. Continue reading
In a study conducted by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital and published in September of last year, we learn of evidence that appears to draw a link between gambling addiction and substance abuse. Gambling is commonly included on lists of different types of addiction, but it is not normally considered to go hand in hand with drug or alcohol addiction. The study would seem to indicate that there are some common denominators between substance addiction and gambling addiction that tend to make these two conditions a problem for people. Continue reading
When the World Cup is held, the world seems to hold its collective breath. Unlike sports that are primarily American – football, basketball and, to a lesser degree, baseball – soccer truly is international. If this year is anything like earlier years, there will be as many as three billion people watching some or all of these games on television.
But as early-arriving news sources have revealed, there is a more sinister side to Recife, the city in Brazil that hosts this event. Many children are forced into prostitution in Recife, children in their early teens or even boys and girls as young as 10.
To deal with the pain and anguish of abandonment, hunger and prostitution, these children become addicted to using inhalants, usually a kind of glue they call “cola.” Continue reading
When you’ve got a loved one who is addicted, it seems like all the rules change. The ways you have learned to care about and be patient with them just don’t work any more. The problem is that it often takes family a very long time to learn this lesson. It’s very hard to shift gears this thoroughly – after all, as we learn to be parents, aunts, uncles, sons and daughters or grandparents, we learn to forgive and trust.
When drug or alcohol addiction enter the scene, either the rules must change or everyone may lose the game. It becomes necessary to suspend trust and admit the problem to other family members or one’s minister or doctor. Old rules about privacy may need to be tossed out if the addicted person is to get help. Continue reading