Category Archives: Drug Use

What Needs to be Done to Prevent Opiate Abuse?

For more than a decade, the number of prescriptions for opiate and opioid pain relievers has been climbing. (Opioids are synthetic drugs chemically similar to opium – painkillers.) As the number of prescriptions climbed and the number of pills in circulation increased, more people discovered the euphoric effects of abusing these drugs and began to do so.

Then in 2010, pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma began to replace existing pills with tamper resistant formulas. Pill addicts swung their use around to heroin purchased on the street out of sheer necessity. It was cheaper, more available since they didn’t have to visit a doctor, and it gave them the same high. Continue reading

How Everyone in the US Pays for Illicit Drug Use

Imagine for the moment, a family living in a nice suburb. There are three children of varying ages, with one in high school and one in middle school. The father and mother have a glass of wine occasionally, or a beer with a barbecue and maybe a mild over-the-counter painkiller from time to time. The children receive no other drugs than perhaps an antibiotic or children’s aspirin from time to time

drugged drivingThis family might feel that they are free from the effects of drug abuse. No one is buying marijuana and using it, there are no opiate painkillers used or abused. No one gets drunk. Therefore, they might feel that the entire subject of drug abuse is something they don’t need to pay any attention to.

They would be wrong. They are paying for drug abuse in many different ways. It’s just that these ways are unseen by them. Let’s look at a few of these. Continue reading

Young People and Life-Threatening Use of Stimulants

teens and drugs at partyAccording to national surveys of young people and drug abuse, thousands of young people begin using harshly stimulating drugs every day. What these young people lack the experience to understand is how these drugs affect the body and how they can threaten one’s very life.

Stimulants include drugs like Ecstasy, cocaine, methamphetamine and amphetamine, the so-called “study drugs” like Ritalin and Adderall, and most of the new synthetics on the market. While there are variations, in general a stimulant drug increases heart rate and body temperature. At the same time, the arteries constrict severely. The cumulative effect is that there is an enormous strain on the heart and the arteries. The heart is trying very hard to pump blood into arteries that are artificially constricted. The outcome can be heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke and a disintegration of the aorta or other major artery.

All this because a young person wants to party. Continue reading

As Americans Consume More Drugs, Number of American Pilots Who Died After Using Drugs Climbs

pilot drug useThe National Transportation Safety Board has just finished a review of the drug use of pilots who were killed in airplane crashes to determine how many had used over-the-counter, prescription or illicit drugs. (They didn’t include alcohol in this particular review.)

Their results shows that the percentage of US pilots who died after using one or more drugs has climbed from less than 10% in 1990 to 39% in 2012. More pilots are found to have multiple drugs in their bodies as well.

The most common drug was an antihistamine that is used as a sedative or sleep aid and in cold medications. The number of pilots using illicit drugs was small, but the number using marijuana (which of course, is an illicit drug in most states) has increased, mostly in the last ten years. Four percent of the pilots killed in crashed had been using illicit drugs.

This review does not necessarily reflect greatly on the state of illicit drug use in the US, but it does reflect on the inclination of Americans to use drugs and then try to operate equipment that their and other people’s lives depend on.

One factor in this increase may be the presence of drug advertisements on television. After television lost the ability to run tobacco ads, it took a while for them to find another big source of revenue. In 1997, it became legal for pharmaceutical companies to advertise their products on TV. And the number of prescriptions per American began to climb.

As a side note, 90% of the pilots tested were what’s referred to as “general aviation” pilots, meaning that they were not operating commercial flights.

The NTSB is not currently stating that this drug use contributed to the deaths of these pilots (and perhaps other people as well). However, it does state that this increase in drug use is “significant.” Furthermore, their publication of this information is very preliminary. They are going to continue to analyze these numbers and make further recommendations. Thus far, they are just saying that “the overall risk of drug-related pilot impairment is increasing due to the growing use of potentially impairing drugs.”

In our daily activities, the greatest safety is being drug-free. From raising children to driving a car to piloting a plane, sobriety is the best guarantee of an enjoyable life. — Abstract – Drug Use Trends in Aviation Assessing the Risk of Pilot Impairment (3).pdf

UK Protects their Population by Setting Standards for Drugged Driving

drugged drivingEveryone knows that there are legal limits for driving while drunk. But now some nations and US states are working hard to determine what the legal driving limits for drug use should be. After all, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has documented the fact that many drugs of abuse make it harder or even impossible for a person to continue to drive competently after use.

In the NHTSA documentation for marijuana, the agency describes the effects of using marijuana before driving: “The short term effects of marijuana use include problems with memory and learning, distorted perception, difficultly in thinking and problem-solving, and loss of coordination. Heavy users may have increased difficulty sustaining attention, shifting attention to meet the demands of changes in the environment.”

When a person takes the club drug Ecstasy (MDMA), the NHTSA noted these impairments occurred in some drivers: “Speeding, jumping red lights, hallucinations/delusions, and a sense of detachment in five impaired driving cases.” Continue reading

Polydrug Use is a Killer, According to the Florida Medical Examiners

Every year, the medical examiners of Florida issue a report on the drugs found in the bodies of people who died in this state. They also delineate which people died with one or more drugs being the causative factor. This report has just been released for their 2013 deaths and it both interesting and revealing.

polydrug causes of death

The results for hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab and others), methadone, alcohol (ethanol) and cocaine. Blue indicates that when the drug was present, it caused the person’s death. Red indicates where the drug was found but did not cause a person’s death.

In the first six months of 2013, there were more than 94,000 deaths of any kind. Medical examiners determined that drugs were present in 4,159 cases. These deaths were tested for a long list of frequently-abused drugs including amphetamines; anti-anxiety drugs like Valium and Xanax; alcohol, prescription or illicit opiates like OxyContin, Vicodin, methadone, morphine and heroin; bath salts; and of course, marijuana.

Here’s the astonishing fact about the results of these tests. Of those people who had a drug in their systems when they died:

93.5% of them had more than one drug present. Continue reading

5 Ways to End Drugging in America

americaBefore a less-than-optimum situation can be improved or a problem solved, it must first be recognized and faced for what it is.  Neither the head-in-the-sand approach nor the running away from the truth of it will end-up in a resolution of the problem or an improvement in a bad condition or situation.  So it is with drug and drug use in America.  It is past time for each one of us to take a long, hard look at where the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol is taking us, and where we will ultimately end-up if we don’t pull together and take some heroic measures to turn things around for the better. Continue reading

How Might Your Child Hide Their Drug Abuse?

teenMost parents want their children to stay away from drugs while they are growing up. But when kids do start to use one drug or another, it’s not like they walk up to their parents and announce the fact. Quite the opposite. In most cases, they know their parents will disapprove and so they are going to conceal their drug abuse.

As this change usually coincides with the age a child starts to spend more time away from home, it can be hard for a parent to spot the changes. Drug use also coincides with the challenges a young person encounters as he (or she) works out how to deal with social pressures, more demanding schoolwork and similar outside influences. It’s not an easy time. Continue reading

Does Race Gender or Ethnicity Determine Drug Use

homeless personTo a large degree, perceptions of drug use and addiction can be affected by racial stereotypes. These types of stereotypes have long been perpetuated, to the effect that people of certain races or ethnic backgrounds are more likely to use drugs than others. For example, a Texas legislator speaking in support of one of that state’s early marijuana laws has famously been quoted as saying that, “All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff [marijuana] is what makes them crazy.” How surprised would that lawmaker have been to find out that people of Hispanic background are actually among the least likely to use drugs? Racial stereotypes relating to drug use have their basis in various sources, whether personal observation, prejudice or to promote a certain agenda. However they arise, they are not always true, and can have harmful effects in terms of limiting the opportunities of those groups who are targeted. At least as bad as this is that such stereotypes also have a tendency to deflect attention away from the groups who actually are using more drugs and need help to avoid addiction and other serious health consequences.  Continue reading

The Real Dangers of Adderall Addiction

adderallMillions of teenagers and young adults are spreading the word about a “cheat code” for life. They say there is a miracle substance that can make it easy to study all night or complete boring tasks like cleaning your house and practicing an instrument for hours. The best part is that you won’t even mind these possibly mundane tasks. These high schoolers and college students attribute these miraculous effects to a “wonder drug” called Adderall. What they won’t necessarily tell you is that Adderall is also an incredibly dangerous drug that can kill you.  Continue reading