Narconon - Addiction and Recovery Wed, 01 Jul 2015 02:36:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Parents and Media Reveal Drug Overdose Losses to Save Other Young People Wed, 01 Jul 2015 02:36:57 +0000 Continue reading

When America’s children are in middle school, high school or college, this is when parents’ hearts should be swelling with pride. This is when these young citizens should be gaining the education that will prepare them for life and for contributions to their communities and country. Instead, too many of our families are dealing with the addictions of their beloved children or, worse yet, their deaths due to overdose or drug-related accident.

upset teenWhile this situation has existed for quite some time, it’s just now coming to broad public view. For years, obituaries of teens and young adults who died from drug-related causes simply stated that the young person died at home, died suddenly or died of heart failure. Now, parents are making their children’s problems known and young adults in recovery are telling their stories. As more people are exposed to these experiences, the dangers to students of any age become better known and understood.

The Media and Parents Work Together to Reveal the Truth

In the last year, there’s been an increase in the number of people and organizations willing to turn the light on these problems. In June 2015, Sports Illustrated (SI) published a remarkable article titled “How painkillers are turning young athletes into heroin addicts.” This article reveals the slippery path taken by many high school and college athletes from pain pills for sports injuries to heroin and overdose deaths. SI noted the lack of reliable statistics and so used interviews from students who survived and the histories of students who didn’t survive. There’s enough stories to paint a convincing picture of the dangers to young athletes.

And in Alberta, Canada, the parents of a 19-year-old who overdosed early this year decided not to keep the cause of his death a secret. In a televised interview, his mother, Marie Agioritis, said, “We decided to be open about this because we want to do anything we can to spare other families from going through this too.” Marie and her husband were blindsided by their son’s death, not even realizing that he was having a problem with drug use.

Science Contributes More Facts Related to Drugs Used in Schools

The scientific community also provides facts and figures that can help tip off parents to possible problem areas. Dan Burgard is an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Puget Sound. He has made several analyses of the wastewater (sewage) produced by college campuses as a way of detecting increases in the use of drugs at different times of the school year. Specifically, he was testing for increased use of amphetamine and similar drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta and Vyvanse. These drugs may be prescribed for attention problems but they are widely abused – that is, used without a prescription or consumed in greater quantities than prescribed – as many students believe they may provide a competitive edge for a student trying to maintain high grades.

In one such study, Burgard found that residues from amphetamine-type drugs increased nearly eight-fold between the first week of classes and finals week of the second semester. This increase points out the pervasive abuse of these drugs by some college students.

These stimulants are addictive and have harmful side effects such as dangerously high blood pressure, uneven heartbeats, confusion, hallucinations and severe headaches.

Parents Must be on the Alert

With these stories now becoming widely available, it’s hoped that all parents will take these warnings to heart. Drug abuse and addiction can sneak into any household. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood the family lives in, what religion or race they are or even how careful the parents have been to set a good example.

Signs of drug abuse or addiction aren’t easy to distinguish from the manifestations some adolescents go through as they try to adjust to greater freedom and responsibilities in their teens. This is how parents can miss the real problem that’s making their teen moody, secretive, argumentative and tired.

It’s not an easy job to keep kids free of drugs. To provide help detecting and dealing with drug abuse before it can turn dangerous, Narconon has prepared a variety of guides for parents. A list of these resources follows.

Fight Back Against Heroin Abuse bookletSigns and symptoms of most commonly abused drugs

Family Help Guide for identifying drugs being used and dealing with addiction:

Fight Back Against Heroin Abuse

Information and resources on marijuana use

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Athletes Abusing Stimulants Warned of Summer Overheating Dangers Wed, 24 Jun 2015 14:42:13 +0000 Continue reading

One of the classes of drugs popular among teens is stimulants. While this class includes illicit stimulants like synthetic cannabis (referred to as Spice, K2 or many other nicknames), it can also include drugs prescribed for what doctors call attention problems. Drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta and Vyvanse are sought illicitly by some students who think it may give them an edge in their studies. Other teens or young adults who aren’t concerned about studies may want them for an increased ability to party into the night.

Ritalin and Concerta are similar chemically to cocaine and Adderall is combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Vyvanse is another form of amphetamine called lisdexemfetamine.

overheated football playerWhile these drugs may be favorites of those seeking academic success or late night fun, they may also be sought by young athletes who think they may give them an edge during athletic competition. Dr. Sharon Orrange of the University of Southern California Medical Center points out that these stimulants provide greater acceleration, longer time to exhaustion and more strength during some tests of exertion.

But they also have the dangerous effect of clouding one’s perception of heat stress. In other words, a person may be suffering from increased stress from a hot day combined with their own exertion and not even be aware of it. A young person engaged in sports in a warm climate probably has no idea that he (or she) is increasing his risk of heat-related death by abusing these drugs. And when he is abusing them – that is, using them without a prescription – he is unlikely to notify his coach or other athletic staff of this risk factor.

The American Journal of Preventative Medicine noted that heat-related injuries among athletes increased 133% between 1997 and 2006. Football players are at the greatest risk. Between 1995 and 2014, 40 high school students and 8 college football players died from heatstroke suffered during practices or games.

Dr. Orrange further warns that athletic trainers and coaches need to know which students are taking drugs of this class so they can watch them carefully for heat-related injuries. But since students abusing these drugs are unlikely to admit it, how can the risk of heat-related injury be reduced?

Parents who learn about this risk need to talk to their kids about the effects of abusing these stimulants and the increased heat injury risk that accompanies their use. This is especially true of someone who is engaged in athletics over the summertime.

Even if your teen or young adult is not abusing these drugs, he might know someone who is and he should be encouraged to pass this warning along to others. By making this information known, it’s entirely possible that young lives could be saved.

Read more about the increased use of stimulants amongst young people.

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According to the Oklahoma Department of Education, Drug Abuse is a Factor in the Rising Number of Homeless Children Wed, 24 Jun 2015 03:54:30 +0000 Continue reading

homelessAccording to data collected by school districts and reported to the state, thousands of Oklahoma children fall asleep each night on the couches or beds of friends or relatives, hundreds more stay in a hotel or motel, and some even sleep in a shelter or on the streets. Obviously, this surge in homeless students is a great cause for concern among school officials, lawmakers and child advocates, who seek to find answers. According to recent information, it seems that drug abuse and addiction problems may partly be to blame.

Homeless Students in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Department of Education has collected information from school districts across the state and uncovered the fact that the number of homeless students rose forty-three percent in just two years – from over seventeen thousand five hundred homeless students in the 2011-2012 school year to over twenty-five thousand homeless students in the 2013-2014 school year. While they have not yet compiled the figures for the 2014-2015 school year, early estimates by education officials indicate that they may exceed last year’s total.

Aliah Morales, a sophomore in Tulsa Public Schools, knows firsthand that homelessness can have traumatic impacts on children and their families. One fifth of her entire life has been spent homeless; she has been in three foster homes, six homeless shelters, and even a mental health facility. She was moved around to nine different schools during her freshman year. Now, Morales is staying with her mother at a Catholic Charities transitional apartment. She admits that the instability caused by her homeless condition has affected her in many different ways, including her ability to effectively complete her schooling. After all, how can one be expected to keep their grades up when they are constantly moving and shifting in their personal life – and attending nine different schools in a single school year? These individuals may be far more concerned about where they will sleep that night – or how they will get their next meal – than about their test at school.

The alarming rise of homeless students across the state has caused state Senator Kate Floyd to author a bill requiring the gathering of more precise data on homeless children. The idea is to use this information to shape future state policies regarding child homelessness. Currently, the reasons for this alarming problem are not entirely clear, but many experts indicate that poverty, teen pregnancy, incarceration, mental illness and drug abuse are all possible factors.

Drug Abuse and Homelessness

Drug abuse may only be one of the possible reasons a child can wind up homeless, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. When a child has parents that suffer from drug abuse and addiction problems, they are often also suffering extensively. Drug abusing parents may neglect their child, and worry more about obtaining and using drug substances than they worry about maintaining a stable home or supporting and caring for their child. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed about their condition, and they may hide it from others who would be able to assist them and their child in stabilizing their lives. As a result, their children wind up in some form of homelessness, and their ability to participate in and complete their full schooling is threatened, which can then affect the rest of their lives.

The rising numbers of homeless children in the state of Oklahoma is just one more reason why the war against drug use, abuse and addiction is so critical, and why drug education and prevention measures are so vital.

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Are There Dangerous Side Effects Connected with Use of Suboxone? Mon, 22 Jun 2015 23:33:53 +0000 Continue reading

quote from Suboxone userIf you’re not familiar with it, Suboxone is the brand name of a drug that is used in the treatment of opiate addiction. It was recently in the news because the young man who shot and killed several people in South Carolina had been recently arrested for possessing Suboxone that wasn’t prescribed for him. Could Suboxone have been involved in mental problems that contributed to his shooting these people? To determine this possibility, it’s necessary to take a closer look at this drug and its side effects.

What’s in Suboxone?

The primary drug in this formula is buprenorphine, a synthetic opioid (meaning “similar to opiate”). This drug prevents an opiate-addicted person from going into withdrawal but does not create as much euphoria as heroin or painkillers. So it is broadly used in the treatment of opiate addiction, enabling people to stop using heroin or painkillers without the sickness that would normally result. One report estimated that three million Americans have been treated with Suboxone.

Despite the high not being as potent as that of heroin, it’s still a popular drug of abuse, with many drug dealers offering their customers their choice of heroin or Suboxone. If there are any hazardous mental side effects to using or abusing Suboxone, all those people illicitly using this drug will not have the support of a doctor to cope with those effects.

Suboxone Side Effects

The website for the manufacturer, Reckitt Benckiser of the UK, notes these side effects of the drug: Nausea, vomiting, headache, numb mouth, constipation, intoxication, disturbance in attention, irregular heartbeat, decrease in sleep, back pain, fainting, and dizziness.

Pharmaceutical company Reckitt Benckiser lists no mental effects of this drug. Their website only states that there are “nervous system” effects such as: Anxiety, depression, dizziness, nervousness and insomnia.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes this side effect: Dysphoria, defined as a state of depression, restlessness, or unpleasant dissatisfaction with life.

But What Do Actual Users Say about Suboxone?

Some recent news reports have ventured into online forums that permit drug users to discuss the effects of the drugs to find out what these actual users say about side effects. While these are not authoritative sites by any means, it might be useful in this circumstance to sample their comments.

In 2011, a woman described her experience using buprenorphine in a patch as prescribed for pain:
“I became extremely angry and irritable. I was having other problems with it and wound up taking the patch off. When I put a new one on last night, the same thing happened. Ten minutes and tears just started pouring. I couldn’t stop it! Half an hour after that I was high as a kite, not happy but talkative. Twenty minutes later I felt the need to punch someone in the face, and I’ve been irritable and bitchy ever since. I feel like gruesomely and meticulously dismembering every other person I come across, just because.”

This person stopped using Suboxone while he was taking 6 milligrams per day: “On the fourth day I wanted to kill myself. Whoever says Suboxone is easy to come off is a better person then I am.”

In 2013, a fellow who was trying to get clean after using 2 mg Suboxone for six months said: “I set a new world’s record, at least my personal best, 27 days with no sleep! On a 2 a.m. walk at night 26 I was seriously ready to jump out into traffic, I was hallucinating and could barely walk, and once you think you’re getting better, it comes back and kicks you in the ***!”

In 2014, a person who had been taking Suboxone for two years and then went off it said: “The INSANE anxiety has settled in to stay. I make myself sick obsessing over what I need to be doing and what is about to go wrong and how in the world I am going to make it through. I sit and think and in the middle of everything I do, chores, driving, watching TV, suddenly my heart sinks as I sit and entertain one of my negative thoughts in my head.”

A man with the forum name of “Dan Steely” described the effect of taking one to two mg of buprenorphine a day for eight months: “It took me months to figure out I had turned into a zombie. Like I said I could function pretty well but my life had become very flat. I no longer enjoyed or looked forward to the things that made my life fun.”

A person with the forum name “Shanellie” mentioned in 2012: “Subs are just not for everyone. I tried that route and basically spent an entire year feeling weird, sick and miserable.”

There’s no drug in the world that works for every single person which is why it’s vital for a patient to stay in touch with a doctor when starting treatment. When a person is abusing this drug or does not have a trusting relationship with his doctor, it’s possible for things to go very wrong, as these people have noted.

Was Suboxone Abuse Related to this Recent Tragedy?

This is a question that doctors and other qualified experts will need to answer. What does seem clear is that Suboxone and buprenorphine don’t work for every patient and have some serious mental side effects for some. When these drugs are being used without medical supervision, there’s no telling what could happen.

When a person is trying to get clean after drug addiction, it is possible to get completely sober so that one does not have to rely on methadone, buprenorphine or any other drug. The Narconon drug rehabilitation program uses no drugs as part of its treatment. Each person is helped through withdrawal from any drugs they are taking with the use of generous doses of nutritional supplements and continuous one-on-one work with trained staff. Gentle physical techniques help with physical aches and relaxing mental procedures help ease anxiety.

Withdrawal is followed by a thorough sauna-based detoxification and an education in the life skills that will be needed to stay sober in the future.

The result is full sobriety. For the first time in decades for some people, they can enjoy life without any drugs or alcohol in their systems. They find themselves capable of truly feeling the joys of life for the first time. There’s nothing like it.

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DEA Struggles As Production of Street Drug “Moon Rocks” Soars Tue, 16 Jun 2015 14:51:38 +0000 Continue reading

deaWhen considering the extensive and difficult war on drugs, one thing that has always proven to be a challenge for drug enforcement officials is staying abreast of new developments in the manufacture of drug substances. There are, of course, naturally-derived drug substances like heroin, cocaine and marijuana, but there are also a wide variety of synthetic drug substances, like methamphetamine, that must be combated in order to bring about a healthier society. But what happens when the drug manufacturers constantly make subtle shifts to their formulas in order to stay ahead of drug enforcement efforts?

Moon Rocks

Moon Rocks, which is also known as Spice, K2, Skunk or synthetic marijuana, is a laboratory-produced, dangerous, mind-altering drug substance that has exploded in popularity over the last ten years. Thanks to constant formula changes and clever marketing, it is always just one step ahead of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s efforts to arrest its production and sale. Moon Rocks are produced primarily in giant underground laboratories, mainly in China, which are turning out thousands of pounds of this dangerous chemical on a regular basis. Just last week the DEA arrested a man who was running a lab that allegedly was producing the chemicals for roughly seventy percent of all Moon Rocks sold in the United States.

Moon Rocks are often marketed as a safer alternative to traditional marijuana, when actually it is quite a dangerous chemical substance and can prove to be deadly. It looks like herbs in a shiny package, and is often deceptively labeled as “Potpourri” or “Plant food” and “Not intended for human consumption” in an effort to sidestep laws that would prevent its sale. The DEA’s attempts to control the production and sale of this drug depend largely upon their restriction of the sale of certain chemicals used in the manufacture of this drug. However, manufacturers respond to this “challenge” by changing the ingredients so quickly, while producing the drug in such massive quantities, that drug enforcement officials simply cannot keep up.

Some reports indicate that drugs like Moon Rocks, or synthetic marijuana, have been responsible for the deaths of approximately one thousand Americans since 2009. Even more alarming is the fact that many of these individuals were high schoolers.

The Production of Moon Rocks

The production of moon rocks, or synthetic marijuana, begins with the production of powdered chemicals. The drugs are then packed into large bags and shipped to the United States in huge containers that are often labeled as “fertilizer” or “industrial solvent” in order to deceive drug enforcement officials.

Once the drugs arrive in the United States, they are purchased by wholesale buyers. The powdered chemicals are liquified by being dissolved in either acetone or alcohol, and then they are poured over dry plant matter before being packaged in shiny, metallic baggies for sale.   Despite the fact that these baggies are labelled as “Not intended for human consumption”, individuals purchase them with the exact intention of rolling up and smoking the contents.

A Deadly Problem

The American Association of Poison Control Centers has stated that this year alone, poison centers have received reports of over thirty-five hundred exposures to synthetic marijuana products. Experts warn that the label “synthetic marijuana” is a dangerous one, as these drugs can produce very different effects than marijuana, and can be up to one hundred times more potent than natural marijuana. The main psychoactive ingredients in synthetic marijuana bind to the brain’s CB1 receptors, and can cause anything from seizures to psychosis in the user. It is safe to say that this deadly drug is better left alone.

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Is a Drug User Only Hurting Himself? Sun, 14 Jun 2015 21:40:16 +0000 Continue reading

I don't need your helpWhen pinned down by his family and told that he (or she) needs to go to rehab, many addicted people will complain that the family just needs to leave him alone because, after all, “I’m only hurting myself.”

How could the addicted person even say this? After all, it’s obvious to the family that he’s hurting them. Their hearts are breaking. They worry every time the phone rings. Their pocketbooks are emptied after having to cover medical and legal costs of the addicted person, time after time.

But to the addicted person, it seems true at that moment. That’s the way she feels. She’s isolated herself from those she loves and in many cases, only associates with other people who are using drugs or drinking. And drug use lowers awareness as well as one’s sense of responsibility for others or oneself. It’s easy for the family to see these changes – very difficult for the individual.

Obvious Signs of Much Greater Damage as Well

If you step back for a moment and look at the greater damage of drug abuse or alcoholism, it’s not limited to the individual and his immediate family. The community, the country and even the whole world struggles with the burden of alcoholism and drug abuse.

According to the World Health Organization’s annual report on alcohol consumption and alcoholism, more than two million people per year lose their lives due to alcohol-related problems. The United Nations estimates that more than 180,000 people died due to their drug abuse in 2012.

In addition to all these deaths, there are millions of mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses and children who will be incapacitated by their grief. Some will never fully recover.

A Sample of Drug Fighting Costs from One Community

With all this devastation resulting from drug and alcohol abuse, there is always a financial cost to society to try to save these addicted lives, prosecute criminals, clean up drug manufacturing sites and all the other ways drug trafficking and use results in costs.

dangerous chemicals found in a meth labA report from the Tulsa, Oklahoma Police Department in 2011 provided a look at the way just one drug impacted that community with overwhelming costs. The drug was methamphetamine, a drug that ravages city and rural areas across the Midwest. Tulsa has more than its share of people who think it’s a good idea to cook a little meth in their house, apartment or trailer, resulting in toxic contamination, explosions and fires, arrests, children placed in foster care and other types of mop-up needed.

Based on the US Drug Czar’s estimate of cleanup, law enforcement, prosecution, incarceration, child welfare and property damage costs, each meth lab found comes with an average price tag of $350,000. In the 26 months ending in March 2011, the Tulsa Police Department estimated their methamphetamine-related costs at a staggering $118,560,000.

It’s not easy to see the massive benefits to communities and countries around the world if the drug problem could be eliminated. There would be hundreds of millions of dollars available for schools, parks, science or civil engineering projects to benefit health and other public needs.

Helping Your Addicted Loved One

When you’re trying to save a loved one from overdose or drug-related accident or injury, these figures are not what matters. What does matter is that your loved one finds a rehab that helps him discover that life can be worth living again once drugs are left behind. For tens of thousands of people around the world, Narconon has provided the helping hand that pulled them out of that dangerous life and put them on a new sober path toward better survival.

When you have a loved one you need to get on this new path, contact Narconon and learn all about this drug-free rehabilitation program.

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Support Groups Around the Country Helping Parents of Drug Addicts to Shed the Shame Wed, 10 Jun 2015 02:56:45 +0000 Continue reading

manWhile few people truly understand the effects of drug use, abuse and addiction, even fewer people consider the full extent of damaging effects these problems can have on an addict’s family members. True, they may not themselves be directly suffering from the physical, mental and emotional effects caused by the ingestion of drug substances, but there is no doubt that they are suffering mental and emotional effects as a result of their loved one’s drug abuse and addiction. Not the least of these effects is a feeling of guilt or shame – that perhaps one either drove their loved one into drug use or that one had the power to prevent it from happening if they had only taken action. Unfortunately, these feelings of guilt and shame can actually stand in the way of getting a loved one the treatment and help they desperately need.

Helping Parents Shed the Shame

Brenda Stewart well knows the shame that comes with having a family member addicted to drugs. When her oldest son developed a crystal methamphetamine addiction, she became so ashamed that she shared her problems with no one around her, and simply stewed in her own “stinking thinking” as she now calls it. She always assumed that at some point she would send her son off for treatment, but the shame of openly admitting his problems by enrolling him in rehabilitation treatment held her back. Stewart admits that it wasn’t just shame of her son’s problems that prevented her from taking action, it was shame that others would think she had done something to cause her son’s problems.

Stewart’s feelings of shame, guilt and the need for secrecy increased a few years later when her younger son also developed a crystal methamphetamine addiction. Stewart actually became physically ill as a result of her ordeal, and her desperate attempts to save her children. It has taken fifteen years, but now both her sons are in recovery. Stewart herself has found a strong purpose in helping others overcome the same struggles she has, by coordinating the Ohio chapter of the Addict’s Mom, a national online support group for parents of drug addicts.

The Addict’s Mom seeks to raise general awareness of the issues that parents of drug addicts face. Many parents of recovering addicts find that the group provides them with a way to tell others that it is okay to share their struggles with those around them, and that it is okay to seek help for these problems. In fact, it is far better to do so and to get one’s child onto the road for recovery sooner rather than hide these problems out of guilt, shame or fear. The Addict’s Mom gives parents a way to safely share their stories with others – avoiding the general stigma attached to drug abuse and addiction – so that they don’t have to struggle alone.

The Addict’s Mom was founded in 2008 by Barbara Theodosiou after she discovered her own son’s drug addiction problems. The group is intended to help all parents, despite the name, and members are accepted by online administrators. Online forums for discussion are monitored very carefully to ensure that the dialogue between members remains positive overall. Over the past seven years, chapters have formed in all fifty states and attracted more than twenty-five thousand members who are seeking to shed the shame that comes with having a drug addicted family member.

The online nature of the Addict’s Mom allows individuals who may not normally consider joining a group or participating in a meeting a chance to tell their story and gain the support they need to help their child overcome their drug addiction problems. One member indicated that this group is not intended to replace recovery or other support groups, but rather can further strengthen them by allowing parents a safe place in which to discuss their problems.

Understanding Addiction

In supporting parents to overcome the shame tied with a child’s drug addiction problems, group founder Barbara Theodosiou points out that the social stigma connected with drug abuse and addiction problems can often cause extensive harm – if only in that it shames parents into hiding the truth about their child’s problems rather than seeking help for them. A child’s choices may be theirs alone, but sometimes parents can feel as though others around them are judging them based on the choices their child has made, and this can be difficult to deal with. The Addict’s Mom hopes to help erase some of the social stigma connected with drug abuse and addiction problems by raising awareness and understanding of these problems so that people can deliver and receive the help they need in order to overcome them.

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Four Marijuana-related Deaths Reveal the Dangers of High Potency Mon, 08 Jun 2015 00:38:28 +0000 Continue reading

is higher potency marijuana more dangerous?Marijuana is a controversial subject any way you look at it. On one side, NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and other pro-marijuana groups claim that the drug is pretty harmless. On the other side, prevention groups describe its dangers.

Some groups even say that the potency of marijuana hasn’t really increased all that much. Has it or hasn’t it?

Below are a couple of charts that show this increase.


Pot potency chart


The first chart shows the average percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the primary intoxicating ingredient) of seized marijuana samples from the 1970s through 2008.

marijuana potency statistics


The second chart shows the percentage in samples from the 1990s through 2013. (Because agencies recorded their information a little differently in those two eras, it’s hard to make one chart out of the information.)

So what do you think – is marijuana is getting more potent?

The other factor at work relating to potency is the medical marijuana industry. This rise of this industry has led to new agricultural methods that have boosted the potency even higher. In states with medical marijuana, it’s not difficult to find a medical dispensary that will sell you a product that’s in the 25% to 29% range. Source:

Do Users Really Adjust their Own Dosages?

On its website, NORML pooh-poohs any risk attached to this increase in potency because “greater potency is not necessarily more dangerous, due to the fact that users tend to adjust…their dose according to potency.” Source:

There’s plenty of evidence that not everyone wants to lower their dosage. Just do a quick search of YouTube for people intentionally trying to get wasted or even seeing if they can overdose on marijuana. And it seems that not everyone is capable of this adjustment. Check out this statistic from the Drug Awareness Warning Network (DAWN):

DAWN data show there was a 59 percent increase in marijuana-related emergency department visits between 2006 (290,565) and 2010 (461,028). Marijuana was second only to cocaine for illicit drug-related emergency department visits in 2010.  Source: 2013 Drug Threat Analysis:

So in 2010, 461,028 people consumed so much marijuana they were affected by panic attacks, shortness of breath, vomiting, fast heart rate, disorientation, hallucinations and overall shaking. It seems that if they could have, they would have consumed a less hazardous dose.

Could High Potency Pot Have Contributed to Four Deaths?

States with medical marijuana have tried to determine what level of THC intoxication makes a person dangerous to drive, operate equipment and so on. For now, some states are using 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood (written as “ng/ml”) as an indicator of impairment. (Note: there’s not yet a scientific consensus yet on what this figure should be.)

In at least four cases, we know the THC levels of people who died after using this drug.

• Tron Dohse died in 2012 after trying to climb onto the balcony outside his apartment. His THC level was 27.3 ng/ml.
• Daniel Juarez of Colorado stabbed himself to death with a THC level of 38.2 ng/ml.
• NASCAR driver Kevin Ward, who died after he got out of his wrecked car and walked down the track, had a THC level of 13.1.
• Levy Thamba Pongi was visiting Denver and ate a cookie containing marijuana. He was new to marijuana. When he jumped off the balcony of his hotel to his death, his blood contained just 7.2 ng/ml.

Complicating matters is the fact that it doesn’t always take a high level of THC for a person to be incapacitated. In Alaska, Paul Frary, who managed to drive his truck into a ditch and a tree and was unable to speak coherently after being pulled from the vehicle, had a THC level of just 5.7.

Unfortunately, it’s going to take a while for experts to agree on the this matter. In the meantime, it appears likely that some people may continue to be injured or even killed after consuming high potency marijuana. That’s a terrible way to find out the truth about a drug.

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University of Buffalo Reports that Drug Abuse Could Triple Annual ER Visits Wed, 03 Jun 2015 16:21:43 +0000 Continue reading

drug abuseThe purpose of regular health check-ups with a primary care physician is for an individual to take the opportunity to maintain good health throughout their life. Obviously, emergencies do happen, but the overall goal of maintaining one’s good health is to greatly reduce the chances of this happening. Unfortunately, health care is not usually at the forefront of a drug abuser’s mind. In fact, they may have little attention on their overall health and well-being until something dramatic occurs, at which point their health requires emergency care.

Drug Abuse and ER Visits

According to a recent study titled “Frequent Emergency Department Utilization and Behavioral Health Diagnosis” and led by Jessica Castner at the University of Buffalo, tobacco smokers are four times more likely than non-smokers to become frequent visitors of emergency rooms. Castner is an assistant professor in the UB School of Nursing and an emergency room utilization researcher, and participated in the study in order to help shed light on whether more individuals are replacing regular visits with their primary care physicians with trips to hospital emergency rooms.

The study was published in Nursing Research and outlines the fact that Americans who suffer from chronic diseases visit both primary care physicians and emergency rooms equally and that medical care visits overall have soared in recent years. There are certainly a rare few individuals who reported visiting the emergency room forty to fifty times, but in looking at the entire population as a whole, there is a different pattern occurring. Rather than people seeking to replace their primary care doctor, they seem to generally be sicker, using drug substances more and suffering from more chronic diseases. In other words, the overall health of the entire population seems to be on a steady decline, and drug abuse and addiction problems may be largely to blame.

Individuals who turn to drug use in answer to some life problem may shortly find that these substances are unable to solve their problems, and only temporarily suppress the symptoms of their problems. The individual is then forced to continue using these substances in order to continue experiencing relief, which drives them onto the path of drug abuse and addiction. Eventually, the individual discovers that they cannot function without the use of drug substances, and they are driven to compulsively continue their drug use despite the destructive consequences. Since they have no control over their own life and choices, it is normally not until drugs have caused them extensive health problems that they seek help, and even then it’s often only to recover enough health just to return to drug use.

The Strain on Healthcare

As much as emergency room visits have increased recently, they may continue to increase as more and more individuals obtain health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Individuals who are suffering from various health complaints and who currently don’t receive any sort of medical treatment may take the opportunity if they have appropriate health insurance coverage. While this may seem good in that more individuals will receive the care they need, it unfortunately may put a greater financial strain on health insurers, patients and the overall health care system. By analyzing data gathered by the Department of Health in 2009 from roughly fifty-six thousand individuals, Castner and her peers discovered that individuals who suffer from chronic diseases are not the only high-volume users of emergency rooms. Tobacco and drug use more than triples an individual’s likelihood of visiting emergency rooms three or more times every year, making it clear that more action must be taken to address and resolve these problems.

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Is a Hospital Survey Worsening Our Addiction Problem? Sun, 31 May 2015 01:38:51 +0000 Continue reading

doctor quote on patient surveysWhen we see a doctor, we want to think that the doctor is deciding on the best care to make us healthy again. But what if that doctor was under pressure to change what he recommends for us? Surely that could not be good for the patients of any doctor under that kind of pressure. Perhaps it could even make some patients worse instead of better.

A news story from Tennessee shows that something as simple as a survey the federal government requires for Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement could set up a series of events that result in more addictive painkillers being prescribed than are needed to treat pain.

When a Medicare or Medicaid patient is seen in the hospital, they must fill out a patient satisfaction survey for the hospital to receive reimbursement for the visit. Three questions on this survey ask how well any pain was controlled and if hospital staff did everything they could to help with that pain. If a patient says that his pain treatment was unsatisfactory, the hospital’s satisfaction scores go down. This score is tied in to the amount of reimbursement the hospital receives. A doctor who consistently scores low will then cost the hospital money and may be fired.

Survey Could Make it Easier for Drug Seekers to Get Pills

This mandatory survey opens the door for those who are abusing or are addicted to painkillers to have easier access to pills. Doctors are expected to be alert for “drug-seeking behavior” – such as a patient who asks for a specific brand or a specific number of pills. If an opiate addict has no other choices, he may take himself to an Emergency Room and claim an injury that is hard to verify on x-rays, just to go home with some pain pills he can abuse. In this case, it’s the doctor’s duty to identify pain-seeking behavior and send a person home without medication.

An Emergency Room doctor in Tennessee stated, “The patient’s not going to rate me very highly in the patient satisfaction survey if I don’t give them what they want.” This doctor went on to explain that he has had hospital administrators ask why he couldn’t “just send the patient home with a few pills” to improve the satisfaction score.

Tennessee Legislators Pursue a Solution

Fortunately, Tennessee State Senator Bill Dunn and US Senator Lamar Alexander have begun the process of evaluating this survey and whether or not it is in the best interests of patients and proper healthcare. Senator Alexander asked the head of Health and Human Services to consider whether this survey creates “inadvertent incentives for prescribing or other behaviors.”

Tennessee has struggled with high levels of abuse and overdose deaths related to both painkiller and heroin abuse. In a recent report, the Drug Enforcement Administration noted that among those who now use heroin, four out of five previously abused prescription drugs.

Eliminating the growing epidemic of opiate and opioid abuse will require sealing off loopholes that enable people to get drugs they will abuse while providing effective methods of recovering from heroin or painkiller addiction. For nearly fifty years, Narconon has been providing recovery from opiate addiction as well as addiction to any other drug. If you care about someone who has been struggling with drugs or alcohol, call us to find out how we can help.

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