Are Certain Workplaces More Prone to Drug Use

bartenderA recent online article reported on what may be a relatively little-known side of drug use in the workplace.  Oftentimes, drug use is linked to poverty and lack of an education adequate to gaining anything more than menial employment. It is often linked to hopelessness about the future, and the recognition of a lack of opportunity or the means to make a decent living or live a decent life.  But this side of workplace drug use and abuse is an entirely different arena of life. Continue reading

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Heroin is Still Stealing our Young Adults

heroin useProbably the very best reason to keep young people from ever starting to use the gateway drugs (alcohol, tobacco and marijuana) is because how easy it is to migrate to the use of heroin.

Look at this quote from one of our rehab program graduates: “Using marijuana opened the door to other drugs, other people, I stopped caring about life. I stopped going to school. I didn’t have goals any more. I got introduced to heroin, cocaine. And I started using that.”

And here’s another: “I started smoking pot to fit in with everybody. And it looked like everybody was having a good time. And they told me ‘nobody’s died from smoking pot.’ So I did it and it progressed into cocaine and heroin and my life was just downhill.”

Nobody can describe this transition better than a person who lived it. But of course, it’s hard to explain this to a teen or young adult that wants to do what his friends are doing – and seeming to have fun while they are doing it. Continue reading

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What to Do if Someone You Care About is Using Spice

spice symptomsThere’s not so much in the news these days about the group of drugs nicknamed “Spice” but that should not make you think that it’s not being used any more. In our drug rehab centers across America, we are getting plenty of calls from concerned families about a loved one using Spice.

“He’s been using Spice for a week and he’s crazy! We don’t know what to do,” said one mother.

This mother was not alone. By 2010, more than 11,000 people had arrived at emergency rooms to get help for terrible reactions to this type of drug. They were complaining of symptoms like these:

• Agitation
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Extremely fast heartbeat
• High blood pressure
• Tremor
• Seizures
• Hallucinations
• Paranoid behavior
• Non-responsiveness.

Getting a person into rehab when they are hallucinating or highly paranoid is going to be impossible. What you really need to do is catch this person’s drug use much earlier, before psychosis sets in. A psychotic person can’t effectively participate in their own recovery. Continue reading

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Will New Form of OxyContin Really Reduce Abuse?

opiate pain pillsThere’s a new painkiller that’s just been approved by our Food and Drug Administration. It’s called Targiniq ER – ER means Extended Release. It breaks down slowly in your body and provides lengthy pain relief. Targiniq is a new form of OxyContin and is made by Purdue Pharma, the same company that has always made OxyContin.

What makes this pill different is that is contains another ingredient, naloxone. Naloxone blocks the effects of the opiate, making it non-euphoric if it is abused. This is the same substance that has started being distributed to first responders, like police, so they can bring back a heroin or painkiller user from an overdose.

The naloxone only kicks in if the pill is crushed to be snorted or injected. If a person takes the drug by mouth, it won’t have any effect.

The idea here, according to one of the FDA staff:

“The development of opioids that are harder to abuse is needed in order to help address the public health crisis of prescription drug abuse in the U.S.”

The implication is clear: This tamper-preventive formula will help reduce prescription drug abuse.

Or will it? The FDA even admits the shortcoming in a www.drugfree.org article:

“Targiniq ER can still be abused, including when taken orally (by mouth), which is currently the most common way oxycodone is abused.” Targiniq is expected to “deter, but not totally prevent” abuse.

This new formulation may help prevent some abuse. But it definitely fails to get to the heart of the real problems that need to be addressed:

• Faulty prescribing methods
• Doctors not knowing how to spot addiction
• Doctors not knowing how to help a patient that is seeking drugs or one that has become dependent on their medications.

Dr. Andrew Kolody of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing was also quoted in this article on the www.drugfree.org website:

Dr. Andrew Kolodny… told the newspaper he is concerned that doctors who believe Targiniq is safe may be more likely to prescribe it than to look for alternatives. “If we really want to turn this epidemic around, the most important thing is to stop creating new cases of addiction,” he said. “Coming up with new gimmicks isn’t going to help.” (My emphasis.)

Many (not all) people will respond to other methods of pain control or relief than just prescribing opiates. There is a groundswell just starting to be felt that these other methods should be tried before settling into a painkiller routine. Perhaps an investment in non-opiate painkillers will pay off with a non-addictive solution.

Putting a patient on Targiniq has the potential to make a patient just as addicted as putting him on Vicodin or OxyContin. And he (or she) can still find heroin in any corner of the US if the pills run out.

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So Many Young People in Recovery Across the US

group of young peopleI’ve been seeing comments on Facebook and Twitter about a National Leadership Conference for Young People in Recovery that’s being held right now in Denver. Young People in Recovery is a national organization that invites people to establish chapters in their town that provide support for teens and young adults in recovery and teaches them how to act as advocates for social change.

As I look through Facebook, I see mentions of young people flying in to Denver from Young People in Recovery Chapters all over the country: New Jersey, Texas, Chicago, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Wisconsin, Maine, and more.

From the pictures of these teams of people arriving in Denver, there’s a lot of scrubbed faces and enthusiastic teens involved in this activity. In their home towns, they put on all kinds of events and races and attend street fairs to distribute drug prevention meetings. They advocate for better care for the addicted, more funding for treatment, and organize support at a grassroots level. Continue reading

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One US State Rejects Database Aimed to Prevent Prescription Addiction

prescription drug useThe non-medical use of prescription drugs is identified as the use of the drug for the feeling or experience the drug causes—the high.  The misuse of these powerful and potentially highly addictive drugs can involve taking too much or too little of the drug; or taking it too long or too often.  Prescription drug abuse and addiction is a nationwide problem, with states attempting to put safeguards in place to curtail the escalation of abuse, and minimize the dire consequences.  The state of Missouri stands alone on the issue of a prescription drug database. Continue reading

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Seattle Opiate Deaths Illustrate Problem Across the Country

From Seattle, a report has just come out that illustrates the migration from prescription pain pill abuse to the use of heroin, with deadly results. This is a tragic trend that has been seen in every corner of our country. In New England, the effect of this migration has been particularly brutal.

You may have already heard about this trend in your local newspapers. It’s been on the front pages for the last few years – local kids dying from heroin overdoses to the total astonishment and shock of their families. The potency of heroin is so variable that just because these teens and young adults survived their abuse of prescription drugs, a highly potent dose of heroin could catch them completely off guard and end their chances of recovery, happiness or success in life, forever. Continue reading

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The Hidden Dangers of Ecstasy

ecstasy pillI was just reading an article about Ecstasy – actually, it was about pills SOLD as Ecstasy. It’s long been known that these pills could contain just about anything. Methamphetamine, heroin, caffeine, inert fillers or it could actually contain methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Otherwise known as MDMA or Ecstasy.

Pills sold at music festivals, raves or nightclubs have completely unpredictable ingredients. So much so that organizations have sprung up just to test pills for partygoers and assure them that the pills were “pure.” Of course, that label overlooks the fact that some people die after consuming pure Ecstasy, so “purity” is no guarantee of safety.

That said, there is a recent trend toward the inclusion of a very dangerous drug in these pills. That drug is PMA – Para-Methoxyamphetamine. You can see that it is chemically somewhat similar to MDMA. But it is even more dangerous than MDMA. Continue reading

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The Morning After Your Alcohol Binge – Are You OK to Drive Now?

blurred vision of driving with hangoverYou got drunk last night – it doesn’t happen often but it was a celebration and you got carried away. You’d given your keys to a friend who took you home and tucked you into bed. When you wake up and deal with the headache and nausea, you still need to drive to work. You were careful to not to drive last night, but what about today? Are you still impaired? After all, shouldn’t your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) be zero by now?

A new study shows that it’s quite possible for you to be an impaired driver when you get behind the wheel to go to work this morning. Continue reading

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Can Addiction Be Predicted

failed paperThe 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

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