America is waking up to the fact that our nation has a serious problem with prescription drug abuse. Painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin, powerful medications once reserved to provide relief for cancer patients and those with terminal illnesses, are now among the most commonly prescribed drugs. These shockingly addictive drugs are now killing more people every year through overdose than both heroin and cocaine combined. In addition to the approximately 17,000 Americans who now die annually from painkiller overdose, several hundred thousand more are suffering from problems with abuse and addiction to the medications. Continue reading
While the media carries plenty of news about the medical benefits of marijuana’s different ingredients, there are not many stories about the adverse effects of this drug on young peoples’ lives. The few that show up in the headlines are the ones that are too drastic to be missed. Like the story of young Levy Thamba, who died after experiencing a marijuana-induced panic attack that drove him to jump off a hotel balcony. Continue reading
We recently published an article about the path some young people take to addiction. It’s not necessarily through use of drugs like alcohol or pot – although that is the typical route for many. For these others, addiction starts with prescription medications that are given to them by doctors. The young patient may not be properly instructed on their use and the doctor may not be fully educated on how to prevent dependence on those drugs. After a few twists and turns, the young person winds up addicted even though recreational use was not part of the equation.
The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) just published an article on a closely related topic: how prescription drug abuse has been rising among high school athletes. Their information came from the 2009 Monitoring the Future Report, an annual survey completed on high school students. Students participating in baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, swimming, track and field, football and volleyball were interviewed.
These interviews showed that athletes use illicit substances more often than non-athletes. And the proportion of these young people using painkillers was also higher than usual for teens: “12 percent of males surveyed and 8 percent of females reported using painkillers in the past year.” These numbers were increases over past years’ surveys. Continue reading
A group of U.S. Senators have been in the news recently in connection with a new bill which is aimed at opening doors to treatment for more Americans suffering from drug addiction. Specifically, the bill is intended to address what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has described as America’s “deadly epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse.” Around 17,000 people in the United States now die every year from overdosing on painkillers such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin), and nearly 500,000 people are being admitted to emergency rooms for complications involving these drugs. The bill is intended to strike a blow against this looming public health threat by expanding the access to treatment for addiction to opioid painkillers, in light of the fact that less than half of those who need treatment are currently getting it. In 2012, around 2.5 million people in the U.S. abused or were addicted to opioid medications, and fewer than 1 million received treatment. Senators Markey, Feinstein, Rockefeller, Brown and Hirono introduced the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act in the second session of the current meeting of Congress, using the acronym “TREAT Act.” Continue reading
“It’s just literally being afraid. And you think, oh, [the alcohol] will ease the fear. And it doesn’t.” This is Robin Williams, four years ago, speaking with an interviewer from the British newspaper The Guardian. He is explaining what it was that drove him to relapse into drinking in 2003, after 20 years of sobriety. “For that first week you lie to yourself, and tell yourself you can stop, and then your body kicks back and says, no, stop later. And then it took about three years, and finally you do stop.” He stopped, getting into rehab and then settling into a routine of attending weekly AA meetings as much as he could, because “it’s good to go.” Williams managed to maintain his sobriety for several years, through to the date of the Guardian interview, and onward until 2014, when he checked into rehab at the Hazelden center in Minnesota. He claimed to be going back to rehab as a precautionary measure, but whether or not that is true we can infer that he felt like he was losing control and was at risk of relapsing. A month later, he was found dead in his home in a wealthy suburb north of San Francisco, an apparent suicide by hanging from a belt. Continue reading
It has not been that long since drug use was something that few people struggled with or talked about. Before the 1960s, marijuana was just used in isolated areas and heroin use was restricted to certain circles of the population, usually in urban areas. Heroin spread through the jazz and Beatnik subcultures in the 1950s, then when US soldiers went to Southeast Asia in the 1960s, some developed heroin abuse habits and brought those habits home with them.
Cocaine use spread across the country in 1985, creating tens of thousands of addicts and filling jails. In the late 1960s, marijuana and hashish use became far more popular, followed by psychedelics like LSD, mescaline and psilocybin or “magic mushrooms.”
Of course, alcohol has been destroying lives and families for hundreds of years. Alcohol has become readily available in nearly every city in the US, meaning that just about anyone who has an uncontrollable thirst for it has a source. Continue reading
This is a chilling thought for any parent, but here’s a demonstration of how children might be targeted for drug abuse.
Let’s look at the gateway drugs: tobacco, alcohol and marijuana.
According to the National Center on Addiction and Drug Abuse at Columbia University, if you can get your child to age 21 without their using any of these drugs, they are virtually certain to never start. This is based on their many years of experience working with families, figuring out what sends kids on one path or the other.
But who would want them to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol at this tender age, anyway? Continue reading
If there are young teens or even pre-teens in your household, it would be smart for you to learn about the drugs that they might be tempted to use. There are two types of drugs that this age group might start using: inhalants and cough medicine.
Inhalants are available everywhere. In the average home, it’s hard-to-impossible to lock away all the substances that could be used for inhalant abuse. That would mean that every can of whipped cream, solvent and correction fluid would need to be hidden. Every marker, every stain remover, can of spray paint or computer duster. The gasoline in the lawn mower and the paint thinner in the shed – all of it. Even hair spray! Continue reading
It’s a terrible thing, but far too often these days, when a teen or young adult overdoses on an opiate drug, the parents didn’t even know there was a problem. Or maybe they did know there was a problem and they tried repeatedly to handle it but their loved one could never stay sober. Finally, an overdose of heroin or a painkiller or a combination of drugs takes him away from them.
How can this be happening with our young people?
The following is an excellent article on the phenomenon of teenagers getting started on painkillers, especially those in athletic programs.
High School Athletes and Prescription Painkiller Misuse
As the writer discusses, with too much pressure to get back into play before injuries are healed, a young person can learn to rely on painkillers to make the aches go away. On the other hand, doctors are still, by and large, not trained in the best ways to prevent dependence on these drugs. Many doctors still routinely prescribe 30 days of painkillers for a fairly minor injury or dental procedure. Sometimes all a person needs is a few days of pills for an injury. Continue reading
Today’s parents may be terribly confused about whether or not they should insist that their children stay away from marijuana. It can be difficult to explain to a curious teenager why a doctor might recommend marijuana for a sick person but they can’t use it. It may be difficult but it could be one of the most important lessons you ever teach your children.
Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy made some very good points in his article published in USA Today, titled “Legalizing pot endangers children.” Here’s a couple of quotes from that article:
“There has been a lot of talk about pot lately. Discussions of tax revenue, health benefits, violence reduction, and individual liberty. But one issue got completely lost: the developing brains of our children… Continue reading