08 Apr 2014
Heroin is perhaps the most widely known opioid narcotic drug of abuse. In addition to opioid addiction, chronic users of this drug typically face a range of serious and potentially fatal health problems. In a report presented in March 2014 to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, a team of researchers from the RAND Corporation estimated how many people in the U.S. qualified as chronic heroin users in the years between 2000 and 2010. This report includes detailed information on the levels of drug intake found among chronic users.
What Is Considered Chronic Use?
The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services uses data from a yearly undertaking called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health to estimate how many Americans age 12 or older use heroin to any extent in the average month. The latest findings from this survey were released in the fall of 2013 and contain information compiled for most of 2012 and a short segment of 2011. According to these findings, roughly 335,000 adults and teenagers took heroin at least once in a representative 30-day timeframe. Altogether, about double that amount (669,000) took the drug at least once during the yearlong survey period. The figures for monthly heroin use were higher in 2012 than at any point since 2006. The figures for yearly use were higher in that year than for any year in the previous decade.
The Levels Of Chronic Heroin Use
Chronic drug use is a descriptive and useful but fairly imprecise term. Some chronic users may take a given drug four to 10 times a month, while others may have a more accelerated pattern of intake and take a drug 11 to 20 days per month. Still other chronic users may have heavily accelerated patterns of intake and take a given drug 21 days or more per month. As a rule, repeated use of an addictive substance is highly associated with chances for abusing that substance and developing the symptoms of drug addiction. For this reason, chronic users account for the vast majority of people directly affected by abuse- and addiction-related problems. Heroin is particularly noted for its potential to trigger abuse and addiction in repeated users. Users of the drug who develop these problems qualify for diagnosis of a condition officially known as opioid use disorder.
How Many Chronic Heroin Users Are There?
In the report presented to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the RAND Corporation researchers calculated the number of chronic heroin users in the U.S. with information gathered from several highly regarded sources, including the federally sponsored National Survey on Drug Use and Health and Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program. This information covers the timeframe between the years 2000 and 2010. In 2010, the probable number of chronic heroin users hovered at about 1.5 million. Less likely numbers included a low estimate of 800,000 chronic users and a high estimate of 2.6 million chronic users. The number of chronic heroin users calculated by the RAND Corporation researchers is much higher than the total number of heroin users identified by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This is largely attributable to the researchers’ inclusion of information from the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program, which covers a large pool of people (the arrested and the imprisoned) affected by an uncommonly high rate of substance use.
Roughly 300,000 of the individuals identified by the researchers as chronic heroin users took the drug four to 10 days per month. Another 200,000 identified individuals took the drug 11 to 20 days per month. Two-thirds (1 million) of those identified as chronic heroin users took the drug 21 days or more per month.
The authors of the report presented to the White House Office of National Drug Policy note that it’s fairly difficult to accurately estimate the number of people affected by chronic heroin use. This is due, in large part, to the problems involved in tracking the relatively small segment of the total population that takes the drug. On an important note, the data used by the report’s authors did not extend into 2011, 2012 and 2013. Figures from the National Survey on Drug Use point toward a sharp increase in overall heroin use during 2011 and 2012 (as of early 2014, figures for 2013 have not been released).
Find Out About Naloxone – A Potential Lifesaver For Heroin Addicts
23 Jan 2014
Kratom is the common name for an herbal drug obtained from a tree species called Mitragnya speciosa. This drug has a history of use in Southeast Asia and current evidence indicates that its use is currently on the rise in the U.S., where consumers can make legal purchases over the Internet. Kratom apparently has the potential to
13 Dec 2013
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) produces regular reports based on population groupings that track drug use trends in the United States. In a recent Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report, SAMHSA provided evidence of a sharp spike in PCP use.
Forms Of PCP
Phencyclidine, otherwise known as PCP or angel dust, is found in various forms, including crystal, capsule, tablet, powder and liquid. It’s often found in the form of marijuana and/or tobacco joint dipped in liquid PCP called a Sherm, which is named for Nat Sherman cigarettes. PCP first emerged in major U.S. cities in 1967, and by 1978 it was called the country’s number one drug problem on 60 Minutes.
PCP’s Recent Sharp Rise In Use
Its popularity had dropped significantly throughout the 80s and 90s until, according to SAMHSA, PCP-related emergency room visits rose 400 percent between 2005 and 2011, and actually doubled from 2009 to 2011, from 36,719 to 75,538.
Dangerous Effects Of PCP
The hallucinogen is considered to be exceptionally dangerous because users can become extremely violent. Users report feeling detached from their surroundings, with dangerous side effects including seizures, irregular breathing and comas. PCP is also addictive and can result in high levels of anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
The most significant increase by age was demonstrated among adults aged 25 to 34, with a 518 percent increase from 3,643 visits to 14,175. In 2011 males comprised 69 percent of the 75,538 ER room visits and 45 percent of the visits were by adults between the ages of 25 to 34. PCP was combined with other drugs 72 percent of the time: with one other substance in 37 percent of ER visits, two other substances in 18 percent and 3 or more substances another 18 percent.
Public Education Needed On PCP’s Dangers
The study authors explained PCP’s resurgence using the term “generational forgetting,” meaning that what once was widely recognized as a dangerous drug is now resurging due to an uneducated public.
The authors recommend targeting 25- to 34-year-olds for education and prevention efforts, including tobacco and marijuana awareness due to the possibility of cigarettes and joints being laced with PCP.
The findings of SAMHSA reports are used by many groups: policymakers access the reports to ensure that adequate substance abuse treatment facilities serve their communities; law enforcement personnel can use the data to determine where their efforts need to be focused and learn which substances may be most dangerous in their area of service; the findings are also used in clinical settings to develop useful screening tools for patients in order to detect the use of other substances or the presence of additional mental health concerns.
There may also be a need for increased training efforts among emergency department personnel related to recognize the signs and symptoms of PCP use and the recommendations for treatment.
Read More About The Risks Of Meth And IV Drug Use
News accounts of the party drug known as “molly” seem to have been replaced recently with reports of a much more frightening drug called krokodil. Health officials are now concerned that the synthetic drug, which is said to deliver a heroin-like high, has made its way into the United States. Physicians in Utah, Arizona, and, most recently, Illinois, have reported possible cases of krokodil use, putting drug addiction and health experts on alert.
Krokodil is a homemade version of a drug called desomorphine, which was developed in the 1930s as a morphine alternative. However, researchers found that it was up to 10 times stronger than morphine, so its use was discontinued. Illicit drug users now re-create desomorphine by using a base made from codeine, a narcotic used to relieve pain and suppress coughs.
The drug, which Time has called a “dirty cousin of morphine,” also contains a dangerous mix of alcohol, paint thinner, gasoline and lighter fluid. The mixture includes red phosphorus as well, a substance used in the striking pads of matchboxes. Iodine is another ingredient — one that often leaves addicts enveloped in a tell-tale heavy iodine odor that, as one Russian physician noted, can’t be washed out of clothing.
Krokodil can be easily concocted at home in about 30 minutes. Users inject krokodil wherever they find available veins on their body, from their head to their feet. Injecting the drug delivers a high quickly — in as little as five minutes. This is in contrast to the one to two hours it can take to get high from drugs in pill or capsule form.
This dangerous substance delivers a more potent high than heroin. However, the euphoric feeling doesn’t last as long, at anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours. Addiction occurs quickly, catapulting users into a never-ending cycle that moves from cooking the drug to getting high to cooking the next batch. Users interviewed for news accounts have reported going for days without sleep as they binged on krokodil.
Anyone who has seen the sensational-sounding online headlines about this drug addiction may have written them off as attempts by websites to generate traffic: “Zombie apocalypse drug reaches U.S.” or “Krokodil –The drug that eats junkies.” However, headlines like these are not exaggerations. The drug gets its name from its effect on the skin and underlying tissue. It’s believed the damage is caused not by the psychoactive ingredient desomorphine, but rather the caustic substances used in the concoction. These chemicals destroy blood vessels and tissue. Unsanitary drug cooking and injection practices also likely play a role in the destruction.
After krokodil is injected, blood vessels burst and tissue surrounding the injection site dies. As a result, the skin takes on a greenish, scaly appearance that mimics that of a crocodile, or krokodil in Russian. The process leads to open, festering wounds and infections as the skin rots from the inside out, eventually causing gangrene. Those with an addiction to krokodil can be left with dead skin that peels away to reveal tissue and bone underneath. Many users experience blood poisoning. The damage addicts suffer typically requires intensive wound care or skin grafts. Amputations are common.
Over time, the drug’s acidity also dissolves porous bone, especially in the jawbone and teeth. The effect has been compared to “meth mouth,” which is the unsightly rotting of the gums and teeth often seen in methamphetamine addicts. Chronic krokodil abusers frequently lose their teeth.
The average life expectancy of a krokodil addict is estimated to be very short at only two to three years. However, even those who are able to overcome the addiction are left with lasting and devastating physical effects. Krokodil causes brain damage in chronic users, leaving them with speech impediments and impaired motor skills, often in the form of jerky movements. In fact, the disjointed movements combined with addicts’ skin and tissue injuries have caused some to deem krokodil the “zombie” drug.
Krokodil In The U.S.
According to a report published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, this homemade drug is believed to have first been used in Russia in 2003. For years, its use was confined largely to Russia and the surrounding countries that had been part of the Soviet Union. Experts estimate about 100,000 Russians have become addicted to krokodil and other illicit homemade drugs. By 2011, krokodil began moving into Germany and Norway. The ingredients are widely available, and users freely circulate recipes that make it easy to create batches on a home stove. It also costs a fraction of what users pay for heroin.
Currently, the U.S. incidents are being classified as possible cases; although the physical symptoms appear to be consistent with krokodil use, drug addiction experts have not been able to obtain samples of the drug, nor have they been able to get blood or urine samples that might confirm its use. Obtaining positive samples from addicts may be challenging because the body metabolizes the drug so quickly.
Because of the very serious side effects, treatment must start as soon as possible. Treating this addiction is a complex process, requiring a joint effort by physicians and addiction professionals. The obvious physical symptoms may require emergency care, making hospitalization necessary. As medical staff members try to stem the physical damage, a skilled addictions team will need to address the severe withdrawal symptoms.
Although the drug mimics the euphoric high of heroin, there are differences regarding withdrawal. Heroin’s physical withdrawal symptoms last about a week, while krokodil’s can draw out for as long as a month. Russian addiction experts say it causes such intense pain that it’s common to tranquilize patients during withdrawal. Addicts also experience seizures, fever, and vomiting.
Following withdrawal, a drug rehab team will start the addict on an intensive therapy program. Treatment will likely include extended inpatient rehab along with individual and group therapy. Long-term aftercare, including sober living, may also be part of the recovery plan. In addition, an addict might need physical or occupational therapy to address the physical aftermath of this addiction.
Krokodil addiction must be treated immediately by professional addiction treatment specialists. If you or someone you love is using this extremely dangerous substance, don’t wait to get help. Contact a drug addiction recovery center today.
Read More Russia’s Deadly Krokodil
Searching for the ultimate high, teens share drugs, mix drugs and succumb to the ill after-effects that drugs impose on them. They are often smart enough to know that the drug will make them feel awful after the high has worn away, but addiction doesn’t respond well to this reasoning. To truly break a drug addiction, teens need professional guidance and treatment.
Molly, also known as ecstasy or MDMA, promises teens an exhilarating feeling. In an NBC news report, one young man said that he was lured by the intense high that Molly gave him. He was looking for something new and someone suggested to him that Molly was like a new form of the drug ecstasy.
MDMA’s Short High And Dangerous Side-effects
His first encounters with Molly made him feel great. He said that the drug made him feel very happy and excited. He felt on top of the world and it was exactly what he was looking for. But the happiness didn’t last long and the young man soon realized that the short time he was high came with a long sentence of feeling completely worn out, both physically and mentally.
When teens search for a great high, they don’t think about the ill effects the drug may cause. Part of that comes from living in the moment and not worrying about the consequences. Some might even say the consequences are worth it. But over time, the consequences get more intense, and like a wheel racing downhill they can’t find a way to stop, event when the consequences become too overwhelming and change their life for the worst.
When self-esteem plummets and fatigue becomes overwhelming, some teens may try to stop using by themselves. Molly causes withdrawal symptoms like heavy sweating, overheating, high blood pressure, extreme dehydration and in some cases death. It can also affect teens psychologically, sometimes causing short term psychosis.
How Addiction To Molly Takes You To A New Low
The young man who was interviewed by NBC said that he knew he was letting Molly control him when he started selling his child’s toys in order to get money for drugs. He could not believe the person that he had become and how his need for the drug had changed him so much. He had also been lured by the media, knowing that popular movie stars and musicians were using the drug.
Recovery From The Lows Of Molly
The only way he was able to break free from Molly was through a treatment center that guided him back into better mental and physical health. Through his experience he cautions teens to stay away from the lure of that high that inevitably and impersonally drops you off into the lowest low.
27 Aug 2013
Cocaine addiction is one of the toughest illnesses to treat. Although scientists do not yet understand the entire mechanism of addiction, it is believed that the brain’s pleasure center plays a major role in the disease. Pleasure center cells appear in the prefrontal cortex and have long been thought to be responsible for impulse control. In fact, it is believed that a low level of activity in the prefrontal cortex is one characteristic of an addict.
The method used to treat cocaine addiction has traditionally been a combination of abstinence and psychotherapy or behavioral therapy. Given how strong cocaine addiction can be, however, many people do not stay in recovery permanently. In fact, it can take several cycles of drug rehab to finally be free of the relentless cravings. By this point, many cocaine addicts have suffered from the consequences of prolonged addiction such as organ damage, social issues, family problems, financial disaster and job loss.
Prefrontal Cortex Activity and Cocaine Addiction
There is new hope for people suffering from cocaine addiction and it comes in the form of a potential cure, not just remission. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the University of California at San Francisco have been able to eradicate cocaine addiction in rats by focusing beams of laser light into their brain matter.
The scientists used genetic engineering to place rhodopsins (proteins that react to light) directly into the rats’ brain cells at the prefrontal cortex. When light is introduced, those particular cells will fire. The rats were then administered enough cocaine to develop a bona fide addiction, the hallmark of which is engaging in behavior that will result in the administration of more cocaine.
Using fiber optic cabling implanted in the tiny brains, the researchers were able to direct laser beams onto the brain cells that contained the rhodopsins. Once these prefrontal cortex neurons were activated, the subject immediately stopped all cocaine-seeking behavior. When the light was extinguished, the rats resumed behavior associated with addiction.
Although this is great news for those engaged in addiction research, the practical implications are less clear. At issue is the ability to activate prefrontal cortex neurons in human beings on a continuous basis without affecting activities of daily life. Although it is certainly possible to carry out surgical experiments similar to those undertaken by the NIH, invasive brain surgery is not something we would consider as a long-term treatment method.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Cocaine Addiction
Thankfully, scientists are already researching ways to activate prefrontal cortex neurons in cocaine addicts’ brains without using a scalpel. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) involves using a magnetic field on top of the scalp to influence behavior of the cells below the skull. This non-invasive and completely pain free process uses a coil to focus the magnetic field onto particular areas and patients experience nothing more serious than the feeling of being tapped on the head. In order to activate the cells, a high-frequency pulse is used.
The NIH plans to begin human trials of the treatment soon and hopes to show that TMS can activate prefrontal cortex neurons as effectively as the laser-light method. It remains unclear whether the relief achieved will be only temporary and, thus, require indefinite treatments. In any event, TMS may provide craving relief long enough to allow more traditional methods of cocaine addiction treatment to take hold.
Reporting the news in Mexico can be a deadly occupation, especially for those covering the drug war. But where militant thugs have been successful in stifling the media, they are virtually powerless against those who have taken to social media to “report” the war.
It’s not only Mexican residents caught in the crossfire taking to Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, those across the border in the U.S. are also using social media as a tool. Residents are using social media to protect themselves from the drug cartels that stop at nothing to push their product and protect their turf.
The violence began in earnest when the Mexican president declared war on drugs, but crept up another few notches when two major partnering cartels split and declared war on each other. Since the declarations of war, it is estimated that as many as 100,000 people have been killed and another 30,000 have seemingly vanished into thin air. Many residents try to escape the most violent areas, which has put more than 200,000 in a displaced status.
Some of the only news sources available now are through Twitter and Facebook. While news footage once came from the major broadcast companies in Mexico, camera phones with crudely edited footage of the war between the government and the cartels is being placed on YouTube instead. Media outlets in the U.S. are also depending on these amateur videos as their go-to source for footage.
America’s ongoing drug dependency is fueling this war. About 90 percent of illicit drugs making their way into the U.S. are coming through Mexico. The biggest cash crop, so to speak, continues to be cocaine.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 5 million Americans said they had at one point or other abused cocaine. While those numbers pale in comparison to the drug’s peak in 1982 (10.5 million were believed to be using the drug in that year), it’s still enough to fuel a drug war that is taking lives.
17 Jun 2013
Taking the good with the bad is a life lesson that everyone learns at some point. But young people involved in the rave culture are finding that drugs bringing on extremely intense feelings of pleasure have an equally displeasing depressing effect.
The drug, Molly, has a name that sounds innocent enough, but unsuspecting users are devastated by the crash they experience when coming off the high. In some cases, the depressing feelings lead to a near paralyzing state where the user can’t find the mental strength to eat or communicate.
The intense emotional ride and the relatively cheap cost of that ride are helping push the popularity of Molly further every day. The drug is actually the powder or crystal form of MDMA (AKA Ecstasy). The popular drug Ecstasy is actually derived from a variety of drugs, not just MDMA. Molly is a purer form of Ecstasy and actually gets its name from “molecule,” which is representative of its place as the vital ingredient to MDMA.
The DEA has classified Molly as a Schedule I controlled substance due to its addictive nature and because it has not been embraced by the medical community as having any usable characteristics in health care.
Users who take too much of the drug will have a difficult time with temperature regulation and can actually experience hyperthermia, which can lead to liver, cardiovascular and kidney failure.
The current statistics from emergency rooms across the nation don’t indicate that the use of this drug is widespread yet. But the massive growth in its popularity in such a short time has experts concerned – there was an approximate 125 percent growth in the use of the drug between 2004 and 2009.