Tag Archives: Drug Use Risks

Can Substance Abuse Lead to Hormonal Imbalance – and Vice Versa?

Hormones And Addiction Hormonal Imbalance - Fight Addiction Now

Any form of substance abuse can have profound effects on the human body. While some may recover from the effects of an addiction completely, others may contend with long-term issues or permanent damage.

One of the most overlooked consequences of drug addiction is hormonal imbalance. The human body’s hormonal (endocrine) system regulates many physical and psychological functions, and it is crucial to address the relationship between hormones and addiction in recovery.

How Substance Abuse Causes Hormonal Changes

Homeostasis is a term referring to the state of balance and stability in the human body. The many hormones in the human body all strive to keep the body in homeostasis. Different types of stimuli produce various hormones to achieve this.

The body essentially responds to changes in the environment and a person’s actions. For example, high-stress work environments may lead to higher-than-usual levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Meanwhile, a warm embrace with a loved one may cause a surge of oxytocin, the body’s natural “happiness” hormone.

When a person has an addiction, his or her substance of choice will interfere with the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis. Symptoms directly related to medical conditions and diseases are common indicators of a body that has fallen out of homeostasis.

The body must adapt to changing circumstances and foreign substances, sometimes producing unpleasant effects. Substance abuse enhances this problem and interferes with the body’s natural ability to maintain homeostasis.

Eventually, addiction will progress to the point where the person must have the drug in his or her system to feel balanced. This is untenable and invariably leads to severe physical and psychological damage.

Which Substances Are Most Dangerous?

Different forms of substance abuse will affect the body’s hormonal system in unique ways. Hormones and addiction also vary from user to user, so it is difficult to predict exactly how a person will experience the hormonal effects of an addiction.

Drugs that Affect Serotonin

Some substances affect the body’s serotonin levels. Serotonin is the “pleasure” hormone that creates pleasant feelings in response to certain stimuli. When a person artificially produces a serotonin surge by using hallucinogens or antidepressants, the body starts to lose the ability to manage serotonin levels on its own.

Drugs that Affect Dopamine

Many drugs interfere with the body’s dopamine levels, as well. Dopamine creates “reward” sensations, and many people struggling with addiction come to depend on the dopamine surge they feel after dosing.

Cocaine and heroin cause an intense surge of dopamine, and this naturally encourages addiction because of the surge of the “reward” hormone; the individual will seek out more doses to continue feeling the flood of dopamine. Eventually, they will start to only feel dopamine surges after using drugs, because the body grows accustomed to this cycle over time and starts to expect it.

Drugs that Affect Epinephrine

Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, is the “fight or flight” hormone that floods the bloodstream in response to dangerous or extreme situations. Many people enjoy thrill-seeking activities like bungee jumping and skydiving to experience adrenaline rushes, but some illicit drugs can also cause a surge of adrenaline.

Eventually, an individual with an addiction may start to rely on regular epinephrine doses for a boost, while feeling drained without it. This ultimately interferes with the body’s ability to naturally regulate fight-or-flight feelings.

Dangers of Substance Abuse-Fueled Hormonal Imbalance

Drugs affect hormones in many significant ways, and it’s essential to acknowledge the risks of hormonal imbalance from addiction.

Some of the most significant symptoms of hormonal balance include:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Moreover, these symptoms may cause an individual to delve deeper into addiction or explore “harder” substances for a bigger boost.

Hormonal imbalance can also lead to low sex drive, fatigue, sleep problems and problems digesting food. Over time, a hormonal imbalance will only worsen until the individual seeks substance abuse treatment.

There are many techniques that substance abuse recovery professionals can use to track at-risk patients and limit the risk of relapse. Additionally, substance abuse treatment is the time to address issues like co-occurring mental health disorders that may contribute to addictive behavior.

How Hormonal Imbalance Can Lead to Substance Abuse

While hormonal imbalance is a common symptom of substance abuse, it is also possible for a hormonal imbalance to lead to addiction. Some individuals struggle with hormonal disorders or may experience symptoms from required prescription medications.

Unless they address these hormonal issues, they may try to cope with illegal drugs or alcohol. For example, people who suffer from depression are at a generally higher risk of abusing drugs that boost dopamine and serotonin levels. An individual with depression may also self-medicate with alcohol to quell unpleasant feelings and to enjoy brief stints of artificial happiness while drunk.

Hormones and Relapse

Many people who struggle with addiction contend with the long-term health effects of substance abuse for several years after recovery. In some cases, hormonal imbalance also increases the risk of relapse.

An individual who recovers from addiction may need to stabilize his or her hormone levels with prescription medication or simply by avoiding illegal drugs and/or alcohol. A sudden change may cause hormone levels to go into flux, and the unpleasant side effects of this may be enough to encourage a relapse into substance abuse.

Treatment for Imbalanced Hormones and Addiction

During substance abuse recovery, a patient should not only receive treatment for his or her addiction, but also the physical and psychological effects of that addiction. This may include nutritional support, family counseling, holistic physical therapies and a host of other treatment methods.

Addressing a hormonal imbalance may be as simple as prescribing a hormonal replacement for some patients. Ultimately, the goal of any substance abuse treatment plan should be to address the patient as an individual and develop a long-term plan that limits the chances of relapse.

Fight Addiction Now is a community of people who have experienced substance abuse firsthand and want to share their stories and experiences with others who are going through similar challenges. Visit our online forum to connect with these individuals and see how you can contribute to the discussions. If you’d like to read more about keeping relapse at bay, click below.

See Our Relapse Prevention Tip Sheet

Stimulant Abuse: When Users Take Bath Salts Instead of Cocaine or Meth

Bath Salts Addiction Stimulant Abuse - Fight Addiction Now

The United States has witnessed the rise of several “designer drugs” in recent years – synthetic compounds used to create specific effects. One of the most dangerous of these is bath salts, a crystalline substance that resembles large salt crystals. They can contain several different chemicals, including mephedrone and other synthetic cathinone substances. Bath salts can produce profound symptoms, and cause a host of severe medical problems.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has identified many of the active ingredients in bath salts and banned their sale in the United States to help curb the number of bath salts-manufacturing operations in the country.

What Are Bath Salts?

The term “bath salts” applies to any of the synthetic stimulant drugs containing cathinone, a stimulant compound commonly found in khat plants – which grow in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc.). Bath salts are structurally similar to other mainstream stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine and can cause similar effects. They can also produce hallucinogenic effects like ecstasy does.

A bath salts user may:

  • Ingest these drugs orally,
  • Inhale them in a manner similar to snorting cocaine, or
  • Melt the crystals down into a liquid and inject them into the bloodstream (for a fast-acting, concentrated effect).

Brief History of Bath Salt Use in the U.S.

Drug dealers sell bath salts under several street names, including (but not limited to):

  • Drone
  • Meow
  • White Lightning
  • Bliss
  • Super Coke
  • Zoom

The United States poison control centers received 304 calls about bath salts in 2010. In just the first four months of 2011, they received more than 1,700 calls and more than 6,000 by the end of 2011.

This jump indicates the spike in popularity of these drugs between 2010 and 2011. In fact, bath salts were the sixth-most used drug in the U.S in 2011. Most of the calls to poison control centers originated from southern states (Florida, Louisiana, and Kentucky, primarily), but now at least 33 states have been affected.

Several major news stories about the disturbing effects of bath salts abuse may have helped quell the sudden surge of interest in them. Poison control centers in the U.S. saw a noticeable drop in the number of bath salts-related calls in recent years. In 2012, there were 2,691 calls, and then “only” 996 in 2013.

Bath Salts Side Effects and Overdose Symptoms

Bath Salts Side Effects Overdose Symptoms - Fight Addiction NowLike any stimulant, bath salts are profoundly addictive. A person who uses a stimulant will generally feel a rush of positive feelings, including increased energy, higher alertness, improved mood, and euphoria.

However, most stimulants are fast acting, but not long lasting, and the user will experience a severe crash once the effects of a dose start to fade.

Symptoms of bath salts use generally include:

  • Sexual stimulation
  • Feeling of increased focus
  • Hyper-alertness
  • A few hours of increased energy

Depending on how a person ingests bath salts, he or she may experience severe medical complications. For example, inhaling the drug produces a more intense “high,” but it also affects the body more acutely in a shorter time.

Some of the most dangerous side effects of bath salt stimulants use can occur after inhaling or injecting the drug. Side effects typically include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Agitation
  • Fever

However, these side effects may increase dramatically or evolve into worse symptoms such as seizures, cardiac arrest, brain swelling, liver failure, and intense hallucinations.

‘Replacing’ Cocaine or Meth with Bath Salts

Some people mistakenly believe that bath salts are a safer alternative to cocaine and methamphetamine with similar effects. Some drug users choose bath salts because they believe they are essentially the same thing as other, more expensive stimulants such as cocaine and meth. However, this is not the case, and although they may produce similar effects, bath salt stimulants are not safer than any other drug. In many ways, bath salts are far more dangerous than the more recognizable illegal stimulant drugs.

Similarities Between Cocaine and Bath Salts

When it comes to bath salts vs. cocaine, both drugs pose serious risks. As with any illegal drug purchase, there is no way for a person who buys these drugs to know the quality or purity of what they are buying.

Some illegal drugs pick up harmful substances like mold during trafficking, and some dealers may add other substances to their drugs to make them more potent and addictive. Since there are several cathinone compounds used in bath salts production, there is simply no way to tell what exactly a dose contains.

Similarities Between Meth and Bath Salts

The question of bath salts vs. methamphetamine is a similar issue. Meth can produce intense effects very quickly that result in a crash after a few hours. Bath salts also result in a crash and can produce psychological symptoms often observed in individuals struggling with meth addiction.

One major similarity between meth and bath salts is their ability to produce intense hallucinations. There have several documented incidents of people under the influence of bath salt stimulants engaging in extreme violence against others, self-harm and even cannibalism during their delirium.

Understanding Stimulant Abuse

Any type of addiction is destructive, but stimulant abuse often causes the most destruction in the shortest amount of time. A person with a stimulant addiction may have begun their use by looking for a boost to get through a stressful day or to overcome fatigue. As this type of use becomes a habit, the person will start relying on the stimulant more and more until the body starts craving it just for normal functioning.

What started as an occasional habit can easily escalate into full-blown addiction in a very short time.

The destruction stimulants can cause on the human body also happens very quickly. With some addictions, an individual can recover from most of the effects over time. However, stimulant abuse can lead to serious injuries that may entail permanent damage. Bath salts addiction also causes profound psychological damage, which may lead to long-term mental health difficulties.

Learn More About Bath Salts Abuse

Long-term stimulant abuse of any kind can cause serious deteriorating effects on the mind and body. For example, a person who experiences bath salts addiction may suffer organ failure and deep psychological stress under the influence of these dangerous drugs. There is also a very high risk of overdose. Bath salts are powerful synthetic drugs, and users who choose to inhale or inject these drugs are at a very high risk of fatally overdosing.

One of the biggest dangers of designer drugs in America is the perception that they are somehow safer than cocaine, ecstasy or meth. It’s crucial for everyone to know the risks of stimulant abuse and the dangerous effects these drugs can have.

Are You Addicted?

Fight Addiction Now is a community of people with firsthand experience with addiction. Some members have been living sober for years, while others are still early in their path to recovery. Others have seen friends and family battle through addiction and recovery and want to offer support to others in similar circumstances. Their paths all cross in our online forum.

One of the most important elements of bath salts treatment is identifying the problem in the first place. If you think you or someone you know is struggling with bath salts addiction or any other type of drug abuse, try our free quiz to see if seeking treatment is the best next step to take.

See If You’re Actually Addicted

Insomnia and Alcohol: How Sleep Disorders are worsened by Drinking

Insomnia and Alcohol: How Sleep Disorders are worsened by Drinking

It’s common for people to abuse alcohol as a way to help themselves go to sleep. After a night of drinking, it might feel like as soon as your head hits the pillow, you’re sound asleep.

However, if you think that just because you are unconscious you’re getting a good night’s rest, you’re sorely mistaken.

How Alcohol Affects Your Sleep

Drinking alcohol before bed has been shown to create serious problems with almost every aspect of sleep quality. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that alcohol hurts your ability to wake up feeling refreshed and well rested.

Alcohol Interferes with Your Circadian Rhythm

While it’s true that after a night of bar-hopping, you will fall asleep fairly quickly, you are way more likely to wake up at some point in the night.

One of the reasons why drinkers wake up in the middle of the night is due to alcohol’s effect on your circadian rhythm. After drinking, your body increases its production of the sleep-inducing chemical adenosine.

When adenosine levels are high enough, you can pass out at the drop of a hat. However, once you stop drinking, adenosine levels plummet so low that you’ll wake up well before your brain and body are ready.

Alcohol Blocks REM Sleep

Drinking alcohol before bed also impairs your brain’s ability to enter into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The REM stage of sleep is widely considered to be the most important stage of sleep. If you don’t enter the REM stage, it won’t matter if you get a full eight hours of sleep: You’ll still wake up feeling unfocused and groggy.

Alcohol Leads to Late-Night Bathroom Trips

Alcohol acts as a strong diuretic, which means more trips to the bathroom. If you drink alcohol too close to your bedtime, you’ll likely wake up in the middle of the night with a full bladder.

Interrupting your sleep to go to the bathroom throws the natural sleep cycle out of whack. And good luck falling back asleep once your hangover sets in.

The Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Sleep

Chronic alcohol use can negatively affect your sleep even after getting sober. After you make the decision to give up booze, your body is likely to go into a state of withdrawal. Because withdrawal produces a number of unpleasant side effects, many recovering alcoholics experience insomnia from alcohol withdrawal.

When an alcoholic goes into withdrawal, he or she experiences a number of changes in quality of sleep, including:

  • Frequently interrupted sleep
  • Difficulty falling and staying asleep
  • Sleeping for longer than normally required
  • Entering into REM sleep more frequently, but for shorter durations

It may take a year or longer for recovering alcoholics to re-establish healthy sleeping patterns. This is because years of alcohol abuse have resulted in serious changes in brain structure.

Alcohol, Sleep Problems and Relapse

Withdrawing from alcohol and insomnia go hand in hand. A common cause of alcohol relapse is an inability to manage the sleep issues associated with one’s newfound sobriety. Too many alcoholics think that they need to drink in order to fall asleep. When they try to get sober and start dealing with issues like insomnia, they use that to justify drinking alcohol as a sleep aid.

Obviously, this logic is ridiculous. In all likelihood, they weren’t actually sleeping well when they drank, it just appeared that way. Drinking alcohol while in withdrawal will quickly make the unpleasant symptoms of alcohol detox go away, so of course they’ll have an easier time falling asleep. This relief is only temporary, however. They will quickly run into the same problems with sleep that they had before.

The reason many alcoholics claim to drink just to sleep better is simple: They’re in denial. After all, telling your friends and family that you get buzzed every night because it helps you sleep sounds a lot better than telling them it’s because you have a serious chemical dependency.

Once you accept the fact your alcoholism is about much more than just helping you sleep, you can then start addressing the true sources of your drinking problem.

The Link Between Alcohol and Sleep Apnea

Although it’s estimated that roughly 20 percent of Americans suffer from at least one form of sleep apnea, only 10 percent have received a formal diagnosis. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by a person’s airway becoming blocked to such an extent that he or she cannot breathe normally. If the airway remains blocked for too long, the individual will wake up, at least momentarily, to correct the problem.

Research has shown that sleep apnea caused by alcohol consumption is incredibly common in moderate and heavy drinkers. One study found that men who regularly consumed more than one alcoholic drink per day were more likely to display the signs of sleep apnea than men who don’t drink at all. Each additional daily drink raised the odds of showing signs of sleep apnea by 25 percent.

Sleep Apnea from Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is especially dangerous because a person can experience sleep apnea while being too intoxicated to wake up in time to correct their breathing. In extreme cases, alcohol-induced sleep apnea can cause a person’s blood oxygen levels to drop drastically, a condition known as oxygen desaturation. It can also increase the levels of carbon monoxide in the body to potentially fatal levels.

Whether drinking causes a person to develop sleep apnea or makes one’s existing sleep apnea worse, it’s important to realize that alcohol’s effect on sleep is potentially deadly.

Quit Drinking and Sleep Better!

What’s your take on alcohol and sleep health? Is alcohol really helping your insomnia if you have to drink every night just to fall asleep?
Do you think that those using alcohol as a sleep aid are in denial about their addiction, or do you think that, for some people, drinking every night is the right choice?

Join the conversation now by answering these questions in the comment section below or by clicking over to our forum to let us know what you think!

See Our Alcohol Addiction Fact Sheet

Need-to-Know Facts About Benzodiazepines

Need-to-Know Facts About Benzodiazepines Fight Addiction Now

Most people have at least heard of some of the brand names of prescription benzodiazepine drugs – perhaps Valium or Ativan. Far fewer are familiar with the challenges of benzodiazepine addiction and withdrawal. In fact, abuse of these drugs is on the rise, leading to a greater need for benzodiazepine detox and rehab.

This helpful summary of the top need-to-know facts about benzodiazepine drugs can help you familiarize yourself with this class of powerful sedatives.

The History of Benzodiazepine Drugs

Understanding this class of drugs means knowing why they were invented, who made them and how they impacted the culture once prescribed. This overview touches on the most important moments in benzodiazepine history.

Americans and Sedatives

Before the invention of benzodiazepine drugs, there was a substantial demand for drugs that could act as anti-anxiety medication. The cultural phenomenon was immortalized by the Rolling Stones song, “Mama’s Little Helper.”

Previously, middle-class Americans had been treated with opiates and barbiturate drugs to manage stress, but these highly addictive prescriptions did more harm than good.

Benzodiazepines Invented in the ‘50s

The godfather of benzodiazepine drugs is Leo Sternbach, a Polish research chemist who experimented with dozens of ineffective benzodiazepines compounds in the 1950s. As an employee at Hoffman-La Roche, as Swedish healthcare firm, he eventually invented an entire class of non-addictive sedatives, many of which are still prescribed today.

Benzodiazepines Get FDA Approval in the ‘60s

The first benzodiazepine drug approved by the FDA was Librium (chlordiazepoxide), earning its stamp of approval in 1960. The second, more widely known benzodiazepine the FDA approved was Valium (diazepam). The FDA deemed it safe for prescribing in 1963.

British Scientist Catches Disturbing Trend

Another scientist, Malcolm Lader of London, began observing the effects of long-term benzodiazepine use in the 1970s. First, he began to recognize widespread abuse of the drug. Second, he found that patients who had developed an unhealthy relationship with the drug did so without changing their prescription dosage.

Risks of Benzodiazepine Addiction Known

Continuing his research into the next decade, Lader eventually published a comprehensive study on the long-term risks of using benzodiazepine drugs as anxiety medication.

Benzodiazepine Rehab History Fact - Fight Addiction Now

What Are Benzodiazepines and How Do They Work?

The following helpful pieces of information outline the chemistry behind benzodiazepine drugs and explain how they interact with the human body. This section also offers an exhaustive list of the benzodiazepine drugs currently being prescribed by doctors.

Benzodiazepines Act on Neurotransmitters

Benzodiazepines affect one’s mood by changing how neurotransmitters work in the brain. The body produces these chemical signals naturally as a way of communicating with itself. Benzodiazepines can greatly change how a person is feeling by influencing those chemical signals directly.

Benzodiazepines Produce Calming Effects

Benzodiazepines drugs typically targets the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (also known as GABA). This chemical signal has inhibitory functions that assist in calming the brain down from an agitated state. Benzodiazepines encourage the brain to boost its production of GABA neurotransmitters, resulting in the sedative effects associated with these medications.

Are Benzodiazepines Still Prescribed in the U.S.?

Yes. In fact, there are more than two dozen types of benzodiazepine drugs prescribed in the United States. They vary in length of effect, but all are used as powerful sedatives.
 
The benzodiazepine drugs currently available in prescription form in the United States include:

  • Alprazolam
  • Bentazepam
  • Bromazepam
  • Brotizolam
  • Camazepam
  • Chlordiazepoxide
  • Clobazam
  • Clonazepam
  • Clonazolam
  • Clorazepate
  • Clotiazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Flumazenil
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Flurazepam
  • Halazepam
  • Loprazolam
  • Lorazepam
  • Medazepam
  • Mexazolam
  • Midazolam
  • Oxazepam
  • Prazepam
  • Quazepam
  • Temazepam
  • Triazolam
  • Zaleplon
  • Zolpidem

Statistics and Need-to-Know Facts About Benzodiazepines

Want to know how many people are affected by benzodiazepines? Interested in how dangerous the drugs have become over the past decade? The following benzodiazepine statistics offer a helpful summary of the most telling data trends.

Doctors Prescribe Benzodiazepines for All Ages

Benzodiazepine use isn’t limited to a single age group. According to a recent article in Psychology Today, new research shows that roughly 5 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 80 have an active benzodiazepine prescription. This number reflects both widespread use of these drugs to treat anxiety in patients as well as equally widespread exposure to abuse and addiction.

Benzodiazepine Prescriptions Have Increased

Benzodiazepine use isn’t just nationwide, it’s also on the rise. Research performed at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine showed that over a 17-year period ending in 2013, the number of adults prescribed benzodiazepines increased from 8.1 million to 13.5 million.
 
Not surprisingly, over the same period, the number of deaths related to benzodiazepine use increased as well.

Overdose Deaths Related to Benzodiazepines Are Rising Too

Data collected by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed a disturbing trend between 2002 and 2015. During this 13-year period, the number of deaths related to benzodiazepine overdose noticeably increased:

  • There were 4.3 times as many overdose deaths in 2015 than there were in 2002.
  • Contributing to these deaths were instances where patients used alcohol or abused other drugs while taking benzodiazepines.

Finding Benzodiazepine Help

If you or a close loved one is struggling with benzodiazepine addiction, there is a way out of its potentially deadly grip. Contact us for help with finding a treatment center that will provide benzodiazepine detox and subsequent benzodiazepine rehab through personalized, long-term care.

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Too Little Too Late? OxyContin Maker Purdue Stops Marketing Drugs to Doctors

OxyContin Rehab Purdue Pharma Stops Marketing Drugs to Doctors - Fight Addiction Now

After years of criticism and hundreds of lawsuits, Purdue Pharma LP has announced that it will no longer market OxyContin directly to doctors. Representatives for Purdue claim that their decision reflected an effort to combat the growing American opioid epidemic, but for the millions of Americans struggling with opioid addiction, this move is too little, too late.

In early February 2018, Purdue Pharma issued a statement to employees informing them that the company would be cutting their sales force by more than half. They also announced that salespeople will no longer meet with doctors to talk about the company’s opioid painkillers.

While these are indeed positive steps in combating the over-prescription of OxyContin, it’s important to remember that Purdue is widely credited with developing these hyper-aggressive marketing tactics in the first place.

Oxycontin and the U.S. Opioid Epidemic

The root cause of the opioid epidemic can be traced back to 1996, the year OxyContin first emerged on the U.S market. Beginning in the late 1990s, the number of fatal drug overdoses begin to climb at a shocking rate. A large percentage of these deaths were caused by prescription opioid abuse.

In 2016, more than 60,000 people died from a drug overdose. Of these deaths, roughly 20,000 involved synthetic opioid drugs. That’s a nearly sevenfold increase from 2013, a year where synthetic opioids claimed the lives of some 3,105 individuals, according to the CDC.

Economic and Life Expectancy Impact

A White House Council of Economic Advisers report estimated that in 2015 alone, the opioid epidemic cost the U.S. economy some $504 billion. That’s 2.8 percent of the country’s entire gross domestic product.
 
The opioid epidemic also played a major role in the average life expectancy of Americans dropping two years in a row in 2015 and 2016. This is the first time we’ve seen such a dramatic decline in life expectancy since the early 1960s! And while more and more addicts are taking advantage of various Oxycontin treatment options, research shows that this trend is likely to continue.

Purdue’s Use of Misleading Marketing

Purdue’s decision to stop marketing opioid painkillers stems from a number of lawsuits claiming that the drug manufacturer knowingly misled the public about how dangerous OxyContin really is.

Between 1996 and 2002, Purdue bankrolled more than 20,000 educational programs designed to encourage the use of OxyContin as a way to treat long-term chronic pain. This marketing campaign targeted groups such as the American Pain Society, the Federation of State Medical Boards, the American Academy of Pain Medicine as well as numerous pain patient groups.

As a result, these organizations all began to advocate the aggressive use of opioids to treat chronic pain.

In spite of the claims made by drug manufacturers, there is no scientific evidence that drugs like OxyContin are effective in managing chronic pain over a period of years. Tolerance to the effects of opioid drugs develops rapidly, and once patients begin upping their doses, dependence and addiction follow close behind.

How Long Do OxyContin’s Effects Really Last?

The makers of OxyContin even lied about the duration of the drug’s effects. For years, Purdue claimed that OxyContin’s extended-release formula would provide patents with 12 hours of pain relief. The facts on the ground paint a different picture, however.
 
Independent research, along with both patient and doctor testimonials, shows that many patients don’t get anywhere near 12 hours of pain relief from OxyContin. Purdue chose to ignore these claims, arguing instead that if patients are not receiving adequate pain relief, then it’s the doctors’ fault for prescribing too low of a dose.

Purdue Problems from the Top Down

If anyone still believes that Purdue suppressed these findings for reasons other than increasing their profits, remember that in 1996 a Purdue sales manager issued a memo to her staff urging them to recommend that doctors increase their patients’ doses of OxyContin. That memo was brazenly titled “$$$$$$$$$$$$$ It’s Bonus Time in the Neighborhood!”
 
It’s pretty clear that as long as Purdue’s profits continued to rise, treatment for opioid addiction was the last thing on the company’s mind.

Too Little, Too Late

Purdue’s decision to stop marketing OxyContin in 2018 is similar to an arsonist deciding to stop throwing gasoline on a house that’s already burned to the ground. The damage has been done.

Over the last few years, OxyContin has become less and less profitable. This is due in large part to stricter prescription guidelines, as well as growing public awareness of the drug’s dangerous potential.

However, recent research has shown that around 1 million Americans have used OxyContin at least once in their lifetime, and thousands enter OxyContin rehab programs every year. Given these numbers, it’s hard to imagine that additional marketing can make the problem much worse than it already is.

While public health experts and activist groups may celebrate Purdue’s decision to pull back their opioid marketing efforts, it’s pretty obvious that the drug maker is simply trying to rebuild its public image.

Possible Damages Could Fund More OxyContin Rehab and Treatment

Thankfully, Purdue Pharma is currently facing numerous lawsuits filed by different state and local governments. These lawsuits are aimed at raising money to fund various Oxycontin addiction treatment programs, including drug-avoidance classes in schools and government-funded opioid rehab programs.
 
These pending lawsuits also help to explain why Purdue would choose to stop marketing OxyContin. By taking action before the government forces the company to, it may appear more responsible and forward-thinking to the courts. Clearly, Purdue’s actions are not determined by what is right, but rather what is most profitable.

What’s Your Take?

What are your thoughts on Purdue Pharma’s decision to scale back on OxyContin marketing? If you’d like to join the conversation about these recent developments, or if you want to learn how to help someone with Oxycontin addiction, Fight Addiction Now has the resources and platforms for you to do just that. Weigh in on the comments below, or click to view our Prescription Drug Addiction Resource:

Prescription Drug Fact Sheet

Fentanyl-Induced Amnesia and Other Long-Term Health Problems You Can Expect from Messing Around with Fentanyl

Fentanyl-Induced Amnesia and Other Long-Term Effects of Fentanyl Use - Fight Addiction

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is an opioid used as a pain medication in prescription drugs. The medication is often used for the management of chronic or after-surgery pain.

Designed in the 1950s, fentanyl is a synthetic alternative to morphine. It is extremely potent and closely monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In fact, the drug is hundreds of times more potent than heroin found on the street, making it extremely dangerous when not monitored by health professionals.

When used in small doses for a pain management system by physicians, the drug can be safe. The problem is that the drug is so potent that even those with prescriptions can accidentally overdose. This potency is also why fentanyl has become an increasingly popular street drug.

Recreational use of fentanyl has been rising since the 1970s, on its own or mixed with other drugs. Many times, buyers are misled into believing they are buying pure heroin or Oxy, when in fact the drug is fentanyl or fentanyl-laced. This misrepresentation has led to thousands of overdose deaths, as the buyer is unaware of ingredients.

What Drugs May Contain Fentanyl

Fentanyl increases the potency of many opioid and non-opioid drugs, making it a popular choice for illicit drug makers. The addition of fentanyl can also be used to compensate for low-quality heroin or to give dealers an edge up on their competition by creating a better high for users.

If you participate in recreational drug use, you need to be aware of the dangers of fentanyl-laced drugs. Always remember that unless you have manufactured the drug yourself, you don’t know exactly what is in it.

Heroin

Overdoses on heroin are common across the country, but are often not caused by pure heroin. Research is beginning to show that thousands of those overdoses were caused by fentanyl-laced heroin, of which users were unaware. Sometimes, these overdose deaths cause a boost in sales for dealers because it attracts addicts who can never get high enough.

When heroin is laced with fentanyl, it’s almost impossible to identify unless you know what you’re looking for. Authorities with experience in seizing drugs say pure heroin has a yellow tint to it, while fentanyl powder is bright white.

The concoction of fentanyl-laced heroin can be unadvertised or sell under the names Theraflu, Bud Ice or Income Tax. Understanding these facts can save your life.

Cocaine

Fentanyl has been commonly laced in heroin for decades, but the presence of the drug in cocaine is more recent. Fentanyl acts as a depressing agent, whereas cocaine is purely a stimulant, making it unclear why the two are being batched together.

Experts have theories suggesting it is used to stretch cocaine or is part of an inadvertent cross-contamination on the part of dealers. Cocaine is just as white as fentanyl, which makes it impossible to identify with the naked eye.

Ecstasy

Like cocaine, fentanyl has just recently been discovered after overdoses on a combination including ecstasy. The rates of overdoses involving fentanyl and ecstasy are on the rise, and many authorities believe it is due to cross-contamination. Because fentanyl is so potent, it takes only a few dust particles of the drug to contaminate a new batch and become lethal.

Marijuana

Marijuana laced with fentanyl is a sort of oddity. There are many conflicting reports that this combination exists. The DEA has stated publicly it has not discovered the combination, but dealers in online forums claim they do mix marijuana and fentanyl together to increase highs.

The reason for this disparity can be that fentanyl present in marijuana is difficult to detect or is so new on the market the DEA has yet to catch on. If you are a marijuana user, just be aware that the combination is a possibility, albeit a slim one.

Fake Pills and Opioid Painkillers

In 2017, more than two dozen patients in Macon, Georgia were hospitalized after buying and consuming what they had thought to be Percocet pills after buying them on the street. Instead of containing the active ingredients of Percocet, the pills contained a near-lethal combination of other drugs, including fentanyl.

The presence of counterfeit pills is on the rise across the country and can result in lethal overdoses, as users are unaware of the ingredients. Many of the pills are coming from Mexico or China and look almost identical to their legitimate counterparts.

The Effects of Fentanyl

Often, people do not consume fentanyl purposely. The extremely minute amount required for a high or potential overdose makes the drug unattractive for most users. As previously mentioned, problems arise when users are unaware of the ingredients in drugs they are using. What some people expect to be a normal high can easily turn deadly without the user knowing what happened.

Side Effects of Fentanyl

When used as prescribed by a medical physician, fentanyl still has strong and sometimes long-lasting side effects. Short-term side effects of normal fentanyl use can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Altered heart rate
  • Slow breathing rate
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Weakness
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Seizures

When the drug is used in excess or in high doses, more serious side effects will occur. It’s important to understand that only a few particles can cause a person to overdose.

The margin for overdose is so small that serious and life-threatening side effects are guaranteed. These side effects include:

  • Fainting
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Severe confusion
  • Lack of oxygen circulating in the body
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Overall non-responsiveness

Long-Term Effects of Fentanyl Use

When used in the long term, fentanyl leads to multiple organ damage due to lack of oxygen throughout the body. Hypoxia is the term used for oxygen level delivery around the system that is considered too low. Anoxia is the condition where no oxygen is delivered around the body, leading to organ failure and death. Other long-term effects include severe and varied damage to the brain.

Brain Damage

Oxygen is vital to the brain. Without it, permanent brain damage and death will occur. When fentanyl is used long term, the depressed respiratory system causes a lack of oxygen to the brain.

The lack of oxygen will then cause:

  • Memory loss
  • Hearing and vision impairment
  • Loss of coordination
  • Cognition impairment
  • Potential retardation

Severe lack of oxygen to the brain can cause damage within one to two minutes. Long-term suppression of breathing due to a depressed respiratory system occurs gradually.

Other Damaging Effects of Fentanyl

With long-term use of fentanyl, the depressed respiratory system also leads to lack of oxygen delivery to organs. The organs slowly begin to shut down. If the user continues taking fentanyl and does not seek treatment, death will result. Organs will begin shutting down, typically beginning with the kidneys and liver.

Fentanyl has also been shown to cause amnesia after long-term use or overdose. Amnesia can be long or short term, depending on the amount used.

Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction

Symptoms Of Fentanyl Caused Hypoxia - Fight Addiction Now

Fentanyl is an opioid, so treatment for addiction to fentanyl is essentially treatment for opioid addiction.

Withdrawal symptoms begin anywhere from three to 17 hours after last use. The symptoms peak in the first few days but will level off within a week or so. The symptoms of withdrawal can be severe, so the process should be monitored by medical personnel.

Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Crying
  • Runny nose
  • Chills
  • Stomach cramping
  • Joint pain

Often, opioid addiction is treated by weaning the user slowly off the drug with smaller and smaller opioid doses. This method can help calm withdrawal symptoms to ease the transition. Again, this should only be performed with the help of medical professionals.

The Deadliness of Fentanyl

If you choose to use drugs recreationally, be aware of the dangers that come with fentanyl-laced drugs. Nearly all fentanyl overdose deaths were the result of people who unknowingly took the drug. In many instances, fentanyl cannot be detected or seen by the naked eye, so you never know what you’re getting when you buy drugs on the street.

It only takes a 100th of the amount of fentanyl compared to heroin to kill an average-sized adult male. This means only a few tiny particles of fentanyl can be lethal, especially if it has been manufactured on the street.

You never know what you are getting when you buy drugs, and often your dealer doesn’t know what they’re selling, so just be sure to keep the danger of fentanyl at the forefront of your mind.

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I’m Depressed And Lonely: Should I Get Prescribed Antidepressants?

Im Depressed and Lonely Should I Get Prescribed Antidepressants - Fight Addiction Now

Antidepressants help many people enjoy a higher quality of life, but these medications aren’t right for everyone.

Some people who feel depressed, lonely or otherwise unhappy may think antidepressants are the best option, but the truth is that prescription medication should be a last resort. Anyone in such a such a situation needs to do research and carefully weigh the pros and cons of prescription antidepressants.

Why Do People Use Antidepressants?

Antidepressants, like all medication, exist to treat diagnosable medical conditions. A person who starts feeling depressed or lonely shouldn’t immediately turn to prescription medications to feel better.

Ideally, only people with diagnosed medical conditions like depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should receive antidepressant prescriptions. When they receive such a prescription, it is usually only after they explore and exhaust other, less-invasive options – such as lifestyle changes to diet and exercise regimens, counseling and psychotherapy. Only a medical professional can diagnose a psychological disorder and prescribe medication to treat it.

Questions to Consider Before Obtaining a Prescription

Anyone feeling depressed, lonely or otherwise unhappy with no clear, definitive reason should reflect and think about possible causes. Sometimes, depression can develop after the loss of a loved one or traumatic experience, even if the individual feels consciously at ease about the situation.

Our experiences shape our perceptions of the world in ways we don’t always immediately notice. The true effects of a traumatic experience or loss can sometimes be hard to define.

Other people experience feelings of loneliness due to high-stress work that leaves little room for social interaction, or they have difficulty maintaining relationships or few opportunities for social interaction. These individuals often benefit from shaking up the usual routine. Pursuing hobbies and activities with people who share those same interests is a great way to make friends and expand one’s social circle.

Making it a point to reach out to loved ones for regular catching-up is a great way to combat loneliness as well. The demands of modern life often lead to neglecting these relationships, and doing work to repair them can be extremely uplifting.

Diet, Sleep and Exercise

Overcome Stress Inspiration Fight Addiction NowMany people do not get the right amount of exercise and do not consume healthy diets. If you start feeling depressed or lonely but your life feels like it’s in order, take a moment to reflect on your dietary habits and exercise routine.

Lack of exercise leads to lower energy levels and diminishes feelings of fulfillment. Poor diet has negative consequences for personal health and can also make everyday life feel more challenging. Try to make better eating choices and exercise more regularly and see if that improves your mood.

Sleep is also very important for your mood. An otherwise healthy adult who goes without good sleep for one month can start displaying signs of clinical depression. Too much caffeine, high-stress jobs and other demands of daily life can prevent people from getting the bare minimum six hours each night. Make sure you allow yourself at least six hours of sleep each night and try to sleep more whenever possible. This can lead to a dramatic improvement in your overall mood.

Finally, review your alcohol consumption. Regular alcohol consumption can lead to depressive symptoms forming, so try to limit your alcohol intake or eliminate it from your diet altogether.

When to Ask About Antidepressants

If lifestyle changes don’t help improve your mood, you should see a therapist and talk about these issues. In many cases, people feeling depressed or lonely may have undiagnosed medical conditions causing these symptoms. A professional can help identify and address these issues in effective ways.

Ultimately, you should find a therapist you trust and hear what he or she has to say about your situation, including how a prescription may or may not help.

Risks of Prescription Antidepressants

Like any other medication, antidepressants carry the risk of side effects and interference with other medications. If you are taking any medications, be sure your doctor knows of them before starting a prescription for antidepressants.

Some prescribed antidepressants carry side effects that could include:

  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Sexual difficulties

Some users have reported suicidal thoughts after starting antidepressants. If you start taking any antidepressants and notice these side effects, contact your prescribing doctor immediately.

These effects may be temporary or the result of another drug interaction, so let your doctor know about the situation. It is unwise to simply stop taking them. Although there are no concrete risks of ceasing antidepressant medication, suddenly stopping can create adverse reactions and make unpleasant side effects worse.

Join the Discussion with Fight Addiction Now

Fight Addiction Now is a grassroots organization for people to come together and share their experiences about substance abuse and other drug-related issues in a supportive, constructive and judgment-free environment.

If you have had positive or negative experiences with antidepressants, your story may help someone else going through similar issues. Head on over to our Facebook page or to our new discussion forum to interact with people who would benefit from hearing your experiences.

Can You Get a DUI from Prescription Drugs? Legal Substance Use While Driving Might Be Considered Illegal

Can You Get a DUI from Prescription Drugs - Fight Addiction Now

Can You Get a DUI from Prescription Drugs?
Legal Substance Use While Driving Might Be Considered Illegal

Most Americans know they run the risk of a DUI conviction if they operate a vehicle under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol, but it is actually possible to receive a DUI from prescription drugs as well.

It’s vital for anyone who takes any type of prescription medication to understand the risks, warnings and potential side effects. If you are wondering about how a particular medication could impact your ability to drive, speak with your doctor about your concerns.

Why Are Prescription Drugs a DUI Risk?

Driving on Prescription DrugsMany prescription medications, especially painkillers and depressants, interfere with an individual’s ability to drive. Depth perception, movement tracking, reaction time and judging speed all become more difficult under the influence of some prescription drugs. Additionally, some prescription medications can cause adverse side effects if a person takes them incorrectly, such as after consuming alcohol or on an empty stomach.

Side effects of many prescription drugs include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting
  • Inability to focus
  • Reduced reaction times

These are very dangerous factors while on the road. While you may assume that there would be no justification for a DUI charge for prescription drugs because the drugs are legal, the issue is impairment.

If a medication impairs your ability to drive, it does not matter if the drug is legal for you to own and consume and prescribed by a doctor.

Federal Guidance on Driving on Prescription Drugs

The National Safety Commission released a report in 2009 offering guidance to the public about the issue of driving under the influence of certain prescription medications. Police officers aren’t able to carry testing equipment for every type of potentially dangerous drug in their police cars. Therefore, increasing public knowledge about the potential dangers of driving under the influence of prescription drugs is one of the best methods of preventing future prescription drug DUIs.

Ultimately, it is up to the officer on the scene to decide whether a driver is capable of safely managing his or her vehicle. If the officer believes a driver is under the influence of some type of drug, he or she will likely initiate an arrest if the driver is deemed a danger to the public. The officer will arrest suspected DUI drivers and allow the court to sort out the details later.

Are Prescription Drug DUIs Fair?

Many people may assume that a prescription drug DUI would carry a less severe punishment than DUI of alcohol or other illicit drugs, but this is not the case. If an officer arrests a driver for impairment, the substance causing the impairment is not really the issue. The main issue is that the driver is not in full control of his or her faculties and presents a danger to the rest of the public.

DUI laws vary by state, but generally the penalties include:

  • Heavy fines
  • Jail time
  • Community service
  • Education course completion
  • License suspension (or permanent revocation for repeat offenders)

Penalties typically increase with subsequent charges, so a driver with a record of DUI of alcohol could face very severe penalties if he or she receives another charge later for DUI of prescription drugs. The court does not determine penalties based on the type of drugs involved.

Potential Complications and Unfair Charges

There are a few factors that could lead to an unjustified DUI charge. Most Americans know of actress Lindsay Lohan and her many run-ins with law enforcement for drug crimes. Out of her many DUI convictions, she claims one was because of drinking kombucha tea.

Kombucha tea is a trendy health drink that contains live cultures and trace amounts of alcohol. Consuming kombucha tea could potentially lead to a positive breathalyzer reading due to these trace amounts, which Ms. Lohan claims led to an unjust DUI charge.

Another strange possibility is a medical condition known as “autobrewery syndrome” that causes individuals with this condition to literally brew their own alcohol inside their bodies. The condition entered the public discussion in 2015 when a woman from upstate New York received a breathalyzer test reading 4 times over the legal limit during a traffic stop. Also known as gut-fermentation syndrome, this condition is incredibly rare, and the judge presiding over the woman’s case dropped the charges.

The hospital who admitted the woman after the stop wanted to release her immediately because she showed no symptoms of intoxication. The hospital ran tests overnight, and the woman continued to read well over the legal limit the next morning after consuming no alcohol all night.

Join the Discussion

Fight Addiction Now is a grassroots community of individuals who come together to share advice, encouragement and stories about addiction. Considering the possibility of wrongful DUI convictions, what do you think about the possibility of receiving a DUI charge for prescription drugs?

These drugs can cause impairment and prevent an individual from safely driving a vehicle, but should they fall into the same category as drunk driving?

Join the Fight Addiction Now community on Facebook and let us know what you think, or start the discussion in our popular online forum.

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