Heroin addiction is a global problem. According to the World Health Organization, 58 million people around the world used opioids in 2018. In the same year, 46,802 opioid-involved overdose deaths occurred in the US. This was followed by a significant rise in 2019 to 49,860 overdose deaths.
The problem with the opioid drug is that it is highly addictive. Even those who take prescription opioids have an increased risk of developing an addiction. And when they develop an addiction, a good number of them turn to heroin because it is cheaper and easier to access. Heroin is typically sold as a white or brown powder that’s cut with starch sugars, synthetic opioids, or even powdered milk.
Pure heroin is a white powder. People who use pure heroin often sniff or smoke it. Any dark powder or black powder may indicate impurities. The same applies to heroin that’s hard as coal or sticky as tar. The dark color in black tar heroin results from crude process methods that don’t eliminate impurities. Those who use impure heroin dilute and inject it into the muscle, veins, or under the skin with an intravenous needle. This leaves behind track marks that can visually give away their drug use problem.
These are physical scarring that happen when one injects drugs repetitively. It’s common to spot profound track marks on people who are struggling with addiction because they are often injecting drugs, leading to scarring. Injecting the same place repeatedly disrupts the skin’s natural barriers and mutilates and bruises the veins in that area. So many drug users shift to other places like the ventrogluteal muscle to try to prevent or hide scarring. This makes it hard to discover their using habits.
Many people who abuse heroin inject through the arms. In fact, it is the most common site of injection. That’s because the veins are visible, accessible, and easy to inject into. Unskilled or frequent injections in the arms leave track marks and may also cause infections. Heroin users will frequently switch injection sites to keep track marks and complications to a minimum. When they do, the legs and feet are often the next stop. Intramuscular injection is a bit challenging for many. So some users skip the leg and go for the feet because the veins are somewhat easy to inject into.
When someone keeps injecting drugs, they will develop scars, sores, or track marks that are easy to spot. That’s why many injecting drug users become adept at concealing these marks. They will wear large clothes, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and things that cover the marks. But since hiding track marks in the arm isn’t always practical, many people will shift to hidden body parts that are harder to be seen.
People who inject drugs are usually only concerned about getting the drugs into their system. As long as they can see a vein, they are good to go. Like arms and hands, the neck has veins and arteries that are close to the surface, making it an appealing option. But according to experts at the department of health, injecting in the neck is one of the riskiest drug-injecting behaviors. It increases the risk of damaging an artery or vein not directly visible at the injecting site. But since the neck is usually visible, most drug users will wear pull-necks, hoodies, or use shawls and scarves to cover up the track marks.
People struggling with heroin addiction may inject the drug along their hairline to conceal their using behavior. The hair does a great job covering the track marks and makes it hard for anyone to notice. Besides, it’s not easy for anyone to check the hairline in case they suspect use. Most people only check the arms. Injecting drugs along the hairline is a dangerous undertaking with potentially life-threatening side effects. In addition to track marks, subcutaneous injections carry the risk of infections. One may also suffer from issues like receding hairline or hair loss.
The wrist is closest to the arm, making it an obvious site for many people who use drugs. Track marks on the wrist are easier to hide. Besides wearing long-sleeved shirts and sweaters, one could cover the marks with a big bangle, watch, band, or cloth. And since these are everyday accessories, it can be hard for people to suspect drug use.
Armpits are naturally hidden, which makes them a great spot for hiding track marks. People who inject in armpits will almost always wear t-shirts or clothes that conceal track marks, even when they stretch. Unless there’s paraphernalia or other signs that give them away, they might go on using for a long time, completely undetected by their friends and family.
Veins in the legs and feet are common injection sites, especially when those in the arms and hand collapse or get damaged. Those who want to hide their track marks will avoid the legs and feet. Instead, they will inject theirtoes. This way, no one would notice even when they don’t have pants or socks on. Track marks between the toes are hard to spot, thanks to the location of the toes. But they are even harder to notice because those who inject their toes are determined to hide them. They will wear socks, shoes, or even wrap the toes with a Band-Aid. They may also cover their legs with a blanket or throw whenever they’re relaxing at home.
Heroin is not only highly addictive but also potentially life-threatening. With the rising cases of heroin overdose deaths, it’s always best to help your loved one get timely help. Remember, drug use is not a sign of weak morals. Many people who abuse drugs have underlying problems. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, substance abuse and mental health issues often co-occur. Addiction treatment can help address the underlying problems so that your loved one can go back to leading a healthy life.
People who consume illegal drugs use various ways to get the drugs into their bloodstream. Some take it orally, while others prefer snorting because it offers a faster "high." When drugs are snorted, it causes a much quicker onset of effect than oral ingestion. This is because of how fast the drug gets into the bloodstream through the soft tissue in the nasal cavity.
Drugs that users commonly snort include cocaine, heroin, meth, tobacco, amphetamines, and even prescription drugs, such as opioids or prescription stimulants like Adderall. Users chop the pills into a fine powder using a razor blade or credit card on a hard surface. They then divide the drug of choice into "lines" and use a rolled paper, dollar bill, or straw to inhale the drug up into the nasal passages. But users may also snort a drug in aerosol or liquid forms. Snorting is a preferred method of administration for these drugs because it amplifies the drug's effect and speeds up the onset of effects. Snorting drugs comes with a range of short- and long-term effects, as you'll notice in this article.
Snorting (also called insufflation) involves inhaling drugs into the body. It is an effective delivery option that’s noninvasive, virtually painless, and easy to administer. In fact, doctors use intranasal administration when delivering medication to children who fear needles or have a hard time swallowing tablets or pills.
Because of these reasons, snorting drugs is a preferred method among people who use recreational drugs. And the fact that it produces a faster onset of the desired effect makes it even more desirable for users who want a quick fix. It takes about 5-10 minutes for the drug to get into the system and produce the high. This is because of how fast the drugs diffuse through the mucus membrane in the nose.
Drugs that are commonly snorted include:
Let's look at some of these drugs.
MDMA is an amphetamine. Structurally, it is similar to the hallucinogen mescaline and stimulant methamphetamine. MDMA comes in capsule, tablet, powder, and liquid forms. “Molly” is a pure crystalline powder form of MDMA that's popularly sold in capsules. It's known to produce feelings of intense empathy, euphoria, and heightened sensations of sound and color. Usually, those who snort ecstasy want a faster onset of effects and a more intense high. This drug is very popular in rave scenes, across the United States.
Xanax is a Central Nervous system depressant that slows down brain activity to produce a tranquilizing and sedating effect. It's these calming effects that make it effective for treating mental health disorders. Xanax comes in tablet form that's taken orally. The prescription drug is meant to be swallowed whole, but users crush the tablet to snort it. Like snorting meth or heroin, snorting Xanax is believed to give one a quicker high because it enters the bloodstream faster. But Xanax and other benzodiazepines are not only harmful to snort, but this also makes them less effective. This is thanks to the particular chemical markup of the drug.
Snorting cocaine might not be the fastest way to achieve a high like injecting and smoking. But it produces long-lasting effects. As one inhales the drug, it coats the soft tissue in the nasal cavity and gets absorbed by the sensitive nasal membranes. Cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream and flows to the brain to produce the desired effect. In the process, it narrows various blood vessels, thus restricting the flow of blood to specific tissues. Cocaine is one of the most commonly snorted drugs in the US. In 2014 alone, there were about 1.5 million current cocaine users 12 years and over. Unfortunately, cocaine abusers are at a high risk of seizures, cardiac arrest, and sudden death.
Snorting heroin is not the most common way of administration. But those who think it's safer will choose to snort to avoid IV drug use complications. Some users mistakenly believe that snorting heroin makes it less addictive. This is not true. In fact, one study shows that those who start by snorting often end up injecting it, because of the tolerance they build-up over time. The most immediate risk of snorting heroin is overdose. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were 14,019 overdose deaths in the US in 2019.
Drug abuse by itself is a risky undertaking with a host of dangers. But the mode of administration may impact the risk even further. Snorting drugs or sniffing inhalants can change one's cognition, damage the brain and create several other mental and physical complications.
Snorting any drug is dangerous. Many users assume that prescription drugs are safe, but that's not the case. The chemicals components in prescription drugs are designed to contact gastrointestinal tissues and not the nasal cavities, nasal passages, sinuses, or lungs. Snorting exposes these tissues to chemicals, causing inflammation, irritation, and damage.
While the actual risk may vary from one drug to the next, here are some general risks of snorting drugs:
Those who snort drugs may have an increased risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis C if they share equipment as the nasal mucous may have blood.
It is also not uncommon for those snorting prescription drugs to snort other drugs like heroin. Besides, one may experience mental and behavioral changes because of abusing drugs and struggling with the side effects. As the problem becomes evident, an individual may struggle with shame, anxiety, and low self-esteem to the extent of becoming socially isolated.
Above all is the most overlooked risk – the adverse effects of filler agents used in the drug. Most illegal drugs that come in powdered forms, like cocaine and heroin, are often cut with other drugs or substances. Cocaine and heroin, for instance, may include fentanyl. Fentanyl is potent. It increases the dose strength and causes overdose among those who have no idea they're even taking it. Household products, foodstuffs, and talcum, are also pretty common fillers. Talcum is harmful. Studies show it might cause low blood pressure, convulsion, chest pain, lethargy, fever and even coma.
Dependence may happen when an individual snorts drugs. Drugs are habit-forming and addictive. So users build tolerance and have to take more of the drug to achieve a high. Any attempt to stop might cause withdrawal symptoms, which can be mild or severe depending on the type of drugs, individual, and period of use. In case the symptoms are severe, one should find a treatment facility that will help with the detox and rehabilitation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the US in the 12 months ending May 2020. Synthetic opioids – mainly manufactured fentanyl – are the leading cause of these deaths. But there has been a notable increase in overdose deaths among heroin and cocaine abusers during the pandemic.
People use drugs for a range of reasons. Some to fit in, rebel, or even just to escape their reality. Others use drugs to experiment, relax, or release boredom. Drugs excite the parts of the brain that make you feel good – but they also do so much more harm, as you'll notice in this article. Some very real dangers come into play when mixing drugs with other substances.
Drugs are anything but equal. Sedatives like heroin, alcohol, and benzodiazepines have a numbing effect and tend to slow down body and brain functions. Stimulants like cocaine, ecstasy, crack, and amphetamines can give users a rush of energy and make them more alert. Hallucinogens, like psilocybin mushrooms and LSD, tend to alter the way users see, feel, smell, taste, or hear.
When taken in large quantities, sedatives can be fatal; stimulants can trigger panic attacks or anxiety; and hallucinogens can cause erratic or dangerous behaviors. But the question is what would happen when these drugs are mixed together?
Polydrug use is when users mix drugs or take one drug while still under another drug's influence. It can include the use of illegal drugs, alcohol, over-the-counter medications, and prescription drugs. People mix drugs for a range of reasons, with the most common ones being:
The problem with using more than one drug at any given time is that the effects become even more unpredictable. It is not always possible to tell the exact impact of a single drug or drug dose. Drug use affects each person differently. Sometimes, a person can use the same amount of a specific drug on separate occasions and have different effects each time. The difference happens due to reasons like:
It is hard to predict the effects of a single drug. But it is even harder to predict the effects of multiple drugs. In addition to the factors above, the effect of multiple drug use may vary based on the mixture's contents. Blending drugs with the same physical effects – like two or more sedatives or two or more hallucinogens) can be particularly dangerous. The blend is riskier because it amplifies pleasurable and adverse effects. Combining drugs like cocaine and ecstasy will elevate the ‘high’ and also increase the risk of a heart attack.
One of the most significant risks of mixing drugs is "combined drug intoxication (CDI)." CDI happens when two or more substances are taken simultaneously and can lead to life-threatening conditions like seizures, heart problems, coma, brain damage, liver damage and failure, stomach bleeding, and even death. There were 67,367 drug overdose deaths in the US in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention report.
Although we like to think about these drugs in isolation, for example, "fentanyl overdose deaths," a recent study by the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that most drug overdose deaths involve a mix of two or more drugs.
Many different types of lethal drug combinations exist and contribute to the raging drug overdose epidemic in the US. According to the Center for Disease and Control Prevention analysis, many opioid deaths also include other drugs.
A drug overdose doesn't necessarily happen because of taking too much of a single drug or alcohol. In fact, it mostly occurs when users overdose from a drug combination. Here are some examples of how mixing drugs can kill:
1. People mix two or more drugs – often the same class of depressants or stimulants – assuming that taking half of the usual dose of each of these drugs at a time will produce a similar effect, but it's not the case. Even a small amount of another depressant or stimulant can increase the impact - way beyond what would have been taken individually.
The effect is particularly fatal with depressants like synthetic opioids, alcohol, and tranquilizers like barbiturates and benzodiazepines. These drugs depress the central nervous system, which controls the respiratory system and heartbeat. Depressants slow down breathing and reduce heart rate. This, in turn lowers the blood pressure and the amount of oxygen that flows to the brain, leading to hypoxia. As a result, rapid cell death occurs in the brain and consequently causes brain damage or death.
2 Mixing stimulants and depressants – this sends contradicting messages to the body, impairing its function. The respiratory, cardiovascular and nervous system are put into a frenzy with simultaneous conflicting messages to slow down and speed up. This causes severe consequences and can lead to coma, fatal overdose, cardiac arrest, slowed breathing and in some cases, death.
3. A single drug – like a prescription drug or a glass of wine – may not impair a person's ability to drive. However, a combination of a glass of wine and the prescription drug may exponentially increase the effects of both so that the user may show signs of severe impairment. Driving while under the influence of mixed drugs can lead to severe injury or death of self and/or others.
4. Mixing alcohol and cocaine can be dangerous, especially when both these drugs are broken down in the liver simultaneously. When both drugs are present, the liver produces cocaethylene, a harmful chemical that stays in the body for extended periods and may increase the chance of heart attack, seizures, and even sudden death. Cocaethylene can also cause cardiac arrhythmia, brain damage and aneurysm.
5. Benzodiazepines mixed with alcohol, severely increases the deadly risk. Both of these drugs affect the same neurotransmitters. Their combination amplifies the intoxicating effects of alcohol and benzos and causes memory loss, hallucinations, impaired coordination, intense dizziness, severe depression, and even suicidal thoughts. The combination also depresses breathing, slows down the heart rate, causes seizures, and results in loss of consciousness, coma and death.
Anyone willing to risk their lives for recreational or social reasons has a serious drug use problem. The same applies to those who use drugs to try to overcome their mental health issues like anxiety, depression, or stress. People with polydrug addictions need intense addiction treatment and therapies because of the augmented damage their brains have sustained from the use.
Meth users have a range of symptoms that are commonly seen in people with other substance abuse disorders. They experience high blood pressure, increased heart rate, as well as strong delusions and paranoia. Like other drug addicts, they may also suffer from memory loss, brain damage, stroke, mental health disorders, among other issues with long term use. However, meth users have a few signs that are specific to the drug, like meth mouth, which we will explore in this article.
Methamphetamine is one of the most commonly abused synthetic drugs in the world. In the US alone, 5% of the population, or 12.3 million people, have used meth at least once in their lifetime. Another 600,000 Americans use it every week. But you shouldn’t mistake its popularity for something good.
Meth is a dangerously addictive drug that can cause severe addiction and mental and physical health issues.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise because meth is made from strong industrial chemicals corrosive to the body. Again, it comes in a wide variety of forms – including tablets, powder, or crystals. This makes it easier for users to smoke, inject, sniff/snort, eat, or swallow depending on their environment and preferences.
Unlike other drugs such as cocaine and heroin, its cravings are way more intense. Meth users will go on a “run” where they keep on ingesting the drug for long periods until they overdose or run out of their supply. So, the signs will be evident within a few weeks of use.
Meth addiction is difficult to hide because it causes open skin sores and eats away at the teeth. The harshness of meth’s chemical makeup makes it corrosive to both soft and hard tissue. The acid in the drug eats away the user’s tooth enamel, causing rapid decay. It also corrodes the gum, causing it to bleed and pull away from the tooth. Dental issues associated with meth abuse are referred to as meth teeth or meth mouth.
Meth can be devastating to one’s dental health. According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, it’s use can cause extensive tooth decay, dry mouth, gum disease, and cracked teeth that affect the smile of users and their ability to chew. Meth mouth describes the visible effects of oral disease in a user due to rampant tooth decay and gum disease that happens with the drug use.
When someone ingests or smokes meth, they will rot their gums, teeth, and surrounding tissues. In most cases, they will experience painful dental abscesses and oral sores and even lose their teeth, and parts of their lips or mouth like tonsils, and tongue. Of the 571 meth users in the JADA’s 2015 study:
According to the American Dental Association, the pattern of cavities found in meth users is similar to those in baby teeth. Meth abusers are twice as likely to have cavities, twice as likely to have at least two decayed, missing or filled teeth, and four times as likely to have ever developed cavities compared to the general population.
One of the few ways meth affects the teeth is through hyposalivation (or dry mouth). Saliva is usually the first line of defense in fighting harmful bacteria in the mouth. The enzymes in saliva buffer acids and moisturize the mouth, keeping it in a homeostasis state. But meth use affects salivary glands, preventing the production of saliva, resulting in dry mouth.
Although studies and debates regarding meth use and tooth decay are still ongoing, one theory suggests that meth narrows blood vessels in salivary glands, inhibiting saliva flow. Other theories argue that drug abuse affects the parts of the brain that controls the salivary glands. Either way, meth, by itself, contains some level of acidity which directly affects the teeth.
Additionally, meth users drink lots of fizzy drinks to combat the effects of very dry mouth. But with little to no saliva in the mouth, that only creates an even better environment for bacteria to thrive.
To make matters worse, meth users grind or clench their teeth due to drug-induced nervousness, anxiety, and physical stimulation. Add that to already decaying or corroding enamel, as the situation gets out of hand.
And when all the focus is on acquiring and consuming the drug, methamphetamine users are less likely to practice good dental hygiene like flossing or brushing. Most of them won’t take care of their overall body, let alone oral health. And since the meth high lasts up to 12 hours, that’s a long enough time for acids to erode the teeth.
People who struggle with meth addiction and its effects may benefit from addiction treatment. Treatment programs exist to help those who abuse meth to quit and lead normal healthy lives. Most of them offer holistic treatments to address the underlying problem along with the side effects of using, like meth mouth, or skin sores, etc. However, like most conditions, it’s always best to catch the addiction early, before things have gotten out of hand.
Meth mouth is incurable if the damage is widespread. This is why the importance of early treatment can never be overstated. Gum diseases and tooth decay, for instance, are highly treatable when caught early. But it might prove a challenge when the damage is severe. When untreated for prolonged periods, the patient may need extractions, dentures, and implants to reconstruct the damage.
The use of meth is linked to a range of severe health issues and irreversible mental and physical damage. Effects like bone and tooth loss, scarring, heart issues, organ failure, and permanent memory loss are common among meth users. Studies even show that long term use of meth can induce changes similar to dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s therefore essential for the patients to go enroll to reputable treatment centers for medical detox and rehabilitation. Treatments can help fight the addiction, and resulting problems.
Drug rehab statistics show that the percentage of those who will relapse after a period of recovery ranges from 40 to 60%. These recurrence rates are similar to those of chronic illnesses like hypertension and diabetes. People spend a lot of money and effort on treatment, so why is drug rehab so frequently unsuccessful?
Addiction is commonly known as relapsing disease. This might explain why over 85% of patients with drug use disorders relapse and return to use within a year of treatment. Studies show that at least two-thirds of recovering individuals relapse within weeks to months of starting treatment.
The aim of substance use treatment is to help individuals achieve lasting abstinence and return them to productive functioning in the community, family, and workplace. According to research that monitors patients for extended periods, a majority of those who enroll and remain in treatment quit abusing substances, reduce criminal activity, and enhance their social, occupational, and psychological functioning. But the treatment outcome bases on:
“Relapse rates for patients treated for drug abuse are similar to those for people treated for chronic illnesses like asthma and high blood pressure.”
Relapse to drug use doesn’t mean that treatment has failed. The chronic nature of substance dependence means that relapse can be part of the healing process for some patients. When someone returns to drug use after a period of abstinence, he or she needs to speak with their caregiver to resume, modify, or try other treatment options.
Ending drug use is a huge milestone, but it’s just a part of a long and complex recovery process. Individuals still need to overcome many challenges. Relapse occurs when one gets stuck along the way. They’re faced with a challenge but are unable or unwilling to confront it. So, they turn to inappropriate coping mechanisms as a way to deal with their inner turmoil and dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, this only leads them right back to substance abuse.
Reputable drug rehabs offer remarkable help to people in need. The training, therapies, support, and supervision included in these treatment programs aid individuals in depths of substance dependence find new way of living. But the National Institute of Health states addiction is a chronic condition that requires ongoing care. For that reason, more than 50% of those who pass through drug or alcohol rehabs need multiple rounds of therapy to attain a form of recovery that lasts. But even so, not all of these individuals emerge successful in their fight against addiction.
This begs the question, why is the drug rehab so frequently unsuccessful?
Completing substance abuse treatment doesn’t guarantee sobriety. After leaving rehab centers, patients usually go back to environments where they abused drugs. Some places, people, or things can spark memories of drug use, and trigger urges that cause relapse.
Different aspects can increase the chances of relapse, including:
Triggers include anything from sensations, feelings, or thoughts to relationships and situations that cause the recovering patient to use after a period of abstinence. Holiday parties involving social drinking, exposure to drug-related objects, walking through drinking joints, or hanging around friends who are still using are examples of triggers that can cause a relapse. Unfortunately, recovering patients are consistently exposed to these triggers, making it hard to abstain.
Substance abuse treatment doesn’t end at the rehab facility. Recovering patients should continue with further treatment as specified in their relapse prevention plan. Rehab may stop the urge momentarily, but taking the right steps ensures long-term recovery. After-care services like 12-step, support groups, and other prevention programs arms individuals with coping skills that are essential to staying sober. A strong support system from friends, family members, recovery coaches, and peers can also encourage one to soldier on. But many patients don’t get this assistance, so they end up sliding back to their old habits.
Other internal and external factors like fatigue, physical pain, depression, self-pity, dishonesty, and unemployment can cause an individual to relapse. Researchers from one study discovered that risky drinking is common among the unemployed and that unemployment is a risk factor to drug use. Pity parties – when one feels sad, they can no longer hang with friends at bars or events -- can spark thoughts and eventually cause a relapse.
Just because a patient accepts to enroll in a rehab center doesn’t mean they’re all for the idea (or ready for that matter). There are different things that one can do to undermine their recovery process. For instance, one can join a program with no sense of commitment to life after addiction. Although therapists may use cognitive behavioral therapy among other treatment modalities to address such a problem, it takes dedication and desire to get better on the patient’s side to succeed in treatment.
The same applies to patients who won’t share their insights during group therapies or ones who mock others in the counseling sessions. These individuals often have unresolved issues and disrupt meetings, which are essential in addiction treatment. Patients who don’t listen or are adamant about opening up aren’t able to take advantage of the healing and usually return to using soon after treatment.
The addiction rehab industry is packed with false claims and unsubstantiated care. As we’ve mentioned earlier, a significant percentage of recovering patients resumes drinking shortly after treatment. Research also shows many individuals who pass through rehabilitation wind up with a greater sense of personal failure and despair. This could be because of one or a combination of the following reasons:
With so many factors contributing to addiction, creating a standard treatment approach that works for everyone is impossible. The National Institute on Drug Abuse details the principles that rehab centers should use to individualize care for each patient. But still, most patients only pass through a short detox period, followed by a series of lectures, 12-step, and group therapy. Generalized treatment isn’t effective in addressing the mental, physical and emotional needs of each client.
The intensity of detox varies depending on the type of substance abused, length of use, etc. When a patient doesn’t get enough detox, it means he or she may still have the toxic build-up in their body. This will predispose them to cravings or flashbacks that may act as a trigger. Sadly, run-of-the-mill detox programs don’t consider this and leave their patients not fully detoxified.
Substance addiction often co-occurs with mental illness or other conditions. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed that there were about 9.2 million people who experienced both mental health and substance abuse disorders in the US in 2018. Combining strategies from fields of addiction and psychiatry treatment is a great way to ensure long term sobriety, according to SAMHSA. When the dual diagnosis isn’t taken into consideration, then the patient is highly likely to suffer a mental relapse and end up using the substance again.
Some rehab centers – particularly the luxury ones – go above and beyond to make the lives of their patients comfortable. They offer vast services like ocean therapy (riding a yacht), equine therapy (tending to or riding a horse), aquatic aerobics, fitness training, qigong therapy, work assignments, leisure skill groups, among other services along with other care programs. While these are great, there’s no scientific evidence of their effectiveness in substance abuse treatment. These services are great differentiators, but none of these rehabs monitors patient outcomes, despite promising quality results. These are just some of the reasons that drug rehab is so frequently unsuccessful, depending on how you look at things.
A concerned Reddit user posed a question about a bizarre thing that had happened to him after using molly. He bit his cheeks and lips without even noticing. “The next thing I know, my lips got huge, puffy, and swollen as though I had a disease,” he added.
The user wanted to know why he bit his lips that bad and whether there was anything he could do to prevent it from ever happening again. This ignited all manner of responses from users, with most of them suggesting that it was a common side effect of using Molly. “Salt water gargle for the inside of the mouth, and Vaseline for the outside. Neosporin, if they are really bad, and a binky, aka pacifier for next time,” one comment read.
This comment caught my eyes. All along, I thought pacifiers were for kids. As it turns out, people use them when they go out partying. Partly for fashion, but mainly as a safety measure.
MDMA users don’t just deal with euphoria and decreased inhibitions. They also experience lip-chewing, jaw clenching, and tooth grinding, which are synonymous with a condition called bruxism. So, they wear "binkies" or pacifiers to raves, or discretely chew gum, to avoid destroying the soft parts of their mouth.
Bruxism is a reflex action triggered by a discrepancy between a person’s perceived ‘optimal bite’ and their actual bite. It generally affects people when they are sleeping, and in 70% of cases can be as a result of increased stress and anxiety.
Sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, are also common causes of bruxism. According to experts, sleep apnea arises from the micro-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system. This triggers an increase in one’s heart rate, brain activity, respiratory rate, and eventually rhythmic masticatory muscle activity that makes them grind teeth.
However, most ravers don’t grind their teeth because of stress, anxiety, or sleep apnea. They do so because of the recreational drugs that they use. These drugs are common in clubs, dance parties, and music festivals. Ravers grind because the drugs trigger the endocrine system to release chemicals into their bodies. Among these chemicals are serotonin in high levels and dopamine, norepinephrine, and noradrenaline in low levels. The latter is most likely to result in jaw muscle compulsory straining and clenching.
Drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, and meth are central nervous system stimulants. Their mechanism of action bases on the brain’s neuronal transmitters, which are critical for functions that involve sleep cycle, memory, learning, hormone regulation, body movement, and so on. They also trigger motor disorders that cause bruxism. Ecstasy causes the most concern when it comes to severe awake and sleep bruxism.
Ravers are likely to get so high and grind their teeth even more compared to those who use recreational drugs like MDMA at home. MDMA releases serotonin. But the brain produces even more serotonin to respond to external stimulation. So, when a person goes to an electronic dance music event or a rave scene, his or her brain produces more serotonin because of the environment, lights, music and community (talk about peace, love, unity, and respect culture). The excitement is more than what they’d experience at home with house music and less crowd. Besides, there is a higher chance of mixing drugs, such as other psychoactive substances into Molly or ecstasy, which increases muscle tension.
Many ravers will tell you about their sour tongue, lacerated insides of the cheeks and aching jaw after a night out. This is because the rave culture involves the use of psychedelic drugs, among other substances that affect the mouth.
While ecstasy teeth clenching isn’t inherently harmful, dentists express concern because users often report extended dry mouth as a result of reduced saliva production after using. Add that to bruxism, dehydration from dancing and possible consumption of soda, and the potential of teeth damage multiplies.
Besides, bruxism triggered by ecstasy can become chronic. Although the effects of use may wear off in two days, some patients may continue grinding for months after use. The most common symptoms of bruxism include:
Headaches and facial pain often go away when the grinding stops. But tooth damage only occurs in severe cases and may require treatment.
Pacifiers were a favorite of rave fashion back in the 90s when ravers did a variety of drugs in one go and tended to grind their teeth down to the gum. The paraphernalia provided them with something to chew on and also served as a fashion statement. Today, pacifiers are used to protect the teeth and cheeks from the effects of drugs used to enhance the rave experience. A pacifier helps those who chew really hard by protecting them against chewing their lip, locking the jaw, or and having jaw pain.
Mouthguards and splints work the same way as pacifiers. They create a physical barrier between the upper and lower teeth, thus preventing them from damage. Mouthguards and splints balance out the pressure across the jaw and can minimize any grinding noises.
The best way to treat ecstasy-triggered bruxism is to quit using it altogether. Since the condition usually happens after use, it is a great idea to stop using it. Ravers can find another way to make merry while clubbing, that doesn’t cause harm.
Medications aren’t always very effective in treating bruxism. But doctors prescribe muscle relaxants, and stress or anxiety medication. Sometimes, they administer Botox injections to help those with severe bruxism who don’t respond to other treatments.
A muscle relaxant weakens the muscle enough to minimize the effects of clenching and grinding, but not so much as to prevent proper use of the jaw muscle for eating. Stress and anxiety medications, on the other hand, help address stress and other emotional problems that may be causing the bruxism.
When a convict is sent to prison, he or she is stripped, disinfected and subjected to stringent inspection to ensure nothing illegal, like drugs, or contraband gets inside. His or her possessions are catalogued and boxed up. A convict only gets to keep a few books, eyeglasses and legal papers.
Visitors, too, undergo thorough screenings before seeing their loved ones. This includes car checks by staff (and even canines) and body checks (along with belongings) by a metal detector, pat downs and sometimes, sniffer dogs.
Ideally, nothing illegal is supposed to get inside the prisons – or at least, that's what the law stipulates. But surprisingly, drugs are rife in prisons globally, and illicit drug use like heroin, meth, coke, clone and NPS remains endemic. In fact, a third of prisoners in Wales and England claimed that it was easier to access drugs in prison, than it was on the outside.
You probably are wondering how these drugs make their way into prisons. As it turns out, people are pretty creative and often come up with smarter ways to outdo the current security measures and systems. Some smugglers use babies, coloring books, dead birds or stamps to move the drugs past the systems. Others take it a notch higher and soak undies with meth or decide to shove prescription drugs inside their private parts to pass through security. A while back, a Cincinnati woman was nabbed trying to traffic a Bible-laced with heroin into prison.
Cases of staff being enticed by cash bribes aren't uncommon. Forty-nine correction officers from 31 prisons in Georgia were accused of accepting bribes and trafficking illegal stuff into prison. One prison officer took £1000 for moving an ounce of crack cocaine and heroin. Another one got £500 for a sizeable package with drugs and phones. And the cases go on and on.
More recently, an increasing number of cases have transpired where drones delivered packages. Compared to 2013, when the use of drones to transport drugs was unheard of, there were 2 cases and 33 cases in 2014 and 2015.
Prisons try to keep abreast of the inventive and creative ways individuals develop to smuggle drugs into the jail. And while they are mostly successful, inmates still manage to get hold of drugs in one way or the other. In addition to being illegal, the misuse of drugs in prison is a severe threat to prisoners' health, the security of prison systems and the safety of prison officials and staff.
Using and/or dealing drugs is a criminal offense and may attract up to 15 years (give or take) in jail time. How these drugs find their way into prisons, designed to be secure places of law enforcement, is a big concern.
According to data collected through the 2007-2009 National Inmate Survey, 58% of state prisoners and 63% of sentenced jail inmates met the criteria of drug abuse or dependence. In comparison, only 5% of the general population 18+ years matched the criteria for drug abuse or addiction. This is in line with the data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
Between 2012/2013 and 2017/2018, there was a 50% rise in the rate of positive random tests for drugs in prison, from 7% to 10.6%. Data indicate that prisons with the highest positive rates in the random drug tests are those that are the least stable.
The most commonly abused drugs in prisons are:
According to a post published on Independent, there were 58 deaths between 2013 and 2016 where prisoners were known, or strongly suspected, to have used legal highs before their demise. Synthetic marijuana is equally disrupting the normal prison life. Despite being prohibited in UK prisons, this drug led to 19 inmate fatalities between 2012 and 2014.
One inspector of prisons told The Guardian that the effect of these drugs on prisons and individuals is unlike anything they've seen before. Quoting what the prison staff told him, he said, "Legal highs have devastating effects in our prisons, more severe than we've seen with other drugs. They're not only destabilizing some prisons but also propelling the cases of violence, bullying and debt."
A former employee of Tomoka Correctional Institution Work Camp told The Miami Herald that their mealtimes looked like a scene straight from out of the "Walking Dead." "Everywhere you turn, inmates are walking around like zombies." Cases of inmates face planting into their food tray, or falling from the seat twitching, foaming and their muscle seizing were not so uncommon. The main culprit? Synthetic marijuana – or K2 as it's commonly referred to.
Prisons are full of people charged with drug offences. Some may have been thrown behind bars for possession of drugs or DUI and so on. And while not all inmates incarcerated for drug crimes have a drug problem, addiction is common among inmates. The Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights revealed that about 50% of people in prisons and jails meet the criteria for substance dependence or abuse. Many inmates with drug addiction also have a mental health disorder like PTSD or depression.
But many prisons don't offer inmates who fight addiction with proper evidence-based treatment. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) that put withdrawal symptoms in check during detoxification is not common in US prisons. In-prison addiction treatment can save lives and even reduce the risk of further abuse, relapse and drug-related fatalities.
Drug misuse in both state and federal prisons is a huge challenge facing the criminal justice system today. The abuse of drug is widespread and contributes to crime, violence and vulnerability within prisons. Unless drug misuse levels go down, prison systems won't manage to prevent reoffending, improve security and handle severe and organized crime.
But eliminating prison drug is not as easy as it sounds. It needs a coordinated effort to cut down the drug supply in and out of prisons, educate and empower prisoners and support those needing treatment.
Many prisons support inmates struggling with addiction. Some offer religious ministry meetings, psychotherapy sessions and 12-step programs to inmates with addiction problems. On top of these, federal prisons provide a range of programs meant to help inmates overcome substance use. This includes:
Various studies have shown that blending community- and prison-based addiction treatment for offenders lowers the risk of both relapse to drug use and recidivism to drug-related criminal behavior – which, in turn, saves on societal cost.
A topic that long seems to have been up for debate is whether Christian’s are able to smoke weed and still be considered to be walking the righteous path of our Lord. Well, just the same with any other well-known argument, there are always two sides to every opinion. To answer this question, many call upon the Bible, which can oftentimes have many different interpretations that vary depending on the core beliefs of the specific individual (or group) who happens to be interpreting it. Here, we will try to explore both sides of the argument so that you may be able to come up with your own opinion.
Marijuana, also commonly known as weed, cannabis, pot, grass, reefer, herb, and Mary Jane, has been around for centuries. According to History.com, the first marijuana plants were likely to have been grown in Asia during 500 B.C. Contrary to popular belief, the marijuana plant was grown purely for medicinal purposes at the time, not for the purpose of getting the user’s high. First starting somewhere in Asia, the marijuana plant evolved and before being introduced into Africa, Europe, and eventually the America’s.
In America, the marijuana plant was first grown in the form of hemp for textiles and rope during the early colonial period beginning in the 16th century. The word hemp is largely used to describe strains of cannabis that contain less than .03 percent of THC (the substance in marijuana that produces most of the psychological effects). The fibers from hemp were used to create clothing, paper, sails, food, rope, and many other common textiles. Since the hemp plant is easy to cultivate, is fast-growing, and has many uses it became widely popular. However, It wasn’t until the 20th century where political and racial factors ultimately led to the criminalization of the marijuana plant and its usage.
Despite marijuana’s recent history in pop culture, it has long been widely accepted that the marijuana plant has strong medicinal effects. It has been used for centuries by many ancient Chinese dynasties. In ancient times it was used to help treat many ailments, such as glaucoma and inflammation by the Egyptians, it has been used in India as an anesthetic, and even as a cure for leprosy.
Part of the pro-cannabis argument for Christians is the mention of what is known as “anointing oil” in several verses of the Bible. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus, 500 shekels of cassia-- all according to the sanctuary shekel-- and a hin of olive oil. Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil” (Exodus 30:22-25). In their interpretation, calamus is translated into the Hebrew word for cannabis, ‘kenah-bosm”. Additionally, calamus is mentioned in several different verses of the Bible. In other interpretations, calamus is a semi-aquatic reed like plant which has been banned for production by many agencies including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for being toxic. So, many would have to speculate why God would call for the use of a poisonous plant in the sacred anointing oil which was used for healing and in ceremonial proceedings?
Additionally, there are several other verses of the Bible that are often cited for pro-marijuana believers. Most of which can be found in the book of Genesis; “And God said, ‘Behold, every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the Earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food” (Genesis 1:29). “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I give you the green plants, I give you everything” (Genesis 9:3). “The Earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:12).
Scientifically speaking, it is hard to deny that marijuana plants are anything but naturally seed-bearing vegetation. Throughout history, the marijuana plant has been used for various medicinal purposes, used as essential textiles, and for ritual or religious proceedings. It is easy to see why some Christians argue that the use of marijuana should be accepted within the religion.
With all the different interpretations that come from studying the Bible, combined with the negative stigma surrounding the use of marijuana, it is not difficult to see why many Christians are against the use of it. While some argue that the Bible doesn’t directly mention the marijuana plant itself, there are many verses that mention the sins of the flesh, “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexuality, immorality, and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:13-14).
For many Christians, the problem comes from the fact that marijuana is known to have psychoactive effects on the user, which could be translated as drunkenness. However, the use of alcohol is permitted in the Bible, and it is even practiced during several religious Christian ceremonies, such as drinking the blood of Christ. It would seem, then, that when the Bible speaks about drunkenness it is simply talking about consumption in moderation. The same could be said for the use of marijuana, as long as the user is practicing safe consumption.
Regardless of whatever you may believe, there are those who will support the decision that you will end up making in regard to the use of marijuana and whether or not you believe it is Christian. Speak with your local clergymen if you feel like you need a bit more personal guidance if you are feeling conflicted with this in any way. In my opinion, with the stigma surrounding marijuana lessening, more and more states across our nation are beginning to recognize not only the medical benefits of marijuana but the recreational benefits as well.
First and foremost, if you are in any immediate danger, please reach out to another family member or relative, friend, neighbor, emergency services, or another trusted source to remove yourself from the situation before it gets too bad. Maybe you know your parent uses heroin because you’ve found some needles or other drug related paraphernalia, if that is the case, do not attempt to dispose of them yourself, leave them alone and ask for help. I hope that by now you are at least in a safe enough environment to potentially get your parent(s) the help he or she needs.
Growing up in a family where one or more family members are struggling with a substance abuse disorder can have a very detrimental impact to your overall well-being and development, so at the very least, try to remove yourself (and any siblings) from the unhealthy environment, at least until it is a healthy situation again, but sometimes I know that just isn't possible. Either way, here are some additional steps you can take if you have recently discovered your parent is using heroin.
Before you try to take steps or confront your parent about their substance misuse, it is important to make sure that they are in fact struggling with addiction. While signs of addiction usually are based upon how much of a drug they consume and how often they do it, if you read through this list and are finding that you can check more than half of them off, you will probably want to start coming up with a plan of action for you parent and begin seeking treatment options.
If you have gone through this list and feel as though your parent is a drug abuser or heroin addict, then you must first try to understand addiction. Addiction is a disease of the brain that can chemically alter the brain's structure over time. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs.
Drug addicted people have distorted thinking, behavior, and body functions. Long term changes in the brain's wiring are what cause people to have intense cravings for the drug and it makes it that much more difficult to stop using them. Brain imaging studies show changes in the area of the brain that relate to judgement, decision making, learning, and behavior control. By getting an understanding of what exactly your parent is struggling with and suffering from, we can be prepared for any outcome.
While finding out that a parent is addicted to heroin can be very alarming and unsettling, you must first try to get help for yourself first. Do your research and locate resources for yourself. There are 12 step support groups designed specifically for family and friends of addicts or alcoholics. You can attend Al-Anon, Ala Teen, or Nar Anon depending on your specific situation and what makes you feel most comfortable.
By now, I’m sure you know that addiction not only affects the user but everyone around them as well. So by making sure you are in the healthiest place possible, regardless of whether or not your parent is sober, will only help to guarantee that you continue to lead your healthiest life, even if they refuse to get help right now. Sometimes even just speaking to a therapist can help give us the extra support that we need.
Always approach someone in an active addiction with compassion, as they do not respond well to confrontation. I know that resentment and anger are sometimes at the forefront of your mind when it comes to an addicted parent, but you must remember they are sick. Expect there to be difficulties, they may deny that they have a problem, they may refuse to get help, or they may have so much guilt surrounding the subject that they won't even talk to you about it. Ask them questions about their drug use and let them know that you are concerned about them and their well-being.
If you’re speaking to your parent and they still refuse to get help, let them know you will be taking more steps in order to get them the help they need. Involve people you trust (family members, friends, coworkers, etc.), other people who care, and whose lives have also been affected by your parents' drug use.
Staging an intervention is one of the most beneficial ways of getting a loved one the help or care they need to overcome their drug addiction. Enlist the help of a mental health professional or an intervention specialist because making sure the intervention goes the right way is essential to getting them the care they need. This will most likely include setting consequences for the addict if they chose to not get help and setting healthy boundaries between you and the addict if they refuse.
Most importantly, don’t blame yourself if you have tried everything and they still refuse to get help. We now know that addiction is a disease, and someone has to want to get help in order to change. Hopefully, by giving your parents consequences and removing all unhealthy boundaries, they will eventually be left with no choice but to get treatment. Either way, just know you are not alone, as research shows that 1 in 8 children will have grown up in a home where at least one parent suffered from a substance abuse disorder. Help is available, recovery is possible.
Addiction itself is difficult to deal with. It can be difficult to even admit to yourself and others that you struggle with a substance abuse problem. Addiction is a chronic and potentially relapsing disease that chemically alters the structure of the addicted person’s brain. It takes a life long commitment to overcome and maintain sobriety. Some people believe that addiction is a choice, while that may be true initially, as far as making the choice to use drugs or alcohol for the first time, an addicts brain is different than someone who is not an addict. Drugs and alcohol essentially trick the brain into believing that they need this substance in order to survive, and most will stop at nothing to get their drug of choice. An addict is sick, they have a disease of the brain that affects their ability to stop using drugs or alcohol, despite having negative consequences due to their drug use.
Congratulations, if you are here because you have moved from having an active addiction to actively participating in your sobriety. The first step is admitting that you have a problem and that you are powerless over drugs and alcohol. Why is it then, that it is so difficult to admit that we have a drug addiction to our friends or family? There are many reasons why admitting you have a problem to others may be more difficult than admitting it to yourself, but stigma and guilt are two of the main reasons why you may be having a hard time telling others.
Perhaps the biggest reason of all would be the negative stigma surrounding the disease of addiction. Fear of jail time or other legal consequences is a major factor. For centuries, addiction has plagued many people from all walks of life, regardless of upbringing or social status. All too often, people who suffer from addiction are looked upon as though they lack some sort of moral fortitude or self-control, which is definitely not the case. As we know, addiction is a disease and a chronic sickness that requires treatment to manage, there is no cure, other than abstaining.
Guilt is one of the biggest emotions associated with addiction or drug and alcohol abuse. Perhaps you experienced some trauma as a child and that situation ultimately is what drives you to use, or perhaps you have done some things you aren’t exactly proud of while under the influence. Either way, it is not your fault. If you have completed any sort of addiction treatment program, then it is highly likely you have had the chance to work through some of the emotions that may have triggered your drug use, to begin with. There is nothing to feel guilty about, you are not the same person when in an active addiction, no one is.
Maybe you are new to the recovery process, and have not yet gone through any sort of detox or treatment facilities, but are curious as to whether or not you may have a problem. Before you tell your family and friends, it may be wise to determine if you actually have a problem. If you are wondering though, then that most likely indicates that some level of care may be necessary to help with your substance abuse, but here is a list of addiction indicators to keep in mind;
If you have already come to the conclusion that you do in fact have a problem and whether its an alcohol addiction or other drug abuse, you do not have to hide the truth from your family or friends. If you do, it will eventually eat you up alive and result in an unwanted relapse because we aren’t being open with the people that are closest to us. There are many benefits to telling the truth, especially when it comes to having a substance use disorder. So, if you are like many other newly recovered addicts who are struggling to tell their family and friends, then here are a few tips to help you break the news.
All we can hope for is that our family in return will accept us with loving arms, and most of them should. If not, that's ok too, you cannot let it derail your sobriety and staying healthy for the long term. Build a strong support network at support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, there are meetings everywhere. If they do not accept you at first, hopefully, in time, with some sobriety under your belt they can begin to trust you again. Good job in making it this far!