Sleep disorders and addiction share a complex and bidirectional relationship. People who suffer from a sleep disorder may be more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol to try and self-medicate and achieve better sleep. For instance, they may use stimulant drugs to compensate for daytime fatigue caused by lost sleep.

In other cases, they may use drugs because of issues like cognitive impairment. Conversely, people addicted to drugs or alcohol may also suffer from sleep disorders due to the negative effects these substances can have on the body and mind.

There is a strong link between sleep disorders and addiction. A review by the Addiction Science & Clinical Practice found that about 70 % of patients admitted for detox had sleep issues before admission, and 80 % of those with sleep problems connect them to alcohol or illegal drug use.

According to the review, the relationship between the two seems to be bidirectional, with chronic or acute substance use disorders increasing the risk of developing sleeping problems. The review also adds that there's evidence indicating that long-term abstinence from chronic drug or alcohol use can reverse some sleep problems. 

One of the most common ailments related to lack of sleep is depression. If you’re wondering whether or not you or someone you know suffers from depression, one way to learn more is to take a depression test. 

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How substance abuse leads to sleep disorders

Addiction is a brain disease. Chronic alcohol or drug use interferes with the brain, changing its chemistry and circuitry. These changes result in compulsive drug use and sleeping problems. Drug and alcohol use disorders can cause short- and long-term sleep issues like insomnia and sleep apnea. 

Substance abuse also alters how a person through their sleep stages - messing up the rapid and non-rapid eye movement (REM and NREM). Generally, substance abuse can lead to:

Here is a quick look at how different drugs affect sleep.

Marijuana  

Marijuana interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) by binding to the cannabinoid receptors responsible for many roles, including regulating the sleep-wake cycle. This explains why more than 40% of those trying to quit marijuana experience sleeping problems. Many others experience sleep difficulty, strange dreams, and nightmares too. 

Opioids 

Opioids like heroin bind to mu-opioid receptors, a body system that’s also responsible for sleep regulation. In fact, the name morphine or morphia, a medical derivative of opium, comes from Morpheus, the Greek god of sleep and dreams. Opioid drugs can induce sleepiness but also derange sleep by increasing transitions between different sleep stages.

Those going through withdrawal from heroin addiction can experience terrible insomnia. Opioids can also regulate respiration and, when taken in high doses, can severely impede breathing during sleep. 

Depressants

Depressants like alcohol may help people fall asleep, but they often lead to disruptions in sleep patterns and can make it difficult to stay asleep. Chronic alcohol use causes:

 

Cocaine and other stimulants

Stimulants like cocaine can make it difficult to fall asleep and cause people to wake up frequently at night. The sleep disturbances like insomnia and hypersomnolence mostly happen during cocaine intoxication and withdrawal. Other stimulants like amphetamine trigger dopamine release.

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During acute administration, they can decrease total sleep time and sleep efficiency and increase sleep latency and the number of awakenings. In the withdrawal phase, there's a drop in sleep latency and a rise in total sleep time and efficiency.

Drug withdrawal and sleep disorders

Withdrawal from drugs can cause sleep disorders like insomnia, or other sleep problems, including restless legs syndrome, strange dreams, or broken sleep. These issues can take a toll on one’s physical and mental health, making a recovery harder. Sleep problems are common when withdrawing from:

How sleep disorders lead to substance abuse

Sleep disorders can also lead to substance abuse. Many people with sleep disorders turn to substances as a way to self-medicate or try and improve their sleep. For example:

 

The dangerous cycle

As discussed earlier, people with sleep may take stimulants like caffeine, cocaine, or nicotine to stay awake during the day and then use alcohol or other drugs to fall asleep at night. Also, those struggling with addiction may disrupt their circadian system and end up with sleep disorders that lead them to use more substances to self-medicated. This can create a dangerous cycle in which they use substances to try and manage their sleep, but the substances themselves make it difficult for them to get the rest they need.

Sleep quality and addiction recovery

People who stop using drugs and alcohol often have better sleep. This happens because they are no longer disturbed by the side effects of those substances. When people get good sleep, they feel better and can concentrate more easily on their addiction recovery.

At the same time, people who sleep better don't need to use substances to cope with their fatigue. So, improving sleep can help break the cycle of addiction.

If you or a family member or someone you know is struggling with a sleep disorder and substance abuse, help is available. There are many treatment options that can address both issues at the same time. With treatment, it is possible to recover from both a sleep disorder and addiction.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been linked to increased drug overdoses across the United States. In fact, early data suggests that the number of overdose deaths in 2020 was higher than any previous year on record. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 92,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the US between May 2019 and May 2020. The CDC notes that although there was a rising trend in overdose deaths before the onset of the pandemic, the latest numbers show an increase in overdose deaths during the pandemic.

The COVID Pandemic and Opioid Epidemic

The overdose epidemic is a national public health crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has led to widespread outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis C, and numbers of deaths.

Overdose deaths from opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and in 2019 alone, over 49,000 people died from an opioid overdose. Synthetic opioids, particularly illicitly manufactured fentanyl, are responsible for the majority of these deaths.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. In 2020, more than 56,000 overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids (other than methadone). This number accounted for 82% of all opioid deaths in that year.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the problem, as social distancing measures and lockdowns have led to increased drug use and overdoses. The pandemic also devastated the US economy, resulting in job losses and financial insecurity. This has led to increased stress and anxiety.

But overdose deaths aren't just limited to opioid use alone. The CDC notes that preliminary data shows increases in overdoses involving stimulants, such as methamphetamine and cocaine. In the 12 months ending in May 2020, there was a significant increase in the number of overdose deaths involving stimulants.

Drivers of Overdose Deaths during the Pandemic

Overdose deaths increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, there were nearly 92,000 overdose deaths involving illicit drugs and prescription opioids. This rise in overdoses is driven by several factors, including:

Increased Stress and Anxiety

Experts believe that the stress and anxiety of the pandemic have a big role in overdose deaths. Many people who struggle with substance abuse use drugs as a way to cope with difficult emotions and situations. The added stress of the pandemic can be overwhelming for someone who is already struggling, leading them to use more drugs than usual. 

Lack of Access to Care

The pandemic has resulted in a decrease in access to treatment and recovery services. With fewer resources available, many people are unable to get the help they need. This can lead to a decline in sobriety and an increase in drug use.

Social Isolation and Loneliness of the Pandemic

The social isolation and loneliness caused by the pandemic can also lead to an increase in drug use. People who struggle with substance abuse often use drugs as a way to cope with negative emotions. The isolation of the pandemic can trigger these emotions, leading to an increase in drug use.

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Poor Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a profound impact on mental health. The CDC reports that adults aged 18-24 experienced the largest increase in mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, during the pandemic. Mental health problems can lead to increased drug use and overdoses.

Disruption in the Supply of Illicit Drugs

The pandemic has also resulted in a disruption in the supply of illicit drugs. The closure of borders and decrease in international travel has made it difficult for drug dealers to get their hands on illicit drugs. This has led to more dangerous substances being sold on the street.

Street drugs can be extremely dangerous for people who use illicit drugs, as it increases the risk of overdose. The disruption of the supply of illicit drugs also increased the price of drugs, which pushed some to cheaper alternatives, which could be more potent.

Racial Disparities in Overdose Deaths

The coronavirus pandemic has also exacerbated racial disparities in drug overdoses. While the number of overdose deaths has increased, the increase has been highest among Black people. In 2020, there was a 44% overdose death rate among black people and 39% for Alaska Native and American Indians. White people had 22%.

The increase in deaths is largely driven by illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Blacks were more likely to die from an overdose involving fentanyl. 

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What can be Done to Prevent Overdose Deaths?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, overdose deaths have been on the rise in the United States for the past two decades. But the numbers increased sharply during the pandemic. The opioid epidemic has had a devastating effect on families and communities across the country, and it is clear that something needs to be done to prevent further tragedy. Here are some things that can be done to prevent overdose deaths:

·      One way to reduce the number of overdose deaths is to increase access to treatment for substance abuse disorders. This includes everything from prevention and early intervention programs to specialized treatment facilities.

·      Additionally, it is important to increase access to naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone is available without a prescription in many states, and it can be administered by family members or bystanders.

By increasing access to treatment and naloxone, we can start to turn the tide on the opioid epidemic and prevent more lives from being lost to overdose.

Get Help for Addiction Treatment

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the lives of people struggling with addiction. Any ground gained in harm reduction for drug addiction in the last few years was overwhelmed by COVID-19. The isolation and loneliness of the pandemic, as well as the disruption in the supply of illicit drugs, have led to an increase in drug use and overdoses. Racial disparities in overdose deaths have also been exacerbated by the pandemic.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, it is important to get help as soon as possible. Addiction treatment can save lives.

If you have, at any point in your life, interacted with drug addicts, you are likely aware of just how far they would go to ensure they get their high any time they want. Even though they are addicts, they go out of their way to conceal their drugs from other people.

They may go to great lengths when hiding a stash, using creative and sometimes elaborate methods, like hiding them in body cavities, such as the rectum or vagina, stashing them in hollowed-out books or other objects, or wearing multiple layers of clothing to create hidden pockets. In some cases, addicts may even swallow condoms filled with drugs in an attempt to smuggle them into a treatment facility or detox center.

However, these methods are not foolproof, and addicts often eventually get caught. If you suspect that someone you know is struggling with addiction, look for signs of drug paraphernalia or hidden stash spots. You can also look for changes in behavior, such as secrecy, lying, or unexplained absences. Your loved one can be creative, but if you look close enough, you’ll uncover any addiction behaviors and help they get the help they need.

This article reveals the common ways addicts conceal their drugs. If you are worried that your loved one is abusing drugs, read on to see where they may be hiding their illicit drugs or drug paraphernalia.

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Common ways addicts conceal their drugs

The dangers of drug addiction are well-known, but the ways in which addicts hide their drugs might surprise you. One popular method is called "stash clothing." This involves hiding drugs in clothing that can be easily accessed, usually in a pocket , sleeve or sewn into clothing. The advantage of this method is that it allows addicts to keep their drugs close at hand without being obvious about it.

But sometimes, addicts may take it a notch higher. For example, some women hide their marijuana stash in altered tampons and hairbands. Those who work in transporting illegal drugs can sew the drugs in wigs and have the wigs glued to their heads to go past border and customs without being suspected. Unfortunately, doing so may cause complications and necessitate emergency room electrolysis.

Let us discuss a little more about how addicts hide contraband in clothing and footwear.

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Clothing and footwear

You would be surprised at how many different places addicts hide their stash, especially at music festivals. They know the consequences of drug possession, so they need to ensure they don’t get caught. No one wants to spend time in jail, not even them.

They roll the contraband into jeans, sew them into jacket linings, or hide them in coin pockets or socks. Unfortunately, addicts or smugglers that have children conceal the contraband in their kids’ clothing, hoping that the officers won’t search the children. Those with babies hide them in baby blankets.

Since police officers realized that coin pockets are a popular hiding place, young adults became more cunning. They either buy clothes with hidden pockets or opt to make the hidden pocket themselves.

Addicts’ demand for clothes with hidden compartments made entrepreneurs mass-produce clothes that can easily conceal drugs. These clothes are readily available on the internet, and they are relatively famous for cocaine storage and hiding weed.

Clothing made for drug stashing

It is rather unfortunate that some brands specialize in clothing for carrying drugs. These clothes are sold online and in stores. Some of the most popular garments for stashing drugs include

·     The Rolla Wear brand has a hoodie that features a hidden hood pocket and a suru board in its front pocket for rolling joints.

·     Eagle Creek mass-produces an undercover stash bra. The bra has a hidden pocket that can be used as a drug pocket.

·     Annabiss manufactures stylish bags and purses that are very popular during the festival season. However, the bags have hidden compartments that addicts use to conceal their lighters, vape pens, marijuana stash, and mints.

Men, too, hide their stash in intimate pieces of clothing. Speakeasy Briefs is a brand that mass-produces briefs that feature a hidden compartment on the crotch. Addicts can easily use it to stash their drugs.

·      Vaprwear manufactures hoodies that connect to vape cartridges. Addicts vape through the hoodie’s drawstring.

·     Dailyshoes manufactures a range of boots with large front pockets. Most addicts use the compartments to hide their drugs of choice.

·      Zero grid sells belts that have hidden pockets. Some addicts use their hidden pockets to hide their drugs.

·      555 soul sells bomber jackets that have several hidden pockets. Those who abuse drugs may use the hidden pockets for their stash.

These are just a few examples of mass-produced clothing addicts use to stash their drugs. Although the clothes may not have been made explicitly for drug hiding, they are famous for their ability to hide contraband properly, and some articles promote them as such.

Other places addicts hide their drugs

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As discussed above, addicts can be very creative with hiding their drugs. Other than hiding them in their clothing and footwear, they may also hide them in:

Conclusion

Addicts are always secretive about where they hide their drugs. But by knowing the common hiding spots, you can uncover their behavior and help them get the care they need.

Over the last two decades, people have normalized combining different drugs to achieve a more intense high. It is not uncommon to see an individual mixing alcohol with a prescription drug or psychoactive and psychedelic substances. If someone uses drugs sold on the street, the chances are that this person drinks alcohol too. 

Most drug addicts are unaware of the severe short-term and long-term effects of illegal drug combinations. This article discusses hippie flipping, candy flipping, and polysubstance abuse.

 

Polysubstance Abuse     

Polysubstance use refers to consuming more than one drug at once. When you engage in polysubstance use, you get a more pronounced feeling from consuming illicit drugs.

Most users have a drug of choice that they combine with other drugs to enhance the effect of their primary drug.

Unfortunately, those diagnosed with polysubstance abuse are usually addicted to the feeling of being high using multiple drugs.

Polysubstance abuse may increase the effects of the drugs, but it also has severe adverse effects that most drug abusers are unaware of.

Hippie flipping and candy flipping are the most common forms of polysubstance abuse.

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Contributing Factors of Polysubstance Abuse

Several factors contribute to polysubstance abuse, including:

Consequences of Polysubstance Abuse 

Polysubstance abuse has severe long-term and short-term effects. When you combine drugs, the side effects increase exponentially.

The effects also tend to be more potent than those of individual drugs. As a result, you are likely to have acute health problems, and your chances of overdose are much higher. Treatment of Polysubstance abuse is also complicated.

Hippie Flipping

Hippie flipping, also called flower flipping, refers to using psilocybin mushrooms and MDMA simultaneously.

When you hippie flip, you will experience a psychedelic and euphoric trip. Hippie flipping is quite common in clubs and other social settings.

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Effects of Hippie Flipping

The effects of hippie flipping depend on:

Since the above factors determine the effects of hippie flipping, the effects vary from individual to individual. However, the constant is a mosaic of different sensations and emotions. 

Possible side effects are:

For How Long Does the Hippie Flipping Experience Last?

The length of your hippie flip depends on how you timed the two doses. The effects of MDMA last for 3-6 hours, while mushroom’s effects last for 4-6 hours. For this reason, a hippie flip can last for anywhere between 6 and 12 hours. However, some people report experiencing side effects like headaches and lethargy two days after hippie flipping.

Risks of Hippie Flipping

Like most drug combinations, mixing mushrooms and MDMA has serious risks. MDMA can cause serotonin syndrome, resulting in high body temperature, cardiac arrhythmia, and muscle cramping. On the other hand, mushrooms prevent serotonin reuptake from your brain cells; thus, the drugs remain in your system for much longer.

Mushrooms and MDMA  can potentially damage brain cells since they over-activate the cells. Other additional side effects include nausea, weakness, dry mouth, jaw clenching, insomnia, extreme thirst, dizziness, rapid eye movement, and more.

Comedown Effects of Hippie Flipping

If you start by taking psychedelic mushrooms before MDMA, you will likely have a standard MDMA crash at the end, which includes feelings of anxiety and extreme sadness. If you take the mushrooms last, the hallucinogenic effects of mushrooms may mask the MDMA crash. Although most hippie flippers prefer this, it often creates conditions for a bad trip. Most hippie flippers report that they feel spent and tired during the comedown.

 

Candy Flipping

Candy flipping refers to mixing LSD and MDMA. MDMA, commonly sold as ecstasy in pill form, is a psychoactive drug, while LSD, commonly known as acid, is a psychedelic drug.

Most people that candy flip start with LSD then follow it up with MDMA after approximately 4 hours. This way, they feel the peak effects of LSD first, then follow it up with the feel-good vibes of MDMA.

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Effects of Candy Flipping

The effects and intensity of candy flipping vary from individual to individual. You may even experience different effects every time you candy flip. For this reason, it is challenging to say what its exact outcome will be.

Most candy flippers claim they experience intense MDMA-like effects, but others claim they experience the effects of both substances in equal measure.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, common MDMA effects include:

Common LSD effects include:

For How Long Does the Candy Flipping Experience Last?

The candy flipping experience lasts for 12-24 hours because LSD effects last for 12 hours,

and MDMA effects last for 3-6 hours.

 

Risks of Candy Flipping

Candy flipping presents several severe and potentially dangerous risks. Besides the effects mentioned above, you may have a bad trip and hydration issues.

Comedown Effects of Candy Flipping

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Candy flipping has an unpleasant comedown. The possible comedown effects are:

You may also experience paranoia and depression. These comedown effects may last for several days.

 

Get Help Today

Mixing drugs and alcohol or different kinds of drugs increases your risk of harmful and potentially dangerous side effects. Besides the side effects discussed above, you will likely develop substance use disorders.

If you or your loved one are struggling with hippie flipping, candy flipping, or polysubstance abuse, it would be best to seek professional help. Several treatment programs are available, and you can choose one that suits you best.

A lot can happen when you take more than the usual or recommended dose of a drug. Sometimes, you could experience mild symptoms like loss of coordination. But in extreme cases, you may end up with severe, harmful symptoms or even death. This is called an overdose.

Usually, your body’s metabolism can get rid of the substance, neutralizing the harmful effects. But if the drug level exceeds the threshold that your body can metabolize, the drug’s side effects can harm you physically and mentally.

What is an overdose?

An overdose happens when you take a toxic amount of a medicine or drug. It can be intentional or accidental:

  1. Intentional overdose: This is where a person takes too much of a drug to get high or harm themselves. It involves using prescribed or non-prescribed drugs in excessive quantities to produce euphoria. But in some cases, using illicit drugs after a period of abstinence or in large quantities can also cause an overdose
  2. Accidental overdose: Medicines have benefits. However, an overdose can occur if you take too much or take them simultaneously as other medicines. An overdose is considered accidental when one:

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 841,000 drug overdose deaths since 1999.

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In 2019 alone, 70,630 overdose deaths happened in the US. Of this number, about 70% involved an opioid, mainly synthetic opioids. Cocaine, on the other hand, accounted for 15,000 overdose deaths in the US in 2017. The misuse of and addiction to opioids is a crisis that affects public health.

The most recent data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that about 100,306 people died from a drug overdose in the US during the 12 months ending April 2021.

Symptoms of a drug overdose

An overdose is a medical emergency that needs immediate medical attention. Seek medical advice if you exhibit the following symptoms after taking a drug, alcohol, or a combination of both. You can also call 911 for urgent cases.

With that in mind, let’s look at what happens to your body when you overdose.

What happens to your body when you overdose?

When you overdose, chances are you won’t be aware of what’s happening. However, those around you will spot some or all of the symptoms discussed above. Usually, that’s because of how the drugs interact with your body.

Here’s what happens when you overdose on opioids

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When you overdose on opioids, your body temperature, heart rate, and breathing may drop to dangerously low levels, causing suffocation, heart attack, or brain damage. Your veins may collapse and suppress the normal flow of blood throughout the body. You may also find it hard to spit or swallow because of the suppression of the gag reflex.

Opioid overdose may disrupt the normal functioning of receptors between the heart and brain, leading to slow heart rate or no heart rate at all. Slow breathing translates to low oxygen levels and abnormal heart rhythms.

Opioids may also limit oxygen flow to the brain and cause permanent brain damage within four minutes of oxygen deprivation. They may cause seizures that further damage the brain. In extreme cases, this damage can leave you paralyzed and unable to speak.

What happens when you overdose on stimulants?

Overdosing on stimulants or overamping causes the opposite symptoms to overdosing on opioids. Patients experience chest pain, passing out, irregular breathing, racing heart, sweating, feeling hot, high blood pressure, weakness, shaking, or stroke. Overdosing to cocaine is particularly bad and can cause stroke or heart attack.

Other things that might happen when you overdose:

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Medical Treatment for Drug Overdose

There are different treatments for a drug overdose. Your doctor will determine the right one for you based on the type of drugs involved and symptoms. They may:

Follow-up

You’ll need to see a doctor for a follow-up to ensure no delayed injuries to any body organ. If it was an intentional overdose, follow-up also ensures that there are systems in place to prevent a recurrence.

Once a deliberate overdose is managed and you are out of immediate medical danger, you’ll need psychiatric care. You may also be considered for a mental health evaluation. Getting support for mental or substance abuse problems can be helpful.

If it’s a child, they’ll need help dealing with the trauma and learning from the mistake. A follow-up can reduce anxiety and educate the child and the parent.

Prevention

Keep all medications in a safe and secure place to prevent accidental overdose. In case it’s an unintentional, illicit drug overdose, it’s best to get away from access to the drugs to prevent the problem from recurring.

If it’s an intentional overdose, you’ll need to address the underlying problem fast. Addiction treatment can help reverse the effects of substance abuse and get you on the path to recovery.

Drug use and sex often go hand in hand. People have used drugs with sex for years, some to lower inhibition and enhance their sexual drive, while others to coerce victims into the act. Despite this long history, the combination of drugs and sex can have serious health consequences.

This article will discuss how drug use affects sexual health. We’ll also list specific substances and related sexual dysfunction.

Sexual dysfunction in people with substance use disorders.

Although illicit drugs are sometimes used as aphrodisiacs, they have detrimental effects on male and female sexual function. These effects can happen at any phase of the normal sexual cycle, including desire, physical pleasure, arousal, preference or orgasm. Statistics show that more than 30% of men and 40% of women reported some sexual dysfunction.

Common risks linked to sexual dysfunction include one’s health status and the presence of diseases like diabetes mellitus, genitourinary diseases, cardiovascular disease, chronic diseases and psychological disorders. But the connection between drug use and sexual dysfunction is increasingly recognized.

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National Library of Medicine report analyzed the sexual dysfunction in men who abused illicit drugs. The findings revealed that males who abused illegal drugs were prone to have decreased sexual desire, erectile dysfunction ED, and increased ejaculation latency. Increased ejaculation latency was seen in all abusers, while decreased sexual desire and erectile dysfunction occurred mainly in heroin, amphetamine and MDMA mono-users, respectively.

Common sexual dysfunction due to drug use

Erectile dysfunction, ED

Drugs can make it physically difficult to have sexual intercourse. A man might become incapable of getting or sustaining an erection, and men and women may fail to reach orgasm. Sadly, this issue can persist even in recovery, with evidence showing that some people who abused drugs still had sexual performance issues even after one year of abstinence.

Lowers libido

Many people abuse drugs for the aphrodisiac effects. However, these often wear off fast, leaving one with diminished interest in sex. The reason is alcohol and drugs affect one emotionally, which impacts their libido.

Additionally, abusing substances can be emotionally and physically draining, leaving one tired with little energy or interest in sex. Emotional and physical problems both cause a decrease in sex drive.

Sexually transmitted infections

Drugs impair judgment. So when one is under the influence, they may end up participating in risky sexual behaviors. For example, they may engage in unsafe sex and contract STIs and even viruses like HIV or HPV that cause AIDS and cancer, respectively.

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Loss of relationship  

Inevitably, drug abuse leads to broken relationships. Many things can contribute to breakups, including emotional distance, promiscuity, isolation and even sexual dysfunction.

Use of specific substances and related sexual dysfunction

Here’s how various drugs affect sexual health

Stimulants

Stimulant like cocaine and amphetamines inhibits the uptake of norepinephrine and dopamine. When taken in low doses, these drugs can be a potent aphrodisiac. That’s because they’re believed to decrease inhibition, boost confidence and increase the sense of energy.

However, prolonged use may cause difficulty getting or maintaining an erection. This happens because these stimulants cause blood vessels to narrow, so blood doesn’t reach the penis.

Depressants

Depressants like cannabis, heroin, alcohol, and benzodiazepines are also commonly used as an aphrodisiac to enhance sexual desire and functioning. But several studies have shown the adverse effects of depressants like alcohol on sexual arousal. When taken in large doses, these substances impair erection, decrease sexual arousal and the ability to ejaculate.

Marijuana prevents the smooth muscles in the penis from relaxing, making it hard for blood to flow in. Heroin and alcohol suppress testosterone levels, leading to decreased interest in sex. Alcohol also damages cells in the gonads and testes, making it hard to maintain an erection.

Psychoactive drugs

About 70% of patients with mental health issues like depression and schizophrenia experience sexual issues. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish whether the dysfunction is due to the illness or drugs used for treatment in these patients. But either way, drug use and mental disorders often co-occur. A person with performance anxiety may use drugs to lower inhibitions.

Conversely, one may use drugs to treat mental health issues but suffer sexual dysfunction as one of the side effects. Antidepressants, for instance, inhibit the desire, lead to ED and decrease vaginal lubrication, all of which affect sexual health.

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Contraceptives                   

While many women don’t notice any significant adverse effects when starting hormonal contraceptives, others experience lower sex drive. This is likely due to the decrease in testosterone levels. Birth control drugs inhibit the supply of free testosterone, a hormone that influences sex drive. It’s best for women who experience low sex drive due to contraceptives to seek medical advice.

Cancer treatment

Cancer and its treatments can have a significant adverse effect on the patient and their loved ones. Most cancer treatments can affect one’s sexual health. For example, the long-acting gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist for prostate cancer causes hypogonadism.

Hypogonadism is when sex glands called gonads produce little or no sex hormones. Chemo drugs like cisplatin and bortezomib also cause nerve damage, making it hard to control erections. Prostate surgery might be a better treatment, but it also comes with a fair share of sexual issues.

Other medications

Oral medications used to treat health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease etc., can affect sexual functioning. Some impact desire while others impact the ability to become aroused or achieve orgasm – and the risk goes even higher for those taking several medications. Sexual side effects are often reported with meds like antidepressants, anti-hypertensives, anti-epileptics, blood pressure, antipsychotics, opioids, and anti-seizure.

Seek professional help

Sexual dysfunction can impact one’s life. It can cause them to lose their real love, self-esteem and even the desire to live. Unfortunately, this may drive one to abuse even more drugs – for recreational use.

It’s therefore essential to seek medical help to address the drug use related to sexual issues. A doctor will help one get off of drugs that are affecting their sexual health. They will also offer treatment for ED, like a vacuum device, to help one get and maintain an erection.

The concept of ground score is simple. Someone leaves behind or improperly disposes of drugs or paraphernalia. Then, whoever finds the drug or item claims it, and it becomes theirs. Lighters, syringes, needles, pre-and post-injection swabs, masks, patches, pipes, filters and even the drugs themselves are common examples of a ground score.

Ground score is a pretty common occurrence around the country. But this doesn't make it any less of a nuisance. When left on the ground, drug paraphernalia pose a risk not just to the environment but also to humans. We'll look at these risks later on in this article. But first, let's make sure we are on the same page.

What is a Ground Score?

A ground score is any desirable substance that's left on the ground. In this case, it can be any drug paraphernalia that drug users leave on the ground after use, such as:

People who abuse substances - including street drugs, alcohol, and prescription drugs - are at an increased risk for dependence, addiction, or worse, overdose deaths. Drug use also has side effects that make it hard for one to act responsibly. As a result, many users either leave drug litter around or dispose of it carelessly, exposing the environment and people to wide-ranging risks.

Why Drug Litter is Dangerous

Drug litter can cause serious health problems for those who come into contact with it. It can cause:

  1. Accidental poisoning and exposure: Improper disposal of drugs can be dangerous to children and adults alike. Kids are curious by nature and tend to be drawn to anything colorful or noisy.

    When they see a green or red tablet or capsule lying around the house, they will likely get to it - and taste it. According to research, about 50,000 toddlers aged below five years unintentionally consume medicine. And this can be dangerous depending on the abused drug.

Adults, too, might swallow prescription pills and end up overdosing without knowing. Proper storage or disposal of drugs is the best way to avoid such predicaments.

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  1.  Environmental contamination: Drug litter can contain other chemicals that are toxic and dangerous to humans and the environment. If many of these chemicals get washed into lakes and waterways, they can contaminate the water that people use for drinking. Meth is particularly dangerous. Since this street drug is entirely artificial, its components throw off the nutrient balance in the nearby soil to the extent that plants can't grow there anymore. And when it finds its way to water, fish and other aquatic animals can die, potentially harming the ecosystem for years.

  2. Infections: People who abuse drugs or engage in high-risk behaviors associated with drug use expose themselves to infections like HIV/AIDs and hepatitis. Viruses spread through body fluids. So, drug users are likely to contract or transmit the virus when they share needles and other paraphernalia or have unprotected sex because of impaired judgment.

    When these people leave sharp paraphernalia lying around, and someone ends up being hurt, the injured person can end up with HIV, hepatitis C, syphilis, Herpes virus, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, etc. Besides, sharp objects can cause tetanus and other infections - on top of pain.

  3. It enables drug abuse: Drug litter can make it easy for wannabe abusers to access drugs. Today, teenagers abuse prescription pills more than illicit drugs believing the former is safe. It is a wrong belief. In 2019 alone, there were over 36,000 deaths related to the abuse of synthetic opioids. So, proper disposal should be done to lower the likelihood of abuse, whether it's a prescription or illicit drug.

Common places to find drug litter

Drug litter can be found anywhere, including the streets, neighborhoods, schools, and so on. However, you are likely to find drugs at music festivals, nightclubs, parties, and so on. That's because party-goers indulge in illegal drugs and throw the remains all over the place. But you can also find drugs at home when a friend or loved one disposes of their prescription medicines inappropriately.

How to avoid drug littering

Whether intentional or unintentional, improper disposal of drugs and paraphernalia is dangerous to humans and the environment. Littering happens due to:

But since ground score poses so much danger, it might help to avoid it altogether. There are safe disposal practices that you should follow whenever you want to discard drugs and any material associated with the drugs. One of the safest ways to dump unwanted drugs is to take them to a drug take-back program. It will help if you do this as soon as you realize that you no longer need the drugs. The Food and Drug Administration recommends the following was to avoid drug littering:

Effects of drug use and abuse

Drug litter can be a gateway to drug abuse. Synthetic opioids, mostly manufactured in South America, are highly addictive and often lead to substance use disorders - both long-term and  short-term. People, especially teenagers, might experiment with these drugs and end up using them more.

Drug use and misuse can cause side effects like increased heart rate and blood pressure, body temperature, paranoia, and hallucinations. Besides, drug dealers often cut drugs with a series of other substances, exposing one to the risk of overdose and overdose deaths.

Conclusion

Whether prescription or illegal drugs, drug litter is a dangerous problem for society and the environment. To keep your neighborhood clean and healthy, ensure you dispose of anything related to drugs responsibly. 

When a loved one is addicted to a certain drug or alcohol, you may need to stage an intervention to show that their actions are hurting them and those around them. It’s not necessary to involve the local department of health. An intervention can help you express your feelings constructively. It can also help you direct a loved one toward a support group, detoxification, or a doctor that can set them on a recovery path. 

But staging an intervention can be tricky. Although you mean well, you may not know what to say. Your loved one might also deny they drink alcohol or abuse drugs, making it hard to open a conversation. That’s why it’s essential to prepare in well in advance, before you stage an intervention.

What does it mean to stage an intervention?

An intervention is where you take proactive steps to persuade a loved one to join addiction treatment. It comes in handy when the individual is unwilling to seek help or doesn’t recognize that they have a problem. An intervention gives you an opportunity:

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The most important thing to note when it comes to interventions is that you are not in the shoes of the addict. You cannot fully understand addiction unless you have gone through it yourself. Struggling with drugs or alcohol consumption is rather complicated. Therefore, you must listen and keep an open mind throughout the process. 

During interventions, it is also crucial that all those involved don't point fingers at either party. Interventions aim to make the addicts realize that they have a problem and need to seek treatment. Additionally, interventions let the addicts know that they have the support of friends and family.

This article is for you if you want to stage an intervention to deal with your loved one's drug addiction. We will take you through the step-by-step process to ensure that the intervention is successful. 

How to stage a successful intervention

Proper planning is paramount for a successful intervention. Therefore, you need to plan everything in detail and have the right mindset. Here is how to stage a successful intervention.

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Prepare yourself mentally

Before staging the intervention itself, you need to prepare yourself mentally. Ensure that you can air your sentiments without enraging the addict. You will also need to secure the support of friends or family.

Other than that, you have to be willing to live with the outcome of the intervention, whether it is positive or negative. If you consider all this and check all the boxes, you can move to the next step.

Do extensive research

Researching on drug addiction and the effects of alcohol is important. This way, you can figure out which rehabilitation or treatment programs would best suit your loved one's addiction. You should also research treatment facilities or treatment centers where your loved one can receive treatment if the intervention is successful. Finally, you should also study the recovery process to know how to support your loved one properly.

Contact a professional

Although you can stage an intervention by yourself, you should seek a professional interventionist or an intervention specialist. Alternatively, you can contact a doctor or social worker for advice. You will be surprised at how much easier the entire intervention process will be when you have a little bit of help.

Contact family members and friends.

As mentioned earlier, having the support of family members and friends is paramount. After all, one aim of the intervention is to make the addict aware that they have the support of those that care about them. Friends and family will form your intervention team. Be careful not to include anyone that struggles with addiction

Remember to keep the team as small as possible. Having too many people present may overwhelm your loved one.

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Choose the best location.

The location for the intervention can impact how your loved one reacts to the intervention. It is important that you select a place where the addict would be comfortable and not feel like you have cornered them. Their home or that of a close family member would be an ideal choice. 

Instruct members of the intervention team to write speeches

Those who attend the intervention need to write speeches detailing how the actions of the addict have affected them and the addict. The speeches need to be personal so that the addict understands the impact of their addiction on those they interact with. Remind them to avoid the blame game. Instead, they should word the speeches lovingly and be honest about the situation at hand.

Rehearse the intervention 

To ensure that the intervention runs smoothly, you should have rehearsal. This way, members of the intervention team can read out their speeches, and you can correct them if need be. You will also ensure that emotions don't run high during the actual intervention and that there is no blame game.

Manage your expectations and those of the intervention team

Everyone wants interventions to be successful, but this may not always be the case. Despite having the best intention, your loved one may refuse to accept help. Therefore, you must manage your expectations and those of the intervention team.

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What’s next after they respond positively to the intervention?

If the intervention goes well and your loved one responds positively, you should listen to them. Listening does not necessarily mean you agree with everything they say. Most addicts are smart, and the chances are that they might try to convince you that it is not as bad as you think or that they have everything under control.

Do not let them coerce you. Listen to them, but be firm and try to push your agenda of them seeking treatment. If they agree to seek treatment, be supportive and walk them through their recovery journey.

 

What if they respond negatively?

If your loved one responds negatively, either by walking out of the intervention or being violent, you need to re-strategize and consider other options. If you were lucky enough to have even a little bit of their attention, ensure that you uphold your sentiments and enforce consequences. 

When you enforce consequences, they are likely to realize the intervention was for their good and not mere threats. 

Don't be discouraged if your loved one responds negatively. You tried your best, and your loved one knows that their actions affect you and others they care about. With time, they may consider seeking treatment.

Many people assume that those struggling with addiction have loose morals, weak willpower, or are unwilling to stop. But that is certainly not the case. Addiction is a brain disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Addiction, it is a disorder that leads to “functional changes to brain circuits involved in stress, self-control, and reward.” Other reputable bodies like the Institute of Medicine, American Medical Association, and American Psychiatric Association also recognize addiction as a brain disease. Does this brain disease result from some type of genetic disorder?

Since addiction is a disease of the brain, have you ever stopped to wonder why it affects some people and not others? As it turns out, some factors such as genetics may play a role in determining whether one is likely to develop a substance use disorder. The National Institute of Health reveals that up to 50% of addiction risk is based on genetics. One is more likely to experience addiction if they have a family member who has had an addiction.

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Heredity and addiction

Drug addiction is a chronic brain disease. Like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses, it can run in families. Children whose parent(s) have a substance use disorder are 2 to 4 times more likely to struggle with substance abuse issues of their own, later on in life.

The reason is that there’s an inherited component that can pass down to generations through genes. That’s why family history gives hints about one’s vulnerability to addiction.

Despite the higher risk, some people don’t end up with genetic addiction. It could be that they never inherited the genes for drugs or alcohol abuse or that their environment helped shape the specific expression of those genes. The heredity issue is also not as strong when it comes to extended family members like uncles, aunties, or grandparents who struggle with addiction.

The role of genes in drug addiction

Genetics is a risk factor for addiction and can increase the risk of drug and alcohol abuse in different ways. For starters, the genetic mutation that leads to changes in the brain’s function and structure may affect how a person responds to exposure from the substance. Secondly, a person may be genetically inclined to display temperamental and mental health issues that may escalate their chances of abusing drugs or alcohol.  

A review by NIAAA experts reveals that genetic factors contribute up to 40-60% of the variance between people at risk of abusing alcohol. The genes that make one susceptible to addiction are alcohol-specific (like 1 S allele) like those that affect the brain’s reward center. Serotonin transporter polymorphism also influences addiction according to one review article dubbed Genetics, Inheritability Factors, and Addiction.

Substance abuse can change one’s brain to crave a particular substance. This is especially true for someone who uses drugs or alcohol for a long time. Even without a genetic aspect, one can still inherit a predisposition to substance abuse because of the culture they grow up in, or where use like binge drinking is encouraged.

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According to scientists, some genetic predispositions may expose one to the dangers of addiction. However, not everyone with a genetic predisposition ends up being an addict. Conversely, some people can have problems even if no one in their family has substance use disorders.

Genetics is only one of the risk factors when looking at whether one has a higher risk of developing an addiction. Environmental factors like growing up with people who abuse drugs can also predispose one to the condition.

Other Risk factors for addiction

Mental factors

Scientists in the genetics of substance abuse field say that addiction and comorbid mental health disorders have similar neurological features. They also co-occur in more than half of those struggling with substance abuse. People with mental illnesses like anxiety, stress, depression, or social disorders are more likely to abuse drugs for various reasons.

Some use the drugs to get temporary relief from these feelings—others, for a sense of well-being and euphoria. After all, mental health and substance abuse issues affect the same parts of the brain, thereby elevating abuse potential.

Environmental factors

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Stable home

Children that grow into stable homes with supportive parents tend to have a lower chance of using or abusing drugs. But if the home is unstable, has no structure, or has parents who abuse drugs or have a mental illness, then it’s highly likely that the children may use the abused drug. Young people who experience neglect or abuse from parents may also use alcohol or drugs to cope with their emotions.

Peer pressure

The influence of friends is another common reason people end up with addiction. When one hangs out or around peers who use drugs, they are highly likely to give into the pressure of using. The availability of substances in a social circle can also affect one’s risk of developing an addiction. For example, large amounts of drugs being available in many social settings can cause one to start and continue using.

Early use

The age at which one starts to use drugs or alcohol can also be a risk factor. A survey by NIAAA found that people aged between 18 and 24 were most likely to have both drug and alcohol addictions. Abusing drugs and alcohol at a young age may also affect one’s brain development, exposing one to mental illness as they grow older and their addiction progresses.

Drug of choice

Drugs such as meth, heroin, and cocaine tend to be more addictive than marijuana or alcohol. They also have a physically painful withdrawal phase, which can make one continue use to prevent the pain. This can increase the addiction process as well as the risk of serious health complications.

 

Addiction treatment

Many treatment options exist to help people with substance abuse disorders. If someone close to you needs help with the abuse of drugs or alcohol, you should help them find treatment. Health care professionals in addiction treatment facilities have the right resources to help treat genetic addiction. They will assess the person’s using pattern, their overall health, and design a treatment plan.

Since addiction often co-occurs with other conditions, your loved one may also need to undergo counseling and group therapy in addition to medications. Reputable facilities even provide after-care to help one in their journey to sobriety. Older adults with medical conditions such as a risk for heart disease or risk for severe illness should reach out today to conquer their drug or alcohol dependence.

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word meth? If you are like most people, it would probably be "illicit drug," or "club drug," etc. But that’s to be expected. Meth is a common street drug that never misses on parties, clubs, and even among peers. According to the National Institute on Drugs abuse, 1.6 million Americans used meth in 2017. But when is meth prescribed as a medical treatment? Does this happen often?

There actually is more to methamphetamine than it being a substance of abuse. In fact, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration classifies it as a Schedule II stimulant that makes it legally available through a non-refillable prescription.  Meth is prescribed as a medical treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) and weight-loss. We'll dive into these and more treatments later on in this article, but first, let's make sure we are on the same page.

What is methamphetamine?

Meth is a strong and highly-addictive, white, odorless, and bitter-tasting crystalline powder. It is used as a stimulant and affects the body's central nervous system. According to the NIDA, meth was developed in the early 20th century from its parent drug, amphetamine. The drug was originally applied in bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants.

Meth, like amphetamine, stirs a range of effects. It increases activity and talkativeness, reduces appetite, and triggers euphoria or a pleasurable sense of well-being. But unlike amphetamine, greater amounts of meth get into the brain. This makes it a more potent stimulant. It also produces longer-lasting and more dangerous effects on the central nervous system than amphetamine at comparable doses. That explains why many people misuse the drug.

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It's important to note that there are variations of meth. Crystal methamphetamine – a street version of the drug meth – is more potent. It is a common "club drug" that's hard to miss in rave parties and night clubs. Crystal meth also goes by other names like glass, ice, blade, chalk, black beauties, etc. Meth users will smoke it with a small glass pipe or swallow, snort or inject it into a vein.

Crystal meth is simply a poison that acts as a stimulant at first, but then it begins to destroy the body, systematically. It is linked to severe physical and mental health conditions like aggression, memory loss, psychotic behavior, and potential brain and heart damage. Again, the drug burns up the body's resources, causing a devastating dependence that can only be relieved by taking more of the drug.

If an individual continues to use crystal meth, they expose themselves to a wide range of mental and physical damage. A common example of this is meth mouth. Meth users often present with severe tooth decay, fracture or loss, and a host of other teeth and gums issues. One Clinical Oral Investigation study revealed that meth users had higher levels of periodontal disease and gingival bleeding. For most users, this damage is often irreparable even after recovering from their substance use disorder.

Methamphetamine as medicine

Meth was originally used as a respiratory stimulator and nasal decongestant. It was then used to keep the army alert and their enhance mood and endurance during the Second World War. But later, it became apparent that meth was highly addictive. In the 70s, it was added to the Schedule II list of controlled substances. Meth is illegal, save for when a doctor prescribes it to a very limited number of medical conditions. These include obesity, ADHD, and narcolepsy (off-label).

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Methamphetamine and ADHD

Stimulants are the first course of prescription drugs for ADHD treatment. Studies show that stimulants, like Adderall can improve ADHD symptoms in about 70-80% of people. Central nervous system stimulant medications work by increasing the amounts of norepinephrine and dopamine hormones in the brain. This, in turn, boosts concentration and lowers fatigue that's common with ADHD. Amphetamines and methamphetamine are good examples of stimulants used for ADHD treatment. Stimulants like meth increase attention and reduce restlessness in people who are:

Methamphetamine is an integral part of a complete ADHD treatment program. It's meant to be used along with other treatments like counseling. However, this drug is available only with a health care provider's prescription and is non-refillable. Meaning, a patient has to get a new prescription each time they need this medicine.  

Methamphetamine and weight-loss

Along with ADHD treatment, doctors will occasionally give obese patients prescription methamphetamine for weight loss. While the drug can curb appetite, its effects on the nervous system and metabolism also seem to weigh in on its weight loss abilities. But because of the drug's addictive nature, there's an increased risk of addiction. So when physicians prescribe it, it's usually only for a short period. Methamphetamine is issued alongside other interventions like exercise and diet.

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Who can take prescription meth?

As mentioned earlier, only a doctor can prescribe this drug to patients. The doctor will weigh the pros and cons of using the drug and determine whether or not it's safe. Patients should inform the doctor about:

Dependence or addiction

Doctors consider a lot of things before prescribing methamphetamine. But despite this, there's always an addiction risk when someone abuses the drug or takes drugs prescribed for another person.

For example, a patient may notice that the original dose no longer works. So they increase their dosage, creating tolerance that leads to addiction. Or the patient finds they no longer need the drug. But once they stop, they experience intense withdrawal symptoms that often compel them to take more of the drug.

Side effects of meth

Common side effects that are linked to prescription meth include:

A patient should contact a doctor as soon as they notice one or more of these side effects.

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Meth addiction treatment

Meth addiction is one of the hardest drug addictions to treat. But treatment programs exist to help patients with addiction problems quit using and go back to leading a healthy life. Treatments can also help patients struggling with withdrawal symptoms. Recovery from meth needs a holistic treatment plan that includes detox, counseling and therapy.

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