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.

Many people who use stimulants or MDMA report that they grind their teeth during periods of drug use. This phenomenon is known as bruxism and can cause several problems, including headaches, jaw pain, and damage to teeth.

While it's not clear why drugs cause bruxism, it is thought that bruxism occurs due to the effects of drugs on the body's central nervous system. Other theories suggest that it may result from anxiety or other psychological factors.

Regardless of the cause, bruxism can be a dangerous condition, and it is important to seek treatment if you think you may be affected. Your dentist can help identify the signs of bruxism and recommend appropriate treatments. You can keep your teeth healthy and avoid any long-term damage with proper care.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition characterized by the grinding or clenching of teeth. It can occur while a person is awake (awake bruxism) or asleep (sleep bruxism).

Left untreated, bruxism can lead to several serious problems, including jaw pain, headaches, and damage to the teeth. It can also cause sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

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The exact cause of bruxism is not fully understood, but it is thought to be linked to stress or anxiety and drug use.

Bruxism can be caused by medications that act on the nervous system, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and bronchodilators. It can also be a side effect of stimulants, such as caffeine and amphetamines. In some cases, drug-induced bruxism may be caused by illicit drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

Persistent bruxism can lead to jaw muscles and tooth damage, headaches, jaw pain, and temporomandibular joint disorder. It can even affect a person's ability to eat and speak properly in severe cases. Beyond bruxism, drugs can also cause a host of other dental issues due to these reasons:

Drugs That Can Cause You to Grind Your Teeth:

Here are some drugs that can cause bruxism:

MDMA

MDMA is a synthetic drug that produces energizing, mood-lifting, and sometimes hallucinogenic effects. It is best known by its street names "ecstasy" or "molly." MDMA is structurally similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, which may account for its ability to produce various effects.

MDMA causes an increase in the activity of three brain chemicals: dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Dopamine is involved in the "reward pathway," producing feelings of pleasure. Norepinephrine helps to maintain alertness and focus, while serotonin contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.

These brain chemicals are also responsible for many of the side effects of MDMA use, including increases in heart rate and blood pressure, nausea, blurred vision, and faintness. One less well-known side effect of MDMA use is bruxism, or teeth grinding.

Research suggests that this may be due to the drug's effects on serotonin levels. Serotonin plays a role in muscle contraction, and an increase in serotonin activity may lead to involuntary muscle spasms, such as teeth grinding. In some cases, bruxism may be severe enough to cause jaw pain or damage to teeth.

Methamphetamine (Meth) 

Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a powerful stimulant drug that can seriously affect the body. One of the most common side effects of meth abuse is bruxism, or teeth grinding. Meth users may grind their teeth involuntarily or consciously, and the condition can cause severe dental problems

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While the exact mechanism is not fully understood, it is believed that meth causes an increase in the release of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure and reward. The resulting spike in dopamine levels can lead to compulsive behaviors like teeth grinding. In addition, meth constricts blood vessels and reduces saliva production, further contributing to dental health problems. 

Heroin

Opioids, including heroin, are known to make you grind your teeth. This may be due to the drug's psychoactive effects, which can produce feelings of anxiety and paranoia. Historical evidence also suggests that bruxism was common among people who used opium in the 19th century.

Opioids work by binding to receptors in the brain, which can alter neurotransmission and lead to changes in muscle tone and behavior. Teeth grinding may be a side effect of this process. Opioids can also cause dry mouth, leading to tooth decay and other oral health problems.

Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that has been shown to cause a wide range of physical and mental effects. One of the more commonly reported side effects of cocaine use is that it can make you grind your teeth.

While the exact mechanism is not fully understood, it is thought that the drug alters levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, increasing muscle activity. This can lead to involuntary clenching and grinding of the teeth, which can cause headaches, jaw pain, and dental damage. In some cases, bruxism may also be related to anxiety or psychosis, which are common side effects of cocaine use.

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Treatment Options for Bruxism

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a common side effect of stimulant or MDMA use. The constant clenching and grinding can damage the teeth and cause gum inflammation. In severe cases, it can even result in tooth loss.

Luckily, a few things can be done to help alleviate the symptoms of bruxism.

  1. First, you'll need to stop using drugs that cause bruxism. If you are dealing with an MDMA, heroin, or meth addiction, it's best to seek addiction treatment to get off of the drugs.
  2. Stay hydrated and avoid foods that are high in acidity. This will help to protect your teeth from further damage.
  3. Adopt lifestyle changes - reduce stress, cut back on stimulant use, etc.
  4. It is also important to take breaks during extended periods of drug use and avoid using the drug when feeling stressed or anxious.
  5. If bruxism persists, several treatments can be used to reduce the symptoms, including Botox injections, night guards, pacifiers, and bite plates.
  6. Taking these steps makes it possible to minimize the impact of bruxism and protect your teeth and gums.

 

Treatment for Drug Abuse

If you are experiencing teeth grinding due to stimulant or MDMA use, it is important to seek treatment. Teeth grinding can be caused by many things and is often treatable. There are a variety of treatments available depending on the cause of your teeth grinding.

Treatment for drug abuse will also address any associated teeth grinding. If you are concerned about your teeth grinding, please talk to your doctor or addiction specialist. They can help you find the best course of treatment for you.

Drug abuse and addiction can affect almost every part of your body, including your veins. The chemicals in these drugs can cause the walls of your veins to break down, making them more susceptible to rupture. 

In addition, the debris from these breakdowns can block blood flow and cause inflammation. As a result, your veins can become very painful and may even require surgery to repair. In some cases, you may need compression stockings to manage the side effects. 

How Does Drug Use Affect The Circulatory System?

Drugs can have a big impact on your circulatory system. This includes your heart, arteries, veins, and blood. Drugs can affect your heart health in several ways, including:

These effects can strain your heart and lead to different types of heart disease. Drugs can also damage the lining of your arteries, making them more likely to become blocked. This can lead to a heart attack or stroke. In addition, drugs can thin your blood, making it more difficult for your circulatory system to do its job. 

Drugs That Can Hurt Your Circulatory System

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Cocaine

When you think of cocaine, you might picture the white powder snorted through a rolled-up bill. But what you might not realize is that this illegal drug is extremely dangerous and can cause severe damage to your veins and circulatory system. Here's how:

Cocaine use increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) by damaging the veins and causing them to constrict. This can lead to a build-up of blood in the veins, which increases the likelihood of a clot forming.

In addition, cocaine use leads to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, further damaging the vessels and leading to DVT. 

DVT is a type of heart disease that can occur when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the leg. If the clot breaks loose, it can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. DVT can also cause post-thrombotic syndrome.

Cocaine can also cause dehydration and damage organs such as the liver and lungs. In fact, chronic cocaine use has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. 

Ecstasy (MDMA)

MDMA is a popular party drug, especially among young people. Also known as ecstasy, the drug produces feelings of euphoria and increased energy. However, MDMA can also have serious consequences for your circulatory system. The active ingredient in ecstasy, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), interferes with the body's ability to regulate blood flow.

As a result, blood vessels constrict, and blood pressure rises. MDMA also speeds up heart rate and can cause irregular heart rhythm. In some cases, these effects can lead to overheating, dehydration, and even death. 

Heroin

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Heroin is a powerful opioid drug that can have devastating effects on the circulatory system. When heroin enters the bloodstream, it binds to receptors in the brain that are responsible for pain relief, heart rate, and respiration. This binding process slows down the body's natural processes. They can also cause dangerous side effects including slowed heart rate and breathing, constricted blood vessels, and increased blood pressure.

In some cases, these side effects can lead to collapsed veins, tissue damage, and even death. Heroin users are also at risk of developing serious infections, such as endocarditis (an infection of the heart's inner lining). 

Methamphetamines

Methamphetamine is a powerful and dangerous stimulant that can adversely affect the cardiovascular system. In particular, its use can lead to elevated blood pressure, acute vasospasm, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. These conditions can cause serious and potentially fatal damage to the arteries and blood vessels.

Meth can also damage the lining of blood vessels, making them more susceptible to rupture. In extreme cases, this can lead to stroke or even death. In addition to its effects on the circulatory system, methamphetamine also increases the risk of cancer, psychosis, and memory loss.

Prescription Drugs

When you think of the dangers of prescription drugs, you might not consider the risks to your veins and circulatory system. However, certain medications can hurt these vital systems. 

For example, prescription drugs like antipsychotics and antidepressants can have serious side effects. One of the most potentially dangerous is venous thromboembolism, which occurs when a blood clot forms in the veins. This can lead to heart conditions, stroke, and even death.

In addition, these drugs can also damage the circulatory system. Antipsychotics can cause high blood pressure, while antidepressants can cause irregular heartbeat.

Some prescribed blood thinners can also cause small cuts and tears in the veins, leading to inflammation and pain.

Tobacco

Tobacco use affects the entire cardiovascular system, including the heart, blood, and vessels. The side effects of smoking can be severe.

Over time, they can increase the risk of heart disease, heart failure, or stroke. This is thanks to the chemicals in tobacco that damage the veins and destroy the elasticity of the arteries. This is a common cause of heart problems.

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Smoking has other side effects, including shortness of breath, heart arrhythmias, and increased risk for congenital heart defects. Nicotine, a chemical present in smoke, is also known to cause high blood pressure and increased heart rate.

How Can You Protect Your Circulatory System From Drug Abuse And Damage?

There are many ways to protect your circulatory system from drug abuse and damage. 

1. One way is to avoid using drugs that can damage the circulatory system. These include tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs.

2. Another way to protect your circulatory system is to eat a healthy diet. Eating foods high in fiber can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

3. Exercise is also important for maintaining a healthy circulatory system. Regular physical activity helps keep your heart and blood vessels healthy and helps lower blood pressure. 

4. Finally, it is important to manage stress healthily. Stress can contribute to cardiovascular disease, so it is important to find a healthy way to cope with stress.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, it's important to seek help as soon as possible. With treatment, you can prevent the damaging effects of drugs on your body. StrugglingWithAddiction.com can match you up with the right rehab that will help you regain control of your life. 

Many drugs are available in the market today. When abused, they can have dangerous effects on the user’s health including heart attacks. This article will discuss various white powdered drugs, how they are used, and their effects on users. Let’s dive in.

Cocaine

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug. It is derived from leaves of the coca plant and sold in three forms; crack, cocaine hydrochloride, and freebase.  

Crack cocaine consists of white crystals with a yellow or pink hue. Most times, crack contains impurities. 

Cocaine hydrochloride is an ultra-fine white powder that has a tart, numbing flavor. Most times, vendors cut or mix cocaine powder with other substances, including talcum powder, sugar, or lidocaine, before selling it. 

Freebase is also a white powder, but unlike cocaine hydrochloride, it does not contain impurities.

Most addicts snort cocaine hydrochloride and smoke freebase or crack. Regardless of whether one snorts or smokes cocaine, it has various side effects, including:

If you use cocaine regularly, you can suffer long-term consequences, such as heart disease, lung disease, sexual dysfunction, kidney failure, hypertension, seizures, and lung conditions, among others.

If you want to stop using cocaine, it would be best to seek professional help, especially if you are dependent. Medical practitioners can help you deal with withdrawal symptoms that can sometimes be overwhelming.

Ketamine

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This is a dissociative drug. It affects specific brain chemicals to distort one’s auditory and visual, consequently detaching them from reality. Medical practitioners use doses of ketamine as a sedative. Unfortunately, some people illegally use it to get high.

Ketamine is sold as a white powder. It also goes by the names KitKat, horse trank, special K, and ket. Most people snort ketamine, but others smoke it with tobacco or cannabis. Ketamine can affect one’s senses or coordination for 24 hours.

Ketamine has several negative effects. Some effects of ketamine include:

If you become dependent on ketamine, you can suffer long-term effects like poor memory, poor kidney function, poor liver function, treatment-resistant depression, among others.

Ketamine addiction is a serious problem. If you notice that your dependence on ketamine addiction affects your health, relationships, school, work, or financial capability, you should seek professional help.

Heroin

Heroin is a highly addictive drug made from morphine. It is sold as a white or brown powder and is ‘cut’ with quinine, sugar, powdered milk, or starch.

There are three types of heroin; white heroin, brown heroin, and black tar heroin. 

Cheap heroin contains many impurities, so the more expensive it is, the fewer impurities it is likely to have.

Pure heroin is white. Most drug users smoke or snort pure heroin. The National Institute on Drug Abuse study revealed that snorting appeals to new users since they do not have to inject themselves with the drug. 

Impure heroin is usually dark in color due to the simple methods of processing. Normally, heroin users dilute it and inject it under their skin, in their muscles, or veins. 

Heroin has several effects on the body. The short term effects are:

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Long term effects  include:

When you use heroin, your tolerance may build up. Therefore, you may need frequent or higher doses to achieve the high you want. Heroin addiction is a major problem. It can affect one’s health, social interactions, school, work, and finances, among other things. 

If you decide to stop using heroin, you may have severe withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, it is best to seek help from professionals who will guide you through the process. They may prescribe behavioral therapy and medicine to help you in your journey.

Crushed OxyContin

OxyContin is a prescription drug. It contains oxycodone which is a very strong pain killer. Most people who abuse OxyContin start by taking the prescribed amount. With time, their bodies build tolerance, and they need to take more to feel relieved or get high. 

OxyContin tablets are round and can either be white or blue. Most 10mg pills are white, while the blue ones are 160 mg. You can buy the capsule form of OxyContin or the liquid form.

People suffering from terminal illnesses or battling terminal conditions are more likely to get addicted since most people market it as a painkiller that gives relief for over 12 hours. 

If you use OxyContin regularly, you are likely to become dependent because of its euphoric effects. People who struggle with OxyContin addiction crush OxyContin tablets to form a white powder. They then snort the powder to enhance OxyContin’s euphoric effect. 

Like other drugs, crushed OxyContin can have serious negative effects. Some of the potential effects of abusing OxyContin include:

Crushed Adderall

Adderall is a prescription drug usually prescribed to people who have ADHD. It simulates part of the brain and controls hyperactivity, enabling one to focus more and have more clarity on issues. 

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Some people illegally use Adderall for non-medicinal purposes, e.g., students when they are studying for exams. Since Adderall tablets are white, they crush it to form a white powder and snort it to enhance its effects.

 Unfortunately, Adderall is highly addictive, and its misuse can lead to a substance use disorder. Using crushed Adderall for non-medicinal purposes can have risk factors, including:

GHB

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate, commonly known as GHB, is a popular party drug used in clubs and house parties alike. GHB is sold in three forms; liquid, capsule, or powder. Powdered GHB is white.

GHB is a depressant for the nervous system. When you use it, it slows your heart rate and makes you feel drowsy. It can also make a user go into a coma.

Most addicts use GHB because of its euphoric effect. Some use it as a date rape drug. They slip the GHB into their victims’ drinks, and when it kicks in, they sexually assault them. Other common date rape drugs are flunitrazepam, alcohol, and ketamine.

Like other drugs, GHB has negative long-term effects. Some of them are:

Conclusion

If you struggle with addiction to any white powdered drug, you should seek medical help and treatment. The more you continue abusing drugs, the more adverse their effects will be.

Polydrug use – the practice of using more than one drug at a time – intensifies the effects of any individual drug and makes them more lethal. People mix drugs for a range of reasons, including:

Sadly, there isn’t a safe level of drug use – so there’s no way of predicting the effects of one drug, let alone multiple drugs. Mixing drugs with alcohol increases the impact on the body and brain and may lead to overdose. According to the CDC, almost 80% of opioid deaths in 2016 involved another drug or alcohol.

Why mixing drugs with alcohol is a bad idea

Alcohol and cocaine

Cocaine, both freebase and powdered, causes stimulant effects and side effects. This can include high energy and mental alertness, constricted blood vessels, insomnia, anxiety, paranoia, restlessness, cravings for more as the drug starts to wear off.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Its effects are opposite to those of stimulants like cocaine. Alcohol slows heart rate, speech, breathing, reflexes, and reaction time. So, people may use alcohol to reduce cocaine’s effects like twitching or anxiety.

On the other hand, they may use cocaine to increase their physical energy after drinking alcohol. Alcohol also boosts euphoric effects from drugs like cocaine because it indirectly acts on GABA receptors, increasing the release of some neurotransmitters.

Alcohol and cocaine blend is a toxic mix. When one mixes the two, they create new metabolites, including cocaethylene. Cocaethylene is stronger than either alcohol or cocaine alone and increases toxicity to the liver, heart, and other major organs.

It also stays around the body for days to weeks, increasing the chance of severe side effects. Cocaethylene increases the risk of a sudden stroke, paranoia, violent behavior, heart attack, liver damage, seizures, depression, anxiety, intense drug cravings, cancer, and sudden death.

Alcohol and prescription drugs

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The toxicity is not limited to illicit drugs alone. People who combine drugs like opioid painkillers, sedatives, or anti-anxiety medications with alcohol are also at an increased risk for severe side effects. Prescription medications are a wide classification of drugs with a variety of uses.

They can help calm anxiety, relieve pain due to surgery or illness or maintain impulse control. But still, they tend to cause nausea, drowsiness, loss of coordination, and changes in blood pressure. Long-term side effects of these drugs may include heart problems, internal bleeding, and liver damage. It’s important to stick to what the doctor prescribes to avoid unnecessary effects.

Mixing prescription drugs with alcohol can cause adverse effects because of drug interactions. Alcohol not only alters the performance of the drugs but can also negate or heighten their effectiveness. Each prescription medication has its own potential negative effects that can be exacerbated when mixed with alcohol.

In addition to the effects above, the mix can change a person’s actions and thoughts, making risky behavior a definite threat. It also raises tolerance, leading people to ingest or drink more, trying to chase the high. This, in turn, can cause fatal overdoses, alcohol poisoning, and addiction.

Alcohol and caffeine or energy drinks

It’s common for people to combine alcohol and caffeine at parties and clubs to keep the fun going. This can take the form of whiskey and coffee, vodka and energy drink, rum and soda, or some other mix meant to deliver the perfect double-buzz. While this seems like a good idea, some negative side effects warrant consideration.

A while back, the FDA issued warnings to companies like Four Loko that made caffeinated alcoholic drinks. This was after reports of alarming hospitalization linked to the drinks swirled. According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers didn’t notice how much alcohol they took because caffeine masks the sense of intoxication – inducing more drinking.

Alcohol makes one feel more relaxed. But it also has the residual effect of making one feel tired. People add in the caffeine, so they’re relaxed without feeling tired. Energy drinks and caffeine can mask how drunk someone is.

They can also boost energy levels, allowing one to drink longer and more. Mixing alcohol with caffeine or energy drinks can cause heart problems, alcohol-related injuries, and weight issues.

Alcohol and illicit opioids

Like prescription drugs, combining illicit opioids and alcohol is extremely dangerous. Both these substances are central nervous system depressants and can cause various effects, including brain damage and death. Sadly, CDC reports that people addicted to alcohol are two times more likely to become addicted to heroin. Most of them use alcohol or heroin to enhance the sedative effects of individual drugs and attain a stronger high.

Mixing alcohol and heroin increases the chances of a user having severe side effects. This includes more risk of developing addiction, certain health issues, and possibly a fatal overdose.

According to CDC, there were more than 14,000 heroin-related deaths in the US in 2019. Alcohol leads to nearly 7x the number of deaths as heroin. Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs globally, but alcohol has a reputation for causing dependency and addiction too.

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Alcohol and meth

Meth is a type of drug known to elicit a powerful, short-lived high, decreasing appetite, and increasing wakefulness. Meth use causes an increase in energy levels and alertness, irregular heart rate, trouble sleeping, and hypertension. Long-term complications of meth are anxiety, confusion, weight loss, meth mouth, paranoia, hallucination, and aggression.

Alcohol and meth’s contradictory effects are concerning for a range of reasons. First, people who mix these drugs may consume more alcohol to feel its accustomed effects or feel more inebriated – resulting in alcohol toxicity. Second, those who end up consuming more while high on meth overlook cognitive impairment and drive, placing others at risk.

Combining meth and alcohol poses a range of dangers an increase in risky behaviors. These include unsafe sex, exposure to STIs, cardiovascular disease, compromised decision-making abilities, high blood pressure, risk of birth defects and seizures.

Alcohol and hallucinogens

Hallucinogens refer to various drugs that alter one’s awareness of their surroundings, thoughts, and feelings. They are often divided into dissociative drugs and classic hallucinogens, both of which cause hallucinations and false perceptions of reality. When under the influence of hallucinogens, people often report rapid, intense emotional swings and hearing sounds, seeing images, and feeling sensations that seem real but aren’t.

Mixing alcohol with hallucinogens can provoke even more dangerous side effects and result in co-occurring disorders. Someone who uses LSD, PCP, DMT, ketamine or Mescaline and drinks alcohol may suffer from nausea, vomiting, headaches, panic attacks, and faintness. Combining the two substances can also increase one’s heart rate.

In severe cases, they may lose consciousness or have a seizure. Moreover, alcohol increases the chances of experiencing a “bad trip” by worsening depression and increasing frightening hallucinations. Sadly, the effects of hallucinogens can prevent one from realizing how much alcohol they’ve taken, causing them to take more. In which case, they may end with alcohol poisoning.

Seeking help

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Abusing any drug comes with its own risk. But introducing alcohol to the equation can bring about other risks and amplify the dangers of the drug. If you or someone you care about cannot stop using, it’s best to seek help. Treatment centers exist to help people with polydrug use issues and can help you or your loved one lead a clean life, free of drug-related issues.

A lesion refers to an abnormal change on a body tissue organ caused by an injury or disease. Lesions could be a result of using recreational drugs or some specific FDA-approved drugs.

Drug abuse affects most body organs, and unfortunately, the damage done may remain hidden for several years. For example, alcohol strains the liver, heroin damages the kidneys, and cocaine stresses the heart.

The skin is the largest body organ. Abusing alcohol or drugs for a long period can cause skin lesions. Skin lesions can either be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), basically skin cancer. They can manifest as sores, a variety of infections, and even rotting of the skin.

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Four factors contribute to lesions. They include:

Here is how different addictive substances affect the skin.

Heroin

The effect of heroin on the skin is more noticeable in users who prefer injecting the drug with needles, instead of snorting or smoking. Heroin users repeatedly penetrate their skin while seeking veins. This may lead to venous sclerosis, which refers to scarring of the veins. Venous sclerosis can result in skin infections, cellulitis, and abscesses.

Users who inject themselves with heroin through skin risk contracting necrotizing skin lesions due to skin popping. Skin popping allows bacteria to penetrate the skin and also leads to tissue trauma.

Most heroin users also complain about dry, itchy skin. Additionally, some users end up having an itchy hives-like rash.

Cocaine

Cocaine can directly affect the skin, and it can also affect internal organs, which in turn cause skin damage.

Here are some effects that cocaine has on the skin:

You should also know that a variety of substances are used to cut cocaine. Some of the substances can cause rotting of the skin and ulcerating skin lesions. Additionally, cocaine could cause a heart attack since its users have an increased heart rate.

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Alcohol

Most people are unaware of the fact that alcohol abuse can have noticeable effects on their skin. The most common effect of alcohol on the skin is spider angioma. Spider angioma manifests as red lacy patches on the neck, torso, hands, and face.

Alcohol abuse also causes Caput medusa, a skin condition that causes the addict’s veins to swell and distend. The veins usually appear across the abdomen. Alcohol abuse also causes Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (PCT), a condition that causes scars on areas of the skin one exposes to the sun. Most people battling alcohol addiction have scars on their faces, hands, and feet.

Dermatologists also associate several dermatological conditions with alcohol abuse, including seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, and eczema.

Methamphetamine

Most people who abuse methamphetamine (meth) end up having skin sores because they constantly pick their skin. Meth users pick at their skin because they, on several occasions, get the sensation of insects crawling even when they are not there. As a result, they easily develop sores. Some meth users also end up having dry skin.

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Meth users who inject themselves with the drug are also at risk of contracting skin infections.  Research has shown that 11% of drug users that use injections report skin infections every few months.

Marijuana

Research has shown that marijuana can negatively affect your skin. The smoke from marijuana contains hydrocarbons. When the hydrocarbons come into contact with your skin, they interfere with your skin’s collagen production.

Note that collagen protects your skin against inflammation and air pollution. If your skin does not produce enough collagen, your skin will age prematurely and become wrinkled since it loses its elasticity. Cannabis-induced arteritis, which is a direct result of marijuana use, also has effects on the skin.

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Desomorphine

The street name of desomorphine is "krokodil" because it turns the skin green and scaly. Eventually, the skin sloughs off.

Krokodil is a cheap form of heroin. It has been dubbed the deadliest drug globally because it rots the skin from the inside out. Consequently, it causes abscesses and gangrene.

How to deal with side effects of drugs and skin lesions

If you want to minimize the impact of drug abuse on your skin, the first thing you need to do is stop abusing drugs. Note that the more you abuse drugs, the more adverse effects they will have on your skin. Most people with addictions end up having very unhealthy skin.

If you are struggling with an addiction or substance use disorder, you should consider seeking medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment to beat the addiction. There are several treatment approaches to consider, so you should choose one that suits you best. If you have a supportive family, your family members will support you throughout your recovery journey, especially when dealing with withdrawal symptoms.

You may also have to undergo behavioral therapies to deal with unhealthy behaviors that destruct your skin or body organs in general.

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Various drugs affect the skin differently. However, once you deal with your drug use and addiction, some effects will fade naturally. If you want to speed up the process, you can consult a dermatologist. The dermatologist will prescribe medications and, in some cases, ask you to follow a consistent skincare regimen.

If you are in the United States and need drug information, especially when it comes to drug addiction, you can contact the American Society of Addiction Medicine or the National Institute on Drug Abuse for more information.

Conclusion

If you want to maintain healthy skin, do not abuse drugs. You should specifically stay away from drugs that contain fillers or compounds as they tend to have adverse effects on the skin. In addition, moisturize, wear sunscreen, and maintain good hygiene to keep your skin healthy.

 

Summertime is a fun time, especially for teens and young adults. It’s hard to get bored on a summer day or night. That’s because there are plenty of parties, music festivals, trips and camping going on. But along with the fun, comes the risk of using drugs and alcohol.

Drugs and alcohol are a mainstay for most summer parties and events. And with all the free time and no commitment, teens are more inclined to indulge in use. Drug use can lead to addiction and overdose. But the hot weather also increases the risk of overheating, which may spiral out to other serious problems. So, before throwing caution to the wind during this season, you need to consider how impactful a single wrong decision can be.

Summer and why it marks a peak in the use of drugs

A study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) that ran from 2011 to 2017 shows that most teens and young adults tried out recreational or illegal drugs for the first time during summer.

Surprising? This should be more concerning than surprising as the seasonal environment tends to increase exposure to drugs.

Here are the top factors that make drug use so rampant during summer:

●      So much free time

Summer tends to come just when you are done with your semester or free to enjoy longer holiday weekends. This gives you so much free time on your hands and room to be introduced to drugs and alcohol.

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●      Increased social gatherings

Who stays indoors in such hot weather? Summer plans are meant to be as exciting as possible, which is why it is the period that outdoor activities and social gatherings peak. Nevertheless, as you hop from one party or event to the next, there is no limit to the number of drugs and amount of alcohol you will get exposed to.

●      A break away from parents/guardians

It is great that you received a nod from your parents/guardians to go for that camping trip or have your holiday by the beach. This means there is no adult to watch your actions as you spend time with daring friends who are willing to try out anything. Unfortunately, this also means lots of drugs and alcohol will be coming your way.

Drugs that will make you overheat

Summer might be the best time for outdoor activities and getting in touch with family and friends, but it is also a dangerous time to use drugs. The high heat and humidity experienced means that you need to quickly cool off to avoid overheating. This is why your body naturally increases blood flow to the skin, which acts as a radiator, and you sweat more to increase heat loss.

But, these well-coordinated biological processes do not remain the same when you take drugs. The disruption that most recreational and illegal drugs cause to your body’s natural cooling mechanism is extremely dangerous as it increases your risks of overheating.

It gets worse as you will be high or intoxicated, and your body will not perceive the increased heat threat. This can lead to heatstroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or even death.

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Generally, most drugs will mess you up regardless of the weather and should be avoided at all costs. During summer, the odds are higher, and here are the most dangerous drugs to use when it is hot:

●      Cocaine

A recent publication in the Annals of Internal Medicine authored by Dr. Craig Crandall describes cocaine as a double-edged sword during summer. On the one hand, this is because it affects your body’s ability to regulate temperatures naturally. But, on the other hand, it gets you agitated, yet you don’t feel hot.”

Studies by the National Institute on Drug Abuse have further shown that cocaine-related deaths spike in summers. In addition, the risk of heat stroke or sudden shock and death is higher when you use cocaine because it leads to increased heart rate, confusion, having too much energy, and promotes blood clotting.

●      MDMA/Ecstasy/Molly

The most popular drug in outdoor music festivals for teens and young adults is MDMA or Ecstasy, or Molly, commonly used in pill form. Unfortunately, while it is used as a ‘rave drug’ that helps get into a party mood, it affects your ability to regulate body temperatures and increases heart rate and blood pressure. The results are often catastrophic as it leads to hypothermia, a life-threatening condition when urgent medical care is not provided.

●      Bath salts/Mephedrone

Another drug that is taking the day across the United States is mephedrone or bath salts. This is a synthetic drug often sold as plant food, decorative sand, or toy cleaner.

However, bath salts are nothing close to the veil they wear as a ‘safe product.’ Used in hot weather, it causes increased heart rate and disrupts your ability to regulate body temperature. This can easily lead to heat stroke or death when emergency medical attention is not provided. It also has severe side effects such as teeth clenching and can quickly become addictive.

●      Heroin

It is saddening that heroin use among teenagers and young adults is on the rise. This illegal drug commands a big share of the opioid epidemic that has affected the nation. It has severe effects when used during hot weather and could easily cause hypothermia, leaving you unconscious or in a coma. 

●      Alcohol

Having legal access to alcohol as a young adult does not mean your summer should be all about binge drinking. Drinking alcohol in hot weather will see you quickly lose body water & nutrients, disrupt heat regulation, and impair your judgment. This will cause your body to overheat, increasing the risk of dehydration or heat stroke.

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Make the smart summer decision

Summers should be a time of creating good memories by bonding with your friends and family. As you grow older, these memories will make some of the best highlights in your life. In turn, the last thing you need to do is let the seasonal environment or party wave influence you to start taking drugs.

If you have already started taking drugs, be sure not to turn into a long-term addict. In addition, there is no fun in having your body overheat because of using drugs in hot weather. This could quickly turn fatal, turning a happy summer into a dreadful moment for you and your loved ones.

Since it is becoming more challenging to avoid exposure to drugs, especially during summer, it is best to talk to a substance abuse counselor. This way, you will be better prepared to go through your teenage years and young adult life without abusing drugs. It also helps never to forget that summer fun does not have to involve indulgence in drugs.

The modern-day youth is bombarded with the contradictory portrayal of drugs. In school, they’re told never to try out drugs. But the outside world glorifies it through movies, music and television.

Feeling a little anxious or stressed out? Go to the bar. Drink your struggle away. Maybe sniff some cocaine or shoot-up some heroin.

The promise of escape and allure of all things prohibited makes drugs and alcohol almost irresistible. And with enticing names like devil drug, perfect high, love drug, joy juice, fantasy, putting the drugs on the pedestal, it’s easy to see why more people get drawn in.

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The world of drugs may seem enticing. But sadly, drug use rarely ends well. Many people who try out hard drugs like heroin or cocaine often end up with tolerance and addiction. Just recently, the Pirates of the Caribbean actor, Johnny Depp said he started using drugs and alcohol when he was young and he’s been struggling with addiction throughout his life.

It’s always better to stay clean. But if you’re already using, you may benefit talking to an addiction treatment expert. Here are seven movies about drug addiction that will give you a glimpse into how addiction can ruin life.  

Requiem for A Dream (2000)

Requiem for a Dream is perhaps the most haunting drug film on addiction that you’ll ever see. It’s more of a nightmare than a dream. Unlike other films where characters overcome addiction, Requiem for a Dream shows how substance abuse inundates someone to the point where they’re unrecognizable. The movie is an effectively troubling depiction of drug use.

In the movie, Harry Goldfarb and Marion Silver play lovebirds who are either obsessed with their mutual love for heroin or their love for each other. Tyrone plays Harry’s drug-dealing partnerwho’s struggling with heroin addiction. Then, Sara Goldfarb rounds out as Jared’s mother who also struggles with an addiction to diet pills.

The director uses extreme close-ups to show how drugs act on his cast.  According to Roger Ebert’s review of the movie, “Sequences are done in fast-motion, to show how quickly the drugs take effect--and how disappointingly soon they fade. The in-between times edge toward desperation.”

Trainspotting (1996)

Humor might not seem to have a place in an addiction movie. But director Boyle can add just enough of it to make the dark moments more impactful. Trainspotting is an Academy Award-nominated film that follows a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh and their passage through life. It is a critically acclaimed film that’s regarded by many critics as one of the best films of the 1990s.

It follows Mark Renton, his underage girlfriend Diane, and friends: dimbulb Spud, wannabe Sick Boy, psycho Begbie, and clean-cut Tommy. Begbie and Sick Boy are incredibly negative influences on Renton, and Tommy and Spud are victims of Renton’s selfishness.

In the film, Renton and his friends commit violent crimes to sustain their addiction lifestyle. But despite all the friends agreeing there’s no better feeling than being high, Renton attempts to get clean. He quickly realizes he can never quit using in his current environment. The problem is getting out of their influence is not as easy as moving to a new place.

The Basketball Diaries (1995)

The Basketball Diaries tells a story of Jim’s teenage years as an upcoming writer and school basketball player who develops an addiction to heroin. His life revolves around the basketball court, which becomes a metaphor for the world in his mind. With a homosexual coach, a sick, dying best friend, and an appetite for heroin, Jim’s dream of becoming a star remains just that – a dream.

Soon, he moves to the dark streets of New York and can’t go back home. Heroin is his only escape. Though he has to steal, rob, or sell himself to sustain his habit. But thanks to Reggie, an old friend, Jim gets the help he needs to regain control over his life.

Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

Our list of seven movies about drugs could not be complete without the Drugstore Cowboy. The Drugstore Cowboy is one of the first movies that showed gritty, urban drug abuse with all its associated despair on full display.

In the movie, Bob and his wife Diane love to use different prescription drugs like morphine and Dilaudid. So, they decide to steal the drugs from pharmacies in Portland, Oregon. But when a cop gets too close for comfort, they move the operation to another town.

Soon, Nadine, who is one of their crew members, dies of an OD. Bob decides he must leave his wife and friends and go straight. But it doesn’t get easier.

Last Days (2005)

Last Days is a story of Seattle music scene star, based loosely on Kurt Cobain, who led the band Nirvana. In the film, Blake, an artist is warping under the weight of fame, growing feelings of isolation and professional obligations. He wanders about a big stone house in the woods, walking aimlessly, preparing meals, and blocking out people. He’s lost interest in everything, including fame, money, friends, and even family.

The movie is an ultimate record of death by gradual exhaustion. It shows how people struggling with addiction often die with a whimper. Usually, they don’t even realize what’s happening.

Traffic (2000)

The Traffic film takes an exciting approach to drugs and drug use. It looks at drug use from three different angles. A conservative Supreme Court judge appointed as the nation’s Drug csar but unaware that his daughter abuses heroin.

Then two DEA agents are tracking the wife of an ex-drug dealer looking to take charge of the drug traffickers her husband did business with. And finally, a Mexican policeman who takes it upon himself to fight powerful cartels in his town.

Inspired by Traffik, which ran in in the 1990s and traced the heroin movement from Turkey to Europe, Traffic uses a level-headed approach. It observes, watches, and doesn’t do much editorializing. Most astonishing is the character who notes that 100,000 white people drive through black neighborhoods seeking drugs at any instance in the US. The character also observes that a person in the drug trade who earns $200 in two hours can hardly seek other employment.

Pure (2002)

Pure is a resolute portrait of the unbreakable bond between a loving son and an addicted mother. In the movie, Paul struggles through his teenage years after the death of his father.

Mel, his mother, is hooked on heroin and cannot look after him or his younger brother. Paul finds a friend in a young waitress, Louise. But she also has severe drug issues and can’t provide any solid help.

Faced with a persuasive policeman, violent dealers, and unreliable mother, he gradually comes to terms with his parent being an addict, but unflinchingly believes she can reform. In one painful scene, Mel tries to quit drugs cold turkey.

Paul is not to listen to her cries until she quits. He even nails her bedroom door shut. But it doesn’t end well.

Nothing scares a parent more than the thought of their child abusing drugs. But unfortunately, that’s a reality that most parents may have to deal with at some point in time. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse 2012 Monitoring the Future survey, 40% of 12th graders, 30% of 10th graders, and 13% of 8th graders had used a drug at least once in the past year. If you suspect that your child is smoking drugs, it’s best to uncover the truth, and get them immediate help.

Many teens (and even adults) who smoke are new to drug use and are scared of injecting. They assume that smoking is safer and less addictive. But drugs are dangerous irrespective of how they’re used. All ways of using drugs can lead to drug addiction – though smoking gets drugs to the brain more than other modes of administration, so it actually tends to increase the chances of one becoming addicted.

Catching drug use problems early can help prevent addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and other drug-related issues.

Common drugs that are smoked include:

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The dangers of smoking these drugs can be severe and include addiction, heart attack, lung problems, painful withdrawal, and deadly overdose. One may also run into problems with the authorities, including the drug enforcement administration. Fortunately, with suitable treatment options, freedom from substance abuse is possible.

 

Devices used to spot drug users

Drug abuse is a serious health care concern that needs immediate care. According to the American Addiction Centers, drugs can have permanent effects on the body. If you suspect that someone you love is smoking drugs, identifying these common and usually overlooked paraphernalia should serve as a warning to take action.

Aluminum foil

Recreational drug abusers use aluminum foil (or tin foil) to smoke various substances, including illicit drugs and diverted prescription pills. They put the drug on a flat piece of foil or shape the foil into a pipe before heating it with a lighter, a process called freebasing. Drugs in black tar or powder form are easy to use this way.

Examples of drugs that are often smoked with aluminum foil are:

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Look out for the presence of burned or discolored tin foil, as these are the most apparent signs of use. You may also want to check out fake-looking soda cans, beer cans, and aerosol containers. Some people use them to try to conceal scent. Using tin foil to smoke drugs may cause a series of risks and health problems, like:

 

Glass pipes and bowls

Glass pipes are designed for drug use. Many people smoke drugs out of glass pipes because they’re easy to use, convenient, and comfortable compared to snorting or using foil. Different types of pipes exist for different illicit drugs. Knowing how to distinguish these pipes can help you identify the drugs which your loved one is abusing.

 

Crack cocaine pipe

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Glass pipes used to smoke crack cocaine have a unique shape. They’re typically straight, long tubes of glass that are often sold as oil burners. If your loved one is smoking cocaine, you may catch a pungent smell that seems like a mixture of burning plastic and urine.

Crystal Meth pipe

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Glass pipes for meth have a bulb shape on one end of the pipe. If your loved one is smoking crystal meth, you’ll notice a yellow or burnt residue on the glass. You may also smell a stale chemical odor – though it tends to disappear after a short while.

Marijuana pipe

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Glass pipes for marijuana resemble those for meth. However, instead of a bulb shape, marijuana pipes have a colorful open bowl with an elongated mouthpiece. If your loved one is smoking marijuana, you’ll catch a lingering smell in the room and surrounding spaces. Marijuana can also be smoked out of a metal pipe or bong.

Heroin pipe

Heroin pipes look like a combination of meth and marijuana pipes – a glass cylinder with a sphere or enclosed bowl at the end. Heroin has a lighter, more subtle, and almost sweet smell, like some types of incense. It can also smell like vinegar, depending on how the heroin was made.

Cigarette rolling papers

In addition to a bong or pipe, drug users use tobacco rolling papers to smoke marijuana. They either roll the marijuana into a cigarette (or joint) or hollow out a cigar and replace the tobacco with marijuana. Cigarette rolling papers are also used to smoke heroin.

Users sprinkle the powder heroin on tobacco and roll a cigarette. Often, they can cook it (using heat and acid to liquefy) and spreading the mixture on a cigarette. Sometimes, marijuana is combined with heroin into a cigarette in a process called lacing.

Straw

Straw is used to inhale steam and smoke as it wafts off the heroin, cocaine, meth, prescription drugs, etc., on the aluminum foil, can, or container.

Side effects of smoking illicit and prescription drugs

Smoking is one of the most common forms of drug administration. It’s also the fastest way to get the drug to the brain. However, smoking can lead to substance abuse and addiction. That’s because tolerance to hard drugs builds quickly.

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Addiction isn’t the only problem. Smoking crack, heroin, meth, and amphetamine can damage the lungs, worsen asthma, and lead to a deadly overdose. It also increases the risk for pneumonia, bronchitis, and coughing. Smoking marijuana cigarettes laced with embalming fluid and PCP can cause body tissue, lung, and brain damage as well as inflammation and sores.

Besides, most street drugs aren’t pure. Dealers cut them with other substances, which can cause other negative health effects.

Help your loved one find treatment

It can be disheartening to discover that your loved one is abusing drugs. But the good news is that it’s never too late to get help. Various treatment facilities offer short and long-term rehabilitation programs to help patients get off of alcohol or  drugs.

Some even offer counseling for patients and their loved ones and can be beneficial to you. Texas, is one of the states in the forefront of treatment options for patients including rehab centers.

So, go ahead and reach out to an addiction treatment center. As an option to learn more about how to spot the signs of smoking drugs, you can contact the editorial staff of the many public health periodicals and websites. 

No, drugs are not legal but they have been decriminalized. Some illicit drugs are now decriminalized in Oregon. On February 1, 2021, Oregon became the first state to decriminalize the possession of illicit drugs in small quantities. The list of decriminalized drugs includes cocaine, heroin, LSD, meth, as well as other personal-use drugs.

Oregon voters made history by passing a ballot measure legalizing recreational drugs. On the federal level, these drugs are still against the law but in Oregon, possession has been downgraded to a civil violation. Instead of jail, a civil violation reduces penalties and may lead to a fine or court-ordered therapy.  

The new drug decriminalization law

The ballot measure turns possession of small amounts of street drugs into a violation, like a traffic ticket. “Small amount” is defined to be the following:

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Oregon is drastically shifting its focus on drug crime. Measure 110 allows the government to approach drug use as a public health issue, rather than a criminal one.

The measure addresses these possessions as a citation and expands access to treatment and recovery. So, instead of facing jail time, individuals found with small amounts of drugs face a $100 fine and would have to talk to an addiction treatment professional. 

According to Proposed Amendments to Senate Bill 755, addiction recovery centers will be able to expand the services they currently provide. “Recovery centers will also assess and address any on-going needs through intensive case management and linkage to care services.”

The epiphany

Measure 110 wouldn’t have seen the light of day were it not for individuals like Hubert Matthews. Hubert Mathews is a veteran, a father, and a productive member of society. But this wasn’t always the case. For twenty years, he abused substances and committed crimes to get more drugs. Inevitably, he brushed shoulders with law enforcement, which resulted in jail or prison time, only to end up back on the streets. It was like a vicious cycle.  

“I would break the law to feed my addiction, which made me an easy target for police. The judge told me one time. “Mr. Matthews, you are a drug abuser.” He wasn’t offering me any help. He just said he was going to send me to the Oregon State Penitentiary,” Matthew explained.

According to Matthew, this did nothing to help his situation. If anything, incarceration added even more trauma to his already troubled life. There was no end in sight. He would get arrested for possession of illicit drugs over and over again. And his criminal record was not helping either. No one would hire him or give him a place to live.

“I needed someone who understood that treatment would help me more than being incarcerated. Luckily, I was able to get treatment later on. That’s what saved my life,” he added.

Since his treatment began, Matthew has been clean for over 10 years. He’s now out in the community every day, trying to get people to treatment. He believes that others struggling with addiction will have an easier path now that some illicit drugs have been decriminalized.

From criminal justice to addiction treatment

The United States has been criminalizing drug users for decades. But today, people are starting to treat addiction as a public health problem as opposed to a criminal one. Different states now have systems in place to help treat those who are struggling with addiction. Institutions are also sensitizing everyone about addiction being a medical condition and not moral failure.

Oregon is leading the way. The state has decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana as well as hard drugs. It has also joined the District of Columbia to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms.

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Fields of marijuana now grow around the state, since Oregon legalized cannabis in 2014.

“Measure 110 eliminates criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of drugs,” Lindsay LaSalle told Arnold Ventures. “It also increases access to harm reduction and health services, including drug use treatment and housing. At its core, the measure is tearing down the current system of punishment for drug use and creating a supportive, compassionate and non-coercive system of care to address drug use in Oregon,” she added. Lindsay is the Managing Director of Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance, which spent over $4 million supporting the measure.

The goal behind legalizing recreational drugs

Opponents of Measure 110 claim that decriminalization removes a strong deterrent to using or trying drugs, potentially driving more substance use and abuse. They argue that criminal penalties linked to drug possession can be leveraged to divert people into addiction programs they otherwise wouldn’t accept.

However, studies show decriminalization doesn’t fuel the widespread use of drugs. Countries like Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Portugal have applied drug decriminalization and seen positive changes. In fact, Portugal’s decriminalization saw a drop in the number of deaths. There was also a 20% rise in those getting addiction treatments between 2001 and 2008.

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 Decriminalization proponents explain that substance abuse is a public health problem. They argue that the criminal prohibition causes thousands of unnecessary, racially-biased arrests every year in the country. These arrests, according to proponents, are costly and burden the criminal justice system but do nothing to help those struggling with addiction. They say that Measure 110 prevents individuals in recovery from being stigmatized by landlords, lenders, and employers. The measure also helps them avoid drug-related offenses.

Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana possession in 1973. In 2014, voters approved a ballot measure legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. After decriminalizing illicit drugs, less than 3,700 Oregonians will be or have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony possession of controlled substances. That’s roughly a 91% reduction in drug possession and arrests in the state. The law will also likely reduce ethnic and racial disparities in arrests. This is according to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission.

Many people do not understand how criminalization builds barriers to treatment. People need more options to make different choices. Ending criminalization will prevent shame and open people up for other opportunities.

Struggling With Addiction 2020 © All Rights Reserved
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