MDMA, also known as ecstasy or Molly, is a synthetic drug that can produce feelings of increased energy, euphoria, and pleasure. It is often used recreationally, at clubs or parties. However, some may be curious whether it is possible to become addicted to ecstasy, or MDMA. The short answer is yes, it is possible to develop a dependence on MDMA. However, addiction is more likely to occur when the drug is used frequently or in high doses. Besides addiction, high doses of MDMA can cause hyperthermia, dehydration, and heart failure. It can also aggravate pre-existing mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Understanding MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly)

MDMA, or 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is a psychoactive drug with both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. It is classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance in the United States, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and is not currently accepted for medical use.

When people refer to either Molly or ecstasy, they're referring to the same chemical: MDMA. MDMA by itself is a white or off-white crystal or powder. Molly is the street name for pure MDMA, while ecstasy refers to MDMA that has been cut with other substances. Ecstasy and Molly can come in pill form, but Molly is most often sold in powder form.

MDMA, in its pure form, is difficult to come by. Dealers often cut MDMA with other drugs like amphetamines, cocaine, ketamine, caffeine, synthetic cathinones, LSD, rat poison, and heroin to strengthen its effects and increase profit margins. Cutting MDMA with these illicit drugs increases the risk of adverse effects and overdose deaths.

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MDMA is primarily used as a party drug due to its ability to induce euphoria, increased emotionality, and increased sensation. So, it's mostly found in house parties, raves, and music festivals. While MDMA is considered a harmless party drug, it can be very dangerous if not used responsibly. According to statistics, the number of emergency room visits increased by 1,200% since ecstasy became popular at all night-raves.

Effects of MDMA

MDMA increases neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels in the brain. These brain chemicals are associated with mood, energy, and alertness. They also cause users to become more stimulated and awake. However, MDMA can also have negative side effects, such as:

When combined with a hot environment, physical activity, and other drugs, MDMA can lead to unpredictable and serious physical complications. The drug causes hyperthermia, significant dehydration, or cardiovascular collapse, leading to kidney, liver, or heart failure and even death.

The effects of ecstasy can kick in within 20 minutes and typically last for 3-5 hours but can persist for up to 8 hours. This variation can be due to factors like body weight, the amount used, gender, mode of administration, etc.

MDMA and addiction

One of the most serious risks of MDMA use is addiction. While the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, it is clear that MDMA can cause changes in brain chemistry that lead to compulsive drug-seeking behavior and an inability to control use. 

Although MDMA has been shown to be addictive in animal studies, the degree of self-administration is relatively low compared to other drugs such as cocaine. This suggests that while MDMA may have some potential for addiction, it is not as strong as other substances. 

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Data from animals and humans suggest that regular use of MDMA leads to adaptations in the serotonin and dopamine systems linked to substance use disorder and related behaviors, like increased impulsivity.

Some studies have tried to analyze MDMA dependency or addiction among people with a history of use in the general population. The results of these studies have varied widely, probably due to different population samples and different types of measures used. However, some people who use MDMA do report symptoms of addiction, including:

What Causes MDMA Use Disorder?

MDMA is a stimulant drug with properties similar to other drugs in its class, like cocaine. While research is inconclusive on whether MDMA is addictive, heavy or regular drug use may lead to addiction. Additionally, MDMA is often mixed with other stimulants, increasing the risk of addiction.

The mix of drugs sold as ecstasy may alter how people who take it react to it, making it difficult to predict if someone may develop an addiction. However, what is clear is that regular or heavy drug use can lead to addiction. Therefore, it is important for those who use MDMA to be aware of the risks associated with the drug.

Other Dangers of Using MDMA

Some people might not consider MDMA an addicting drug. Even so, there are still dangers associated with its use.

MDMA is cut with other drugs

When people take MDMA, they risk because the drug is unregulated, and its purity can't be guaranteed. One of the biggest dangers is that it is often cut with other substances, which can be dangerous or even deadly.

For example, one of the most common adulterants is methamphetamine, which can lead to increased blood pressure and heart rate, as well as anxiety and paranoia.

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Sometimes, these effects can be so severe that they result in hospitalization or even death. In addition, MDMA is often cut with other substances that may not be immediately harmful but can still cause long-term damage, such as liver damage.

Developing tolerance

MDMA can also cause tolerance. This means that users need to take increasingly larger doses to achieve the same effects. Tolerance can lead to physical dependence and addiction. It can also increase the risk of overdose and other health problems. 

Gateway to other drugs

Increasing the dose to achieve the same effect may also lead someone to use other drugs, which can lead to addiction - and potential overdose. Statistics show that 92% of those who start using ecstasy resolve to using amphetamines, marijuana, heroin, and cocaine later on.

Addiction to other drugs

Using other drugs to cope with the mental and physical pain that results from ecstasy can quickly spiral out of control, leading to addiction to other drugs and potentially serious health consequences.

Treating an ecstasy, or MDMA addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to MDMA or any other form of drug abuse, please seek professional help. Treatment options are available, and there is always hope for 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.

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.

Dealing with a loved one who abuses alcohol or drugs is one of the greatest struggles that family members can endure. People who abuse drugs might be hard to talk to or might act in frightening or worrying ways. The love and need to bring them safely through their addiction might see loved ones spend money they cannot afford, lie to protect them, say yes even when it’ll destroy them, and have their bodies turn cold with fear from any midnight call.

Understanding drug addiction

Addiction is a chronic disease that causes changes in the brain. According to the American Psychiatric Association, genetics is a for addiction, accounting for about 50% of all cases. Genes determines the extent of risk factor reward one gets when they initially use a substance or engage in specific behaviors and how their body processes alcohol or drugs. The increased need to experience substance or behavior, potentially driven by social, psychological, and environmental factors, can lead to regular exposure to chronic use, resulting in brain changes.

Brain changes fuel substance and behavioral addictions as they increase cravings for activity or drugs and impair the ability to regulate impulse successfully. In some cases, people can also experience withdrawal symptoms when they cannot use drugs or engage in the activity leading to increases in blood pressure.

Common things that addicts do to their loved ones

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·        They lie, not necessarily out of ill intent or malice, but mainly due to their brain’s constant demand for drugs or activities. When a loved one is addicted, their brain’s primitive survival part takes charge. It tells the body it needs the drugs to survive. So the addict will do anything to get the drugs, even lie.

·        They manipulate by shifting guilt and blame for their behavior on someone else. They may promise to get help the next day etc., but fail to follow through. Addicts may also give small confessions of wrongdoing to cover their odd behaviors and lies.

·        They act unpredictably. When they’re high, they’re happy. But when the effects wear off, they get moody because of the side effects. In some cases, though, addicts can be predictable – they’ll commit crimes, steal, and use drugs again even after promising they wouldn’t.

·        They engage in criminal acts because their goal is to satisfy the survival part of their brain. They will steal prescription pills, doctor shop, steal valuable items from the house, lie about self-injury to get prescriptions, shoplift or even inject heroin.

·        They become abusive, as their injured brain may react aggressively to anyone who gets in their way with drugs. When a loved one calls them out on their words, behaviors, or actions, the addict may feel defensive as they lie, shift blame, or manipulate.

Effects of addiction on parents

Most people who struggle with addiction lie and manipulate. They will ask for money, cause fights, isolate and self-harm, or even guilt-trip parents into getting away with their drug use. Sadly, parents, being natural caregivers, may fear saying no even when they know that their kid is lying or manipulating. They fear that their child might harm themselves or do something worse.

Additionally, parents often feel responsible for their child’s addiction and wonder what they did wrong. For example, single-parent may blame themselves for not providing enough balance in the family or not assuming both roles, and so on. Most parents get stuck in constant worry about safety and wellbeing and how they can bring their child back to normalcy. They’re desperate and would spend money, enable the behavior, cover up and basically do anything to try to straighten things up.

Those who suffer the consequences  of addiction include  siblings

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When there’s an addict in the family, parents and guardians tend to focus on them more than other siblings because of the perceived need. This, however, leaves other siblings feeling pushed into the background as anxious parents focus their emotions, time, and finances on getting help for the addicted children. Sibling invisibility may worsen when the addict succumbs to addiction.

So, in the background, sisters and brothers often suffer in silence, feeling alone, ignored, guilty, angry, and scared. They may feel guilty that they cannot help their sister or brother, or blame their parents for not doing enough. They may also be angry that their sibling lies, manipulates, ducks responsibility, steals from them, or even refuses treatment.

Some siblings end up becoming enablers, caretakers, and some try to continue with their lives with little support from struggling parents. They may have to deal with the constant worry of whether the addiction is hereditary and if they’ll end up like their sibling.

Effects of addiction on children

Parental addiction is an adverse childhood experience. Growing up in homes where one or both parents abuse drugs or alcohol negatively impacts a child’s life. Unfortunately, an estimated 8.3 million children under 18 stayed with at least one addicted parent from 2002 to 2007 in the US.

The effects of parental addiction are two-fold:

When parents abuse drugs, they tend to be neglectful. They may delegate their child’s responsibility to someone else, who may end up abusing or neglecting them all the more. This causes children to have fear, anger, confusion, sadness.

They may distrust authority figures because they’ve learned from experience to expect disappointment from parents. Being exposed to parental addiction teaches children that nothing is reliable or stable. It also burdens them with a host of social issues like embarrassment and shame.

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Effects of addiction on family finances

Addiction comes with many costs, including personal and family financial losses. Many addicts will blow through their savings just to get drugs. They’ll then sell family assets, steal or take out loans to sustain their habits.

That’s because addiction impairs the brain and inhibits judgment and self-control, as National Institute on Drug Abuse puts it. Unfortunately, the family almost always ends up bearing the brunt.

Besides, addiction of illegal drugs is known to cause job loss, marital problems, divorce, and criminal charges if the addictive substances are illegal. All these cost money. Patients may need substance use disorder treatment to regain control of their lives, which too is expensive.

The worst part is that some slip to their old habits and end up using again. And as they go deeper into despair and poverty, they resolve to abusing substance, causing a never-ending self-fulfilling cycle.

Increased risks of drug abuse

Medically reviewed studies and data show parental addiction and genetics can make a child more prone to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Children may also get into trouble with the juvenile system or even end up abusing drugs or alcohol earlier. There’s a strong connection between mental illness and substance use disorders. According to the American Society of Addiction, about 50% of people with one disorder will go on to develop the other in at some point.

The risk of drug use and abuse is not limited to children alone. Spouses, parents, and siblings of those who abuse drugs may also turn to use. They may do as a way to self-medicate or escape their problems.

When a loved one abuses alcohol or drugs, everyone suffers. In many cases, family members find themselves overwhelmed with emotions like loneliness, embarrassment, fear, and blame. But the good news is that anyone can overcome addiction, including those who’ve struggled for years.

With the right treatment programs, one can learn how to quit drugs and lead a healthy life. Some programs provide family counseling and health care to help address emotional and psychological issues that arise due to addiction.

 

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.

A person who misuses prescription medicine will do anything to get doctors to prescribe more drugs. They will lie about the severity of their symptoms, forge prescriptions, beg or even shop doctors to try to access the medications. These are a few types of drug-seeking behaviors.

The sad news is that most drug seekers won’t admit to the drug problem. Some will justify their actions by claiming that prescription drugs help them manage their chronic pain or mental health issues. Their denial makes it hard to get them into addiction treatment. Unfortunately, this drives them deeper into using, opening them up to potential substance abuse and ensuing substance abuse disorders.

Understanding prescription drug abuse

Prescription drug abuse involves the use of pain medication for their pleasurable side effects instead of prescribed pain relief reasons. As defined by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), prescription drug misuse is any use contrary to the doctor’s direction, and includes:

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According to the 2015 NSDUH report, about 91.8 million adults in the United States, 18 years and older, used pain relievers in the past year. Of this number, 11.5 million misused pain medication at least once over the same time. Another report on the National Institute on Drug Addiction website shows that 18 million people had misused prescription drugs at least once a year leading up to 2017. Many cited physical pain as the reason behind the abuse. NSDUH’s research on prescription drugs was specific to controlled substances.

Controlled substances are drugs that have been declared illegal for use or sale in the open market but can be dispensed under a doctor’s prescription. This aims to reduce the risk of drug abuse, addiction, mental and physical harm, or death. It also protects the public from potential dangers arising from the actions of those under the influence of these drugs.

Who are the drug seekers?

A drug seeker is anyone who manipulates a healthcare provider to try to obtain medications. They are primarily patients who abuse alcohol and drugs or are in chronic pain. But drug seekers can also be people who want to barter or sell most or all of the prescription drugs they get.

How to recognize a drug seeker

It is not easy to tell a legitimate patient apart from a drug-seeker. The latter could be someone unfamiliar to you. They may claim to be from another town and have forgotten or lost a prescription of drugs. They could also be someone familiar to you, like a co-worker, another practitioner, relative, or friend. Drug seekers often have the same traits and behaviors. Knowing these behaviors and tricks is the first step to detecting those trying to manipulate you into obtaining desired drugs.

Examples of obvious drug-seeking behaviors

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Typical requests and complaints

Someone with drug-seeking behavior may walk into a medical office and request specific drugs by name. They may tell you about the drug, dose, and quantity they want. In many cases, this patient may not want to listen to anything you says. Additionally, they may aggressively complain about a need for the drug. They will ask for brand names, request dose increases, and even claim to have multiple allergies to alternative medicines. Efforts to diagnose their issues may result in irritation or anger on their part. Typical requests and complaints are obvious drug-seeking behaviors that can give the drug seeker away.

Forging prescription

This is a pretty obvious drug-seeking behavior that some patients use. Drug seekers know that they cannot access controlled substances without a doctor’s prescription. So, they go ahead and forge one to get the drugs. In case a patient does this, it’s essential to notify law enforcement because forging prescriptions is illegal in the United States.

Not keeping follow-up appointments

Since drug-seeking patients are only interested in obtaining prescription drugs, they hardly keep follow-up appointments. Once they get their drugs of choice, they will disappear into thin air until they need more, then they resurface.

Inappropriate self-medicating

Another common trait of people with drug-seeking behavior is self-medicating. These patients will go ahead and use pain drugs for other reasons. They may use it for stress, anxiety, or even sleep. Regular self-medication can lead to addiction and the worsening of these mental health disorders. The problem may only worsen as they may use more drugs to address withdrawal symptoms or the dependence issue.

Excessive flattery

Once a drug-seeking patient with a substance use disorder gets their prescription for pain drugs, they will be excessive in their flattery. Some might shower you with praises, suggesting you are the best in the field. They will even hug you to show their appreciation. However, this will only go on as long as they get what they want. When you calmly and clearly state the effective treatment plan and explain that their condition doesn’t warrant the prescription of opioids, the entreating suddenly ceases. Usually, these patients can sense when the doctor is indecisive or decisive.  

Patient traveling from far places

Patients with drug-seeking problems or alcohol addiction see many physicians in a short period. When their effort to obtain a drug fails, they will move to the next physician or pharmacy with the hopes of getting the drugs. Some will even travel from different towns or cities in an attempt to get prescription drugs. But it’s particularly alarming when the patient fails to mention their previous physician visits. Some states provide systems to help doctors check whether their patient sees other doctors who are prescribing a similar drug.

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Patient is unwilling to consider other treatments

Someone who is genuinely in pain wants it to end. They’re willing to try out any treatment or therapy that would make that happen. But that’s not the case for a drug seeker.  

A patient reports symptoms that could indicate drug withdrawal

Patients may come to you with new complications that mimic withdrawal symptoms. They may say that they are experiencing anxiety, nausea, shaky hands, depression, insomnia, diarrhea, etc. Some might even open up about their using habit. For example, a patient may say they occasionally use drugs or alcohol and are under some prescribed medications. If this is the case, it could be a clear sign that they are abusing prescription drugs and are at high risk for drug misuse.

How to help a patient with drug-seeking behaviors

Never dispense drugs when you have your suspicions about a patient. Instead, perform rigorous tests and document all results. You may also want to request a picture ID and Social Security number and call the previous doctor to confirm the patient’s story. Basically, you want to make sure that all the details check before prescribing the medicines.

If you have reasons to believe that the patient has addiction problems, you might want to help them get addiction treatment. Treatment programs exist to help patients get off of prescription drugs. Different support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous can also offer additional support to recovering patients one on one or in group therapy.

People who consume illegal drugs use various ways to get the drugs into their bloodstream. Some take it orally, while others prefer snorting because it offers a faster "high." When drugs are snorted, it causes a much quicker onset of effect than oral ingestion. This is because of how fast the drug gets into the bloodstream through the soft tissue in the nasal cavity.

Drugs that users commonly snort include cocaine, heroin, meth, tobacco, amphetamines, and even prescription drugs, such as opioids or prescription stimulants like Adderall. Users chop the pills into a fine powder using a razor blade or credit card on a hard surface. They then divide the drug of choice into "lines" and use a rolled paper, dollar bill, or straw to inhale the drug up into the nasal passages. But users may also snort a drug in aerosol or liquid forms. Snorting is a preferred method of administration for these drugs because it amplifies the drug's effect and speeds up the onset of effects. Snorting drugs comes with a range of short- and long-term effects, as you'll notice in this article.

What is snorting?

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Snorting (also called insufflation) involves inhaling drugs into the body. It is an effective delivery option that’s noninvasive, virtually painless, and easy to administer. In fact, doctors use intranasal administration when delivering medication to children who fear needles or have a hard time swallowing tablets or pills.

Because of these reasons, snorting drugs is a preferred method among people who use recreational drugs. And the fact that it produces a faster onset of the desired effect makes it even more desirable for users who want a quick fix. It takes about 5-10 minutes for the drug to get into the system and produce the high. This is because of how fast the drugs diffuse through the mucus membrane in the nose.

What drugs are snorted through the nose?

Drugs that are commonly snorted include:

Let's look at some of these drugs.

Ecstasy (MDMA)

MDMA is an amphetamine. Structurally, it is similar to the hallucinogen mescaline and stimulant methamphetamine. MDMA comes in capsule, tablet, powder, and liquid forms. “Molly” is a pure crystalline powder form of MDMA that's popularly sold in capsules. It's known to produce feelings of intense empathy, euphoria, and heightened sensations of sound and color. Usually, those who snort ecstasy want a faster onset of effects and a more intense high. This drug is very popular in rave scenes, across the United States.  

Benzodiazepines (Xanax)

Xanax is a Central Nervous system depressant that slows down brain activity to produce a tranquilizing and sedating effect. It's these calming effects that make it effective for treating mental health disorders. Xanax comes in tablet form that's taken orally. The prescription drug is meant to be swallowed whole, but users crush the tablet to snort it. Like snorting meth or heroin, snorting Xanax is believed to give one a quicker high because it enters the bloodstream faster. But Xanax and other benzodiazepines are not only harmful to snort, but this also makes them less effective. This is thanks to the particular chemical markup of the drug.

Cocaine

Snorting cocaine might not be the fastest way to achieve a high like injecting and smoking. But it produces long-lasting effects. As one inhales the drug, it coats the soft tissue in the nasal cavity and gets absorbed by the sensitive nasal membranes. Cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream and flows to the brain to produce the desired effect. In the process, it narrows various blood vessels, thus restricting the flow of blood to specific tissues. Cocaine is one of the most commonly snorted drugs in the US. In 2014 alone, there were about 1.5 million current cocaine users 12 years and over. Unfortunately, cocaine abusers are at a high risk of seizures, cardiac arrest, and sudden death.

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Heroin

Snorting heroin is not the most common way of administration. But those who think it's safer will choose to snort to avoid IV drug use complications. Some users mistakenly believe that snorting heroin makes it less addictive. This is not true. In fact, one study shows that those who start by snorting often end up injecting it, because of the tolerance they build-up over time. The most immediate risk of snorting heroin is overdose. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were 14,019 overdose deaths in the US in 2019.

What are the health risks of snorting drugs?

Drug abuse by itself is a risky undertaking with a host of dangers. But the mode of administration may impact the risk even further. Snorting drugs or sniffing inhalants can change one's cognition, damage the brain and create several other mental and physical complications.

Snorting any drug is dangerous. Many users assume that prescription drugs are safe, but that's not the case. The chemicals components in prescription drugs are designed to contact gastrointestinal tissues and not the nasal cavities, nasal passages, sinuses, or lungs. Snorting exposes these tissues to chemicals, causing inflammation, irritation, and damage.

While the actual risk may vary from one drug to the next, here are some general risks of snorting drugs:

Those who snort drugs may have an increased risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis C if they share equipment as the nasal mucous may have blood.

It is also not uncommon for those snorting prescription drugs to snort other drugs like heroin. Besides, one may experience mental and behavioral changes because of abusing drugs and struggling with the side effects. As the problem becomes evident, an individual may struggle with shame, anxiety, and low self-esteem to the extent of becoming socially isolated.

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Above all is the most overlooked risk – the adverse effects of filler agents used in the drug. Most illegal drugs that come in powdered forms, like cocaine and heroin, are often cut with other drugs or substances. Cocaine and heroin, for instance, may include fentanyl. Fentanyl is potent. It increases the dose strength and causes overdose among those who have no idea they're even taking it. Household products, foodstuffs, and talcum, are also pretty common fillers. Talcum is harmful. Studies show it might cause low blood pressure, convulsion, chest pain, lethargy, fever and even coma.

Dependence and treatment

Dependence may happen when an individual snorts drugs. Drugs are habit-forming and addictive. So users build tolerance and have to take more of the drug to achieve a high. Any attempt to stop might cause withdrawal symptoms, which can be mild or severe depending on the type of drugs, individual, and period of use. In case the symptoms are severe, one should find a treatment facility that will help with the detox and rehabilitation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the US in the 12 months ending May 2020. Synthetic opioids – mainly manufactured fentanyl – are the leading cause of these deaths. But there has been a notable increase in overdose deaths among heroin and cocaine abusers during the pandemic.

2020 has been a difficult year for us all. But while it has been tough (well, downright hard), it doesn’t mean we should overlook the good moments that it has brought us. As its end draws near, let’s reflect on the good things to be thankful for that have happened this year and be grateful for each one of them.

There’s so much to be thankful for, especially if you’ve been living through addiction recovery or other life-changing issues throughout this holiday season. But if you can’t think of one or more reasons right off the bat, then here is a list of things to be thankful for this year, to serve as a reminder.

Your life and health

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After everything you have been through, you cannot take it for granted that you are alive. Many addicts end up dealing with worse health complications or even death. But here you are, all healthy. Even if you feel a little bit sick, or too lazy to get out of bed in the morning, you still have the option to do so. Be thankful that you wake up every morning able to start your life and enjoy each day.

You look better now

Hygiene and health are often the last things on the mind of someone who’s using – and you probably weren’t any different. But now, you are self-aware and self-conscious. You also have enough time to focus on yourself. You bathe, eat healthy meals, wear clean clothes, and get enough night sleep – all of which transform your overall outlook. When you look good, you are happier and even more confident. You can go out, hang with friends, take selfies, and everything else without fear of judgment – an excellent reason to be thankful this year.

Your loved ones

You ought to be thankful for your family who has stood by you throughout your struggle with addiction until you made it to the other end. Be grateful even for those with whom you had strained relationships during your addiction, but managed to patch things up through family therapy and stuff. Nothing comes close to having gratitude for the people you care about in life. When you love your family and friends, you are inspired to continue in recovery.

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You get to enjoy the good mornings

You have all the reasons to be thankful for the good mornings. These hardly came by when you were using because then you had to deal with bad hangovers, body sores, and regrets from the things you did while high. Now, you can listen to the birds chirping and even catch the sunrise. You can also organize your days and get things done – even if that means binge-watching your favorite series.

You can do so much more now

Now that you are sober, you have clarity in your head that helps with productivity. You also have high energy levels and lots of free time to focus on school, work, or personal projects. Be thankful that you now have a chance to rebuild your life and make the most out of every opportunity that comes your way. You couldn’t achieve all these if you were still using drugs.

You get to save money

Drugs and alcohol are expensive. Like many other users, you likely spent about $4,500 on alcohol, $7,000 on marijuana, $8,000 on cocaine, $54,000+ on heroin, or $3,500-70,000 on opioids every year. This is way too costly, especially if you weren’t working for or lost your job due to addiction. But now, you don’t have to spend more money on drugs and alcohol. You also don’t worry about getting that money. And the best part is you aren’t putting a strain on your loved ones and society. Instead, you are rebuilding your life and even getting to support them. It sure feels good, right?

You’ve cultivated a culture of self-control

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Staying sober isn’t easy – it needs discipline. In a world where we have no control over our peers, environments, and circumstances, consciously choosing not to use drugs when given an option is a surprisingly energizing and powerful feeling. This type of control builds character, self-confidence, and offers a healthy boost to your ego. So, grab a glass of fresh juice, raise it to the skies and say, “I’ve got this.”

You have better memory

Continued substance abuse affects the structures and functions of the brain. This impairs thinking skills and decreases attention span and memory. But the good thing is that brain is a remarkably adaptable organ. It can repair itself greatly and regain its ability to regulate moods, memory, and bodily functions without the substance. So, you have a reason to smile now because you don’t have to stress over what you did the previous night or struggle with a foggy and unreliable memory. You’re now sharper and alert and will recall things better.

Be thankful you can deal with issues in a healthy way

Many studies show a correlation between alcohol and mental health disorders like anxiety, stress, depression, etc. Many people use drugs or alcohol to either forget or solve underlying problems – though this only worsens the situation. You probably did the same. But now that you have gone through the healing process, you know that there are better ways to solve issues – like talking them through or seeking counseling or even exercising. This is too big an achievement that shouldn’t just slide – be grateful about it.

You get to hang out with sober friends

This is a great time to be thankful for your good friends. Chances are you were inconsiderate of their feelings or ignored whatever advice they gave while you were abusing substance. But some of them stood by your side and still do. Be grateful for the effort they put into keeping up with the relationship and seeing that you are a better version of yourself.

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Being you

Last but not least, you want to be grateful for yourself. Be thankful that you believed in yourself, that you did all the hard work, that you never quit, that you chose to do what’s right. It wasn’t is, and it still isn’t – but you’re hanging in there.

Sharing needles and syringes for any use is a risk for various sexually transmitted infections. A person can get STIs like HIV or Hepatitis by injecting into the vein, fat, or directly into a muscle. Reusing containers to dissolve drugs, sharing water to clean drug equipment, and reusing filters are also risk factors. The STI exposure risk from needle use is very common among drug addicts, so let's look at the statistics.

Studies reveal that those who inject drugs are most vulnerable to STIs. According to UNAIDS special analysis, 2018, the risk of HIV among those who inject drugs was 22 times higher than the general population. Other vulnerable groups included gay men, female sex workers and transgender women whose risks to HIV were 28, 13, and 13 times higher than the rest, respectively.

In another UNAIDS report, men account for the biggest share of higher risk of HIV infection, comprising 80% of the 11.8 million people globally who inject drugs. The report further revealed that approximately 13.1% of those who inject drugs worldwide were living with HIV. Despite the prevalence of drug injection and STIs, most people do not seek treatment for their addiction, due to fear of judgment, among other reasons.   

The history of disease spread by needle use

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In the last 20 years, the United States has seen a rapid increase in overdose deaths and STIs due to injection and misuse of prescription and illicit drugs like fentanyl and heroin. Injection drug use (IDU) and its vast health impacts are a public health crisis, with approximately a million people reporting IDU in the past year.

The increases in IDU have caused outbreaks of HIV and higher rates of diseases like Hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV). This is because viruses spread through body fluids – either through:

Drug use and addiction are often connected to HIV/AIDS since AIDS was first determined as a disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that 1 in 10 HIV diagnoses happen among those who inject drugs. In 2016, IDU accounted for over 150,000 (or 20%) and 50,000 (21%) of recorded HIV cases among men and women, respectively. Besides, pregnant and lactating mothers who are HIV infected can pass down the virus to their baby irrespective of their drug use.   

Why drugs users share needles and syringes

Different studies show a close link between injecting drugs and sexually transmitted diseases. This should serve as a wake-up call to those who inject drugs. But surprisingly, the people who inject drugs continue with their needle exchanges and sharing habits despite the glaring danger.

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Here are some common reasons they don’t stop.

Easy access: some communities do a good job distributing syringes and needles and disposing of used ones. But not everyone has access to such facilities. Some addicts have to go to the pharmacy stores, which have their own sets of rules around selling such supplies. So, an addict prefers to use what’s available. Besides, most addicts don’t have time to clean or look after themselves, let alone find new drug equipment.

Avoiding expenses: the drug equipment isn’t cheap either. A box might range between $10 and $50, which might be too expensive for someone whose primary focus is on getting money to buy more drugs.

Assumption: most drug users are cautious about sharing equipment with strangers. But they let their guards down when it’s someone close – like a friend or family - because they assume they know them better. So they don’t mind sharing needles and syringes.

Lack of education: some addicts have no idea that sharing drug equipment exposes them to STIs. Others are aware, but only to some extent. A good example is when they avoid sharing needles but end up sharing water used to clean the equipment.

Health risk of IV drug abuse

As we’ve discussed above, injecting drugs increases risks for developing a range of infectious diseases, including HIV, which causes AIDS. Studies estimate that about 36% of cumulative AIDS cases in the US resulted from injected drug use.

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HIV is transmitted through the exchange of blood and other bodily fluids. According to the CDC, HIV can live in a used drug supply for up to 42 days, depending on temperature and other factors. This explains why sharing needles, cookers, water, and cotton is potentially risky.

Sharing paraphernalia can also cause the transfer and spread of other infections like HBV and HSV, each of which affects the liver and may result in liver cancer, liver failure, liver cirrhosis, and permanent scarring. According to a study by the UCSF, drug injections may account for 60% of HCV cases in the US alone.

IV drug abuse also impairs judgment and lowers inhibitions, making it easy for one to indulge in risky sexual behaviors. It is pretty common for those who are high on drugs to have unprotected sex, which exposes them to HIV, HBV, and HCV. But these aren’t the only infections that can be transmitted sexually. Others include genital herpes and Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

How to reduce the risk 

Drug users can reduce the risk of acquiring or transmitting STIs by:

Not using drugs: the best way to lower the chances of contracting STIs through IV drug use is to stop using drugs. Seeking help from a reputable treatment center can be a great way to achieve sobriety.

Not sharing drug supplies: viruses are only transmitted through IV drug use and sexual contact. So, one should avoid ever sharing drug equipment. Many communities have syringe services programs that issue free sterile syringes and needles and safely dispose of used ones.

Getting tested and treated: those who administer drugs intravenously should test for HIV, HBV, and HCV. If the tests turn out positive, treatments exist to help keep everything in check. Drug users who are negative for HBV can take advantage of the vaccination to prevent transmission.

Take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP): PrEP is a daily dose of HIV medications that prevent one from getting HIV. It is effective in lowering the chances of getting HIV infection for those who inject drugs. Those who have been exposed to the virus can take PEP to prevent becoming infected. But this should be done within 72 hours after recent possible exposure to HIV.  

Meth users have a range of symptoms that are commonly seen in people with other substance abuse disorders. They experience high blood pressure, increased heart rate, as well as strong delusions and paranoia. Like other drug addicts, they may also suffer from memory loss, brain damage, stroke, mental health disorders, among other issues with long term use. However, meth users have a few signs that are specific to the drug, like meth mouth, which we will explore in this article.

Methamphetamine is one of the most commonly abused synthetic drugs in the world. In the US alone, 5% of the population, or 12.3 million people, have used meth at least once in their lifetime. Another 600,000 Americans use it every week. But you shouldn’t mistake its popularity for something good.

Meth is a dangerously addictive drug that can cause severe addiction and mental and physical health issues.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise because meth is made from strong industrial chemicals corrosive to the body. Again, it comes in a wide variety of forms – including tablets, powder, or crystals. This makes it easier for users to smoke, inject, sniff/snort, eat, or swallow depending on their environment and preferences.

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Crystal meth can be smoked, snorted, ingested or injected with needles.

How to identify meth use

Unlike other drugs such as cocaine and heroin, its cravings are way more intense. Meth users will go on a “run” where they keep on ingesting the drug for long periods until they overdose or run out of their supply. So, the signs will be evident within a few weeks of use.

Meth addiction is difficult to hide because it causes open skin sores and eats away at the teeth. The harshness of meth’s chemical makeup makes it corrosive to both soft and hard tissue. The acid in the drug eats away the user’s tooth enamel, causing rapid decay. It also corrodes the gum, causing it to bleed and pull away from the tooth. Dental issues associated with meth abuse are referred to as meth teeth or meth mouth.

Meth mouth

Meth can be devastating to one’s dental health. According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, it’s use can cause extensive tooth decay, dry mouth, gum disease, and cracked teeth that affect the smile of users and their ability to chew. Meth mouth describes the visible effects of oral disease in a user due to rampant tooth decay and gum disease that happens with the drug use.

When someone ingests or smokes meth, they will rot their gums, teeth, and surrounding tissues. In most cases, they will experience painful dental abscesses and oral sores and even lose their teeth, and parts of their lips or mouth like tonsils, and tongue. Of the 571 meth users in the JADA’s 2015 study:

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Meth abuse can cause a variety of negative health consequences.

According to the American Dental Association, the pattern of cavities found in meth users is similar to those in baby teeth. Meth abusers are twice as likely to have cavities, twice as likely to have at least two decayed, missing or filled teeth, and four times as likely to have ever developed cavities compared to the general population.

Why does meth affect the teeth?

One of the few ways meth affects the teeth is through hyposalivation (or dry mouth). Saliva is usually the first line of defense in fighting harmful bacteria in the mouth. The enzymes in saliva buffer acids and moisturize the mouth, keeping it in a homeostasis state. But meth use affects salivary glands, preventing the production of saliva, resulting in dry mouth.

Although studies and debates regarding meth use and tooth decay are still ongoing, one theory suggests that meth narrows blood vessels in salivary glands, inhibiting saliva flow. Other theories argue that drug abuse affects the parts of the brain that controls the salivary glands. Either way, meth, by itself, contains some level of acidity which directly affects the teeth.

Additionally, meth users drink lots of fizzy drinks to combat the effects of very dry mouth. But with little to no saliva in the mouth, that only creates an even better environment for bacteria to thrive.

To make matters worse, meth users grind or clench their teeth due to drug-induced nervousness, anxiety, and physical stimulation. Add that to already decaying or corroding enamel, as the situation gets out of hand.

And when all the focus is on acquiring and consuming the drug, methamphetamine users are less likely to practice good dental hygiene like flossing or brushing. Most of them won’t take care of their overall body, let alone oral health. And since the meth high lasts up to 12 hours, that’s a long enough time for acids to erode the teeth.

Can meth mouth be reversed?

People who struggle with meth addiction and its effects may benefit from addiction treatment. Treatment programs exist to help those who abuse meth to quit and lead normal healthy lives. Most of them offer holistic treatments to address the underlying problem along with the side effects of using, like meth mouth, or skin sores, etc. However, like most conditions, it’s always best to catch the addiction early, before things have gotten out of hand.

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A long-term addiction to methamphetamine can become deadly without proper treatment.

Meth mouth is incurable if the damage is widespread. This is why the importance of early treatment can never be overstated. Gum diseases and tooth decay, for instance, are highly treatable when caught early. But it might prove a challenge when the damage is severe. When untreated for prolonged periods, the patient may need extractions, dentures, and implants to reconstruct the damage.

Conclusion

The use of meth is linked to a range of severe health issues and irreversible mental and physical damage. Effects like bone and tooth loss, scarring, heart issues, organ failure, and permanent memory loss are common among meth users. Studies even show that long term use of meth can induce changes similar to dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s therefore essential for the patients to go enroll to reputable treatment centers for medical detox and rehabilitation. Treatments can help fight the addiction, and resulting problems.

Struggling With Addiction 2020 © All Rights Reserved
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