It’s normal for minors to feel anxious or worried from time to time. It happens when they move to a new area or school or before a game and so on. But for some minors, anxiety affects their thoughts and behavior every day, interfering with their home, social, and school life. In this case, a professional may prescribe anxiety medication to help the minor overcome the problem.

Anti-anxiety medications influence the body and brain to lower the symptoms of anxiety, like fear, worry, and panic attacks. These drugs don’t cure anxiety disorders. They only help to manage the symptoms.

Different anti-anxiety medications exist. The doctor prescribes one depending on the type of anxiety disorder present – whether it’s PTSD, separation anxiety, phobias, panic disorder, or generalized anxiety. They may also consider other medications that the minor is taking and whether the minor has co-existing medical conditions.

Anti-anxiety drugs do a great job of relieving the symptoms. But there are concerns as people report feeling emotional inertness. Some say they feel a loss of motivation or less empathy for others. Others say they are less able to cry or laugh even when appropriate or being unable to respond with the same level of enjoyment as they normally would. But surprisingly, not everyone is concerned about this. In a study of 819 individuals, 38% termed the blunting as a positive outcome of treatment. 37% regarded it as a negative.

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Anxiety may affect people differently. The drugs doctor prescribe may only temporarily numb the emotional responses of the patient.

People who viewed the emotional blunting negatively are those with more severe symptoms. And as it turns out, the severity of anxiety before medication is directly proportional to the severity of the emotional blunting during treatment. But the good thing is that the blunting usually goes away when one stops using the anti-anxiety drugs.

Examples of anxiety medications include:

Effects of anxiety in minors

Anxiety affects many aspects of a minor’s life. Irrespective of how hard they try, their minds wander into different places. One may experience more physical symptoms like digestive problems, upset stomach, constant uneasiness, sweaty palms, bouncing legs, or heart palpitations. Depending on the type of disorder, they may also experience shaking, a sense of unreality, avoidance of social situations, dizziness, specific fears, etc.

When the use of anxiety drugs becomes a problem

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Taking anti-anxiety meds on a daily basis can easily build up a tolerance and lead towards an addiction. Many may even self-medicate with other drugs, like alcohol or opiates.

Addiction

One of the most glaring effects of anxiety drugs is prescription drug abuse. Tolerance leads to more users, which leads to addiction. Studies show a close link between anxiety and substance abuse. Many young people who struggle with mental conditions like social anxiety disorder also end up with substance use disorder. Like any other alcohol or drug problem, the minor will need to go through a medical detox and comprehensive addiction treatment to regain control of their lives.

Complacency 

Sometimes, the anxiety drugs go beyond enhancing mood and make the minor feel too little emotion. Some report feeling as though they have lost the richness of day-to-day life. The drugs are designed to boost the brain’s hormones that are responsible for scaling down uncomfortable moods. But this reduction can be experienced as a “dulling” or “blunting” of emotions. So, one doesn’t smile at a happy ending in a movie or laugh with the same enthusiasm. They may feel apathetic and not have the same excitement when doing the things they enjoy, like swimming or singing.

Emotional blunting is where the emotions and feelings are dulled, so the person neither feels up nor down. They simply feel “blah.” And while this doesn’t happen to everyone, studies reveal that between 46% and 71% of people using anti-anxiety drugs have experienced emotional blunting at some point.

Unfortunately, when complacency happens in children, they may have a hard time:

Tolerance to anxiety medication

Prescription medications do a great job at relieving symptoms of anxiety. However, they are not a miracle cure or a permanent fix. According to the American Academy of Family Physician, there’s little evidence that benzodiazepines retain their therapeutic effect after four to six months of regular use. So it might be a good idea to discontinue them once the desired effect is achieved.

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Drug dependence can quickly turn into an addiction. Many who are prescribed anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants will develop a tolerance to the drugs and they might move on to other illicit substances.

When the symptoms of anxiety improve after starting an anti-anxiety drug, doctors may still prescribe it to prevent symptoms from returning. In some cases, they may increase the dosage to maintain the cycle of tolerance and dependence.

Physical tolerance happens as the brain adapts to the way the anti-anxiety drug alters its chemical composition and how the neurotransmitters send and receive messages. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that tolerance occurs when regular doses of a drug seize to have the same effect as they once did. So the person will need to elevate their dosage to get a similar outcome.

Dependence

When a minor begins to take anxiety medications, he or she’s likely to feel at ease from anxiety, panic, and stress. Their muscle tension will relax as the blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature goes down. But when they develop tolerance, they become prone to drug abuse, which in turn increases drug dependence and the chances of addiction. They may also experience a sort of “blah” general outlook on life.

Tolerance, dependence, and addiction can be resolved with a holistic drug treatment program. Some experts cite benzodiazepines as one of the  hardest drugs to quit. Others in the list of hard-to-quit drugs include alcohol, cocaine, meth, heroin & opioid drugs, and nicotine. This explains why comprehensive treatment is critical in cases of abused prescriptions.

The accelerated spread of the novel coronavirus has brought the global economy to a standstill. Predictions of potential impacts of the pandemic’s shock on the worldwide economy vary considerably. Yet many agree that the economy is facing the most severe challenge of the post-war era due to the sudden halt in economic activity in both developing and advanced countries.

Five months into the pandemic and businesses of all shapes and sizes are either shaping up or shipping out. The lockdown regulations have seen more and more companies change the way they do business. However, there is an industry that’s taking a massive hit with the travel ban and border regulations – illegal drug trade.

The COVID-19 pandemic is dealing heavy blows on the illicit drug trade – or at least for now. The closure of all ports of entry and travel restrictions has made it difficult for drug cartels to ship their products across borders. That’s not the only problem. There’s also a significant disruption in the supply chains. As it turns out, drug traffickers depend on chemicals produced in China to make profitable drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine. But with everything that’s happening, they have a hard time accessing these drug supplies.

Illicit drug market shortage

The extensive disruption is causing shortages of illicit drugs in the US and UK, according to a United Nations report released on April 1. For instance, meth supply has decreased in most parts of the US, causing its price to skyrocket. Heroin and cocaine have seen the same uptick in price. These could be attributed to the shift in demand and supply equilibrium. The report further revealed that illicit drug trade is still thriving in other countries including, Australia and parts of Asia amid the pandemic.

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When drug shortages occur, price and associated criminal activity tend to increase as well.

Marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and meth

As mentioned earlier, most drug traffickers get their synthetic drug supply (like crystal meth) from countries like China. But the air travel restrictions and flight cancellations are disrupting the normal operations.

The opiate seizures in the Indian Ocean show the impact that Coronavirus is having on the heroin business, considering these drugs are often trafficked by land.

Then there’s cocaine, which is mostly trafficked along maritime routes. The drugs have been detected in the European ports in the past few months.

Marijuana seems to be the only drug that hasn’t been widely affected by the virus since it’s grown and produced near places where it’s bought and sold. Still, smugglers aren’t very willing to ship marijuana across borders or regions under lockdown.

Potential causes of illicit drug shortages 

The supply and distribution of most illicit drugs (especially those that rely on ingredients sourced from China, Afghanistan, Colombia, etc.) are restricted as countries close their borders to control the deadly Coronavirus. Several reports show a reduction in supplies of synthetic marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.

A post on Forbes speculates that the Covid-19 lockdown is putting darknet drug cartels out of business. It further states that the lockdown is hitting pubs, clubs, bars, and other drug-taking hotspots, but darknet dealers accept bitcoin as payment too. Bitcoin, which allows users to purchase illicit drugs, stolen goods, and even guns, has seen a significant drop in spending since the onset of the virus.

Again, with the transit routes through South America having shut down, drug trafficking cartels are unable to cross the Southwest border. There has also been a dramatic reduction in the foot and car traffic to and from Mexico, a major source of America’s heroin. Not to mention the stay-at-home orders and increased law enforcement (police presence) that discourages both buyers and dealers from meeting in public.

The report from the UNODC highlights the potential effects the pandemic may have on drug production in countries like Afghanistan, which cultivates about 90% of the global illicit opium. With March to June being the critical months for the opium harvest in the country, this year’s yields could go to waste if laborers won’t be willing (or able) to travel to where the poppies are grown.

People are "panic-buying" drugs

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People aren't just stocking up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Many are panic-buying illegal drugs, due to the fear of looming global shortages.

Those who manage to access illicit drugs like cocaine are panic-buying so that they don’t run out of stock should the supply run out. An anonymous drug dealer told The Guardian that they do not expect any more cocaine shipments from abroad for six weeks. He said, “I sell cocaine and cannabis to suppliers in the north of England. I have 20 guys on the street servicing about 200 regular clients. But right now, we have two major concerns: sourcing drugs and making enough cash. With the looming shortage, my customers are buying ridiculous amounts of cannabis.”

Harmful patterns affecting public health

Of course, as you would expect, people won’t behave rationally, whether it’s about buying sanitizers or marijuana. What we have seen happen with essential goods is a depiction of what’s happening in the drug world. Whenever possible, some users stock up on their drug of choice, leading to supply issues. Stockpiling might cause users to consume more drugs than usual. And when they exhaust their stock, and cannot get more, they could end up with withdrawal syndrome.

Inevitably, they’ll try alternative drug which exposes them to harm because they may not be used to the drug or know the safe doses. The same applies to the group that cannot stock up because of different reasons – like lack of money. They also will turn to substitutes, like diazepam, fentanyl, benzodiazepines, and so on. This shortage is increasing the number of IV (injection) users who are sharing needles to share what’s available. This exposes them to the risk of contracting hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, and Coronavirus itself.

Drug cartels are getting smarter

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When the government fights the illegal drug trade, organized crime and the drug cartels fight back harder.

The UN warns that the Covid-19 pandemic may present new opportunities to some cartels. Indications reveal that drug smugglers are adapting their strategies, with some having started to take advantage of the situation to boost their image among the population by offering solutions to the vulnerable. This prompted the Trump administration to launch a war on drugs to combat drug trafficking amid Coronavirus pandemic.  In the briefing, the president said the country must not let the drug kingpins and smugglers exploit the Corona outbreak to threaten American lives. He added that the US Southern Command would increase surveillance and seizures and disruption of the drug shipment.

The medical marijuana craze has ignited a multi-billion dollar industry. From oils to tinctures to lotions to lattes to e-cigarettes in all shapes and sizes, for pain, anxiety, depression, seizures, autism, soft skin, hangover, etc., marijuana is everywhere. In fact, those who invested in top marijuana companies in 2016 are potentially up more than 1000%. Yet another danger lurks under the guise of "synthetic marijuana", "K2", or "spice".

It is not a surprise that marijuana is gaining popularity globally, including on Wall Street. After all, cannabinoid (CBD) –the second most prevalent ingredient in marijuana – has been touted for different health issues. It’s also backed scientifically for its effectiveness in treating the worst childhood epilepsy syndromes like Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet Syndrome which fail to respond to antiseizure drugs. Studies have also shown its effectiveness in addressing anxiety and chronic pain too.

But the main concern with CBD products is that they are mainly sold as a supplement as opposed to medication. At the moment, the FDA has only approved Epidiolex for a prescription, and does not control the purity and safety of dietary supplements. So it is hard to tell whether a product has active ingredients at the dose as indicated or other unknown elements.

One study tested 84 CBD products from 31 companies and revealed that 69% were mislabeled. Some had too much CBD; some had no CBD at all. Some contained too much THC – the active ingredient in marijuana that’s associated with the “high”. Other surveys indicated that a fraction of the products contained harmful synthetics that are health hazards.

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Both the legal and illegal marijuana business is booming across the United States. Pot farms, like this one are creating a variety of products, with little oversight.

Medical marijuana can be safe and beneficial to human health. The only reason marijuana is still federally illegal is because of THC, which affects one’s ability to concentrate, focus and even keep track of time. But with the rising popularity and demand of the legal natural marijuana, numerous companies have sought to simultaneously minimize production time and boost profits by creating synthetic cannabinoids.

What is Synthetic Marijuana?

Synthetic CBDs are a large family of chemically unrelated compounds that act on the same brain cell receptors as THC. Synthetic marijuana products are human-made, but mimic THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. They are misleadingly marketed as legal and safe alternatives to real marijuana. However, synthetic cannabis affects the brain more than natural marijuana, and their effect can be dangerous or even life-threatening. Unsuspecting users (mostly teens and young adults) assume that the fake weed is harmless – but that’s a grave mistake.

Synthetic marijuana is either sold as a liquid to be vaporized and inhaled or sprayed onto plant material to be smoked. It goes by several other names:

About synthetic cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids are not one drug. Manufacturers produce and sell hundreds of different synthetic chemicals. Each year, new products with unknown health risks make entry into the market. As mentioned earlier, fake weeds are prevalent because consumers believe they are legal and relatively safe. This can be linked to the misconception that many users have, that marijuana is a naturally occurring weed and is, therefore, safe to use (but that’s not all there is to it). Depending on what’s available or personal preference, synthetic cannabinoids is either:

In 2010, over 11,000 individuals were admitted to the emergency room due to synthetic marijuana use, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And in 2016, 2,695 calls were made to poison control centers about people who were harmed by using synthetic CBD. What’s disturbing is that 75% of these people were between 12 and 29 years old.

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Many teenagers and young adults are turning to synthetic marijuana to pass drug tests, or because they think it is a natural, safe alternative to cannabis. It can be quite dangerous, however.

K2 Users beware

Most K2/Spices are illicit. So, manufacturers try to get around the laws by producing new drugs with different ingredients or by marking them as “not fit for human consumption.” They are labeled not for human to mask the intended purpose and avoid the FDA’s control of the manufacturing process.

Synthetic cannabis products are not safe. And since there are no standards for producing, packaging or distributing the chemicals, it might be hard to tell the contents of products and the potential reaction. Again, synthetic CBD can have varying levels of chemicals between batches, or even within the same batch. The products may also be contaminated with toxic chemicals or drugs.

Side Effects of Synthetic Marijuana

Synthetic marijuana can have adverse effects on the brain and overall health. Common side effects of synthetic cannabinoids include:

Note that these effects may vary based on factors like the type of synthetic marijuana, the dose and duration of use. K2 can be addictive, meaning a person may experience withdrawal symptoms when they quit cold turkey.

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While it may look nearly identical to weed, synthetic cannabis can actually be very dangerous to the user.

Incidences Involving Synthetic Marijuana

The CDC issued a warning after receiving reports of multiple cases from the Department of Public Health, including deaths among those who used fake K2. Other states have also reported the same cases. The warning urged everyone who’s bought a product that goes by names (spice, K2 or synthetic marijuana) to throw it out. It also encouraged those who had already used to call for help or go to the closest healthcare facility in case they experience severe, unexplained bruising or bleeding.

In another report, synthetic marijuana –which is 85 times more potent than THC – led to a “Zombie Outbreak” in New York City in 2016. For several hours, users were staring blankly, moving slowly and occasionally groaning. 18 out of the 33 people who displayed signs were transported to the hospital. The incidence happened after using K2 that Reddit users describe as “out-of-this-world potent.”

In 2018, 71 people overdosed from synthetic CDB in Connecticut. A significant percentage of the cases occurred on the New Haven Green. And although no deaths were reported, six or more victims had near-death experiences. In the same year, the drug was linked to 22+ cases of severe bleeding from gums, nose and in urine in the Chicago area.

A lot has changed in the clubbing world. Years back, baggy cotton tees and trousers were the "in" thing. But today, ravers rock designer clothes and statement pieces. Well, maybe it’s because the crowd is getting younger, and selfies are at the center stage of it all. So are club drugs.

Unlike decades ago when clubbing was all about music and alcohol, teens and young adults of the day now have easy access to club drugs. Most of them assume that these substances are harmless and good for fun. However, as you will notice in this article, club drugs are anything but “fun drugs.”

What is a club drug?

As the name suggests, club drugs are commonly found at parties, concerts, night dance clubs, and bars. They are used in these settings to improve the experience or influence other people’s behaviors. Most forms of these drugs are illegal and can produce a range of unwanted effects, including serious injury, illness, or even death. These effects can result from repeated use, one-time use, or use with other substances like alcohol.

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Taking drugs at a party is almost a rite of passage for many young adults.

Club drugs go by a range of slang names. Unless you have inside knowledge, you might easily mistake a name for another thing. As an example, what comes to your mind when you hear the words “Love Biscuit” or “rolldogs” or “Scooby Snacks?” All these names are aliases for ecstasy. Other common club drugs include; GHB, Rohypnol, MDMA, ecstasy, methamphetamine, ketamine, and LSD.

Understanding the different categories of club drugs

Hallucinogens: These are a class of drugs that distort one’s perception of reality. Hallucinogens cause a person to hear, see, or feel things that are not real.

Stimulants: Stimulants increase activity in the body by speeding up the messages between the body and brain. They make the user feel more alert, awake, energetic, and confident.

Depressants: Depressants lower neurotransmission levels, thus reducing stimulation or arousal in different parts of the body. These drugs can slow brain activity.

Depressant club drugs

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)

GHB (aka Georgia Home Boy, date rape drug, liquid ecstasy, or G) is a colorless and odorless drug that’s used for both date rape and recreational reasons. The central nervous system depressant is said to promote sex drive, tranquility, and euphoria, and is often added to alcohol to increase its effects. This is why perpetrators use GHB to drug victims before a sexual assault and why it is a good idea to never leave your drink unattended.

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Rohypnol and GHB are commonly referred to as "date rape drugs". They are odorless and flavorless, so they can be spiked in a drink without most people realizing it.

Rohypnol 

Rohypnol (aka Roche or roofies) is an odorless and tasteless drug that readily dissolves in carbonated drinks. It is available in an olive-green or white pill and is often sold in the manufacturer’s bubble. Users crush the pill into powder form and either smoke, snort, sprinkle on marijuana, inject or dissolve it in a drink. Rohypnol is one of the most heavily used rape drugs because they either make the victim susceptible to suggestion or put them in an unconscious state.

Hallucinogenic club drugs

Ketamine 

Ketamine (special K or K) is a central nervous system sedative and an anesthetic that causes loss of memory, learning ability and attention span when taken in small amounts. Higher doses can cause depression, amnesia, delirium, severe breathing problems, or high blood pressure.

3, 4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) 

MDMA (aka Molly, ecstasy, Adam, or X) is a synthetic drug that alters perception and mood. It has similar chemical properties as stimulants and produces feelings of pleasure, increased energy, distorted sensory, emotional warmth, and time perception. People take it as a tablet or capsule form, though some snort the powder or swallow it in liquid form. Molly (short for molecular, or molecule) refers to the perceived “pure” crystal powder form of MDMA. However, vendors often disguise and sell bath salts (synthetic cathinones) as Molly.

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While club drugs may seem fun at the time, there are numerous, negative side effects of these drugs. They are also often laced with other, more dangerous drugs like Fentanyl or meth.

Stimulant club drugs

Methamphetamine 

Methamphetamine (aka meth, crystal, ice, fire, speed) is used to boost one’s energy levels by speeding the body’s processes. It’s a highly addictive stimulant that alters the central nervous system. People can take meth by snorting, swallowing, smoking, and injection. And since the ”high” from the drug spikes and fades quickly, people usually take repeated doses.

Date rape drugs

As discussed earlier, date-rape drugs make it easier for perpetrators to rape or sexually assault unsuspecting victims. The victim - after consuming the rape drugs - may feel confused. He or she may have trouble defending themselves and not be able to remember what transpired later on. “Date rape” does not necessarily happen on a date – and the perpetrator might be a stranger or even someone close to the victim.

It is not uncommon for one to wake up in a stranger’s bed with no memory of how they got there. In worst-case scenarios, they may wake up by the roadside or behind a building without the slightest idea of what happened. Keep in mind that both men and women are equally at risk of sexual assault, theft, and so on. That’s why anyone who plans to attend clubs, parties, or bars should understand ways to avoid falling prey.

How to avoid date rape drugs

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Always keep a close eye on your beverage. You could easily be "roofiied" without your knowledge if someone is able to slip some drugs into your drink.

Prevalence of club drugs among teens and young adults

A 2019 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that 3.6% and 5.6% of 12th graders in the US had used LSD in the past year or their lifetime, respectively. The study indicated that 2.2% of 12th graders had used MDMA in 2018, while 3.3% had in their lifetime.

NIDA’s national survey also accessed the trends in the prevalence of different drugs for ages 12 and older and established that 11% of young people aged 26 and older have used LSD in their lifetime. 7.5% and 6.5% in the same age bracket had used MDMA and methamphetamine in their lifetime.

Side effects of club drugs

Side effects can be short or long term, and vary from person to person. Types of drugs, amount used, mixing different drugs and personal medical conditions also influence the kind of effects that one experiences. Health problems may appear 10-20 minutes after use, and include:

Conclusion

Club drugs (depressants, stimulants, methamphetamines, and/or hallucinogens) affect the central nervous system and the brain. They can make someone do things that they would not do under normal circumstances and they are very popular in the music festival culture. They also pose potential health, legal, emotional and financial ramifications. That’s why it’s wise to refrain from using, and also protect yourself from possible spiking.

Imagine creating the very addictive Oxycontin, an opioid product that people must have. I mean, they need your product so bad that they’re willing to sacrifice their own career, their loved ones, and even life itself to buy what you’re selling. Now distribute this product through a nationwide network of trusted salespeople who also make a great deal of money by selling your product.

Imagine how rich you would be.

That’s exactly what happened to one family in America with their invention of OxyContin.

How did prescription drug abuse become such a major problem in America?

Opioids have been on the market since 1911 and until the 90’s, the use of these narcotics was limited to very specific circumstances. These powerful pain killers would only be prescribed for end-of-life care or post-surgical pain relief. Everyone within the medical profession understood that these drugs were highly addictive. These drugs were ripe for abuse.

That all changed in 1996.

That was the year the Sackler family who owns Purdue Pharma released a new pain medication called OxyContin – a long-acting form of oxycodone. Purdue Pharma makes other pain killers, but this one was a blockbuster hit. Because of it, the Sacklers became one of the wealthiest families in the US. It was reported that their net worth reached $14 billion in 2015 (yes, that’s a “b” for billions). The wealth was created largely on the strength of profits from OxyContin.

How did they do it?

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Opioid addiction has helped fuel the prescription drug epidemic in the US.

When OxyContin was first introduced to the market in 1996, Purdue Pharma heavily promoted their new pain killer as being relatively safe from abuse.

And better yet, Oxycontin was a long-acting painkiller, they said. This meant the drug was excellent for chronic pain, especially if patients used the twice-daily dosage recommendation.

This was simply not true (as history has shown us). In fact, it was a lie.

The first seeds of the opioid epidemic were planted. Doctors and hospitals began prescribing opioids for long term and chronic pain, and they did so with little or no clinical evidence to back these claims. To make matters worse, Purdue Pharma poured money into the joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. They even created a rating system for Doctors and Hospitals that punished or rewarded those for how well they reduced pain in their patients.

Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University says the pharmaceutical industry financed a “multi-faceted campaign” that “changed the way the medical community thought about opioids and changed the culture of opioid prescribing in the United States.”

You don’t have to look far to see that he is right. The opioid crisis in the U.S. is an “American thing”. It’s uniquely ours. We prescribe opioids to our citizens 40% more than any other developed country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) U.S. opioid prescriptions almost quadrupled over a 15-year period.

"Pill Mills" and the distribution of opioids.

After the release of Oxycontin, potent narcotics began to flood the U.S. and sales for this highly addictive substance skyrocketed. They go on to report that the number of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals and doctors’ offices almost quadrupled from 1999 to 2014. An odd fact since they found no evidence of a change in Americans’ overall reported pain.

Enter the distributors. With such a demand for product, it’s easy to understand how the greedy and unscrupulous jumped into the action. Across the country, pain clinics began to pop-up. These clinics had no real desire to learn if the patient’s pain was real. They were created to simply dispense these pain killers to patients even when there was no legitimate medical reason. It was easy for a clinic to see 50 or 60 patients in a day, charging them anywhere from $200 to $400 for a quick exam and a prescription for their “pain”.

Besides these pill mills, many doctors bear responsibility for failing to do their own research and failing to dig into the bogus claims made by the pharmaceutical industry.

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Thousands of Americans have lost a loved one to the opioid epidemic.

The result of the increased use of prescription painkillers: the drug overdose epidemic in the US.

Back to the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma.

The Sacklers appear to be good people.  They have a long history of doing good. They donate to civic programs and symphonies so why did the state of Massachusetts sue the Sacklers? Money. It’s that simple. This epidemic has become extremely expensive  (link to our cost blog)  for all levels of government. In fact, the costs are staggering. Not only does the epidemic come with medical and law enforcement costs, but it has an enormous impact on productivity with 10.3 million Americans abusing the substance.

They need some of this money, too.

Addicts make lousy taxpayers and these costs are becoming a huge burden on our society. Massachusetts was the first to sue the family behind the company, but many states, counties, and cities from all corners of America are lining up to sue Purdue Pharma.

And it’s not just the Sacklers.

The 76-year-old founder of Insys Therapeutics, John Kapoor has recently been sentenced to more than 5 years in prison. The former billionaire aggressively marketed the powerful opioid  Subsys and was the first successful prosecution of a pharmaceutical executive tied to the opioid epidemic.

U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs who sentenced Kapoor said, “This was an offense of greed.”

We are still in the grip of this crisis with the recent wave of overdose deaths from fentanyl, a dangerously powerful and synthetic opioid.

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Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from this epidemic. An epidemic that has put billions of dollars into the pockets of pharmaceutical manufacturers like Purdue Pharma. Their role in this crisis is coming into focus now as more litigations and investigations are directed toward these profiteers. As insurance companies get charged exorbitant amounts of money for shady drug rehab programs, perhaps the true culprits will finally be held accountable.

Maybe we should start petitioning to have some of this money go toward evidence-based drug rehab for those who became addicted. Thoughts?

 

References:

Emanuel, Gabrielle.  Opioid Executive John Kapoor Found Guilty In Landmark Bribery Case May 2, 2019

Center for Disease Control } Opioid Overdose https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/prescribing.html

Affairs (ASPA), Assistant Secretary of Public (December 4, 2017). "What is the U.S. Opioid Epidemic?". HHS.gov. Retrieved December 16, 2019.

Scholl L, Seth P, Kariisa M, Wilson N, Baldwin G. Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths – United States, 2013-2017. WR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep.

Kolodny et al. 2015. The prescription opioid and heroin crisis: A public health approach to an epidemic of addictionexternal icon. Annual Review of Public Health 2015 (36); 559-74.

When you think of illegal drugs, the environment may not be the first thought in your mind. Contrary to what most people may believe, illegal drug use does harm the environment in multiple ways.

Cocaine is one of the most serious offenders in the drug world. Before we get into the actual process by which cocaine harms the environment, let’s go over some of the basics about the drug itself.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is an illegal drug that is fairly common among those who are addicted to drugs. Its effects are noticed very quickly, but also disappear very quickly as well. Due to its short-term effects, cocaine is often abused multiple times a day and can lead to severe health consequences. [1]

Due to the short length of time that cocaine affects the user, it can get very pricey very quickly. Many people find themselves becoming so addicted that they dose multiple times a day and run through their savings quickly.

Cocaine also has some serious health effects which can even lead to death. Cocaine is so damaging to the heart that even a first-time user can have a fatal heart attack. Cocaine alters the body in some serious ways, leading to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and increased body temperature.

In addition to the physical effects listed above, cocaine also has some powerful mental effects. Cocaine can cause feelings of anger, irritability, anxiety, and paranoia.

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How Cocaine Usage Effects the Environment

Cocaine is one of the most environmentally destructive drugs on the planet. Cocaine production doesn’t just end up causing pollution, but actually destroys the rainforest itself.

In order to understand how cocaine affects the environment so much, we need to back up and look at how cocaine is created.

Cocaine is extracted from coca leaves, which are found primarily in the Amazon rainforest in South America. The amazon is a massive rainforest and makes up a significant portion of the world’s trees and biome.

Drug cartels and smugglers create cocaine from the leaves of the coca tree. The process by which cocaine is created is extremely inefficient and involves cutting down many trees to make a small amount of powdered cocaine.

This means that the higher the demand for cocaine becomes, the more coca trees are needed. Cartel members and other cocaine producers are constantly being met with a huge demand that they seek to fill.

This demand leads to them chop down the rainforest in order to clear room for more coca trees. Cocaine producers don’t care about the environment, plant life, or animal life in the area, and often cut or burn down large portions of the Amazon rainforest in order to make room for more coca trees.

This leads to out of control fires and the loss of many different species of plant and animal life. There are many species of animals that live in the Amazon rainforest that are now endangered due to these practices. Some endangered species in the amazon include golden lion tamarin monkeys, poison dart frogs, harpy eagles, and jaguars.

 

Effects of Cocaine Production on Local Human Life

Besides harming the environment, cocaine harms billions of lives every year. There are obvious cases such as those who use cocaine personally, but there are other cases you might not have thought about yet either.

Gangs in Columbia and other parts of the amazon rainforest are always doing what they can to produce as much cocaine as possible. They generally don’t care about human life, the environment, or anything else besides money.

There is so much gang violence and competition for cocaine production that many people are killed by gangs in the area. These gangs are fighting for control of portions of the Amazon so that they can produce even more cocaine. In addition, gangs will often place land mines and other incendiary devices throughout the rainforest so that people won’t steal their crop of coca trees.

These landmines claim hundreds of innocent victims' lives every day, and also cause the death of many animals in the rainforest.

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Native tribes and other people who live near or in the amazon are often uprooted and have their possessions stolen or burned by gangs who are creating more space for their cocaine production efforts.

Children are often used as manual labor for harvesting coca leaves and treated inhumanely. They are even sometimes told to use cocaine, and subsequently, become addicted. These inhumane labor forces are used to destroy the rainforest and harvest coca leaves, which are then turned into the drug cocaine.

 

Indirect Effects of Cocaine Usage and Production

In addition to harming animals, plant life, and the environment, cocaine usage has some seriously damaging effects on individual communities. Cocaine sales put more and more money in the pockets of gang members, which trickles back into the pockets of those cartels who destroy the environment to produce more and more of the drug.

This also leads to violence in the community, as many gangs and individuals fight over rights to sell cocaine, and even fight over usage of the drug itself.

In the USA, law enforcement spends over $25 billion every year on drug treatment, prevention, and enforcement actions. A good portion of this drug-related spending is from cocaine itself, which means cocaine is harming people, animals, the environment, and even indirectly increasing the amount we pay for taxes.

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Adding It All Up

Cocaine may seem like any other illegal drug, but it has some serious lasting effects that go beyond just the user’s life. Cocaine production is responsible for major environmental destruction.

This environmental destruction has led to the endangerment of multiple species, the destruction of native tribes, and the destruction of the rainforest itself.

In addition to the environmental issues noted above, cocaine is responsible for billions of dollars of government spending, and only amplifies gang-related crimes in countries around the world.

 

 

[1] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-short-term-effects-cocaine-use

[2] https://sites.psu.edu/endangeredenvironment/2016/02/12/the-amazon-rainforest/

 

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