Over the years, much progress has been made in reducing the stigma surrounding certain medical conditions, such as HIV and cancer. However, the same cannot be said for substance use disorders. Those struggling with addiction often face blame and shame for their condition, which can lead to a lack of understanding, support, and effective treatment. Overcoming addiction stigma is crucial to helping people get the help they so desperately need.
Despite the recognition of addiction as a disease, many individuals still view it as a personal choice or moral failure. In fact, research shows that addiction is more highly stigmatized than other health issues like mental illness. In fact:
These statistics highlight the extent of stigma and discrimination those struggling with substance abuse face. The negative attitudes and beliefs towards people with substance use disorders are deeply ingrained in society and often result in individuals facing isolation, shame, and difficulty accessing support and treatment. And when the country is waging war on drugs due to the opioid crisis, it is more important than ever to address the stigma and discrimination towards people struggling with substance abuse.
Stigma increases the risk of opioid overdose cases by discouraging people from seeking help due to fear of rejection. It can also prevent people in recovery from being able to fully reintegrate into society, impacting their employment, housing, and social opportunities. It is important to challenge these stigmatizing beliefs and attitudes toward addiction and promote empathy, understanding, and support for those struggling with addiction. Ending stigma is the best way to save lives.
Stigma refers to negative attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes that are attached to individuals or groups based on certain characteristics or circumstances, such as addiction. Stigma can create a barrier for individuals seeking help or support and exacerbate feelings of shame, guilt, low self-worth, and isolation.
According to the 2021 survey by NSDUH, 40.7 million adults with substance use disorders did not get treatment at a specialty facility. Of this number, 39.5 million (96.8%) didn’t feel like they needed treatment, and 837,000 (2.1%) believed they needed care but didn’t try to get treatment.
Some examples of stigma towards those with addiction include:
Stigma related to heavy drinking and illegal drug use can come from various sources, including primary care physicians, friends, family, employers, media, and society. The justice system also contributes to stigma because it incarcerates those with addiction instead of helping them seek treatment.
Various resources are available for people struggling with addiction, including support groups like Alcoholic’s Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which offer a community of peers who understand the challenges of addiction. You can also join inpatient or outpatient programs for a safe and supportive environment that allows you to focus on your recovery. Treatment centers provide a range of treatment options that include:
Remember that recovery is a journey, and it is important to be patient and kind to yourself along the way. You can overcome addiction and lead a healthy and fulfilling life with the right support and resources. Don’t suffer in silence; reach out for help today.
Harm reduction is a public health approach that aims to reduce the harms associated with drug or alcohol use, even if the individual is not yet ready to quit. Harm reduction strategies can include safe injection sites, needle exchange programs, and overdose prevention initiatives. Harm reduction efforts can help individuals manage the risks associated with drug or alcohol use and provide a supportive and non-judgmental approach to addiction.
If you are struggling with addiction, knowing that you are not alone is important. Addiction is a common issue that affects millions of people around the world. While it may feel like you are the only one dealing with this problem, many others are also struggling and seeking help. By reaching out for help, you can connect with others who understand what you are going through and provide you with support and encouragement.
Needle exchange programs (NEPs) or syringe services programs (SSPs) are public health initiatives that provide clean needles and other injection equipment to people who inject drugs. They aim to reduce the transmission of blood-borne infections, such as HIV and hepatitis C, among drug users. NEPs also often offer other health services, such as:
Needle exchange programs provide needles and syringes to people who inject drugs. The program allows injection drug users to safely dispose of used needles and access new sterile ones. This helps reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and other blood-borne diseases that can be transmitted through sharing or reusing needles. NEPs also provide additional services mentioned above.
NEPs are usually located in pharmacies, clinics, and organizations that provide health or community services. But the services can be delivered at fixed sites, outreach programs, mobile programs, and syringe vending machines.
Studies have shown that NEPs are extremely beneficial to public health. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shared a summary of information on the safety and effectiveness of SSPs, which included data from 30 years of research on the matter.
According to the report, comprehensive NEPs are safe, effective, and economical and don’t promote crime or illegal drug use. In fact, new program users are 3x more likely to stop using drugs and 5x more likely to join addiction treatment than those who don’t use SSPs. The report also points to the effectiveness of NEPs in reducing the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne diseases.
Beyond the CDC report, other bodies, including the United States Department of Health and the National Institute of Health, endorse the program’s effectiveness in reducing HIV transmission and saving lives without losing ground in the battle against illegal drugs.
In addition to harm reduction, NEPs are cost-effective. They have reduced healthcare costs by preventing HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases, including endocarditis. A 2014 analysis revealed that each dollar spent on syringe exchanges saves the government about $7 in HIV-related healthcare costs.
The programs have also effectively reduced dangerous conditions in the communities where they are implemented. They do this by providing addicts with a safe, healthy place to dispose of used needles, thus eliminating the need to discard them on streets or playgrounds. This helps keep neighborhoods cleaner and reduces the risk of injury from discarded needles.
NEPs are designed to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases by providing a safe place for injection drug users to access sterile needles and dispose of used ones. This can help break the chain of transmission through sharing or reusing needles, as well as connect these individuals with substance abuse services.
Some argue that NEPs encourage substance abuse. But evidence from reputable sources, including the CDC, NIH, and Department of Health, shows that NEP does not promote drug use. The few cases indicating increased drug use should be analyzed to establish the circumstances under which negative effects might occur.
However, these scattered cases should not be used as a basis for discrediting the overall effectiveness of NEPs. These programs have reduced public health risks and provided a much-needed entry point into treatment and support services for people struggling with addiction.
Syringe services programs save lives by training drug users to prevent, quickly identify, and reverse opioid overdoses. Many NEPs give drug users and community members “overdose rescue kits” and educate them on how to recognize an overdose, give rescue breathing, and administer naloxone. Based on measures like hospitalizations for drug overdoses, there is no proof that community norms change in favor of drug use. For example, there were no increases in new drug users after the introduction of NEP in New Jersey, Hawaii, California, etc.
According to studies, NEPs protect the public and first responders by offering safe needle disposal and reducing the presence of needles in the community.
SSPs do more than improve health. Because they’re so practical and far cheaper than the lifetime cost of treating HIV and viral hepatitis, they save taxpayers money. There have been a lot of politics surrounding the programs, with most states and local governments limiting or prohibiting SSPs. However, some restrictions have been lifted, providing further opportunities to assess their effects.
NEPs are effective at reducing the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases, promoting safe needle disposal, and providing access to evidence-based addiction treatments and support services. They are cost-effective and have been shown not to encourage drug use in the communities they serve. With proper implementation, NEPs can help reduce the burden of infectious diseases, drug use, and overdose-related deaths in communities worldwide.
Drug overdose is a significant public health issue that affects all age groups. However, it is particularly concerning among seniors, who are dying at an alarming rate due to drug overdoses. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of seniors who have died from drug overdoses, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
This data reveals a frightening trend in drug overdose deaths among older adults. In a single decade, alcohol and drug use among the elderly has skyrocketed, and as a result, more and more seniors are dying of an overdose. It begs the question, is it that more people from the 60’s & 70’s counterculture movements (hippies, beatniks, etc.) are now approaching their golden years? Or, is it simply that illicit and prescription drugs are more dangerous nowadays?
Many factors contribute to the high overdose rates among the baby boomer population. Along with regular health care procedures and recreational drug use, more and more seniors are becoming a significant part of the drug overdose epidemic in the United States.
Prescription medications, particularly opioid painkillers, significantly contribute to drug overdose among seniors. According to the CDC, seniors are more likely to be prescribed opioids and other medicines for pain relief that can be misused or overdosed on. They are also more likely to experience adverse side effects from these medications, such as respiratory depression, which can be life-threatening.
There are several reasons why seniors may be at increased risk of overdose from prescription medications. One reason is that they are more likely to have chronic pain, terminal illness, dementia, etc., that require multiple medications, increasing the risk of drug interactions and overdose. Additionally, age-related changes in the body, such as decreased kidney or liver function, can affect how medications are metabolized, increasing the risk of overdose.
Prescription drug abuse is also an issue among seniors. Many people mistakenly believe prescription medications are safer than illicit drugs, so they may be more willing to abuse them.
Another major factor underlying drug overdose deaths in seniors is a history of substance abuse. Many individuals reaching their golden years were part of the “hippie” or “free love” counterculture movement in the 1960s and 1970s. During this era, the use of psychedelic drugs such as LSD was popular, as was the use of marijuana.
Unfortunately, many of these individuals have carried their substance abuse habits into old age. They are now more vulnerable to overdosing on substances due to decreased tolerance and physiological changes that come with aging.
Today’s drugs are more powerful and, therefore, more dangerous than in the past. For example, the synthetic opioid fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and can cause death in even small doses. Fentanyl has been linked to a dramatic increase in overdose deaths over the past few years and is particularly deadly for seniors due to their decreased tolerance.
Alcohol use has also increased among seniors, and heavy drinking is becoming more common in this age group. Binge drinking is a particular concern, as it can increase the risk of alcohol poisoning and other health problems. But in many cases, alcohol is pushed to the side in discussions about substance use and addiction.
Older adults are drinking alcohol, and this is driving deaths from overdose, accidents, and liver disease. Besides, mixing alcohol and other drugs, especially depressants, significantly increases overdose risk.
The National Institutes of Health points out that some seniors may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with significant life changes. Retirement, the death of a spouse, or illness can all be difficult for seniors to handle and can increase their risk of substance abuse. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on seniors, who are more likely to experience isolation and loneliness due to social distancing measures. These feelings can lead some seniors to abuse drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with their situation.
Mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or trauma, are a major risk factor for substance abuse and overdose in seniors. According to the World Health Organization, older adults are more likely to have mental health problems than their younger counterparts due to ongoing loss in capacities, the decline in functional ability, life-changing events, a drop in socioeconomic status with retirement, etc. These stressors can result in isolation, loneliness, or psychological distress in older people, leading to increased substance use and overdose.
Given the unique challenges that seniors face, it is important for caregivers, loved ones, and even healthcare providers to be aware of the warning signs of substance abuse and addiction and the available treatment options. Substance abuse is a serious issue that can lead to life-threatening consequences, and seniors need to get the help they need.
But in many cases, older adults have difficulty accessing treatment due to transportation, financial issues, and stigma. As such, they may need extra support and encouragement from family, friends, and the community.
If a senior is struggling with substance abuse, they must get professional help as soon as possible to lessen the risk of overdose and other health problems. By recognizing the unique challenges seniors face and addressing substance abuse issues early on, we can help to reduce the number of overdose deaths in this age group.
Methadone has been used to treat people with extreme pain for decades and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid addiction. According to SAMHSA, methadone can help people with opioid use disorder reduce their cravings and withdrawal symptoms, stay in treatment longer than those who are not taking it, and lower their chances of using illegal opioids.
However, some are still skeptical of its effectiveness in treating opioid addiction, citing the potential for misuse and abuse. They think that methadone can quickly become a replacement addiction and that it can still be used to get high. But proponents, who include top addiction professionals, argue broader use of methadone could help address the current opiate overdose epidemic in the US. They advocate for easier access to methadone treatment for opioid addiction, citing its potential benefits in helping people manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
This article will explore both sides of the argument and discuss the risks and benefits of using methadone as an addiction treatment.
Methadone is a powerful drug used for pain relief and opioid use disorders. It is a synthetic opioid, but unlike other opioids, it has been approved by the FDA to treat opioid addiction. It is one of the three medications approved in the US for opioid addiction treatment.
The drug works by binding to and blocking the opioid receptors in the brain, thus reducing cravings and preventing withdrawal symptoms. It is typically administered once a day at room temperature, though some people require more frequent doses. Methadone is available in liquid, powder, and tablet forms.
Methadone is extraordinarily effective if the standards of any epidemic are considered. A study found that those receiving the drug were 59% less likely to die of an overdose than those who did not receive it.
Methadone is used as part of a treatment program for opioid use disorder. Those receiving the drug to treat opioid addiction must receive it under the care of a qualified healthcare provider.
This provider prescribes the medication and supervises its use. After a period of stability, some people may be able to take the medication home and administer it themselves. However, this is an option only after they’ve gone through frequent tests and counseling sessions.
The duration of methadone treatment varies depending on the individual and the severity of their addiction. But the National Institute on Health recommends a minimum of 12 months. Some patients may need long-term maintenance. But those who are getting off the drug should work with their healthcare provider to gradually taper off the medication to avoid any life-threatening methadone withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone has long been controversial in the addiction treatment world. While advocates are proposing a significant expansion in access to the drug, the providers of methadone for addiction treatment are warning that caution should be used when prescribing the medication.
The primary concern for those who oppose expanded access to methadone is its potential for misuse and abuse. While methadone is effective for treating opioid addiction, allowing doctors to prescribe it to anyone could lead to low-quality care, abuse, and overdose on methadone itself.
At the moment, patients need to visit a methadone clinic each day for a single dose. They also need to be a part of an opioid treatment program and go through frequent drug tests, take part in counseling sessions, and prove that they’ve had opioid addiction for over a year.
Opponents of expansion strongly believe it’s essential that methadone treatment is accompanied by counseling and other services that opioid-trained professionals are qualified to offer. They also point to worrying statistics about methadone-related overdose. A recent estimate by NIDA found that methadone is involved in 3% of opioid-related overdoses.
On the other hand, advocates argue that methadone can be prescribed responsibly, with adequate monitoring and oversight. They point out that the benefits of broader access to methadone outweigh the potential risks. And that the risk of overdose is too high and that methadone can help treat addiction, reduce cravings and prevent long-term health problems caused by opioid addiction. According to the proponents, the opioid crisis has reached a level where any measure taken to reduce the number of overdoses is worth exploring.
Those in favor of expansion don’t see why increasing access should be a problem considering any healthcare provider can prescribe methadone for chronic pain treatment. They argue that strict regulation is only imposed on addiction treatment, which makes little sense and is a sign of the discrimination and stigma faced by OUD patients. Currently, no other drug is as restricted for approved use (opioid addiction), yet it has few restrictions when prescribed for pain management.
It is worth noting there have been fewer methadone-related deaths even after significant restrictions were lifted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lift allowed “stable” patients to bring home their weeks’ worth of methadone doses instead of going to a clinic every day for an amount.
Methadone is a safe and effective treatment when taken as prescribed. Patients should work closely with their healthcare provider to find the correct dose and frequency of administration that works for them. Patients should also take precautions when taking methadone, such as:
Some common side effects of methadone include:
Methadone is generally considered safe to use during pregnancy. However, it will likely cause harmful side effects to a developing fetus and should only be used when the benefits outweigh the risks. Breastfeeding women should consult their doctor before taking methadone, as it can be passed to the infant through breast milk.
For people with opioid addiction, many facilities offer comprehensive drug addiction treatment programs. These treatment plans include counseling, support groups, medical monitoring, and other therapies designed to help patients gain control of their addiction and begin the journey toward recovery.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been linked to increased drug overdoses across the United States. In fact, early data suggests that the number of overdose deaths in 2020 was higher than any previous year on record. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 92,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the US between May 2019 and May 2020. The CDC notes that although there was a rising trend in overdose deaths before the onset of the pandemic, the latest numbers show an increase in overdose deaths during the pandemic.
The overdose epidemic is a national public health crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has led to widespread outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis C, and numbers of deaths.
Overdose deaths from opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and in 2019 alone, over 49,000 people died from an opioid overdose. Synthetic opioids, particularly illicitly manufactured fentanyl, are responsible for the majority of these deaths.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. In 2020, more than 56,000 overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids (other than methadone). This number accounted for 82% of all opioid deaths in that year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the problem, as social distancing measures and lockdowns have led to increased drug use and overdoses. The pandemic also devastated the US economy, resulting in job losses and financial insecurity. This has led to increased stress and anxiety.
But overdose deaths aren’t just limited to opioid use alone. The CDC notes that preliminary data shows increases in overdoses involving stimulants, such as methamphetamine and cocaine. In the 12 months ending in May 2020, there was a significant increase in the number of overdose deaths involving stimulants.
Overdose deaths increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, there were nearly 92,000 overdose deaths involving illicit drugs and prescription opioids. This rise in overdoses is driven by several factors, including:
Experts believe that the stress and anxiety of the pandemic have a big role in overdose deaths. Many people who struggle with substance abuse use drugs as a way to cope with difficult emotions and situations. The added stress of the pandemic can be overwhelming for someone who is already struggling, leading them to use more drugs than usual.
The pandemic has resulted in a decrease in access to treatment and recovery services. With fewer resources available, many people are unable to get the help they need. This can lead to a decline in sobriety and an increase in drug use.
The social isolation and loneliness caused by the pandemic can also lead to an increase in drug use. People who struggle with substance abuse often use drugs as a way to cope with negative emotions. The isolation of the pandemic can trigger these emotions, leading to an increase in drug use.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a profound impact on mental health. The CDC reports that adults aged 18-24 experienced the largest increase in mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, during the pandemic. Mental health problems can lead to increased drug use and overdoses.
The pandemic has also resulted in a disruption in the supply of illicit drugs. The closure of borders and decrease in international travel has made it difficult for drug dealers to get their hands on illicit drugs. This has led to more dangerous substances being sold on the street.
Street drugs can be extremely dangerous for people who use illicit drugs, as it increases the risk of overdose. The disruption of the supply of illicit drugs also increased the price of drugs, which pushed some to cheaper alternatives, which could be more potent.
The coronavirus pandemic has also exacerbated racial disparities in drug overdoses. While the number of overdose deaths has increased, the increase has been highest among Black people. In 2020, there was a 44% overdose death rate among black people and 39% for Alaska Native and American Indians. White people had 22%.
The increase in deaths is largely driven by illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Blacks were more likely to die from an overdose involving fentanyl.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, overdose deaths have been on the rise in the United States for the past two decades. But the numbers increased sharply during the pandemic. The opioid epidemic has had a devastating effect on families and communities across the country, and it is clear that something needs to be done to prevent further tragedy. Here are some things that can be done to prevent overdose deaths:
· One way to reduce the number of overdose deaths is to increase access to treatment for substance abuse disorders. This includes everything from prevention and early intervention programs to specialized treatment facilities.
· Additionally, it is important to increase access to naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone is available without a prescription in many states, and it can be administered by family members or bystanders.
By increasing access to treatment and naloxone, we can start to turn the tide on the opioid epidemic and prevent more lives from being lost to overdose.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the lives of people struggling with addiction. Any ground gained in harm reduction for drug addiction in the last few years was overwhelmed by COVID-19. The isolation and loneliness of the pandemic, as well as the disruption in the supply of illicit drugs, have led to an increase in drug use and overdoses. Racial disparities in overdose deaths have also been exacerbated by the pandemic.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, it is important to get help as soon as possible. Addiction treatment can save lives.
Poverty is one of the most significant predictors of drug abuse and addiction. Individuals who live in poverty are more likely to turn to drugs to cope with the stress and challenges of their lives. At the same time, drug abuse can lead to further poverty, chronic illness, and mental health problems.
A 2019 study found that most opioid overdose cases across 17 states were concentrated in zip codes with lower education and median household income as well as higher rates of unemployment and poverty. Another UNODC study dubbed Socioeconomic Characteristics and Drug Use Disorders found that those who belong to disadvantaged groups had the highest relative level of risk of suffering from an addiction. This could be due to homelessness, social exclusion and inequality, and mental health problems that are also synonymous with poverty.
While poverty is not the only factor for substance abuse in the United States, it is certainly important. People living in poverty are more likely to be predisposed to risk factors linked to higher rates of substance abuse. They may also live in poverty-stricken areas often home to illegal drug activity, making drugs more accessible.
The link between poverty and drug abuse is complex and multi-layered. Poverty can both lead to drug abuse and be a consequence of it.
There are several ways that poverty increases the likelihood of drug abuse. For example, people who grow up in poverty may be more likely to associate with others who use drugs, making them more likely to develop a substance abuse problem. Biological factors are also at play, as people who live in poverty are more likely to experience chronic stress, which can alter brain chemistry and make someone more vulnerable to addiction. Financial issues can be a leading source of stress for many younger adults.
Here’s a quick look at some of the ways poverty can contribute to drug abuse:
Poverty and drug abuse often go hand-in-hand. Drug use can also lead to poverty in different ways.
Individuals struggling with addiction often need help addressing the underlying causes of their drug abuse. This may include treatment for addiction and mental health problems. Treatment facilities should also address underlying issues causing the addiction. This includes things like providing:
Treating the root causes of addiction gives individuals a better chance of achieving long-term recovery. This, in turn, can help break the cycle of poverty and addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please reach out for help. There are many resources available to those who need them.
It is not easy to tell that a loved one is abusing drugs, especially in the early stages of addiction. You may notice changes in their moods or behaviors, but that could be anything. However, if your intuition tells you there’s a problem, it might be worth taking stock of your concern. A great place to start is to watch out for paraphernalia.
People who abuse drugs often use items like spoons, silicone bongs, glass bongs, beaker bongs, acrylic bongs, roach clips, etc., to produce, hide or administer drugs. So, if you find these items in their belongings, it could be a sign that they are abusing drugs. In which case, you may need to help them get the help they need to stop abusing drugs.
Abusing drugs doesn’t always translate to addiction, but it is a precursor to addiction. Early intervention is therefore critical to preventing addiction and accompanying problems.
It can be challenging to identify drug paraphernalia because they look like legitimate items. Marijuana pipes and bongs for sale, for example, often have a disclaimer indicating they’re meant to be used only with tobacco products.
While drug paraphernalia varies from one manufacturer to another, more manufacturers are making them in bright, trendy colors with designs like dragons, wizards, devils, and skulls. They do this to glamorize drug use and make their product appealing to their target market.
An essential part of understanding drug use is identifying the items that drug addicts use to hide, consume or produce drugs. You may find these items in your loved one’s backpack, car, or bedroom.
Note: If you come across any drug items in your loved one’s belongings, you might be tempted to check them out. But you should not touch these items as some drugs may be absorbed through the skin.
Roach clips are great for pinning the hair back. But drug users may use them to hold the blunt or joint to avoid burning their fingers when they become too short to hold. You can also watch out for small joints and blunts in the trash can.
Smoking devices like hand pipes, bongs, dab rigs, DIY disposable devices, and hookahs are also very common among those who smoke marijuana.
Tin foil scraps or pieces of aluminum foil are everyday household items and could be easy to ignore. But if you find them in your loved one’s belongings or the waste bin, it could be a sign they’re smoking heroin or inhaling meth fumes.
People who smoke drugs chop the crystals with razors or ATM cards and place them onto a foil. They then hold it over a lighter or candle. When it smokes, they use a dollar bill, rolled-up foil straw, metal straw, or glass straw to inhale the smoke.
One of the first signs that your loved one is using drugs is missing spoons. Suddenly, you’ll notice your cutlery service for 12 is down to 8 spoons, etc.
Drug addicts use spoons for cooking powdered drugs. They place the drug in the spoon bowl, add some water, and heat it over the flame until it becomes liquid. But since they can’t return the burnt spoon, they’ll hide it for their next use.
Alternatively, they may use bottle caps and hold them with pliers. You may also find a burnt lighter as these go hand in hand.
Needle tracks or “track marks” on your loved one’s body are apparent signs of cocaine, heroin, meth, or prescription painkiller abuse. But like other addicts, your loved one may do a great job hiding the track marks. So, if you find needles or syringes along with some belt or elastic bands in their rooms or backpacks, that might be a clear indication they’re using. Belts or bands are used to constrict the upper leg or arm to make the veins more prominent for injection.
Glass water pipes or bongs indicate that someone is smoking cannabis, spice or other herbal substances like K2 or “spice”. A bong is a portable filtration device with a bowl outside of a vertical tube and water at the bottom of the pipe for water filtration.
A glass water pipe is just one type of bong. Others include ceramic, plastic, metal, and bamboo. Bongs also come in different designs, including beakers, round base, percolators, straight tube, and multi-chamber. Multi-chamber pipes provide a smooth hit. They can also be incredibly small like a mini bong.
These might be harmless. But when there’s suspicion about drug use, it’s best to pay attention to any plastic and small paper bags in their belongings. People who abuse drugs store and carry drugs in makeup bags and plastic baggies.
These two seem harmless but are often used by people who abuse drugs like meth or ecstasy. Usually, these drugs cause teeth grinding and jaw clenching. So, users use pacifiers or lollipops to prevent these side effects from happening while they’re intoxicated.
At the end of the day, finding these items in your loved one’s belongings doesn’t guarantee that they’re struggling with drug addiction. It’s, therefore, crucial to watch out for other signs before taking the next step. Some indications of addiction may include:
If your loved one has drug paraphernalia and is exhibiting some of the signs shared above, it’s time to act fast. Start talking with professionals to determine treatment options suitable for your loved one. Remember, every addiction patient is different, so a one-size-fits-all approach may not apply in your case.
Using more than one drug at a time is dangerous, yet people still experiment with various drugs. Most drug combinations intensify the effects of each individual drug making them more dangerous than they were before.
Combining substances, whether illicit or prescription drugs may result in drug overdose, and in some cases, death. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, mixing drugs can change the way an active ingredient works. It can amplify the ingredient’s effect on the body, make it less effective or have other unexpected results.
Some popular drug combinations that kill are:
· Gray death.
· Alcohol and benzodiazepines.
· Heroin and cocaine.
· MDMA and magic mushrooms.
Let’s look at these popular drug combinations in detail.
This is a lethal drug combination that is gaining popularity at a very high rate among the youth. It consists of different varieties of opioids such as:
· The powerful painkiller fentanyl
· An animal tranquilizer carfentanil
· U-47700 a synthetic opioid popularly known as “Pink”.
The combination resembles gravel or concrete mixing powder which can be smoked, snorted, injected or swallowed. It is extremely dangerous even in small dose. In fact, it is so lethal, it can seep through the skin into the bloodstream if handled with bare hands.
Gray death causes a range of side effects like slow breathing, loss of consciousness and heart failure. This lethal combination has caused many opioid overdose deaths. According to the CDC, about 71,000 overdose deaths involved an opioid in 2019. These deaths occurred across the US.
Drug dealers sell the concoction cheaply in the streets, going for as low as $10. The low-price has made it easily accessible leading to an increase in the number of deaths resulting from overdose cases.
Since Gray death is a fairly new combo, most users are unaware of its adverse effects. In order to prevent more deaths from occurring, authorities around the world are creating awareness about the dangers of using this combination and encouraging those already using it to seek medical help.
Mixing drugs and alcohol is dangerous. In addition to running a higher risk of side effects from mixing the two substances, you have a greater chance of overdose and death. That’s why health care providers recommend avoiding this combination.
Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax are central nervous depressants used to treat insomnia, stress and anxiety. They are generally safe when taken as prescribed. Mixing alcohol with benzos not only enhances the effects, but also increases the risk of overdose death. That’s why every warning label on benzo containers caution against mixing the drugs with alcohol. Doctors also instruct their patients not to drink alcohol when taking benzos.
This combination is also known to cause side effects like:
· Organ failure
· Brain damage
· Extreme drowsiness
· Slow breathing, causing insufficient oxygen supply to the brain
· Increased reduction in cognitive ability
· Increased risk of developing a substance use disorder
· Increased potential for unpredictable effects
This is an injected combo of cocaine and heroin commonly referred to as “speedball”. Both drugs affect the dopaminergic brain process leading to a combined effect. The combination is highly addictive.
Most drug users believe that when you combine heroin and cocaine, they cancel each other’s effects since they have opposing effects. However, this is not the case. When you combine the two drugs, their negative effects of both are amplified. The combo leads to a state of “push-pull” in the body, putting a strain on circulatory and respiratory systems. As a result, your body becomes confused as it is processing two toxic substances which are complete opposite of each other at the same time.
Users who want to have the speedball effect dissolve both drugs in liquid and inject the mixture to achieve an extremely quick and intense high. Cocaine’s high lasts for a short period, while that of heroin lasts much longer. Therefore, those who combine the two drugs use more cocaine to prolong the speedball effect.
Mixing heroin and cocaine increases the risk of drug overdose and death. It may also result in a number of deadly symptoms such as increased heart rate, cardiac arrest, blurred vision and even stroke. Over the years, many people have lost their lives to accidental overdose, with speedball overdose being one of the main causes.
It is important to create awareness on the risks of speed balling and also know how to identify danger signs in users and call for emergency help when the need arises.
Mixing MDMA (ecstasy) and psilocybin mushrooms also known as “Hippie flipping” or “flower flipping” has been in practice for years. Users mix the two so that they can enjoy the synergy of their combined effects. They experience a feel-good high when trippy visuals of mushrooms meet with sensory elevation caused by MDMA.
Since both drugs affect the pleasure centre of the brain, the combined effect impacts the user’s mood and temperament, inducing unusual sensory experiences. The hippie flipping feeling lasts about six hours although some users have reported feeling mild effects a day or two after.
There is a high risk of overdose and even death when mixing MDMA and Magic mushroom. MDMA can cause serotonin to be produced in the brain leading to increased heart rate, high blood pressure, muscle cramping and high temperatures. However, these effects vary based on factors such as the user’s personality and mood, age and health status.
People that use these lethal drug combinations may be unaware of the danger involved until it’s too late. There is a need for aggressive education and awareness on the risks of drug interactions, especially among the young people.
When you get addicted to using any of the above drug combinations, it would be best to seek treatment before the drugs significantly affect your physical or mental health.
Professionals will identify the root cause of addiction and take you through an individualized treatment program. You will undergo a medical detox and a rehabilitative inpatient program to help you through the early tough days of recovery. Afterwards, your doctor will refer you to support groups which will help you maintain your sobriety.
A lot can happen when you take more than the usual or recommended dose of a drug. Sometimes, you could experience mild symptoms like loss of coordination. But in extreme cases, you may end up with severe, harmful symptoms or even death. This is called an overdose.
Usually, your body’s metabolism can get rid of the substance, neutralizing the harmful effects. But if the drug level exceeds the threshold that your body can metabolize, the drug’s side effects can harm you physically and mentally.
An overdose happens when you take a toxic amount of a medicine or drug. It can be intentional or accidental:
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 841,000 drug overdose deaths since 1999.
In 2019 alone, 70,630 overdose deaths happened in the US. Of this number, about 70% involved an opioid, mainly synthetic opioids. Cocaine, on the other hand, accounted for 15,000 overdose deaths in the US in 2017. The misuse of and addiction to opioids is a crisis that affects public health.
The most recent data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that about 100,306 people died from a drug overdose in the US during the 12 months ending April 2021.
An overdose is a medical emergency that needs immediate medical attention. Seek medical advice if you exhibit the following symptoms after taking a drug, alcohol, or a combination of both. You can also call 911 for urgent cases.
With that in mind, let’s look at what happens to your body when you overdose.
What happens to your body when you overdose?
When you overdose, chances are you won’t be aware of what’s happening. However, those around you will spot some or all of the symptoms discussed above. Usually, that’s because of how the drugs interact with your body.
When you overdose on opioids, your body temperature, heart rate, and breathing may drop to dangerously low levels, causing suffocation, heart attack, or brain damage. Your veins may collapse and suppress the normal flow of blood throughout the body. You may also find it hard to spit or swallow because of the suppression of the gag reflex.
Opioid overdose may disrupt the normal functioning of receptors between the heart and brain, leading to slow heart rate or no heart rate at all. Slow breathing translates to low oxygen levels and abnormal heart rhythms.
Opioids may also limit oxygen flow to the brain and cause permanent brain damage within four minutes of oxygen deprivation. They may cause seizures that further damage the brain. In extreme cases, this damage can leave you paralyzed and unable to speak.
Overdosing on stimulants or overamping causes the opposite symptoms to overdosing on opioids. Patients experience chest pain, passing out, irregular breathing, racing heart, sweating, feeling hot, high blood pressure, weakness, shaking, or stroke. Overdosing to cocaine is particularly bad and can cause stroke or heart attack.
Other things that might happen when you overdose:
There are different treatments for a drug overdose. Your doctor will determine the right one for you based on the type of drugs involved and symptoms. They may:
You’ll need to see a doctor for a follow-up to ensure no delayed injuries to any body organ. If it was an intentional overdose, follow-up also ensures that there are systems in place to prevent a recurrence.
Once a deliberate overdose is managed and you are out of immediate medical danger, you’ll need psychiatric care. You may also be considered for a mental health evaluation. Getting support for mental or substance abuse problems can be helpful.
If it’s a child, they’ll need help dealing with the trauma and learning from the mistake. A follow-up can reduce anxiety and educate the child and the parent.
Keep all medications in a safe and secure place to prevent accidental overdose. In case it’s an unintentional, illicit drug overdose, it’s best to get away from access to the drugs to prevent the problem from recurring.
If it’s an intentional overdose, you’ll need to address the underlying problem fast. Addiction treatment can help reverse the effects of substance abuse and get you on the path to recovery.
Drug abuse or addiction is a huge problem in the United States. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, 164.8 million people aged 12 or older (60.2%) had used substances like illegal drugs, alcohol, or tobacco in the past month. Within that time, 47 million people smoked cigarettes, and 139.8 million drank alcohol. The survey adds that 19.4% of the population had used an illicit drug in the past year, with marijuana accounting for 15.9% of use. Prescription drugs misuse came second with 3.6%.
Sadly, the drug problem causes addiction, physical and psychological problems, and in some cases, death. In 2019 alone, there were about 71,000 drug overdose deaths in the country, and the trend seems to be holding up. While the drug use problem is rampant in the country, it’s important to note that not all states are struggling with the same types of substances. Different states have different drug problems, each with varying severity. This article will look at how drug of choice differs across the United States.
The legal drinking age in the US is 21 years old and is strictly enforced. However, statistics show that young adults in the country are also indulging in alcohol use. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism pointed out that most states had a 2.35 gallons per capita alcohol consumption in 2016, which exceeds the country’s goal of 2.1.
Currently, New Hampshire is the state with the highest alcohol consumption per capita of 4.67 gallons. This is over double the country’s set goal. But Statista notes that the state has lower rates of binge drinking than other states. States like Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota have the highest rates of binge drinking. Binge drinking is the consumption of 4 or more drinks within 2 hours for women and five or more drinks with 2 hours for men. It is the most common form of excessive drinking and is linked to severe risks.
Utah is on the other end of the spectrum, with the lowest alcohol consumption per capita of 1.34 gallons. This is mainly attributable to the strict alcohol regulations in the state. Utah is one of the nine states with per capita less than 2.1 gallons.
The federal government classified marijuana as a schedule I drug, along with others like cocaine and heroin. However, 18 states and the country’s capital have legalized marijuana use for adults, while 36 states, including the US Virgin Islands, Guam, District of Columbia, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico, allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana programs. Consequently, the states with fewer marijuana restrictions tend to have higher use rates. In fact, states like Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Alaska are among the top 12 states with the highest use rates.
Currently, cannabis use among US adults in 2018-19 was highest in the District of Columbia, with about 27% of adults using the drug. South Dakota has the least marijuana use, with about 11.13%, according to Statista:
After pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that pain relievers wouldn’t cause addiction, healthcare providers started prescribing these drugs at greater rates in the late 1990s. This led to vast misuse of both opioid drugs before it became apparent that they could indeed be highly addictive. According to NSDUH’s 2020 survey, 10.1 million people misused prescription opioids in the past.
Studies show that prescription drugs are gateway drugs, leading people to use street drugs like heroin, fentanyl and cocaine. Prescription drugs have low opioid levels and are often used as pain-relievers. But chronic pain patients may need to take these drugs for a longer time, exposing themselves to the risks of drug addiction, and tolerance. So many chronic patients end up taking more pills each day, which can be expensive or inaccessible. As a result, they turn to alternatives like fentanyl and heroin to achieve the desired effect and avoid withdrawal symptoms.
The escalating use of prescription opioids for pain management has contributed significantly to the opioid epidemic. Opioid is widely used across the US, but it disproportionately affects the states of West Virginia, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Ohio. According to the National Institute of Health, these states had the highest rate of fatal opioid overdoses, with 42.4, 33.7, 33.1, and 29.6 per 100,000 people, respectively. Hawaii, Iowa, Texas, and California had the least overdoses, accounting for 4.1, 4.8, 4.8 ad 5.8 per 100,000, respectively.
Aside from the overdose cases, opioids, alongside other drugs like heroin, are primarily used in populous states and those that serve as entry points. A survey based on HHS and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s ranked states by opioid misuse rates, and these were the findings:
While some states use specific substances more than others, the reality is that Americans are using alcohol or drugs and, sometimes, a combination of both. Alcohol and nicotine are legal and loosely regulated. The fact that they are affordable and easily accessible makes them a drug of choice for many people. Despite these, alcohol and nicotine carry a risk for addiction and even death.
Prescription medications are also technically legal. And since the doctors issue them, some Americans abuse them assuming it’s safe. But prescription drugs are highly addictive and can serve as a gateway to other drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Besides, these drugs account for 30% of emergency room admissions.
And with the growing cases of mental illness across the country, many are self-medicating with cocaine, marijuana, or alcohol. Unfortunately, these mind-altering substances offer temporary relief but may lead to addiction and other health-related issues.
Americans use drugs and alcohol for various reasons. Some do so as a social activity, like after work or during holidays, while others use it to fit in. Availability, experimenting, self-medicating, feeling good, etc., are common reasons people use drugs across the country. But there are other risk factors like having family members who abuse substances that predispose one to use.
Drug of choice may differ from state to state due to availability, state laws, and influence. But all in all, the drug is still a problem irrespective of the type of drug. If you or someone close to you is addicted to drugs, it is best to seek substance abuse treatment. Many treatment approaches exist to help you lead a drug-free life.