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.
Having erection trouble from time to time is not necessarily a cause for concern. However, if it happens regularly, it could be a sign of an underlying problem. Impotence can happen due to a range of reasons, including emotional and physical disorders as well as drug abuse. In this article, we’ll focus on the relationship between impotence and drug abuse.
Impotence happens when you are unable to achieve an erection, keep an erection, or orgasm consistently. It’s used synonymously with erectile dysfunction (ED) and may be as a result of factors like:
According to the Urology Care Foundation, impotence is a common disorder affecting about 30 million male adults in the United States. And while its risk increases with age, the condition can still affect young men.
Sexual intercourse is an important part of any couple’s life. If a man cannot get or maintain an erection due to psychological, emotional, or physical issues, he might end up with anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, or even depression. In the long run, this could lead to relationship issues. Unfortunately, when left unresolved, the man might turn to drugs or alcohol to try to cope with the psychological effects.
Many studies have shown a close relationship between substance use disorder and health conditions as well as mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse puts it, substance use disorders co-occur at high prevalence with mental illness.
But that’s not the only way impotence and drug use are related. As it turns out, drug use can also cause impotence. Men who abuse drugs or alcohol are at an increased risk of erectile dysfunction.
A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine revealed that 36.4% of male drug abusers could not achieve or maintain an erection. According to the study, men who abuse substances have more chances of experiencing ED and difficulty reaching orgasm than those who don’t.
There are cases where drugs help with erectile dysfunction – like when a doctor prescribes Viagra or Alprostadil for ED. When used correctly, these drugs help increase the sexual desire or blood flow, allowing one to get and maintain an erection and ejaculate. But sometimes, people with erectile dysfunction might be tempted to use more drugs to prolong the pleasure or improve performance. This can worsen the situation and also lead to other issues.
Still on drugs, some people use recreational drugs like cocaine or methamphetamines to induce “uncontrollable lust” or “sexual frenzy.” But the use of these drugs is linked to unsafe or high-risk sexual behaviors. Besides, a majority of stimulant users find that neither of these drugs enhances their sexuality. Let’s look at how different drugs cause impotence.
Prescription drugs like antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, and chemo drugs can help treat different conditions. However, they can also affect blood circulation, hormones, and nerves, leading to ED or increasing the risk of ED. So, if you are having a hard time getting or maintaining an erection while taking prescription drugs, it’s best to talk to your doctor for further assessment. Common prescription drugs that list ED as a potential side effect include:
Prescription drugs cause ED differently. Chemo drugs can damage parts of the nervous system, including those that control erections. On the other hand, blood pressure drugs may prevent the penis’ smooth muscle from relaxing, causing blood not to reach it. Some antihistamines, heart disease drugs, opioids, and antiandrogens decrease or block testosterone, decreasing interest in sex.
Illegal or recreational drugs tend to affect body functioning and can lead to ED. Amphetamines, nicotine, cocaine, and heroin are great examples of illegal drugs that cause erectile function issues. These drugs damage blood vessels and can also restrict blood flow to the penis. Like prescription drugs, illegal drugs also cause ED differently.
Opioid addiction or prolonged use, for instance, can cause androgen deficiencies and menstrual cycle abnormalities, thereby causing sexual issues. Opioids can also alter the functioning of hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal pathways (HPG), which regulates sex hormones production and leads to testosterone deficiencies in men and women.
Cocaine, on the other hand, is a stimulant that inhibits the uptake of norepinephrine and dopamine. Initial use may induce sexual arousal and improve ED. But prolonged use lowers sexual desire and erectile function and causes delayed ejaculation/orgasm. This effect tends to worsen when cocaine is taken with alcohol or other psychoactive substances.
Alcohol consumption tends to increase sexual desire and confidence with sexual partners. However, when taken in large amounts, alcohol impairs erection, decreases sexual arousal, and reduces one’s ability to orgasm. Long-term use of alcohol affects various organ systems, leading to all types of sexual dysfunction in men.
Alcohol has an inhibitory effect on the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis. When consumed, it limits the production of gonadotropin, causing hypogonadism. It also suppresses testosterone production, causing low libido and quick or delayed ejaculation.
Continuous usage of illicit drugs has long-term effects on the sexual functioning of males. A study analyzed 905 men to check gauge the long-term effects of drug abuse on sexual performance. It focused on four areas, namely: sexual desire, sexual arousal, orgasm, and sexual satisfaction.
Of the 905, 549 had an addiction, while 356 were controls. The men in the addiction group had impaired sexual performance even after one year of staying clean compared to 356 men included as controls.
Sadly, prolonged use of drugs like cocaine can cause permanent sexual side effects. The best way to prevent such sexual issues is to quit abusing drugs. But quitting cold turkey won’t work either. It’s, therefore, a good idea to seek professional help with these. Treatment facilities exist to help people like you (or your loved one) quit abusing drugs.
The concept of ground score is simple. Someone leaves behind or improperly disposes of drugs or paraphernalia. Then, whoever finds the drug or item claims it, and it becomes theirs. Lighters, syringes, needles, pre-and post-injection swabs, masks, patches, pipes, filters and even the drugs themselves are common examples of a ground score.
Ground score is a pretty common occurrence around the country. But this doesn't make it any less of a nuisance. When left on the ground, drug paraphernalia pose a risk not just to the environment but also to humans. We'll look at these risks later on in this article. But first, let's make sure we are on the same page.
A ground score is any desirable substance that's left on the ground. In this case, it can be any drug paraphernalia that drug users leave on the ground after use, such as:
People who abuse substances - including street drugs, alcohol, and prescription drugs - are at an increased risk for dependence, addiction, or worse, overdose deaths. Drug use also has side effects that make it hard for one to act responsibly. As a result, many users either leave drug litter around or dispose of it carelessly, exposing the environment and people to wide-ranging risks.
Drug litter can cause serious health problems for those who come into contact with it. It can cause:
Adults, too, might swallow prescription pills and end up overdosing without knowing. Proper storage or disposal of drugs is the best way to avoid such predicaments.
Drug litter can be found anywhere, including the streets, neighborhoods, schools, and so on. However, you are likely to find drugs at music festivals, nightclubs, parties, and so on. That's because party-goers indulge in illegal drugs and throw the remains all over the place. But you can also find drugs at home when a friend or loved one disposes of their prescription medicines inappropriately.
Whether intentional or unintentional, improper disposal of drugs and paraphernalia is dangerous to humans and the environment. Littering happens due to:
But since ground score poses so much danger, it might help to avoid it altogether. There are safe disposal practices that you should follow whenever you want to discard drugs and any material associated with the drugs. One of the safest ways to dump unwanted drugs is to take them to a drug take-back program. It will help if you do this as soon as you realize that you no longer need the drugs. The Food and Drug Administration recommends the following was to avoid drug littering:
Drug litter can be a gateway to drug abuse. Synthetic opioids, mostly manufactured in South America, are highly addictive and often lead to substance use disorders - both long-term and short-term. People, especially teenagers, might experiment with these drugs and end up using them more.
Drug use and misuse can cause side effects like increased heart rate and blood pressure, body temperature, paranoia, and hallucinations. Besides, drug dealers often cut drugs with a series of other substances, exposing one to the risk of overdose and overdose deaths.
Whether prescription or illegal drugs, drug litter is a dangerous problem for society and the environment. To keep your neighborhood clean and healthy, ensure you dispose of anything related to drugs responsibly.
People abuse drugs for various reasons. Some do so to fit in, to seem more mature, or to experiment. Others use drugs to escape, to relieve boredom, or rebel. They see drugs as a solution or a way to cope with a situation. But since most of these drugs are highly addictive, they often end up being the problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, illicit drug use can lead to dependence, addiction, and in worst cases, the drugs can kill you.
You’ve probably heard that drugs are dangerous one too many times; it’s getting hard to believe. But all drugs, including prescription pain relievers, have real potential for harm. Prescription drugs can kill you - irrespective of whether you use them alone, or you mix them with other drugs. Vital statistics show that the death toll from abuse and misuse of such drugs is steadily rising. And if you don’t stop using, you could be part of these statistics soon.
Most drug fatalities result from a combination of factors, not just the drug itself. For example:
Stimulants like cocaine flood the brain with norepinephrine and dopamine, creating euphoric effects while boosting focus and confidence. They also stimulate the cardiovascular system – and that’s where the danger comes in. Cocaine causes rapid or irregular heart rate, blood vessel constriction, and increased blood pressure.
The constriction of blood vessels means less oxygen supply to the heart muscle and can cause a heart attack. Cocaine users are 23 times more likely to have a heart attack than those who don’t use. No wonder cocaine is referred to as the perfect heart attack drug.
When opioids and other depressants, get to the brain, they bind to mu-opioid receptors and activate them. This produces euphoric effects but also triggers a series of physical and psychological actions. Opioids produce respiratory-depressing effects. As a result, fatal overdose victims often die from respiratory depression (choking to death) because they cannot get enough oxygen to feed the demand of their body’s organs.
A drug overdose happens when a person takes too much of a substance or a mix of substances. This is so even if it was an accidental overdose. People can overdose on alcohol, prescription drugs, illicit drugs, and other substances. In many cases, overdoses are fatal.
But those who get immediate medical attention can be saved. As mentioned earlier, drugs can overwhelm the body in different ways. But the most common cause of death during an overdose is respiratory failure.
The signs of an overdose depends on the type of drug involved. Overdose deaths involve sleepiness, confusion, and coma. Other factors can include:
Accidental overdose is the leading cause of death in the US for people under 50 years. Drug overdose deaths now surpass deaths from homicides, car accidents, firearms, or HIV/AIDS. In 2017 alone, more Americans died due to drug overdose than they did in the entire Vietnam War. Of these deaths, nearly 66% involved illicit drugs or prescription opioids.
In 2019, more than 70,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. And the drug overdose trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down. According to recent provisional data from the CDC, the number of overdose deaths shot to 81,000 deaths in 2020. This increase is attributable to the pandemic and its negative impacts on lives, especially of those struggling with substance use disorders.
The addiction epidemic was already a significant problem across the US. But the pandemic has only made the problem worse. Its spread has sent people into panic. And with long term travel restrictions, social isolation, economic shock, disrupted access to addiction support, and increased mental health distress, people turn to drug use and misuse trying to cope.
In 2018, there were 14,666 overdose deaths involving cocaine in the US, according to a CDC report. This represents about a 2.5% rate increase in cocaine-involved deaths in 2018 than in 2014. The report says that the overdose death rates attributed to cocaine that has been cut with synthetic opioids, like fentanyl increased faster in recent years than did deaths from pure cocaine. Among 70,237 drug overdose deaths in 2017, about 23,139 or 32% involved cocaine, psychostimulants, or both.
50,000 of the 2019 drug deaths were from an opioid overdose. The abuse of and addiction to opioids, including heroin, prescription drugs, and fentanyl, is a severe crisis that affects public health and economic and social welfare. CDC estimates the annual economic burden of prescription opioid abuse alone in the US to be $78.5b. This includes the cost of addiction treatment, health care, lost productivity, and criminal justice involvement.
States across the US are reporting a sharp increase in fentanyl-involved overdose deaths. Fentanyl overdoses can happen within seconds to minutes of use. The sad part is many users don’t seem to be looking for fentanyl and have no idea that the drug they’re using contains fentanyl.
Meth-related deaths are also rising across the US, according to NIDA. Overall data shows overdose rates rose from less than 0.8 to 4.5 per 100,000 women and 2 to 10 per 100,000 men, a more than fivefold rise from 2011 to 2018.
Call 911 if you suspect a drug overdose. Emergency help can save a life. General treatment strategies involve:
Overdose deaths remain a critical problem across our nation. If you have prescription medicines, ensure that you use them according to the doctor’s recommendations. Overdose occurring from prescription drugs often happens when they are used in ways not advised by your doctor.
Quitting drug use is also a great way to prevent overdose. If you are having a hard time quitting, you should seek professional help. Addiction treatment centers in Texas and across the US have therapists and physicians who can help address mental and physical health issues.
Nothing scares a parent more than the thought of their child abusing drugs. But unfortunately, that’s a reality that most parents may have to deal with at some point in time. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse 2012 Monitoring the Future survey, 40% of 12th graders, 30% of 10th graders, and 13% of 8th graders had used a drug at least once in the past year. If you suspect that your child is smoking drugs, it’s best to uncover the truth, and get them immediate help.
Many teens (and even adults) who smoke are new to drug use and are scared of injecting. They assume that smoking is safer and less addictive. But drugs are dangerous irrespective of how they’re used. All ways of using drugs can lead to drug addiction – though smoking gets drugs to the brain more than other modes of administration, so it actually tends to increase the chances of one becoming addicted.
Catching drug use problems early can help prevent addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and other drug-related issues.
Common drugs that are smoked include:
The dangers of smoking these drugs can be severe and include addiction, heart attack, lung problems, painful withdrawal, and deadly overdose. One may also run into problems with the authorities, including the drug enforcement administration. Fortunately, with suitable treatment options, freedom from substance abuse is possible.
Drug abuse is a serious health care concern that needs immediate care. According to the American Addiction Centers, drugs can have permanent effects on the body. If you suspect that someone you love is smoking drugs, identifying these common and usually overlooked paraphernalia should serve as a warning to take action.
Recreational drug abusers use aluminum foil (or tin foil) to smoke various substances, including illicit drugs and diverted prescription pills. They put the drug on a flat piece of foil or shape the foil into a pipe before heating it with a lighter, a process called freebasing. Drugs in black tar or powder form are easy to use this way.
Examples of drugs that are often smoked with aluminum foil are:
Look out for the presence of burned or discolored tin foil, as these are the most apparent signs of use. You may also want to check out fake-looking soda cans, beer cans, and aerosol containers. Some people use them to try to conceal scent. Using tin foil to smoke drugs may cause a series of risks and health problems, like:
Glass pipes are designed for drug use. Many people smoke drugs out of glass pipes because they’re easy to use, convenient, and comfortable compared to snorting or using foil. Different types of pipes exist for different illicit drugs. Knowing how to distinguish these pipes can help you identify the drugs which your loved one is abusing.
Glass pipes used to smoke crack cocaine have a unique shape. They’re typically straight, long tubes of glass that are often sold as oil burners. If your loved one is smoking cocaine, you may catch a pungent smell that seems like a mixture of burning plastic and urine.
Glass pipes for meth have a bulb shape on one end of the pipe. If your loved one is smoking crystal meth, you’ll notice a yellow or burnt residue on the glass. You may also smell a stale chemical odor – though it tends to disappear after a short while.
Glass pipes for marijuana resemble those for meth. However, instead of a bulb shape, marijuana pipes have a colorful open bowl with an elongated mouthpiece. If your loved one is smoking marijuana, you’ll catch a lingering smell in the room and surrounding spaces. Marijuana can also be smoked out of a metal pipe or bong.
Heroin pipes look like a combination of meth and marijuana pipes – a glass cylinder with a sphere or enclosed bowl at the end. Heroin has a lighter, more subtle, and almost sweet smell, like some types of incense. It can also smell like vinegar, depending on how the heroin was made.
In addition to a bong or pipe, drug users use tobacco rolling papers to smoke marijuana. They either roll the marijuana into a cigarette (or joint) or hollow out a cigar and replace the tobacco with marijuana. Cigarette rolling papers are also used to smoke heroin.
Users sprinkle the powder heroin on tobacco and roll a cigarette. Often, they can cook it (using heat and acid to liquefy) and spreading the mixture on a cigarette. Sometimes, marijuana is combined with heroin into a cigarette in a process called lacing.
Straw is used to inhale steam and smoke as it wafts off the heroin, cocaine, meth, prescription drugs, etc., on the aluminum foil, can, or container.
Smoking is one of the most common forms of drug administration. It’s also the fastest way to get the drug to the brain. However, smoking can lead to substance abuse and addiction. That’s because tolerance to hard drugs builds quickly.
Addiction isn’t the only problem. Smoking crack, heroin, meth, and amphetamine can damage the lungs, worsen asthma, and lead to a deadly overdose. It also increases the risk for pneumonia, bronchitis, and coughing. Smoking marijuana cigarettes laced with embalming fluid and PCP can cause body tissue, lung, and brain damage as well as inflammation and sores.
Besides, most street drugs aren’t pure. Dealers cut them with other substances, which can cause other negative health effects.
It can be disheartening to discover that your loved one is abusing drugs. But the good news is that it’s never too late to get help. Various treatment facilities offer short and long-term rehabilitation programs to help patients get off of alcohol or drugs.
Some even offer counseling for patients and their loved ones and can be beneficial to you. Texas, is one of the states in the forefront of treatment options for patients including rehab centers.
So, go ahead and reach out to an addiction treatment center. As an option to learn more about how to spot the signs of smoking drugs, you can contact the editorial staff of the many public health periodicals and websites.
Misuse of prescription drugs is a serious health issue in the US. A 2017 report by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that 18 million people misused prescribed medications at least once in 2016. Most of these people assume that pain drugs are safer than illicit substances because they are prescribed medically. But they have become a "gateway drug" for many Americans.
When these drugs are taken in ways not intended by the doctor or taken by someone who’s not the patient, they can lead to severe health issues. Studies show that misuse of opioid pain relievers has opened the door to heroin use. Mental health is important, and mental illness can further drive drug use through something known as dual diagnosis.
Prescription opioids contain chemicals that relax the body and relieve pain. They are an essential component of treatment that, when used correctly, can enhance the quality of life and provide pain relief. But since opioids make people feel very relaxed and high, they’re sometimes used for non-medical reasons. This poses a serious risk of addiction. Opioids are highly addictive, and their misuse often leads to opioid use disorders, drug overdoses, and death. Common examples of prescription opioids include:
· Oxycodone (Percocet®, OxyContin®)
· Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
· Oxymorphone (Opana®)
· Morphine (Avinza®, Kadian®,)
Opioid medications are effective for pain management. They are generally safe when used for a short time and according to the doctor’s prescription. Opioid misuse happens when a person:
Humans have opiate receptors in the brain that are responsible for feelings of pleasure and pain. Opioids work by binding to these opiate receptors in the spinal cord, brain, and other locations in the body. They mimic the effect of pain-relieving chemicals that are produced naturally and block the pain perception.
Repeated use increases tolerance. So one may need to take higher doses to achieve the same pain-relieving effects or reduce withdrawal symptoms. At this stage, someone becomes opioid-dependent and may develop drug-seeking behaviors to sustain their need for use. Others may turn to non-prescription alternatives like heroin, because it’s cheap, easy to access, and has a similar chemical composition as synthetic opioids.
Most sober people won’t use hard drugs like heroin, meth, and cocaine because of the perceived danger. They tend to keep away because they are aware of the drugs’ potency and danger. On the other hand, pain-relieving opioids create a different perception. Most people see them as safe because they are prescribed at the hospital.
On their own, prescription drugs might not pose a threat. But when combined with some risk factors like mental health or misuse problems, prescription drugs may indeed be dangerous. In fact, they may serve as a doorway to other more powerful and highly addictive substances – like cocaine and heroin. People who are struggling with addiction or mental health issues are less likely to have inhibitions about using cocaine or meth.
Heroin has a similar chemical composition as prescription opioids. It is also cheaper and highly accessible as compared to prescription opioids. This makes it an appealing alternative for people who are addicted to opioid drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 4 to 6 percent of those who misuse prescribed opioids switch to heroin.
The most current data shows 33% of those entering treatment for opioid use disorder reported heroin as the first opioid they used frequently to get high. A study in the Chicago metropolitan area identified prescription opioid abuse as a path to heroin addiction.
As with any other addiction, patients with opioid dependence will always try to find more drugs to stay high. Current state laws and regulations limit opioid prescription. This makes it hard for these addicted patients to access prescription drugs so most of them turn to the streets to buy opioids and other drugs.
When they reach this point, they become determined to At this point, high and/or reducing the withdrawal symptoms. They only focus on what’s available and what they can pay for. Unfortunely, they ignore the impurities in the pills or resulting side effects.
While opioid overdose deaths are prevalent these days, a new study analyzed the role people sharing their pain medications with others may play in driving this drug epidemic. Of the 1,200 Americans in the study, 75% said they believed selling or sharing unused prescriptions fueled the nation’s addiction epidemic. 10% admitted that they had given or offered their medications to friends or family members for recreational or medical use.
When people (other than the patient) misuse prescription drugs for recreation or other reasons, they may develop an addiction that pushes them to get more drugs. Unfortunately, many of these people end up abusing other drugs to get high or offset the withdrawal symptoms. This puts them at risk of drug overdose and even death. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug overdose deaths involving prescription opioids rose from 3,442 to 17,029 between 1999 and 2017.
The short answer is yes. Drug abuse is a spectrum. It can start with prescription drug misuse or outright drug experimentation and end up in a full-blown addiction to the same or other drugs. People who knowingly or unknowingly misuse prescription drugs may feel the need to sustain their high.
When they can longer get a prescription from the hospital, they will branch out to find readily available drugs that will “quench their thirst.” The same applies to those who use prescription medication for recreational or experimentation reasons.
Substance abuse disorder is a complicated problem. But the good news is that programs exist to help people stop abusing prescription and illicit drugs and regain control of their lives. No matter how severe the situation is, health care experts in addiction treatment centers can offer the much-needed help.
A person who misuses prescription medicine will do anything to get doctors to prescribe more drugs. They will lie about the severity of their symptoms, forge prescriptions, beg or even shop doctors to try to access the medications. These are a few types of drug-seeking behaviors.
The sad news is that most drug seekers won’t admit to the drug problem. Some will justify their actions by claiming that prescription drugs help them manage their chronic pain or mental health issues. Their denial makes it hard to get them into addiction treatment. Unfortunately, this drives them deeper into using, opening them up to potential substance abuse and ensuing substance abuse disorders.
Prescription drug abuse involves the use of pain medication for their pleasurable side effects instead of prescribed pain relief reasons. As defined by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), prescription drug misuse is any use contrary to the doctor’s direction, and includes:
According to the 2015 NSDUH report, about 91.8 million adults in the United States, 18 years and older, used pain relievers in the past year. Of this number, 11.5 million misused pain medication at least once over the same time. Another report on the National Institute on Drug Addiction website shows that 18 million people had misused prescription drugs at least once a year leading up to 2017. Many cited physical pain as the reason behind the abuse. NSDUH’s research on prescription drugs was specific to controlled substances.
Controlled substances are drugs that have been declared illegal for use or sale in the open market but can be dispensed under a doctor’s prescription. This aims to reduce the risk of drug abuse, addiction, mental and physical harm, or death. It also protects the public from potential dangers arising from the actions of those under the influence of these drugs.
A drug seeker is anyone who manipulates a healthcare provider to try to obtain medications. They are primarily patients who abuse alcohol and drugs or are in chronic pain. But drug seekers can also be people who want to barter or sell most or all of the prescription drugs they get.
It is not easy to tell a legitimate patient apart from a drug-seeker. The latter could be someone unfamiliar to you. They may claim to be from another town and have forgotten or lost a prescription of drugs. They could also be someone familiar to you, like a co-worker, another practitioner, relative, or friend. Drug seekers often have the same traits and behaviors. Knowing these behaviors and tricks is the first step to detecting those trying to manipulate you into obtaining desired drugs.
Someone with drug-seeking behavior may walk into a medical office and request specific drugs by name. They may tell you about the drug, dose, and quantity they want. In many cases, this patient may not want to listen to anything you says. Additionally, they may aggressively complain about a need for the drug. They will ask for brand names, request dose increases, and even claim to have multiple allergies to alternative medicines. Efforts to diagnose their issues may result in irritation or anger on their part. Typical requests and complaints are obvious drug-seeking behaviors that can give the drug seeker away.
This is a pretty obvious drug-seeking behavior that some patients use. Drug seekers know that they cannot access controlled substances without a doctor’s prescription. So, they go ahead and forge one to get the drugs. In case a patient does this, it’s essential to notify law enforcement because forging prescriptions is illegal in the United States.
Since drug-seeking patients are only interested in obtaining prescription drugs, they hardly keep follow-up appointments. Once they get their drugs of choice, they will disappear into thin air until they need more, then they resurface.
Another common trait of people with drug-seeking behavior is self-medicating. These patients will go ahead and use pain drugs for other reasons. They may use it for stress, anxiety, or even sleep. Regular self-medication can lead to addiction and the worsening of these mental health disorders. The problem may only worsen as they may use more drugs to address withdrawal symptoms or the dependence issue.
Once a drug-seeking patient with a substance use disorder gets their prescription for pain drugs, they will be excessive in their flattery. Some might shower you with praises, suggesting you are the best in the field. They will even hug you to show their appreciation. However, this will only go on as long as they get what they want. When you calmly and clearly state the effective treatment plan and explain that their condition doesn’t warrant the prescription of opioids, the entreating suddenly ceases. Usually, these patients can sense when the doctor is indecisive or decisive.
Patients with drug-seeking problems or alcohol addiction see many physicians in a short period. When their effort to obtain a drug fails, they will move to the next physician or pharmacy with the hopes of getting the drugs. Some will even travel from different towns or cities in an attempt to get prescription drugs. But it’s particularly alarming when the patient fails to mention their previous physician visits. Some states provide systems to help doctors check whether their patient sees other doctors who are prescribing a similar drug.
Someone who is genuinely in pain wants it to end. They’re willing to try out any treatment or therapy that would make that happen. But that’s not the case for a drug seeker.
Patients may come to you with new complications that mimic withdrawal symptoms. They may say that they are experiencing anxiety, nausea, shaky hands, depression, insomnia, diarrhea, etc. Some might even open up about their using habit. For example, a patient may say they occasionally use drugs or alcohol and are under some prescribed medications. If this is the case, it could be a clear sign that they are abusing prescription drugs and are at high risk for drug misuse.
Never dispense drugs when you have your suspicions about a patient. Instead, perform rigorous tests and document all results. You may also want to request a picture ID and Social Security number and call the previous doctor to confirm the patient’s story. Basically, you want to make sure that all the details check before prescribing the medicines.
If you have reasons to believe that the patient has addiction problems, you might want to help them get addiction treatment. Treatment programs exist to help patients get off of prescription drugs. Different support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous can also offer additional support to recovering patients one on one or in group therapy.
People who consume illegal drugs use various ways to get the drugs into their bloodstream. Some take it orally, while others prefer snorting because it offers a faster "high." When drugs are snorted, it causes a much quicker onset of effect than oral ingestion. This is because of how fast the drug gets into the bloodstream through the soft tissue in the nasal cavity.
Drugs that users commonly snort include cocaine, heroin, meth, tobacco, amphetamines, and even prescription drugs, such as opioids or prescription stimulants like Adderall. Users chop the pills into a fine powder using a razor blade or credit card on a hard surface. They then divide the drug of choice into "lines" and use a rolled paper, dollar bill, or straw to inhale the drug up into the nasal passages. But users may also snort a drug in aerosol or liquid forms. Snorting is a preferred method of administration for these drugs because it amplifies the drug's effect and speeds up the onset of effects. Snorting drugs comes with a range of short- and long-term effects, as you'll notice in this article.
Snorting (also called insufflation) involves inhaling drugs into the body. It is an effective delivery option that’s noninvasive, virtually painless, and easy to administer. In fact, doctors use intranasal administration when delivering medication to children who fear needles or have a hard time swallowing tablets or pills.
Because of these reasons, snorting drugs is a preferred method among people who use recreational drugs. And the fact that it produces a faster onset of the desired effect makes it even more desirable for users who want a quick fix. It takes about 5-10 minutes for the drug to get into the system and produce the high. This is because of how fast the drugs diffuse through the mucus membrane in the nose.
Drugs that are commonly snorted include:
Let's look at some of these drugs.
MDMA is an amphetamine. Structurally, it is similar to the hallucinogen mescaline and stimulant methamphetamine. MDMA comes in capsule, tablet, powder, and liquid forms. “Molly” is a pure crystalline powder form of MDMA that's popularly sold in capsules. It's known to produce feelings of intense empathy, euphoria, and heightened sensations of sound and color. Usually, those who snort ecstasy want a faster onset of effects and a more intense high. This drug is very popular in rave scenes, across the United States.
Xanax is a Central Nervous system depressant that slows down brain activity to produce a tranquilizing and sedating effect. It's these calming effects that make it effective for treating mental health disorders. Xanax comes in tablet form that's taken orally. The prescription drug is meant to be swallowed whole, but users crush the tablet to snort it. Like snorting meth or heroin, snorting Xanax is believed to give one a quicker high because it enters the bloodstream faster. But Xanax and other benzodiazepines are not only harmful to snort, but this also makes them less effective. This is thanks to the particular chemical markup of the drug.
Snorting cocaine might not be the fastest way to achieve a high like injecting and smoking. But it produces long-lasting effects. As one inhales the drug, it coats the soft tissue in the nasal cavity and gets absorbed by the sensitive nasal membranes. Cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream and flows to the brain to produce the desired effect. In the process, it narrows various blood vessels, thus restricting the flow of blood to specific tissues. Cocaine is one of the most commonly snorted drugs in the US. In 2014 alone, there were about 1.5 million current cocaine users 12 years and over. Unfortunately, cocaine abusers are at a high risk of seizures, cardiac arrest, and sudden death.
Snorting heroin is not the most common way of administration. But those who think it's safer will choose to snort to avoid IV drug use complications. Some users mistakenly believe that snorting heroin makes it less addictive. This is not true. In fact, one study shows that those who start by snorting often end up injecting it, because of the tolerance they build-up over time. The most immediate risk of snorting heroin is overdose. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were 14,019 overdose deaths in the US in 2019.
Drug abuse by itself is a risky undertaking with a host of dangers. But the mode of administration may impact the risk even further. Snorting drugs or sniffing inhalants can change one's cognition, damage the brain and create several other mental and physical complications.
Snorting any drug is dangerous. Many users assume that prescription drugs are safe, but that's not the case. The chemicals components in prescription drugs are designed to contact gastrointestinal tissues and not the nasal cavities, nasal passages, sinuses, or lungs. Snorting exposes these tissues to chemicals, causing inflammation, irritation, and damage.
While the actual risk may vary from one drug to the next, here are some general risks of snorting drugs:
Those who snort drugs may have an increased risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis C if they share equipment as the nasal mucous may have blood.
It is also not uncommon for those snorting prescription drugs to snort other drugs like heroin. Besides, one may experience mental and behavioral changes because of abusing drugs and struggling with the side effects. As the problem becomes evident, an individual may struggle with shame, anxiety, and low self-esteem to the extent of becoming socially isolated.
Above all is the most overlooked risk – the adverse effects of filler agents used in the drug. Most illegal drugs that come in powdered forms, like cocaine and heroin, are often cut with other drugs or substances. Cocaine and heroin, for instance, may include fentanyl. Fentanyl is potent. It increases the dose strength and causes overdose among those who have no idea they're even taking it. Household products, foodstuffs, and talcum, are also pretty common fillers. Talcum is harmful. Studies show it might cause low blood pressure, convulsion, chest pain, lethargy, fever and even coma.
Dependence may happen when an individual snorts drugs. Drugs are habit-forming and addictive. So users build tolerance and have to take more of the drug to achieve a high. Any attempt to stop might cause withdrawal symptoms, which can be mild or severe depending on the type of drugs, individual, and period of use. In case the symptoms are severe, one should find a treatment facility that will help with the detox and rehabilitation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the US in the 12 months ending May 2020. Synthetic opioids – mainly manufactured fentanyl – are the leading cause of these deaths. But there has been a notable increase in overdose deaths among heroin and cocaine abusers during the pandemic.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word meth? If you are like most people, it would probably be "illicit drug," or "club drug," etc. But that’s to be expected. Meth is a common street drug that never misses on parties, clubs, and even among peers. According to the National Institute on Drugs abuse, 1.6 million Americans used meth in 2017. But when is meth prescribed as a medical treatment? Does this happen often?
There actually is more to methamphetamine than it being a substance of abuse. In fact, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration classifies it as a Schedule II stimulant that makes it legally available through a non-refillable prescription. Meth is prescribed as a medical treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) and weight-loss. We'll dive into these and more treatments later on in this article, but first, let's make sure we are on the same page.
Meth is a strong and highly-addictive, white, odorless, and bitter-tasting crystalline powder. It is used as a stimulant and affects the body's central nervous system. According to the NIDA, meth was developed in the early 20th century from its parent drug, amphetamine. The drug was originally applied in bronchial inhalers and nasal decongestants.
Meth, like amphetamine, stirs a range of effects. It increases activity and talkativeness, reduces appetite, and triggers euphoria or a pleasurable sense of well-being. But unlike amphetamine, greater amounts of meth get into the brain. This makes it a more potent stimulant. It also produces longer-lasting and more dangerous effects on the central nervous system than amphetamine at comparable doses. That explains why many people misuse the drug.
It's important to note that there are variations of meth. Crystal methamphetamine – a street version of the drug meth – is more potent. It is a common "club drug" that's hard to miss in rave parties and night clubs. Crystal meth also goes by other names like glass, ice, blade, chalk, black beauties, etc. Meth users will smoke it with a small glass pipe or swallow, snort or inject it into a vein.
Crystal meth is simply a poison that acts as a stimulant at first, but then it begins to destroy the body, systematically. It is linked to severe physical and mental health conditions like aggression, memory loss, psychotic behavior, and potential brain and heart damage. Again, the drug burns up the body's resources, causing a devastating dependence that can only be relieved by taking more of the drug.
If an individual continues to use crystal meth, they expose themselves to a wide range of mental and physical damage. A common example of this is meth mouth. Meth users often present with severe tooth decay, fracture or loss, and a host of other teeth and gums issues. One Clinical Oral Investigation study revealed that meth users had higher levels of periodontal disease and gingival bleeding. For most users, this damage is often irreparable even after recovering from their substance use disorder.
Meth was originally used as a respiratory stimulator and nasal decongestant. It was then used to keep the army alert and their enhance mood and endurance during the Second World War. But later, it became apparent that meth was highly addictive. In the 70s, it was added to the Schedule II list of controlled substances. Meth is illegal, save for when a doctor prescribes it to a very limited number of medical conditions. These include obesity, ADHD, and narcolepsy (off-label).
Stimulants are the first course of prescription drugs for ADHD treatment. Studies show that stimulants, like Adderall can improve ADHD symptoms in about 70-80% of people. Central nervous system stimulant medications work by increasing the amounts of norepinephrine and dopamine hormones in the brain. This, in turn, boosts concentration and lowers fatigue that's common with ADHD. Amphetamines and methamphetamine are good examples of stimulants used for ADHD treatment. Stimulants like meth increase attention and reduce restlessness in people who are:
Methamphetamine is an integral part of a complete ADHD treatment program. It's meant to be used along with other treatments like counseling. However, this drug is available only with a health care provider's prescription and is non-refillable. Meaning, a patient has to get a new prescription each time they need this medicine.
Along with ADHD treatment, doctors will occasionally give obese patients prescription methamphetamine for weight loss. While the drug can curb appetite, its effects on the nervous system and metabolism also seem to weigh in on its weight loss abilities. But because of the drug's addictive nature, there's an increased risk of addiction. So when physicians prescribe it, it's usually only for a short period. Methamphetamine is issued alongside other interventions like exercise and diet.
As mentioned earlier, only a doctor can prescribe this drug to patients. The doctor will weigh the pros and cons of using the drug and determine whether or not it's safe. Patients should inform the doctor about:
Doctors consider a lot of things before prescribing methamphetamine. But despite this, there's always an addiction risk when someone abuses the drug or takes drugs prescribed for another person.
For example, a patient may notice that the original dose no longer works. So they increase their dosage, creating tolerance that leads to addiction. Or the patient finds they no longer need the drug. But once they stop, they experience intense withdrawal symptoms that often compel them to take more of the drug.
Common side effects that are linked to prescription meth include:
A patient should contact a doctor as soon as they notice one or more of these side effects.
Meth addiction is one of the hardest drug addictions to treat. But treatment programs exist to help patients with addiction problems quit using and go back to leading a healthy life. Treatments can also help patients struggling with withdrawal symptoms. Recovery from meth needs a holistic treatment plan that includes detox, counseling and therapy.
We all know that drug and substance abuse can cause major health complications to the body’s vital organs, particularly the kidneys, liver, stomach, and bladder. But what most of us don’t know is that prolonged use can also hurt the body’s largest organ – the skin.
Substance abuse is associated with different short- and long-term effects. These effects vary depending on various aspects, like the type of substance, amount, and duration of intake and route of administration. The body size, general health, and concurrent use with other substances also play a part. In this article, we will focus more on show drug use affects the skin.
Drug and alcohol use can change a person’s look as fast as it does their behavior. While some drugs take relatively longer to rear their ugly effects on the skin, others do so within the shortest time. But either way, one thing is for sure, those with substance disorders “wear” addiction just as much as addiction wears them down.
If you are wondering about the correlation between drug misuse and skin problems, you should know that substance use and nutritional deficiencies go hand in hand. Drug-seeking behavior overrides healthy dietary considerations, disrupting the intake of the recommended daily nutrients. But that’s not all that there is to this problem.
There’s the issue of the liver working twice as hard as it needs to, to digest the ingested substance. This, in turn, affects its ability to process food optimally. Alcohol, too, plays a hand in limiting the breakdown and absorption of nutrients. The suppression of the immune system is another risk factor for skin infections and worsening conditions like psoriasis.
The disruption of adequate nutrient intake and the poor uptake due to digestion and absorption issues may result in vitamin deficiencies that may cause skin disorders. Just as an example, fat-soluble vitamin A is essential for good skin health. It not only prevents inflammation but also creates and repairs skin cells. Lack of vitamin A may lead to dry skin, poor wound healing, acne, and breakouts. Vitamins B1, B3, and B6 along with zinc are also essential for healthy skin – all of which may be insufficient or lacking in someone abusing drugs or alcohol.
Other reasons why people who struggle with addiction develop skin problems include:
But as we mentioned earlier, these drugs have different effects on the skin. So, the skin effects from meth use may vary from that of alcohol and so on. To give you a clear picture of how these substances affect the skin differently, let’s look at the drugs in detail.
Methamphetamine, or crystal meth, as it’s commonly known, has the most notorious effects on the skin. In fact, even its short-term use can hurt the skin. That’s why you can identify meth users right away; they will have meth sores, scars, and scabs on their faces. And the effects of meth seem to linger, long after someone has quit using. Most of the people who use meth will also have meth mouth, which is characterized by extensive gum disease and tooth decay that causes teeth to crumble, blacken or fall out.
Alcohol misuse is linked to a wide range of health problems, especially skin changes. Since its lipid- and water-soluble, it penetrates through all the body tissues and affects the most vital functions. The most common skin manifestations of alcohol abuse include pruritus, jaundice, urticarial reactions, wrinkling, dry skin, and red skin. Alcohol also causes flare-ups of skin conditions like psoriasis and rosacea.
Drug misuse, particularly those that involve intravenous or other injectable administration, usually leaves behind linear scars or track marks along the injected veins. Over time, this vein becomes abnormally dark (hyperpigmented). If the drug is administered right below the skin surface, one may have deep, round scars in the area. Skin and soft tissue bacterial infections (due to extravasation, skin popping, necrosis, and increased numbers of bacteria on the skin) are common in injectable drugs.
Most of these drugs -morphine, amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin - are administered intravenously in different parts of the body like the elbow pit, neck, or arms. When someone abuses these drugs for a long time, the previous injection sites may close up, forcing them to start injecting themselves through the groin, toes, fingers, or foot. In this case, the patients will have needle tracks at these sites. Other common skin conditions from illicit drug use include impetigo, cellulitis, and abscess formation.
Some users prefer to snort coke (insufflation). This group is prone to infections and inflammation of the nose’s external structure. Sniffing cocaine can affect the nose in different ways, causing damage to the cilia. Crusted skin in the nasal passage and sores in the mucous membrane of the nose are also common effects.
Skin reactions are common side effects of prescription drugs, especially those containing stimulants. The effects can only worsen if these drugs are abused. And while people react differently to these drugs, most of them often present with skin disorders like hives, rashes, and hypersensitivity.
The cases of substance abuse and addiction are ever-rising. According to one wound educator, there are more overdoses and skin and wound issues than never before. He believes that there needs to be less judgment and more education because not everyone who misuses drugs does so because of a poor choice. Some abuse can result from self-medication, unmanaged mental health issue, or family genetics.
Patients are advised to get medical assistance to help address their skin problems. They can also embrace lifestyle changes to avoid making the situation worse. However, since addiction is a mental disease, these individuals should go through addiction treatment. Luckily, several programs are designed to help those struggling with drug addiction and may help them attain sobriety and ditch the bad habits.