The world has seen an increase in the number of drug-related deaths in recent months. Most of the drug users have opted to buy their substances of choice from clubs, parties and music festivals because they want to achieve that certain kind of high that they could not normally get. Their reasons may vary but the result is the same: drug addiction that may lead to death.
Some of these commonly abused drugs are medically prescribed to treat chronic pain. However, the effect of masking out the pain is the release of dopamine, the “happy center” of the brain. Taking more than the necessary amount may lead to hallucinations, psychological disturbance, and other unfavorable symptoms.
Some individuals may have access to these drugs from patients who don’t use these substances anymore. However, not being able to properly dispose these drugs may lead to these substances falling into the wrong hands and getting hooked on it.
There is a need for people to be aware that after they have been treated from their health issues, leftover medicines should not be kept inside the house, most especially within reach of young children. Proper disposal prevents accidental exposure and intentional misuse of these drugs.
The Drug Enforcement Agency has carefully classified controlled substances into Schedules I to IV. Every drug that falls under these categories has very strict implementation of the regulation of these drugs. In the same way, the agency has also amended the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 (“Disposal Act”) to ensure that all unused drugs should be discarded safely.
What is the Disposal Act?
The Disposal Act amended the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to give the DEA authority to promulgate new regulations, within the framework of the CSA that will allow ultimate users to deliver unused or leftover controlled substances to appropriate entities for disposal in a safe and effective manner consistent with effective controls against diversion. The main goal of the Disposal Act is to encourage the community to develop a variety of methods of collection and disposal in a secure, convenient, and responsible manner.
Most Commonly Abused Drugs at Home
Some people turn to prescription drugs for several reasons, some of which include the following:
- To relax and be free from tension
- To reduce appetite
- To achieve an unusual high
- To respond to peer pressure
- To escape from personal problems
Worse, some individuals think that using prescription drugs is legal and safe, because these are prescribed by physicians.
Several cases involving individuals rushed to the emergency department were related to misuse of prescription drugs intended for their family members. Some of these drugs include:
- Pain relievers (Oxycontin)
- Tranquilizers (Valium, Zolpidem)
- Stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin)
- Codeine Syrup/Promethazine
All of these drugs may produce untoward effects if ingested in large amounts and may eventually lead to death.
Options on How to Dispose Unused Medicines
Any unused or expired medicines should be immediately taken out from homes to prevent possible misuse and ingestion of children and other individuals. Some may become too curious about the effects of certain drugs most especially if these are drugs that are being mentioned online and in news articles. In short, curiosity may result to potential drug addiction.
Take Back Initiative
To address the issue on exposure to leftover medication, the government has created a Take Back program to safely dispose most types of unneeded or unused medicines. Collection sites are put up by the DEA periodically so that communities may be able to safely dispose their unused prescription drugs.
These take back programs can also be hosted by the local law enforcement agencies in different communities. At the same time, the people in the community may be able to contact their local waste management authorities to learn more about the proper disposal options and guidelines for their areas.
Drug Collection Stations
Another option is to dispose these unused medicines via DEA-authorized collectors that can safely and securely collect these medicines containing controlled substances. DEA-authorized collectors include hospitals, clinics or retail pharmacies. Some authorized collection sites offer mail-back programs wherein they provide drop boxes to help consumers in safely disposing their unused medicines.
For Communities with no Take Back Program
Not all communities may have the Take Back program or DEA-authorized collection stations, but that does not mean that unused medicines should be kept.
Throw them in the trash
The other option of disposing these medicines is by throwing them in the trash. Disposing them should not be done just by throwing them away in their containers. A more effective disposal method is for the capsules or tablets to be mixed with undesirable substances to prevent ingestion. This way, people will be instantly discouraged to take the drugs. The mixture should be placed inside a sealed plastic container. Ensure that all personal information on the prescription label on the empty medicine bottle has been taken out when disposing it.
Flush them in the toilet
Any unused medicines should be properly disposed to prevent from being misused by other individuals. If disposal options such as a take back program or a DEA-authorized collector sites are not readily available, it is best recommended that these medicines be flushed down the sink or toilet as soon as they are no longer needed.
Here is the list of medicines recommended for immediate disposal by flushing:
|Actiq||oral transmucosal lozenge||Fentanyl Citrate|
|Avinza||extended release capsule||Morphine Sulfate|
|Belbuca||buccal soluble film||Buprenorphine Hydrochloride|
|Buprenorphine Hydrochloride||sublingual tablet||Buprenorphine Hydrochloride|
|Butrans||transdermal patch system||Buprenorphine|
|Daytrana||transdermal patch system||Methylphenidate|
|Diladulid||oral liquid||Hydrpmorphone Hydrochloride|
|Dolophine Hydrochloride||tablets||Methadone Hydrochloride|
|Duragesic||extended release patch||Fentanyl|
|Embeda||extended release capsule||Morphine Sulfate|
|Exalgo||extended release tablets||Hydrpmorphone Hydrochloride|
|Fentora||buccal tablets||Fentanyl Citrate|
|Hysingla ER||extended release tablets||Hydrocodone Bitartrate|
|Kadian||extended release capsule||Morphine Sulfate|
|Methadone Hydrochloride||oral solution||Methadone Hydrochloride|
|Morphabond||extended release tablets||Morphine Sulfate|
|Morphine Sulfate||tablets||Morphine Sulfate|
|MS Contin||extended release tablets||Morphine Sulfate|
|Nucynta ER||extended release tablets||Tapentadol|
|Onsolis||buccal soluble film||Fentanyl Citrate|
|Opana ER||extended release tablets||Oxymorhone Hydrochloride|
|Oxecta||immediate release tablets||Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Oxycodone Hydrochloride||capsules||Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Oxycodone Hydrochloride||oral solution||Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Oxycontin||extended release tablets||Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Percocet||tablets||Acetaminophen, Oxycodone Hydrocloride|
|Percodan||tablets||Aspirin, Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Suboxone||sublingual film||Buprenorphone Hydrochloride, Naloxone Hydrochloride|
|Targiniq||extended release tablets||Oxycodone Hydrochloride, Naloxone Hydrochloride|
|Xartemis XR||tablets||Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Xtampza ER||extended release capsule||Oxycodone|
|Xyrem||oral solution||Sodium Oxybate|
|Zohydro ER||extended release capsule||Hydrocodone Bitartrate|
|Zubsolv||sublingual tablets||Buprenorphine Hydrochloride, Naloxone Hydrochloride|
*Updated as of April 2016
There is a need for immediate disposal of these medicines to ensure that no one will be able to use them or accidentally ingest them due to their health risks.
In addition, It is unwise to turn over any unused medicine to another person whom you think is having the same kind of medical condition as you had. It is best to seek professional help rather than to give out any of your unused medicines.
Prior to receiving any kind of medication such as the ones mentioned above, patients should be advised on how to properly dispose unused medications in the event that they have purchased more than they have needed in the process. The doctors should be able to explain information about the expected side effects of the medication, proper handling and disposal instructions and the medication guide.
The FDA together with other federal agencies and medicine manufacturers are committed to finding other options in developing alternative safety disposal policies.
How Dangerous Are Prescription Drugs If Not Disposed Properly?
Prescription drugs such as very potent narcotic drugs and several other controlled substances have instructions for flushing to reduce the danger of unintentional use or misuse.
Fentanyl patch, for instance, is a kind of medication in patch form that delivers the potent medication through the skin. It is advised to flush used or leftover patches because it can cause severe breathing problems and lead to death if accidentally ingested by babies, children, pets and even adults.
Even if a patch has been discarded after use, there are still some traces of the drug left in the patch. That is why it is advised to flush it down the sink or toilet instead of just throwing it in trash bins.
Environmental Concerns in Drug Disposal
Some people are questioning the way of disposing unused medications since they worry that trace levels of drug residue may be flushed down into rivers and lakes and affect the drinking water supply of the community.
Environmental experts have opposed this alternative way of unused medicine disposal, saying that instead of protecting the community from these harmful substances, the flushed drug substances may find their way to the water supply and endanger the health of the whole community.
However, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency are continuously monitoring this method of medicine disposal and found no indication of environmental effects due to flushing so far. In other words, flushing unused potent substances poses no harm to the community since the effect of these drugs can only be achieved when the drug itself has been ingested and fully metabolized by the body.
The FDA has been conscientious in reviewing each kind of drug substance that is safe to be disposed by flushing down in the sink of toilets. Their primary aim is to keep the community free from harmful substances and provide a healthy community to live in. It is highly recommended to read the DFA document on Disposal of Unused Medicines to know more about the agency’s suggested disposal methods.
Proper Disposal of Inhaler Products
Inhaler products are prescribed to those who have asthma or other respiratory problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These inhalers used to have CFCs, which were found to be harmful to the environment as they may cause destruction of the ozone layer. These days, however, the harmful chemical in inhalers have been replaced by more environmentally friendly substances.
When these inhalers have been consumed, they should also be properly disposed. Since these are aerosol-type products, puncturing the inhaler or setting it directly on fire might be dangerous. Make sure to read the instructions on the label carefully prior to disposing it.
Medicines are intended to help treat medical conditions. However, if these substances are used beyond what is recommended or used by individuals who should not be taking that kind of medicine, it will definitely cause harm.
Drug addiction is a huge problem that continues to plague so many countries. Let us help by initiating campaigns to join the government’s program of properly disposing potent drugs to keep our communities healthy and safe.
Its name may sound innocent, but make no mistake about it. Molly is not a teenage kid that you want your son or your daughter be hanging around with. In fact, when you hear from your kids that they enjoyed last night’s party with Molly, you should already be concerned.
Who is Molly?
The more accurate question is: What is Molly? Commonly known in parties and raves, Molly is a loose term for Ecstasy, the deadly synthetic drug that can alter the mood and perception of users.
Its chemical name is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA. Its other street names include: E, XTC, X, Adam, Hug, Beans, Clarity, Lover’s Speed, and Love Drug.
The drug causes an effect similar to what users experience when they use amphetamines, and produces psychedelic effects found in LSD. It is considered a club drug or party drug as it is very commonly used by people who frequent parties, music festivals and concerts.
MDMA falls under Schedule I based on stipulations in the Controlled Substances Act, which means that the drug has no known medical benefit and has a high potential for abuse. However, there is an ongoing research on the possibility that this drug might be helpful in treating patients who have terminal cancer and anxiety.
How Molly Is Used
Molly is commonly found in the form of capsules or tablets. These pills are produced in various colors and sometimes have cartoon images on them. Some people would take more than one pill.
The name Molly is short for molecular, which refers to the crystalline powder form of MDMA sold in capsules. The effect of this substance usually lasts from three to six hours. Once the user feels that the effect is slowly diminishing, a second dose usually follows.
Approximately 45 minutes after ingestion, the user may feel a “euphoric high,” together with uncontrolled movements or hyperactivity. There is also an increase in self-esteem, enhanced communication and an increase in self-insight.
Several reports in the past mentioned that some Ecstasy pills sold in the market contain other harmful and deadly substances. It was found out that drugs sold as MDMA pills do not actually contain MDMA. Most often, these substances mixed with or replaced with other chemicals such as amphetamines, caffeine, cocaine, dextromethorphan or PCP.
MDMA and the Brain
It takes about 15 minutes for MDMA to enter the bloodstream and reach the brain. The effect of MDMA is caused by the increase in activity of three neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.
- Serotonin controls our sleep, pain and sexual activity. The increase in serotonin causes a person to be hyperactive. It may also cause heightened tactile sensation. This is also responsible for the release of oxytocin, which affects the feeling of being sexually aroused.
- Dopamine causes an emotional upsurge such as feelings of joy and pleasure, as well as an increase in energy.
- Norepinephrine is responsible for the increase in heart rate and blood pressure.
Side effects of MDMA
MDMA users may experience the following symptoms after ingestion of the drug:
- Profuse sweating
- Dizzy spells
- Increase in heart rate and blood pressure
- Muscle tension
- Teeth clenching
- Nausea (feeling sick)
- Blurred vision
- Higher body temperature (may lead to serious heart, liver, or kidney problems)
- Increased risk for unsafe sex
- Distorted perception
- Involuntary teeth clenching
- Muscle cramping
- Severe muscle breakdown
- Rapid eye movements
- Memory reduction
Once the effect of MDMA diminishes, the decrease in serotonin causes the user to go through a state of depression, confusion, sleeping disorder, anxiety and drug craving.
The effect on long term use of the drug has not yet been proven to completely damage the brain. However, it has been noticed that those who slowly gave up on using the drug exhibited signs of depression and confusion, as well as poor memory and attention.
When taken in large doses, Ecstasy can pose serious threats to the user. The same can be said when small frequent doses are consumed to maintain the “euphoric high” that it gives to the user.
When high doses of MDMA are taken, it may lead to a high risk of experiencing seizures and losing the ability to maintain the normal rhythm of the heart.
Signs of Molly Addiction
According to research, the neurotransmitters targeted by MDMA are the same ones affected by other commonly abused drugs, leading users to have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Here are some of the common signs that a person is addicted to Molly or MDMA:
- Lack of concentration
- Loss of appetite
- Unusual behavior
Ecstasy Statistics Overview
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2014 revealed the following data about Ecstasy:
- Nearly 7 percent of those aged 12 and older had used Ecstasy at least once in their lifetime.
- Nearly 1 percent of the same population had used it within the past year.
- About 0.2 percent had used Ecstasy within the past month.
- Ecstasy use has remained relatively steady in the general population since 2009, with a gradual decline among adolescents. In 2013, more than 750,000 persons aged 12 or older reported using ecstasy for the first time.
Here are some statistics of Ecstasy use among adolescents (aged 12-17):
- Roughly 0.7 percent of adolescents reported taking Ecstasy in the past year.
- About 1.2 percent of adolescents had taken Ecstasy at least once in their lives.
- About 0.2 percent of adolescents reported using Ecstasy in the previous month.
Young adolescents (aged 18-25) exhibited the following stats for the drug:
- 5 percent reported using the drug in the previous year.
- 12 percent of young adults reported using Ecstasy at least once in their lifetime.
- About 1 percent were current Ecstasy users.
Meanwhile, among adults (aged 26 and above):
- 5 percent of adults reported using the substance within the past year.
- 4 percent of adults aged 26 and above reported using Ecstasy at least once in their lifetime.
- 1 percent of adults were current users.
There were close to 22,500 emergency room visits recorded on the year that the survey was conducted. Majority of these individuals were aged 28-29 years old, and about 70 percent were male.
Is Ecstasy Deadly?
The increased release of the neurotransmitters may cause an increase in the body temperature of an individual who uses Molly or Ecstasy. When the body could not regulate the temperature, it may cause organ failure and eventually death.
Severe Ecstasy-related Illnesses
Abuse of Ecstasy may cause or increase the likelihood of the following illnesses:
- Hemorrhagic stroke
- Metabolic disturbance
- Brain Swelling
Most Common Causes of Ecstasy Deaths
The following are the causes of death by Ecstasy users:
- Ecstasy-induced depression (suicidal incidents)
The Warning Signs That A Teen May Be Using Ecstasy
It’s unfortunate to know that parents would be the last to know about their children being hooked on drugs. Whether the parents are too busy with their jobs or they’re not as observant as they should be, their teenage kids may get away with taking the drugs especially in the company of friends.
Here are a few signs to help parents know if their children may be having some issues with regards to drug use, particularly Molly or Ecstasy:
- Goes to parties often and comes home early morning the next day.
- Increased number of absences in school.
- Easily gets irritated.
- May feel the need to use baby pacifiers to eliminate discomfort due to uncontrollable clenching of teeth.
- Experiences sleeping problems.
- For the parents to not notice the pills, these teen users would place the pills inside vitamin bottles to hide them.
- Chewing or eating soft candies more often than usual. In this case, the teen user may roll the pill inside the candy.
Dealing with a Teen (Ecstasy) User
Just like any person during this stage of human life, practically everyone goes through episodes of curiosity, most evidently during adolescence. In the ‘70s, it was crack that was proliferating in the streets. These days, Ecstasy has made its way to the limelight. At a price between $8 and $25 a pill, teens buy more of it because it does not cost as much as other drugs.
The effect of having the unusual high may give teens the feeling of being free and somehow detached from the world. Whether they are trying to escape from their own problems or just forced to take them because most kids in school are using them, the result will always be the same: deteriorating health that can lead to death.
Here are the top reasons why teens try alcohol and drugs, based on several studies in the past:
- About 47 percent of teens agreed that they have been influenced by the movies where drug use and distribution are shown. They think that drug use is something “cool” and okay.
- Teens say that they often see people around them getting involved with smoking, drinking alcohol or using other substances.
- They may find drugs and/or alcohol as their companion during times of sorrow. Depending on the kind of drug that they use, they would instantly feel a different kind of uncontrollable emotion.
- Some teens may just have too many things to think about that not having an outlet may let them feel like they are about to explode. As a solution, they turn to drugs and/or alcohol to keep them occupied.
- Angry teenagers would turn to different kinds of addiction to spite their parents as a means of rebellion against them. Using methamphetamine would produce an aggressive behavior, and this lets teenagers become aggressive and uncontrollable. Meanwhile, using LSD and marijuana may lead them to be more silent than normal.
- The teen may feel the need to take drugs or alcohol as a form of gratification because they feel good once they take the substance, especially in large amounts.
- Some teens who lack self-confidence may use these substances for them to easily express themselves.
- There are instances when just plain curiosity would drive teens to become habitual users because they were misinformed about the dangers of what these substances may bring.
How Can Ecstasy Use Be Avoided?
It may be difficult to keep watch of our children all the time. Besides, they also need to learn independence. However, the key to how we could best prevent our children from getting hooked on any substance is to provide the right information regarding the dangers.
In addition, we should learn to have an open communication with our children so that they would turn to us if they have problems, instead of turning to their friends who may just lead them into taking the illegal substances.
We may not have a hold on the behavior of other people that our children meet every day. However, if the children grow up having the proper knowledge and living with a very loving family, substance abuse may never be a problem.
Treatment for MDMA Abuse
There is no specific kind of treatment for MDMA unlike other abused substances. The therapy provided to recovering MDMA abusers is cognitive behavioral intervention, which helps the patient cope with the right thinking and reaction to the surrounding environment.
The long-term effects of MDMA abuse may cause the user to have problems with regards to memory and recognition. Therapy sessions to restore proper brain function may take weeks to several months.
Apart from the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist, the family plays an important role in the success of the treatment. The family’s support should be a source of strength for recovering drug users for them to be able to live normal and much healthier lives.
It could really be a difficult challenge for people to accept that the people they love are using drugs. It does not matter whether it is your child, your spouse, a sibling, or a very close friend of yours—once you find out that they are into drugs, this will probably make you feel that you were not able to do your job to give them adequate support and guidance.
Self-blaming does not result to a positive outcome. What you need to do is try your very best to help them put their attention to new things.
Here is a rundown of the things that you can do in case a person you care about is apparently into drugs:
Address the problem
In any kind of problem, you need to confront the issue and accept that it happened. When you do not put in the effort to talk things out with the person using drugs, you are allowing the person to stay in the dark moment of his or her life.
However, it is also expected that this step will be very difficult because there is no single approach that can be effective for all. As a result, you really have to think about the right approach that you will use so that the intervention will be easier or more comfortable for both parties.
It is also important to remember that communication is a two-way street, so make sure that you give them your full attention when they start speaking. Listen attentively and just let them talk about the things they wish to share.
It may also be probably helpful to ask about their future plans and offer your time and assistance. This way, they will have hope that they can achieve their plans, especially if there are ways for them to get over their addiction.
A very large percentage of drug addicts rely on illegal drugs because they are depressed, or because they are suffering from other mental illnesses. In this case, you may ask the person concerned if it is alright for them to visit a specialist who can help him/her in the process. Assure him/her that they are not alone in this.
Be someone’s companion in the process
Some addicts resort to drug abuse because they feel that nobody cares for them. Some addicts consider the temporary happiness that drugs can give them as an escape from the painful past or the troubled present.
One strategy that may work to help recovering addicts forget about their dark moments is through hobbies and new activities. If the person concerned is a family member, you may want to ask for the person’s close friend to help you in determining what possible activities may work best.
Once you have confronted and talked to the person, you may now exert your best effort to become the best companion there is. You have the power to distract the person from bad habits, by being that person who opens doors for new adventures for them to engage in.
You may ask the person if any of these sound exciting for him/her: traveling, art lessons, foreign language classes, or sports. Any new activity or a forgotten hobby may probably sound exciting, especially if he/she does it with your company.
The main idea is that you have to make the person feel that you are available. Time is the key.
Encourage the person to ‘sweat out’ the addiction
While cooking and baking may sound like a good choice to deflect a person’s attention from doing drugs, sweating out the urge of using drugs is also a very reliable strategy.
Breaking sweat triggers the body to produce higher levels of happy hormones such as serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine. These hormones make someone feel happier and contented, and therefore prevent a person from thinking negative thoughts. Music therapy, when partnered with regular exercise, is a good way to deal with almost any type of addiction.
Once a person you love has acknowledge that he/she needs therapy before any type of intervention from experts, it may probably be a good idea to go put exercise as part of the daily routine.
Getting support from family members
There is no greater rock to rely on than family. Problems and struggles are easier when you go through them with family.
Once you find out that a family member of yours is doing drugs, it would be best to privately discuss the problem with the person first. Afterwards, the both of you may consult other family members on what possible solutions can be done. You have to assure the person that he/she is loved no matter what, and that the family is not going to judge the bad decisions he/she made.
Dealing with a close friend’s drug addiction is another story. If you are the first one to find out, you have to respect the person’s decision if he/she wants to discuss it with his/her family. Although it is a given that the family should know, all you can do from here is to advice your friend to ask from his/her family’s help whenever he/she is ready.
Once your friend agrees, try your best to offer your full support in the next steps he/she plans to take. After all, you are essentially your friend’s family too!
Getting support from self-help groups
Some recovering drug addicts attend self-help groups to make them understand their situation better through varying perspectives. You probably have an idea how the drill works in self-help groups: people who share similar circumstance are brought together to discuss how they successfully went through the challenges.
Encouraging a loved one of yours who is into drugs to attend self-help groups will probably help the person in the long run. Perspectives from members of these groups will give the person a better understanding of his/her situation using other lenses.
Discuss treatment options with the person
If the person acknowledges that he/she cannot get over drug addiction without the help of a specialist, you need to be ready to offer other treatment options.
However, make sure that the decision is an outcome of the person’s thorough self-assessment so that the process will be easier. The treatment will be more worth it for the person because it is his/her own decision, and he/she is aware that it is a need to make his/her life better.
Help the person set attainable and meaningful goals
A vital part of the process of helping someone going through drug addiction is making him/her feel that the plans he/she sets are important. While these goals are personally set by the recovering addict, you need to make the person feel that he/she is not alone in the scheme of things.
If, for instance, the person sets a timeline of his/her plans after getting treatment or therapy, you have to ask help from others on how you can all put in efforts to make the treatment plans work.
The abovementioned strategies may be helpful for people to get away from their drug addiction. However, there is also a need to know the root causes why people use drugs in the first place. Knowing the reasons behind drug addiction can also make things easier for people to accept their loved one’s drug addiction. As said earlier, self-blaming is never part of the solution.
Read on the following common reasons why people resort to using drugs:
1. Stress reliever
The body has a natural response to stress, but the way we go through different sources of stress will always vary for every person.
We need to be aware that people have different outlets to relieve stress: some sleep for longer hours, some eat in huge amounts, some go spend large amount of money for shopping, and others do strenuous activities such as sports. However, some people use illegal drugs to relieve their stress, claiming that using drugs is the only thing that gives them a different kind of high.
More often than not, they consider the bad habit as their stress reliever because they become less sensitive of the daily pressures of life caused by work, family conflicts, and failed relationships.
Because of the temporary high that drugs provide, users will rely on them believing that the feeling kills the stress they are going through, even just for a while.
2. Peer pressure
Some drug addiction cases are results of peer pressure and the longing to fit and feel wanted in a group. If the person is in close contact with those who are also into drugs, there is a big chance that the person will be invited and forced to use drugs too.
Peer pressure does not only happen at a young age. In fact, it knows no age, although teenagers are most vulnerable to it.
If a family member of yours is doing drugs as a result of apparent peer pressure, then it would be best to advice the person to limit interactions with these bad influences. If you are a parent of a teenager doing drugs with his/her friends, it may be best to talk to your child and make him/her feel that you understand what peer pressure does to a person. It is a wake-up call for you to spend more time with your family, especially your child who’s undergoing identity crisis.
Boredom is a scary and tricky state that brings about a lot of possibilities. Sadly, one possibility is doing drugs. People using drugs out of boredom have probably very few options on where to dedicate their spare time.
Having said that, it is very important to offer your time to deflect attention by sharing hobbies and interests with people recovering from drug addiction. It does not have to be a grand activity. You may simply download movies and watch it with them, go to the park and have a small picnic with family and common friends, or visit museums that offer free admission.
Most Commonly Abused Substances
One of the reasons why people use drugs is because they find it too available and that it can be easily and readily accessed anytime. Here is a list of commonly used drugs that are considered popular compared to others:
- Cannabis / marijuana
- LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide)
- Psychedelic Mushrooms
Early intervention is key to addressing drug addiction, and it’s important that you give your time and attention to your loved one who may be addicted to drugs. On a final note, your mindset to help them should not be disciplinary in nature. Rather, it must come from love and concern for the recovering addict.
There is an ongoing and growing problem on opioid use and abuse, becoming a pandemic on its own. Many people have fallen victim to opioid use because the drug is readily available and accessible.
The U.S. Department of Justice decided to take matters into action and enacted a program that can effectively monitor and lessen the opioid abuse. Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) is a state-run electronic database to track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances. This program is designed to monitor drugs that are suspected to be addicting. Also, it also provides critical information regarding a patient’s controlled substances prescription history.
Opioid Abuse and Addiction
A brewing problem against drug addiction has been increasing with the use of over-the-counter medicine as a means for opioid abuse. Opioid analgesics intended to relieve pain are often used improperly, resulting to abuse and addiction. It has becoming a wide-scale problem that has resulted to opioid overdose.
From 2003 to 2009, the numbers of death caused by drug overdose has increased to 61 percent in Florida alone. Most of the fatalities are caused by the infamous opioid pain relievers oxycodone and benzodiazepine alprazolam.
Addiction to opioids such as prescription pain relievers, heroin and morphine affects the health and social welfare of most societies. There are roughly 26.4 million people who abuse opioid while there are approximately 2.1 million users in United States, 470,000 of which are already addicted and are suffering health issues because of their addiction.
Opioid is a respiratory depressant that can cause death when abused and used regularly. The reason why it has become the popular choice for addicts is because it is easily available and accessible. Prescription pain relievers can be easily bought in drug stores and is readily available in black markets.
Opioids are substances that acts like opioid receptors for a morphine-like effect. The drug is highly addictive and can illicit physical dependence when used and abused. These receptors can mediate the psychoactive and somatic effects, which produce the tendency for the user to have an altered state of mind.
Abuse of opioids can lead to side effects like itchiness, nausea, euphoria and respiratory depression.
What is Prescription Drug Monitoring Program?
The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSL) defined Prescription Drug Monitoring Program as the statewide electronic database that collects the data on a particular drug dispensed in the state. It is housed under specified regulations by administrative and law enforcement agencies.
NAMSL distributes the data from the individuals who are authorized to receive the information for the purpose of their profession. Since PDMP is used as a tool by states to address prescription drug abuse and addiction, it is served with several purposes such as to provide support access to effectively and properly use controlled substances as medication. This is to educate individuals about the use of PDMP and potential abuse and addiction to other prescription drugs that will help to identify, determine and prevent the drug abuse and diversion.
PDMP also serves the purpose of information dissemination in outlining use and abuse trends as a form of public health initiative. This is an important part of the program to facilitate and encourage the intervention and treatment of persons addicted to prescription drugs.
As of October 16, 2011 there are 37 states running operational PDMPs that have the capacity to receive and distribute controlled substances. Some of the states with fully operational PDMP include Ohio, Wyoming, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina. There are also eleven states that have enacted the use of PDMP to alleviate drug abuse even though it’s still not fully operational, and these include Alaska, Washington, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Arkansas and Maryland. Each of these states has a designated agency as to which will oversee the Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, and these comprises of health departments, state law enforcement or pharmacy boards.
The Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs maintains a list of the state contacts to ensure that each state agency will be given attention. The group helps state agencies monitor how the program is going, guarantee that each state control will have the access to PDMP information, and also receive short descriptions as to the purpose of the programs in alleviating drug abuse in the society.
It is also important to note that The National Alliance State Drug Laws are provided links as to each state’s statute, regulations and law pertaining to prescription drug monitoring. In order to effectively run the prescription drug monitoring program, federal funding should be readily available in implementing the grant needed to proceed with the program.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance together with the Office of Justice organized and administered the Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (HRPDMP) to provide three types of grants for planning, implementation and enhancement. Since inception, 47 states and 1 U.S. state territory have been funded under the grant program.
In an effort to administer the grant program effectively, the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act (NASPER) was enacted last 2005 to implement and enhance different programs for prescription drug monitoring. Since it has been created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NASPER has received $2 million in 2009 and 2010 to support grants in 13 states.
Although NASPER and HRPDMP are part of a working force duo in terms of prescription drug monitoring, they still have different purposes. HRPDMP’s responsibility is to enhance the capacity and scope of regulatory law enforcements and agencies to collect data from controlled substance and should be maintained through a centralized database administered by an authorized agency. On the other hand, NASPER aids in managing the grant program under the authority of HHS.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to Mitigate Opioid Use and Abuse
Since there is a steady growth and increase on the opioid use and abuse leading to addiction, some government agencies and health organizations are looking for a way to resolve this issue. The specific issue of opioid abuse and addiction can be solved by an effective information campaign. Letting the patients know the harmful benefits of the drug can be a useful way to lessen the abuse of opioids.
Prescription drug monitoring programs should have basic patient information and must also have the following data:
- Prescription number
- Date the prescription was issued
- Date that the prescription was last filled
- Number of refills ordered
It is important to know how many times the patient has used the drug and how often they have their prescription filled. The database of PDMP is updated by a pharmacist, who enters prescription data into the database within three days after dispensing. This is to ensure that a person or a patient is taking the controlled substance or medication properly, thereby reducing the risk of opioid abuse.
Prescription drug monitoring programs are highly effective tools that run in each state for the government to utilize in order to lessen the abuse of prescription drugs.
The programs collect and analyze electronically transmitted data, which are administered and submitted by pharmacists and practitioners. The data collected are used to manage and support the state’s efforts in research, enforcement and abuse prevention.
Prescription drug monitoring program is an operative tool and method to mitigate the abuse of opioids. However, there are also underlying disadvantages and inconsistencies when utilizing the program. Some of these hindrances that pose problems on the effectiveness and success of prescription drug monitoring data systems include the following;
- Inconsistency of the prescribers of the program
- Inconsistency in sharing the information across states
- Access to data separate to the one being used to access the records
- No mandatory requirement for the prescriber to consult with the database before prescribing and distributing the controlled substances
Proposed Actions to Address the Opioid Epidemic
Opioid abuse is imminent and is quickly becoming a wide-scale problem due to easy access and availability of these drugs. One effort that has been taken into action is implementing programs like the PDMP to aid in monitoring and collecting data that can mitigate the use of opioids. However, the current programs being executed and applied today still contain loopholes that make them limited in terms of their success in combatting drug abuse and addiction.
An ideal prescribed drug monitoring program should be able to alert the administrators of signs that pertain to illegal and aberrant drug procurement behavior. Furthermore, it should also be able to monitor controlled substances that fall within Schedule III, Schedule IV and Schedule V. These types of drugs and substances are prone to addiction and can be highly addictive, and that is why it is important to take these drugs only when necessary.
Actions to address the opioid endemic and take action in combatting the addiction problem is improve on prescribed drug monitoring programs and also enhance information dissemination as to what the state and health providers need to know to make the program effective. To improve the use of the program, it is important that PDMP should have easy access and real-time updates to the database.
Interstate accessibility is also integral to make sure that the centralized database is always up to date, and it must be synced together as well. There should be mandatory reporting on the update with controlled substances.
To make the PDMP a useful tool to mitigate the diversion of opioids, research should be done to optimize the use of the program. Also, the goal of a research study should be able to differentiate users and non-users, and the schedule by which clinicians and pharmacists should respond to the data.
Another effort and action to be considered is to expand access to treatment. When treating opioid overdose, it is better that physicians are well-prepared in treating opioid use disorder. Also, increasing the availability of community treatment programs should also be prioritized.
Lastly, an inter-agency task force should be created and grouped for the advancement on the access to mental health and abuse use treatment. The goal of this group is to promote best practices and develop additional agency guideline.
These plans in improving the programs are to expand public health partnerships to invest more in community policies that will help in combatting the opioid abuse epidemic.
Drugs can start a lively discussion from different vantage points. Should drugs be legalized with due process? Are drugs dangerous or are they just misunderstood? Is it possible to create one super drug to trump other drugs?
The list goes on and on and while some people tend to gravitate towards scientific research, a majority of society’s curiosity towards drugs is due to media, especially through movies. Some people are at awe with how a small pill can enhance performance by a thousand-fold, or marvel at how a laced drink can melt your inhibitions away.
Drug-related films have the tendency to exaggerate and highlight drugs as a component that has the ability to completely change who we are and how we do things. While it may seem attractive, the drugs featured in these films, though fictional, may have dangerous counterparts that exist in real life.
Soma (Brave New World, 1931)
In Brave New World, author Aldous Huxley introduces “Soma,” an antidepressant capable of causing hallucinations when taken at high enough quantities. It was used for a number of purposes, some being “religious services to crowd control.“ Depending on the dosage and the context it is taken in, “soma” can both be innocent and fatal at the same time.
A real world “soma” would be ketamine, an experimental antidepressant. Much like soma, ketamine, when taken at extremely high doses, can cause “strong visual and auditory hallucinations, and severe disassociation or detachment.” Its effects would be fatal if the doses go even higher.
Milk Plus (A Clockwork Orange, 1962)
The ‘60s was the era of the drug movement, when LSD was what the eccentric youth used to transcend into peace and tranquility in order to gain a sense of understanding about the world and the status quo. Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange plays on this archetype by introducing Alex and Milk Plus. In the film adaptation of a published work by Stanley Kubrick, Alex and his friends drink Milk Plus, which is milk laced with drugs that bring on disturbingly violent behavior in order to restore a perceived sense of social order.
In real life, Milk Plus produces the same effects as alcohol. Intoxication of alcohol can reduce your self-consciousness and can bring forth aggressive behavior, which is intrinsic in some people.
Teamocil (Arrested Development, “Best Man for the Gob”, 2004)
In Arrested Development, Tobias Fünke tries to get his wife Lindsay and his daughter Maeby back together for “Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution.” Lindsay attempts to sing the jingle from a commercial from the nineties that revolved around a non-FDA approved pharmaceutical drug called “Teamocil.”
According to the advertisement, Teamocil can “boost camaraderie among people while lowering sex drives.” Ironically, the forced amity between them only drove Tobias’s family further away.
Used as experimental therapy for PTSD, MMDA has been known to boost camaraderie and to make people friendlier. However, whereas Teamocil lowers sex drive, MMDA raises it.
NZT-48 (Limitless, 2011)
Eddie Morra is experiencing writer’s block while struggling to make a living in New York City. After his girlfriend leaves him, Eddie runs into his ex-wife’s brother who offers him an experimental performance enhancing drug known as NZT-48. Eddie then uses the drug to get over his writer’s block and, later on, acquires more NZT-48 to gain a fortune in the stock market. This then leads to addiction, which then transcends into time-slipping blackouts all of which Eddie has no memory of.
After this film was released, a lot of drugs have been marked to have the same effects. In addition, nootropics have become known as the secret weapon for the corporate climbers of today. Nootropics are “chemical supplements that claim to improve cognitive functions, increase alertness and strengthen memory and recall.” It can exist in stimulants such as amphetamine (Aderall) or caffeine.
CPH4 (Lucy, 2014)
Much like Limitless, this 2014 film revolves around Lucy, a young woman who accidentally takes high doses of CPH4, a drug known to unlock the full power of the human brain. She then experiences strengthened human abilities, which then transofrms to mental and physical powers and eventually leads her to acquiring telepathic abilities.
Though there are no known drugs that can unlock the full potential of the human brain to the point where we attain superhero-grade powers, an overdose of amphetamines may deliver the same feeling. When overdosed, amphetamines can increase body temperature, blood pressure, strange and repetitive behavior, realistic hallucinations and even premature death.
Dropper (Looper, 2012)
Joe is a hitman who is given victims from the future. Though this gives him an ample financial situation, his contract states that he will die in the line of duty. Distraught by this, he and his cohorts abuse a drug called “droppers” wherein it is ingested in the form of eye drops, which then leads to psychoactive properties. This is often taken in a social setting, like a club.
Though there are no known drugs that can get an individual high through the form of eye drops, it is quite synonymous to the social activity of vodka eyeballing. It is believed that the practice, which involves pouring an amount of neat vodka into the eye, causes people to get drunk faster. However, this practice is considered very dangerous because it can lead to people to be robbed of their sight.
Another real life counterpart to droppers is cocaine administered as eye drops for anesthetic purposes, though it is unlikely you can get high from it.
HFS and Wifi (21 Jumpstreet, 2012 and 22 Jumpstreet, 2014)
The Jumpstreet films were used as a commentary to focus on the growth of drug culture among the youth with synthetic or designer drugs as the main source of activity.
Designer drugs or synthetic drugs are drugs designed for medical uses. In short, they are the dupes to the authentic substances by changing the molecular make-up of an illegal drug and making it legal. According to BusinessInsider.com, designer drugs are cheap and easy to get and it can also occur in a myriad of names such as bath salts or flakka. However, a molecular tweak to the drug can create a new drug with an entirely different psychoactive effect.
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Marijuana or cannabis is still the leading illicit drug abused by teenagers in the United States. In 2014, the Substance Abuse for Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that an estimated 22.2 million Americans ages 12 or older were current users of marijuana. Of this number, 7.4% represented adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17.
The results of the 2014 Monitoring the Future Survey, a statistical study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revealed more detailed information. It showed that over the past month, marijuana use among 8th graders was at 6.5%, among 10th graders at 16.6%, and among 12th graders at 21.2%.
Both reports concluded that the trends show that marijuana use among teenage Americans remains stable. While recreational marijuana is federally illegal and banned in most states, its availability is widespread and it continues to be the primary drug for most adolescents.
Effects on Adolescents
In the recent years, a number of research studies have shown that early use of marijuana can lead to several issues that affect the user’s physical, mental, and psychological health in adult years. It is also associated with behavioral and social concerns. Here are some of the effects of marijuana use on teenagers:
Changes in the brain
Marijuana contains over a 400 hundred compounds that include at least 65 cannabinoids. The main active cannabinoid responsible for the drug’s psychoactive effects which cause an elevated euphoria or “high” that is sought by abusers is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
When THC enters the brain, it activates certain receptors that are critical for normal brain function and healthy development. High levels of THC greatly affect those receptors that control pleasure, mood, sensory and time perception, coordination, communication, learning, memory, and other cognitive functions.
Several studies conducted among adolescent users of marijuana have found that the drug causes structural brain abnormalities and impairs some vital mental functions. THC has been shown to affect the shape, density, and volume of the brain. Heavy users are likely to damage the white matter and gray matter which are associated with cognition, communication, and memory. These effects have been found to be more pronounced in users who start smoking the substance before the age of 16 or between the ages of 16 and 18.
In addition, the brain alterations caused by early exposure and use of the drug inhibit brain development which leads to lower IQ levels and learning deficiencies among teens.
Mental and psychiatric health
The use of marijuana in the adolescent years increases the chances of developing mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse disorders in adulthood. These psychiatric disorders are attributed to the drug’s psychoactive properties which are likely to bear long-term detrimental effects.
A study conducted in Sweden in 2002 established findings that those who smoke marijuana at the age of 18 increase their chances of developing schizophrenia sixfold. Subsequent investigations further concluded that those with pre-existing genetic conditions for psychosis such as schizophrenia may acquire the illness as a result of smoking marijuana.
Frequent or heavy use of the drug during the adolescence years has also been linked to depression and anxiety disorders during adulthood. While the substance may temporarily relieve depression, habitual use can put users at high risk of manifesting symptoms of both depression and anxiety in later years.
Marijuana use in teenage years can also lead to suicidal tendencies and behavioral disorders including aggression and violence in young adulthood. Statistics show that those who begin using marijuana before the age of 17 are three times more likely to attempt suicide.
The effects of the active ingredients in marijuana that affect mental processes begin soon after ingestion and can last for several days to weeks. As a result, adolescents who use the drug on a regular basis perform at lower intellectual levels due to the impairment of their learning and cognitive abilities.
Several studies have found that marijuana use is correlated with reduced chances of finishing high school or earning a college degree. Users are more likely to underperform in school compared to their non-smoking peers. For instance, the Healthy Youth Survey conducted in Washington State in 2012 revealed that high school students who were habitual users of marijuana got lower grades compared to those who did not engage in drug use.
Teenage marijuana use is also associated with socioeconomic issues in adult years. These include poor educational attainment, low income, unemployment, welfare dependence, problematic interpersonal relationships, disrupted family lives, criminal behavior, and life dissatisfaction.
Smoking marijuana can adversely affect the user’s health the same way that smoking tobacco does. It can cause respiratory illnesses and infections such as chronic cough, bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, and even lung cancer. Because the drug contains more harmful compounds than tobacco products, habitual marijuana use can produce more dangerous health consequences than tobacco use.
Within a few minutes from smoking marijuana, a person experiences increased heart rate by about 20 to 50 beats. This increases the risk for incurring cardiovascular problems such as arrhythmia, hypertension, and similar conditions.
Studies have shown that marijuana use is linked to testicular cancer among men. One investigation conducted among men in the Seattle area showed that marijuana users are at a higher risk of developing this type of cancer compared to non-users. It further concluded that those initiated to marijuana use at an age younger than 18, face a higher probability of incurring the disease.
Addiction and withdrawal
The compounds of cannabis are highly addictive and users are most likely to develop a tolerance for and dependence on the substance. It has been reported that about 17 percent of those who begin using marijuana during their adolescent years become addicted to the drug.
Addiction can cause the users to experience withdrawal symptoms whenever they attempt to cease using the drug or abruptly lower the dose of the substance ingested. Such symptoms include increased cravings, mood changes, decreased appetite, sleep disturbances, irritability, and anxiety. A user will begin to experience these symptoms within the first 24 hours following cessation. The same can last up to three days.
The severity of the marijuana withdrawal symptoms varies according to the duration or gravity of the drug dependence. In most cases, quitting voluntarily can be very difficult as when pharmacological treatment is necessary to alleviate and manage the withdrawal symptoms brought about by the physiological dependence on the substance. Thus, it is strongly advised that professional help is sought for the treatment of marijuana abuse.
Gateway to other drugs
Marijuana addiction is also linked to abuse of other substances including tobacco, alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and prescription drugs. It has been observed that those who engage in marijuana use in their teenage years are likely to progress to more severe forms of substance abuse in later years. This is known as the “gateway phenomenon.”
It has also been observed that chronic users usually use the drug in addition to alcohol or tobacco. This practice tremendously increases their risks for developing health complications.
Confronting teen marijuana abuse can be devastating for a parent. The problem disrupts family life and it promotes fear for the welfare and safety of both the child and the home. But marijuana use should not be dismissed as a passing phase or fad in your teenager’s life. The perils caused by substance abuse could be averted by timely intervention. Thus, it is best to address the issue as soon as possible.
If you have observed signs of marijuana abuse include changes in mood, poor academic performance, decreased appetite, emotional disturbances, and other signs indicative of drug abuse, then sit down with your child and discuss the issues. Afterward, make sure to have your teenager immediately evaluated by a physician.
Certain diagnostic tests such as urine testing are performed to determine recent marijuana use. A urine test result will show whether or not there has been drug use in the last two to four days. Other tests including saliva, sweat, and hair can also be performed.
It is crucial that these interventions are done promptly in order to arrive at the correct diagnosis. Should your child test positive for drug use, consult the appropriate health specialists and enroll him a treatment program.
Both outpatient and inpatient programs are available for the treatment of marijuana addiction. These programs implement various approaches to help the patient cope with withdrawal symptoms and develop strategies to avoid a relapse.
Some of the behavioral therapies that have been found to be effective include cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, motivational enhancement therapy, and family counseling sessions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy intends to teach patients methods to identify problematic behaviors and to develop techniques for handling such issues to help them prevent a recurrence of drug addiction.
Contingency management is a treatment approach that aims to promote a “reward system” by providing patients with incentives for each time they test negative for drugs. These are in the form of vouchers which may be exchanged for goods or services. This method encourages users to intentionally abstain from marijuana use.
As the name implies, the goal of motivational enhancement therapy is to assist patients to develop internal motivation to turn away from drugs and to stay on the path towards recovery.
Family therapies such as multidimensional therapy and family support therapy are designed to help establish a support base for the adolescent. The approach emphasizes the importance of discouraging marijuana use.
Some studies have shown that teens whose parents attend some form of family counseling and support sessions are more likely to reduce and eliminate drug dependence compared to those whose families do not undergo similar therapies.
There is yet no pharmacologic preparation that has been approved to effectively treat marijuana use disorder. However, several medications are available to manage and relieve withdrawal symptoms. These include antidepressants such as Nefazodone and Fluoxetine.
However, several research studies are being undertaken to find more efficient medications. The majority of the clinical trials that have been conducted focus on finding remedies to address the sleep disorders associated with marijuana withdrawal. Among the medications that have shown some potential include Zolpidem, Buspirone, and Gabapentin.
Other studies are geared towards finding nutritional supplements that would aid the inhibition of cannabinoids in the body to successfully reduce and eliminate withdrawal symptoms.
In conclusion, marijuana use puts adolescents and children at a high risk for developing several long-term problems. Teens often underestimate the potential harm to which they expose themselves by initiating the use of the substance. The addictive quality of marijuana that is currently available has been found to be three to five times stronger those in the 60s. Thus, using it a few times even for experimental purposes can pave the way towards dependence and abuse.
The importance of parental guidance and monitoring cannot be underscored. The dangers of marijuana use should be openly discussed in the home and the kids should be strongly advised against its use. When parents state their firm disapproval of any recreational drug or substance use, adolescents are less likely to engage in the same.
Shaping the future of American teenagers is a responsibility that should be first undertaken in the home. Parents are given both the privilege and the obligation to ensure these teenagers evade the path that leads to drug abuse and its dismal effects. It is a crucial role that cannot be taken for granted.