Parents are normally faced with teen problems because it is at this stage that children would be exploring so many things. They may feel they are old enough to do certain things, and peer pressure is an even bigger problem to deal with. As a result, many of them succumb to teen steroid abuse and other forms of addiction.
In this article, we will discuss teen steroid abuse, and how to deal with it, in case it happens to a teenager in your family or community.
Background on Teen Drug Abuse
Most often, teens would come to their friends for comfort and acceptance because they do not feel the sense of belonging in their own families. Venting out their problems to friends gives them a feeling of satisfaction and greatness.
Being around people that could be a positive influence to these teens will definitely help enrich their lives. But sometimes, what happens is otherwise. When teens hang out with the wrong kind of group, they end up as delinquents.
On this day and age, we know how young as 13 years old are already hooked on certain types of drugs. They may either be unaware of the ill effects it would do to their bodies, or they choose to ignore the truth. Either way, long-term use of any kind of drug will affect their overall well-being.
What are steroids?
Steroids are organic compounds that the body normally produces. They act by helping organs, tissues and cells to do their specific functions.
Steroids, however, can also refer to man-made medicines. These may be categorized under two kinds:
Corticosteroids are generally used to treat asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and lupus, some forms of cancer, and skin disorders such as rashes and eczema.
The risk of having side effects would depend on the type of steroid, dose, age and length of treatment. There are different forms of corticosteroids with varying side effects:
This type of corticosteroid may be used for less than three weeks without causing any side effects. However, there are certain conditions which might require taking them longer.
Oral steroids that have been taken for more than one week may cause:
- Increased appetite
- Muscle weakness
- Rapid mood wings
- Delayed wound healing
- Easily bruised
There is usually pain and swelling on the area where the steroid has been injected but usually disappears within two days. It is because of these side effects that steroid injection is given at 6-week intervals and only with a maximum of three injections into one area.
Application of steroid injection may cause any of the following:
- Muscle and tendon weakness
- Thinning and lightening of the skin on the injected area
A very common side effect after using steroid inhalers is the formation of oral thrush or fungal infection in the mouth cavity. It is advised to rinse the mouth with water after using steroid inhalers.
Some of its side effects include:
- Hoarse voice
- Minor nosebleeds
- Sore mouth and throat
Most of these side effects usually stop as soon as you have lowered the dose or have completely stopped taking them.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances usually given as treatment for delayed puberty and to those who have difficulty in producing testosterone.
These are also commonly referred to as performance-enhancing drugs, often used by athletes. It works by increasing muscle strength and mass and enhances bone strength.
Anabolic steroids are currently classified as Schedule III controlled substances. Anyone caught using steroids without a prescription or those who may be using steroids with an expired prescription may be labeled as a steroid abuser. This has been reinforced in 2004 by the Anabolic Steroid Act of 1990.
Long-term use of anabolic steroid may destroy normal production of testosterone. Its effect differs between men and women.
Decreased testosterone levels in men may lead to:
- Lower sperm count
- Smaller testicles
- Breast growth
Meanwhile, decreased testosterone in women may lead to:
- Facial hair growth
- Deeper voice
- Male-pattern baldness
- Enlarged clitoris
When anabolic steroids are used in higher doses, it can cause damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys. It can also increase your bad cholesterol which can cause heart attack or stroke regardless of age.
Teens using anabolic steroids may experience stunting of bone growth and height.
Commonly abused steroids other than testosterone are:
A number of common street names for anabolic steroids include the following:
- Gym candy
- Weight Trainers
Why are steroids being abused?
Anabolic steroids are given as treatment only with a doctor’s prescription. However, some individuals would use illegal anabolic steroids as a means to increase their muscle mass, lower body fat, and increase strength. It has become a means for athletes to improve on how they play the sport.
An earlier study discovered that females who are taking anabolic steroids were rape victims in the past. Since the assault, they wanted to increase their strength and build bigger muscles to intimidate any possible perpetrators.
From a series of interviews conducted on bodybuilders, it was known that at least 25% of the bodybuilders have encountered physical or sexual abuse during their childhood.
Another group of steroid users are those who want to lose body fat. These people are actually looking at themselves as fat and weak but in reality, they have normal-looking bodies. This is a behavioral condition called muscle dysmorphia.
Steroid abuse can cause the following:
- Very bad acne
- Fluid retention
- Aching joints
Facts and Figures on Teen Steroid Abuse
The number of teens who may be involved in illegal drugs may have significant decreased in the past two years. However, teens account for the 75% steroid users in the country.
According to the 2016 Monitoring the Future Study, a stable or slight decline of anabolic steroid use in teens was observed, except for 12th graders.
Here are the rates of steroid use among middle school students:
- 1% among 8th
- 2% among 10th graders.
- 3% among 12th graders.
Steroid use among these teens are no longer much involved with sports as they have seen that teens use this substance as a means of enhancing their looks. These adolescents want to feel accepted by others that they go to such great lengths just to make themselves look and feel good about themselves.
Here are more statistics and figures on teen steroid abuse:
- It has been estimated that about 1.5 million kids in the U.S. have tried steroids. In some cases, these teens may be using more than one steroid at a time. This is a very dangerous process called stacking.
- Anabolic steroid users are 12 times more likely to have used cocaine.
- Alcohol is the most common substance mixed with steroid use.
- Boys are more likely to use anabolic steroids than girls.
- Teens who have been prescribed with steroids to help them with their growth would sometimes resell these steroids to their classmates, which is a common way for teens to earn some money to buy illegal drugs.
- About 2.5% of females have tried anabolic steroids at least once.
- Females use steroids as weight loss supplement.
Effects of Steroids on the Brain
Steroid use can affect the brain’s limbic system, which is responsible for controlling mood. It has been observed that long-term steroid use may lead to the inability to control mood, thereby resulting to mood swings, as well as increased levels of hostility and aggression.
Long-term teen steroid abuse may also cause the following psychological conditions such as:
- Feeling invisible
Signs of Possible Steroid Abuse
It is likely that a teen is taking steroids when you suddenly see these changes:
- Severe acne
- Short temper and aggression (also called “roid rage”)
- Mood swings
- Stunted growth
- Missing school
- Unhealthy amount of competitiveness
- Abnormal increase in muscle mass
To check if someone is using steroids, check on the person’s bag or bedroom drawers for vials, resealable plastic bags or hypodermic needles. Steroids can be bought from the internet or acquired from friends.
How to Approach a Teen Suspected of Steroid Abuse
If you hint that your teen may be abusing any substance, it is best to talk to him/her calmly rather than become hostile. It is in no way an appropriate approach to anyone, regardless of what kind of issue that needs to be resolved.
Most often, teens turn to drugs because they feel lost and unloved by the family. Sometimes, we could not blame them for feeling that way because some parents have become awfully busy with their jobs that they barely have time to check on what is happening to their children and just rely on the fact that they know that the kids are home. More often than not, children just need their parents’ affirmation to make them feel secure.
When talking to them, here are some basic things that you can start asking or telling your kids:
- Ask your teen what could be causing him/her to be doing drugs or if there is something that he/she would want you to know about.
- Provide solutions to the problems presented.
- Know the extent of involvement of your teen with the illegal substance.
- Inform him/her about the consequences of his/her act – physically and psychologically.
- Make your teenage children aware of the laws and penalties governing teen steroid abuse.
If in case your teen is heavily hooked, let him know that he needs the help of a rehabilitation center so that he may be completely treated and return to his normal life once again.
Treatment for Teen Steroid Abuse
The treatment for teen steroid abuse is the same as treating those who have had other forms of substance addiction. The help of a rehabilitation center is needed most especially that withdrawal symptoms may be unbearable to be treated at home.
Such withdrawal symptoms may last for weeks. Unfavorable symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Intense cravings
Clinical depression is linked to steroid withdrawal. This is a very difficult stage wherein the individual has the possibility of harming himself to the point of committing suicide.
Depression may remain for a time even after years of stopping steroid use. During this stage, it is important that the individual continues to undergo psychological treatment from an addiction counselor. A very effective way in helping recovering addicts gain their lives back is for their families and friends to show love and support.
Helpful Links and Sources
Despite reports on the rising number of incidents related to drug abuse, a lot of people would still turn to drugs as their means of recreation or their last resort to mask off their problems. What makes this very alarming is the fact that children way before pre-teen stage have already been exposed to such illicit drugs. At this very innocent stage in the life of children, they may view drugs as just another kind of “amusement” that can provide them with an “unusual high” as part of their normal lives.
This article aims to provide information and awareness to prevent the use of illegal drugs and to hopefully combat unnecessary exposure of children from these substances. Here are some of the most common questions about teen drug abuse, and answers to the frequently asked questions by teenagers regarding these substances.
What is drug abuse?
Drug abuse refers to the inappropriate consumption, ingestion or intake of prescription drugs or drugs that are found to have no legitimate medical purpose or benefit. It may also be referred to as a form of brain-altering condition wherein a user experiences various psychological issues that often lead to unfavorable results.
What factors influence teens to take drugs?
Children are taught in school about how they should avoid getting hooked on drugs, smoking and alcohol use. However, since children are naturally curious, they will always be curious to try on something new, and that includes trying drugs.
Apart from mere curiosity, peer pressure plays a very significant role. Teens want to “belong” or be part of a “cool group”. Unfortunately, not all groups may be good influences. As a result, some groups would persuade their new “recruits” to try drugs and force them to think that drugs are their best friends – as their means of escape from their problems.
Other factors that may trigger teenagers to use drugs include:
- Low self-worth
- Desire to enhance performance
How come some individuals get addicted to drugs and some don’t?
Drug addiction is a complex disease, which means that there are contributing factors that may lead one to become addicted. These factors may be because of genetics or because of the influence of the environment. Nevertheless, the likelihood of getting addicted to a particular drug or substance may vary from person to person.
What drugs do teens tend to abuse?
The most commonly abused substances among teens are alcohol and tobacco. They also tend to favor inhalation of fumes from household chemicals, pens and glues. Older teens, however, would often use marijuana, synthetic marijuana (known as Spice or K2), and other prescription and over-the-counter medication.
Which drugs can be very addictive?
The answer to this question is variable because the effect of drugs on each individual. The reason behind this is that several factors may come into play, such as genetics, age, dosage taken, length of time that the drug has been used, and frequency of use.
What are the dangers of inhalants?
There are various household products such as cleaning liquids and solutions, glue, lighter fluid, and aerosol sprays that are being inhaled by younger teens to obtain an alcohol-like high. Because these are readily available, younger teens have easier access to these substances, making them some of the common things that young people try to use.
Although the effects from inhaling these substances may be for just a short period of time, prolonged inhalation may cause severe reaction towards the body such as suffocation and heart failure. Long term use can also lead to liver and kidney damage, hearing loss, bone marrow damage and consequently, brain damage.
At what age does drug abuse become prevalent?
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2015, an estimated 119 million Americans aged 12 or older used prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year, representing 44.5 percent of the population.
Meanwhile, About 97.5 million people used pain relievers (36.4 percent), 39.3 million used tranquilizers (14.7 percent), 17.2 million used stimulants (6.4 percent), and 18.6 million used sedatives (6.9 percent). In 2015, 18.9 million people aged 12 or older (7.1 percent) misused prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year.
If both parents were drug users prior to having a child, will the child be addicted to drugs?
The fact is, when a baby is born from a mother who is a drug user, the baby may be born addicted to the drug and may suffer withdrawal symptoms. But ultimately, children exposed to such substances in the home have a high risk of becoming addicts themselves.
What are the effects of drug addiction in the brain?
Habitual intake of illicit drugs can severely alter the brain’s function. This is because the effects of these substances either mimic or block the natural flow of neurotransmitters. Even when a user may have been relieved from its physical attachment to the drug, there would always come a time that a “healed” user may want to do drugs once again.
As a person takes an addictive substance, the limbic system releases dopamine, a naturally occurring chemical that make the user feel good. This encourages habitual substance abuse. To get hooked on drugs again after years of detoxification may be triggered by familiar situations which may have been the cause for addiction before.
What are “club drugs” or “party drugs”?
These are illicit drugs that have gained notoriety in clubs or rave parties. Some of the common party drugs include:
There are also other kinds of synthetic drugs sold as Ecstasy which may be more fatal than Ecstasy itself.
- Piperazines like BZP and TFMPP
- Mephedrone (mostly outside the US)
- bk-MDMA (methylene)
The popularity of party drugs stems from the euphoric feeling that it brings to the user. These drugs have a tendency to enhance the light feeling of people who frequent bars and night clubs. Unfortunately, these substances also pose serious health risks that range from nausea and dizziness to cardiac arrest and death.
What is Ecstasy?
This drug is known as an empathogen-entactogen, which means that it provides a feeling of empathy towards another person even if you have just met the person. Ecstasy is also commonly known as “Molly” in the club environment.
Ecstasy affects three neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. When Molly is taken, the compound releases an enormous amount of these neurotransmitters and increases its activity.
What are the effects of Ecstasy use?
Drug users may claim that Ecstasy is good for their bodies because it helps them to carry a “happy” attitude. While this may be true for some users, Ecstasy use can also present the following effects:
- Greater enjoyment of dancing
- Distortions of perceptions, particularly light, music and touch
- Artificial feelings of empathy and emotional warmth
- Increased body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate
- Threat of dehydration
- Increased energy
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of fatigue when it would be normal
- Jaw clenching and teeth grinding
- Muscle cramping
After the effect of Ecstasy wears off, what happens?
The effect of Ecstasy lasts between three to six hours. Unfavorable symptoms may be experienced such as:
- Lack of appetite
- Less interest in or pleasure from sex
- Problems sleeping
- Aggressive behavior
- Difficulty focusing
- Poor memory
- Drug cravings
Now that marijuana has been approved in some U.S. states, are teens free to use them like adults?
Despite the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, it is still prohibited under federal law to manufacture, possess, buy or use marijuana if you do not have the necessary permits. Only adults above 21 years of age are allowed to have an access from legitimate shops wherein they should also have to secure permits when they intend to use marijuana for recreational purposes.
How are drugs classified?
The Drug Enforcement Agency has categorized drugs into Schedule I, Schedule II, Schedule III, Schedule IV and Schedule V. The drugs are scheduled depending upon the drug’s acceptable medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential.
As the schedule number increases, it means that the drugs that are categorized under them are less dangerous and may have some medical use than the ones categorized before them.
What are the signs of substance abuse?
It is common among teens to go through certain issues during puberty. Along with these physical changes is their curiosity with so many things, which include the use of alcohol and drugs.
Parents are advised to talk to their children when they notice changes in behavior or appearance, including the following.
Changes in appearance: You may notice that your child pays less attention towards grooming. Other signs include loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss, red and glassy eyes and frequent use of eye drops or breath mints.
Changes in attitude: An attitude that is getting worse, disrespectful behavior and lack of concern about the future may be an indication of drug addiction or substance abuse.
Changes in behavior: Your child may be slowly staying away from family gatherings, performing poorly in school, developing a sneaky behavior, hanging out with new friends but reluctant to introduce them to the family, having loss of interest in other activities, lying, or stealing.
Is teen drug abuse treatment the same as adult treatment?
Adult treatment is not the same as teen treatment because adults usually have to deal with long term use and abuse. Having said that, parents should be able to look for an appropriate program for their teen kids wherein there should also be involvement of the family to speed up the process of the treatment.
There are underlying reasons why teens succumb to such predicament, and this should be the best way to come up with the proper solution to the teen drug abuse issue.
Can teen substance abuse be prevented?
Teens that are less exposed to alcohol, cigarette and drugs are less likely to use them when they become adults. It’s the responsibility of parents and family members to teach the dangers of using these substances.
When parents have time for their children, the children will feel that they are being given importance and that they feel very much loved. Establishing a good relationship with your children allows them to freely talk to you about anything, including drugs. This leads teenagers to become more guided and receive better advice to any kind of problem rather than resorting to friends who may influence them to get hooked on different vices.
When the family is able to support one another, this builds up confidence to teenagers, thereby making a huge impact on their personalities.
What is detoxification?
Detoxification is the process of taking drug components out of the body so that the individual may be able to function normally again. This is proven to be effective, but only if there is no permanent damage to the brain due to prolonged drug use.
The general process of detoxification is done by slowly limiting the amount of drug that the user takes. During this process, withdrawal symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, sleeplessness and irritability may occur.
An effective detoxification process also includes giving counteractive drugs that will help eliminate the unfavorable withdrawal symptoms, which will then aid in completely getting rid of the illicit drug compounds from the system.
Detoxification is only part of drug abuse treatment, and is never designed to be the ultimate solution. After several weeks or months of treatment, the individual is recommended to undergo psychological therapy wherein self-confidence and love is being restored with the help of the individual’s loved ones.
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.