Archive for September, 2009

Myths About Pot Smoking

PotSmoking

Substance abusers who fail to abstain from chemicals despite several treatment efforts, generally think of switching over to some other forms of chemicals for harm minimization. Often we come across confused parents who try to make a deal with their children that, “if you stop using all other drugs you will be allowed to smoke only pot.” This is not really surprising since throughout the world marijuana is the most popular drugs because of its euphoric effects. The myths associated with marijuana are also responsible for its widespread acceptance. A good number of users and their family members believe that they are smoking herb – a natural product. Isn’t that a consolation!

But parents must be aware about the three common myths about marijuana use and then decide on their course of action.

Marijuana is not addictive. It does not create physical dependence. This is absolutely an incorrect notion since continued use of pot leads to physical dependence which is evident from the symptoms that are noticeable once the substance is withdrawn. Lack of appetite, poor sleep, fatigue, aggression are some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with the substance. 

# Marijuana is natural and thus good for health. All natural products are not safe for health. Mother nature also produces certain things which are detrimental for health. Marijuana affects the Central Nervous System specially the cognitive aspect of the brain. The effects, though subtle, are often irreversible. Short term memory is impaired, a slower processing speed leads to slowing down of the brains ability to solve problems. Prolonged usage in adolescence might lead to neuroplasticity.

# Marijuana is a natural healer for diseases that cause pain. Studies have shown that THC, the primary chemical in marijuana helps AIDS patients to gain weight and prevents cancer patients from experiencing nausea. Thus THC is filtered and extracted and used in different pills. But actual marijuana has at least 400 cancer causing chemicals apart from THC which might cause devastating effects when they react with THC in the body.

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Approaches of Primary Prevention for Drug and Substance Abuse

primary prevention

The use of substances has been a very common practice amongst people in all cultures since the earliest times. But today the pattern of abuse as well as the nature of substances has changed considerably thereby affecting the consequences.

Newer substances are being found. The present day youth can also design drugs! But citizens like us, who have taken up the challenge to combat against this hydra headed monster, are also finding out better ways of reaching out to people and sensitizing them against the issue and the results have been quite rewarding. 

Globally primary preventive activities are being adopted and implemented to control substance abuse. The approaches basically aim at reducing risk factors and strengthening protective factors at the individual and environmental levels. In order to make primary prevention effective the involvement of the government, communities and others is an absolute necessity.

The Individual Approach of primary prevention aims at imparting necessary knowledge and developing skills and resources which helps in bringing about a change in the attitude, beliefs and values of the individual. Peer Education has proved to be very effective since it involves young people both as receivers and providers of information.

Building social and personal/cognitive skills improves young people’s abilities to interact socially, clarifies values and enhances self awareness. Participation in group projects providing leadership opportunities, discussion of feelings, values and perception through role play motivate young people to resist social pressure and teach them skills like decision making, problem solving and goal setting. Developing vocational and livelihood skills can increase work opportunities and increase independence.

The Environmental Approach aims at developing positive social norms by providing a safe and supportive environment. Providing interesting recreational activities, participation in community service projects, etc. helps in social bonding which acts as a protective factor. Availability of adequate resources and referral system, involvement of key persons in the local community are prime factors in primary prevention.

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Some good blog sites on drug addiction and prevention

Medical-MarijuanaDesign

Let us explore today some blogsites that I found to be informative and interesting. Hope our readers will like them too.

The first I found is Drug Addiction Support (http://www.drug-addiction-support.org/drug-addiction-blog.html). The site discusses common issues related to drug addiction, drug addiction syndromes, most common causes behind drug addiction, effects of drug addiction, and treatment modalities.

You will find nice, information rich articles that are easy to read and understand. It has a section on various drugs like cocaine, crystal meth, heroin, suboxone, marijuana, etc.

Next I found Narconon of Georgia (http://narcononofga.wordpress.com/alcohol-awareness/) quite interesting. Nice topics and good, authoritative content may help you if you are seeking information on drug and alcohol addiction. The site has added some videos which you may find to be very appealing.

You may also see Recovery Connection (http://www.recoveryconnection.org/) website that focuses on drug, alcohol, and substance abuse recovery and treatment plans. It has published a state-wise database of addiction treatment centers and information on the types of treatments offered in specific centers. You will find lots of information on Addiction Treatment Programs and Drug and alcohol Rehab Programs, Drug/alcohol Detox Programs, Dual Diagnosis Treatment Programs, Eating Disorder Programs, GLBT Addiction/rehab/detox Treatment and Detox Programs, etc.

Drug Rehabs.Org (http://www.drug-rehabs.org/) is dedicated toward rehab programs. You can have specific information if you are searching rehab programs for yourself, friend, family, spouse, children and you can search their database depending on the age of the person. The site has option of searching on the basis of the type of drug as well.

See Alcohol/Drug Help Line (http://www.adhl.org/) is an exclusive help line–based service provider. They run their service during Sunday through Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (previously it was 24-hrs helpline). The site presents some useful links if you wish to be a part of the rehab services or volunteer for some counseling.

We request our readers to write to us if you find some interesting sites/resources. This would help us in fighting the menace more comprehensively.

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Primary Prevention of Drug Abuse

primary prevention

Drug abuse can be prevented at three levels –

(i) Primary,

(ii) Secondary and

(iii) Tertiary.

Primary prevention aims at preventing initiation of substance abuse or delaying the age of initiation. The secondary prevention programs target those individuals who have already started using substances. This program aims at controlling the degree of damage to the individual by preventing substance use from becoming a problem. Tertiary prevention programs are sometimes referred to as rehabilitation and relapse prevention. This form of prevention program aims at making the individual drug free thereby minimizing the problems associated with its use. It strives to enable the individual to attain and maintain improved levels of functioning and health.

Primary prevention, by far, has been known to be the best strategy to control substance abuse and a number of countries across the globe have adopted different types of strategies for preventing drug use at the primary level. The chief goals of primary prevention are

  • Targeting young people before they start using or experimenting with substances.
  • Discouraging or terminating drug use among those who have already experimented with or used substances.

A successful primary prevention program should be comprehensive. The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical and social well- being and not merely an absence of disease or infirmity.” This definition includes all factors that affect health. The health promotion concept is used while dealing with substance abuse. This concept implies that people have the capacity to influence their own health and quality of life when empowered with appropriate knowledge and skills. This has an effect on their decision making and they can adopt correct measures to improve their own health as well as that of the community.

The government, communities and others should find effective primary preventive approaches to reach out to as many people as possible and help them in making healthy choices.

Remember, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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Influence of Drugs on Memory and Learning

brain

Recently a study conducted by researchers on freely moving mice showed how the use of addictive drugs influence the neural processes associated with learning and memory.

The use of drugs, as is known to all, affects the level of dopamine secretion in the brain and this neurochemical has a pivotal role to play in the brain’s reward system. Dopamine also takes part in the neural processes involved in learning by strengthening the neural connections known as synaptic potentiation. Research evidence has also pointed out that the hippocampus, a brain structure involved in formation of new memories, is also responsible for development of drug addiction. 

Physiologically relevant quantity of nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco was applied to freely moving mice and the corresponding changes in the brain were recorded by the researchers. It was noted that nicotine induced synaptic potentiation correlated with the mice learning to prefer a place associated with nicotine use. But these effects require a local dopamine signal within the hippocampus.

“Although addictive drugs like nicotine have been shown to influence the induction of synaptic potentiation, there has been little or no research in freely moving animals that monitors ongoing induction of synaptic potentiation by a biologically relevant drug dose,” explains senior author Dr. John Dani from the Department of Neuroscience at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

“An animal’s memories or feelings about the environment are updated when the dopamine signal labels a particular event as important, new, and salient. Normally these memories help us to perform successful behaviors, but in our study, those memories were linked to the addictive drug.

When specific environmental events occur, such as the place or people associated with drug use, they are capable of cuing drug-associated memories or feelings that motivate continued drug use or relapse,” concluded Dani.

The study has been published in the journal “Neuron.”

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Drug Abuse on the Rise Among Older Men

drug adult

Believe it or not, a recent study in the United States shows that drug abuse is increasing among the older segment of the population, particularly those who are between 50 to 59 years of age. The people belonging to this age range has been referred to as the baby boomers since they were born in an age of increased birth rates, such as those during the economic prosperity after World War II. The demographers in US have marked the years from 1946 to 1964 as this generation’s birth years. The people born during this period symbolize a booming and prosperous America.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) has published a new analytical report An Examination of Trends in Illicit Drug Use among Adults Aged 50 to 59 in the United States. The report states that the use of illicit drugs among people aged 50 to 59 years within the last one year has nearly doubled – it was 5.1% in 2002 and has increased to 9.4% in 2007. Contrary to this, the rate of illicit drug use among other age groups has statistically either decreased or has remained the same. 

The survey was conducted on people aged 50 to 59 years and the data received from 16,656 respondents participating in the 2002 through the 2007 National surveys on Drug Use and Health, were analyzed. The report analyzes different aspects of drug abuse – the types of drugs abused, different demographic and behavioral aspects associated with the increased drug use, etc.

“These findings show that many in the Woodstock generation continue to use illicit drugs as they age,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick. “This continued use poses medical risks to these individuals and is likely to put further strains on the nation’s health care system highlighting the value of preventing drug use from ever starting,” he added.

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