A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) finds that people who use prescription pain relievers for nonmedical reason are at greater risk of heroin abuse.
The Associations of Nonmedical Pain Reliever Use and Initiation of Heroin Use in the United States, which covered the period of 2002 to 2011, revealed that 12 to 49-year olds who had used pain relievers without a doctor’s prescription were 19 times more likely to have used heroin within the past 12 months of being interviewed for the report. It also indicated that 79.5 percent of heroin users had formerly engaged in nonmedical use of pain relievers.
“Prescription pain relievers when used properly for their intended purpose can be of enormous benefit to patients, but their nonmedical use can lead to addiction, serious physical harm and even death,” Dr. Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, said in a news release. “This report shows that it can also greatly increase an individual’s risk of turning to heroin use – thus adding a new dimension of potential harm.”
Even though the report said that only 3.6 percent of those who used pain relievers without prescription went on to use heroin within five years, the findings shouldn’t be regarded very lightly given the increasing number of people, especially teens, who turn to prescription drugs to get high.
From 2007 to 2011, the number of people who reported use of heroin in the past 12 months increased from 373,000 to 620,000. Heroin dependents in the past 12 months likewise rose from 179,000 in 2007 to 369,000 in 2011. The number of people starting to use heroin the first time in the past 12 months also increased from 106,000 people to 178,000 people during the same period.
A new kind of synthetic drug is causing alarm among parents in the Old North State.
25I-NBOMe — also known as N-Bomb, 25i and Smiles — is a potentially dangerous synthetic drug sold in pill or powder form via the Internet. Like spice and bath salts, this new designer drug targets teenagers who are looking for legal highs.
A Wake County parent sought the help of ABC 11′s I-Team to raise awareness about N-Bomb after discovering that her son was using the drug.
“I found Facebook messages that were sent by my son to some of his friends, and talking about taking this drug during school hours, during class, mentioning different periods during school,” said the mom, whose name was withheld.
The mother explained that she has heard a few things about N-Bomb and that it “can cause hallucinations, seizures, and even death.” She wants to raise awareness about the drug to save her son as well as other kids.
In New Hanover County, a 25-year-old girl died last year from N-Bomb overdose. Similar incidents were also reported in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and North Dakota in 2012.
“This particular drug, I have read, is something that can kill you in one dose,” the mother added. “So it’s very, very frightening.”
Like other synthetic drugs proliferating across the country in the recent years, there isn’t enough studies that could identify the effects of N-Bomb to users. Thereby, making it even more dangerous for people who experiment with it.
Ann Hamlin, agent from SBI drug lab, explained that N-Bomb exhibit stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. The drug is especially worrisome because no one really knows what it can do in humans.
“The places where they are manufactured don’t have any quality control,” Hamlin said. “These kids are taking things that have not been tested and approved by anybody.”
One way kids obtain N-Bomb is by purchasing the drug through sites that can’t be access via Internet Explorer or Google Chrome. Silk Road, a site that can only be accessed by downloading the Tour Browser, allows people to purchase N-Bomb using a digital currency called Bitcoin.
As such, parents were being advised to be more vigilant in their kids’ online activities and what they do with their friends, especially now that drug dealers are becoming more sophisticated in peddling their illegal products.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) unveiled today its latest drug report which indicates the overwhelming proliferation of new psychoactive substances (NPS).
NPS are often marketed as “legal highs” and “designer drugs.” They are sold via the Internet, smokeshop, and convenience stores under the names spice, meow-meow, and bath salts.
Member States reported that the number of NPS have increased from 166 at the end of 2009 to 251 by mid-2012. To make matters worse, the drugs can be obtained without running into legal trouble, the 2013 World Drug Report noted.
The usual target of NPS are teenagers who are easily misled into thinking that the substances are safe. However, the lack of clinical trials on NPS make public health experts agree that the drugs can be far more dangerous than traditional drugs.
“Given the almost infinite scope to alter the chemical structure of NPS, new formulations are outpacing efforts to impose international control,” the UNODC said. “While law enforcement lags behind, criminals have been quick to tap into this lucrative market. The adverse effects and addictive potential of most of these uncontrolled substances are at best poorly understood.”
In response to growing emergence of NPS, UNODC has launched an early warning system that will allow the global community to monitor the proliferation and take appropriate actions.
Illegal drug makers are getting extremely creative by the day and one of their recent works is quickly gaining popularity because of its “legal” status.
Benzo Fury is a colorless stimulant that contains 5-APB or 6-APB compounds. It is sold in pellet or powder form via the Internet, and typically labelled “not for human consumption,” “plant food,” “bath salts,” or “research drug.”
Last month, a study of Benzo Fury was presented at a British Neuroscience Association conference in which experts say the active ingredient of the substance acts on the brain like both a stimulant and a hallucinogen — a combination that can make the drug dangerous to users.
“We have found that 5-APB behaves a little like amphetamine – that is, like a stimulant with addictive potential – and a bit like a hallucinogen, acting via serotonin receptors. This kind of mixed properties can be found in some illegal ‘designer’ drugs,” the presenting author, Dr. Jolanta Opacka-Juffry, said in a news release.
Dr. Opacka-Juffry is a principal lecturer in neuroscience and director of the health sciences research centre at the University of Roehampton. The co-author of the research is Dr. Colin Davidson, a senior lecturer in neuropharmacology and expert in drugs of addiction at St George’s University of London.
Benzo Fury is now considered one of the most popular “legal highs” in the United Kingdom, and it’s also sold in the United States. Both Dr. Opacka-Juffry and Dr. Davidson recommend further studies on the long-term effects of Benzo Fury because at this point no one really knows what the drug can do to users.
Dr. Opacka-Juffry, however, cautioned that it’s “in the combination of these stimulant and hallucinogenic properties that the greatest danger lies.”
It’s no secret that sizzurp continues to make headlines on the Internet lately. Many are curious about what is sizzurp and why it’s considered dangerous. One of the main ingredients of this cocktail drink is a prescription cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine.
For those who do not know, codeine works by suppressing cough while promethazine works by blocking the action of histamine to reduce symptoms of allergies, such as runny nose, sneezing or nausea. The use of codeine/ promethazine syrup must be supervised by a physician.
Codeine/promethazine syrup should not be taken by people who are allergic to codeine-related medicines or any ingredient in codeine/promethazine syrup. It is also not recommended for patients with severe drowsiness, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sleep apnea, fever, diarrhea caused by food poisoning or antibiotic use, and productive cough. Additionally, pregnant women and patients with history of heart problems, low blood pressure, seizures, substance abuse, liver or kidney problems, and bladder problems must share these conditions to their health care provider before taking codeine/promethazine syrup.
In general, codeine/promethazine syrup is a safe medication as long as it is taken according to a doctor’s prescription. But like any other medicines, it has some side effects — the most common are dizziness; drowsiness; constipation; headache; blurred vision; and dry mouth, throat, or nose.
When taken in large amounts or combined with alcoholic drinks for recreational use, codeine/promethazine syrup may trigger more dangerous impact, such as confusion, hallucinations, irregular heartbeat, tightness in the chest, seizures, tremors, and uncontrolled muscle movements.
Prescription drug abuse affects millions of people in the United States. In 2010 alone, more than 12 million Americans reported using prescription painkillers for non-medical reasons.
People who abuse prescription painkillers get drugs from a variety of sources. But among the most common include obtaining the drugs for free from friends or relatives, and through doctor’s prescription.
Initially, a person would ingest Rx medicines to achieve a feeling of euphoria. But the habit can eventually lead to addiction wherein a person will start taking larger doses which can cause breathing to slow down — so much that breathing stops and result to a fatal overdose.
In 2008, prescription painkillers were involved in 14,800 overdose deaths, exceeding the death toll for cocaine and heroin combined. In 2009, the misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers resulted to more than 475,000 emergency department visits, a number that almost doubled in just five years.
To heighten people’s awareness on the dangers of prescription drug abuse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in conjunction with PBS News, put together a list of things you should know to help fight the recreational use of prescription medicines.
1. Drug overdoses now kill more Americans than motor vehicle crashes.
2. Enough painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate each American adult every four hours for one month.
3. Deaths from prescription painkillers have reached epidemic levels in the past decade.
4. Roughly 1 in 20 people in the U.S. reported using prescription painkillers for non-medical reasons in the past year.
5. You can help prevent prescription drug overdoses.
6. The prescription drug overdose epidemic can be stopped through effective public health interventions.
7. States can start or improve prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) and use Patient Review and Restriction (PRR) programs.
8. States can enforce policies aimed at reducing drug diversion, abuse, and overdose.
9. States and communities can enhance access to substance abuse treatment.
10. Health care providers should use evidence-based clinical guidelines and practices to promote safe and effective use of prescription painkillers.