Posts Tagged cocaine abuse

New Research Highlights Damaging Effects of Recreational Cocaine Use on Heart

A new research found recreational cocaine users have higher blood pressure, stiffer arteries, and thicker heart muscle walls — all of which can lead to heart attack.

recreational cocaine useThe study, presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012, is the first to document some of these cardiovascular abnormalities in seemingly healthy cocaine users. Australian researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to check the heart of 20 healthy adults who regularly use cocaine. Compared to 20 non-cocaine users, cocaine users have 30 to 35 percent increase in aortic stiffening; higher systolic blood pressured; and 18 percent greater thickness of the heart’s left ventricle wall.

In a news release, Gemma Figtree, M.B.B.S., D.Phil., lead researcher of the study, calls cocaine “the perfect heart attack drug.”

“It’s so sad,” Figtree said. “We are repeatedly seeing young, otherwise fit individuals suffering massive heart attacks related to cocaine use. Despite being well-educated professionals, they have no knowledge of the health consequences of regularly using cocaine.”

Figtree is an associate professor of medicine at Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney in Australia. She further explained that cocaine users face greater risk of spontaneous heart attack because of the combined effects of greater blood clotting, increased heart stress and more blood vessel constriction.

Although the researchers couldn’t explain how repeated social cocaine use causes blood vessels to stiffen, they are currently looking into a signaling pathway that might be activated to cause such a response.

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Former CSI Star Arrested for DUI

Former CSI star Gary Dourdan, who played Warrick Brown, has been arrested early Monday morning for suspicion of driving under the influence.

Gary DourdanThe former “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” star was caught at around 3:55 am in West Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Police Department, reports Access Hollywood.

Dourdan was said to have crashed his car into two other parked vehicles at 3:30 am. When police responded to the accident, Dourdan was said to be still inside his car although he was about to escape from the scene. Officers began searching his vehicle and eventually recovered a few Ecstasy pills, according to a feature on The Baltimore Sun. He was later charged with felony drug possession and taken into custody.

He was released at noon after posting bail amounting to $10,000.

It was in April of 2008 when Dourdan was also arrested for possession of cocaine, heroin, and Ecstasy pills with miscellaneous drugs and other paraphernalia in Palm Springs, California. An officer allegedly found the then CSI cast inside his car asleep which was parked at the wrong side of the road. At that time, the actor entered a plea bargain agreement allowing him to avoid jail time and instead enrolled himself in a drug diversion program.

The former CSI star has had a troubled life since he was a kid. At six years old, his brother, who was then 26, was murdered while vacationing in Haiti. The case remains unsolved.

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Heroin Use Among Younger People on the Rise

An alarming truth about heroin abuse has been noted at the Genesee County Community Mental Health facility. Out of the people who sought treatment for the mentioned kind of drug abuse, young people aged 18 to 25 were making up about 28.15% of the total population undergoing or has undergone treatment. This figure is six times than what was recorded eight years ago.

heroin abuseKristie Schmiege, the director for CMH substance abuse services, says that the situation is very serious; heroin has overtaken cocaine as the third most abused drug for the first time last year, behind marijuana and alcohol.

The supply of heroin has been steadily rising and kids today are very vulnerable to drug experimentation. Whatever is available, they try it and could end up being hard-core addicts. It’s also a way of life among drug users that there are drugs that become a “trend” among their community. Heroin, for instance, was once a popular drug but as casualties rose a few years back, most users stopped using it and directed themselves to other types of drugs. Now, everything bad about heroin, like the fatal effects that it had before, are almost totally erased making it the drug “trend” today.

In an feature on the Flint Journal, self-confessed addicts undergoing rehabilitation admit that they start their drug addiction through prescribed medicines that they can easily get from their grandparents’ medicine cabinet. When these prescription drugs become too pricey, they then resort to cheaper drugs like heroin.

The government is doing its share of protecting kids from these harmful drugs. Groups are formed with the mission to enlighten both parents and their children about the dangers of prescription drug addiction. Authorities are visiting schools and communities and make use of vivid images of drug addiction which they hope can somehow discourage the youth from taking such fatal habits.

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Is Coca Leaf a Drug or Not?

The coca leaf was utilized some 8000 years ago by the Quecha people of the Andes and their Inka ancestors. This shows that ancient people were extracting and using the medicinal properties of the coca leaf. Still, the United Nations has restricted and aims to eliminate the use of the coca plant as natural medicine by the indigenous Andean people. Why is this so?

coca leafThe main reason the UN is against the coca leaf is that the said plant has been listed alongside cocaine and opium as a dangerous controlled substance. The UN’s International Narcotics Control Board has suggested “to abolish and prohibit coca leaf chewing and the manufacture of coca tea” in Peru and in Bolivia in 2008. Peruvian Congresswoman Maria Sumire said, “The United Nations lacks respect for the indigenous people…who have used the coca leaf since forever…For indigenous people, coca is a sacred leaf that is part of their cultural identity.”

There are reports recently presented that the coca leaf and cocaine are not the same. Cocaine is to coca plant as paper is to pine tree; both are products created by humans through chemical processing. The difference between the coca leaf and processed cocaine comes in when humans “abuse the gifts that the plant has to offer.”

The coca leaf is therefore a plant in its natural form, and not the drug that most cartels and criminals produce. The leaf has medicinal properties and grows naturally. Like cannabis and other medicinal plants, it seems that the coca plant is being demonized by the West to promote dependence on drugs produced by big pharmaceutical companies.

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Cocaine: Different Forms and Types of Administration

To effectively fight drug abuse, we need to understand the drugs that are most commonly abused — cocaine being one of them. Cocaine comes in many forms and it can be administered in different ways.

Forms

sniffing cocaineSalts – Cocaine may come in different salts like hydrochloride and sulfate.

Freebase – This comes in a base form (not salt form). Smoking this form of cocaine has an extra effect brought by releasing methylecgonidine into the user’s sytem.

Crack – It is a cheaper form of cocaine. It is also a free-base cocaine but it contains sodium bicarbonate making it impure. It is administered usually through smoking. The term crack cocaine is derived from the crackling sound it creates once heated.

Coca leaf infusions – This is used in countries that produced coca-leaf for the purpose of herbal medicine. It is usually known as coca tea and been popular in Peru and Bolivia because of its medicinal powers such as treatment for malaise, mild stimulation and mood enhancement.

Types of Administration

Oral – This is done either through the following: rubbing the powder along the gum line, through a cigarette filter , or wrapping the cocaine in some kind of rolled paper then swallowing it.

Chewing – This is done with coca leaves mixed with an alkaline substance like lime.

Insufflation or sniffing – This is one of the most known and used method of administering cocaine.

Injection – This method gives the highest blood levels of drug in the quickest time.

Inhalation – This is also known as smoking which is done through inhaling the vapor the smoke by sublimating solid cocaine through heating.

Suppository – This is also referred to as plugging which is the insertion of cocaine through an oral syringe into the anus or vagina.

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Amphetamines versus Cocaine: Treatments

In previous posts, we shared with you the symptoms and effects of abusing amphetamines and cocaine. This time around, we will be sharing the treatments that are available to help abusers kick their habits.

amphetamineAn article on Testcountry shared information regarding the management of amphetamine dependency, as written by Malcolm Bruce, consultant psychiatrist in Addiction at the Community Drug Problem Service, at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Bruce shared that management protocols are classified as follows: assessment, management of dependence, and relapse.

The treatment of amphetamine addiction fundamentally starts with assessment. At this level, the objective is to identify the experimental or recreational users of the drug. Once the level of amphetamine use is determined, psychiatrists are able to dispense appropriate advice.

There are three factors that are considered in the management of amphetamine dependence: the drug, the environment of the patient, and the patient himself or herself. If, for instance, the patient is still unable to stop using amphetamines completely, then management of dependence can be geared towards reducing the harmful effects of using the drugs. Concurrent to these efforts, though, is providing education regarding the dangers associated with amphetamine use, and what options are available for overcoming the habit.

At the relapse stage, treatment consists of raising awareness about what causes relapse, development of skills to anticipate, avoid and cope with high-risk situations that may lead to relapse, and changing one’s lifestyle.

Treatment of cocaine addiction, on the other hand, focuses on reducing cravings and managing depression. Lois White, in the book Foundations of Nursing, wrote that cocaine users experience an intense craving for the drug, and is in denial regarding its being addictive. Some patients who need to be treated for cocaine dependency may require in-patient care, while others can receive out-patient treatment.

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