The list below includes those substances most commonly associated with drug addiction. There may also be other substances such as glue, inhalants, cough syrup and other substances which may be encountered.
WASHINGTON (AP) — White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske warned people Tuesday against taking the newest synthetic drugs, often marketed as “bath salts” and being sold legally on the Internet and in drug paraphernalia stores.The powdered drugs are sold under such brand names as “Ivory Wave” or “Purple Wave.” Kerlikowske said synthetic stimulants in them have made hundreds of users across the country sick already this year. A Mississippi sheriff’s office has said the drugs are suspected in an apparent overdose death there. Kerlikowske said in a written statement:
“They pose a serious threat to the health and well-being of young people and anyone who uses them. These stimulants can cause chest pains, increased blood pressure and heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia and delusions.”
The American Association of Poison Control Centers has received 251 calls related to “bath salts” so far this year, compared to 236 such calls to poison centers during all of 2010.
Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for Kerlikowske’s office, said the drugs mimic the effects of cocaine, ecstasy, and LSD. Kerlikowske’s office convened a meeting of federal drug and health officials at the White House Tuesday to discuss their growing popularity. He was later briefed on that discussion, Lemaitre said.
The “bath salts” drugs, also sometimes labeled as plant food, contain the synthetic stimulants MDPV, or 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone, and mephedrone. Those chemicals are neither controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration nor approved for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration.
No plans for federal regulation plans were announced Tuesday. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has drafted a bill that would add the chemicals to the list of federally controlled substances. Hawaii, Michigan, Louisiana, Kentucky, and North Dakota are considering legislation to ban the products. Several counties, cities, and local municipalities have also taken action to ban these products. DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said:
“Users are playing Russian roulette when you are dealing with this stuff. Just because something is not illegal. does not mean it’s safe.”
Payne said the DEA is working with health officials to study abuse data and other information about the synthetic stimulants used in the “bath salts.” For now, he said people should simply stay away from the drugs. The “bath salts” are the latest synthetic drugs to be targeted by federal authorities. In November, the DEA announced its intention to use emergency authority to ban five chemicals used to make synthetic marijuana products that were also sold in drug paraphernalia shops and on the Internet.
Coca leaves, the source of cocaine, have been ingested for thousands of years, but pure cocaine hydrochloride has only been abused for around one hundred years.
Hydrochloride salt: powdered form of cocaine, which dissolves in water and is usually injected into the vein or snorted into the nose.
Freebase: smokable form of cocaine (crack), where the acid that neutralizes hydrochloride salt is removed to make crack cocaine.
Cocaine is called coke, C, snow, flake, or blow, and sold as a fine, white, crystalline powder. Drug dealers generally dilute it with cornstarch, talcum powder, and/or sugar. It is also sometimes made with active drugs like procaine or other stimulants like amphetamines, and combine with heroin to create a “speedball.”
Cocaine is taken orally, intranasally, intravenously and inhalation. There is no safe way to use cocaine. It can lead to acute cardiovascular or cerebrovascular emergencies that could result in sudden death. Repeated cocaine use can lead to addiction and other adverse health consequences.
Crack, the freebase form of cocaine that is smokable is much more potent than other forms of cocaine, as it is cooked into a more concentrated version. When crack is smoked, the user experiences a high in less than 10 seconds. Crack cocaine is one of the most addictive street drugs available.
Cocaine abusers risk catching other infectious diseases like HIV / AIDS and hepatitis, due to sharing contaminated needles and paraphernalia. Indirect transmission can also occur when an HIV-infected mother transmits it to her unborn baby, more than 60% of new AIDS cases are women. The use of cocaine reduces a user’s ability to make good lifestyle choices. The cocaine habit may result in taking more risks, such as unprotected sex and trading sex for drugs.
Crack cocaine is still a serious problem in the United States. Many researchers believe that crack cocaine will continue to be a popular drug since it is relatively easy to obtain.
People have died because of some of the substances inadvertently created during manufacture. Ecstasy may also be produced to contain methadone, LSD, heroin or fentanyl, or strong anesthetics such as ketamine.
Ecstasy/Molly was initially popular in clubs and at all-night dance parties ("raves") but the drug now affects a broader range of users.
Ecstasy use by students around high school or college age; commonly lose interest in school and suffer academically, to the point of dropping out of school, losing a job, or getting in trouble with the law.
Ecstasy is usually sold as a tablet, capsule, or powder. It is sometimes packaged in capsules or generic tablets to imitate prescription drugs. It goes by names such as; adam, X-TC, clarity, essence, stacy, lover’s speed, and eve. It is classified as a dangerous narcotic with high potential for abuse and no acceptable medical use. Possession, delivery, and manufacturing of ecstasy can be punished by fines up to $100,000 and up to 99 years or life in prison.
Effects of ecstasy can be: upbeat mood, relaxed feelings, and a high energy level, but ecstasy has very serious negative effects, which occur during and sometimes weeks after use: confusion, sleep problems, violent and irrational behavior, blurred vision, acne-like rash, brain damage, nausea, liver damage, convulsions, and tremors. Ecstasy poses an increased risk for users with circulatory or heart disease.
Ecstasy causes long-lasting damage to brain serotonin neurons. Serotonin is important for memory functions, and plays a role in regulating mood, aggression, impulse control, sexual activity, and sensitivity to pain, memory, sleep, and appetite.
One study administered several standardized memory tests to ecstasy users and non-users. The users had significantly greater difficulty remembering what they had seen and heard during testing. In another study, ecstasy users were found to have lower levels of a serotonin metabolite in their spinal fluid than people who had not used the drug. Also, the level of metabolite detected corresponded directly to the level of ecstasy use– the more ecstasy used, the lower the metabolite. And those who had the lowest metabolite performed the poorest in memory tests.
It has been found that heavy ecstasy users experience memory problems for at least 2 weeks after taking the drug. One experiment of note was conducted by The Johns Hopkins University. They used monkeys and exposed them to ecstasy for 4 days, which caused damage that persisted even 6 to 7 years later, although it had lessened over time. Dr. Joseph Frascella of NIDA's Division of Treatment Research and Development states that:
“The message from these studies is that MDMA does change the brain and it looks like there are functional consequences to these changes.”
Dr. Alan I. Leshner, director of The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says:
“At the very least, people who take ecstasy even just a few times, are risking long-term, perhaps permanent, problems with learning and memory.”
According to another Johns Hopkins/NIMH study, ecstasy use may also be the cause of problems with other cognitive functions, such as the ability to reason verbally or sustain attention.
It is not currently classified as a controlled substance like ecstasy, but what makes it extremely dangerous is that there is no quality control over the manufacture of herbal ecstasy. The stimulants in herbal ecstasy, ephedrine (ma huang) or pseudoephedrine and caffeine (kola nut), closely simulate the effects of ecstasy. The amounts of ephedrine and caffeine in the pills can vary a lot, with dangerous amounts leading to serious effects such as high blood pressure, seizures, heart attacks, strokes, and death. The FDA is considering placing restrictions on the herbal ecstasy.
Heroin is made from morphine, which occurs naturally in the Asian poppy plant. Abuse of this drug comes from all backgrounds, cultures and ages. Purer forms are readily available to attract new customers and is especially dangerous because it can cause overdoses and addiction. Some people, especially young people may not be aware of the dangers of heroin abuse, especially the threat of addiction and overdose. Even those who claim recreational use are not immune to the threat of addiction. Whether injected, smoked, or snorted, the onset of addiction is rapid and severe. Heroin addicts will have cravings for the drug and experience withdrawal symptoms if they do not get it regularly.
Abusers may have a hard time limiting their use. They may build a tolerance requiring more of the drug to get the same effect. Problems with their jobs and personal relationships arise. Heroin addiction can quickly become an expensive habit, which can make them turn to crime.
It increases the amount of dopamine in the brain which causes increased feelings of pleasure and euphoria. Use of this drug activates the pleasure centers, interferes with the brain’s ability to feel pain and depresses the central nervous system. Short-term effects include: dizziness, feeling of euphoria, a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, constricted pupils, watery eyes, runny nose, heavy feeling in the extremities, severe itching, nausea, vomiting. Euphoric feelings are followed by drowsiness, clouded mental function or stupor. Feelings of well-being that may last 4–6 hours and decreased respiration and heart beat also occur.
It may also cause short- and long-term harm to the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. New and chronic users alike can be victim of a heroin overdose. Rising levels of drug purity combined with by-products and impurities can lead to adverse reactions and overdoses. Symptoms of an overdose can be loss of consciousness pinpoint pupils, slow breathing, and clammy skin. They may enter a coma or suffer permanent damage, if they survive at all.
It may only take a few uses for someone to become addicted as more inexpensive, high-quality heroin becomes readily available. Heroin use causes increased dopamine and pleasure. In return, the body seeks a balance, and develops tolerance. Soon, the user needs more heroin. Resulting behavior can adversely affect relationships, career, finances, and potentially lead to legal troubles.
Long-term effects of heroin include: severe addiction and withdrawal, bacterial infections, abscesses or boils, collapsed and scarred veins, infection of heart lining and valves, liver and kidney diseases, arthritis or other rheumatologic problems, increased risk of pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases.
Individuals who engage in heroin abuse by injecting the drug are at particular risk of infection with HIV, and hepatitis, by sharing unsterilized needles, and taking part in risky sexual behavior.
When a heroin abuser comes off a heroin high, they can experience painful physical withdrawal symptoms which can last from a week to several months.
Heroin withdrawal symptoms include: severe muscle and bone pain, sweats, chills, appetite loss, insomnia, panic, tremors, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, uncontrollable body movements, elevated blood pressure, panic, depression, pulse, respiration, and temperature.
Withdrawal from heroin addiction can prove fatal sometimes, and hospitalization is necessary for strong symptoms of withdrawal. A good drug treatment center is key in rehabilitation and a necessity.
Pure heroin is a white powder but because of additives and impurities, most heroin consists of a white to dark brown powder.
Heroin is often combined with sugar, starch, powdered milk, quinine, or strychnine, reducing purity and increasing quantity for greater profit for the dealers. Heroin can be smoked, snorted, or injected intravenously. Heroin is most often injected intravenously, for intense and quick results.
Young people participating in heroin use sniff, snort, and smoke heroin to avoid the risks of using needles, forgetting heroin’s addictive quality which poses extreme danger. And any method of heroin use can result in overdoses and addiction. The drug is often used in combination with other illicit drugs, such as cocaine/crack, Valium, and alcohol.
Marijuana is America’s most abused drug.
Marijuana is also referred to as pot, grass, reefer, weed, herb, gangster, chronic, boom, Mary Jane, or MJ. Joints or nails refer to the hand-rolled cigarettes made with marijuana. Pipes or water pipes called bongs are also used to smoke marijuana. Cigars with the tobacco replaced by marijuana are called blunts, and often include another drug, like crack cocaine. Marijuana is also used to brew tea and can be added to foods.
Someone under the influence of marijuana can often be recognized by the following signs: rapid, loud talking and giggling in early stages of intoxication, sleepy in the later stages, lack of concentration and coordination, forgetfulness in conversation, bloodshot eyes, odor similar to burnt rope on clothing or breath, distorted sense of time, craving for sweets, and hunger.
Marijuana can also cause anxiety and panic attacks. Acute toxic psychosis is a risk with high doses of marijuana. This includes delusions, hallucinations, and confusion over the user’s own personal identity can occur.
Marijuana may impair the immune system's ability to fight off infectious diseases and cancer. Marijuana smoke can also promote cancer of the respiratory tract and lungs. Smoking marijuana over time can lead to abnormal functioning of lung tissue, which is injured or destroyed by marijuana smoke. It can cause chest pain in people who have a poor blood supply to the heart, and increase in heart rate and blood pressure.
Intellect, career, and social facets of life are affected by the compromised ability to learn. Marijuana smokers who use marijuana heavily over long periods of time can become dull, slow moving, and inattentive. They often call this effect of prolonged use burnout.
On average, 53% of juvenile male and 38% of juvenile female arrestees tested positive for marijuana. Marijuana Increases the Risk of Accidents. Studies show that around 6 – 11% of fatal accident victims are under the influence of marijuana. In many of these cases, alcohol is detected as well. Students who smoke marijuana get lower grades and are less likely to graduate from high school. Daily marijuana smokers are likely to be functioning at a continually reduced intellectual capacity. By measuring students’ problem-solving and emotional skills in 8th grade and later in 12th grade, it was shown that those who smoked marijuana suffered from reduced capacity for self-reinforcement.
Studies show an increase in the following indicators of poor performance among workers who use marijuana.
Addiction to marijuana is characterized by compulsive craving, causing the user to try to find and use more of the drug even when it may produce negative health and social consequences. At the point where addiction to marijuana is a problem, the associated memory and learning problems may be causing problems at work or even leading to loss of a job. The marijuana user often experiences more isolation from friends and family. When stress builds, the user turns to marijuana for relief, providing an excuse to smoke more of it. This results in increased marijuana use and worsening problems, in a cycle that is difficult to end. Marijuana is the most commonly used drug in the United States. Use of marijuana is prevalent among teenagers and young adults.
Methamphetamine is made in illegal labs from easy to find ingredients. One of the greatest dangers of crystal meth abuse is the dangerously unpredictable, irrational, violence it can produce.
Methamphetamine is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder. It is also called meth, speed, ice, crystal, crank, glass, or chalk, and can be easily dissolved in liquid. Meth can be snorted, smoked, injected or swallowed to get the user high. Methamphetamine was originally developed from amphetamine for use in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. It is prescribed for obesity, narcolepsy and even attention deficit disorder. A medical professional must closely monitor the prescriptions, which are not refillable.
Methamphetamine causes increased activity, suppressed appetite, and a sense of well-being. Crystal meth stimulates the release of dopamine, activating the brain’s pleasure center, as most illicit drugs do. Meth Addiction causes users to develop an instant tolerance to the drug, constantly needing more crystal meth to get high as the body adapts to its effects.
Low-intensity meth abusers are not yet psychologically addicted but use methamphetamine casually. They seek extra stimulation, in the way that caffeine or nicotine is sometimes used to stay awake, gain more energy, or suppress the appetite. Meth Addiction includes Crystal meth users who binge on methamphetamine and are psychologically addicted to its euphoric rushes. Binge and high-intensity crystal meth abusers prefer to smoke or inject methamphetamine for a faster, stronger high.
After smoking or injecting methamphetamine, crystal meth users experience increased heartbeat, metabolism, and blood pressure.
2The Crystal Meth High
Meth often makes a user feel more intelligent and confident, and they may become more aggressive and argumentative than usual.
3The Crystal Meth Binge
As the end of the meth high approaches, the user seeks to continue the high by smoking or injecting more methamphetamine. However, the euphoric rush is diminished each time after the initial dose, as tolerance is experienced immediately. A binge meth user will continue to use crystal meth over a 3 to 15 day period, until no rush or high is experienced, and become mentally and physically hyperactive, avoiding sleep.
4Crystal Meth Tweaking
Toward the end of the crystal meth binge, the meth user experiences a crash with feelings of sadness and emptiness. This state is called “tweaking”. While tweaking, crystal meth users may take alcohol or heroin, to relieve the dismal feelings. Meth tweaking can produce extremely unpredictable, violent behavior, hallucinations and paranoia.
5The Crystal Meth Crash
A crystal meth binge user eventually crashes when their body’s supply of epinephrine is depleted. They require immense amounts of sleep to replenish t/he body, often over 1 to 3 days.
6Return to Normal
After crashing and replenishing the body, a crystal meth user returns to normal. However, the user’s condition will be somewhat deteriorated from what it was before using methamphetamine.
Withdrawal from methamphetamine often sneaks up on a crystal meth user—one to three months may pass after using meth before withdrawal symptoms are recognized.
There are no acute, immediate symptoms of physical distress. However, the crystal meth user in withdrawal will slowly become depressed and unable to feel pleasure, lacking energy. Craving for methamphetamine can hit suddenly, and combined with the feelings of depression may lead to suicide.
Withdrawal symptoms from Meth Addiction end as soon as crystal meth is used again, making it extremely difficult to break the cycle of meth Addiction. Those who continue to use crystal meth become high-intensity abusers pursuing the rush they felt the first time they used crystal meth. But instead, they experience less euphoria with each rush, using more and more crystal meth. With meth Addiction, each high is diminished, with more frequent binges on more methamphetamine.
Methadone Hydrochloride is a synthetic opiate. Today, Methadone is primarily used for the treatment of narcotic addiction, aiding in detoxification of drugs such as heroin to counter withdrawal symptoms.
Lasting up to 36 hours, it allows for once-a-day administration for recovering heroin addicts using methadone in detoxification and maintenance programs. Methadone normally comes in a liquid form. It is also prescribed in tablet form and in ampoules that can be injected. Prescribed methadone, like many other medicines, sometimes becomes available illegally for street use of methadone. When Methadone is used under the supervision of a doctor, side-effects are generally minimal. But even though, methadone threatens the entire range of opioid side effects, such as tolerance and extremely strong addiction.
Severe withdrawal symptoms prevent users from quitting. Methadone addicts report that it’s easier to quit heroin cold turkey than it is to stop taking methadone. Methadone addicts can suffer from extended post acute withdrawal syndrome for many months.
Physical effects of methadone can include constipation, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, edema, suppressed cough reflex, contracted pupils, drowsiness, hypotension, bronchospasms caused by the histamines released by methadone. Respiratory depressions can be possible. Female methadone users may not have normal menstruation but will still be able to become pregnant.
Once the initial effects of methadone use wears off, methadone withdrawal sets in for those who use methadone regularly, whether prescribed or not. Withdrawal symptoms start with a nervous feeling, then comes muscle contractions. Withdrawal is hard to bear to some users; they may scream in pain, unable to stand or walk properly. Convulsions may cause them to fall over. Sweats, diarrhea, and hallucinations follow, and the methadone users may be unable to think clearly. Recovery from methadone addiction must address the acute and unbearable withdrawal symptoms over the long term.
Symptoms of methadone overdose include muscle spasticity throughout the body, difficulty breathing, shallow and labored breathing and even stopped breathing which can be fatal, pinpoint pupils, bluish skin, fingernails and lips, spasms of the stomach and intestinal tract, constipation, weak pulse, low blood pressure, drowsiness, disorientation, coma or even death.
Methadone detoxification treatment is often used in heroin detox programs. It is essential that patients’ tolerance levels are accurately assessed prior to starting the detoxification, to avoid administering too high a dose when entering a methadone treatment program. The use of other drugs, and diseases such as hepatitis and pneumonia and can complicate issues with methadone treatment as well.
If a patient does require methadone treatment, it is important to begin for the detox program to start with a low dosage and increase it slowly over weeks or even months to treat heroin dependence. A tolerant methadone user that has grown addicted can function normally with dosages that would be fatal to a non-tolerant person. However, the majority of methadone deaths do occur from illicit use.
Oxycontin is prescribed for chronic pain such as back pain, cancer, or arthritis.
The active ingredient in Oxycontin is oxycodone. It also comes in capsule or liquid form. Oxycontin is also referred to as oxy, O.C., OxyCotton, Oxy 80 and killer. It is legitimately prescribed as a timed-release tablet, providing relief from chronic pain for 12 hours. Generally, pain sufferers need to take the pill only twice a day, whereas another medication would require more frequent use to control the pain.
Oxycontin abuse has increased dramatically in recent years. An abuser can easily develop a physical craving. Oxycontin abusers may crush the tablet and ingest or snort it - or they may dilute it in water and inject it to get a quick, strong high. This can lead to a toxic overdose, releasing too much of the medication into the bloodstream too quickly.
Respiratory depression is the most serious risk associated with Oxycontin abuse, and this drug should not be combined with other substances that slow down breathing, including alcohol, antihistamines, barbiturates, or benzodiazepines.
Other common side effects of Oxycontin abuse include: nausea, constipation, vomiting, headache, dry mouth, dizziness, sweating, and weakness.
Chronic abuse leads to increased tolerance, so higher doses must be taken to receive the initial high. Oxycontin will be come physically addictive over time, causing withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not present. Oxycontin is a powerful drug that contains a much larger amount of the active ingredient, oxycodone, than other prescription pain relievers. By crushing the tablet and either ingesting or snorting it, or by injecting diluted Oxycontin, abusers feel the powerful effects in a short time.
Many reports of Oxycontin abuse occur in rural, economically depressed areas, where the temptation to make extra income may make some people sell their Oxycontin prescriptions for profit. Those addicted to Oxycontin will go to great lengths to get the drug, including writing fake prescriptions and robbing pharmacies.
Individuals who are taking the drug as prescribed should continue to do so, as long as they and their physician agree that taking the drug is a medically appropriate way for them to manage pain. Pain patients, however, may sometimes develop a physical dependence during treatment, that is not an addiction. A gradual decrease of the medication dose over time, as the pain is resolving, brings the former pain patient to a drug-free state without any craving for repeated doses of the drug.
If the patient with an Oxycontin addiction continues to have a strong and uncontrollable craving it almost always leads to eventual relapse in the absence of adequate treatment. It is this uncontrollable craving that differentiates the OxyContin addicted patient from the former pain patient. OxyContin abuse occurs when patients take more than is needed for pain control.
Addiction is characterized by the repeated, compulsive use of OxyContin despite adverse social, psychological, and/or physical consequences. OxyContin addiction is often (but not always) accompanied by physical dependence, withdrawal syndrome, and tolerance.
The absence of this substance produces symptoms of withdrawal, characterized by overactivity of the physiologic functions that were suppressed by the drug and/or depression of the functions that were stimulated by the drug. This drug often causes sleepiness, calmness, and constipation, so OxyContin withdrawal often includes insomnia, anxiety, and diarrhea.
Supervised Oxycontin withdrawal followed by a few months of abstinence-oriented treatment might be sufficient for the non-addicted patient who abuses OxyContin. If, however, this patient subsequently relapses, then that would support a diagnosis of OxyContin addiction, and may require treatment.
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