December 2 2017 by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Drug abuse can be defined as the use of drugs in such a manner or frequency that it begins to affect health, social relations, and work performance. Drug use by itself does not necessarily lead to harm. Throughout history many cultures have used drugs on a frequent basis with no apparent harm. However, when drug use reaches a frequency where it begins to affect one brain health and body health, then attention is needed to find a solution. Teens who have half-siblings -- brothers or sisters with a different father -- are more likely to use drugs and have sex by age 15 than teens with only full siblings.
People often turned to drugs and alcohol to set right an imbalance in their brain chemistry that often stems from a life of neglect and abuse. Drug abuse is also often due to people trying to self medicate themselves from chronic anxiety, depression, or loneliness. There are natural ways to treat depression through yoga, exercise, and certain supplements such as 5-HTP, SAM-e, St. John's wort, and others. See below.
Middle schoolers who socialize with friends engaged in risky or deviant behaviors are more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs early, but increased parental monitoring mediates this effect.
About 1 in 5 American adults deals with a mental illness -- a diagnosable mental, behavioral or emotional disorder -- or substance abuse problem each year. Oregon has the highest rate, and New Jersey the lowest, according to 2014 data reported by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Death rates from drug overdose in rural areas of the United States are, as of recent years, higher than in cities.
Prescription drug abuse common
Prescription drug abuse is more common than people realize. Both doctors and patients bear responsibility. The well publicized death of Anna Nicole Smith provides a clear example. According to some reports, Anna Nicole Smith's Florida hotel room was like "walking into a pharmacist's shop" and that prescription medication found at the scene included the stimulant Provigil, the antidepressant Xanax, the powerful pain reliever Vicodin, and the morphine-like pain reliever Methadone.
Nearly one in every five college students abuses prescription stimulants. Young adults aged 18 to 25 report using the drugs to help them stay awake, study or improve their work or school performance. The most commonly abused stimulants are those typically prescribed for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse.
Q. I had previously abused Adderall for almost 15yrs, sometimes swallowing up to 14 tablets at a time. I relapsed in January of 2014, because I was depressed and have no energy. I am currently on Zoloft for depression, which I don't believe is helping me at all, and Serax for anxiety, which keeps the anxiety under control, but also makes me very tired and just masks the problem. After being off Adderall for 3-4yrs without any meds I was depressed, had severe anxiety, a “wired and tired” feeling all the time if you will. I cannot find any middle ground as the stress is so overwhelming.
Methamphetamine drug abuse
The synthetic drug methamphetamine has become a greater concern in the United States and other countries than heroin or cocaine. Sold on the street in various forms known as 'meth', 'speed' and 'ice', methamphetamine has spread from Southeast Asia to parts of the world where it was virtually unknown until recently, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has said. The spread to Africa and eastern Europe is fueled by the ability of traffickers to obtain legally two chemicals needed to make it, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. In the United States the use of cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy is falling. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration lists brain damage and psychotic behavior as some of the possible effects of methamphetamine use. One way methamphetamine ingredients are shipped to labs is by post as unlicensed Internet pharmacies sell billions of doses of medicines illegally each year and deliver them by post. Besides drugs such as cocaine, heroin and ecstasy, legal pharmaceutical drugs, some stronger than morphine, are also shipped by post without prescriptions particularly in America. The value of such pharmaceutical drugs smuggled via the postal system is estimated to be in hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.
Young people who abuse methamphetamines may put themselves at risk of Parkinson-like movement disorders later in life.
People who use methamphetamine have a greatly increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease. Researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 40,000 people in Utah. About 5,000 of that group were methamphetamine -- or "meth" -- users. Around 1,800 were cocaine users, and about 34,000 didn't use drugs. Methamphetamine users were three times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease. Cocaine users didn't have an increased risk of Parkinson's.
Meth Drug Abuse
Meth is a top drug problem in the U.S. Meth abuse is a bigger issue than heroin, pot and coke combined. Meth abuse continues to fuel an increase in crimes like robbery and assault, straining the workload of local police forces despite a drop in the number of meth lab seizuresy.
Poppers can cause skin damage to the nose resulting in crusty skin lesions around the periphery of the nose that take a few days to heal after stoppage. Poppers are alkyl esters of nitrous acid. Long term use my cause damage to the respiratory system and the immune system.
Lung damage can occur from inhaling toxic substances such as "poppers", alkyl nitrites used as recreational drugs for brief sexual enhancement. Regular use of poppers may make some people more likely to come down with the common cold or lung infections. Poppers cause damage to tissues and lungs, actually the whole respiratory system, are very sensitive to such damage.
Young workers who feel high stress on the job may be at increased risk of using drugs. In a survey of nearly 1,000 young adults, researchers found that those who reported high job strain when they were first interviewed for the study were more likely to have started abusing marijuana, cocaine, heroin or other drugs one year later. Specifically, "low control" jobs, where workers have little leeway in how to accomplish their tasks, were linked to a higher risk of drug abuse.
Stress-related factors and cultural changes appear to be contributing to an increase in physician substance abuse and dependence.
Pregnant mothers caught using illegal drugs could go to prison for endangering their unborn children under a bill passed by the Idaho State Senate in March, 2006.
Drug abuse treatment
Drug-addicted patients with severe, persistent mental illness respond well to a behavioral approach that involves social skills training and motivational interviewing, as well as mandatory urine checks. The intervention is called Behavioral Treatment for Substance Abuse in Severe and Persistent Mental Illness (BTSAS). Researchers ahve compared this approach with Supportive Treatment for Addiction Recovery (STAR) -- the usual care approach involving talk and support and found BTSAS to be more effective.
Correcting disruptive behavior in young children could help prevent them from using alcohol and drugs when they're teens.
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Huffing, inhaling solvents
Inhaling household solvents such as cleaning products or glue -- so-called "huffing" or "bagging" -- indicates an increased risk of attempting or thinking about suicide among incarcerated teens.
Drug Abuse, Heroin, and Germany
The German government says it is planning to supply long-term drug addicts with controlled amounts of free heroin. A spokesperson said "A heroin therapy is the last hope and provides help for survival for some of those who are addicted." Apparently pilot projects in seven German cities have shown that giving controlled amounts of heroin to long-term addicts was a more effective way of getting them off the drug than methadone, a drug used as a heroin-substitute. Furthermore, testing in the pilot cities also showed the heroin therapy had led to reduction in crime.
Switzerland Drug Abuse solution
Switzerland has a liberal policy of offering drug addicts substitution treatments. This has resulted in a drop in the number of new heroin users. People taking up the habit dropped 82 percent from 850 in 1990 to 150 in 2002 in the canton of Zurich thanks to policies such as needle-exchange services and methadone programs. Critics of the liberal drugs policy had warned that providing medical treatment with methadone would attract new users. But this did not happen.
Cocaine Drug Abuse and Heart
Long-term cocaine use may be associated with regional left ventricular dysfunction, a condition that reduces the heart's pumping efficiency and increases the risk of heart failure.
The atypical antiepileptic vigabatrin seems to be safe and effective for the short-term treatment of cocaine addiction, according to results of a trial conducted in Mexican parolees. Subjects taking vigabatrin achieved full end-of-trial abstinence from cocaine at a rate four times that of subjects taking placebo, and weekly abstinence probabilities for subjects in the vigabatrin group were almost three times that of subjects in the placebo group by week 9 of treatment. Am J Psychiatry 2009;166.
Elderly and seniors
The more drugs an older patient is prescribed, the more likely the patient is to be taking an inappropriate medication. Overall, 65 percent of the 196 study patients were on at least one drug that was unnecessary, a duplication of the effects of a drug they were already taking, or not recommended for older people. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2006.
Q. Do you have any supplement recommendations for a person trying to get off drugs and alcohol?
A. You could ask your doctor to read the page on depression and kudzu. Drug abuse sometimes is due to depression or anxiety.
I read the information regarding 5-HTP and how
low levels of serotonin may lead to addictive behavior, and I am just
curious if there is any information out there in connection with a
supplemental cocktail, so to speak, that might alleviate cravings for drug
abuse, such as cocaine addiction, and other drug addictions. There is a
product called Prometa that utilizes gabapentin, flumazenil and
hydroxyzine to treat cocaine drug abuse; and I recently read where there
was a vaccine that is being tested for treatment of cocaine addiction. And
I guess my thought is whether anyone on the natural supplementation side
has given much thought to how different supplements might be able to help,
if at all, people with a drug abuse disorders. In view of the drugs noted
above that are being touted to treat cocaine addiction, is there anything
equivalent on the supplement side which may accomplish the same thing.
There are several supplements one can try to reduce the urge for drug abuse. These include 5-HTP, SAM-e, St. John's wort, etc. But we are not familiar with a cocktail supplement product that deals with cocaine addiction or drug abuse.