Some haven’t heard of the drug hashish but they wonder if its the same things as marijuana. In fact, hashish comes mainly from the flowers (as well as leaves and stems) of the cannabis plant. And further, the active ingredient in hashish is the same as in marijuana, THC. Wikipedia defines hashish as, “Hashish, or hash, is a drug made from cannabis. While herbal cannabis is referred to as marijuana, hashish is cannabis resin. It is consumed by smoking a small piece, typically in a pipe, bong, vaporizer or joint, or via oral ingestion.”

One of the main differences between marijuana and hashish is that the concentration of THC in hashish is much higher than that of marijuana.  For example, the concentration of THC in most marijuana is around 1-5%.  In hashish, the concentration of THC is closer to 5-15%.  Further, hashish oils, have an even higher concentrated from of hashish is closer to 20% THC.

The effects of hashish on the brain and marijuana are similar.  THC impacts cognition in the brain with facilitates memory and concentration, motor coordination and  even includes memory.  Also, THC binds to receptors in the brain which create feeling of well-bing, sedation, and euphoria in the user. Some wonder if hashish (and marijuana) are dangerous because of the recent legalization of marijuana.  While there are many known positive medical uses of the drug, the American Psychiatric Association has identified hashish and marijuana as drugs that develop a condition known as cannabis disorder.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashish

Ritalin Addiction

With all of the media focus on opioid addiction and prescription painkiller regulating, other drugs that are addicting get overlooked, like Ritalin.  Ritalin is often prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  It helps with focus and attention.  Recently, Ritalin abuse has been seen on college campuses where students are taking the drug (and often becoming addicted to it’s effects) in order to study longer and more effectively or to test better due to improved focus.  However, many do not realize the addictive nature of Ritalin and the risks associated with taking it when it’s not necessary.

For instance, when individuals who have not been prescribed the drug continue to take Ritalin in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms, when they can’t meet their obligations without Ritalin use, and/or feel intense urges to take Ritalin they are definitely experiencing signs of addiction.  Further, if individuals find themselves increasing their Ritalin dose over time to maintain the same effect, take Ritalin in situations where it may not be safe to do so, or are spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of Ritalin, those symptoms are also red flags of addiction as well.

Treatment for Ritalin addiction is similar to other drug addiction treatment.  Detox needs to occur in a safe medically monitored supervised setting.  Following up with therapy and counseling can then strengthen the individual against returning to Ritalin abuse and addiction.

Could a Natural Nasal Spray Replace Addictive Opioids

Could a nasal spray actually help people avoid opioid addiction?  Researchers at the University College London say “yes” and they are moving toward testing their theory on human subjects.

When individuals need medicine for pain they are often given opioids to combat their intense pain and help them resume feeling normal.  However, as evidenced in the recently growing opioid epidemic, more and more individuals are becoming dangerously addicted to opioids and more and more overdoses are occurring.  The nasal spray tested by the researchers is a natural opioid  compound and lessens the pain while having no addictive side effects.  This is exciting news because it means that if valid, then individuals treated for pain will not become overly euphoric, tolerant, and addicted to the opioid drugs they may be given for their pain.

In the study, the researchers tested the pain-relieving  opioid nasal spray on mice and found no signs of tolerance or any signs of craving, such as reward-seeking behavior.  “If people don’t develop tolerance, you don’t have them always having to up the dose. And if they don’t have to up the dose, they won’t get closer and closer to overdose,” Ijeoma Uchegbu, a professor of pharmaceutical nanoscience who is leading the research through Nanomerics, a UCL startup, told The Guardian, in an article entitled, “Natural painkiller nasal spray could replace addictive opioids.”

The researchers have now moved to raising money for clinical trials involving humans to test their theory.  The results form their previous studies involving mice seem very hopeful and the researchers are definitely striving to find an alternative to opioid drugs such as fentanyl and oxycontin to aid in the management of pain in the future.


Suicide Rates on Rise in U.S.

In a new report by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) they indicate that suicide rates are on the rise in the United States and have been increasing in number since the year 2000.

In fact, from 1999 to 2015, approximately 600,000 U.S. residents died by suicide, with 2015 being the deadliest year. Interestingly, the groups that are ranked highest are not those from the big cities, instead they are from the rural areas.  Further, the ethnic groups dealing with the increase in suicides the most is the Native Americans and those who are white.

Of note is that the report shows a steady climb with a spike around the year 2008.  In speculating why this spike occurred, one thought is that it may have been due to the pressures of the financial recession that occurred in our country at that same time.  Many individuals felt hopeless and stressed in their financial predicaments when businesses were closing their doors and the stock market plummeted.  In more detail is the fact that the rural communities suffered more in the recession due to poverty and social isolation along with less mental health treatment facilities and that may explain why the rates of suicide there are higher.

Further, since the year 2000, the CDC points out that men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women and the rate worsened in almost all categories assessed after 2008.

The findings of the CDC indicate that more mental health institutions need to be available in rural areas to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts.  The opioid crisis doesn’t help either along with other drug issues and the rural communities have been especially hard hit by that as well.  Finding solutions and having more preventative help in place for these ethnic groups, and in rural locations would be helpful in combating the increasing rate of suicides in the United States.

source: vocavtiv.com

Extra warnings of addiction with opioid use in Utah

In Utah, lawmakers recently pushed forward some bills indicating that extra warnings for patients about addiction risks when taking opioid painkillers will be required.  The new bills indicate that pharmacies are required to label pill containers with the following caution: “Caution: Opioid. Risk of overdose and addiction” or an similar warning the state Department of Health approves of.

Further, another bill moving forward requires prescribers to, “discuss the risks of using an opiate with a patient or the patient’s guardian before issuing an initial opiate prescription,” according to a summary attached to the bill (ksl.com).

The representatives involved believe that these bills are critical to patient education and allowing patients to be completely informed of the risks they are taking when they choose to take prescription opioids.

Although some representative have voiced opposing opinions indicating that they feel that the bills would manage doctors too closely, other lawmakers feel that more must be done to stop the increasing opioid crisis.

source: ksl.com

Increase in Baby Boomer Drug Use

The opioid addiction has definitely reached crisis status.  However, when you think of individuals that struggle with addiction to opioid drugs, most of us picture younger individuals — definitely not retired or elderly persons.  However, there is also an increase in baby boomer drug use— especially in relation to opioid use.  Baby boomers are defined as people born in the years following World War II, when there was an increase in the birth rate. Currently, there are upwards of 76 million baby boomers in America.

Interestingly, drug and alcohol abuse has most often been correlated with youthful teens, but now adults over age 50 are more prone than ever to addiction and substance abuse.  In fact, people of the baby boomer generation as as prone to addiction as their children and grandchildren according to recent statistics.

This growing baby boomer substance abuse epidemic may surprise some, but in reality the increase is really not that shocking.  For instance, when you think about the environment that the baby boomers grew up in with free love and Woodstock mentalities, it truly isn’t shocking that baby boomers are struggling with opioid addiction.  Many quit using drugs in their late 20’s and 30’s but as their children have left home, some of these individuals have picked up drug habits once again and have entered into addictions.  The most commonly abused drugs in this age group include marijuana, heroin, prescription opioids and alcohol.

Along with the fact that baby boomers grew up surrounded by drugs and more lax attitudes in relation to drugs, is the fact that these individuals are aging and in need of more and more painkillers.  Due to the fact that they are taking more painkillers due to problems related to age, the use and addiction rates are increasing.

In sun, the attitudes of baby boomers in relation to drug use, along with the increase in their age causing more health related problems required painkillers have led to an increase in opioid drug addiction in individuals of this generation.  Awareness of this increase is key to getting help for individuals struggling with opioid drug addiction from the baby boomer generation.

An Interesting Perspective on Guns and Drugs

A recent article by Jay Stooksberry was printed in Newsweek indicating that if the war on drugs was to be stopped, the amount of gun violence in the US would significantly decline.  The article points to evidence of when Prohibition was in effect and violence increased, as well as how legalizing marijuana in Colorado has been correlated with a decline in homicides.

It doesn’t seem logical, especially because the gun violence that most of us read and hear about is the mass tragic horrific homicides carried out often by a single gunman.  However, the report indicates that only 3% of the United States homicides occur in this manner and most of them -over 50%-are instead related to drugs.

He states that in Mexico, “between 2007 and 2014, Mexican authorities estimate, 164,000 homicides were the result of cartel (drug) violence.  For perspective, during the same period, civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq totaled 103,000 combined.” These staggering numbers go to show how overlooked this problem can be.

But how would ending the war on drugs help with less gun violence?  It doesn’t seem logical. The article indicates that while the nation’s drug problem needs to be addressed, the way we are going about it is in fact, leading to more violence and more volatile situations involving guns that could be avoided.  The author is not denying there is a problem with drug abuse; instead, he indicates that the limitations and restrictions on guns is contributing to the problem rather than working to minimize it.  Further, the article points out that the “war on drugs” isn’t proving effective and hasn’t been for some time, so policies and procedures in relation to drugs and guns need to be adjusted and reexamined in order to have a more successful outcome.


What are Benzos?

Benzodiazepines, known to many as “benzos,” are man-made medications that cause mild to severe depression of the nerves within the brain (central nervous system) and sedation (drowsiness).  Seizures, anxiety, and other diseases that require benzodiazepine treatment may be caused by excessive activity of nerves in the brain. These drugs may work by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that nerves in the brain use to send messages to one another. Gamma-aminobutyric acid reduces the activity of nerves in the brain and increasing the effect of GABA with a benzodiazepine, reduces brain activity.

According to medicine.net, benzos are used to treat: “anxiety, nervousness, panic disorders, muscle spasms, seizures, sleeplessness, alcohol withdrawal, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and PMS.”

Benz use, when not closely monitored, can lead to addiction and are most often abused to get “high: due toothier effects on the brain.  In fact, in 2017, benzos were ranked 8th in the top 10 drugs most abused in the United States.

The website drugabuse.org gives 5 shocking facts about benzo addiction:

  1. Becoming Addicted is Shockingly Easy
  2. Quitting is Devastatingly Difficult
  3. Using Often Creates Cognitive Impairment
  4. Developing Alzheimer’s Disease Is Far More Likely
  5. Dying Early Is a Tragic Possibility

medicine.net also lists the effects of benzos which include: lightheadedness, confusion, memory impairment, improper body balance, nausea, constipation, dry mouth, fatigue, respiratory depression, withdrawal symptoms, seizures, slow heart rate, sever low blood pressure, fainting, suicide, jaundice, dependence and abuse, reduced libido, weight gain, vomiting, increase or decrease in appetite, sedation, and/or drowsiness.

Overall, there is a defining need and place for benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, but their usage must be monitored for signs of addiction, dependence, and withdrawal to avoid some of the dangerous side effects of the drugs.  Being aware of the dangers can prevent addiction and help others through recovery from benzo abuse.

sources: medicine.net, drugabuse.org

What is Meth?

These drug effects generally last from six to eight hours, but can last up to twenty-four hours. The first experience might involve some pleasure, but from the start, meth begins to destroy the user’s life. If you’ve ever seen before and after pictures of meth addicts you know that not only does meth destroy the inside of people’s bodies, it dramatically alters their outside appearance in negative ways.

Meth is an illegal drug in the same class as cocaine and other powerful street drugs. It has many nicknames—meth, ice, glass, crank, chalk or speed being the most common. “Meth is used by individuals of all ages, but is most commonly used as a “club drug,” taken while partying in night clubs or at rave parties. It is a dangerous and potent chemical and, as with all drugs, a poison that first acts as a stimulant but then begins to systematically destroy the body. Thus, meth is associated with serious health conditions, including memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior and potential heart and brain damage. Highly addictive, meth burns up the body’s resources, creating a devastating dependence that can only be relieved by taking more of the drug. Meth’s effect is highly concentrated, and many users report getting hooked from the first time they use it. (drugfreeworld.org)” Sadly, meth addiction is one of the hardest drug addictions to treat and many die due to it’s strong effects.

Source: drugfreeworld.org

Bath Salts

— synthetic drugs chemically related to cathinone, a stimulant found in the khat plant. Khat is a shrub grown in East Africa and southern Arabia, and people sometimes chew its leaves for their mild stimulant effects. However, when variants of cathinones are synthetic, the effects can be much stronger and more dangerous. So if you are using bath salts in your bath, they are harmless and can be wonderful for the skin. But if bath salts are used as a stimulant, they can be extremely dangerous and addictive. In fact, drugabuse.gov ranked bath salts 4th in a list of the top ten most abused drugs in 2017.

Bath salts are typically swallowed, smoked, injected, or snorted and dangerously, their effect on the brain is still largely unknown. However, we do know that the effect of bath salts on the brain is similar to cocaine -but is at least 10 times more powerful! Bath salts can produce effects such as: paranoia, nosebleeds, increased sex drive, hallucinations, increased sociability, and panic attacks. In some cases, abusing bath salts has resulted in death. Further, although behavioral therapy has been used to treat addiction to bath salts, there is currently no medication available to treat this addiction.

Source: drugabuse.gov, Baumann et al., 2013

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