Diet Pills

Diet pills are popular because they aid in helping users control or maintain their weight.  But how safe are they?  What are the dangers associated with diet pills?  This post addresses these questions.

Diet pills are both prescription and over-the-counter supplements which inhibit body processes that affect weight by increasing metabolism, suppressing appetite or preventing fat absorption.

In fact, many prescription diet pills are Schedule III or IV drugs which helps to prevent abuse and helps to keep diet pills being prescribed to individuals who truly need and benefit from them. Regardless of these regulations and rules, diet pills are abused at a disturbing rate.

So many individuals in the U.S. are constantly setting goals and making promises to lose weight so it’s not shocking knowledge that diet pills are common and available in several forms. Some of the most commonly abused diet pills as identify by addictioncenter.com include:

“Benzphetamine (Didrex)
An anorectic closely related to amphetamines. Benzphetamine is most commonly sold under the prescription name Didrex, and its main function is to reduce appetite in obese individuals.

(Tenuate, Tepanil) Prescribed on a short term basis to suppress appetite.

(Mazanor, Sanorex) (Currently only approved for use in the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, mazindol prescriptions may be abused for their appetite suppressive properties)

(Adipex, Ionamin) Reduces appetite. (Used short term to reduce weight in overweight individuals)”

Last, diet pills were designed to take the place of amphetamines as appetite suppressants and as such, they have a potential for addiction and dependence.  Further, diet pills may cause heightened energy and feelings of euphoria, making the likelihood of addiction more prevalent.  Also from addictioncenter.com, “common side effects of diet pill abuse might include:




Chest pain

Rash and itching

Swelling of legs and ankles


Yellowing of skin or eyes

Dark urine or light-colored stool”

source: addictioncenter.com

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.

Amphetamines: What are they?

We’ve heard the term amphetamine but what exactly does it mean? The answer is amphetamines are stimulants that speed up the messages traveling between the brain and the body. There are legally prescribed amphetamines for things such as ADD and ADHD as well as for narcolepsy. There are also illegal amphetamines which were one of the top 10 most abused illegal drugs in the United States in 2017. These are produced and sold illegally.

Prescription amphetamines are most often in tablet or capsule form. However, the drug can also come in the form of a powder and crystals. When amphetamines are sold illegally, they might be packaged in foil, plastic bags, or even in small balloons. Powder forms of amphetamine may be white or can even be brown in color. The powder has a strong smell and taste. They may contain traces of grey or pink as well.

Street names for amphetamines include: speed, whiz, fast, up, louee, uppers, and goey. Amphetamines are generally swallowed, injected snorted, or smoked.

Effects of amphetamines include: extra happiness and confidence, being more talkative and having more energy, feeling itchy and scratchy, enlarged pupils, dry mouth, increased heart rate, reduced appetite, excessive sweating, teeth grinding, and increased sex drive among others.

Long term effects of abusing amphetamines include: breathing trouble, dizziness, convulsions, extreme fatigue, mode changes, psychosis, mental disorders, behavior disorders, skin disorders, tics, ulcers

With prescription drug abuse on the rise in a huge way- especially opioid abuse — individuals are beginning to wonder if they should fill a prescription the doctor willingly gave them following surgery or of chronic pain. A recent article published by US News titled “5 Questions to ask your doctor before you fill that prescription” gives insight into questions that should be addressed and empowers patients to ensure that they need the medications prescribed to them. The questions from the article/slide show on the health.usnews.com website are:

  1. Why am I getting this drug?
  2. What are the risks versus the benefits?
  3. Is there an older drug or lifestyle alteration that works just as well?
  4. Will it interfere with other medications I am taking?
  5. Has this drug been shown to prevent real clinical events?

These questions may seem simple, but asking them may help prevent addiction down the line. Many individuals are aware of their predisposition to addictions and should be especially cautious about taking prescription drugs. Also, education about why a drug is prescribed is something that empowers us to know if we truly need it or want to take it. Knowing if the drug has more risks than benefits can also influence one’s decision to fill a prescription. If the risks outweigh the benefits then it may not be worth it and an alternative can be sought after. Sometimes, taking a prescription drug can be an easier fix for a problem. However, if the fix leads to addiction, and there is a way to recover from a problem simply by lifestyle alteration—whether with diet, exercise, sleep, relocation, etc.,— then many individuals will opt for that. Knowing if alternatives exist is key in staying educated about prescriptions as well. Lastly, if the drug has not been shown to have positive real lasting effects upon its users, then users may opt not to take the prescription as well.

Knowledge is power and becoming aware of the reasons why a physician is prescribing medicine is key in preventing addiction. Talking openly with the doctor about alternative options is smart and preventative. Further, more and more physicians are more thorough in their prescription practices due to the fact that prescription drug addiction is on the rise.

Source: www.health.usnews.com

Top 10 most abused drugs

Recent statistics show that there has been a slight shift in the top 10 most commonly abused drugs. The most noteworthy is marijuana, moving from 3rd place to 2nd place recently. Most speculate this is due on part to the legalization of recreational marijuana in many parts of the country.

1-Alcohol: The CDAC notes that, “with over half (51.8%) of U.S. population identified as drinkers, alcohol is the #1 most abused substance. Nearly a quarter of the population participates in binge drinking (58.6 million), and 6.7% of the population reported heavy drinking (16.9 million). As a depressant, alcohol produces impaired coordination and judgment, slurred speech, and blackouts.”

2- Marijuana: Marijuana is the #1 most abused illicit drug and the third most abused drug according to the CDAC. The CDAC reports that, “the dried parts of the Cannabis plant can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination and problems with learning and memory.”

3- Tobacco: At least one quarter of Americans (6.9 million) are users of a tobacco product making it the second most abused drug. Many individuals are drawn to smoking because it stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain and turn on the body’s natural chemicals that produce euphoria. Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals, causing long-term systemic effects. These risks include high blood pressure and smoking has been proven to increase the risk of cancer.

4-Prescription painkillers: The abuse of prescription drugs is on the rise and has moved up in ranking to be the fourth most abused type of drug. Painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, are the most abused prescription drugs. These drugs can produce effects similar to heroin. Painkillers can have negative effects on the physical body causing heightened sensitivity to sound and light, hallucinations, blackouts and problems with the lungs, central nervous system, stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys, heart and death from overdose.

5-Cocaine: Although cocaine gained popularity back in the 1980’s, it still remains on the top 10 list of most abused drugs: listed as the fifth most abused. According to the CDAC, nearly 1.5 million people in America are current users of this white powder. Cocaine use results in severe psychological dependence and intense drug cravings. This is due to cocaine’s short-lived yet powerful effects of euphoria. With cocaine, tolerance builds quickly, making it more dangerous.

6- Prescription Sedatives: The most common sedatives are benzodiazepines and tranquilizers. Approximately 2.4 million people in the U.S. are using sedatives for non-medical purposes. These are highly addictive and can cause memory loss, poor motor coordination, paranoia, stupor, suicidal thoughts, aggression, respiratory depression and coma. Mixing sedatives with alcohol is very dangerous and can cause death.

7- Prescription Stimulants: Prescription stimulant drugs have a high addictive rate and about 1.2 million Americans are currently taking prescription stimulants for non-medical purposes. These stimulants, such as Ritalin or Adderall, are usually prescribed for people who have narcolepsy or ADHD. These drugs increase the level of dopamine in the brain causing feelings of euphoria. Abuse of stimulants can cause heart attacks, strokes, depression, malnutrition, hostility and paranoia. Because stimulants increase energy and focus, teenagers are abusing the drug because they believe it will enhance their learning and test scores. The abuse of these drugs has increased significantly on college campuses across the country.

8- Hallucinogens (LSD, ecstasy): Approximately 1.1 million people are currently taking hallucinogens in the U.S. Hallucinogenic drugs are known as PCP, mescaline, Ecstasy, LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. These drugs cause hallucinations and profoundly affect the perception of reality. Some negative effects of using hallucinogenic drugs are delusions, paranoia, panic, terror, despair, psychosis, and psychological illness. Flashbacks from some of these drugs may occur at anytime after using the drug. LSD is reported to be the most popular hallucinogen among users. LSD, also known as “acid,” is the most potent hallucinogen in the world. It is often sold on blotting paper, or “window panes.” The effects of LSD are unpredictable, altering the user’s mood, personality, and sensations of reality. (CDAC, 2012).

9- Heroin: Heroin is known as the most powerful and addictive drug in the world and its use is increasing in the U.S. Heroin induces euphoria by binding to the opioid receptors that control consciousness, breathing and blood pressure. Long-term effects of using heroin include collapsed veins, partial paralysis, memory loss, intellectual impairment, and disease of the heart, liver and kidneys. Heroin is often diluted with other substances creating a high risk of physical complications and death. It is made from poppy plants and is a highly addictive opiate. It can be injected, smoked, or sniffed and creates a feeling of a euphoric rush. Users feel an increased ability to communicate easily with others, and report heightened sexual performance.

10-Methamphetamine: The tenth most abused drug is methamphetamine, also known as meth, crank, or speed. Although last on the list, it shouldn’t be ignored. Meth is popular among young adults. Meth produces feelings of well-being and energy which can last from 4 to 16 hours. Because of its lasting effects, it is a popular drug for both parties and nightclubs. Meth is highly addictive, and burns up the body’s resources and can cause permanent damage to the brain and body.


7 Legal Drugs Teens are Abusing

A recent study by cnn.com names seven legal drugs abused by teens today. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 7 out of the top 10 drugs abused in America by teens are legal. The list is composed to herbal remedies, over the counter drugs, and prescription drugs – all of which can be purchased at one’s local pharmacy—not on the street. The study further indicated that alarmingly, about 3% of kids ages 12 to 17 admit to abusing a prescription drug in the past month, and 12% of teens admit to abusing OTC cough and cold medicines in that time frame. If you are wondering how to keep those you love from abusing legal drugs while in their teens, read through the following list and be aware of what you have in your home. It just takes a minute to find a safe place to lock these dangerous legal substances up to prevent abuse.

  • Prescription Stimulants: if a prescription is used in any way other than the doctor prescribed it, it is consider drug abuse. The most commonly abused legal prescription drug is a stimulant called Adderall. The research shows that almost 8% of 12th graders have tried Adderall, known on the street as speed.
  • Prescription Pain Medicines: these opioids can cause addiction can lead to overdose just like heroin. Many teens think that because a physician gives prescription pain pills that they are harmless. Most commonly abused by teens are the drugs Oxycontin and Viocodin. More than 7% of 12th graders admit to using Vicodin in the past year.
  • Over the Counter Cough Medicine: Teens may abuse cough syrup because it can cause hallucinations and a feeling of being away from reality. However, it can cause dangerous side effects and panic attacks. Almost 6% of 12th graders say they’ve been high from cough medicine.
  • Prescription Depressants: Teens may take these sedatives for their drowsy and calming effects. Nembutal, Valium, Xanax, Ambien, and Lunesta are among the most commonly abused. Use of these depressants can slow down one’s heart and breathing to dangerous levels. If alcohol is present, prescription depressants can be especially deadly. The study showed that around 2% of 12th graders report using a sedative or tranquilizer in the past month.
  • Salvia – this drug is an herb that teens smoke or chew. Currently, the Drug Enforcement Agency in the U.S. has not made salvia illegal. However, use of it can cause a distorted sense of reality and can cause long-term learning and memory problems. Although less common in its abuse by teens, in 2009, almost 6% of high school seniors reported trying salvia.
  • Anabolic Steroids – Not surprisingly, steroids are often abused by teens. Teens may want to appear larger or stronger and they don’t recognize the damage of steroid use on their bodies’ long term including shrunken testicles for men, facial hair growth for women, and kidney and liver damage. Almost 2% of high school seniors have tried anabolic steroids.
  • Tobacco and Alcohol – Both alcohol and tobacco are legal and many teens parents use both drugs Although teens may be made aware of the dangers of alcohol and tobacco use, they may not believe the warnings if their loved ones or acquaintances are using them. Alcohol abuse kills brain cells and damages important organs in the body and smoking destroys the lungs. About 40% of 12th graders admit to drinking alcohol in the past month.

pharmaceutical-studentstaughttoidentifyprescriptiondrugaddictionPharmaceutical Students Taught to Identify Prescription Drug Addiction

Many universities and pharmaceutical colleges are instigating a system for pharmacy students that trains them how to recognize drug addiction. 75% of individuals who visit the doctor for any sort of ailment will leave with a prescription for drugs- drugs that can often be addicting. The only thing standing in the way of a patient getting that potentially addicting medication is often a pharmacist.

For these reasons, it is imperative that pharmacists recognize signs of addiction. A publication put out by Ohio Northern University lists some red flags for recognizing suspicious prescriptions. It indicates that the following are noteworthy:

  • Prescriptions from a prescriber who writes significantly more prescriptions and in larger quantities than other prescribers in the area
  • Patient presents a prescription for both a stimulant and a depressant at the same time
  • Patient presents prescriptions bearing the names of other people
  • Prescription handwriting is too legible
  • Quantities, dosage or directions differ from typical prescribing guidelines
  • Prescription does not contain abbreviations
  • Prescription has multiple handwriting styles or ink colors

If a pharmacist is equipped to recognize and be familiar with these symptoms, they may be able to address the issue with the patient or the patient’s doctor and get some needed help before drug addiction develops or to treat ongoing drug addiction.

Source: Onu.edu


chronicPainPrescriptionDrugsPrescription Drug Abuse and Chronic Pain

Many individuals have chronic pain issues and are abusing prescription drugs-whether prescribed to them or not-as a means to alleviate this pain.  A recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, confirms this is the case.  The study was conducted at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center where researchers screened 25,000 patients in primary care for abuse of prescription drugs and illegal drug use. Those participants who tested positive for having drugs in their system -589 individuals- were asked to answer questions about substance abuse and chronic pain. Interestingly, 87% who tested positive for having prescription drugs in their systems admitted to struggling with chronic pain that the majority rated as being severe pain. Half of those that tested positive for illegal drugs such as opioids or marijuana also claimed they were ingesting the drugs to lessen the physical chronic pain they were experiencing.

Further, many individuals participating in the study were shown to be abusing medications that were not prescribed to them. In fact, eighty percent of those using drugs without a prescription were actually misusing the prescription medications.  Abusing prescription medications, whether or not they were prescribed, can be very dangerous.

It is important that all individuals with chronic pain have their pain treated properly while recovering from their addictions.  The study suggested that current counseling focused only on informing patients about the negative outcomes of drug abuse may overlook an important aspect of why people are abusing these substances.  Co-author Daniel Alford, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine and assistant dean of Continuing Medical Education and director of the Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education (SCOPE of Pain) program at BUSM, and director of BMC’s Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit indicated that, “Pain should be treated as part of the long-term strategy for recovery. If drugs are being used to self-medicate pain, patients may be reluctant to decrease, stop, or remain abstinent if their pain symptoms are not adequately managed with other treatments including non-medication-based treatments.”


Excessive Medications Often Prescribed After Surgeries

A recent study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) indicates that doctors are unnecessarily prescribing high amounts of opioid medications to patients after noninvasive surgeries. The amount and dosage of the opioid prescriptions may be excessive and are leading to dependent, addictive behaviors in some cases.

The data came from 155,297 adults who had undergone 4 common outpatient procedures including: gall bladder removal, knee surgeries, hernia repair and carpal tunnel repair. The researchers involved in the study (from the department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania) analyzed insurance claims from the years 2004 to 2012.

Alarmingly, the researchers found that 4 out of every 5 patients that were written an opioid prescription had the prescription filled within seven days of the surgery. It was also found that throughout the years 2004 and 2012, there was an increase of these prescriptions written in general. For example, there was an 18 percent increase of painkiller prescriptions written to patients who had knee surgeries.

It is recommended that physicians refrain from prescribing unnecessary medications. The obvious risks of a patient becoming addicted to these pills is enough to warn doctors. However, the less obvious risks, including children or other family members taking the extra pills, or individuals selling their pills to others, are certainly high enough to cause concern as well. If an opioid is necessary, the lowest dosage should be prescribed by the doctor and and the patient should be closely monitored.




New warnings about addictive prescription.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Tuesday new safety labeling changes for immediate-release (IR) opioid pain medications. From here on out, there must be warnings on prescription medications about the risks of addiction, abuse, misuse, overdose and deaths. The FDA hopes that this change will lessen the addiction epidemic while still providing relief to patients with pain.

Immediate-release medications are a type of opioid prescription medication that is taken every 4 to 6 hours for pain. These medications are only prescribed when the pain cannot be treated with other alternatives. Some common types of IR medications are Oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine.

Robert Cardiff, M.D., FDA commissioner indicated at the time of the release, “Opioid addiction and overdose have reached epidemic levels over the past decade, and the FDA remains steadfast in our commitment to do our part to help reverse the devastating impact of the misuse and abuse of prescription opioids. Today’s actions are one of the largest undertakings for informing prescribers of risks across opioid products, and one of many steps the FDA intends to take this year as part of our comprehensive action plan to reverse this epidemic.”

The new labels will also be required to include more precise instructions about monitoring patients and their dosages. It will contain a warning to not suddenly stop treatment in patients who are dependent on addictive prescriptions as well.

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