Of the 63,600 drug overdose deaths reported in 2016, 42,249 were attributed to opioids. The effects on the brain of the two most commonly prescribed prescription opioids (hydrocodone and oxycodone) are virtually indistinguishable from those of heroin. The addictive nature of prescription opioids is partially responsible for the current prescription drug crisis and the huge underground market in which people buy and sell these drugs illegally.
So maybe you overdo it from time to time — okay, a lot of the time, but you only drink on the weekends and an occasional weekday, so it’s no problem, right? Just because you don’t drink everyday doesn’t mean you’re safe from alcohol dependence and addiction. In fact, if you’re over the recommendations for moderate drinking — no more than seven drinks a week for women and 14 drinks a week for men — you’ve crossed the line into heavy drinking or binge drinking. Of the 136 million Americans who use alcohol, more than 47% are binge drinkers according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Are you one of them? Here’s some warning signs.
Certain types of hydrocodone, one of the most commonly prescribed opioid painkillers and the most commonly prescribed medication of any kind in the United States, can cause permanent hearing loss in people who abuse the drug.
Adults aged 50 and older are among the more than 3 million people in the United States who have opioid or opiate addictions. Overuse or misuse of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone is so widespread that President Trump has declared the opioid epidemic a public “health emergency.”
“I can’t sleep. I might have to take a couple of Ambien to go to sleep,” actor Heath Ledger told his sister on the phone the night before he died. She knew he had received prescriptions for co-occurring anxiety, depression and insomnia, and warned him not to mix his medications — she understood the dangers.
Ledger’s overlapping conditions were not unusual. It is common for someone who suffers from anxiety to suffer from depression — more than 50% of people diagnosed with depression also have anxiety. Insomnia occurs in 50% to 90% of people with these mental health conditions, so it is not unusual for a person to receive coinciding prescriptions for insomnia, anxiety and depression.
Like many people, Ledger took multiple prescription medications together. Ledger told his sister not to worry, but 24 hours later, the talented performer and aspiring film director was gone at the age of 28. The cause of death? Accidental “acute intoxication” from the combined effects of six prescription medications, including sleep medications, anti-anxiety medications and opioid painkillers.
The medical examiner reported that Ledger’s death resulted from the misuse or “abuse of prescription medications,” but it was their toxic combination that killed him.
What is Xanax prescribed for? Xanax is the brand name of a medication called alprazolam. It is in a category of drugs called benzodiazepines, a group of drugs that produce a tranquilizing or calming effect. By enhancing the effects of certain natural brain chemicals, Xanax is very effective at treating panic disorders, social anxiety disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. Xanax is also sometimes prescribed to improve symptoms of sleep disorders.
OxyContin is a prescription opiate that is used to manage chronic pain. It was popular when it first became available because of its extended release formula. Rather than having to take multiple pills throughout the day, patients who were prescribed OxyContin could take fewer doses.
Around 1 in 100 Americans suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and about half of cases are classed as severe. Living with OCD often means taking medications in addition to navigating the anxiety and obsessive thoughts that characterize the condition. As a result, some OCD sufferers turn to alcohol as a form of “self medication.” However, this isn’t a good idea. Self medicating with alcohol doesn’t really work, and alcohol might dangerously interact with your OCD medication.
Medications containing the opioid painkiller propoxyphene were banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2010.
Prescribed for long-term chronic pain, drugs that mixed propoxyphene and acetaminophen (Darvocet, Darvon, etc.) were long believed to be safer and less addictive than stronger opioid painkillers like OxyContin or Vicodin. However, studies uncovered a significant risk of heart damage in those taking these drugs, and based on these findings, propoxyphene medications were pulled from the market.
Psychedelics are a type of hallucinogenic drug that alter thoughts, feelings and perception. Using substances like magic mushrooms, LSD or DMT, drug use causes users to experience visual and auditory sensations that appear to be real but are not. Users may feel disconnected from their bodies or surroundings. The experience of using psychedelic drugs can be euphoric and exciting, but it can also be extremely frightening.
In terms of substance abuse, teen statistics show that many young people are trying more different types of drugs than ever before. Among these is one called DMT, an abbreviation for dimethyltriptamine. This isn’t exactly a new drug, as it is a natural compound that has been used by natives of the Amazon region for many years. However, it is new to many Americans and it can be dangerous. Parents of teens should be aware of this new drug and how it could impact their children.
New findings from American researchers point to a notable drop in oxycodone-related opioid overdoses in states that set up monitoring programs designed to detect the inappropriate diversion and consumption of prescription opioid medications.
Small but significant numbers of people will die after consuming one of the makeshift drugs known as inhalants, according to recent findings from a group of American researchers.
Once found primarily in large metropolitan areas, rave parties are making their way into more rural settings. Increasingly, parents need to understand what is meant by the term and what happens at the parties once kids get there.
Is marijuana really any more dangerous than alcohol? Many debate this question while states consider legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use.
Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused addictive substance. It’s easy to obtain and legal for people over 21. Some states lowered the drinking age to 18 for a period of time in the 1960s and 1970s, but raised it again by the mid-1980s to help combat drunk driving fatalities. The use of alcohol continues to be socially acceptable in spite of all of the negative consequences that can occur when the substance is abused.