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.
Despite heroin use impacting people of all socioeconomic strata, from Middle America to Hollywood, the stereotypical image of a heroin addict persists. Many people still think of heroin users as painfully thin individuals with track marks up and down their arms. Although opioid abuse comes with a host of serious short-and long-term side effects, some drug-related changes in appearance might be more accurately attributed to a reckless lifestyle. For example, some users forgo food to buy drugs.
Of all the drugs that alter a person’s looks, methamphetamine (meth) causes the most overt visible signs of abuse. Meth abuse wreaks havoc on the entire body, destroying tissues and blood vessels and inhibiting the body’s ability to repair itself. The effects of meth include a decrease in appetite, resulting in muscle degradation, unhealthy loss of body mass, atrophy and a skeletal appearance. Meth abuse also causes the facial structure to undergo a horrific transformation due to serious skin issues and tooth loss.
If you’ve ever been asked to show your I.D. when purchasing cough medicine for yourself, you’ve likely taken dextromethorphan. Dextromethorphan, or DXM, is a drug commonly found in over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. It’s also gained a reputation for drug misuse, especially in teens and young adults.
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.”
The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning on the “deadly risks” associated with the use of kratom, an herbal supplement touted as a treatment for anxiety and depression and more recently as an alternative to opioid pain pills.
President Donald Trump recently held a news conference to declare the nation’s opioid epidemic to be a “Public Health Emergency.” He outlined a wide-ranging plan for addressing “solutions” to opioid addiction and stated emphatically that it is essential that addicted Americans are supported in obtaining opioid addiction treatment.
Sexual abuse and harassment is one of the top stories today. It’s being fueled by accusations against men in the public eye ― such as Harvey Weinstein ― and by so many people, men and women, stepping out and saying, “Me too. I was harassed. I was victimized.”
While there are still many unknowns in the treatment of opioid-addicted pregnant women, one aspect that’s abundantly clear is that current opioid medication-assisted therapies are better than heroin for both mother and child.
OxyContin is the brand name for an extended-release form of oxycodone, a prescription opioid painkiller that is one of the most overprescribed and misused medications in the United States. Highly effective, but also highly addictive in both the immediate-release and extended-release forms, OxyContin and oxycodone are prescription narcotics with opium-like effects.
Due to widespread overprescribing of opioid pain medications in the U.S. since the 1990s, more people are being exposed to narcotics and becoming addicted to them. This has resulted in the current opioid epidemic and escalating drug overdose deaths. But this problem is not new.
When the movie “Flight” was released in 2012, I went to see it with a friend who is also a recovering alcoholic. There’s a scene where the main character, Whip Whitaker, who has struggled to stay sober, goes on a drinking binge (I’m not giving anything away, I promise). As he drinks all the booze he can get his hands on, the audience was audibly dismayed. Angry whispers of “what is he doing?” and “why is he doing that?” echoed through the theater. Although there was nothing amusing about what was happening onscreen, my friend and I exchanged a small, sad smile. We knew exactly what he was doing: being an alcoholic.
To someone who hasn’t personally been addicted, the behavior of active addicts is utterly baffling. It’s erratic, dangerous and often goes against the best interest of the addict. It’s difficult for someone unfamiliar with addiction to understand the behavior of an addicted person. Understanding how addiction manifests, however, is vitally important for addicts and non-addicts alike. A new study offers insight into how “non-addicts” might not be as different from addicts as they think, and, more important, how the similarity between addicted and non-addicted brains might foster a more compassionate attitude toward addicts..
There are few if any alcoholics or drug addicts who haven’t tried at least once to quit drinking or drugging cold turkey. If you believe you are drinking or taking drugs just to be sociable or to feel more relaxed, for a while you probably believe that you can quit any time you want to. Friends or relatives may try to get you to quit. Sooner or later, you decide to try.