About Addiction: Prescription Medication, Anti Smoking, Alcohol, Ecstasy, and Marijuana

We have the newest links about addiction. This week we feature info on cough medicine, prescription medication, smoking, alcohol, ecstasy, and marijuana. Let us know what you think and leave us your feedback.

Cough and Prescription Medication

CNN Health: The trend for kids to abuse cough medicine is either back, or never left since my days in high-school. Kids get high from a large dose of dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in Robitussin, hence the trend’s nickname “Robo tripping”.

Health Day: Substance abuse treatment admissions of prescription medication (mostly pain relievers) have increased over 400 percent during 10 years. The proportion of admissions for abusers increased from 2.2 percent in 1998 to 9.8 percent in 2008.

Anti Smoking Campaign

New York Times: According to federal officials, the nation has failed to reach its 2010 health goal of reducing high school smoking to 16 percent. They called in report for a resurgence of anti-smoking advertisements.

USA Today: New York became the first American city to require stores to post 4-square-foot warnings showing the physical effects of smoking near tobacco displays or smaller ones at each register. Last month, a few retailers and the nation’s three big tobacco companies sued the city to stop the posters.

Alcohol and Binge-Drinking

Journal Watch: Binge-drinking adolescents are 2.3 to 3.0 times more likely than non-bingers to continue this behavior into their 30s. Striking changes in brain morphology persisted even after alcohol cessation in monkeys exposed to alcohol.

Science Daily: Teens tend to increase their alcohol consumption in summer. Experts suggest parents monitor their children during summer breaks.

Cesar Fax: Of the sexually active high school students 22% reported that they used alcohol or drugs before their last sexual intercourse. Males are significantly more likely than females to report using alcohol or drugs prior to having sex.

Ecstasy and Marijuana

The Partnership: Last year Ecstasy use showed a 67 percent increase, and last year marijuana use showed a 19 percent increase, reversing a declining trend. Could decriminalization and medical marijuana be the reason?, high

Los Angeles Times: An estimated 555,000 Americans older than 12 have used Ecstasy in the last month. Ecstasy is a synthetic amphetamine that is been around for nearly 100 years. If you haven’t read about the death’s at the Los Angeles area rave EDC look here.

When you fall… Failing at rehab and trying again

When my life started seriously veering off track, a few of my friends sat me down and told me that they want to help me. At the time, drugs were paying my rent, and they literally offered me their couch to help me lower my cost of living. They were good friends and they really meant it. I didn’t take them up on it; I thought I was fine.

My first try at rehab

Fast forward 4 years, and my first attempt at rehab. I still didn’t really think I needed help, but my lawyer insisted that unless I wanted to spend the rest of my life behind state-sponsored bars, I should give this thing a try. I went in as a way out. I’d been living on drugs, mostly crystal meth, for the previous 5 years or so. I was a daily user, everyone I knew used, I was paying my rent with ounces of coke, but somehow, I thought everything was going well.

Two months or so after entering rehab, sitting at my recording studio pretending to work, I ran across a baggie that had apparently been left behind. It took me less than 15 minutes to find something to smoke it with.

I only used a little bit that day. I’d been off the stuff for almost 3 months, and I didn’t need a lot to get high. I also wanted to save enough for my next “workday.” I was back to using daily within 5 minutes. By New Year’s Eve that year, I was smoking with an ex-customer in the corner of her bedroom before her guests showed up for the yearly party. I ended the night bored at an ecstasy party with half-naked friends giving each other backrubs. This time, I knew something was wrong.

Another attempt at rehab

Needless to say, I got kicked out of that rehab facility. I spent the following two weeks sleeping on a friend’s couch looking for another treatment option. It was on my way to a meeting at noon on a sunny day in Santa Monica that I saw where I really was. Passing a homeless vagabond on the promenade, I did a double take. I knew the guy; we used to party together. I’m one misstep away from being homeless. I need help.

As I write this today, I am five years into a well-respected graduate program in psychology. I’m writing a book about my experiences, and by the time it comes out, I’ll have a Dr. posted in front of my name. But that wasn’t always my story, and as recently as 5 years ago, it was the unlikely ending to my tale.

Addiction demoriliizationThe reason I’m sharing it with you here is because I want you to know that there is no magic number. There’s no right way to find your escape from the life, and there’s no necessary mindset when you try to save yourself. No one knows what is going to work for you yet. We’re working hard on figuring out a way to tailor treatment to specific people based on their drug use, their family history, their genes, and anything else we can think of. As of right now, we have no better answer than this:

Keep trying. No matter how many times you fall down, pick yourself up again. If AA doesn’t work for you, try something else. There are options, a lot of them. If you don’t know about any others, ask me, ask anyone. If you keep trying, keep believing in yourself, keep giving yourself a chance, you’ll find the way out eventually.

Until then, keep your head above water and come back here to learn more. As always, feel free to email me with any questions. I’ll keep answering.

Alcohol, benzos, and opiates – Withdrawal that might kill you

Along with teaching and telling stories, part of my goal here at All About Addiction is to get important information out to those who can benefit from it.

Most drug users who quit drug use “cold turkey” have to go through withdrawal of some sort. Withdrawal is never comfortable, but sometimes it can actually be dangerous. The list below outlines some drugs that should NEVER be quit suddenly without medical supervision. This is the reason why some rehab treatment is preceded by a medical detox period lasting anywhere from 2 days to a week or more.

Which withdrawals can actually kill?

  1. Alcohol – Yes, after long term use, withdrawal from alcohol can kill. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can take on mild, moderate, or severe forms. If while withdrawing from alcohol a person develops a fever, extreme nausea, diarrhea, or DT (delirium tremens), they need to be rushed to see a doctor as soon as possible. In fact, alcohol withdrawal after heavy, chronic use is best managed under the care of a doctor or a professional medical detox unit. By using medications that relieve withdrawal symptoms, these professionals can essentially eliminate any of these risks.
  2. Benzodiazepines – Benzos were introduced as a replacement to barbiturates that were causing common overdose cases, many of which resulted in death. Nevertheless, withdrawal from extended use of benzodiaepines can kill. Whether Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), Valium (diazepam) or other variations, long term use of Benzodiazepines requires medical supervision to be completed successfully with minimal side-effects and risk to the patient. Normally, the withdrawal process is managed by slowly reducing the dose and transferring the patient from a slow acting, to a long acting, form of the drug. Still, full resolution of benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can take up to 6 months (or even longer).
  3. Opiates – Many people are surprised to learn that in most cases, withdrawal from many opiates is not deadly. Still there are some very important exceptions. Methadone, a long-acting opiate often prescribed as a replacement for heroin can cause death during withdrawal if it’s consumed in high enough doses for a long enough period. The debate of whether the state should be prescribing something like this should be saved for a later date. It is one of the better ways of getting people off of heroin, though obviously, all it does is replace dependence on one substance with another, more manageable one. Also, some of the recently popular methods of rapid-detox from heroin addiction can themselves cause death, and many other negative side-effects. Overall, I would recommend checking in with a physician and conducting opiate withdrawal in a controlled setting. Withdrawal under Suboxone or Subutex can be far less horrific.

Much of the danger in withdrawal from all of these drugs has to do with the body’s response to the extreme changes in the chemical processes going on in the brain and the rest of the body. Alcohol, Benzos, and Opiates interference with the GABA system, the body’s most common downregulator.

Withdrawal from these drugs is like trying to turn the heat up in a cold house with a broken thermostat and an out of control heater – It won’t always lead to disaster, but it’s a bad idea.

The withdrawal danger summary

That’s pretty much it. “Cold Turkey” withdrawal from cocaine, marijuana, crystal meth, ecstasy, GHB (never mix GHB with alcohol though!!!), and many other recreationally used drugs will not lead to death in the vast majority of cases. While it may make you uncomfortable, and you may feel moody, constipated, dehydrated, hungry or nauseous, and a whole slew of other symptoms, the chances of someone actually dying from withdrawal are very small.

If you have any more specific questions regarding your case though, don’t shy from asking me!

Student Dealing – College campuses and the drug supply

If you haven’t heard about the San Diego State drug-dealing arrests, check out the story.

Aside from the obvious impact on the San Diego community in general, and on the school in particular, I can’t help but draw parallels to my own story.

In the future, I’m going to try to follow up on this story and learn more about how these fraternity members became so heavily involved in drug-dealing.

If nothing else, this points to the intersection between drugs and crime, especially given the fact that 3 guns were seized in one of the fraternity houses.

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Speaking of parallels and my story, it looks like my book is going to be published by Newharbinger sometime in early 2010!!!

Things aren’t finalized yet, but it’s looking good, so keep your fingers crossed!