Drugs Are Stronger Than Humans

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January 25-31, 2016 is National Drug and Alcohol Facts week and is a great opportunity for adults to learn how to talk to their kids about drugs and for teens to learn the true dangers and risks that come with drugs. The best way to prevent teens from using or experimenting with drugs is to talk to them about the facts. Don’t sugarcoat the truth. Use the facts below to talk to your family and loved ones about the dangers of drugs. -All American Healthcare Covington


“Drugs are stronger than humans.” It’s something my father told me growing up and something that has stuck with me until this day. When I was younger, I got the gist of what he was saying, but I did not truly understand the depth of this comment until later years. Talking to my parents about drugs was effective, and I believe it will help you “shatter the myths” about drug use and addiction with your kids too.

Chances are, everyone knows someone who has been directly or indirectly been affected by drugs, but where are they coming from? Teens are easily influenced by the Internet, TV, movies, music and friends; and, often times, they are lead to believe myths that actions like doing drugs and drinking are harmless- socially, physically and mentally; however, science tells us otherwise.

Young people today are exposed earlier than ever to drugs and peer pressure. Peer pressure plays a large part in teenage drug use ranging from tobacco and alcohol to prescription and hard drugs. They often think of “drugs” as merely hard drugs like heroin, meth or cocaine; however, teens have easy access and can abuse drugs on a prescription level, which often leads to future drug use. The downward spiral of drug abuse gets worse every year and is a path I do not want to see a loved one follow. Talk to your family today so they can make the right choice tomorrow.

Here is a basic breakdown of addiction, drug abuse, and how different drugs affect your body.

What is Addiction?

Addiction at its core is a serious state featured by lack of control over the use of a substance or certain behavior and is often deemed an illness or disease. Addiction can turn deadly when you combine a lack of control with a consequential act that someone is unable to actively avoid. In this sense, the user is aware of the consequences to come, but behaves against sound judgement.

A person struggling with an addiction cannot move past it without help. It requires a significant change in lives, perceptions and character to recover. If someone could recover alone, it would not be an addiction.

Prescription Drugs

The number of overdose deaths by opioids has exceeded the number of deaths by car accidents and suicides. Additionally, death by opioids have killed more people than overdoses from all other drugs combined, including cocaine and heroin. The most common classes of abused prescription drugs are opioid pain relievers such as Oxycotin and Vicodin, stimulants such as Adderall, and depressants such as Xanax or Valum.

Xanax

  • Xanax is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant prescribed to people for anxiety and sleeping problems.
  • CNS depressants slow down normal activity in the brain.
  • CNS depressants enhance the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a naturally occurring chemical in the brain that sends messages between cells. GABA works by slowing down brain activity which produces a drowsy or calming effect.
  • Continued use of this drug will result in the brain’s natural production of GABA to become less effective; essentially gaining a tolerance for the drug. Attempts to quit after continued abuse or long-term use can result in the brain going into excessive overdrive. This effect can cause withdrawal symptoms including anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, and memory problems.

Adderall

  • Adderall is a stimulant prescribed to people with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).
  • Stimulants increase activity in the body including your heart rate and increased levels of dopamine in the brain.
  • If abused, this quick release of dopamine is what can lead to addiction. If you use the prescription too often, your body will quit reacting the same way, leaving you looking for a new high. Only higher doses and more frequent use can bring back a similar effect once you have built up a tolerance.
  • Additionally, your brain requires dopamine to transmit messages properly between neurons. When dopamine-producing cells stop working, messaging in the brain breaks down.
  • Stimulate abuse is dangerous and can cause irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure and potential heart failure. Abusing certain doses of stimulants can also lead to hostility and paranoia.

Vicodin/ Opioids

  • Vicodin in an opioid prescribed for pain treatment.
  • They are often prescribed after surgery or to patients with chronic pain.
  • Opioid prescriptions are also referred to as painkillers, and it is important that you take only the amount you are prescribed.
  • Opioids attach to opioid receptors or, specific proteins found in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs. When they attach to these receptors, they diminish the perception of pain.
  • They can also cause drowsiness or constipation.
  • Repeated abuse of opioids can cause an addiction. If you overuse them, your body will quit reacting to them, leaving you looking for something stronger to mask your pain. If you do not consult with your doctor, you run the risk of drug abuse, which can quickly lead to the use of other drugs.

Hard Drugs

The abuse of prescription drugs can often lead to a tolerance, resulting in users looking for harder drug to produce familiar sensations. Hard drugs are highly addictive and can have fatal outcomes.

Heroin

  • The use of heroin increases at staggering rates every year in the US.
  • Heroin, also known as diamorphine, was first synthesized in England in the late 1800s.
  • Like opium and morphine, heroin is made from the sap-like milk removed from the pod of the poppy flower. The opium is refined to make morphine, then further refined to make heroin.
  • Heroin was originally intended to be a non-addictive substitute for morphine; however, it was quickly discovered that the body rapidly metabolizes the drug back into morphine. Heroin proved to be more addictive then both opium and morphine.
  • When heroin enters the body, it binds to opioid receptors in the brain, which in turn activates the reward center of the brain. This stimulates dopamine production resulting in the sensation of pleasure.
  • Heroin is highly addictive and leaves you looking for a heightened sensation of pleasure once your high drops off.
  • Heroin is also very potent and it is nearly impossible to tell how potent it is from looking at it. This puts users at a high risk for fatal overdose.
  • Heroin use also puts users at risk of infectious diseases, liver disease, kidney disease, pulmonary complications, and severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • Learn more about heroin with “There Is No Hero in Heroin

Cocaine

  • Cocaine is extracted from coca leaves and was originally intended to be used as a painkiller.
  • It is most often sniffed but can also be ingested, rubbed into the gums or injected. Powder sniffed through the nose enters the bloodstream through the nasal tissues.
  • Nearly 75% who try cocaine will become addicted to it.
  • Cocaine abuse leads to nearly half of all drug related emergency room visits.
  • Once cocaine enters the body, it immediately begins to effect the nervous system by increasing dopamine levels in the brain which results in a heightened sensation of pleasure. Users can quickly develop a tolerance to the drug.
  • Cocaine can cause long-term changes in the brain which can lead to addiction. The part of the brain cocaine affects most includes key memory centers which helps users recall there the source of pleasure/euphoria came from. This is why something as simple as seeing pictures of someone else using can trigger a desire to use again. This is also what influences repeated use.
  • Repeated exposure also effects the area of the brain that helps with decision making and inhibition. Cocaine can affect the brains structure after just one use.
  • Cocaine use can lead to a shortage of breath, breathing failure, stroke, brain bleeding, or heart attack.

Methamphetamine

  • Methamphetamine is a while crystalline drug and classified in the same category as cocaine.
  • Meth is a stimulant that is usually snorted, smokes or injected; however, it can also be taken orally.
  • This drug, like many others, creates a false sense of happiness and euphoria.
  • Users experience a quick rush of hyperactivity and energy.
  • Effects can last 6-8 hours, but could last up to 24 hours depending on the drug.
  • Just as quickly as meth kicks in, it quickly behinds to break down the body, creating a dependance on the drug.
  • Meth usage can lead to anxiety, insomnia, hallucinations, confusion, violence, paranoia, and potentially death.

 

Learn more about the risks of using drugs.

  • Learn how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose.
  • Get help for substance abuse problems: 1-800-662-HELP.

Sources: Drugabuse.gov, Drugfreeworld.org

Drugs Are Stronger Than Humans

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