Tag Archives: drug abuse

Tennessee House Passes Governor’s Bill Limiting Some Opioid Prescriptions

The Tennessee House of Representatives has approved a new measure limiting opioid prescriptions for temporary and first-time uses. With this action, it has passed a critical part of Governor Bill Haslam’s plan to deal with the state’s opioid crisis.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, and Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville sponsored the measure, which limits prescriptions for new opioid patients. It doesn’t cut prescriptions for current prescription opioid users or patients living with chronic pain. The measure passed by a count of 94-1.

Legislation to Fight Opioid Epidemic

Rep. Sabi Kumar, R-Springfield, who is also a surgeon, referred to the measure as a “major piece of legislation in our fight against the epidemic.”

Earlier this year, the governor outlined a $30 million effort to take on the Tennessee opioid crisis.

Doctors Critical of Proposed Law

The Tennessee Medical Association and the state’s doctors were critical of the governor’s plan, called TN Together. They were concerned that it limited doctors’ ability to prescribe opioid medications to patients on an as-needed basis.

Compromise with Healthcare Providers Reached

Healthcare providers, the Haslam administration and lawmakers reached a compromise on the measure that gave doctors more leeway when prescribing opioids. Instead of the original five-day limit for prescriptions, doctors can prescribe up to 10 days’ of medication in some cases.

The goal of limiting prescriptions is to curb the number of new state residents becoming addicted to opioids. Studies have shown that patients who receive prescriptions for more than five days’ of opioids are at higher risk for addiction.

The new bill sets limits of three, five and 10 days for opioid prescriptions. Dosages can’t exceed a total of 500 milligrams of morphine equivalent.

The bill recognizes exceptions for patients with serious ailments, as well as those who are undergoing “more than a minimally invasive procedure” or one where “the risk of intense pain exceeds the risk of addiction.”

Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse

detecting prescription drug abuseAccording to NYU Langone Medical Center, prescription drug addiction affects thousands of individuals across the country. Some have found themselves addicted following a legitimate need for the medications that they are prescribed while others find themselves addicted as a direct result of taking these medications for reasons other than prescribed or when they never were prescribed. Regardless of how addiction occurs, the symptoms of prescription drug abuse are often easy to spot.

While prescription medications contribute to the health of the individuals who use them as prescribed, they also have the potential to cause serious side effects when they are misprescribed, taken against prescribed recommendations or taken when they weren’t prescribed at all. According to the Texas Division of Student Affairs, “prescription drugs are the second most commonly abused category of drugs, behind marijuana and ahead of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs.”

Recognizing the Symptoms of Prescription Abuse

You may not realize it, but early detection of the potential symptoms of prescription drug abuse can help you know when someone you love needs professional help. Studies show that individuals take prescription drugs in an abusive manner for many different reasons including:

  • To stay awake while studying for a test or exam.
  • To have fun or extend a night out partying.
  • To relieve depression, anxiety or another mood.
  • To alleviate symptoms of pain.
  • To lose weight.
  • To counteract the withdrawal symptoms of other effects of some other illicit or controlled substances.
  • To treat underlying health conditions outside the recommendations of a doctor.

Symptoms of prescription drug abuse can include:

  • Taking more of a prescription medication that is prescribed.
  • Taking a dose of medication more often than prescribed.
  • Taking prescription medications when they haven’t been prescribed.
  • Taking the prescription medications of a friend, family member, coworker, loved one or someone else.
  • Taking prescription medications for any reason other than prescribed such as because you feel like getting high, because you feel better when you take the medication or because you simply want to see what happens when you take the medication.
  • Taking prescription medications when a doctor has told you not to.
  • Taking prescription medications as part of an unsupervised weight loss regimen.
  • Taking prescription medications to treat your mood.

How can you tell if you someone is taking a prescription medication in an abusive manner?

You may first notice signs of prescription drug abuse such as missing medication from the medicine cabinet or a continued “need” for more medication before the next scheduled refill date. Individuals who abuse drugs will often exhibit signs of depression, anxiety, changed behavior, or changed mood. Appearances may change as the individual becomes more consumed with his or her drug us and less concerned with things like showering, changing clothes or otherwise taking care of his or her appearance.

Here are some quick ways to spot a problem in someone you care about, pay close attention, if you notice the following signs, there could be a prescription drug abuse problem:

  • Missing medication.
  • Need for medication prior to refill date.
  • Medication is “lost”
  • Medication consistently runs out or doesn’t work or isn’t as effective as before.
  • Doctor shopping for more than one healthcare provider to prescribe a medication.
  • Going to more than one pharmacy in an attempt to fill medications.
  • Stealing money to purchase medication.
  • Telling lies about medical conditions in order to obtain medication.
  • Resorting to other methods of obtaining medication such as purchasing from other users on the streets.
  • Acting high or otherwise incoherent.
  • Acting reserved or otherwise not being involved with family or friends.
  • Changes in mood.
  • Changes in behavior, acting out or lashing out at loved ones.
  • Feeling sick or otherwise uncomfortable when drugs are not available.

If you or someone you love is abusing prescription medications, seeking help can change your life. While addiction may be difficult to cope with and equally difficult to control, your decision to seek treatment during your time of need could be life changing. Don’t let addiction to drugs rule your life and ruin you. Call our helpline toll free at 1-888-605-7779 to get immediate placement into a counseling or therapy program that will assist you in making the positive change necessary to live drug free.

How Recreational Users Become Addicted to Cocaine

A cocaine addiction is much different than an opioid addiction, and not just because the two drugs provide very different types of highs. A person who is addicted to opioids, such as heroin or prescription painkillers, often has a very difficult time getting over the physical withdrawal symptoms, which often lead the addict back to using opioids. These withdrawal symptoms can be extremely painful and usually last 5 – 10 days or more, depending on the severity of the addiction. However, a cocaine addict has a different obstacle to overcome.

While there are fewer physical withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine addiction, there is a significant emotional withdrawal that takes place, and lasts much longer than the physical discomforts of an opioid addiction. And, according to new research, this emotional dependence occurs in the brain much earlier than previously expected.

“The study provides evidence that some of the characteristic brain signals in people who have developed addictions are also present much earlier than most of us would have imagined,” explained Marco Leyton, a professor at McGill University and an expert on drug use and addictions.

Researchers at the university gathered recreational (not considered to have an addiction) cocaine users and had them use the drug with a friend that they had previously used with before. The sessions were videoed and then later played back to the subjects. When the subject was viewing the footage the researchers were also measuring their brain waves. They found that when the subject viewed their friend using cocaine the brain released far more dopamine than before and also indicators that cravings were more severe. This information points to recreational users who may not have as much control over their drug use as they may have thought.

This information is vital because it helps to open a discussion on recreational drug usage, especially having to do with cocaine. This extremely addictive drug is often used in party situations, and some people report occasionally using the drug, but do not consider themselves addicted. However, this new information likely shows that they may be more addicted than they thought.

Synthetic Marijuana Use Can Lead People to Heroin or Ecstasy

A research group at the University of Texas recently released a study showing that people who have used synthetic marijuana are more likely to have tried heroin, ecstasy and alcohol. They are also more likely to have engaged in physical altercations.

“The findings illustrate a dramatic difference in the association with risky health behaviors by type of marijuana use. We found that students who used synthetic marijuana had a significantly greater likelihood of engaging in the majority of health-risk behaviors included in the study compared to students who used marijuana only,” explained Heather Clayton, lead author of the study.

In addition to these findings, the researchers also found that students with depression or anxiety symptoms were more likely to experiment with and use synthetic marijuana.

What is especially interesting about this study is that synthetic marijuana, or Spice, is most commonly found in gas stations and specialty shops. Children and teenagers are most likely to purchase this drug and many have the misconception that it is safer than drugs found on the street. However, according to the data, the drug actually leads users to try other street drugs as well.

This would make sense to anyone once they understand exactly what synthetic marijuana is. In order to produce a high similar to marijuana, the substance must be covered in certain chemicals that are 40 to 600 times more potent than regular marijuana. So, when people use this drug they often suffer from convulsions, extreme paranoia, auditory and visual hallucinations and extreme aggression. In fact, the drug is so powerful that some users have even suffered from seizures and death.

And while many forms of synthetic marijuana have banned in the United States, manufacturers are constantly changing the recipe, therefore avoiding the government’s restrictions. While the country is continuing the long fight against prescription painkillers and heroin use, it may be that synthetic marijuana is encouraging some people to experiment with the dangerous drugs.

Heavy Marijuana Use May Decrease Dopamine in the Brain

molecular psychiatry evidence of marijuana dependenceThe results of a recent study have found that heavy marijuana use may decrease the level of dopamine released in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical transmitter that sends signals to the brain and is involved in movement, as well as learning, memory, cognition and pleasure.

Dr. Anissa Abi-Dargham, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and a lead author of the research paper, said that it was important to look at the “addictive effects of cannabis on key portions of the brain.” The researchers found evidence of lower dopamine release in the striatum, which is the portion of the brain involved in attention, working memory and impulsive behavior.

The results of previous research studies have found a link between addiction to “harder drugs,” like heroin and cocaine, result in similar effects on dopamine release in the brain. Evidence of similar effects on dopamine release had not been found up to this point.

Study participants were 11 adults aged 21-40 who were described as being “severely dependent” on marijuana and 12 healthy control subjects who did not use cannabis. The group who were marijuana users started using the drug at an average age of 16, were dependent on it at about age 20, and were dependent on it for seven years. In the 30 days before the start of the study, almost all users in this group had smoked marijuana every day.

Positron emission tomography (PET) was used to track a radio-labelled molecule which binds to dopamine receptors in the brain. Researchers noted the level of dopamine released in the striatum, its subregions, and other regions outside of the striatum (thalamus, midbrain and globes pallidus).

To ensure that the marijuana group did not continue using the drug during the study, they stayed in the hospital for a week to ensure that they practiced abstinence. The participants were scanned before and after taking an oral amphetamine, which would cause the brain to release dopamine. The percent change in the binding of the radio tracer was used to indicate the participants’ capacity for dopamine release in their brain.

When compared with the control group, the cannabis users had much lower dopamine release in their striatum. Researchers also looked at the connection between dopamine release in a specific area of the striatum and cognitive performance on working memory and learning tasks. Lower dopamine release resulted in worse performance in both types of tasks, and this result was seen in all members of the marijuana group.

Dr. Abi-Dargham said that researchers were unable to determine whether the decreased dopamine was present before they started using marijuana or the result of their heavy drug use. She did say that long-term heavy marijuana use may impair a person’s dopaminergic system, resulting in a number of negative effects on both learning and behavior.