Categories
Addiction Smoking

Smoking: Skinny, Gold, and Silver

Hans Rudi Erdt: Problem Cigarettes, 1912 . Adv...
Image via Wikipedia

It’s been some time since cigarettes were labeled “light’ or “low-tar.” These days, over 50 countries use “gold” or “silver,” in their branding. Despite the difference in nomenclature, the misperceptions about safety remain the same: many people believe that cigarettes labeled “light’ or “gold” are somehow better for you than the smokes in the red box. “Slim” brands, which are mainly targeted toward young women are also perceived as being better for you because they’re skinny, implying less poison per hit. The truth is, tobacco is tobacco, and none of it is good for you, no matter how you spin it.

Recently, Addiction Journal published a study in which over 8000 smokers from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the USA were polled. Their findings showed “approximately 1/5 of the smokers polled believed ‘some cigarette brands could be less harmful than others.’” The research shows smokers tend to base their cigarette choices on color, they often believe smooth taste means less risk, and that filters really do reduce the risk of cancer.

One thing is for sure, the study proves a need for further regulation. One change we can eventually expect to see is plain packaging for any and all cigarettes. That means every box will look the same: sans logos, color, or graphics. Looks like Australia will be the first to try this out. It would be nice to see something take effect that successfully lessons the intrigue of smoking. If you don’t ever pick up, then you never have to quit, right? Also, if cigarette packaging ceases to look cool, there’s it’s one less reason to carry them in your purse or pocket.

Categories
Addiction Recovery

Service and Recovery With Heart

As I live-tweeted Intervention last night and watched the undoing of a young lady who’d experienced excessive trauma and abandonment, resulting in drug abuse, prostitution and suicidal ideation, it got me thinking. A lot. When someone is struggling with what seems like untenable, almost Sisyphean circumstances, how do you break the barrier so they can get help? My experience with sobriety and recovery from my own trauma has shown me the mind’s utterly powerful ability to protect itself. We build walls, compartmentalize, push people away by means of anger and aggression, we isolate, act like we can “handle it,” et cetera, yet when we’re alone, we tend to crumble: we get high, we cut, we starve ourselves, we overeat, we act out sexually. It never makes the pain go away.

Image via Wikipedia

Getting sober is the the doorway into healing and positive change. It’s an opportunity to look inward and make space for restoration to occur. As I watched this young lady on Intervention come undone, I watched her family react in anger and panic. This young mother reminded me of a scared, trapped animal backed into a corner. While I’m not a therapist, or even an interventionist for that matter, I am someone with over 17 years of recovery and some significant experience in dealing with trauma. Watching that show last night reminded me how much significance there is to bringing heart into what we do in sobriety as we approach the wounded. The inherent value of heart is immeasurable.
So many of us come into the rooms of recovery with those old, mental tapes playing “It’s all your fault” on a vicious loop. One of the the toughest things I’ve had to do is learn to re-record this tape. It’s possible, it just takes a lot of time and willingness to be uncomfortable. As the Buddhists say, everything is impermanent. Yes, even that lousy feeling in the pit of your stomach or the craving for drugs and alcohol. It passes. If we’re willing to allow it.

Categories
Addiction

Bath Salts: Not For Your Average Soak

Either addicts are getting more creative or illicit drugs are being used to make run-of-the mill products, either way, the new drug being marketed under the moniker “bath salts” is disturbing at best. These “bath salts” are legally sold at head shops, convenience stores (I swear, they’ve gotten more and more risque with their last-minute “must-haves” sold at the counter!), and of course, on the street. Honestly, when I saw the news articles on this earlier this month, I thought it must be a farce. It’s not. In Michigan alone, at least 18 adults went to the ER after using this drug!

       {Image by LilyBaySoap via Flickr}

So, what are bath salts? Well, they aren’t the common salts you find in Bed, Bath, and Beyond, that’s for sure. Rather, these are marketed under names like “Ivory Wave,” “Aura,” “Zoom 2,” “Zeus 2,” “Cosmic Blast,” and “White Rush” and sold off the beaten path, no questions asked. These designer bath salts contain a synthetic chemical called Methylmethcathinone or Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDVP). Essentially, what you get is a powerful high with a simultaneous period of psychosis, coupled with an insatiable craving for more.

“Bath salts” produce effects similar to Ritalin when taken in small doses or cocaine if taken in larger doses. The effects of this drug can cause an increase in heart rate, chest pains, dizziness, delusions, panic attacks, nose bleeds, and nausea. And then there’s the hallucinations, which are rumored to be terrifying. Not terrifying enough, though, because apparently the pull of the drug is such that the user clamors for more despite their negative experience while under its influence.
Being a new designer drug, all the physical warning signs aren’t known yet, but since it’s not dissimilar to amphetamine and hallucinogenic use, I would suggest keeping your eyes peeled for similar erratic behaviors such as paranoia, weight loss, dilated pupils, and of course, the ubiquitous small plastic baggies.

Categories
Addiction Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic Doesn’t Mean Safe

Sometimes marketed as incense or an herbal smoking blend, synthetic marijuana is readily available for teens via the internet and some drug paraphernalia shops.  Rather than banning the products themselves (Spice, K2, Blaze, and Red X Dawn), the FDA is seeking to ban the 5 chemicals used to create the herbal blends. The FDA wants to place the chemicals in the same category as heroin and cocaine, due to increased reports of  seizures, dependency of poison centers, hallucinations, hospitals, and law enforcement as a result of its use.

Synthetic or not, it’s still a drug, and it still has the potential to contribute to one’s addiction issues. Sprayed with psychotropic chemicals, this herbal and spice mixture is touted as providing users with an elevated, meditative state, similar to the effect found with marijuana use. However, instead of the alleged mellow effects sought by its users, the statistics show high reports of heightened blood pressure, high levels of anxiety, seizures, nausea, severe agitation, and hallucinations.  While more testing is needed, findings suggest this drug is effecting not only the cardiovascular system, but also the central nervous system of its users. In plain speak: it’s dangerous.

Are you worried your kid might be using? If so, you might want to look for dried herbs in unlikely places…their room, for instance, or their backpacks. What does a teen really want with something that looks like oregano, right? You can also look for some of these physical signs:

  • Agitation
  • Pale appearance
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion.

It’s good the FDA is taking a stance on this–between the ease of availability and the implication of harmlessness, we place our kids and ourselves at heightened risk for the long-term, negative effects of yet another drug.

Categories
Addiction ADHD Mental Health

ADHD and Addiction

There’s an interesting correlation between ADHD and substance abuse, with research showing children who have ADHD as being more likely to struggle with addiction issues as adults. According to the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders, “some studies show a higher rate of ADHD among substance abusers and that people with ADHD may develop substance abuse problems at an earlier age.”  The three main characteristics of ADHD are: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, which can lead to high levels of anxiety, restlessness, and stress. Attempting to manage these symptoms can be overwhelming, particularly if one is symptomatic yet untreated.
As researchers and medical professionals dig deeper into addiction issues and ADHD, they are finding proof that lower levels of dopamine is a key factor. Sufferers begin to self-medicate and will often find temporary relief when they smoke marijuana, for example. Why? Well, because THC temporarily triggers the brain to release dopamine and dopamine makes us feel better. The user doesn’t realize the damaging effects THC has to their brain cells and this type of self-medication can set the stage for substance abuse, particularly since the use of drugs and alcohol can provide a sense of calm, even if just for a minute. Also, with an inclination toward impulsivity and risk-taking, ADHD sufferers tend toward perilous behaviors, which can also allude to addiction issues.
It’s important then, as parents, and friends of those suffering from addiction to look at ADHD as a link. Taking a whole-body approach is necessary–one must treat the ADHD component in collusion with the addiction component. Twelve-step meetings or treatment are wonderful tools to combat and cope with one’s addiction and will allow one to better handle the prescription treatment involved with managing ADHD. They have to be undertaken together, however, or one will counteract the other.

Categories
Addiction

Corey Haim Prescription Drug Overdose

Details are already emerging about Corey Haim’s tragic death this morning, and it appears the actor may have died of a prescription drug overdose.

Law enforcement is reporting that Haim collapsed in the bedroom of his mother’s apartment in Los Angeles around 1:30am this morning, and authorities recovered four prescription bottles at the scene.

Haim had recently been battling flu-like symptoms, but the above-mentioned meds were unrelated to that.

Haim’s mother also confirmed her son had been battling an addiction to prescription drugs for years .

Our deepest condolences go out to his family.