Author: Justin Mckibben
If you haven’t noticed, death by drug overdose continues to kill in staggering numbers, and the country’s population remains poisoned by the plague of prescription painkiller abuse and heroin addiction. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that an estimated 120 people die every single day from accidental drug overdose in the U.S. Experts have predicted that the snowballing sum of death is still years away from its peak, and that the body-count will reach 50,000 annual deaths before it shows any sign of stopping.
One of the key elements in the spread of the overdose epidemic is the limited and inefficient access to lifesaving resources and skills. There could be real improvement if we were about to see more availability to assets such as:
- Opiate overdose antidote Naloxone
- Training for Naloxone administration
- Substance use disorder treatment
- Mental health care
- Education opportunities for youth, adults and professionals.
Thankfully there are officials out there who appreciate the importance of these causes if the country can hold out any hope of recovering from the outbreak. There are several different initiatives in different states hoping to make some revolutionary changes and get their communities the support they need.
Making an Impact
In just one week alone there were two huge developments in Illinois implemented that were designed to directly address the ongoing spike in opioid overdoses.
- Chicago Naloxone Clinic
The Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois saw the opening of a clinic that will distribute naloxone with permission from the Illinois Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse. This is the first overdose prevention clinic of its kind in Illinois; because it is allowed to freely distribute the life-saving naloxone medication to anyone who may need it, including drug users themselves.
- The clinic is run by volunteers of the community, which involves:
- Training people to administer naloxone
- Providing opioid overdose education
- Offering treatment referrals
- Providing a safe place for concerned families and loved ones to get support
Many of the volunteers involved in this clinic have been directly affected by the growing number of heroin overdoses occurring around Chicago, and the clinic also has a medical doctor on staff.
- Passing Lali’s Law
Lali’s Law was inspired by Chelsea Laliberete. Laliberete started the Live4Lali organization with her family after losing her brother Alex to an overdose in 2008, and ever since has become a strong voice in the cause of overdose prevention activism.
This measure, which was unanimously approved by the senate’s public health committee vote, would make it legal for pharmacies to dispense naloxone and train people to administer the drug to someone overdosing.
Chelsea was quoted as stating,
“It creates a very needed and obvious access point to a lifesaving intervention in naloxone.”
“Hundreds of thousands of people enter their local Duane Reade, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid every day to get their prescription medications and syringes. So why shouldn’t they also be able to get the drug that’s going to save their life if they overdose?”
This kind of action isn’t all that outrageous, considering CVS recently announced that it would offer the opiate ‘antidote’ Narcan without a prescription at all of its 60 pharmacies in Rhode Island to help combat the overdose outbreak in the area. Chelsea boldly made the claim that with how bad this drug problem has become it’s almost irresponsible not to pass this bill. Seems like a legitimate argument considering that the demand for a steady supply of overdose disruptors.
Last year the FDA fast-tracked approval for a new auto-inject-able naloxone device, so with user-friendly naloxone gadgets from a variety of new pharmaceutical companies it should make this transition to more access to the general public a lot easier. It seems Big Pharma is still putting up a fight for prices, but maybe if more states get more naloxone clinics then the demand will help spread out the cost to supply.
So how much good do you think would come from having a naloxone clinic in your area? With this medication being the difference between a second chance at life and a heartbreaking and sudden death, could it be worth it for your state to provide resources to prevent overdose death? Or would they let someone like me slip through the cracks?
Education and resources save lives whether people realize it or not. It may not seem like putting together clinics across the country to train people on administering naloxone will change the world, but it is a step in the right direction as far as implementing more proactive forms of harm reduction. With the opiate epidemic dragging communities through hardship, educating communities on how to fight back is putting the power to change the trend in the hands of the people.
Naloxone is one of the most vital weapons we have in the war against the opiate overdose epidemic in America. It is our life-support on the front lines against addiction, and with a second chance at life further treatment can be given that helps recovering addicts find a more fulfilled life with freedom from drugs. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
By Cheryl Steinberg
MDMA, also known as Molly or ecstasy, is an illegal drug that acts as both a stimulant and psychedelic. It causes an energizing effect as well as distortions in the user’s sense of time and overall perception. People on MDMA experience an enhanced enjoyment of tactile and other sensory experiences, such as smells and sounds. Users often report having feelings of mental stimulation, emotional warmth, increased empathy towards others, a general sense of well-being, and a decrease in anxiety.
It’s important to keep in mind that often times, people looking to buy and use MDMA, whether in powder form (Molly) or pill form (Ecstasy) are taking an added risk because all drugs can and often are adulterated (“cut”) with other drugs and substances. This, of course, leaves the user at an increased risk for complications and even overdose and death because the mixing of drugs – especially when it is not known which drugs are involved – can create a dangerous – fatal situation.
MDMA Withdrawal Symptoms (can last up to 1 week or longer after MDMA use):
MDMA users report feeling anxious, restless, irritable, and sad; in some individuals these symptoms can be as severe as true clinical depression.
- Sleep Disturbances
- Lack of appetite
- Reduced libido and pleasure from sex
- Significant reductions in mental abilities
MDMA: Potential Adverse Health Effects
- Muscle cramping
- Blurred vision
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart failure
- Kidney failure
- Arrhythmia – irregular heartbeat
Overdose Profile: MDMA
- High Blood Pressure
- Feeling faint, lightheaded, dizzy
- Panic attacks
- Loss of consciousness
- Hyperthermia – increased body temperature
MDMA is a stimulant and is often used in the rave/dance scene. The use of MDMA along with vigorous physical activity for extended periods can lead to hyperthermia. This is one of the most significant and acute adverse effects, which means that there is an extreme and noticeable increase in body temperature.
Hyperthermia is dangerous because it can rapidly lead to muscle breakdown and kidney failure. Furthermore, dehydration, hypertension, and heart failure can occur in MDMA users.
Treatment of hyperthermia requires prompt medical attention, as MDMA can also reduce the pumping efficiency of the heart of particular concern during periods of increased physical activity, further complicating these problems.
MDMA and Water Intoxication: Another Health Threat
Believe it or not, it’s actually possible to die from drinking too much water. And, it’s an actual thing; it’s called water intoxication, and it’s a potentially fatal disruption in brain functions that results when there is an imbalance of electrolytes in the body, which are – in this case – washed away by over-hydration.
Electrolytes are minerals in your blood and other body fluids that carry an electric charge that affect the amount of water in your body, the acidity of your blood (pH), your muscle function, and other important processes. You lose electrolytes when you sweat and that’s why it’s so important to stay hydrated while working out, for example. But you have to drink fluids that contain electrolytes; water alone will not replenish them because it doesn’t contain any electrolytes.
Also known as water poisoning or dilutional hyponatremia, people who use drugs such as MDMA and “Ecstasy” tend to overexert themselves, sweat a lot, as well as cause the user to urinate less (despite the increased intake in water). This means that there is even more water being retained by the body of the MDMA user, making water intoxication all the more likely.
Water intoxication can and has led to fatal incidents among MDMA users.
Any time you take a drug, you are taking a risk with your health. This goes for prescribed drugs, as well. The best thing you can do is inform yourself so that you can make better decisions about your health and what you put into your body. MDMA is not considered physically addictive however it has a very powerful potential for psychological dependence and addiction. If you are stuck in a cycle of drug abuse and addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Who’s got a sweet tooth? If you are easily excited by anything sugar, you may want to read the warnings before trying cannabis candy. Marijuana is getting more spot-light than ever since the recent reforms that have started to take effect, and the several initiatives that have been sparked by several states across the country. While some persistently advocate for decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, others are still not convinced it’s a good idea. Some studies say marijuana is safer than cigarettes and alcohol, but skeptics still believe that it is dangerous and even deadly, depending on how it is consumed.
One story stands out in recent news claiming that edible marijuana can actually kill. 23 year old Luke Goodman was on vacation at a Colorado ski resort when he reportedly shot himself after eating a marijuana candy, and his family is currently blaming the drug for his suicide according to a Denver news source. Luke Goodman reportedly took 5 times the recommended dose of peach-flavored candies infused with marijuana that he purchased from a local dispensary, and some are speculating the over-consumption is the reason for this tragic incident.
More on the Goodman story…
On Saturday, March 21st Goodman supposedly had ingested a couple of the peach-flavored cannabis candies and did not experience an effect, so he proceeded to eat more, chewing several pieces at once.
Hours after ingesting the edibles, Luke’s cousin said he became jittery and incoherent. The members of Luke’s family went on an outing, but Luke himself refused to attend. Instead he stayed in the condo alone, and while there he took his handgun, which he traveled with for protection, and shot himself.
Close family members disclosed that Luke showed no signs of depression or mental illness previous to this incident. According to those closest to him Luke was a well-adjusted individual. But to be fair, not everyone who has depression wears it on their face all the time. A lot of people who suffer from severe depression are the last people you would expect. Not saying that this is the case, but that cannot be ignored when talking about mental health.
The coroner’s office in Summit County where the fatal shooting took place continues to investigate the possible role of the edible marijuana in the case.
This is not the first incident…
Luke Goodman is just one of 3 recent cases in Colorado where officials have attempted to link seemingly nonthreatening cannabis edibles to erratic behaviors that resulted in death.
Last year, Levy Thamba Pongi, a nineteen-year old from the Republic of Conga who was attending college in Wyoming when it is said he jumped off a hotel balcony after eating 6 times the recommended dose of cookies containing marijuana.
Another Denver man by the name of Richard Kirk was charged with first degree murder back in April 2014 after he shot his wife Kristine Kirk, who just moments before the murder had dialed 911 and reported that her husband was hallucinating after he’d eaten both prescription drugs and marijuana candy.
According to a search warrant affidavit, a receipt was later found in the Kirk home for a piece of “Karma Kandy Orange Ginger” marijuana edible.
Lynn Kimbrough the Denver District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman later reported the toxicology reports cited a low-level presence of THC in Kirk’s system after the shooting.
Is the cannabis candy to blame?
While the family of Goodman still insists that this incident was caused by the marijuana edibles, some are still adamant about the fact that in most of the cases of adverse effects from marijuana edibles there is an overdose. In the Goodman case there is a warning on the back of the candy wrappers that tells users the effects of the candy may be delayed by a couple of hours. It’s likely the young college graduate did not read the label, or ignored it and consumed much more than is suggested.
In the other cases, the individual consuming the edibles was mixing alcohol or other drugs with the substance, and taking excessive quantities beyond the recommended dose, so there is still some room for discussion on whether or not the makers of the cannabis candies can be held accountable.
These kinds of products have become extremely popular given the status of marijuana legalization in some states, and companies are rushing to prefect their pot food products to get a foothold in the market. At this point, no sound connecting argument for marijuana edibles being responsible for these deaths has been made, but people are still calling for them to be taken off the market.
So can the drugs be held accountable for these deaths? Are these products a lot more dangerous than previously believed? Or is it the same concept as ‘drink responsibly’ or ‘don’t drink and drive’… if someone gets drunk and crashes their car then the beverage company isn’t being held responsible, so should the cannabis candy companies?
Using drugs is dangerous all together, and you can be certain that excessively drinking or using any substance will have so devastating effects. But everyone has the chance to make a change before its too late. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Barbiturates are prescription only narcotic medication that act as central nervous system depressants, and can therefore produce a wide spectrum of effects on someone using or abusing the drug. Barbiturates are not typically prescribed to patients because of their history of abuse, but they are still used from a range of mild sedation to total anesthesia, and they have also been effectively used as anxiolytics, hypnotics, and anticonvulsants. While they do have some forms of practical use, Barbiturates have addiction potential, both physical and psychological.
The main differences among barbiturates are their half-lives (duration of their effects). Examples of barbiturates:
- Mebaral (mephobarbital)
- Amytal Sodium (amobarbital sodium)
- Butisol (butabarbital sodium)
- Seconal SodiumPulvules (secobarbital sodium)
Drugs such as secobarbital sodium and pentobarbital sodium are short-acting, while others such as amobarbital sodium and butabarbital sodium are intermediate-acting, and phenobarbital and mephobarbital are long-acting.
Some common health risks and effects of Barbiturates include:
- Bleeding sores on lips
- Chest pain
- Muscle or joint pain
- Red, thickened, or scaly skin
- Skin rash or hives
- Sores, ulcers, or white spots in mouth
- Sore throat
- Swelling of eyelids, face, or lips
- Wheezing or tightness in chest
- Mental depression
- Unusual excitement
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Unusual tiredness or weakness
With long-term or chronic use
- Bone pain, tenderness, or aching
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle weakness
- Weight loss
- Yellow eyes or skin
- Memory loss
Symptoms of Overdose
Barbiturates are a complex substance that one can overdose on long before you even know because of the often delayed response. Symptoms of an overdose typically include:
- Difficulty in thinking
- Slowness of speech
- Faulty judgment
- Shallow breathing
Barbiturates in overdose with other CNS (central nervous system) depressants are even more dangerous due to additive CNS and respiratory depressant effects. CNS depressants include:
Barbiturates and benzodiazepines are one intensely deadly drug combo, because not only do they have additive effects but barbiturates also increase the binding affinity of the benzodiazepine binding site, leading to exaggerated benzodiazepine effects.
Exaggerated Dangers of Overdose
One major concern involving overdose of barbiturates is that the longest-acting barbiturates have half-lives of a day or more, and subsequently result in bio-accumulation of the drug in the system. So the effects wear off significantly faster than the drug can be eliminated from the body, allowing the drug to reach toxic concentrations in the blood following repeated administration. Then once people no longer feel the effects they run a greater risk of overdose because they continue to administer more, or they consume other substances because they think it is safe.
The feeling is gone, but the drug is still present in the body. Typically drug users who consume alcohol or other sedatives after the effects of barbiturates have worn off don’t wait until it has cleared the system. As a result of this miscalculation, many will experience a significantly exaggerated effect from the other sedatives which can be debilitating or even lethal.
In The Event of an Overdose
According to one source, about 1 in 10 people who have a barbiturate overdose or mixture overdose will die, and they usually die from heart and lung problems. Dual diagnosis and poly-substance abuse can put people at the greatest risk. In the event that someone has taken this medication and is experiencing extreme exhaustion, breathing problems or any other overdose systems you should contact emergency medical services immediately. Treatment for poisoning from barbiturate overdose remains supportive at this point, because there is no direct antidote.
Barbiturate overdose is a very serious health complication, and can very quickly turn fatal, so treatment should be administered by emergency healthcare professionals as soon as possible to avoid severe adverse health effects.
With prescription medications being such a huge issue now, information about overdose symptoms and complications is even more important. Understanding the danger is only a small part of preventing more deaths from prescription drugs. Getting the proper treatment can also mean the difference between life and death. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Like a classic Cinderella story, Julio Chavez began as one of 11 children from a poor family who eventually would grow up and carve out a name for himself in the boxing world. He fought fiercely, and he won his way to the top, but also found his bottom in a bottle and got put in the ring with a different kind of enemy; addiction.
In the 1980s and ‘90s, Julio Cesar Chavez was known for his iron chin, and feared for his ferocious left hook. This man is one prized fighter who was known for his spectacular rise to fame, as well as a furious boxing career during which he racked up 6 world titles (in 3 different weight divisions) and tallied over 80 knockouts. All in all, Chavez was widely regarded as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters of his era, and one of Mexico’s greatest boxers of all time.
Most remember renowned boxer Julio Cesar Chavez for his incredible fights, but not many remember or are even aware of the fight for his life that lead to his greatest victory up against alcohol and drug use. Excessive use of drugs and alcohol had actually beaten down Chavez’s career and his life, but he was not down for the count. Now, Chavez has stepped out of the ring and into the public spotlight to tell his story in hopes of inspiring more conversation about drug use, especially in his home of Mexico.
The Fight of His Life
When reflecting on the gradual progression of his addiction, Chavez was very open about how his star-fighter status had a resounding impact on his drinking and drug use. He stated,
“I had it all—money, women, fame, cars, yachts, everything a man could want—but it didn’t give my life meaning. I felt nothing. So what did I do? The most stupidest thing I could.”
Chavez had it all, but like any good addict will tell you, the disease of ‘more’ can be overwhelming, and he still wanted more.
“At first I [could] control it, but I just needed more alcohol and more cocaine and more and more. That’s when the problems really started. That’s when the failures began, the defeats.”
4 years after he started using, Chavez experienced somewhat of a hit to the ego that would set a new tone for his life in the ring. He was knocked to the ground for the first time in his career. And like any downward spiral, this one was shocking and abrupt, even the fans were shocked. Chavez lost 5 more fights before retiring in 2005, but because of his alcohol and drug addictions he nearly lost his life.
Waking Up in Rehab
A few years ago, while anesthetized at a doctor’s office for a procedure for his ulcers, Julio Chavez’s son took matters into his own hands in an effort to save his father’s life. He called an ambulance and took him, unconscious, to rehab. Of course this lead to a rather shaky introduction to drug and alcohol treatment. Chavez said,
“I woke up in the clinic in a room with the IV still in my arm, and I just ripped it out and started cussing at everyone,”
Despite his initial protests, Chavez stayed for 6 months in treatment, and has managed to remain clean ever since. Now Chavez is trying to help other addicts. He’s already opened clinics in Tijuana and in his old stomping grounds of Sinoloa. He also says he plans to open at least two more.
In the past the people of Mexico have been unforgiving of their fallen stars. However it seems now that the country has embraced Chavez’ recovery with open arms and has even erected a 20-foot bronze statue in his honor in his hometown of Culiacan, the capital of Sinoloa. He said,
“I felt excited, happy and proud. At the same time, I feel the pressure, the commitment. I really have to stay clean now.”
In his native Mexico, the drug problem is typically focused on the cartels and publicized on drug trafficking, with very little done to talk about addiction. Clinic psychologist Guillermo Rangel Mendoza says that while Chavez’s story of inspiration is incredible, the types of drugs taking off in Mexico now weren’t problems back in Chavez’s days. Drugs such as:
That being said he has definitely qualified himself as an addict, and that kind of hero’s journey can really make a difference in inspiring others, especially for a home-town legend with a rags-to-riches story. President Enrique Pena Nieto has even dubbed Julio Chavez an “anti-addiction ambassador” at a recent conference on combating Mexico’s growing drug problem, and Chavez intents to keep his own addiction issues down for the count.
Sometimes the fight for sobriety from drugs and alcohol seems like the fight of our life, and a lot of times we are fighting just to stay alive. But with the right strategy victory is possible. Get the right people in your corner. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135