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Marijuana Use May Lead to Prediabetes

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Author: Shernide Delva

All across the country, marijuana reform continues to stir up controversy and make headlines. A few states have even legalized marijuana for recreational use. Other states remain focused on the medical benefits of the drug. Marijuana has gained significant attention for its medicinal benefits. Various studies show that marijuana can be beneficial for certain health conditions.

However, a new study reveals marijuana could increase the risk of developing prediabetes.  When a person develops prediabetes, their sugar levels become abnormally high yet not high enough to warrant a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

In the study, researchers discovered that people who used a large amount of marijuana in their young adulthood were 40 percent more likely to develop prediabetes as middle-aged adults compared to those who never tried the drugs.

These findings contradict past studies that showed marijuana reducing the risk of diabetes. Previous studies looking at marijuana use had found that users have lower rates of diabetes compared with nonusers. However, those studies only examined marijuana use during the time of the study.  Furthermore, it was unclear if the participants researched were using marijuana before they had diabetes, or afterward.

This is the first study to actually examine marijuana use over a period of years. Michael Bancks, lead author of the study, explained the reason for this new research.

“We felt we could address the potential limitations of previous research and add new information to our understanding of the relationship between marijuana use and subsequent metabolic health,” said Bancks.

It’s important to note that the study does not state that marijuana causes diabetes; it only says that it increases the risk of developing prediabetes. Marijuana was not linked to an increase risk of having type 2 diabetes.

The new study contradicts the recent evidence that marijuana may reduce the risk of diabetes. It’s unclear how marijuana can increase the risk of prediabetes, yet not diabetes, the study explains.

The study offered two possibilities for this observation.

  • For one, it’s likely that people who were more prone to developing diabetes were not included in the study because participants had to be free of diabetes at the time of the study.
  • Secondly, marijuana may have a larger impact on blood sugar levels in the prediabetic range than in the diabetes range.

More research is needed to study the possible link and future studies will look at different groups of people, how marijuana is consumed and the amount consumed.

Still, Bancks encourages doctors to discuss the potential risks of using marijuana with their patients. People who use marijuana should be aware that is could increase their risk of developing prediabetes. Doctors should monitor sugar levels with patients with “an extensive history of marijuana use,” Bancks stated.

As marijuana use becomes more prevalent, researchers are taking a hard look at the health effects of the drug. In 2014, researchers highlighted other health risks of marijuana use like increased risk of cognitive impairment and psychoses.

“There are many questions about the health effects of marijuana use where the answers are unknown,” Bancks said. “The increased legalization and use of marijuana will draw more attention from researchers and users, and we will learn more as research on the health effects of marijuana use increases.”

The study was conducted over 30 years and took into consideration factors such as age, sex, race, tobacco and alcohol use, education level, medication use, psycho-social well-being, and lifestyle factors like diet, exercise frequency, and other drug use. Although many were dropped out of the study over the course of 30 years, the remaining participants made up more than 2500 people.

More than half of the participants developed prediabetes and were 65 percent more likely to have prediabetes than those who did not smoke, the study conclude. Even among those who stopped smoking, their risk was 23 percent more likely than nonsmokers.

So although marijuana reform is a hot topic, marijuana is still a drug that could be detrimental to our health. Abusing any drug is not healthy.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

The Increasing Trend of New Psychoactive Substances

The Increasing Popularity of Synthetic Drugs

Author: Shernide Delva

With Marijuana Reform policies stirring controversy throughout the country, soon the idea of legal recreational drug usage could become a reality in the United States.

In the meantime, however, many are finding ways to use drugs without the fear of criminalization by synthetic alternatives and they are gaining immense popularity.  New Psychoactive Substances are being created and marketed to those desperate to obtain a “legal high.”

In recent years, stories about synthetic drugs such as bath salts and Flacka gained national attention and caused media panic. Most of us have heard of the infamous face-eating episode involving bath salts that was later debunked.

Still, new psychoactive substances continue to enter the drug markets that mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and Methamphetamines (Ecstasy).  Even as States and Congress work rapidly on policies to combat these new drugs, newer alternatives get made that replace the old ones.

It’s a rat race involving chemists and manufactures rushing to replace banned drugs with new variations that politicians struggle to keep up with.

New Psychoactive Substances

Before we go further, we should define what is meant when discussing these “new psychoactive substances” in the first place. More commonly known as synthetic drugs, New Psychoactive Substances is the current terminology used to define any “range of drugs that have been designed to mimic established illicit drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and LSD.”

The Drug Policy Association arranged a conference call with Earth Erowid, one of the founders of the popular drug website Erowid.com, and he elaborated on the change of terminology.

“Synthetic drugs are a term used to imply scary new street drugs,” said Earth Erowid. “But nearly all pharmaceutical drugs are synthetic, whether they’re cannabinoids, opioids, stimulants, or sedatives. You don’t want to use the phrase ‘synthetic drugs’ unless you’re talking about every pharmaceutical developed over the past 50 years.”

“A more accurate and appropriate term is “new psychoactive substances,” he said.  “That’s the standard term in Europe.”

These new psychoactive substances can be grouped into general categories based on the drugs that they attempt to replicate.

Five Most Common New Psychoactive Substances

These are the five most common categories of legal drug alternatives currently being distributed today.  As these drugs gain popularity, the health implications of using these drugs is a major concern since ironically there is often less research done on these legal substances than there is on the illegal drugs they are substituting.

1.  Replacement Cannabinoids

Often sold in powder form; these are sprinkled on herbal blends. One variety known as Spice resembles potpourri and is sold in shops as incense. Products like Spice contain dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives that are responsible for their psychoactive effects. They are not cannabis but are synthetic cannabinoid agonists that work by targeting the same cannabinoid receptors those chemicals in marijuana target resulting in similar relaxing anxiety reducing effects.

In the past, the ingredients in Spice were modified to keep up with laws banning chemicals in their product that produce those cannabis effects.  Some specific compounds include JWH 018 and AB-PINACA, among many others. Often assumed as “natural,” not enough research has been conducted to prove these drugs are safe and several have been associated with death and serious medical complications.

2.  Replacement Euphoric Stimulants

These include cathinones like methadone, MDPV (“bath salts”), and Alpha PDP (“flakka”), as well as compounds related to Ritalin. Flakka has gained huge popularity in Florida and has been dubbed “$5 insanity” because of the low cost to obtain it. It is synthesized legally in Chinese labs and can be delivered right to your doorstep. Unfortunately, flacka has been linked to a stream of bizarre crimes and has gained media attention. Clearly the health risks of flacka is questionable.

Many replacement euphoric stimulants are marketed to young teens and adults active in the rave and EDM communities who desperately desire the effects of ecstasy without the use of illegal drugs.  These forms of legal ecstasy contain various herbs or herbal extracts that are psychoactive. They claim to have similar effects to Ecstasy however none of these substances have been proven to be safe. Side effects for these drugs include racing heart, dry throat, anxiety, tremor and cold extremities.

3.  Replacement Psychedelics

Often those who think they are buying illegal LSD are actually getting this legal substitute. Best known are the NBOMe series (aka “N-Bomb”). The drug was introduced in 2003 by chemist Ralf Heim at the Free University of Berlin and since has continued to climb in popularity.

Batches of these drugs are bought from China by dealers over the internet. They are than cut with alcohol or some other liquid and put on blotter paper where they are sold to young people who continue to increase the use of the drug through word-of-mouth. Some studies warn these drugs are more dangerous than LSD and the NBOMe class has been linked to about 20 deaths.

4. Replacement Dissociatives

These are PCP-like chemicals, including various ketamine variants and methoxetamine. Ketamine is an anesthetic often used in hospitals as a pain killer and bronchodilator. Often ketamine can cause hallucinations causing a person to feel detached from the world around them.

5. Replacement Opioids

These include chemicals such as AH 7921 and U4770.

Kratom is a drug gaining immense popularity and is being ordered online and through local herbal shops.  Kratom tropical deciduous and evergreen tree in the coffee family that has mood-lifting properties however with heavy usage can cause hallucinations and psychosis. The reactions to the drug vary dramatically and little is known about the dangers of using the drug long term.  Palm Beach County has considered banning the substance however Kratum is still very legal in most of the United States. For now, the DEA lists Kratum as a “drug of concern” due to its abuse potential. Many countries like Thailand have banned the use of Kratum.

Overall, these “legal substitutes” seem to be risky alternatives and because they are legal, many assume that they are “safer” or more “natural” compared to the illegal drugs they are substituting. New policies continue to be implemented that ban these new psychoactive substances and it will continue get harder to have access to these drugs. Safety should always be the number one concern and just because these drugs are legal does not mean they are safe. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 

Can Synthetic Cannabis Cause Cancer?

Can Synthetic Cannabis Cause Cancer?

Author: Justin Mckibben

New synthetic psychoactive drugs are hitting the streets and congesting the underground market somewhere every day, many of which can even be ordered legally and with great ease over the internet under the guise of incense blends or other ‘natural’ herbs or supplements. Others have been passed off as bath salts or plant fertilizers.

Synthetic cannabinoids are very deadly, but they are also increasingly difficult to identify chemically, especially with the smallest piece of the formula being altered frequently. Therefore investigating all the possible unwanted toxic effects that can occur following their consumption has barely been an exact science.

Between 2005 and 2012, the European Union’s early warning system established:

  • Just under 240 new psychoactive substances
  • Around 140 of them contained synthetic cannabinoids

All this and more have fueled a synthetic epidemic that has started to gain more and more recognition as the damage being done becomes progressively visible.

Now, new research is suggesting some disturbing ideas on how these dangerous compounds could actually contribute to cancer.

SPICE I and II Seeking Signs of Damage

SPICE I and SPICE II Plus are international cooperation projects at EU level that have been led by the Institute of Medical Jurisprudence at the University Hospital of Freiburg (Prof. Volker Auwärter) and which have also involved the MedUni Vienna and the Goethe University of Frankfurt, the University of Helsinki, the Institute of Therapy Research in Munich, as well as input from partners such as the Federal Criminal Office of Wiesbaden.

As part of the international the European Union (EU) project “SPICE II Plus” teams of scientists from the MedUni Vienna’s Institute for Cancer Research have reportedly found evidence synthetic substances do serious damage to human cell’s DNA, which therefore means there is a possibility synthetic drugs have an impact fundamentally cancer-causing.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana. It is also the ingredient synthetic cannabinoids mimic when binding to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, triggering similar neurophysiological effects.

Siegfried Knasmüller from the Institute for Cancer Research at the MedUni Vienna warns,

“The substances are directly active, in other words they are not activated via enzymes that metabolise foreign substances. The respiratory organs and the digestive tract especially are subjected to increased concentrations of these drugs.”

Knasmüller goes on to explain his times investigations on human cell lines in the laboratory have demonstrated synthetic cannabinoids are likely to trigger damage to the DNA that may have significant consequences for the consumers of such substances. This especially relevant in the high concentrations found in cells in the oral cavity or in the lungs.

Again, what points to their impact on developing cancer is that they damage chromosomes, which is directly associated with cancer.

Difficult Differences in Dangers

A huge hurdle to try and overcome when comparing and connecting these drugs and their effects to the symptoms and signs of cancer is most synthetic cannabinoids bind very differently and some have different but profound effects even in very small quantities.

Consumers have absolutely no information about the varying levels of effect thanks to the devious efforts made by manufacturing entities, making people purchasing these products unaware of the detailed composition of unnaturally chemical drugs.

As we had mentioned before, even with “known” products the makers will change the type and quantity of ingredients added constantly to slip through loopholes in the system. The risk of an unwanted overdose is congruently great, with an increasing number of deaths being credited to overdoses of synthetic drugs.

With the added possibility that synthetic drugs could be causing cancer these is no doubt more will be done to combat this issue. Still, with such a growing popularity and being so difficult to track it could take a long time to prove which chemicals are causing cancer. What is even more disheartening is will it even matter to the producers or consumers?

One thing is for sure, with all the detrimental side-effects already known, adding that these drugs destroy your DNA at a cellular level should be more than enough.

Legal or not, synthetic or ‘designer’ drugs are much more lethal than far too many people give credit. Although they are relatively new and not all details are understood, there are still effective rehabilitation programs built to help. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

 

 

 

New ‘N-Bomb’ is a Deadly Synthetic Drug

New ‘N-Bomb’ is a Deadly Synthetic Drug

Author: Justin Mckibben

Synthetic drugs are nothing new, and as they continue to rise in popularity due to easy accessibility and being falsely marketed as ‘safe’ alternatives to other illegal drugs like marijuana and LSD, they also have a tendency to elude authorities due to chemicals that are not easily detected in standard drug screenings. They often even change their chemicals in the slightest to slip through loop holes in the law, and one of those synthetics dubbed ‘N-Bomb’ has proven over the last few years to be a deadly mix.

Keeping a Body Count

The infamous ‘N-Bomb’ was originally noticed back in 2010, and even since then researchers from the DEA have credited the chemical with catastrophic consequences, implicating the substance in at least 19 deaths in the United States between March of 2012 and November of 2014. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) declared N-Bomb a Schedule I substance back in November of last year, and still take note of its presence and its danger.

The United National Office on Drugs and Crime has reported that originally the NBOMe’s were developed for the specific medical purpose to map serotonin receptors in the brain. Now these chemicals are one of the most recurrently abused designer psychoactive substances.

Dr. Donna Seger, professor of clinical medicine and medical director of the Tennessee Poison Center, said in a statement.

“This is a dangerous drug, it is potentially deadly, and parents, law enforcement, first responders, and physicians need to be aware of its existence and its effects. The recreational use of synthetic (designer) psychoactive substances with stimulant, euphoric, and/or hallucinogenic properties has risen dramatically in recent years.”

While it is frequently called N-Bomb on the street, it is commonly marketed as “legal” or “natural” LSD. The drug is actually sold over the counter because the makers are constantly changing the formula to throw off police. While is has been connected with abuse since 2010, is a relatively new synthetic drug from the NBOMe class of psychedelic substances.

Drug Details and Poisoning Symptoms

N-Bomb is sold in a very similar fashion as actual LSD one the street. It can be found in forms such as:

  • Blotter paper
  • Liquid
  • Powder

Patients suffering from poisoning related to N-Bomb often display a lot of aggression and violence, and so when being treated they often require heavy sedation to calm them as well as external cooling measures to treat hyperthermia, or overheating of the body. In reality the extent of treating anyone who has had to be hospitalized for synthetic drug use is managing agitation and preventing organ damage.

According to Dr. Seger, the complete lack of quality control on these kinds of street drugs and the odds of misjudging a dose for a user can easily lead to poisoning from the substance. Seger also went on to list some of the symptoms of toxicity such as:

  • Hypertension
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Hyperthermia
  • Dilated pupils
  • Agitation
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Renal failure or coma

Fighting the Synthetic Epidemic

Authorities have been cracking down on the sale and trafficking of more traditional recreational substances, such as marijuana, heroin and cocaine. The prescription drug problem and opiate epidemic has seemingly led to a larger demand for synthetic drugs in some areas. However with the entire perception of the war on drugs shifting, there is some action being taken to address the synthetic drug issue.

May 2014 the DEA announced that it would begin cracking down on synthetic drugs in 25 states. This new found motivation to face the problem head on came up due to particular health problems believed to be a direct cause of the revolving door of ingredients used in the production of synthetic as a way for makers to avoid penalty of law.

Need another reason to hate N-Bomb and other synthetic drug products? Well just in case, another reason the DEA found its inspiration for initiative was reports that revenue from synthetic drug sales and trafficking often end up in the pockets of terrorist and criminal organizations in the Middle East. That is no pocket-change either, because authorities have made over 120 arrests, served around 200 warrants, and seized upward of $20 million in cash over the course of the synthetic drug crackdown. N-Bomb is just one of countless names of substances that are made by mysterious sources for unsavory circumstances that are killing Americans, and their primary consumers are teens and young adults, and it only takes one dose to be a lethal one.

Synthetic drug abuse is not nearly as safe as the marketers and makers would want you to believe, and the true side-effects may be far more hazardous than you ever expected. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

Fake Drugs Causing Real Deaths

Fake Drugs Causing Real Deaths

Author: Justin Mckibben

This past few years the world has realized that drug abuse is no longer limited to the more conventional and commonplace illicit substances. You know the names marijuana and cocaine, or heroin and meth, but what about the designer drugs? Across the country in spurts we have seen surges of synthetic drugs that gain quick notoriety, with sometimes deadly side effects.

Chemical cocktails created by people trying to get a quick buck for a cheap high they brand and market as ‘safer legal alternatives’ are slowly but surely mixing up more dangerous doses, and it is no surprise that now we are starting to see a more deadly side of the synthetic drug market.

The Death of Grant Hobson

Grant Hobson was a teenager who shortly after placing a chemical-laden stamp on his tongue with the intention of a typical psychedelic ‘trip’ was pronounced brain-dead. The 16 year old young man was the latest teenager from Texas’ fast-growing Montgomery County to fall victim to a strain of synthetic LSD being sold locally.

A string of similar tragedies in the county has led officials to push back against the emerging epidemic, and the local law enforcement is throwing their efforts into an investigation for tracking down the source of the deadly drug.

Also increased support for a new bill that would make it easier to regulate the drug state-wide has followed these tragic events that have caused such distress in the area. This new bill aims to punish those pushing it out to the region’s teens, in an effort to nip this issue in the bud.

Other Stories of Dangerous Synthetics

There was also the case of Kenneth Robert Sprankle, who back in December of 2013 attacked police while being under the influence of spice. In St. Petersburg Sprankle was observed wandering around town with an axe he had stolen from a local fire truck, and when the police finally got to him he was charging at them with the axe and an officer fired 5 shots which were fatal.

In Michigan a synthetic drug in liquid form called ‘Cloud 9’ made an appearance in September 2014 that caused quite a bit of concern. Canton Township police in Michigan stated that four students from Salem High School were rushed to the hospital, and were believed to have inhaled or ingested ‘Cloud 9’, while in Fraser there were other reports of students being hospitalized after ingesting the substance.

Surveying the Synthetic Market

Synthetic drugs come in all forms with several different descriptions for different highs. All sorts of these dangerous chemical products are popular among teens, especially since they are being falsely advertised as a potentially safer, legal alternative to their illicit counterparts.

Synthetic marijuana is known by a long list of other names including:

According to resent estimates, synthetic marijuana is the second-most commonly used drug among high school seniors, right behind the real thing. But the pseudo pot’s legal status was being regularly questioned and revisited. The makers and marketers use the loop-hole of labeling these products as “not for human consumption” to try and divert from the fact that people are consuming these chemicals to get high.

Either way the legality doesn’t make it a safer option. Synthetic cannabinoids are actually more potent than the THC found in real marijuana, and the stronger effects have resulted in thousands of poisonings since the drugs hit the market in the early 2000s.

Changing the Drug World

Synthetics and designer drugs are making their way the top of the totem-poll, climbing past their natural counterparts as the substance of choice among drug abusers, especially younger users. This could actually contribute to the many big changes going on in the drug world concerning both the market, the war on drugs, and the treatment of addiction.

With the world being exposed to how dangerous and deadly these substances can be, we may see even more reform in the way these drugs are classified and regulated, how harm reduction is introduced into the equation, and how raising awareness and developing treatment for synthetic drug abuse and addiction could evolve.

Synthetic drug abuse is not nearly as safe as the marketers and makers would want you to believe, and the true side-effects may be far more hazardous than you ever expected. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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