By Cheryl Steinberg
This is in no way an endorsement to go out and do some drugs. We just think it’s important for people to know what’s up before having discussions about drugs. Below are common misconceptions about drugs that seem to stand the test of time. Get ready to have your mind blown; even I was surprised by some of these. Here are 10 surprising drug myths busted!
Ecstasy Eats Holes in Your Brain.
Around 2000, MTV and Oprah Winfrey took to the air to make this erroneous claim. Apparently, this myth was based on a brain scan of an ecstasy user that was misinterpreted; the scan showed what appeared to be ‘holes’ in the brain tissue, however, this was the result if how a computer coded the image. The areas that were thought to holes were in fact areas of decreased blood flow.
Yet, the following year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) continued to allege that ecstasy caused permanent brain damage. But, a decade later, NIDA reversed its position and issued a study concluding that ecstasy may not cause harm to the brain at all.
Most Crackheads are Black.
Despite media and news reports that like to perpetuate this one and despite the popularity of depicting crackheads as Black (think Dave Chappelle’s character Tyrone Biggums), a 1991 NIDA study reported that 52% of crack users were white. Furthermore, in 2012, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 62% of adults who had smoked crack in the past year were white; only 27.9% were black.
As far as overall drug use, some data shows that whites have a higher rate of drug use than blacks, even though there is a greater percentage of a blacks incarcerated for drug-related crimes.
There is a ‘Crack Baby’ Epidemic.
The many early studies declaring the emergence of a new social problem: the crack baby had failed to account for the effects of poverty and insufficient prenatal care as other factors leading to the birth defects and developmental problems that were occurring. To be sure, it’s not a good idea to smoke crack while pregnant (or at all) but, crack just isn’t quite as bad as initially thought.
Barry Lester, the Brown University professor who directed the Maternal Lifestyle Study, told The New York Times, that, when comparing the babies of crack smokers to those of non-crack smokers, “Are there differences? Yes. Are they reliable and persistent? Yes. Are they big? No.”
And, in fact, some experts now say drinking alcohol during pregnancy leads to more pronounced and devastating effects on the baby than does smoking crack.
Doing Heroin One Time Will Get You Addicted.
Yes, heroin makes you feel good. And yes, if you do it long enough, you will go into nasty withdrawals. But, doing heroin once does not mean that you will wake up a full-blown junkie the next day. In actuality, only 23% of people who try heroin go on to become dependent on it. And, although that’s still a pretty high number, it just doesn’t support this drug myth. And, in case you need something to compare it to: 32% of those who try tobacco go on to become dependent. Therefore, cigarettes are more addictive than heroin.
The War on Drugs Is Working.
If you read our blog, then you already know that this one’s a big fat lie. But, for those who aren’t in “the know,” the war on drugs has been an utter failure, causing more harm than good. Despite costing a lot of money – $1 trillion since 1971 when Nixon declared war on illicit drugs, the only thing to come out of the war on drugs is having the world’s largest prison population. Not really anything to brag about. As for any lasting result? Furthermore, The Wire reported that the overall drug addiction rate has remained fairly constant – around 1.3%, since the 1970s.
Heroin Overdoses Are Common.
This one came as a surprise to me. Especially since we’ve been experiencing a heroin and overdose epidemic in this country as of late. As it turns out, not all heroin overdoses are really heroin overdoses. The cause of a so-called heroin overdose is more likely attributed to the mixing of drugs: many heroin users concurrently take tranquilizers, alcohol, and cocaine and are therefore at greater risk for sudden death. Likewise, in a 2014 article in The Daily Beast explained how regular heroin users can appear to overdose: “In many cases, what causes a daily, well-tolerated occurrence to suddenly result in an unexpected death is the mixture of substances, such as alcohol or sedatives.”
Heroin is More Dangerous Than Alcohol.
Again, this is something we have written about on a couple of different occasions. You may recall the name Professor Nutt who, in 2010, developed a rating system that ranked 20 drugs based on the 16 different types of harm they might cause, e.g. to self and community. Alcohol ranked the highest in several of the categories, including accidents and suicide, health risk, rate of addiction, injury, family adversities, and economic cost to the community. And, overall, alcohol had the highest score, meaning that it had the highest level of danger associated to it. Just for reference, alcohol rated a 72, while heroin was in a far second place with a 55, followed by crack at 54. Things that make you go “Hmmm.”
Crack Makes You Skinny.
Although crack is an appetite suppressant, it is not a very strong one. There are other drugs out there, like amphetamines that have both a stronger appetite-suppressing effect as well as a longer half-life. It’s true that many crack smokers experience some weight loss and weight loss is even considered one of the symptoms of an addiction to crack cocaine addiction. However, that weight loss could be a result of other reasons, such as a lack of concern about nutrition and an the tendency to spend all available funds on drugs rather than food.
Marijuana is a Gateway Drug.
This one is more about coincidence rather than cause-and-effect. Although it’s been found that someone who smokes pot is 104 times more likely to try cocaine, it’s important to remember that correlation between marijuana use and hard drug use does not necessarily mean causation. Al Arkowitz and Scott Lilienfeld wrote in Scientific American, “Many studies have found that most people who used other illicit drugs had, in fact, used marijuana first. Although results such as these are consistent with the gateway hypothesis, they do not prove that using marijuana causes the use of other drugs.”
And besides, how many people who went on to using hard drugs used alcohol and cigarettes first? I bet it’s more than those who smoked pot first.
Prison Keeps People Sober.
Some people seem to be under the impression that going to jail will help them ‘kick’ their addiction but, that just isn’t the case. Drugs are smuggled into prisons all the time, either by an inmate’s visitor, eve by some of the guards, or else by other inmates returning from their work-release assignments or from a furlough. And, in recent years, there have even been some stories of people attempting to smuggle in drugs using drones.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, it can be hard to find answers – even in the vast universe of the internet. Call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist – someone who can answer your questions and talk to you about substance use disorder, addiction, and the signs to look for. We can also talk to you about your options on handling the situation.
(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.
By Cheryl Steinberg
Public support for the use of psychedelic drugs in a therapeutic setting is rapidly growing, as we’ve already reported. Cases such as the use of LSD to treat depression and possibly addiction are indications of that. MDMA has been used to treat PTSD. There’s ayahuasca-assisted therapy to treat drug addiction. LSD for cluster headaches and psilocybin for nicotine addiction.
Well, the latest news on the alternative medicine front has to do with the therapeutic use of MDMA – the pure form of the club drug Ecstasy – for use in treating specific situations involving a psychological disorder. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has just approved the first clinical trial using MDMA in psychotherapy sessions in order to treat anxiety in people who are also suffering with life-threatening illnesses, researchers told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.
So, as it stands, MDMA is not being used to treat anxiety, alone; rather anxiety in people who are already sick.
The DEA approved the project on Friday, says Brad Burge, the communications director for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He added, “The tide has changed for psychedelic research.” MAPS is a California-based nonprofit research group that is sponsoring the study. Researchers at MAPS study medicinal uses for psychedelics as well as marijuana.
On the MAPS website, the distinction between Ecstasy or Molly, which are street names for MDMA, and actual, pure MDMA. The stuff sold on the street and in clubs is often “cut” with other drugs and chemicals so as to bolster profits for dealers, putting the user unknowingly at risk. But, the MAPS website says, pure MDMA has been proven “sufficiently safe” when taken a limited number of times in moderate doses.
First Clinical Trial for MDMA Use in Therapy
Unlike psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin, MDMA does not produce hallucinations, which is some people may find disturbing. Rather, MDMA can be induces feelings of calm, trust and confidence, all of which can be extremely useful for people suffering from anxiety due to life-threatening illnesses, when used in combination with psychotherapy.
The clinical trial will be held in Marin, California, and has purposely been designed to take place in a psychologist’s office, instead of a hospital setting, Burge said. The patients will lie on a couch with a therapist nearby who will lend support and facilitate conversation.
The trial will consist of 18 subjects who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses and who suffer from anxiety as a result. The participants will attend psychotherapy sessions over the course of several months, with MDMA being incorporated in only some of those sessions, in order to facilitate the process, Burge said. The outcome will be measured at the end of the sessions by the patient’s self-reporting and the therapist’s assessments regarding whether using the drug helped to reduce people’s anxiety.
Of MDMA, Burge said, “It opens [patients] up and makes them more comfortable with the therapist while reducing fear and making them more able to talk about difficult emotions.”
If this pilot clinical trial is a success, MAPS has plans to continue the research with larger studies that involve more participants as well as different approaches. For now, though, the goal of the researchers is to establish basic safety and effectiveness.
The trial is part of a larger $20 million plan to make MDMA an FDA-approved prescription medicine by 2021, Burge said. MAPS is the only organization in the world funding MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials, he added.
Changing the Stigma
Researchers hope to add to and bolster already-existing (and growing) evidence that psychedelics have legitimate therapeutic uses — as well as to challenge the stigma that has demonized them as harsh drugs that destroy the mind.
“That’s what the really good science shows, despite decades of propaganda and government misinformation,” Burge said. “Just a couple weeks ago, a phenomenal study showed that there are no long-term associations between psychedelic use and mental illnesses.”
That study was published this month in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. In addition, a recent report by Johns Hopkins Medicine showed that the use of psychedelic drugs, specifically psilocybin and LSD, could reduce psychological distress and suicidal thinking.
Addiction and mental illness are often co-occurring conditions in substance use disorder cases. Luckily, there are specially-equipped, intentionally-designed treatment programs that offer dual diagnosis treatment and therapy. These programs, such as the one here at Palm Partners, are adept at treating all conditions simultaneously so that healing can start and the recovery process can be begun. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 today.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Ecstasy is one of the street names for the illicit drug MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine). Ecstasy is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that is described as having similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. There is also the form of Ecstasy commonly known as ‘Molly’, which is short for molecule that has become popular as being considered to be pure MDMA. The difference is that Ecstasy is generally is laced with other ingredients, such as caffeine or methamphetamine.
Ecstasy is addictive that means that there is a such thing as ecstasy withdrawals. And while most people don’t end up getting addicted physically to it, mentally it is very easy due to the great feelings it produces. Here are some ecstasy withdrawal symptoms.
MDMA works in a particular way; it brings you up, and then you crash down. The crash occurs when the drug is leaving your body, so most of these Ecstasy withdrawal symptoms are experienced shortly after using.
Ecstasy Withdrawals: Common Symptoms
It is common to feel fearful and high levels of anxiety during Ecstasy withdrawals. As the brain restores its serotonin levels, anxiety should eventually subside. Depending on the usage this could be a prolonged period of time.
Mental confusion and cognitive impairment is a common symptom of Ecstasy withdrawals.
After stopping many people say they crave Ecstasy. The drug makes many people feel so good that they cannot think of living life without it.
Because your brain chemicals are out of homeostasis you may not feel like your real self when coming off of Ecstasy.
One of the most difficult symptoms of Ecstasy withdrawals for people to deal with is depression. Depression is a common symptom and is a result of abnormally low levels of serotonin. Even worse, some cutting edge research in relation to ecstasy has reported that taking the drug just a couple of times could potentially cause long term brain damage that leads to depression.
Certain people may experience delusions or “false beliefs” about reality during Ecstasy withdrawals. They may think that someone is out to get them in similar manner to someone would with schizophrenia.
Ecstasy withdrawals can also make you feel both mentally and physically fatigued. The lethargy may be overwhelming initially and you may find yourself sleeping or tired on a consistent basis.
Hallucinations could be both auditory and visual when experiencing Ecstasy withdrawals. These are not the typical symptoms, but there are documented reports of people seeing things and/or hear voices.
Inability to fall asleep at night is another common symptom that could be a result of your withdrawal.
If you find yourself becoming increasingly irritable, just know that this is a common symptom of Ecstasy withdrawals.
Another symptom of Ecstasy withdrawals is loss of appetite. Someone may not feel like eating for a while after coming down from Ecstasy. Do your best to eat what you can and consume healthy foods.
It is pretty common for people withdrawing from any drug to experience mood swings, but when having Ecstasy withdrawals mood swings are particularly common due to the fact that the drug throws your brain’s serotonin and dopamine levels out of homeostasis.
Experiencing temporary memory loss is another symptom that some people report, but not everyone experiences this problem.
Some people experience muscle rigidity and/or stiffness – almost like they are constantly flexed. In order to reduce this rigidity and possible soreness, give it time.
Any drug that affects the serotonin system could result in the user experiencing panic attacks when trying to withdraw.
In long-term frequent users, many develop paranoid thinking. This is again due to the drug affecting the serotonin and dopamine of the brain. Although it releases more serotonin than dopamine, the decreased amount of dopamine stores could result in paranoid thinking.
Due to your brain trying to readjust, you may notice lapses in your ability to concentrate. Withdrawal symptoms from MDMA are similar to that of amphetamines.
Some people experience psychosis or psychotic-like symptoms when coming off of this drug.
Ecstasy Withdrawals: Getting Help
It is not at all uncommon that a person who is going through the Ecstasy withdrawals will actually reach for alcohol or various other types of drugs to help them to relax and to numb themselves to the more harsh symptoms of crashing off of Ecstasy. This unfortunately will typically just become another addiction to any of these substitute chemicals, and creates a compounded damage on the body.
The best way to combat a serious Ecstasy addiction and the withdrawals related to that addiction is to undergo a safe medical detox, and address the other aspects of the addiction through a drug abuse treatment program. Trying to dull the negative impact of Ecstasy with more drugs is definitely going to do more harm than good, and the longer you wait the more damage your body can sustain. That and with such an unpredictable and dangerous drug, there may never be a chance to change.
While many do not understand the reality of what risks they run with abusing MDMA and other drugs, there are many who are very aware of the dangers but who are still afraid of giving it up. With the right kind of treatment for Ecstasy addiction anyone has a real fighting chance of changing for life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
By Cheryl Steinberg
You may or may not be aware of this but, some of the highly-illegal drugs today were once used in virtually any kind of cough drop, tincture, or formula to treat anything from cough to nausea to insomnia. And many of these medical preparations that included drugs like heroin and cocaine we even available over-the-counter!
Nowadays, there are much stricter regulations on what have been found to be illicit drugs, as well as other drugs that are prescribed for our ailments.
But, there are some surprising ways in which illicit drugs are being used today. Here are 5 illegal drugs that will cure you…
#1. Cocaine for wound care
First, cocaine is an effective local anesthetic and, once applied, it numbs the area very quickly, usually in less than two minutes. Secondly, cocaine is effective at stopping the bleeding; it’s a vasoconstrictor, which is a drug that constricts – or narrows – the blood vessels. The smaller a blood vessel gets, the bleeding occurs.
Even many pediatricians recommend using cocaine on children’s wounds because of cocaine’s properties that make it a valuable tool for treating cuts and lacerations.
#2. LSD for Alcoholism
Studies show that your chances of staying away from alcohol will be dramatically increased after tripping on acid. There was an extensive study done in the 1960s and ’70s that revealed how recovering alcoholics are much less likely to drink to excess and how some even stopped drinking altogether for several months.
The reason why this works could be due to the LSD helping the participants to feel more confident, happy and satisfied with their lives, which, in turn, decreased the feelings they had that led most of them to abuse alcohol in the first place. The alcohol-abstaining effects from the one LSD trip lasted for about six months, at which point, if LSD were legal, the patients would be able to return to a treatment clinic for another dose, repeating the process until they were able to transition into sobriety.
#3. Heroin for women in labor
Heroin is an opiate, in the same class of drugs as painkillers, such as oxycodone and morphine. However, heroin itself is actually much more effective than morphine and takes effect in about two or three minutes. In fact, The National Health Service (NHS) in Britain recommends giving it to people in extreme pain, people in surgery, and women in labor.
Now, just to be clear, the NHS is, in fact, made up of medical professionals. The practice in Britain is to give women in labor an injection of heroin to help with the contractions as they give birth. The one-time use doesn’t do any damage and doesn’t cause dependency, because it is only administered when the baby is on its way out of its mother’s body.
#4. MDMA for PTSD
MDMA, or Ecstasy, has been shown to help treat people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The reason for this is actually the same reason that the drug is popular for recreational use: It releases large amounts of the feel-good chemicals serotonin and oxytocin in your brain, which makes you relaxed, euphoric, and feel at ease. This results in relieving the stress experienced by PTSD sufferers.
When used in a therapeutic setting, MDMA allows PTSD patients to relive their experiences more easily, which is crucial to overcoming the disorder. Ecstasy lets the sufferers do so without being overwhelmed, by activating the area of the brain responsible for controlling fear and stress. Over time, this results in long-term reduction of fear.
#5. Methamphetamine for ADHD and obesity
Desoxyn, the purest form of meth, is prescribed to obese people for quick short-term weight loss. It’s only prescribed as a short-term treatment for obvious reasons, since meth is highly addictive as well as overall catastrophic to your well-being. Meth is rarely prescribed in this way and only when all other treatments fail.
Desoxyn is also prescribed by U.S. doctors to treat ADHD. Considering that sufferers of ADHD typically exhibit symptoms of jitteriness and inattentiveness, which are also associated with meth use, it nevertheless has a therapeutic effect on people with ADHD. When it comes to the brain, nothing is simple, and meth. Like other stimulants, helps regulate brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
Drugs and dosage are carefully controlled by your medical providers who can monitor the results and adjust your medication accordingly by a medical professional who can monitor the results. In general, you shouldn’t self-medicate any medical problem with alcohol or illicit drugs and you should only take medications as prescribed. If you are struggling with substance abuse and or a psychological disorder, such as PTSD, ADHD, or depression, Palm Partners is here for you. We offer dual diagnosis treatment for people who are ready to end the cycle of drug abuse. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.