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Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant drug commonly referred to as meth. It is used by roughly 4% of the population of the U.S., with recent reports showing meth using rising in areas around the country.
- 2012- 440,000 people reported using meth
- 2014- 569,000 people reported using meth
That is a 29% increase in just two years!
- 2014- 3,700 overdose deaths were caused by meth
- 2015- 4,900 overdose deaths were caused by meth
- 2016- 7,700 overdose deaths were caused by meth
Recent statistics indicate that meth is one of the most commonly used drugs in America. This illicit chemical substance is a Schedule II drug, with an elevated potential for:
- Long-term health issues
Using this drug is not only illegal but extremely dangerous for both mental health and physical health. Meth addiction can lead to some very serious organ problems, and can even be fatal. The risks associated with meth addiction only get worse the longer that someone uses it. More damage is done to the organs and the risks of developing other health issues continued to increase.
Meth is a highly addictive drug, and meth addiction can be very difficult to overcome without safe medical detox, professional treatment, and continued support. Due to the risks of meth use, one should not wait to get help. But how do you know someone has a meth addiction?
Here are 11 signs and side effects of meth addiction to watch out for.
Xerostomia, commonly known as dry mouth, is a well-known side-effect of meth addiction. The mouths own saliva contains antibacterial properties that naturally help to maintain oral hygiene. When someone has a chronic dry mouth, less saliva is produced, causing more exposure to bacteria. “Meth mouth” is when dry mouth from meth use causes thing like:
- Gum disease
- Tooth decay
- Tooth loss
Regular issues with oral hygiene such as these may be an indication of frequent meth use.
A common side effect of long-term meth addiction is experiencing hallucinations. This may not mean they are currently under the influence of the drug. Hallucinations are not only visual either. Some people who hallucinate due to meth use experience:
- Disturbing images or people who aren’t there
- Hear phantom sounds and voices
- Smell odors
- Fell phantom sensations
Sometimes the hallucinated sensations can lead to other side effects.
A side effect of meth use is severe itching, which can cause intense scratching that creates huge, red, open sores on the skin. The sores can happen even after the first use. Typically they show up on:
This is because the chemicals used to make meth can dry out the skin. But the itching and scratching fits can also be caused by hallucinations created by the chemicals in the drug. Some users will think there are bugs on, or even beneath their skin.
Meth addiction is frequently connected to aggressive behavior and even bursts of violence. Studies conducted among meth users have determined that:
- 56% of meth uses admit the drug causes them to commit violence
- 59% reported specific violent criminal behaviors, such as robbery and homicide
This powerful stimulant can exaggerate aggression. If you or a loved one exhibits uncharacteristically violent outbursts, it may be a sign of serious meth addiction.
A signature side effect of most stimulants is that they prominently influence the central nervous system, giving an individual an energy boost. Due to the heightened sense of alertness, meth addiction often causes sleep disturbances and insomnia.
Many meth users report to staying awake for several days or even weeks at a time. Eventually, they may experience an intense crash for two or three days between extended periods of intense stimulation.
As meth continues acting on the central nervous system, the stimulant typically makes someone feel more nervous or anxious on a constant basis.
- Evidence shows roughly 75% of meth users have experience anxiety disorders
Anxiety is one of the most commonly reported psychiatric symptoms of people addicted to meth.
Along with the effects of the stimulant on energy levels, meth also influences the part of the brain that controls rational thinking and emotional responses. Once this chemical acts on the brain, it can create an imbalance that causes paranoid thoughts to creep in. Other side-effects of meth can actually make it worse, including:
- Increased Aggression
These various factors can contribute to a growing sense of paranoia, which could be an indication of severe meth use.
Because of the effects of using meth on the brain, the stimulant also causes emotional imbalance. Some studies show:
- 48% of meth users struggle with depression
The imbalance in brain chemicals for altering and controlling a person’s mood can lead to other mental health disorders, including bipolar disorder.
Weakened Immune System
The use of meth has been connected to higher rates of inflammation and cell damage. These side effects cause many meth users to have weakened immune systems. This decreased immunity makes meth addicts more vulnerable to illnesses and diseases. Meth users suffer high rates and are at higher risk of illnesses like:
- Staph infection/MRSA
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
These are a few examples of why someone recovering some meth should seek professional medical treatment.
As mentioned, the potential damage caused by meth only gets worse the longer it is used. Extended meth addiction can damage blood vessels in the brain can cause fatal side effects, including:
Data has also shown meth can decrease gray matter in the brain, which increased the risk of memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease.
Methamphetamine is commonly cut with various chemicals that are very toxic to the body. These toxins put vital organs through a lot of stress, which can lead to organ failure. A very dire sign of meth addiction is organ failure, especially regarding:
- Liver failure
- Kidney failure
Too much meth containing toxins that cannot be properly filtered or processed can cause organs to permanently shut down or cease to function, which can ultimately lead to death.
Meth Addiction Treatment
All the damage caused by meth and the chemicals combined with it should not be underestimated. This is why it is purposely suggested that those trying to recover from meth should seek out a safe medical detox in order to properly diagnose and treat related issues, and avoid further health complications. Look for a professional and personalized program that is right for you.
Beyond the physical harm, comprehensive addiction treatment should include cognitive behavioral therapy and other holistic and innovative treatment options. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, do not wait. Please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
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
Author: Justin Mckibben
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community is not without its own history of facing conflict and adversity, as the civil rights of these individuals are often debated and questioned, and certain people in the LGBT community have been speculated to have a unique susceptibility to specific health risks. Lesbian women have been said to be more vulnerable to breast cancer, while gay men are suggested to have an increased risk of HIV or other infections.
With the various notions of threats to these individuals health, it may not be too much of a shock that there is some conjecture of another serious health risk for the LGBT community, as recent research proposes these individuals may be at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder than straight and cisgender individuals, with transgender people at the highest risk.
Just to clarify some general information:
Cisgender (cissexual) – Related types of gender identity where individuals’ experiences of their own gender match the sex they were assigned at birth
Transgender – When gender identity or gender expression does not match one’s assigned sex. Transgender is independent of sexual orientation; transgender people may identify as:
- Asexual, etc.
This relates to a report published on April 28th in the Journal of Adolescent Health with data drawn from the first study examining eating disordered behavior among a significant proportion of transgender people compared to cisgender people, with numbers making it sufficient enough to make a meaningful comparison.
Researchers surveyed students from 223 universities across the United States between 2008 and 2011, inquiring about several aspects including:
- Mental health
- Substance use
- Sexual behavior
- Nutrition history
Out of those included in the study:
- 200,000 were heterosexuals
- 5,000 were “unsure” of sexual orientation
- 15,000 were gay/lesbian/bisexual
- 479 were transgender
The survey found that cisgender heterosexual men were at the lowest risk of eating disorders, while transgender people were at the highest risk out of those surveyed. This again does not prove to be rule of thumb, but is the idea presented by the research.
According to the study’s lead author, Alexis E. Duncan from Washington University in St. Louis, that in broad terms they determined cisgender heterosexual men had the lowest rates of eating disorders, while cisgender heterosexual women found themselves in the middle, and transgender individuals were found to have the highest risk.
- Approximately 1.5% of the students reported being diagnosed with an eating disorder during the previous year
- Nearly 3% had self-induced vomited or used laxatives to control weight
- More than 3% had used diet pills in the previous month
Out of these overall averages transgender individuals had the highest rates, so from reading these results it seems to support the concept that these issues are more commonly combatted in the LGBT community.
Now this new research may actually provide a shift in stigma that has labeled eating disorders as a ‘women’s issue.’ Past studies of eating disordered behaviors have been generally focused on heterosexual women, who are considered the most at risk, to the extent that so many assume the stigma of disordered eating being a ‘female issue’ and ignoring the growing number of males who suffer from eating disorders as well.
This study could raise a red flag that creates a change, because it revealed that transgender students were actually more than 4 times as likely as cisgender heterosexual women to report an eating disorder diagnosis. Transgender students were also 2 times as likely as cisgender females to have used unsafe methods to control their weight such as:
- Diet pills
- Self-induced vomiting
These are only part of the data collected that suggests the outdated ideas behind eating disorders being a gender-specific issue are not as founded in facts as many may believe, and more can always be revealed.
Monica Algars of Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland once conducted a study on eating disorders that determined there is a connection between eating disorders, gender dysphoria and body dissatisfaction among transgender people, which means to infer that transgender people may adopt unhealthy and harmful eating habits to manipulate their bodies to try and fit the gender the identify with, or revolt against one they do not.
Algars explains that these attempts to suppress features of their birth gender may manifest as a desire to control weight, and the added stress created by stigma and discrimination may also contribute to the problem. But all this has the possibility of being alleviated by gender reassignment therapy.
Out of all the conclusions one can come to, one definitively counts: stigma is hurting people, and even killing people who never get the help they need. Be it someone from the LGBT community or a cisgender heterosexual individual, stigma puts us all at a greater risk. It can fuel body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, and even substance abuse. And once someone has fallen prey to these conditions, they can be trapped in a never ending cycle of abuse, stigma and self-mutilation in the form of obsession and deprivation.
Regardless of someone’s sexual orientation, they deserve the same life of love and freedom from stigma as the rest of us. It is up to all of us to make recovery and unity a reality.
Eating disorders and substance abuse are tormenting and fatal symptoms of the disease of addiction, but recovery from that hopelessness is possible for everyone who seeks it. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
By Cheryl Steinberg
I know a lot of people who are into the vaping scene and therefore, I know a lot of people aren’t going to be happy to hear that e-cigarettes and vapes are not without health risk.
Touted as a ‘healthy alternative’ to traditional combustible cigarettes, electronic vaporizers caught on like wildfire. But, it’s too soon to say just how much better – if at all – vapes are when compared to their old-school smokable version.
A new risk assessment report from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health says that there are health risks associated with vapes, and not just for those who partake in vaping; bystanders – much like those who inhale secondhand cigarette smoke – may be at risk from secondhand vape smoke.
Now, just to be clear, what we’re talking about in this article are the vapes and e-cigs that contain nicotine, like cigarettes. The report has only considered e-cigarettes with nicotine since there has been very little research about nicotine-free e-cigs. But the report was clear in its conclusions that e-cigarettes are not without health risks for people who vape or for bystanders.
Vapers: You Might Be Fooling Yourselves
Because vapes and e-cigarettes deliver the same amount of nicotine to users as cigarettes do to smokers, it’s safe to say that the same harmful effects from nicotine can be expected in people who vape.
Furthermore, the vapor from e-cigs and vaporizers contains so much nicotine that people who are nearby can also inhale the same amount as with secondhand tobacco smoke. This can be a trigger for addiction to nicotine.
As far as we know, however, e-cigs are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, with regards to cancer but the health risks of long-term use of vapes and e-cigs use are unknown.
“In Norway, it is mainly smokers and former smokers who use e-cigarettes. The question is if this will still be the case if e-cigarettes become more accessible. It is important to avoid e-cigarettes becoming a trend among adolescents and young adults, or to introduce non-smokers to nicotine addiction and tobacco use,” says Dr. Camilla Stoltenberg, Director-General at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).
Caveats of the Research
- Admittedly, e-cigs and vapes simply have not been around long enough in order for researchers to really get a good idea on the potential risks and the extent to which these risks can go.
- The NIPH’s risk assessment is mainly based on evaluation of the individual components of e-cigarettes. There is a wide range of e-cigarette types, with varying content of nicotine and other ingredients.
- Differing types and usage patterns will influence potential health damage. If e-cigarettes are allowed to be sold in Norway, their use and possible adverse effects should be monitored by research.
Banning Vaping in Public
In Portland, Maine’s largest city, they’re not taking this sort of news lightly. Currently, the city is considering imposing a ban on the use of e-cigarettes and vapes in public spaces.
The Portland City Council will hold a meeting next week in order to discuss and make its consideration of whether to place e-cigarettes and other devices that allow the user to inhale vapors on its list of tobacco products that are banned in public areas.
Last month, the city’s Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee unanimously supported the ban.
There have been some recent stories discussing the concern of the unknown risks of vape smoke and, perhaps as a safeguard to those who choose not to vape – just like with traditional smokers and non-smokers – towns and cities have begun to consider bans on public vaping.
In fact, dozens of places have established restrictions on e-cigarettes and vaping in public and The World Health Organization issued a report calling for restrictions on the indoor use of e-cigs and vapes.
Electronic cigarettes and vapes can be a pathway to breaking the chains of your nicotine addiction. However, there’s still some debate whether they serve more as a tool for those who are already addicted to cigarettes or as products that could undermine efforts to discourage tobacco use. If you abuse other substances, we can help you overcome the cycle of addiction and get on the road to recovery. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
It’s pretty common knowledge that consuming alcohol takes a toll on your body, and especially the liver. If you’re a drinker the longer you drink will consistently up the chances of developing a serious liver disease, and there are other risk factors that come into play besides drinking alcoholically. Being aware of these factors can help you in trying to curb your chances of serious liver complications, and for those who are struggling these factors may ultimately assist you in understanding the best treatment options for you.
Stages of Alcoholic Liver Disease
There are different stages of alcoholic liver disease:
- Fatty liver
- Alcoholic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)
- Cirrhosis (fibrosis, or scarring, of the liver)
Dr. Pam Peeke is the author of “The Hunger Fix: The Three-Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction” as well as the senior science advisor to Elements Behavioral Health. According to this expert, fatty liver and alcoholic hepatitis are “fairly prevalent,” but cirrhosis is a very different problem. Peeke states,
“One in five people who are alcoholics develop [alcoholic] hepatitis, and one in four develop cirrhosis. You’ll be at higher risk if you also have fatty liver—it’s those people who tend to be at higher risk for cirrhosis if they continue to drink.”
Data suggests that:
- About 90% of heavy drinkers develop fatty liver
- 10 to 35% of heavy drinkers will develop alcoholic hepatitis
- Up to 20% of heavy drinkers will develop cirrhosis
The good news is, some elements of cirrhosis are reversible, but in order for this to be possible Peeke says there has to be 100% abstinence in order to facilitate this kind of recovery. In the experience of most alcoholics, abstinence from consuming alcohol is an essential part of recovery, period.
These are 7 elements of alcoholic liver disease, and it is important to take these things into consideration when evaluating your drinking habits, because for those struggling to stop drinking, this may open your mind to the risks you run.
- How Much You Drink
This one is pretty obvious. Alcoholic liver disease typically occurs after years of heavy drinking. Not all alcoholics will get it, but the longer you drink and the more you drink, the more your chances increase.
- Consistency of Drinking
Consistently drinking heavily on a regular basis is actually a higher risk than drinking irregularly throughout the week, or even binge drinking on weekends and holidays.
Research has found that five drinks or more per day raised the risk of developing cirrhosis according. The risk of both hepatitis and cirrhosis is increased when consumption for 20 years or more is around:
- 60g or more per day for men
- 20g per day for women
The damage caused by alcohol happens more acutely in women, so women are more likely to develop liver disease. For women it is more severe, happens much faster, and takes less alcohol to develop.
Women are more vulnerable than men for various reasons, including:
- Women secrete less alcohol dehydrogenase (which breaks down alcohol)
- Have a greater proportion of body fat (alcohol is soluble in water)
- Experience changes in fat absorption due to their menstrual cycles
Beyond gender, the full extent of the role genetics play in alcoholic liver disease is not yet understood, but more is being learned. It is believed that gene mutations actually predispose someone to both developing alcoholism and alcoholic liver disease. Some mutations in genes that may explain this genetic link are:
- ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase)
- ALDH (aldehyde dehydrogenase)
- CYP4502E1 (one of the many cytochrome P450 enzymes)
This is also connected to individual differences in the metabolism of alcohol.
- Immune System
A stronger immune system will of course have a better chance at surviving and fighting off liver disease. However a compromised immune system cannot, and thus increases the risk factor of liver disease.
Research has found that people with HIV or hepatitis C, or both, have an increased risk of advanced liver disease. It is known that these diseases increase death rate of liver cells.
Drinking in excess only compounds this problem and accelerates the process of weakening the immune system.
Anything that makes it harder on the body to maintain its health increases the risk for developing liver disease, especially for drinkers. 2 big ones are:
Many alcoholics have a habit of poor nutrition. Now more data on gut bacteria or the gut microbiome is just beginning to discover how these things are affected by alcohol, which can change gut permeability and lead to problems absorbing and digesting food.
Malnutrition also increases oxidative stress, which is known to promote liver disease by the depletion of circulating antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E, and glutathione. Ultimately poor dieting and nutrition continues to weaken the immune system, which opens you up to infections and complications.
- Physical Fitness
In addition to abstinence, regular physical activity is an essential factor in the continued health or the required treatment for the recovery of the liver. On top of the mental and emotional fitness that goes into recovery for alcoholics, physical fitness can co-exist with nutrition in a way that helps to nurture recovery, and revitalize the immune system for someone whose body has been suffering.
So many things factor into the gradual development of liver disease through excessive drinking or alcohol abuse, and so many people ignore the signs that their life-style has exposed them to these risks. Alcoholism is deadly in many ways, and many find that in order to change their health and preserve their future, they must change their lives, today! If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135