About John Lavitt
With Oxycontin Abuse All Over The News, Is Vicodin Abuse The Forgotten Prescription Painkiller Addiction?
Vicodin abuse has been shunted to the shadows as Oxycontin abuse, addiction and overdoses draws the focus of the news media and the popular consciousness of American society. In recent drug articles and exposes from The Atlantic to The New York Post, Oxycontin covers all of the news coverage and dominates the focus of the media when it come to the prescription painkiller plague. Although the coverage makes sense given the problem, the noise of the Oxycontin focus drowns out the need to focus on other dominant prescription painkillers like Vicodin, Percodan and Percocet. In particular, the Clinical Staff at One80Center is surprised by the lack of coverage in regards to Vicodin abuse and Vicodin addiction.
The History of Vicodin Abuse
Vicodin has been a problem prescription painkiller for over a quarter of a century. Hydrocodone or Vicodin was created by German scientists in the mid 1920′s. The drug was approved for sale in the United States under the brand name Hycodan in 1943. In 1984, a version of Hydrocodone under the brand name Vicodin was approved for sale by the FDA. It was sold by Abbott Laboratories.Vicodin contains a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is in a group of drugs called opioid pain relievers. Vicodin is most commonly taken orally in pill form or crushed up and snorted. Since acetaminophen is extremely harmful to the liver in high doses (2,000+ mg), some addicts try to extract the hydrocodone from the pill resulting in a vile liquid that can be taken orally or rectally via syringe. The actual result has been countless overdoses and deaths.
Given the amount of Vicodin abuse and the number of Vicodin overdoses, an FDA Advisory Panel voted in 2009 to ban both Vicodin and Percocet. Despite the recommendation and a bit of hoopla at the time, both prescription painkillers remain on the market and neither ban has been carried out. The vote remains like a shark with no teeth, a gun with no bullets, or a government act all for show but lacking any implementation and actual positive effect. People keep trying Vicodin because of its reputation as a great recreational drug and they keep getting hooked and they keep dying needlessly. When is the media going to pay attention and place Vicodin near the center of the discussion national prescription painkiller plague?
In 2002, it was reported that emergency-room visits involving Hydrocodone had increased 500 percent since 1990. In 2006, Americans were written 130 million prescriptions for painkillers containing Hydrocodone. The vast majority of these prescriptions are for Vicodin. In 2008, Abbott planned to sell a controlled-release version of Vicodin, but fails to get FDA approval. A few months later, Abbott laid off over 200 sales reps who were expected to be marketing the product. Yes, the selling of Vicodin and other prescription painkillers always has been a big business at the expense of the American people.
Vicodin Abuse Cannot Be Ignored
There is no question that Oxycontin abuse and Oxycontin addiction is a serious threat in our country and needs to be near the center of the national prescription painkiller debate. It does not, however, need to dominate the national discussion to the point where other brands of prescription painkillers are ignored. In the extensive experience of the clinical staff at One80Center with addicts in rehab and recovery, Vicodin has been a persistent and devastating brand of opioid painkiller that has led to addiction and worse. If the national debate is going to be on target, Vicodin abuse cannot be ignored.
The plague of prescription painkillers is raging across America in the form of a multitude of opioid brands and kinds. Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin happen to be the most popular brand names on the market today. They are some of the brand names for oxycodone and hydrocodone. Nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers. The rate of addiction and the spread of the abuse is staggering as well. Let’s take a look at some facts provided recently by a CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) report on prescription painkillers.
In 2008, there were 14,800 prescription painkiller deaths. The misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers was responsible for more than 475,000 emergency department visits in 2009, a number that had nearly doubled in just five years. More than 12 million people reported used prescription painkillers to for recreational purposes in 2010. In 2010, 2 million people reported using prescription painkillers nonmedically for the first time within the last year—nearly 5,500 a day. The statistics go on and on, and they are shocking beyond comprehension. The problem is huge and continuing to grow each and every year.
The Clinical Staff at One80Center has focused numerous resources and expertise on fighting the prescription painkiller plague. From raising awareness to treating numerous clients, the efforts still feel like sand thrown into the wind of a raging storm. Unless federal and state governments become involved in the fight, unless the fight is even recognized as a problem in public by our public leaders, the resources needed for education, prevention and treatment will not be accessed. For example, in the last presidential election, did either candidate ever mention during a campaign stop while making a speech the need to adress the prescription drug abuse problem. The scary answer is basically “No.”
One80Center provides a proven individualized program to treat both prescription painkiller addiction and prescription drug abuse. But treatment comes after the fact when the hooks of the painkillers are deep in the wills and souls of the addicts at hand. When are we going to be able to access the kids and let them know what can happen before it’s too late? When can we use our experiences in a concrete way to raise awareness? It is frustrating how there are no clear answers for such questions.
Prescription Painkillers & One80Center’s Individualized Program
If you or a loved one is having a problem with prescription painkillers, One80Center has the experience and expertise that you need to get to the other side and on the path of long-term recovery. It does not matter the brand name (Oxycontin, Percodan, Percocet, Vicodin, etc.) or the type (hydrocodone, oxycodone). With expertise in medical detoxes and experience employing specialized services to foster recovery, we have helped prescription painkiller abusers and addicts change their stripes and discover their true path. Still, such work is not enough to stem the tide of the plague of prescription painkillers. If you want to learn more about how One80Center can help you, please take the first step and call 888.588.4180 and ask for our help.
The Abuse Of Alcohol Depletes Nutrition, Exacerbating The Extreme Toll Alcoholism Takes On The Human Body
Alcoholism and the abuse of alcohol are nutritional nightmares, wreaking havoc on the human body. Known for doing damage to a variety of organs, including the liver, brain and pancreas, the effects of alcoholism in terms of health multiply when nutritional values are considered. Nutritional changes account for a significant portion of the long-term complications of alcoholism. In order to come back to full health once they embrace the long-term path of sobriety, most alcoholics need to change their nutritional habits in recovery.
One80Center Individualized Program Includes Health
The clinical staff at One80Center has seen that chronic alcoholics eventually develop severe forms of malnutrition-related illnesses. This is why we have incorporated nutritional help based on individual needs into our individualized program for our clients. With an organic garden on site and a gourmet chef with a nutritional background on staff, One80Center addresses a client’s health needs from a three-dimensional perspective. After all, recovery means more than just sobriety.
A positive benefit of making a healthy nutritional shift is that the maintenance of good nutritional habits actually helps to decrease the risks for a future alcohol-related relapse. Nutrition is the process through which the human body extracts health-supporting substances, known as nutrients, from foods in a daily diet. To maintain a healthy balance, human beings need to consume certain amounts of a variety of nutrients, including fats, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, and vitamins.
Alcoholism Can Lead To Deadly Malnutrition
Lack of adequate nutrient intake will lead to a form of malnutrition called under-nutrition. In contrast, excessive nutrient intake will lead to another form of malnutrition called over-nutrition and potential obesity. In addition to other roles they play in the human body, proteins, fats and carbohydrates provide the energy needed in terms of calories for both voluntary and involuntary body processes.
Alcohol is a calorie-containing substance. As a result, it qualifies as a type of nutrient. The problem is that the other harmful properties of alcohol more than offset any potential benefits. First, and perhaps most importantly, alcohol, particularly when it comes to the amounts consumed by alcoholics, degrades the normal function of the liver, the stomach and other organs involved in the processing of nutrients. Alcohol actually prevents the human body from properly processing dietary fats while depleting the body’s supply of most major vitamins and essential minerals such as zinc, magnesium, calcium, and iron. In chronic alcoholics, serious or severe nutrition-related problems can lead to pancreatic inflammation and stomach ulcers.
A secondary problem with dire consequences is that many alcoholics fall into a habit of substituting alcohol for substantial portions of their normal daily diet. In extreme cases, this substitution decreases food and nutrient intake by as much as 50 percent. For alcoholics who initially start with minor malnutrition-related health issues, this pattern of food replacement can potentially worsen their condition. Such negative nutrient loss can even trigger the onset of major forms of malnutrition.
Restoring Health For Alcoholics In Recovery
In a study of alcoholics in early recovery, experts at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism identified multiple cases of malnutrition. As a result, they recommended a dietary program that addresses any nutritional deficiencies. While the specific required diet will vary from person to person, certain general dietary factors may play a role. For instance, consumption of high-protein foods can potentially reduce alcohol cravings by stabilizing an alcoholic’s blood glucose. Recovering alcoholics also benefit from supplements that contain concentrated doses of specific minerals or vitamins.
With an experienced chef and nutritional experts on staff, One80Center has addressed the dietary needs of clients in early recovery since the beginning. Beyond being a respected gourmet, the One80Center chef incorporates organic nutrition from our organic garden with each meal. The professional kitchen staff prepares individual meals to accommodate food preferences such as vegetarian, kosher, vegan, or other specialized dietary needs. In between meals, the kitchen is open for healthy snacks, fresh fruit and a variety of beverages. By focusing on the individual nutritional needs of each of our clients, One80Center’s individualized program directly responds to and helps to repair the nutritional damage done by active alcoholism.
New York Times Letter Against Drug Courts Misses The Essential Point Of Promoting Treatment Over Incarceration
In the letter’s section of the New York Times on March 10, a senior lawyer for the Drug Policy Alliance wrote a letter to the paper that criticized a recent article promoting drug courts that offer defendants the chance to access treatment as opposed to going to treatment. The Clinical Staff at One80Center disagrees with the argument that fails to see the value of and the opportunities provided by drug court. As a result we will quote
“Outside Box, U.S. Judges Offer Addicts New Path” (front page, March 2), reported on the benefits of drug courts and their increasing popularity. But enthusiasm for replicating drug courts should be tempered with a healthy dose of caution.
Drug addiction is best treated by health professionals, separate and apart from the criminal justice system. Drug court programs are inherently coercive and typically require defendants to plead guilty (and forgo their trial rights) before they participate in the program. Drug courts also require participants to be subject to frequent drug testing as an indicator of success in the program. If a person relapses, he is sent to prison.
It is important to question whether the drug court model is best suited to dealing with the particular issues posed by drug addiction. Drug relapses should be met with more intensive services rather than be a pathway to incarceration. There is no silver bullet for the complex problems posed by drug addiction, and there is no substitute for nuanced, comprehensive and evidence-based drug treatment, however tempting drug court programs may appear to be.
Senior Staff Attorney Drug Policy Alliance
Berkeley, Calif., March 4, 2013
Although we respect the work done by Theshia Naidoo and the team at the Drug Policy Alliance, the letter entirely misses the point. The point of drug courts is to place drug addicts in a treatment setting by giving them the chance to take another path. If you want drug addicts to be able to access health professionals and treatment programs, why would you possibly be against drug courts.
In addition, the testing argument makes no sense whatsoever. In any treatment setting, drugs addicts are tested on a regular basis. Isn’t being tested to see if you are compliant with the program you have chosen better than being locked up in prison? In terms of forgoing their trial rights, the vast majority of drug court cases are open and shut. This is not a case of innocent people pleading guilty to drug charges in order not to go to prison. Such a contention verges on absurdity.
Some of the most pointed criticism of the status quo has come from Judge Gleeson, a former federal prosecutor. The drug court he helped set up is open to defendants who committed a range of nonviolent crimes, like fraud and selling prescription pills, and whose addictions fueled their actions.
In a 35-page opinion he issued this week, he criticized the Justice Department for charging defendants with drug offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences, urged the Sentencing Commission to reduce the guideline range for many drug offenses and called for more programs that divert defendants from prison time.
Isn’t it clear that the very point of drug courts is to do exactly what Theshina Nandoo is promoting in her letter, but somehow fails to make the essential connection. Drug Courts may not be perfect, but they are a step in the right direction. Picking apart a positive article undermines the work that all of us are doing — finding proactive methods to battle the plague of drug addiction that is sweeping across the country.
When it comes to drug addicts, the clinical staff at One80Center believes promoting treatment over incarceration in the vast majority of cases. In every case presented in the original New York Times article, treatment over incarceration was the clear and obvious choice. Why the letter writer chose to take such a stand makes little to no sense because it fails to support drug courts as a key active element in the promotion of the treatment over incarceration.
New Zealand Study Reveals Connection Between Youthful Sexual Partners And An Increased Risk Of Addiction And Alcoholism
A New Zealand Study has revealed a seemingly clear-cut relationship between risk for developing addictions and youthful sexual partners. The study has been presented in a comprehensive report published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. The Clinical Staff at One80Center is not surprised that the study discovered a link between more sex partners and a higher risk for addiction. What was surprising is that the link proved to be so much more convincing in young women than in young men.
New Zealand Study Shows Conclusive Link
The researchers followed over a thousand children born between 1972 and 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand. The people studied were asked about their sexual partners as well as alcohol and other drug use. Women who had more than two to three sex partners when they were 18 years to 20 years old were nearly 10 times more likely than those who had none or one sexual partner to develop a drug problem, primarily involving alcohol or marijuana, at age 21. Having more than two to three partners from age 21 to age 25 increased addiction risk at age 26 by a factor of 7. And at age 32, the risk was nearly 18 times greater for women who had more than two to three partners when they were aged 26 to 31 compared to those with one or no partners during that time.
The risks for men were also increased, but not by as much. More than one sex partner from age 18 to age 20 nearly tripled the risk of a serious substance use disorder at 21— and having more than two to three partners quadrupled that risk for men of that age. In terms of the impact of the report on American sexual behavior and a growing risk for addiction, the results are both provocative and controversial, The CDC reports [PDF] that 24% of women aged 20 to 24 have had two or more partners in the past year; the number for men was 29%. And women in particular may be likely to under-report this number.
Sexual Behavior And Addiction Risk
The results were adjusted to take into account the effect that mental illnesses may have on risky sexual behavior, including having multiple partners; the researchers also tried controlling for socioeconomic status but found that the strong relationship between multiple sex partners and drug addiction and alcoholism stayed the same. The authors also limited the study to heterosexual sex, defined as intercourse. In contrast to previous studies, the research did not find that having multiple partners increased risk for later anxiety or depression
The researchers, led by Sandhya Ramrakha of the University of Otago in New Zealand, speculate that there may be several explanations for the connection. Impulsivity can increase risky behavior of any type, and in some cases may be driving both the drug misuse as well as the sexual activity. “People who are impulsive may be more likely to engage in both activities and consequently [be] more likely to become substance dependent,” the authors write. In addition, having many short-term relationships may be more psychologically damaging to young women. And the authors speculate, “[This] may be due to the impersonal nature of such relationships. Or it might be that multiple failed relationships create anxiety about initiating new relationships. Self ‘medication’ with substances may be one way of dealing with this interpersonal anxiety.”
Ultimately, it is not the role of One80Center to dictate morality or pass judgment on anyone. Our number one goal is to promote long-term sobriety and help lead our clients and community on a path that fosters and promotes the principles of recovery. If an increase in youthful sexual partners is linked directly to such a dramatic increase in drug addiction and alcoholism, One80Center would recommend that personal safety and an educated awareness of such risks is the path for a young person to follow.
A new alcohol vaccine being developed in Chile by Dr. Juan Asenjo has just entered clinical trials. Although the Clinical Staff at One80Center celebrates such advances, they also remain wary of attempts to find a medical miracle to cure what essentially is the three-fold disease of alcoholism; mental and spiritual as well as physical. The alcohol vaccine builds on what happens naturally in certain people — about 20% of the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean population — with an alcohol intolerance mutation. The vaccine delivers somewhat of an instant hangover if the patient takes one sip of alcohol.
Alcohol Vaccine Enters Clinical Trials
Researchers will first test the alcohol vaccine on mice; human trials are set for November. “If it works, it’s going to have a worldwide impact, but with many vaccines one has to test them carefully. I think the chances that this one will work are quite high.” said Dr. Juan Asenjo, director of the university’s Institute for Cell Dynamics and Biotechnology, told the Santiago Times. Without question, the problem of alcoholism is extreme and damaging.
According to the World Health Organization’s 2011 global status report, alcohol is the world’s third largest risk factor for disease and disability, and the harmful use of the substance leads to 2.5 million deaths annually. In the U.S., the number of alcohol-induced deaths totaled 26,256 for 2011, slightly higher than 2010′s count, according to a preliminary report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Congressional findings indicate that an estimated 10 million Americans are problem drinkers.
So how exactly does the alcohol vaccine work? Normally, the liver breaks down alcohol into an enzyme that’s transformed into the compound acetaldehyde (responsible for that nasty hangover feeling), which in turn is degraded into another enzyme. The acetaldehyde doesn’t usually have time to build up before it’s broken down. But people with the alcohol intolerance mutation lack the ability to produce that second enzyme; acetaldehyde accumulates. As a result, whenever they drink alcohol, they feel terrible and experience something like an instant hangover.
Dr. Juan Asenjo and his colleagues have come up with a way to stop the synthesis of that second enzyme via an alcohol vaccine, mimicking the mutation that sometimes happens naturally. ‘People have this mutation all over the world. It’s like how some people can’t drink milk… With the vaccine, the desire to consume alcohol will be greatly reduced thanks to these reactions,” Asenjo told Radio Cooperativa.
When injected, the alcohol vaccine would work by sending a message to the liver to keep it from expressing these genes the metabolize alcohol, thus producing symptoms characteristic of a medically induced hangover that is incredibly unpleasant. Delivered in a single injection, the alcohol vaccine is expected to remain active in a patient’s system for at least six months. What is even more intriguing is that the alcohol vaccine cannot be reversed during this six-month period.
Alcohol Vaccine Cannot Cure Alcoholism
The Clinical Staff at One80Center believe that addressing the physiological part of alcohol addiction is just one piece of the battle. Addictive tendencies could very well manifest in other ways; instead of alcohol, perhaps former addicts will move on to cigarettes. Asenjo admits this perspective as well, “Addiction is a psychological disease, a social disease. Obviously this is only the biological part of it.” Still, One80Center is excited to see the results of the clinical trials as they advance, and we will continue to report on the progress.
One80Center Prescription Drug Abuse Update – Drug Overdoses Increase In The United States For The 11th Consecutive Year
One80Center Prescription Drug Abuse Update
Tired of the plague of prescription drug abuse and prescription painkiller overdoses, the entire staff at One80Centeror is sad to provide this update on our website: For the 11th consecutive year, drug overdose deaths increased in the United States. Although illegal drugs like heroin play a role, the vast majority of overdoses are from prescription painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin. In addition, prescription overdoses from Benzodiazepines is on the rise.
Drug Overdoses Increase Again
An analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta found 38,329 people died of a drug overdose in the United States in 2010, up from 37,004 deaths in 2009. This continued the steady rise in overdose deaths seen over the past 11 years, starting with 16,849 deaths in 1999. The statistics lag because of the time it takes to compile data from across the country and obtain an accurate record. The researchers analyzed data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics 2010 multiple cause-of-death file, based on death certificates.
CDC 2010 Statistics of Drug Overdoses
In 2010, nearly 60 percent, or 22,134 fatal overdoses, involved pharmaceutical drugs. Opioid analgesics, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone, were involved in about 3-of-4 pharmaceutical overdose deaths, confirming the predominant role opioid analgesics play in overdose deaths. However, the researchers also found drugs often prescribed for mental health conditions were involved in a significant number of pharmaceutical overdose deaths.
Benzodiazepines – anti-anxiety drugs like Valium and Xanax – were involved in nearly 30 percent of these deaths. In addition, antidepressants played a factor in 18 percent of the cases and anti-psychotic drugs in 6 percent of the cases. Deaths involving more than one drug or drug class are counted multiple times and therefore are not mutually exclusive. In a statement, the lead researcher Dr. Tom Frieden said: “Patients with mental health or substance use disorders are at increased risk for non-medical use and overdose from prescription painkillers as well as being prescribed high doses of these drugs.”
One80Center is tired of watching American be ravaged by prescription drug abuse, prescription drug addiction, and overdoses across the board. Providing both treatment and raising awareness, One80Center is doing its best to stem the tide of the prescription drug abuse plague. A first key step is recognizing that prescription drug abuse is as serious and as dangerous as illegal drug abuse and needs to be highlighted in the national debate.
To battle the national plague of prescription drug addiction, a Chicago-based company named Vatex Explorations has been prototyping a smart medication dispenser that would track patient behavior in relation to prescription drug use. The Divert-X device is designed to provide an early warning that opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin are being misused. Divert-X alerts physicians in real time when and where patients are accessing medications. The idea is to avoid access of the drugs in excessive amounts and beyond the range of a given prescription. The Clinical Staff at One80Center supports any new drug technology that could help curb the storm of prescription drug addiction that is raging across the United States.
The Divert-X dispenser would come with medication prepackaged in blister packs. Each blister is connected to a chip in the unit, which records the timing of access for each dose. A GPS tracking system would also provide the dispenser’s location. The information would then be transmitted wirelessly to a central database that physicians, pharmacists or other registered users can access to determine if a patient is taking their medication as directed. “The data we’ll be generating will be giving the physician a tool that he does not have to evaluate how a patient is behaving relative to his prescription, says Simon Sellers, Chief Executive Officer of Vatex Explorations.
“If a patient seems to be adhering to the regimen, think of him getting a ‘green light’ from our system,” Sellers told American News Report. “If the patient receives our device containing opioids and immediately accesses all doses, then essentially an alarm goes off in the system. You can think of it as a ‘red light’ in that behavior is occurring which is not consistent with the prescribed regimen.” Sellers say Divert-X could also be used to spot early warning signs of a patient developing tolerance for a drug or becoming addicted.
If adopted widely, the data could be used to develop scores for patients in relation to their usage of the monitored prescription drug– similar to FICO scores – to measure their compliance and avoid prescription drug addiction. By showing a record of compliance, a patient would be more likely to be prescribed the prescription drugs they actually need. The idea is that prescription drug addiction leads to drug addict-like behaviors and compulsions where compliance is not possible.
At present, Vatex only has a prototype of a Divert-X dispenser and is seeking investors to further develop the device and fund a clinical study. “The medical insurance companies themselves estimate that drug diversion costs them about $75 billion a year,” said Sellers. “I think ultimately the extent of which the product can be used will be driven by the magnitude of overall health care cost reductions that we will be able to demonstrate.” At the same time, if Divert X is widely tested, proved to be effective and doctors are willing to participate, One80Center believes it should be given a chance to help stem the tide of prescription drug addiction in the United States.
Although Online Alcoholism Prevention Programs Show Limited Success, There Is The Promise Of Future Progress
According to a new report published in the journal Addiction and reported on by Reuters, online alcoholism prevention programs have shown limited success. Without question, the clinical staff at One80Center knows from experience that to achieve long-term sobriety takes a supportive community and real work. If online alcoholism prevention programs can help deter relapse, however, One80Center completely supports such efforts.
British researchers found that heavy drinkers were able to slightly reduce their weekly consumption by employing online alcoholism prevention programs. Still, not all of the studies they analyzed had positive results. In addition, even the studies with positive results expressed the challenge that such results had definite limitations.
What is encouraging is that these computer-based interventions show promise and could help the estimated 17.6 million Americans who struggle with alcoholism. ,” Zarnie Khadjesari, of University College London’s E-health Unit, who worked on the new report, expressed the positive discovered in the investigation: “From the user’s perspective, the intervention is essentially free, assuming they have access to the Internet. Use of these interventions compared with in-person counseling also eliminates any travel costs, or time taken off work to attend appointments.”
Khadjesari and her colleagues searched medical literatures for studies on computer-based interventions. They were able to find 24 studies that ranged widely in size, involving more than 5,600 participants overall. The specific interventions also varied. Some provided little more than information, while others had interactive games and videos that passed on health messages to users.
Sixteen of the studies showed treatments helped people slash drinking by an average of 26 grams per week, or about two cans of beer. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines heavy drinking as more than two drinks per day for men, and more than one for women.
A serious problem is that many of the studies reported their data in a way that could potentially make the effect seem bigger than it is and employed a non-verifiable approach and questionable scientific methodologies. In addition, the majority of the studies were limited to students. Given the degree of their alcoholism and the damage done, it is hard to say how effective the online alcoholism prevention programs would be with older participants farther down the road in terms of the progression of their disease.
Although more research is needed, Khadjesari did point out the many advantages of computer-based interventions should they actually be effective. The researcher expressed the bonuses of online alcoholism prevention programs when she said: “They offer convenience, flexibility of use, low cost, and privacy, which is particularly important in reducing the stigma associated with seeking help for an alcohol problem.” One80Center believes that new technologies need to be employed to battle alcoholism and addiction. The difficulties and challenges in the beginning should not prevent us from evolving the tools to be more effective and better optimized in the long-term.
In the online version of the United Kingdom paper the Daily Mail, the dangers of store-bought synthetic marijuana were illustrated in a powerful and tragic story. The account shows how a 17-year-old girl from Cypress, Texas suffered a series of strokes after smoking synthetic marijuana she purchased at a gas station. The strokes left Emily Bauer blind, brain damaged and dependent on her family for care. Shocked that an over-the-counter product sold at a gas station could have such devastating consequences, Emily’s family have started a nonprofit called Synthetic Awareness to raise the alarm of the dangers of these drugs.
The Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana
The clinical staff at One80Center have highlighted the dangers of over-the-counter synthetic marijuana and legal party drugs in the past. But the battle has only begun as such drugs are still available in head shops and convenience stores across America. Synthetic marijuana continues to passively preying on the ignorance and folly of youth across the country. The efforts of Emily’s family to raise awareness are a positive step in the right direction.
Synthetic marijuana, which is also known as ‘Spice’ or ‘K2′, is an herbal mixture doused with chemicals. The chemicals trigger a high similar to smoking marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Marketed as a ‘legal’ alternative to weed, it’s often sold as incense or potpourri. When many states outlawed the drug, manufacturers slightly changed the compound so they were no longer illegal. It was linked to 11,406 drug-related emergency department visits in 2010, a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found. Most were aged 12 to 17.
Banning Synthetic Marijuana
The first state laws banning synthetic drugs were established in 2010. Although 40 states have banned synthetic marijuana, such efforts have not deterred the manufacturers. ‘These drug manufacturers slightly change the chemical compound, and it becomes a different substance that’s not covered by the law,’ said NCSL policy specialist Alison Lawrence. Common side effects from smoking synthetic marijuana include bloodshot eyes, disturbed perceptions, a change in mood, paranoia, raised blood pressure or hallucinations.
Emily’s older sister Blake did the drug with her sibling and could not believe the extremity of what happened: ‘We thought once she comes down off the drug, we’d take her home and show her the dangers of this drug. We didn’t think it was as big of a deal until 24 hours later she was still violent and hurting herself. We realized you’re not supposed to stay high this long.’
Taken to the hospital, Emily was put into an induced coma as doctors carried out tests on her brain. Doctors soon found Emily’s strokes had constricted the flow of blood and cut off oxygen to her brain. ‘In four days’ time, we went from thinking everything is going to be OK and we’ll put her in drug rehabilitation to now you don’t know if she’s going to make it,’ stepfather Tommy Bryant revealed to CNN.
In the hospital, Surgeons had to drill a hole in Emily Bauer’s skull and insert a tube to relieve the pressure from her brain swelling. ‘We met with Neurology team who showed us Emily’s brain images,’ her mother, Tonya Bauer, said. ‘They told us that all white areas on images were dead. It looked to us at least 70 per cent of the images were white.’ Doctors said Emily would not be able to recognize her family and would never be able to use her arms or legs again. With this devastating news, Emily’s parents chose to take out her breathing tube and stopped all nourishment on December 16, 2012.
But Emily Bauer was not finished and the young girl continued to fight. As her mother went to her room one morning, she said, ‘Good morning, I love you’ and was stunned to hear her daughter reply ‘I love you too.” Today, Emily knows where she is and recognizes her family, but every day remains characterized by confusion and pain. Without question, much of the damage will be permanent and she will never fully recover.
Emily’s parents have started a nonprofit organization called Synthetic Awareness For Emily to educate teenagers and parents about the dangers of synthetic marijuana use. Emily’s stepfather Tommy Bryant described the mission of the nonprofit: ‘We want to let kids and parents know about the warnings signs: migraines and withdrawal. We all know the warning signs of alcohol and cocaine, but with this synthetic weed stuff, it’s so new that nobody knows about this stuff. We want to let other parents know about this so they don’t have to go what we’ve been going through.’ One80Center completely supports the mission of Synthetic Awareness and thanks the Bauers for this positive step in the right direction.