Opioid Addiction: A First Hand Look

Oftentimes it is hard for someone who is not an addict to understand the full severity of an addiction. It is hard for them to comprehend the way it makes someone feel, the grip it has on their life and the science behind why they continue to live the lifestyle they do. While you can’t experience it for yourself unless you decide to go that route, you can sometimes find someone who has overcome their addiction and is willing to give you a first-hand glimpse into what exactly the life of an addict is like.

British Columbia Addiction Treatment BC

Recently on CBC News, an article was shared about a former athlete who was once an opioid user. He describes how he became addicted in the first place, how it made him feel and more. In this blog post, we are going to recap that article so you can see for yourself just how bad an opioid addiction really is.

The Accident

Twelve years ago, there was a then 17 high-level competitive swimmer in Calgary by the name of Taylor Maxey. He trained at the pool nine times a week in hopes of becoming an Olympic swimmer. However, this vision of his future was drastically changed when Maxey was injured while goofing around in the backyard with his siblings. Maxey’s little brother kicked a soccer ball that hit Maxey in the neck, and it hit him so hard it chipped his C2 vertebra. This one accident is what would eventually send Maxey down a path of opioid dependency.

The Prescriptions

Following his injury, Maxey spent several months in a cervical collar and was prescribed numerous medications to combat neck pain and chronic headaches. These prescription medications included Oxycodone, sleeping and anxiety pills, hydromorphone, and fentanyl patches. Hopeful that he would one day return to swimming, Maxey followed his doctors’ orders.

“I just wasn’t functioning,” Maxey told CBC. “And their answer was just, more and more and more and more. Little did I know anything about withdrawal symptoms, what it can do to you long-term.”

As a curious high schooler though, Maxey discovered his drugs could also be used recreationally, and he began to do so. Getting a buzz or getting high was now fun for him.

His Life Was Saved

Thanks to an addictions doctor, Maxey was finally able to get clean and take control of his life again.

“You have no idea, how devilish it makes you feel, it literally makes you feel like you have a split personality,” he said in an interview with The Calgary Eyeopener, according to CBC. “You have this monster inside of you that’s just caged, and half the time the door is open, it’s running the show. It’s the worst thing. Your mind wants one thing, your body wants another.”

 

Source for this article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-opioid-crisis-recovery-taylor-maxey-1.4859973

 

Talking to Your Kids About Drugs

School has been back in session for a few months now, and kids are getting back into the routine of everything. With this routine also comes the stress of class, the stress of sports and practices, and the daily peer pressure to “fit in”; teens are at high risk for taking part in drugs and alcohol. While you cannot be with your kids 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to stop them from making bad decisions, you can equip them with the knowledge to say “no” to bad decisions on their own.

With the opioid crisis continuously rising and new drugs coming out seemingly daily, talking to your kids about drugs is vital.

Before you even start the conversation with your child, make sure you understand the topic you are about to discuss with them. Develop a good understanding of the difference between use, misuse and abuse. Next, you should understand what is commonly used among their age and the terms that they and/or their friends might be using.

As a parent, your first instinct is to hit them with statistics, however, this will do the exact opposite of achieving your goal. When your teenager is overwhelmed with statistics, they will shut down and see you as unauthentic. And once you lose that credibility with your child, it is hard to regain their trust and respect.

Talking to your child about drugs is about approaching it with a relatable attitude. They want to understand that you are not punishing them or being demeaning in your tone. The biggest way to earn their respect is to speak to them as an adult, and just be honest with them.

Believe it or not, our children can tell when we are not being honest.

So, when it comes time to talk to your child about drugs, start by making yourself relatable. Remind them that you were a teenager once, and even present them with some personal experiences, if appropriate. Simple inform them of the dangers and educate them on the potential addiction that lies in the wake of drug and alcohol abuse.

Additionally, make sure the conversation is healthy. Avoid bombarding them and being the only one talking the entire time. Ensure you leave room for them to insert their opinion and to give feedback on what you have said.

Do you have any tips for talking to your kids about drugs? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Cannabis: A Gateway Drug

Do you remember feeling invincible as a teenager? When you are young, it is easy to feel like nothing can hurt you. You are young, so you can basically do anything you want and recover, right? Everybody has to be a little crazy at some point. But while you might be young and careless, you definitely aren’t invincible. And that thought of being invincible just comes with the immature brain of a young teen. The reality of it is that the choices you make while you are young do matter. In fact, they can go on to affect you even in your later years and a new study talks about just that.

A new study done at the University of Montreal found that when it comes to smoking cannabis, it does matter how young you start. Researchers found that boys who started smoking marijuana before the age of 15 are much more likely to have a drug problem at the age of 28, compared to those who started at or after age 15. So, in this scenario, even just a year or two can make all the difference. Boys who started smoking prior to age 15 had an increased risk of developing a drug problem of 68 percent. In comparison, boys who started smoking between 15 and 17 had a 44 percent risk, according to the researchers’’ study.

This study just further demonstrates the importance of educating kids from a young age about the dangers of smoking marijuana, and especially the dangers of smoking it at a young age. This is especially important in areas where the legalization and public acceptance has led to a greater potency.

“The odds of developing any drug abuse symptoms by age 28 were reduced by 31 percent for each year of delayed onset of cannabis use in adolescence,” the researchers at UdeM’s Department of Psychology, School of Psychoeducation and the CHU Saint-Justine Hospital Research Centre found.

This is why cannabis is often referred to as a “gateway drug.” When teens started smoking marijuana, it might be the only drug they are involved with. However, as time goes on they are more and more likely to try something else. It could be because they are looking for more of a thrill, they are more likely to be exposed to it, or simply because they just view drugs in a different light now. Regardless of the reason, research has shown that early cannabis use does often lead to the use of other drugs. Keep your children informed of the dangers in order to protect them.

 

International Study Shows Mental Health Disorders Raise the Risk of Teen Substance Abuse

Teen Substance Abuse and Mental HealthAn international review study has examined the relationship between high school student substance abuse patterns and psychiatric symptoms. The study involved a collaboration between researchers from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and the Federal University of Sao Paulo. The researchers determined that the respondents who had clinically significant scores when taking a behavioral screening questionnaire were also more likely to have engaged in substance abuse in the month previously when compared to those who did not have symptoms. This is the first study of this kind, which highlights the link and association between substance abuse and psychiatric symptoms in teens from a county with a middle level of income but high social inequality levels. The respondents represented more than 4,000 high school students between 10th and 12th grade, and these students came from 128 schools in San Paula. Both public and private school students were represented in the survey.

The latest study on teen substance abuse and mental health disorders showed that the type of substance abuse that the teen engaged in varied according to the psychiatric symptoms experienced. Some of the symptoms were emotional, others involved problems with conduct, and peer relationships and hyperactivity were also examined. According to associate professor of epidemiology Silvia Martins, M.D., Ph.D., “Studies to determine which specific mental health symptoms are associated with substance use among adolescents in different settings are crucial. In developing countries such as Brazil where a wide gap of social inequalities is observed, this is particularly important. Mental health policies should focus on these populations, especially since providing early treatment for psychiatric symptoms may have a direct impact on mental health prevalence and its costs among adults.”

The Real Facts About Marijuana Not Revealed With Legalization Efforts

marijuana facts and legalizationLegalization efforts to legalize marijuana for medical and even recreational use have increased considerably in the last decade, but proponents for this drug may not reveal all of the true facts about pot. Driving under the influence of marijuana doubles your risk of a car crash and slows down your reaction time. Some statistics cite that 10% of daily users of cannabis will become dependent on this drug, and a very small percentage of the population could develop a severe and life threatening reaction to the drug which requires emergency medical treatment. Teens who use marijuana on a regular basis are also twice as likely to quit school before they graduate, and they have double the risk of developing psychosis or experiencing cognitive impairment as adults.

The marijuana legalization efforts are led by people who believe that the use of a natural plant should not be criminalized, and this may be a valid point. Instead of being arrested and criminally prosecuted marijuana use should be treated as the substance abuse that it is, with the individual receiving health and treatment instead of a criminal record. A number of advocates for marijuana point out that alcohol kills people every year while marijuana use has never caused a single death, but for those addicted to this drug it can ruin their life and create a constant state of chaos just like any other form of substance abuse. Medical use and recreational use are two different things and these should not be lumped in the same category.

Don’t Overlook Warning Signs Your Teen May Be Using Heroin

signs indicating teen heroin useHeroin is a very dangerous and highly addictive drug that is causing a public health crisis, and there are some warning signs of substance abuse that parents need to watch for in order to protect their teens from this drug. Many parents of teens did not recognize the warning signs which could have alerted them to the problem before it was too late. Heroin can cause addiction from the first use, and as time goes by the addiction grows stronger. Parents need to consider that a teen who is getting high on this drug will want to have easy access to the substance, so they will generally keep it close by. Small torn scraps of paper are commonly folded and used to hold heroin powder so search every area of the home and the personal belongings of your teen. Look in books, backpacks, garbage cans, under the bed, and other areas where these packages or other paraphernalia could be thrown or stashed.

One of the signs that a teen is using heroin is suddenly finding matches, lighters, razor blades, small mirrors, syringes, or spoons with soot marks. All of these can indicate that a teen is using heroin, either shooting, snorting, or smoking the drug. Check every item in the home very carefully, many specialty shops sell a variety of containers that look like normal household products but that include a hidden compartment. These products can be found in books, pop cans, calculators, food item packages like cereal, and even fake electrical sockets.

What is Dewshine and Why is it so Dangerous?

dewshineRecent news reports about the death of two Tennessee teenagers shows that teens in every continent around the world will get creative when it comes to finding cheap thrills and risk taking highs. Dewshine is apparently one of the latest fads in parts of the USA and many are concerned that this trend will spread. What is dewshine though and why is it so dangerous? This is a chemical cocktail of the popular soft drink Mountain Dew and high octane race car fuel. This cocktail is almost completely methanol, which is a type of alcohol that is used in vehicles and manufacturing processes, but it is not safe for human consumption and can cause permanent injury or even death. Even a small amount of methanol can have deadly consequences, and as little as 2 tablespoons can be fatal for a child if ingested. For adults an amount between 2 ounces and 8 ounces can be deadly.

When dewshine is ingested methanol poisoning can occur very quickly. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, confusion, severe headaches, blurring of the vision, seizures, diarrhea, drowsiness, deep breathing or breathing that is rapid, and even coma and then death. Quick emergency medical attention is critical to treat the methanol poisoning and prevent severe injury or death. The sooner treatment is provided after the methanol is ingested the better the outcome will normally be. According to the Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug and other Addiction Services executive director Mary-Linden Salter “It’s an unfortunate phenomenon, especially in small towns, that kids look for something to do and they get creative. They look for new ways to get high.”

Teen Drug Trends See No Increase in Substance Abuse During Monitoring the Future Survey

no increase in teen substance abuse survey showsThe 2015 Monitoring the Future survey from the National Institute of Health has shown that teen drug trends and substance abuse among adolescents has stayed stable or even declined some from past years. This survey showed that there was a decrease among the use of synthetic marijuana, tobacco, prescription pain medications, and alcohol in the last year by teens in the USA. Other types of substance abuse did not decline but these forms also did not increase. Teens are still using marijuana at the previous rates though, and some suspect that this is due to changes in medical marijuana laws and the public perception that marijuana is less harmful.

The Monitoring the Future survey has been performed yearly since the first survey in 1975, and it is performed at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2015 was the first year that teen drug trends showed more marijuana use than tobacco use, while other types of substance abuse among teens is down. NIDA director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. discussed the survey findings and stated “We are heartened to see that most illicit drug use is not increasing, non-medical use of prescription opioids is decreasing, and there is improvement in alcohol and cigarette use rates. However, continued areas of concern are the high rate of daily marijuana smoking seen among high school students, because of marijuana’s potential deleterious effects on the developing brains of teenagers, and the high rates of overall tobacco products and nicotine containing e-cigarettes usage.” Many blame medical and recreational marijuana laws and believe that this has caused teens to view this drug as harmless.

What are Substance Use Disorders and What are the Symptoms?

symptoms of substance abuseSubstance use disorders are considered mental health disorders, and they involve the use of a specific substance that follows a problematic pattern and that impairs the individual in their daily life or causes them severe distress. An individual who shows symptoms of this type of disorder may continue to abuse alcohol or drugs in spite of the very harsh consequences that this activity can have. According to the DSM-5 a diagnosis of substance abuse disorder must include a minimum of 2 symptoms on a list of the symptoms for this disorder, and these symptoms must have been exhibited within the previous 12 months. Some individuals may display more than 2 of the symptoms in the list, and individuals with this type of disorder may even attempt treatment but they often end up using once more after treatment is complete or if the course of treatment is stopped before it is concluded.

Some of the symptoms to watch for with substance use disorders should include:

  • Spending a significant amount of time trying to find, obtaining, or using drugs or alcohol.
  • Failing to perform daily responsibilities or not fulfilling major obligations that you have at home, work, or school because of substance abuse or related issues.
  • A craving for the substance which is being used or abused, such as alcohol, marijuana, or methamphetamine.
  • The continued use of the substance in spite of the negative impact that this has on your personal, family, and romantic relationships.
  • The continued use of the substance in spite of the negative impact that this has on your physical health and well being.
  • The continued use of the substance in spite of the negative impact that this has on your mental health and well being.