Why Drug Abuse Awareness is Crucial When Hiring Employees

An employee with a substance abuse problem can become a major financial drain on a company and will put the health and well-being of all other employees at risk. Unfortunately, this remains a pervasive problem with some estimates showing that substance abuse in the workplace costs over $81 billion annually, and it is absolutely vital that business owners can identify drug abuse problems and know where to get help.

The True Cost of Substance Abuse in the Workplace

The abuse of any substances in the workplace, including alcohol, can result in health risks for employees and financial problems for the employer. Employees that are under the influence of drugs, or withdrawing from them, will have an immediate drop in their productivity and poor concentration. They often make careless mistakes that will not only harm the company’s bottom line, but also impact their own health. The use and abuse of prescription medication further muddles these issues because a person may be taking them every day without realizing how much it is affecting their work.

Identifying Drug Use

Drug testing can be used to uncover drug abuse in the workplace, but employers and their management team also need to be able to identify some of the signs themselves. The number one symptom of drug abuse is a distinct shift in the employee’s behavior. This can take place because they are under the influence of that substance at that time or withdrawing from their drug of choice. In addition to the quality of their work declining, they might also allow their appearance and hygiene to suffer as well. Drug abusers will generally take more days off of work and come up with a variety of erratic excuses for their absenteeism.

Where to Get Help

It is important that employers get struggling employees the help that they need as quickly as possible. Many companies began adopting employee assistance programs (EPAs) in the 1950s which outline the process of identifying and helping those that are in need. These programs often begin with the initial confrontation or testing and end with an inpatient program that lasts for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. An inpatient program allows an addict to uncover the root causes of their problem instead of simply managing the side effects of an addiction.

Hiring an employee that is struggling with substance abuse can become a catastrophic mistake for a company. Drug testing will help employers identify some drug abuse issues, but these tests are not fool-proof. Some potential recruits may have problems with alcohol while others are under the influence of legal prescription medication. This is why all employers must be able to identify the signs of drug abuse during the hiring process as well as the probationary period for new employees.

How Withdrawals Are Like a School Bully

Withdrawal symptoms act very much like the school bully when they start to attack you. Withdrawal does not produce constant discomfort, but the symptoms will keep coming back until you fight against them. This article will explore how you must fight withdrawal symptoms to make them leave you alone. The school bully only wins if you give in.

The First Signs

The first signs of withdrawal are uncomfortable, but they are not too much to bear. You must recognize when withdrawal is coming your way, and you must not ignore your symptoms. Someone who ignores a school bully will be beaten up over and over because the bully feels free to do as they please. Knowing there is a problem is the first step in recovery.

Asking for Help

You must ask for help when you realize you are suffering from withdrawal symptoms. Someone who attempts to deal with a school bully alone has no way of solving their problem. There is no perspective, and there is no way of stepping back to see what is really going on. Having someone help you with your withdrawal symptoms provides the perspective and analysis you need, and a mental health professional is trained to assist you with your symptoms just as a school teacher is trained to deal with school bullies.

Attacking the Problem

You must attack the problem the first chance you get. A bully will back down when you start to fight back, and withdrawal symptoms will not get any better unless you take steps to fix the problem. You must ask a mental health professional for help with withdrawal treatment. There are treatment plans out there for every withdrawal patient, and your counselor can produce a treatment plan made just for you. Your plan of attack will help get rid of the bully. Inaction will cause your problems to continue.

Consistent Action

A school bully who believes you are not as strong as you appear will return for another shot at you. Consistent behavior is required to stop withdrawal symptoms. You must follow your treatment plan for months after your symptoms subside, and you must follow the plan when your therapist asks you to. Never assume that your bully is gone for good.

Treating your withdrawal symptoms like the school bully will produce the results you need. You must ask for help, make a plan of action and follow through. Every patient that follows these steps can have more success overcoming the withdrawal symptoms that are so unpleasant, and can move on to a rehabilitation program to learn how to enjoy a drug-free lifestyle.

Why Addiction Treatment Programs Are the Key to the Future

Addiction treatment programs will change the future of our society, but we must recognize that these programs are effective. Patients struggling with addiction must go to a place that will protect them as they fight their demons. An inpatient addiction treatment program will change someone’s life, but that program must be the first step in any plan.

Why Avoiding Treatment is Problematic

There are many addiction patients who believe they can avoid a treatment facility, but they soon find that going “cold turkey” is not a reliable method for beating addiction, and specialists in the field frown on the practice. Addicts must go to a place that offers a wealth of services that are geared to addressing every aspect of the addiction.

Services Provided Make All the Difference

Addiction treatment programs provide services that many patients cannot find on their own. Treatment programs provide a safe place to live, counseling, group therapy and life skills training. Many of them offer nutritional guidance, music and art therapy, exercise and fitness routines, and much more. A treatment program changes lives more reliably because of the number of services that are provided in a respectful, compassionate manner.

Support Systems

People in treatment programs become part of larger support networks for patients. A patient who has an accountability partner likely found that partner in the treatment program. Counselors who work in treatment programs create impressive client rosters, and their clients may contact the therapist for assistance at any time.

Treatment programs often offer aftercare services to recovering addicts who are seeking outpatient guidance and support. There are group therapy sessions, meetings and workshops that will serve patients long after they have completed the program. The facility becomes a safe place for people to go when they feel they have nowhere else to turn.

Immediate Treatment

Treatment programs provide immediate treatment options for patients who are on the brink of self-destruction. A patient who is near death or close to committing suicide may go into a treatment program that will immediately help them.

Treatment programs for addiction will change the world with their immediacy, services and supportive nature. A treatment program provides patients a place where they can recover from a terrible disease. Addiction can be conquered, one addict at a time.

What are the Risks of Synthetic Pot?

Synthetic Marijuana & Emergency Room Visits

Synthetic marijuana has been sending people to emergency rooms in greater numbers. According to reports, including those from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

There were more than 28,500 ER visits linked to synthetic pot in 2011, compared to roughly 11,400 in 2010.

For teens aged 12 to 17, the number of such visits to the ER doubled, from about 3,800 in 2010 to nearly 7,600 in 2011.

For those aged 18 to 20, that number quadrupled, from about 2,000 in 2010 to over 8,000 in 2011.

Males accounted for 79% of all visits in 2011, while the number of visits by females tripled between 2010 and 2011.

A government survey showed that 11.3% of high school seniors used synthetic marijuana in 2012. To put it another way, one in every nine 12th graders tried synthetic pot in 2012 alone.

Ten Facts about Synthetic Marijuana

  1. The drug known as synthetic marijuana does not derive from the marijuana plant. The drug is created by spraying organic material with a mix of different chemicals. It is mainly consumed through smoking.
  2. Synthetic marijuana is most commonly created from a set of synthetic cannabinoids that mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component in cannabis.
  3. This mix is sprayed onto dried plant material and chopped up herbs. Because synthetic cannabis is not regulated, the chemicals used to create it may vary. The majority of chemicals used in the creation of synthetic pot are dangerous and sometimes even deadly.
  4. The drug is sold under a number of names including: K2, Spice, No More Mr. Nice Guy, fake weed, Yucatan Fire, Bliss, Blaze, incense, potpourri, Skunk, and Moon Rocks.
  5. Synthetic cannabinoids have rather complex chemical names and are often designated by letters and numbers, such as JWH-018, JWH-250, RCS-4, and AM694.
  6. Often the drug is labeled “not for human consumption” in an attempt to avoid DEA & FDA oversight. This worked from 2009 (when synthetic pot showed up on DEA & FDA radar) to 2012.
  7. A 2012 law permanently placed 26 types of synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones in the Schedule 1 drug category. Synthetic cathinones are stimulants that approximate the psychoactive effects of an East African plant called khat. The synthetic varieties are however much more potent than khat and can be compared to methamphetamine.
  8. The DEA lists these chemicals as illegal substances, specifically: “Substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.” Drugs listed under Schedule 1 include heroin, LSD, mescaline, and ecstasy (MDMA).
  9. Synthetic marijuana is often advertised as “natural” but it is anything but. It is a designer drug which has killed a number of otherwise healthy people since it became commonly used. It is also addictive and can cause withdrawal symptoms when a regular user attempts to quit.
  10. The effects of synthetic cannabis are so potentially harmful that one of the chemists who originally formulated the compounds for research purposes said he couldn’t imagine why anyone would try it recreationally. He likened its use to playing Russian roulette.

Synthetic Marijuana and the Brain

The way cannabis and synthetic cannabis work in the brain is similar. They both bind to cannabinoid receptors (cell structures) located throughout the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Cannabinoid receptors process other chemicals beside THC and influence appetite and other bodily functions.

Synthetic pot is much more effective at binding to these receptors than other natural substances. The human body also does not know how to deactivate synthetic cannabis once it has started to affect and even damage the brain. Our system isn’t set up to metabolize this drug.

The inability to fully digest and get rid of the drug means it can become toxic rapidly and cause an overdose. Synthetic marijuana is not the same strength from one package to the next, so one package may seem fine to a user while the next can contain a deadly toxin.

Effects of Synthetic Pot

Synthetic cannabis has many effects upon the body and mind including:

  • A marijuana-like euphoric state
  • Agitation, anxiety
  • Dangerously low blood potassium levels
  • Vomiting
  • Tremor
  • Seizure
  • Rapid heart rate, palpitations, chest pain
  • Increased blood pressure, reduced blood supply getting to the heart
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Addictive behavior
  • Violent behavior
  • Acute psychosis
  • Brain damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Death

The physical effects of synthetic cannabis are unpredictable. Symptoms can set in rapidly after use, but can also seem mild at first. They can last anywhere from one to eight hours, and can become serious or deadly during that time.

If you or someone you know has used synthetic marijuana, get yourself or the person to the hospital or call poison control right away.

Withdrawal Symptoms Associated with Synthetic Pot

There aren’t exact statistics on the number of people addicted to synthetic cannabis. However, there are withdrawal symptoms commonly experienced by individuals attempting to get off the drug. These include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Troubled sleep
  • Cravings
  • Heart palpitations
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Paranoia
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Suicidal ideation

It is a good idea to go to an inpatient rehabilitation facility to treat withdrawal from synthetic cannabis. Such a facility will be able to minimize the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Mental symptoms such as depression, paranoia and suicidal ideation can also be managed for the safety of the patient.

Signs that Someone May be Using Synthetic Pot

No matter the age of the user, synthetic pot is extremely dangerous. It can cause violent behavior, psychosis, stroke, kidney failure and death in people who are generally calm and healthy.

In addition to all the symptoms listed above, there are a number of signs that your child or someone in your home may be using synthetic cannabis, including but not limited to:

  • Eyes glazed over, appears doped or drugged
  • Small, colorful packets labeled incense, potpourri, or not for human consumption. Many such packages have cartoon characters, logos, and use psychedelic color combinations.
  • The smell of cloves, clove cigarettes, or other burnt spices
  • Rolling papers, pipes, blunts (hollowed out cigars), lighters, matches, and other smoking paraphernalia
  • Secretive behavior, door to room locked, takes extra containers to school or work
  • Lack of personal grooming or hygiene
  • Defensive, agitated, belligerent or violent behavior
  • Disinterest in school, job, goals or other activities formerly of interest

If you suspect your child or loved one is using synthetic cannabis or any drug, be sure to bring it up right away. Make sure they feel safe talking to you and do not be judgmental. Be however thoroughly interested in their well-being and understand that anyone secretly using drugs is prone to lies and deception. Do not stop until you get to the truth.

The Pattern of Synthetic Drug Manufacture

It’s not particularly surprising that the synthetic version of marijuana is proving to be far more potent, toxic and dangerous than its natural counterpart. This is not to downplay the inherent dangers of marijuana use, such as cognitive decline, lung damage, impaired immune system, sexual dysfunction, lethargy and apathy. But even in this early stage, the synthetic varieties are already sending more and more people to emergency rooms.

A wide variety of drugs are synthesized in labs in order to approximate the molecular structure and psychoactive effects of naturally occurring compounds.

Psycho-stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), amphetamine (Adderall), and methamphetamine bear chemical similarities to compounds within the coca plant from which cocaine is made. From opium and morphine we get heroin and the range of opioids including methadone, hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin). Cathinones (“bath salts”) approximate the khat plant of Eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Even aspirin was born of the analgesic properties of willow bark. It should also be noted that hydroponics and even genetic engineering is now producing cannabis crops that are far more potent and risky than anything grown even 20 years ago.

The goal in producing synthetic drugs, illicit or otherwise, is often to make a more potent version or a more easily duplicated version. The makers also succeed in making a more addictive and toxic version. While the drug makers collect the cash, the people that pay are the users and their families, and millions of them pay with their very lives.

Besides, legislation, regulation and enforcement, the solution must include rehabilitation for those already drug-dependent, and youth drug education to quell the tide of abuse that wreaks havoc upon our younger generations.

Synthetic marijuana is extremely dangerous and can be addictive. If you or someone you know uses this drug, be sure to get help right away.

10 Questions to Help Determine if You Are an Alcoholic

Are You an Alcoholic?According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an estimated 17 million people in the United States over the age of 18 had an alcohol use disorder in 2012. About 1.4 million adults received treatment for this disorder. Treatment can work to restore the lives of those who suffer from alcoholism. The first step is recognizing when your drinking has become more than just occasional use of alcohol. Helping people realize the extent of their drinking problem is crucial  for avoiding permanent health problems or unnecessary death.

Taking an Honest Look at Your Drinking Habits

Here is a list of questions that might help you determine if you or a loved one has a drinking problem.  No one ever intends to become an alcoholic, but ignoring these warning signs could lead to serious problems if the alcohol abuse continues.  Ask yourself the following:

1. Do you frequently drink before noon?  If you have to start your day with a drink to function, it is likely that you have a problem with alcohol. Many alcoholics begin drinking early in the day just to stabilize themselves for work or everyday tasks.

2. Do you have a family history of alcoholism?  If you have a close family member that has struggled with alcohol use or has been in treatment, you are at increased risk for developing alcoholism yourself.

3. Do you frequently use alcohol to alter your mood or to feel better?  If you don’t feel “right” until you drink, this is a clear indication of alcohol dependence. Treatment at an inpatient treatment center can offer counseling to explore the underlying issues that may be keeping you dependent on alcohol.

4. Do you drink before events or occasions where alcohol is served?  Drinking before occasions that will involve drinking indicates a need to cover the amount of alcohol you need to consume.

5. Do you suffer blackouts or memory loss when drinking?  If you have developed these issues, alcohol is beginning to cause physical damage to your body.

6. Can you consume a large amount of alcohol without feeling intoxicated? Increased tolerance is a common sign of addiction. A treatment facility can help you to regain control over your life and health.

7. Do you hide alcohol or sneak drinks during the day?  Hiding your drinking not only increases the damage done to your body; it also damages your relationships.

8. Have you lost a job because of drinking?  If drinking has impacted on your career, it’s an indication that your alcohol consumption is out of control. An inpatient rehab facility can provide compassionate help for your problem, to help you get back on your chosen career path.

9. Have you been arrested because of your drinking?  Legal problems because of fighting, unruly behavior or driving under the influence mean that alcohol use has taken over your life and you need professional treatment to prevent further problems.

10. Have lost friends or a spouse because of your drinking?  Lying, deception, job loss and legal problems associated with alcoholism can wreak havoc on your relationships and can make emotional issues worse.

If you have experienced these symptoms of alcohol abuse, call a treatment center for help. With proper alcoholism treatment, you can restore your life to sobriety and sanity again and enjoy life, as it should be.


 

NOTE: April 2015 is National Alcohol Awareness Month sponsored by NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.) Also, the weekend of April 3rd – 5th is National Alcohol Free Weekend, both designed to raise awareness of the serious effects of alcohol abuse on a person’s mind and body, and the consequences suffered by friends and loved ones of the alcoholic. Learn more about this effort and find out how you can participate.

 

Signs That Your Teen is Abusing Alcohol

Teens Abusing AlcoholDrinking alcohol is something that is sometimes attractive to young individuals. However, young people do not always realize the damaging effects that can come from drinking alcohol. Besides the fact that underage drinking is illegal, a variety of risks are posed because of underage drinking.

Risks Associated with Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is something that is widespread. It was estimated that over 10 million teenagers in the United States consumed alcohol in the year 2009. When teenagers drink alcohol, they often consume more than adults. Young people usually drink at least five alcoholic beverages on a single occasion. This can be considered binge drinking.

Some of the risks that are associated with underage drinking include:

  • Brain Development Problems. Alcohol can affect the development of the brain, and it can cause a wide range of physical, behavior, and mental health issues. Researchers say that the brain is continuing to develop until a person is in their 20’s.
  • Injuries and Impaired Judgment. Drinking and abusing alcohol can cause teenagers to make poor decisions which can result in risky behavior and serious injury. In fact, over 190,000 teenagers visited emergency rooms because of alcohol related injuries in the year 2008.
  • Death. More than 5,000 teenagers die every year from alcohol related suicides, homicides, car crashes, and injuries.

Look for Warning Signs

The abuse of alcohol is a serious issue. It should not be minimized or ignored. Parents and other concerned individuals should not just sit back and hope that it goes away. If this problem is left untreated, the abuser can develop a dependence on alcohol. Here are some of the signs to look for:

Physical Warning Signs

  • Bloodshot eyes and pupils that are larger or smaller than normal
  • A change in sleep pattern or appetite, including unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Lack of personal grooming, or the deterioration of physical appearance
  • Shaking, tremors, and seizures
  • Impaired coordination

Psychological Warning Signs

  • Sudden mood changes, outbursts of anger, irritability, and uncontrolled laughing
  • Lack of motivation or the ability to focus
  • A confusing change in attitude or personality
  • Seems withdrawn, anxious, paranoid, or fearful

Behavioral Warning Signs

  • Complaints from teachers or classmates
  • Skipping class, getting in trouble at school, declining grades
  • Avoiding eye contact and demanding more privacy
  • Using air freshener, perfume, or other things to hide the smell of alcohol
  • Use of eye drops to hide physical symptoms of alcohol abuse
  • Borrowing or stealing money
  • A change in relationship with friends and family

Get Help From Professionals

If you suspect that your teen is abusing alcohol, it is time for you to approach the subject and talk with your teen. Speak with them in a non-threatening manner. Remember that the end goal of the conversation is to get them to communicate with you and to find a solution to the problem.

Individuals who abuse alcohol, no matter their age, benefit from inpatient care. Overcoming an addiction alone is something that is usually not possible. If you suspect that your teenager is abusing alcohol, there are professionals working with inpatient treatment centers that are eager to help your teenager. They will use their years of experience to help your teenager on the road to recovery.


NOTE: April 2015 is National Alcohol Awareness Month sponsored by NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.) Also, the weekend of April 3rd – 5th is National Alcohol Free Weekend, both designed to raise awareness of the serious effects of alcohol abuse on a person’s mind and body, and the consequences suffered by friends and loved ones of the alcoholic. Learn more about this effort and find out how you can participate.

Understanding “Enablers” and How to Avoid Being One

Understanding EnablersA fine line exists between helping a drug or alcohol addicted person get through the day as opposed to making it easier (enabling) for them to continue in their destructive behavior.

Oftentimes, when friends and/or family members try to help an addict by making excuses for them or taking responsibility for their actions or behavior, it becomes easier for them to remain an addict. Regardless, if the addict is addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, eating or sex, each time someone takes the blame for the addict’s behavior they are,  in essence,  telling the addict it is okay to continue this type of behavior.

Are You an Enabler?

For example, if a spouse allows an alcoholic to avoid the consequences of their actions, this sends a clear message to the alcoholic that it is okay to continue their drinking ways, knowing no matter what happens someone will be there to rescue them. This behavior is called “enabling” and the enabler is a person in a relationship with an addict that suffers for their behavior.

If you can answer yes to any of these statements you may be an enabler:

  • Have you ever called in sick for the addict, because they were too drunk or hungover to get to work/school?
  • Do you find yourself making excuses for the addict’s behavior?
  • Have you ever had to pay for the addict’s legal fees, or bail them out of jail?
  • Do you ever lie to cover for the addict?
  • Do you avoid confrontation with the alcoholic/addict about their behavior, because you’re worried they’ll get mad?
  • Do you ever pay the addict’s bills or loan them money? Do you find yourself giving the addict ”one last chance” multiple times?
  • Have you ever done work for an addict that they were responsible for?
  • Do you ever feel manipulated by the addict, but ignore those feelings because they “need” you?

Some may say, “I was only trying to help.” However, the problem with this lies in the fact that the non-addicted partner continues to take on more and more responsibility. So what is the real difference between helping and enabling? Essentially, helping is assisting someone who cannot do for themselves. In the end, this kind of behavior creates resentment by all parties involved. The addict expects the sober partner to continue to make things right and take on more and more responsibilities. The addict will come to resent the sober partner when they make the addict take responsibility for their actions.

How Can I Stop It?

A person may wonder “How do I stop it?” It is not an easy process to put a halt to. For the enabler, they fear retaliation if they do not continue to assist or they fear the consequences of not doing anything. For example, a wife may fear an alcoholic husband will lose his job if she does not cover for him. However, she is taking away his incentive for seeking sobriety. The sober partner may fear they will die, have an auto accident or worse, kill an innocent victim while driving intoxicated, or may fear they will commit suicide. If they get arrested for drunk driving, the sober spouse will not need to worry about them getting into an accident, killing someone else because they are hopefully being watched by law enforcement and are safe.

One of the hardest things for an enabler is admitting a loved one has a problem. This is one of the toughest aspects of the enabling relationship to stop. While it may seem easier to ignore the addict’s behavior, in the long run they are becoming more and more at risk both mentally and physically. Experts recommend leaving the evidence of their actions intact so they can see how their behavior affects their lives and the lives of those around them.

  • Don’t clean up their vomit.
  • Don’t wash their soiled linens.
  • Don’t help them into bed.

This may sound cruel; however, it is the addict that is causing the problems. Because of the influence of the addiction, there is no use in nagging or blaming. The addict will not care until they have been removed from the hold of the addiction. It is important to remember addicts are great liars and manipulators. They force loved ones to go to great lengths to conceal their addiction for them. We all want to believe the best in our loved ones, but continuing to lie for them will prolong the suffering for everyone involved.

Stop Listening to the Lies

The first step is admitting your loved one has a problem. You can seek the advice of a counselor or rehabilitation center to plan an intervention for your loved one. Next, stop accepting their lies, don’t give them money and don’t make excuses for them; allow them to take responsibility. The non-addicted partner needs to realize they need to put their personal health and safety first. If you ever feel unsafe, remove yourself from the situation. Studies show 70% of drug addicts get their drugs from friends and family. They are not stolen or bought, they are given as gifts to an addict along with the permission to use them. Think about that.

 

Some Advice for Staying Calm & Focused in a Chaotic World

Anxiety in America

Staying Calm & FocusedIf you Google “How many people suffer from anxiety?” you will most likely get the following front and center in your search:

“Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population). Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.”

The quote is from a group called the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). It seems harmless enough until you realize that this group is subsidized by pharmaceutical giants Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, and others. The purpose of the propaganda is to instill in our minds that we are mentally ill and must have our brain chemistry adjusted in order to be “normal” or to “manage the illness”.

The statement from ADAA translates to “You are far better off when you are a drug customer!” or “We are far better off when you are buying drugs from us!” More information on the marketing of mental illness for profit can be found in these documentaries:

The Marketing of Madness: Are We All Insane?
American Addict

Unproven Disorders

The more people that think they’re ill, the more drugs are purchased and the more billions are added to the revenue of pharmaceutical companies. The alleged “disorders” of which I speak are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) under headings such as Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Unspecified Anxiety Disorder – to name but a few. None of these alleged “disorders” can be proven by any medical test of any kind – a fact which runs contrary to medical science.

Nonetheless, the pharmaceutical marketing apparatus will do their best to convince you that you need mind-altering benzodiazepines like Xanax, Klonopin and Valium, or some other psychotropic drug with dangerous side-effects and addictive properties.

Real Medical Science

If you’re going to be prescribed an antibiotic, it is only after tests have proven the presence of bacteria, such as streptococcal pharyngitis (aka strep throat). Standard medical tests include blood tests, urine tests, asthma and allergy tests, CAT scan, MRI, blood pressure reading, respiratory reading, oxygen reading, EKG, and many others. None of these tests apply to mental illness since no mental illness can be proven by medical tests. It is observable that physical conditions can result in mental distress. Someone with the flu can feel very depressed indeed. A person who is physically fatigued or has shortness of breath due to asthma or allergies can simultaneously feel acute anxiety.

Anxiety is Real!

But whenever this point is made, someone will argue “How dare you claim that no one has a mental illness or serious problem with anxiety or depression?!!” The answer is that no one said mental illness wasn’t real. Mental distress is very real indeed. It could be argued that everyone has a mental problem of some kind or other. Maybe we’re all “mentally ill!” But is the solution more and more drugs? Is the magic pill or holy shot in the arm approach really working? Are the men in white smocks or the lab technicians at Pfizer and Merck the saviors of mankind because they really know what it’s all about and can tweak our brain chemistry so we feel elated all the time? Common sense tells us that is not the answer.

No One is Immune

There are many good reasons to feel anxiety: You watch beheadings on CNN; you get stuck in traffic; you’re late for work and threatened with being fired; your kids may or may not be using drugs; your mailbox is full of unpaid bills and little else; your marriage is strained. Feelings of anxiety and depression are part of being human. No one is immune. But what if you feel anxiety most of the time or all of the time? What if you feel acute anxiety with little provocation or for no reason at all? Fortunately, there are things that can be done even for that.

A Checklist

Make a ChecklistThe first thing I would recommend for dealing with anxiety, depression and other unwanted emotions would be something like a checklist, a process of elimination. You may find that something is contributing to the condition that can be remedied rather easily, while other situations may require more work. But the first step is to take a look! This is by no means a set-in-stone checklist, but it is based on common sense and logic. In fact, you could come up with a similar list yourself. All I’m doing is pointing out things that are so obvious that they get overlooked:

Are You Physically Ill?

Untreated physical conditions can appear to be mental illness if you don’t look any further than symptoms. Hormonal problems (such as those related to the thyroid gland), asthma, allergies, a heart condition, diabetes, menopause, and many other conditions can exist that trigger mental reactions in a person. If you feel that such a situation could exist, visit a qualified physician. And if you don’t feel any condition is present, there is nothing wrong with a checkup. The routine physical is kind of a dying art these days, but if you run diagnostics and regular maintenance on your car, why not your body? It’s infinitely more valuable than your car. Don’t overlook underlying physical causes for mental distress.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

People who are not well-rested can act rather neurotic and even psychotic. Maybe you drink too much coffee after dinner and this affects your sleep. Perhaps a schedule adjustment is in order so you get more sleep. Many people are light sleepers or suffer from sleep apnea (temporary cessation of breathing, especially during sleep). Fortunately, there are remedies for apnea that do not involve any drugs whatsoever. In fact, adding drugs to apnea is potentially dangerous. There is a wealth of non-drug remedies for sleep: Turning off machines that make noise, a mattress and pillow that conform to your body, herbal remedies, peaceful sounds and music, and many others. Get enough sleep and see how you feel.

Are You Eating Properly?

A malnourished body will result in an uneasy mind. Eat only junk food, skip a lot of meals and you’ll feel mentally distressed. Eating foods high in saturated fats, sugar, preservatives, pesticides, chemicals, and additives is not a wise diet. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are increasingly suspect, so much so that foods that do NOT contain GMOs are now often given a special label. Concerned officials and citizens in Vermont, Oregon, and other states are attempting to get food labeled as to what ingredients are GMO, but it has been an uphill fight. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are bad enough, but certain artificial sweeteners, aspartame in particular, have been linked with depression, fatigue and other symptoms.

I always tell people that eating lean meats, plant proteins, superfoods, fruits and vegetables – all preferably organic – is a good start. You need not be diet-obsessed. Just eat better and see if your physical and mental state improves.

Do You Take Any Vitamin or Mineral Supplements?

The whole idea of vitamins and minerals is that the foods you eat may not provide all the nutrients you need. Vitamins and minerals are FOOD, not drugs. Just as with diets, there are a lot of fads out there when it comes to supplements, and not all supplements are created equal. Some are great. Some are just OK. And some are virtually useless. Finding a good multivitamin is a good start, but you may want to do a little research as to what supplements to choose.

It is a known fact that specific deficiencies can results in depression, anxiety and fatigue. The B vitamin group, in particular vitamin B1, along with vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium should also be part of your routine. These things do cost money, but you need not go overboard.

Do You Exercise?

The body needs exercise. Apart from purely physical reasons such as your health and longevity, exercise and state of mind are intimately related. Skip exercise and you’re likely to get moody, fatigued and irritated, not to mention more susceptible to anxiety and depression. Exercise daily, or at least regularly, and you can markedly improve your overall outlook on life. You need not push yourself past the limit. If you haven’t exercised for a while, start in on low impact cardio (walking, running) for 20-30 minutes per day or every other day, then work it up from there. Any exercise is better than none, but when you do it daily you’ll probably notice a significant improvement in your mood and calmness of mind.

A friend of mine would get out of breath even when she walked a few blocks. When she tried exercising, she could only go a few minutes. She’d also be up at night with breathing problems. Finally she went to the doctor and found out she wasn’t getting enough oxygen and had asthma and allergies; she had just been ignoring the signs. After remedying some of the symptoms, she felt MUCH better and was able to work out at the gym. And she felt much better mentally and physically.

Are You Using Drugs or Alcohol?

The ads that tell you to “ask your doctor” would have you believe that being on drugs is a positive move. Truthfully, many drugs that are now illegal were once fully legal and contained in tonics, elixirs, Coca-Cola, children’s cough syrups, and many other products. These once legal drugs include cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Alcohol is of course a legal drug and countless people drink occasionally or socially without much drama, but its abuse has been the source of endless pain and misery for centuries. If you have a drug or alcohol problem, legal or otherwise, you should get help. Drugs are one of the chief problems, NOT the solution!

Are You Watching the News?

I’ve stated before that watching too much media can cause you considerable stress and anxiety. You want to know what’s happening in the world, and that is fine. But it is VERY easy to overdo it. Do you know what a “Merchant of Chaos” is? It’s a person who makes a profit in direct proportion to the amount of chaos in the environment. The press and media in general simply LOVE chaos, confusion, death and destruction. The more of it there is, the more issues they sell, the more webpage hits, the more viewers, the more money from advertisers, etc.

I put pharmaceutical companies that sell psychotropic drugs in the same category. Why? Because the more anxiety and depression you feel (or think you feel), the more you perceive that you’re sick, the more money they make. And if you get prescribed two, three, four, ten more drugs to offset the side effects of other drugs, the more their coffers are filled and the better their dividends.

Get home after work, sit down and get an earful and eyeful of the latest beheadings, disasters, murders, missing persons, disease outbreaks, and so on – and observe how it affects you. If you aren’t going to do anything immediately about it, why inundate your mind and your home with disturbing news? Plus they don’t tell you once; they tell you over and over and over again until it rings in your ears. Not only that, their “news” is slanted and pushes an agenda, as well as often being completely made up.

Turn off the television and devices and enjoy the silence. Talk with your loved ones and friends. Play a board game. Play soccer. Do a family project. Do this for days or weeks and see if your anxiety subsides.

Is Your Conscience Weighing You Down?

This is a touchy issue because it can make someone sound like a puritan or a moralist. But that is not the version of which I speak. The angle I’m describing is the one where you have trouble looking yourself in the mirror. It’s all about YOU and your relationship with yourself and others. If you’re cheating on your spouse or embezzling funds from your office, don’t be surprised when you experience several forms of anxiety – anxiety of crushing guilt, anxiety of getting caught, anxiety about the future, etc. If you don’t get caught first, you may decide to “fess up” or make it good – but it will be your personal decision to do so.

The conscience is a powerful force, so much so that you become your own worst enemy. Walk down the street or into any bar in America and know that many of the people you are looking at are constantly getting in their own way. They are creating barriers for themselves and if they just straightened it out, they’d feel immense relief. I speak from experience. It’s not puritanism or moralism. It’s just YOU being true to your innate values.

Is Someone Being a Negative Influence?

There is another side to the coin. You can certainly get in your own way and countless people do. But others can do so as well. Let’s be clear: I’m not saying to be hypercritical of others and go around finger-pointing. There is WAY too much of that going around. “YOU did this to me!” and “See what YOU did that has made me miserable!” – on and on without end.

But if someone is constantly telling you how you CAN’T do this and you will NEVER succeed and you are just NOT cut out for this, you know that you’re dealing with a decidedly NEGATIVE personality. Their comments can be couched in the language of constructive criticism, such as “Don’t quit your day job” or “Maybe it’s just not for you and you should do something else” and the like. Realize that such comments are not really constructive criticism; they’re simply criticism. Is that person trying to push you forward or are they trying STOP you? That is a question to ask.

The aforementioned Merchant of Chaos is a great example of this. They’re trying to tell you that you’ll be hit by Ebola or an asteroid or some such thing if you walk out your front door, or that you must be all drugged up on Xanax in order to feel remotely “normal”. The “friend” who pushes drugs on you (peer pressure) is another type of negative influence. Personality types, human behavior, and related subjects obviously comprise a broad field, and I’m only giving you the tip of the iceberg, scratching the surface, but hopefully you get the basic idea.

Do You Finish What You Start?

If you really want to generate feelings of anxiety for yourself, never complete anything you start. Start mowing the lawn and don’t finish it. Start fixing up the house but leave it a mess and don’t clean it up. Start a course of study, get really interested in it and then abandon it. You’ll build up one anxiety upon another.

A great thing to do is to list out all your incomplete projects. Once you’ve put down everything you can think of, start getting them done. You may decide on a sequence in which to do them, but this is a secondary concern. The most important thing is to COMPLETE one at a time. Just pick one and do it, then the next, the next and so on.

You can even take it a step further and jot down the projects you’ve WANTED to start but never did. I would recommend, however, completing the ones you started first. Just make sure that when you start a new project, keep working on it and complete it. Some projects are longer and are broken down into smaller sections which are completed one at a time. You’re likely to feel much better when you’re completing what you start.

Do You Have a Trust Network?

Have a Trust NetworkWhen you feel all alone, realize that you are not. At the very least, you’re not alone in feeling alone. In truth, no one makes it alone. People need each other just like we need the plants and trees to breathe and vice versa. You hopefully have family and friends that you trust and who trust you. But if there is some trouble in that department, there are places you can turn. Your church can be a great place to find help and guidance. You can go online and find legitimate support groups and programs.

Locating groups of people with similar interests can be of great benefit. There are groups for everything: Hiking, biking, climbing, running, sports, art, crafts, music, cars, motorcycles – anything you can think of. Walk into any coffee shop and there are probably several little meetings happening of people with some sort of highly specialized interest. I was in a coffee shop a little while ago and next to me was a meeting of thirtysomething-year-old men who wanted to revitalize skateboarding as a method of transportation – pretty specific!

Your family, friends, church, group, etc. should comprise what could be called your “trust network” – those with whom you’ve established mutual trust and respect. This trust is established through the course of life and it is furthered and reinforced through healthy two-way communication. You should have people you can talk with, who will listen, who won’t heavy-handedly judge you but will tell you the bare-bones truth.

Sometimes, trust is betrayed. You were betrayed or you did the betraying. Regardless, such things can be repaired one way or another. That’s the next thing to understand: The situation is never without hope. Something can always be done to fix it. Life is challenging to say the least, and it is a team effort. In the end we must work together, and working together is a continuous process.

Closing

Alright, that was more than a checklist.

No one said life would be neat and tidy and eternally joyful. Our unpleasant emotions, such as anxiety, depression, fear, anger, etc. may simply be stepping stones on the way to enthusiasm, joy, a sense of camaraderie and the feeling of a job well done.

Always remember to look ahead and know that you create your own destiny. From the famous poem, “Invictus”:

I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

Sources:

http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

http://www.cchr.org/videos/marketing-of-madness.html

http://www.cchrint.org/2011/08/29/cchr-exposes-front-groups/

http://www.cchrint.org/issues/psycho-pharmaceutical-front-groups/adaa/#_edn3

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2002/07/disorders-made-order

10 Tips for Preventing Underage Alcohol Use

Underage Alcohol UseThe most popular drug among teenagers is alcohol, and if you were young once, you probably know why. If you’re like millions of others, you drank as a youth before it was legal to do so. So talking to your kids about it may make you nervous. You did it, so why can’t they – or at least that’s the reasoning a lot of teens fall back on. But you still probably don’t want them drinking and you certainly don’t want them drinking and driving. Here are 10 tips for helping your kids steer clear of the pitfalls of underage drinking:

1. Build Rapport

An adult attempting to build rapport with a teenage son or daughter can appear strained or even futile, but it need not be if it is real and honest communication. If you drank as a youth, be honest about it. Tell your kids that you don’t want them to make the same mistakes you did. Whatever your approach, establish two-way communication, and try not to make it a boring lecture. Relate the discussion to their real-life situation. Find out what they’re running into and go over solutions. And realize that one conversation isn’t enough. The discourse should be on-going as new situations present themselves.

2. Educate

Most kids who got into drinking and drugs simply didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. That is where drug and alcohol education is indispensable. A number of programs and websites have tackled the subject quite well. They provide an insightful look into the truth about drugs and alcohol without being boring or overly preachy. They include:

The best approach is to give kids the facts. When they are educated, they are far more likely to make rational choices. The PERCEPTION OF RISK is a key element to discuss, since kids assume alcohol and even prescription drugs are “safe” since they’re “legal” when nothing could be further from the truth.

3. Set Priorities

Your primary concern is the safety of your child. It is up to you and your child to work out boundaries and protocol. If your #1 concern is about drunk driving, tell them. Let him or her know that you CAN and WILL pick them up any time night or day, no questions asked. Talk about binge drinking and date rape, the prevalence of sexual assault amongst high school and college age kids. If you don’t know about all that, take it upon yourself to find out, because as a parent you need to know. Lay the ground rules and go over various scenarios with your kids. Make sure you get their understanding and honest agreement.

4. Discus Teenage Drinking Habits

Alcohol affects the teenage brain and body differently than adults. When kids drink, it is usually in the form of binge drinking. Most kids don’t like the taste, but they knock down a number of drinks in a short period of time and get intoxicated VERY fast. They lose control and the next morning they often don’t remember everything that happened the night before. They make bad decisions, get into fights and have accidents; they have unprotected sex and risk STDs and unwanted pregnancy. Teens and college kids have all kinds of drinking rituals, many of which are unhealthy and some are quite dangerous. You should talk about these facts with your son or daughter, not to scare them, but to help them understand the pitfalls of underage drinking.

5. Address the Prevalence of Mixing Drugs & Alcohol

Mixing drugs and alcohol is one of the most dangerous things that kids do. A punch bowl party or pharm party is one where kids collect up massive amounts of pills, put them in a bowl and everyone reaches in and swallows a handful, or they get handed out like candy. Then they wash it all down with alcohol and the results can be catastrophic. They don’t even know what they’re taking yet the pills include heavy narcotic and psychotropic drugs, such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Ritalin, Adderall, Xanax, Valium, and so on. Any mixing of drugs and alcohol can be dangerous or fatal.

6. Talk About Peer Pressure

If your teen is going to parties, you can be pretty much certain there is alcohol there. They get a lot of pressure to drink and use drugs. Talk with your kids about whether it’s worth it or not to go to these parties. This is a very real problem for teens because popularity is a big issue – at least to them. Peer pressure, ridicule and bullying are serious obstacles for kids. They also have to contend with online peer pressure and bullying, something their parents never had to deal with. Understanding what kids are up against in the 21st century is vital to the conversation.

Another angle is to go over things that are “cool” that do not require drugs or alcohol. Being on the football team or cheerleading squad, taking up the guitar or drums, and other pursuits could successfully supplant the superficial “cool” mentality with something genuinely cool. But even the so-called “uncool” pursuits like science and math are in fact cool. Hopefully your kid’s school supports diverse interests.

7. Discuss Media Influence

Unlike cigarettes, alcohol is advertised on television. So are prescription drugs oddly enough. On television, YouTube, in movies, in print ads and on billboards, we see slick, stylish, well-dressed, affluent, endlessly cool and beautiful people drinking and having the time of their lives. You’d think they just found the key to happiness in a bottle. For some reason, virtually every Seth Rogen/James Franco/Jonah Hill movie has the obligatory slow-motion drunken debauchery scene – to cite one bewildering and ridiculous example.

Media, advertising and propaganda are precise “sciences” and one of the key tools in the arsenal is REPETITON. The “public” gets hit with specific imagery over and over and over again, so much so that we don’t even notice it. Children and teens are especially impressionable and alcohol advertising is intended to make young consumers into loyal customers. Practice media awareness with your kids in order to get them cognizant of the messages and images they are viewing.

8. Establish Goals

Kids drink and use drugs because they’re bored and can’t think of anything better to do. Help your child or teen establish some direction in life. They could get a head start on their peers by taking up a worthwhile goal and working industriously towards it. Many of your great artists, innovators and entrepreneurs started in their youth. They knew what they wanted and went for it, and they couldn’t be bothered with the partying and boozing mentality. There is nothing wrong with having a good time, but when young people have a strong sense of purpose, they also learn and practice things like hard work and self-discipline. They learn that real accomplishment doesn’t come for free.

9. Establish Positive Role Models

Kids emulate their role models. Unfortunately, there are some less-than-stellar role models out there. Talk about role models with your kids. Who are they? Why did they pick them? Perhaps they could elect some positive ones. Maybe they never even thought about it. But the best role model you could aspire to is the best version of YOU. You can’t really force that on anyone – they must realize it for themselves. They can look at others and decide they’d like to adopt some of their positive qualities, but in the end you want them becoming more and more who they truly are. “Be yourself!” has become a bit of a slogan, but the idea is a good one. Be YOU, not someone else.

10. Build Family Support

I certainly can’t tell you how to run your family, but I can say that the family is the primary building block of a civilization. Your family should be the rock for your kids. Certainly the parents should act as positive role models, so if you have a drug problem or a drinking problem, get help. Many kids who get into trouble with drugs and alcohol do so out of frustrations that started in the home. The more stable, supportive and nurturing the family environment, the better. That takes work, as does anything worthwhile.

Our youth face daunting challenges these days, as well as unique opportunities. The support they need starts in the home.

10 Addictive Drugs Being Marketed Today

More Drug Marketing = More Drug Use

Addictive DrugsAmerican television viewers see up to 16 hours of advertisements for prescription medications every single year, and that doesn’t count all the print and internet ads.

A survey done by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of consumers viewing ads for drugs, revealed that 58% felt that the ads made the drugs sound much better than they actually were. 75% of physicians agreed with consumers, stating that the drugs do not work as well as the ads would have consumers believe.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that many of these ads are completely inapplicable to the health of the consumer watching it. However, the advertisements encourage “telling your doctor” and general alarm about possibly non-existent health problems.

What is not generally known is that many drugs are marketed directly to doctors by pharmaceutical companies, further slanting health care away from medical science and more toward popular opinion and propaganda. A patient “telling her doctor” about an issue she saw on television is seen by a doctor whose attitude could very have been influenced by clever marketing and sales ploys aimed at his profession.

With so much advertising telling people how great prescription medications are, it can be difficult to discover the dangers of specific drugs. Here is a list of 10 addictive drugs which are likely being marketed to you directly or to your doctor:

1. Zohydro ER (hydrocodone)

This painkiller is an extended release capsule of the opioid hydrocodone and is prescribed to treat severe pain. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) categorizes hydrocodone products as Schedule II in their “Schedules of Controlled Substances.” This category is for drugs that have “a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.”

One Zohydro ER pill releases hydrocodone over a period of 12 hours. It has no “anti-abuse” failsafe built in. This means an individual can crush the pill and consume a full 12 hour dose in one swallow, snort, etc. OxyContin ER had the same problem until the drug company producing it was required to create a pill that turns to a mushy paste when it is crushed. This prevents users from snorting, smoking or injecting the drug. For some reason, Zohydro ER has not been produced in a tamper-resistant form.

2. OxyContin (oxycodone extended-release)

OxyContin is an extended release opioid painkiller which is made of oxycodone. It has long been known as a highly addictive opioid pain reliever and is listed as a Schedule II drug by the DEA.

Sold on the street under names like oxy, OC, O, hillbilly heroin, oxycotton, and kickers, there has been a thriving black market going on around this pill for years. The U.S. government has taken steps to end the illegal sale and abuse of this drug by insuring manufacturers produce a tamper-resistant pill.

3. Methadone

Methadone is an opioid medication which is prescribed to treat pain and to treat addiction to other opiates like heroin and oxycodone. While methadone has been prescribed to treat addiction since the 1960’s, this drug is extremely addictive and is listed under Schedule II by the DEA.

The use of methadone has been to transfer heroin and opiate addicts onto methadone as a legal substitute and then slowly reduce the dosage. The idea is to reduce the withdrawal symptoms one might experience going “cold turkey.” However, methadone is often used for years after the individual has moved onto it. Many are unable to take that final step and get off opiates.

Withdrawal from opiates, such as heroin, will cause the user to get sick and experience other physical and psychological symptoms, but is not usually life-threatening. Methadone on the other hand can cause death if the addict attempts to withdraw cold turkey when the drug has been used for an extended period of time. Medically supervised detoxification should in fact be done for any opiate withdrawal situation.

4. Vicodin (hydrocodone & acetaminophen)

Vicodin is a mix of the opioid hydrocodone and acetaminophen (aka Tylenol). It has recently been added to the list of Schedule II drugs by the DEA and FDA. This is due to the number of people abusing hydrocodone combination drugs, its addictive nature, and the high rates of overdose hospitalizations and deaths. Abuse of oxycodone, hydrocodone and other opioids has led to a spike in heroin abuse throughout the country, partly due to the availability and appealing street prices for heroin. Heroin, morphine and prescription painkillers share chemical similarities and users often alternate and use whatever they can get their hands on.

5. Methamphetamine

Few may know it, but methamphetamine is a legal drug sold under the name Desoxyn which is prescribed to treat ADHD, obesity, and narcolepsy (a sleep disorder characterized by the inability to control when one falls asleep. This drug is very addictive and is listed as a Schedule II narcotic by the DEA. Not only is methamphetamine extremely psychologically and physically addictive, it can change a person’s physical appearance and cause mental breakdowns and psychosis.

6. Ritalin (methylphenidate)

This is a well-known stimulant prescribed to treat perceived mental disorders as well as narcolepsy. It is given to children, ages 6 and up, who have been diagnosed with ADHD. Ritalin and other methylphenidate drugs like Concerta, Quillivant XR, Metadate, and Methylin are addictive, Schedule II narcotics, chemically similar to amphetamines and even cocaine.

Giving methylphenidate and other stimulants to young children often produces a depressive effect and sends their small bodies into a sort of shock. Also described as “zombielike”, this is perceived as an improvement in the child’s behavior because they are less inclined to exercise their freewill, are more docile, and are easier to control.

These drugs are linked to a long list of known stimulant side-effects including insomnia and heart problems. They are also documented as causing sudden death in children by bringing about an enlarged heart and other complications associated with stimulants.

More and more children and adults are being diagnosed with ADHD, which means this drug is in vast circulation in the United States. Over three million units of methylphenidate were sold in the United States in 2013 alone. That’s about 1 pill for every 100 Americans. The majority of those taking the drug are children between the ages of 4 and 17 – and most of these are boys.

Whether one is using methylphenidate drugs according to prescription or they’re abusing the drugs (crushing, snorting, smoking, injecting, overdosing, etc.), there is a high potential for addiction – a fact well-documented by the DEA.

7. Adderall and other amphetamines

Adderall contains dextroamphetamine and amphetamine and is commonly prescribed to treat ADHD symptoms. Other amphetamines prescribed to treat ADHD which were not covered above include Dexedrine (amphetamine), Dextrostat (dextroamphetamine), and Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine). All of these drugs are categorized as Schedule II narcotics by the DEA for their potential for abuse and physical and psychological dependence and addiction. Adderall and Dexedrine are FDA “approved” for children 3 years of age and older while Vyvanse is approved for use by children 6 years and older.

8. Xanax (alprazolam)

Xanax (generically known as alprazolam) is most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety. It “works” by depressing the function of the central nervous system. The Drug Abuse Warning System (DAWN) reported in 2009 that 363,000 emergency room visits involved central nervous system depressants.

Xanax falls into a category of drugs called benzodiazepines. These drugs were introduced to replace barbiturates as sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medications. Long-term use of benzodiazepines has been linked to a number of health conditions including Alzheimer’s disease as well as dependence and addiction. If a long-term user of benzodiazepines decides to stop taking the drugs cold turkey, he or she may experience severe withdrawal symptoms, including a potentially fatal cluster of symptoms called benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Therefore, withdrawal from benzodiazepines like Xanax should be done under the care of medically trained addiction specialists.

9. Valium (diazepam)

Valium (generically known as diazepam) is another benzodiazepine drug. This medication is most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, seizures, muscle spasms, and is also used by some facilities during alcohol withdrawal. Because Valium is a benzodiazepine, anyone seeking to stop using it must seek medical assistance. Suddenly stopping benzodiazepine use is dangerous and can be fatal as mentioned above.

10. Cough syrup with codeine

Prescription cough syrup with codeine is a commonly abused drug. Codeine is in the opiate class and repeated use can bring about drug dependence and addictive behavior. Too much codeine can kill someone. A concoction called Purple Drank, also known as lean, sizzurp, syrup, drank, and other names is a mixture of codeine cough syrup, promethazine (allergy medication), as well as other ingredients like soda, ice, colored candy, and alcohol. The drink originated out of the Hip Hop community in Houston, Texas and has since spread through the South and the rest of the country, getting an added boost from a few rappers and their songs which glorified the drink. Rapper Lil Wayne admitted to his addiction to it, while DJ Screw and others died from it.

Alternatives to Drugs

When you or your child are prescribed a drug, particularly for a “mental disorder”, do your homework and find out what the side effects are and how addictive the drug may be. I have written a number of other articles detailing such drugs and the marketing ploys that have gotten 50 million Americans using them. You can always get a second opinion from a physician versed in non-drug treatments.

For physical pain, particularly severe pain, drugs are often necessary, but continued painkiller use does lead to dependence and addiction, so precautions should be taken.

Tobacco was once advertised on television and even endorsed by doctors as a “healthy” practice. Then it became clear that millions of people were dying of cancer and it was decided that the TV ads probably weren’t such a great idea. Millions have already perished from prescription drug use yet TV ads and stealth marketing continues unabated. Perhaps one day enough people will take notice and greater reforms will be instituted.

You can live a drug-free life. If you or someone close to you suffers from addiction to any of the above drugs, or any drug, contact one of our addiction specialists. You have a right to know your options.
Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17261859

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm143562.htm

http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/

http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/methadone.asp

http://www.rxlist.com/zohydro-er-drug/side-effects-interactions.htm

http://www.zogenix.com/content/products/zohydro.htm

http://www.rxlist.com/oxycontin-side-effects-drug-center.htm

http://www.rxlist.com/vicodin-drug/patient-images-side-effects.htm

http://www.rxlist.com/desoxyn-drug/side-effects-interactions.htm

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/narcolepsy