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Dealers do their best to makes the product sound harmless: spice, K2, molly, bath salts, herbal incense, plant food. Some are even sold under the guise of legitimate products in head shops and gas stations and online.

But they are all part of an escalating trend to produce and market synthetic drugs to a demanding marketplace. While lawmakers and law enforcement does its best to keep up, new drugs appear constantly—some with horrific effects.

“Synthetic drugs” is a term most often applied to synthetic marijuana or cannabinoids, designed to mimic the effects of pot, or synthetic cathinones, which are supposed to have a high similar to amphetamines. Fake pot, after real marijuana, is the most frequently used drug among high school seniors. In fact, the biggest group of users for synthetics is 12- to-17-year-olds!

Synthetics Is a growth market

The popularity of synthetics is rising in part because they are easy to make in quantity and easy to market to customers, often under those harmless sounding names. Another reason for the increase is the murky legal waters surrounding the substances.

The federal government and 2/3 of the states have passed some form of laws banning the substances. But they all run into the problem of defining exactly what is illegal. As soon as one chemical formula is outlawed, manufacturers tinker with the compounds and come up with a variation which may—or may not—slip out from under the legal umbrella. The problem drug enforcers face is coming up with definitions broad enough to apply to the illegal substances without being so vague that they fail to hold up in court. There are an estimated over 500 compounds of synthetic cannabinoids alone.

Horror stories keeping pace

Unlike established drugs—which have their own deleterious effects on users—synthetics venture into unknown territories that can lead to strokes, seizures, psychosis, and death. Emergency rooms across the country are seeing an alarming spike in the number of overdose cases.

Here are some of the disturbing recent cases linked to synthetics:

  • In Colorado, in spite of the legalization of marijuana, synthetics are still popular. In August 2013, a bad batch of Spice apparently sent over 200 people to Denver area hospitals with an alarming range of symptoms: vomiting, unconsciousness, severe anxiety, rapid heart rates, low blood pressure and more. Three of those cases died. In May 2014, 9 people were indicted in a nationwide sweep related to the incident.
  • A 15-year-old boy experienced a psychotic break after using synthetic pot. Now 18, he has made 3 suicide attempts, undergone electroshock therapy and been institutionalized 17 times.
  • Synthetic marijuana sent a teenage girl to the ER. Several strokes destroyed portions of her brain, leaving her paralyzed, blind, and unaware of her surroundings. After nine months, she was able to return to school, but is still unable to read, write, or walk.

More drugs, more problems

Other drugs are often classified as synthetics, including “Molly”, whose main ingredient is purported to be MDMA. But often other chemicals are used and what is sold as Molly can vary widely from batch to batch. This leads to an increasing number of accidental overdoses and toxic reactions.

Like something out of a horror movie, “krokodil” has recently assaulted U.S. shores since it originated in Russia in 2002. Not strictly a synthetic, this heroin-like drug is a homemade opiate concocted from a nightmare mixture of codeine-based painkillers blended with gasoline, iodine, hydrochloric acid, alcohol and paint thinner.

Developed as a substitute for heroin when that drug became expensive in Russia, krokodil is injected and has terrifying side effects. The active chemical is desomorphine, but the process of creating it adds toxic substances that attack body tissues, including blood vessels, skin, muscles, and bone. It leads to infection, gangrene, thrombosis, bone rot, and liver, kidney and brain damage. Its name comes from the effect of transforming skin into a green and scaly appearance like a crocodile. It is also called the “flesh-eating drug” because symptoms include rotting and falling away of skin.

Drug Tests in Bulk has tests for K2/Spice which are updated as frequently as they become available, but synthetic drugs will be a challenge to fighters in the war on drug abuse for years to come.

 

 

The National Safety Council warns us that from Memorial Day to Labor Day are the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers. In 2012, nearly 1000 people were killed in crashes involving teens—more than half of them teens themselves. There are several reasons this is true—and all of them are amplified with drug and alcohol use.

The sad fact is that car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens, who are three times more likely to crash as more experienced drivers. That danger increases during the summer for several reasons:

  • More recreational driving—unlike driving to and from school or after-school jobs, recreational driving is more apt to involve distractions and inattention.
  • More free time—all that extra time means more opportunities to go somewhere and that means more driving time—often on unfamiliar roads, which increases risk.
  • Driving faster—something about that open road and friends waiting at the beach or the party makes a teen want to press harder on the accelerator.
  • Staying out later—driving late at night when fatigued exponentially increases the possibility of accidents.
  • Driving with friends—one of the biggest contributors to teen crashes is distractions by friends in the vehicle. According to the National Safety Council, just one teen passenger increases a teen driver’s crash risk by 48 percent. Three or more teen passengers increase crash risk by as much as 307 percent. Sunny summer days and warm nights mean cars full of laughing, boisterous teens.
  • Alcohol and drugs—summertime is party time, and that inevitably means more exposure to alcohol and drugs. Add this to any of the above factors and you have a recipe for disaster.

All of this can mean some tough decisions for parents of teens. You want your teen to enjoy their summer, but you also want them to be alive when fall arrives! There are two key strategies to helping teens drive responsibly: talking to them and setting boundaries and rules.

Talk to your teen

Regular, open communication is the most positive way to keep your teen aware of potential dangers and of how and why to act responsibly. And remember: they respond far better to stories than to statistics. Find examples from news and other media about the consequences of poor choices. Invite them to come up with their own examples from their experiences with friends and peers.

  • Talk about seatbelts—Seatbelts are a major factor in preventing death or major injuries in a crash.

o   Statistics for you: the good news is that 80% of teens now buckle up. The bad news is 54% of teens who die in crashes aren’t wearing seatbelts.

o   Story for your teen: “Think about it: if you are in an accident, a seatbelt insures you won’t be thrown out and you’ll be in a position where an airbag can save you. Now, which would you rather have around you if you crash or turn over in a car—two tons of high-strength steel or just a tank top and shorts?”

  • Talk about distractions—Forget multitasking. The human brain can only concentrate on one thing at 100% capacity, and when you are driving, your life depends on being totally involved in paying attention to what you are doing. Texting, calling, playing around with friends—all of these increase the chance of an accident.

o   Statistics for you: See above for distracting passengers. Plus, 26% of all car crashes involve cell phone use, including hands-free.

o   Story for your teen: “It’s not about your ability to multitask—it’s basic biology. Multitasking actually means your brain is switching rapidly between two things. If you are on the phone, the part of your brain that deals with moving images loses 1/3 of its ability to do so. Which means you have that much less of a chance to see and avoid that 18-wheeler flying toward you.”

  • Talk about drugs and alcohol—Yes, these are going to be part of your teen’s life, even if they don’t use them themselves. Teen brains are different from adult brains. They already tend to make less realistic or mature choices. Alcohol and drugs drive that ability still lower, even with small quantities like a single drink.

o   Statistics for you: 23% of teens admit to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 20% of those teens say they drive better after drinking, while 34% say the same about pot!

o   Story for your teen: “I can quote you facts all day, but here’s the bottom line: that one drink or pill or joint could kill or maim you or one of your friends or an innocent bystander. And even if it doesn’t, it could mean police—or me!—taking your license on the spot. How much fun would you have this summer without the car?”

Set boundaries and rules

You’re the parent. Set some rules, explain the reasons why and stick by them.

  • Enforce driving curfews
  • No drugs or alcohol
  • No cell phone calls or texting while driving—and no texting friends who they know are driving!
  • Limit the passengers they can drive with—and tell them to set some rules about behavior in their car! Let them assume some responsibility.
  • If they are a passenger with someone who is under the influence, insist they call you and you will come pick them up. Do the same if they drive to a party and, in spite the rules, they use alcohol or drugs. Let them know you would rather have them alive and safe above all else.

And finally, set an example: wear seatbelts. Don’t drink and drive. Avoid cell phones in the car. Obey traffic laws.

Your example is the best teacher of all.

The media is plastered with celebrities and their new current drug addictions. It is seen in people that are known and loved, such as Johnny Depp in the case of alcohol and Marilyn Monroe’s barbiturate overdose. Adorable childhood stars crumble behind the television sets, such as Lindsey Lohan with her coke and alcohol addiction or Macaulay Culkin in the case of Xanax and marijuana. Beautiful stars die under the curse of drugs, such as Brittany Murphy and her multiple drug overdose or Heath Ledger with his overdose of prescription drugs. The names strike anger hurt and pity in the hearts of fans all over the country until the question of “Why?” strikes each mind.

The relationship between celebrities and drug or alcohol abuse seems to be a recurring romance. Yet not all celebrities use drugs and alcohol. So is it brought about by fame or is it simply a coincidence?

Nothing is coincidence. Being a celebrity does not make someone turn to drugs and alcohol, it does, however, make it easier to do so. Celebrities are human despite their glowing demeanor. They go through hardships, breakups and emotional pain just like everyone else. What is often forgotten is the fact that there are thousands of drug addicts and alcoholics who are not in the spotlight and, therefore, not seen. Being famous is not what causes addiction. That being said, one must also realize that, for a celebrity, the world is at their fingertips. This causes drug possession to become a much easier task to accomplish.

Certain strength is required to make it as a famous celebrity. One must have the will to say no when they are being offered everything. Again, celebrities are human, so this does not always work.

Another thing to consider is the environments that celebrities subject themselves to. The hottest parties, backstage concerts and high end fashion shows all have their own back VIP rooms where drugs and alcohol flow like honey.

Fame can be a blinding experience. Alcohol and drugs are handed freely to celebrities around every corner. The answer to the questions of whether fame makes an addict can only be answered on an individual basis, is it their fault for subjecting themselves or is it someone else’s fault for giving it to them? There is no answer.

Celebrity drug or alcohol addiction is recurring and sad. Fame makes it easier and opens several doors but it is not the cause. The cause simply comes down to each individual choice.

The effects of driving under the influence, or “DUI”, has a permanent costs at a number of different levels. The efforts to prevent people from drinking and driving may seem muted against the annual numbers of DUI victims. Simply stated, DUI is a costly experience. More people have been killed by DUI and affected by the impact than all the wars in the past 100 years. The cost to one’s life or the life of an innocent overshadows the economic cost that is also very penalizing.

If you are arrested for a DUI, by the time you pay fines, court costs, bail, attorney fees and increased insurance, one can easily find their financial hit at about $10,000. This does not include medical expenses, lost wages or great increases in insurance if you or someone else is harmed, injured or killed. Some may think this is a steep financial cost, but this pales in comparison to the fatalities that result each day from DUI accidents. On average some one person dies from an alcohol related driving death every 45 minutes. Nearly 35% of all vehicular fatalities on U. S. roads are alcohol related. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this is about 11,000 deaths each year. Many of these deaths involve innocent victims who were not driving under the influence but were the victims of someone else’s bad judgement.

Since the threshold for what is considered DUI is the same standard of 0.08% blood alcohol level in every state in the United States, law enforcement has reported that over 1.4 million people are arrested each year for DUI related offenses.

This means that harsh measure are taken to deter DUI behavior. For example, A DUI driver will expect to pay significant increase insurance premiums that may affect their rates over the next several years. Furthermore, these rates may easily double, triple or more.

The other cost is your official DUI record. many people are not aware but they will have to live with two different DUI records. The first is a criminal record that regardless of whether the DUI charge is a misdemeanor or a felony, remains as a criminal record and could affect job assignments as well as relationships. The second record is your driving record. That is management by a different branch of the government. That can also remain on your record for several years and affect you driving privileges depending on which state you are located.

Long Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

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Alcohol tends to start as a way to relax and unwind and for most people that same scenario is the norm and the habit does not become one that is life altering in any manner. That is not true, however, for those that have an addiction to alcohol. Once alcohol abuse begins, it starts a downward spiral where one suffers physical, emotional and financial costs that are directly related to the abuse of alcohol.

Alcohol abuse has very distinct and detrimental physical effects. These range from the general state of well being when one is drunk and thus loses the ability to maintain balance, control or even remain awake. Those short term impacts on the body pale in comparison to what happens over the long term course of alcohol abuse. This is where one can have liver damage, reduced kidney functions, heart disease, weight gain, broken blood vessels in the face and neck and even a change in appearance as the body become bloated.

The emotional cost of alcohol abuse is something that impacts not just the person addicted to alcohol but all friends, family and associates of the person as well. This is because the alcoholic has a deadened sense of self awareness and self worth as they tend to be in a haze most of the time and thus do not have the mental ability to think clearly. This worsens over time and eventually the emotional toll extends to others that feel shame, embarrassment and pity for the person. In addition, those same people feel helpless and hopeless at times when one who abuses alcohol refuses to accept responsibility, admit to having a problem or seeking and accepting help.

The financial cost of long term alcohol abuse is one that an afterthought for many but one who abuses alcohol regularly will find that all available money is spent on alcohol. This grows over time, and especially when one requires more and more alcohol to feel any sort of effect. The cost is high from all angles and thus those with alcohol abuse issues need to seek out and get help to break the cycle of abuse.

DesignatedDrivers

Obviously having a few drinks and then driving home is not only a bad idea, but it is a dangerous one. More than likely, you hear at least once a week about an individual who has been killed as a result of a drunk driver. This is why many people choose a designated driver before they go out for a night of fun at the bar.

What you may not know, however, is that many of these designated drivers are not abstaining from alcohol. Many designated drivers have at least a drink or two before getting behind the wheel. Fortunately however, according to WebMD, in the United States 65% of drivers are not drinking before they drive; sadly though, there are still 35% of drivers who are having at least one drink before they drive their other intoxicated friends home.

A very important question that all of us have in mind is this: why are these “designated drivers” drinking before getting behind the wheel of a car? Some would say that they just want a “buzz” while they are at the bar and insist that they will be fine by the time it’s time to leave the bar. Others will say that they are under the legal blood alcohol limit and that, even if they are pulled over, they are still technically “okay to drive.”

There are all sorts of different reasons that many designated drivers are choosing to drink and drive. However it is unlikely that there will be a definite reason as to why these individuals are drinking even though they shouldn’t. These individuals seem to believe that they will be fine by the time they leave (without taking into account the alcohol content that is in their drinks).

The best way to act as a designated driver is first and foremost, not to drink. Although it is very tempting, the best way to keep you and your friends safe is to abstain from drinking anything at all. Not even one drink. Although you may think you’ll be okay by the time you leave, there’s no way you can be sure.

ny2014

New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest party holidays of the year. New Year’s Eve is celebrated in numerous countries around the world, from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to Sydney, Australia. It’s a time of celebration and usually includes generous libations of alcohol and even drugs.
New Year’s Eve is one big party and many recovering alcoholics may face challenges this New Year’s Eve. It’s nearly impossible to escape the temptation of drinking, but it’s best to just stay home. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that “during Christmas and New Year’s, two to three times more people die in alcohol-related crashes during comparable periods of the rest of the year.” The Drug Abuse Warning Network noticed a spike in underage drinking related visits to the emergency room on New Year’s Day. The findings of the report in 2009 stated that four times as many underage drinking incidents occur on New Year’s Day.

Drug abuse is also on the rise during the New Year’s Eve celebrations. A growing trend among teenagers who aren’t old enough to drink, are party drugs such as cocaine and ecstacy. Young people can attend all night parties, or raves instead of going to a bar or club that serves alcohol. In 2010, the LA Department of Public Health reported six MDMA (ecstacy) related emergencies due to raves on New Year’s Eve. One of those incidents even resulted in a fatal overdose. A recent report by the United Nations found that 200,000 people worldwide die from drug abuse. The best celebration is a safe one with your family and friends.

It doesn’t matter where or how you’re going to celebrate New Year’s Eve, just make sure you have a plan in place. Make sure you have a designated driver. Pace yourself and try not to drink more than one alcoholic beverage per hour. You can still have the time of your life without having to lose your life or endanger the lives of others. Don’t just think of yourself. Your actions could influence many people around you, who are also just trying to have a happy and safe holiday.

The World of Drug Trafficking

worldoftrafficking-

 

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), drug trafficking is a global illicit industry that includes cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of prohibited substances. Drug trafficking occurs throughout the world with some illicit drugs originating in foreign countries and then travelling throughout the world to other countries.

Central Asia

world1 In 2009, Afghanistan supplied 90 percent of the global supply of opium, earning as much as $55 billion annually. Drugs are moved out of Central Asia into Western Europe and Russia via the Balkan and northern routes. In addition, China and Southeast Asian countries are finding a growing amount of opium trafficking occurring in their countries as it travels to markets in other parts of Asia, North America and Oceania. In addition to opiates, cannabis production is also growing in Central Asia, and many believe the hashish trade has grown as large as Morocco, previously thought to be one of the largest cannabis supplying countries in the world.

Mexico, Central America and the Caribbeanworld2Mexico, Central America and The Caribbean are considered transit countries for cocaine heading to North America and Europe. In most cases cocaine is transported from Colombia into Mexico or Central America on boats and then transported on land into the United States and Canada. Estimates are that 90 percent of the cocaine enters the United States through the state of Texas, while 70 percent of the cocaine leaving Colombia travels across the Pacific Ocean. Although a large amount of the cocaine seized in Europe comes from Colombia, Bolivia and Peru originated cocaine is also prevalent in drug trafficking in European countries.

Middle East and North Africaworld3Amphetamine seizures are common in the Middle East and North Africa, especially tablets bearing the Captagon logo that include psychoactive ingredients. It is believed that laboratories creating the drugs exist in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the Syrian Arab Republic, which serve as transit points on drug trafficking routes. The tablets are found in consumer markets in Saudi Arabia as well, and Turkey is a well-known transit country for heroin. Morocco has the largest seizures of cannabis, but Afghanastan is growing as a producer of hashish.

West and Central Africaworld4Guinea-Bissau and along the Bight of Benin, which stretches from Ghana to Nigeria, emerged in recent years as distinct drug trafficking hubs in West Africa, while Colombian traffickers transported cocaine via ship into Spain and Portugal. As payment for the assistance of the West Africans, drug traffickers left some of the cocaine in that country, who trafficked the drugs via small aircraft out of Venezuela into other West African destinations.

United States

Drug trafficking in the United States is very profitable for the ruthless, sophisticated and aggressive people who bring cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine into the country amid the 400 million tons of cargo that enters the country every year. Drugs are normally trafficked into the United States from the countries that produce them, such as Afghanistan, Colombia and Morocco. Many of these drugs are then trafficked out of the United States into Canada and Europe.

Drug trafficking throughout the world is a growing threat to the security of countries everywhere, and government officials spend a significant amount of resources in an effort to combat the illicit drug trade globally.

Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse

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Drug Abuse and Addiction
People try drugs for various reasons, they may do so out of curiosity, peer pressure, or just to join in the fun with friends. Some people may experiment a few times with no problems, whereas others may become addicted and spiral out of control. Abuse is measured on an individual basis. Its levels are different for everyone.

Changes in behavior and health
Drug abusers may take more risks, such as using drugs under dangerous conditions or taking risks while high. They may drive while under the influence, use dirty needles, or have unprotected sex. An abuser may have legal issues, like stealing to support their habit, disorderly conduct or assault charges. There may also be problems in relationships, such as fighting with their partner or family members, an unhappy boss and loss of old friends.
There are several signs and symptoms of a drug abuser. You may notice some of these changes in friends or family that are using drugs. First there are physical symptoms such as blood shot eyes, or pupils larger or smaller than normal, change in appetite, sudden weight gain or loss, change in sleep patterns, deterioration of personal appearance and general grooming, unusual odors in breath or on clothes, and slurred speech.
Drug abuse may also alter ones behavioral habits. Some things to watch for include changes in attendance or performance at work or school, need for money or financial problems, acting in a sneaky or suspicious manner, sudden changes in friends, hangouts and hobbies, frequently getting into trouble, accidents, fights, and participating in illegal activities.
Drug abuse also alters a person’s psychological balance. You may notice a change in behavior, personality and attitude, sudden mood swings, angry outbursts, or increased irritability. The person may have periods of hyperactivity, or agitation, they may also have little motivation and appear to be spaced out. There may also be some periods of anxiety, and paranoia.

Variations 
The signs and symptoms of drug abuse vary depending on the drug of choice. People using marijuana may experience memory loss, heightened senses, increased heart rate, blood pressure and appetite. Signs and symptoms of barbiturate use may be slurred speech, drowsiness, slowed blood pressure and heart rate. Methamphetamines and cocaine use causes euphoria, insomnia, weight loss, restlessness and paranoia. Use of hallucinogens will cause rapid heart rate, tremors and permanent mental changes.
Remember support is the key to addiction recovery. Don’t go down that road alone, it is too easy to talk yourself into one more pill or one more hit. If you suspect a friend or loved one is abusing drugs, offer your encouragement, support, and guidance towards recovery.

Opioids / Pain-Relievers

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When a regular over-the-counter pain reliever, isn’t enough to handle the pain, a doctor may prescribe a stronger form of relief in the form of an opioid. An opioid, which can only be prescribed to you by a doctor, and while they can be used to control pain, they can cause serious side effects if improperly taken for any period of time. Such sides for both short and long time use can include; Nausea, vomiting, constipation, and drowsiness. Taking the drug with alcohol, antidepressants, sleeping pills, and prescriptions can be dangerous and can cause adverse side effects when mixed. Even coming off the drug can cause such unpleasant reactions such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, anxiety, and muscle pain. Anyone who takes the drug for any amount of time can develop a dependence and ultimately become addicted.

Rise of Non-Medical Use
In 2011, the use of opioid grew dramatically to 131 million from the reported 112 back in 112 million (With an estimated 52 million taking the drug for non-medical purposes); With the majority of those prescriptions being Vicodin, the most prescribed opioid in the country because of its incorrect classification of being a class 3 instead of a class 2. Although the drug is used for legitimate reasons among doctors and patients, the prescription pain reliever kills more people a year in accidental overdoses than car accidents do in at least 17 states. To date, Vicodin overdoses has taken more lives than black tar in the 1970’s and crack did in the 1980’s all together.
80% of opioid consumption is consumed in the US
Although Vicodin is just as dangerous to their users as any other narcotic in its rightful class, the drug is not as tightly regulated which is likely why it’s prescribed by more than 600,000 doctors ranging from surgeons to primary care doctors and even dentists who are all licensed to do so. And despite the United States only making up for 4.6 of the world’s total population, 80% of opioid consumption is consumed in the US.
Check with your Doctor
If you’re taking the prescriptive drug; it’s important to note how your pain is responding to the drug, if you’re experiencing any side effects, that you’re taking only the prescribed amount and no more, and that you should also check in with your doctor on a regular basis and so that when it’s time to come off them, you don’t experience any withdrawal symptoms. If you’re noticing you’re starting to become compulsive about taking the drug, you should advise your doctor immediately.