Tag Archives: drug abuse

Deadly Fentanyl Showing up in More Drugs

fentanylexhibitsXanax abuse is not as widely discussed as other prescription drug problems, but it is becoming more common. As if the drug wasn’t bad enough when people get addicted, now investigators have discovered that some drug dealers are manufacturing fake Xanax that has been combined with fentanyl.

Among opioid users, Xanax use is a well-known addition to their drug consumption since it produces a different type of high. It may be because of this, that drug dealers have decided to make their own form of Xanax, by mixing it with fentanyl, which is a powerful synthetic opiate that is often given to people who are recovering from surgery.

“Young adults in particular are at high risk for nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals, with estimates that nearly 3 percent of people between the ages of 18 to 25 have engaged in the nonmedical use of pain relievers in the previous month. The nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals represents a serious and burgeoning public health risk. Of great concern is that people may be turning to street dealers to purchase these pharmaceuticals and be exposed to dangerous counterfeit products,” said Annie Arens, a toxicology expert at the University of California, San Francisco.

This new drug combination is showing up in different parts of the country already, as there have been cases in Florida to California. Accidental overdoses are more common when the user is not aware of what they are taking. Many experts are very concerned because of the deadly combination of these drugs.

According to the DEA, fentanyl traffickers have been successful at expanding the market and introducing new drugs laced with it to the U.S. drug market. The National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) reported that there were 13,002 fentanyl exhibits tested by forensic laboratories across the country in, which is a 65 percent increase from the 7,864 exhibits the year before. There were approximately eight times as many instances in 2015 as there were during the 2006 fentanyl crisis, clearly demonstrating the unprecedented threat and expansion of the fentanyl market.

OTC Medication Used for Opiate Withdrawal Found Deadly

emergmedjournIt is a very common thing among addicts to share things with each other revolving around getting high. However, unless it is something like food or a place to get help, most of the information and resources turn out to be harmful. For example, sharing needles causes the spread of infections and diseases.

In other cases they pass along “tips” about how to either alter an experience, sustain a high or reduce discomfort in some way. One of these things recently examined was the use of an over-the-counter drug called loperamide. It is most commonly found in the anti-diarrhea drug Imodium, but in this case is taken in larger doses to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms or even abused to get high.

A new study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine found that loperamide abuse can actually be very deadly. It is a drug that agonizes opioid receptors but doesn’t generate a high in the small recommended dosages. However, in much larger doses it can generate euphoric effects, but also causes irregular heartbeats and even death.

Apparently a growing number of opiate addicts have been taking Imodium and other OTC medications containing loperamide to cut down on their withdrawal symptoms or they abuse it in place of other opioids.

“Because of its low cost, ease of accessibility and legal status, it’s a drug that is very, very ripe for abuse,” said the study’s lead author William Eggleston, a doctor of pharmacy and fellow in clinical toxicology at the Upstate New York Poison Center. “At [our center], we have had a sevenfold increase in calls related to loperamide use and misuse over the last four years.”

Eggleston and his colleagues urge officials to be more aware of this drug and its abuse, and recommend placing more restrictions on it, similar to what was done with pseudoephedrine several years ago.

New Research into Cocaine and Liver Disease

cocaine userResearchers and scientists have made huge advances in the treatment of HIV. At one point, patients who were diagnosed with the virus were almost guaranteed a painful, imminent death. However, the medication and knowledge available to health care providers allows for most HIV patients to live a relatively normal life. Although, this is not the case for HIV patients who also have a history of drug abuse or continue to use drugs. A new study is being conducted in South Florida to examine the relationship between cocaine use and liver disease among HIV patients.

Drug use and Hepatitis C are often linked because one of the most likely ways to contract the disease is by using needles. HIV users who abuse drugs like cocaine and also use needles and develop Hepatitis C need more specialized care, as their ability to fight off any other disease or illness is diminished.

“Liver disease is known to shorten the lives of people with HIV. With 35 million people around the world with HIV – and a large number of them regular drug users – this research is focused on determining how to help them more effectively,” explained Marianna K. Baum, the researcher that is heading the study. She stressed that it is difficult to treat HIV patients that have an addiction to cocaine because it makes them more resistant to medication and they are less likely to follow a medication and therapy regimen.

The idea to look into more effective treatments for these patients came after Baum realized that some of her patients had slower disease progression when they took over the counter vitamins. She decided that this link may provide better solutions for those who are struggling with the virus and liver disease.

The research is being conducted at the Florida International University Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work. Researchers will use data from the Miami Adult Studies on HIV. The team will focus on populations that are often left out of HIV studies to help get more inclusive results.