Bacterial Acclimation To Drugs

One Community's Bacterial Acclimation To Drugs Is Causing A Malawi Antibiotic Crisis

Only time will tell whether or not these measures will help stem the tide of bacterial infection in developing nations.

107
views

Bacteria are a form of prokaryote that comprise of unicellular microorganisms that have cell walls but lack membrane-bound organelles (such as mitochondria or nuclei), and can cause a wide variety of diseases ranging from strep throat (resulting from Streptococcus pyogenes) to stomach ulcers (a sign of H. Pylori infection). Unlike viruses, which are obligate parasites that require the utilization of host cell organelles (such as ribosomes) to translate their genetic material into protein production, bacteria can survive outside of the human body and often grow in cultures through binary fission to maximum capacity of whatever environment they can reasonably inhabit, as determined by factors such as limited nutrients.

The two main types of bacteria are those that contain a thick peptidoglycan layer around their cell wall (known as Gram positive bacteria, for their dark purple stain), and those that have a thinner layer of peptidoglycan around their cell wall but contain an addition outer layer composed of lipopolysaccharide. Our bodies naturally produce lysozyme, an enzyme found in tears and saliva, to destroy those peptidoglycan layers in gram positive bacteria in order to reduce risk of infection. In addition, administration of Beta-lactam antibiotics such as penicillin are a major factor in the destruction of these peptidoglycan layers to eliminate diseases caused by these bacteria.

Despite the advantages of these antibiotics to treat certain forms of bacteria, there is a clear danger in over-utilization that can lead to tolerance of the human body to a prescribed dosage, especially when it comes to treating Gram-negative bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria lack peptidoglycan layers and have the ability to grow resistant to antibiotic administration due to random genetic mutations that slowly accumulate in favor of surviving populations of bacteria after treatment, providing for a new culture of prokaryotes that cannot simply be eliminated through the same methods. In essence, continuous utilization antibiotics actually makes the bacterial strain more resistant to its effects.

Such a situation is occurring right now in Malawi, where constant antibiotic administration by self-treatment methodologies have resulted in bacterial strains that do not recede after attempts to treat the disease. In a country where health care provisions are stretched due to a lack of financial resources, doctors and other health care professionals are hard-pressed to find an effective cure for those whose bodies are already adapted to the typical treatments for bacterial infections.

Pharmaceutical companies in Malawi have been accused of over-prescribing these antibiotic treatments without proper consultation from medical professionals, and the results have yielded poorer recovery from antibiotic treatments. While new laws are being put into place to limit the distribution of antibiotics to patients, only time will tell whether or not these measures will help stem the tide of bacterial infection in developing nations.

Popular Right Now

Why You Actually Don't Want To Be Prescribed Adderall

ADD isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
46272
views

As I'm writing this, I can feel my concentration slipping. Noises have become enticing, I feel distanced from my phone, and every time someone walks by me in the library, I turn around seeing if it's someone I know. My extended-release Adderall is starting to wear off and my brain is starting to relax back to its natural state. My ADD is climbing out from underneath the blanket of focus I had for 10 hours today.

ADD is not all that it's cracked up to be. Sure, we get prescribed the precious Adderall so many people want, but at what cost? Let me put this in context for you. You know when you're at the library and there's a one really, really loud girl talking on the phone? You know the one. The girl that, for some reason, thinks it's OK to have a full-fledged conversation with her mom about her boyfriend in the middle of the quiet section. The girl that's talking so loud that it's all you can think about, occupying all of your focus. Well, that's what every single person in the room is like when you have ADD.

Distractions that are easy to ignore to someone without ADD are intensified and, instead of focusing on the task at hand, I'm listening to the girl three seats down from me eat her barbecue kettle chips. When you have ADD, it's not just schoolwork you can't focus on. You can't focus on anything. I tried to watch a foreign film one time without my medicine, and I forgot to pay attention to the subtitles. I realized about halfway through the movie that I had no idea what was going on.

What almost everyone that asks me for my Adderall doesn't understand is that I take Adderall to focus how you would normally. When you take my Adderall you feel like you can solve the world's problems. You can bang out an entire project in one night. You can cram for an entire exam fueled by this surge of motivation that seems super-hero-like.

You take my Adderall and ask me, “Is this how you feel all the time?" And, unfortunately, my answer is no. I'll never feel like a limitless mastermind. When I take Adderall, I become a normal human being. I can finish a normal amount of work, in a normal amount of time.

My brain works in two modes: on Adderall, and off Adderall. On Adderall, I'm attentive, motivated and energetic. Off Adderall, I can barely get up the motivation and focus to clean my room or send an email. And it's frustrating. I'm frustrated with my lack of drive. I'm frustrated that this is how my brain operates. Scattered, spastic and very, very unorganized. There's nothing desirable about not being able to finish a sentence because you lost thought mid-way through.

The worst thing that you can say to anyone with ADD is, “I think I should start taking Adderall." Having ADD isn't a free pass to get super-pills, having ADD means you have a disability. I take Adderall because I have a disability, and it wasn't a choice I had a say in. I was tested for ADD my freshman year of college.

My parents were skeptical because they didn't know exactly what ADD was. To them, the kids with ADD were the bad kids in school that caused a scene and were constantly sent out of class. Not an above average student in her first year at a university. I went to a counselor and, after I was diagnosed with ADD, told me with a straight mouth, “Marissa this is something you're going to have to take for the rest of your life."

When the late-night assignments and cramming for the tests are over, and we're all out in the real world, I'm still going to be taking Adderall. When I'm raising a family and have to take the right kid to the right place for soccer practice, I'm still going be taking Adderall. And when I'm trying to remember the numbers they just said for bingo at my nursing home, I'm still going to be taking Adderall.

So you tell me you're jealous that I get prescribed Adderall? Don't be. I'm jealous that you can drink a cup a coffee and motivate yourself once you lose focus. I'm jealous that the success of your day doesn't depend on whether or not you took a pill that morning. The idea of waking up and performing a full day without my medicine is foreign to me.

My brain works in two modes, and I don't know which one is the right one. I don't know which mode is the one the big man upstairs wants me to operate in. So before you say you want to be prescribed to Adderall, ask yourself if you need and want to operate in two different modes.

Ask yourself if you want to rely on medicine to make your entire life work. If I had a choice, I would choose coffee like the rest of the world.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

We Need To Rid Ourselves Of The Social Stigma Surrounding Substance Misuse

It's 2019 and people still are afraid to talk about certain things because of the stigma associated with it.

116
views

We, as a society need to get rid of social stigmas. There is a social stigma surrounding many topics and, in a way, people, but one of these stigmas is playing a role in blocking getting help. The social stigma that needs to be eliminated immediately is the one surrounding people who struggle with the substance abuse/misuse disorder. Now I am sure some of you are probably triggered right now that I have identified this as a disorder and not just "addiction," but hear me out.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a disorder is "an abnormal physical or mental condition". And a person who struggles with the misuse of opioids fits that description because once they become dependent on the drugs, their normal state of being is gone, and they embody abnormal physical and mental conditions.

People with this disorder can get help, through rehabs and the correct resources and support, but with the way an overwhelming percentage of our population views this disorder, how can they? People become afraid, fear that they have no options for help because they don't think anyone will understand what they're going through, and they don't want to be an embarrassment.

According to drugabuse.gov, 70,237 deaths in 2017 alone were from drug overdoses. There is this high a number in deaths and people still just want to judge instead of educating themselves on what is actually going on. So many of these deaths are kept a secret though, not the death itself obviously, but the cause for the death. It is too often that people are afraid to speak up about a loved one's death being caused by substance misuse because they don't want people to judge them, or the deceased individual.


https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates


This is what creates the issue, we can't bring light to a subject if people are hiding from it. We can't begin to help those suffering if we judge them and make assumptions before we even meet them. And we can't begin to move forward and bring our country out of this epidemic if the stigma surrounding it is not removed.

We need to be better, as a society, as friends, sisters, brothers, moms, dads, cousins, as individuals we need to begin to be the change we want to see. We need to reach out to help if we see someone beginning to engage in this type of behavior. We need to stop judging what we don't know. And we need to embrace reality, accept deaths from overdoses and talk about them, not be ashamed and hide from it, but speak about it so that it can help others from losing someone too.

The negative stigma associated with substance misuse needs to end, and we need to take every necessary measure to help these individuals who are suffering.

The national drug helpline is available 24/7 with representatives who can help individuals suffering from substance misuse. If you or someone you know needs the help, call at 1-888-633-3239.

Related Content

Facebook Comments