To The Girl Asking Us To "Stop Calling Your Drug Addiction A Disease," Please Stop

To The Girl Asking Us To "Stop Calling Your Drug Addiction A Disease," Please Stop

That's not how that works.

I recently came across an article titled Stop Calling Your Drug Addiction A Disease, and I was struggling to see eye-to-eye with the writer and her stance on addicts’ so-called “you chose it” conditions.

I'd like to think that I am fairly open-minded and accepting of differing opinions, but I disagree with the vast majority of what she had to say.

Not only is it incredibly offensive, but it demonstrates her apparent lack of knowledge regarding addiction and its everlasting effects on all parties involved. I would like to instead educate people on how addiction is, in fact, a disease, and that there is much more to the story than many of us realize.

First things first, addiction is a disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the definition of drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.

Once a person becomes tolerant of his or her drug of choice, it becomes seemingly impossible to break the habit. Withdrawal is a scary reality for addicts, as symptoms can include things such as excruciating pain, insomnia, and emotional detachment. The physiological consequences of not having what your body now needs can be absolutely brutal.

That being said, has it become more understandable as to why most addicts cannot sober up without help? Does it make sense why the opioid issue in our nation is referred to as an epidemic?

SEE ALSO: Why I Don't Regret My Cutting Addiction

Let me eliminate the following conditional statement: addiction is a disease, but only because it is brought on by those who suffer from it. Nobody wakes up one day and says to themselves, I'm going to become an addict.

That is not how it works.

There are several factors that come into play with how someone could end up an addict. For example, there has been speculation by psychologists and medical professionals alike that alcoholism runs in families. With the alcoholism gene comes other motives for use that can affect a person’s risk of becoming hooked.

Some people may find that drinking is a way for them to cope with other issues, such as stress brought on by work or school and struggling with mental illness. Every addict has a story to tell, and very few of them will say that their addictions came out of left field.

I wish for the stigma involving drug addicts’ “oh, poor me” attitudes to be done with -- not just for the 23.5 million people hooked on drugs and alcohol in the United States alone, but for their parents.

Their siblings. Their loved ones. Their children.

Put yourself in the shoes of parents who just received a phone call that heroin took their son or daughter’s life. I dare you to tell me that all you would have to say is, well, they chose drugs.

The CDC reported that 91 Americans per day die of a heroin overdose. That number must go down, and it is not going to happen if people do not stop criticizing addicts for their conditions. Why? Because if they are made to feel ashamed of themselves, then they will hesitate to ask for help.

No addict made the direct, conscientious decision to become part of such a devastating statistic; they did not want for their lives to become a living hell.

It is time to stop bashing addicts for what they go through on a regular basis, and instead, we need to provide them with love and support on the road to recovery. I hope that what I have said instills compassion and understanding in those of you who may feel otherwise.

Cover Image Credit: The Atlantic

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8 Facts About Bath Salts

What are Bath Salts?

Most people are familiar with the chunky and fragrant bath salts that are added to bath water in order to relax and invigorate. However, these bath salts are much different and not nearly as relaxing as users would hope. This kind of bath salt is a designer drug that mimics the effects of such illegal substances like cocaine, methamphetamines and MDMA. They belong to a group of drugs classified as synthetic cathinones, which are man-made substances that share a similar chemical makeup as the khat plant, a plant found in East Africa that acts like a mild stimulant when chewed on. Most bath salts on the market are crystalized powders that are often white or brown.

Bath Salts and its Aliases

This drug is called bath salts because of its similar, chunky rock like look as those sold in health and beauty stores as well as the ability to sell the items in stores as a legal product using this name. With law enforcement cracking down on bath salts in the last few years, people are finding them packaged as plant food and jewelry cleaner to continue their sales. These products are almost always in packaging that states that is not for human consumption.

Bath salts are also called by several other names such as:

-Bloom

-White Lightning

-Cloud Nine

-Red Dove

-Lunar Wave

How long have they been around?

Synthetic cathinones have been around since their creation in France in the 1920s. However, it stayed mostly underground until a similar drug resurfaced in Israel in 2004. Shortly after, the recipe was modified in order to be sold under different names. The current abuse of bath salts comes from their introduction into the British club scene in 2010. Between 2010 and 2011 bath salt sales boomed in Britain and America. It was then that America began to see the disturbing epidemic of users and the horrific side effects of the drug.

Abuse and Addiction

According to users, bath salts leave them with intense cravings even after one time of using it. One study even said that certain synthetic cathinones were more addictive then methamphetamines. Bath salt users explain feeling a euphoric high and sexual stimulation, similar to that of MDMA. They also explain that they feel more focused and have higher energy levels for a few hours after taking the drug, similar to methamphetamines.

Bath salts are most often snorted, but they can also be smoked and injected. Due to the ease of purchasing this drug in liquor stores and smoke shops, users quickly find themselves having a recreational use turn into a full-blown addiction. Ultimately the crash from someone coming off the drug is the most intense and uncomfortable part of the experience. In fact, abuse continues because the user doesn’t want to come down and fears the extreme side effects.

Side Effects

Though the drug is fairly new, there has already been increased rates of mental health problems in people that have used bath salts, with reports claiming people suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In fact, due to the inability to test for the drug, many medical practitioners look for these mental health signs before diagnosing a person as a bath salt user.

Some of the side effects are similar to other drugs but they are often intensified. These include depression, anxiety, paranoia, agitation, feeling physically ill, and tremors. These side effects can last for days and there has been reports of users self-harming because of the emotional effects of bath salts.

Overdosing on Bath Salts

Many are familiar with bath salts based on a 2012 news story of a Florida man, high on bath salts, who literally chewed off the face of a homeless man. The homeless man ended up losing 80% of his face due to this horrific incident; the zombie-like side effects of the drug quickly made headlines all across the country. In this incident the man was said to be overdosing on bath salts and experiencing intense delusions and hallucinations. Other overdose side effects can include liver failure, seizures, and heart attack.

Many users are often violent toward themselves and others, and can inadvertently harm themselves because of a high pain tolerance. As of 2015, only 68 deaths have been reported due to bath salt overdose. However, these numbers vary based on an inability to test for the drug in peoples’ systems or if the death was associated with bath salts (such as violence).

Banning Bath Salts

By 2011 the poison control centers received over 3,000 calls which was more than ten times the previous year’s total. This caused the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to spring into action in an attempt to effectively ban bath salts. The DEA exercised emergency authority to classify mephedrone, MDPV and methylone (the active ingredients in bath salts) as controlled, schedule 1 substances, thereby making it illegal to sell them or anything made of them. Then in 2012 President Obama signed a federal ban on all synthetic drugs. Even with this ban, though, it has done little to curb the problem as people are turning to the streets in order to continue to use bath salts.

Treating Bath Salt Addiction

Due to the severe and unpredictable side effects of bath salts, detox can be quite trying for the user and medical professionals alike, and it is often difficult to find rehab centers willing to treat users. A large issue is the mental disorders that are often brought on by bath salt abuse. Treatment of bath salts typically deals with detox centers and psychological therapy.

Detox begins with intense medical monitoring as well as medications to alleviate symptoms like nausea, insomnia, and agitation. Just like most drug treatments and recovery programs, those that work with bath salt abuse circle around abstinence, relapse prevention, and rehabilitation. Some take part in outpatient programs after detox but many need a more structured way of rehabilitation due to mental illness. The best way of getting through treatment is having a strong support system and accountability.

Cover Image Credit: Shutterstock

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If You Want To Die In College, Pop Bars Of Xanax

For one, no one I’ve ever met who’s tried it has tried it just once. Take that in for just a second.

In 2013, the Chicago Tribune famously researched the abuse of Xanax, prevalently in young adult. This research revealed that 31% of drug overdoses were due to these types of drugs, benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines include (but are not limited to) drugs such as Xanax, Ambien, Vicodin, and morphine.

Essentially what researchers found demonstrated the powerful way these types of drugs all slow down the mind and body. In 2013, there was a 5% increase in prescriptions for drugs such ass the previous listed, and as a result, a four-times greater death rate of drug overdose resulted in the United States.

Xanax—medically known as alprazolam, is a form of benzodiazepines that is used to treat those patients with extreme anxiety and tendency to fall victim to panic attacks. Benzodiazepines target neurotransmitters—more specifically the GABA brain receptors, which are responsible for calming nerves.

When your nerves are overreacting, this creates the sense of panic many patients feel during panic attacks. GABA also is responsible for demonstrating how physically tired and relaxed the rest of your body is.

Essentially, Xanax can act during a panic attack and as a result, calm the nerves, leading to a much safer and less extreme attack. It ultimately decreases brain activity—thus leading to the sense of calm and relaxed feelings many get when they ingest the drug.

Xanax can be a powerful tool in helping many of those who suffer from panic disorders, phobias, or extreme anxiety to not feel so desperate and reactive during their panic attacks, however, when taken with no such disorder, the drug creates a euphoric sense of relaxation and quickly becomes addictive.

I’m in no way an expert on the drug—seeing that I’ve never been prescribed it or taken it, but I do live on a college campus and I’ve observed several key patterns when dealing with Xanax on college campuses.

For one, no one I’ve ever met who’s tried it has tried it just once. Take that in for just a second. Yes, I have friends who have never taken it, but the people I’ve interacted with who have almost rarely never say it was a “one-time thing.”

The drug is addictive. Whether one believes they can handle themselves and enjoy it recreationally, something is to be said with the lack of people I’ve met who have just taken it once.

Drugs in the benzodiazepines are extremely addictive—which is why we’ve seen so many of our most famous celebrities fall victim to an overdose. Stars such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Prince are just a few of the long list of celebrities who have died from an overdose of benzodiazepines.

Most of the time, Xanax taken alone is not cause for an overdose (although there have been cases of it), however from my experience in college, people I’ve heard about or known who overdosed, every time Xanax was a part of the lethal cocktail.

This in no way suggests a direct correlation, however, it is curious to note how many times Xanax has helped the victim to their death. For example, the famous emo-hip hip artist Lil Peep famously died in Tucson after purchasing Xanax which consequently was laced with fentanyl. As a result, both the drugs combined to create such low brain activity that Lil Peep simply never woke up.

A common story we’ve all heard is how dangerous drinking and taking Xanax can be. In addition to causing death, drinking alcohol and taking Xanax can cause blackouts, respiratory issues, and seriously hurt your body by limiting oxygen and blood flow. There have been countless cases of college students doing serious damage on their bodies because of mixing the two depressants.

While in no way I’m saying this drug is bad, it is extremely dangerous. Xanax is like many prescription drugs that have both the power to do good and bad. The danger lurks in taking prescriptions that are simply not yours. Xanax is a dangerous thing for young people to abuse, especially as none of them are registered pharmacists and have no way of absolutely determining an accurate amount to take. This article is in no way supposed to scare, judge, or discipline those who abuse the drug or even those who have never tried it.

If you or a loved one are concerned about potential abuse of Xanax, contact the Xanax-abuse hotline at (844) 244-3171. My heart and prayers go out to those who have been affected by drugs such as Xanax. The only way to stop this is through better education and less ignorance.

Cover Image Credit: Drug Abuse

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