Addiction affects nearly everyone, and it's no longer taboo to talk about it. With society's increasing acknowledgement of addiction comes great opportunities for those battling theirs to locate professional help and support. Helping to spread awareness and recovery information to everyone in need.
Understanding, Acceptance Can Reduce Substance Abuse for Those Struggling With Gender Dysphoria
Trying to find one’s true identity can be complicated, especially for someone who has never really felt comfortable in their own skin or surroundings. Many people walk through life trying to be something they’re not, while completely losing track of who they really are. This is especially true of those suffering from gender dysphoria.
Gender dysphoria, according to the American Psychiatric Association, “involves a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify. People with gender dysphoria may be very uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned, sometimes described as being uncomfortable with their body (particularly developments during puberty) or being uncomfortable with the expected roles of their assigned gender.”
What Does This Have to Do with Substance Abuse?
By itself, gender dysphoria may not be a trigger for substance abuse, but stress-related diagnoses can be a trigger. Additionally, “minority stress” can contribute to a variety of addictive and risky behaviors.
According to medicaldaily.com, “a study published within the last few months sought to assess the relationship between ‘minority stress’ and mental health in a large, geographically diverse sample of the transgender population in the U.S. ‘Minority stress theory‘ proposes that the health disparities among sexual minorities can be explained to a large extent by stressors induced by a hostile and homophobic culture, which often results in a lifetime of harassment, maltreatment, discrimination, and victimization and may ultimately impact access to care.”
Those with gender dysphoria are likely to be searching for acceptance, understanding, compassion, normalcy, and equality. Being a “sexual minority,” those who are transgender may find these things difficult to secure. Those with gender dysphoria are likely to be tempted by substance abuse as a substitute for feelings they wish to have.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that students, regardless of sexual orientation, reported the lowest levels of depression, suicidal feelings, alcohol, and marijuana use, and unexcused absences from school when they were in a positive school climate and not experiencing homophobic teasing.
What Can Community Members, Educators, Peers, and Parents Do to Combat Minority Stress and Lessen the Chance of Substance Abuse?
The Center for American Progress found that “gay and transgender individuals may be hesitant to utilize health care services that can help them overcome substance abuse because they are aware of the likelihood of meeting health care professionals who are unaware of their specific needs or are outright hostile toward them. As a result, gay and transgender individuals may delay substance abuse treatment or choose not to disclose their sexual or gender status, which not only hinders recovery but also undermines their overall health.”
One way this resource can assist educators, parents and the community is by providing communication tools and clearly defining terminology regarding gender identity. The toolkit also provides helpful links to explore measures to educate and counsel students, peers and coworkers.
While there is never one clear solution to resolve every person’s needs, it is clear that something can be done in this instance. Awareness and education of minority stress surrounding transgender youth and adults may combat addictive behavior.
Alexis Anderson is a Senior Digital PR Coordinator covering K-12 education at 2U Inc. Alexis supports outreach for their school counseling, teaching, mental health and occupational therapy programs. Find her on Twitter @HeyLexHey.
The unpredictability of winning bets and money from gambling is an exciting activity for many. Everyone from celebrities to retirees indulge in the “fun” risk-taking venture to gain money in the challenging pursuit of thrills. Social attitudes toward gambling are becoming more relaxed; however, rates of gambling addiction are growing.
Problems arise when gamblers struggle to reduce the frequency of their habit. Someone doesn’t have to gamble each day to have a gambling addiction. For example, a person who gambles as a hobby has a cut-off point when they can safely pull away. Someone with a gambling addiction cannot and will not stop despite the consequences of their actions.
Why Does One Develop a Gambling Addiction?
The emotional rollercoaster of thrill and loss can create an attachment. When someone gambles, the brain releases a surge of dopamine, or “feel good chemicals,” which reward gamblers when they win. Many have compared the feelings associated with gambling to drugs like heroin and alcohol, making it easy to get addicted if left unchecked. Factors that can contribute to an increased risk of gambling addiction include:
Family history of gambling addiction
Gender (men are more likely to be gamblers)
Failed attempts to cut down on gambling
Alcoholism/ substance abuse disorders
Restless and competitive personalities
Dependence on gambling to ease stress
In order to determine if a gambling addiction is present, diagnosticians look at gambling behavior over the course of 6 months to a year.
Gambling and Mental or Emotional Disorders
There are connections between mental health disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, and depression with gambling addiction (co-occurring disorders). Someone with bipolar disorder may cycle through manic and depressive stages while gambling, further complicating their attachment. Obsessive compulsive disorder can worsen for someone who gambles, as they risk becoming more anxious and preoccupied with gambling.
Individuals with gambling addictions may turn to alcohol to ease the anxiety of lost money and broken relationships. Statistics inform us individuals who abuse alcohol are nearly 25 times more likely to gamble. Individuals with PTSD have a higher gambling risk compared to the general population as well. With these co-occurring conditions, gamblers may turn to substances to alleviate their symptoms.
Just a Fun Compulsion or Gambling Addiction?
There are different tiers of gambling ranging from social or recreational gambling to compulsive or pathological gambling. Social gamblers gamble less often and for recreation. The losses are reasonable or calculated, and they can pull back without risking too much money. Compulsive gambling (or pathological gambling) occurs when the gambler cannot control their gambling or spends too much time and/or money gambling.
Compulsive gambling can transition into what experts consider gambling addiction or problematic gambling. According to the American Psychiatric Association, results of gambling addiction can include:
Anxiety over gambling
Hiding gambling passion from others
Guilt with gambling
Poor impulse control
Prioritizing gambling over other commitments
Craving excitement through gambling
Spending long hours gambling
Borrowing money to support gambling habits
Inability to reduce gambling practices
Using gambling to avoid or escape problems
Pathological gamblers may have delusions about gambling, which may encourage their addictions, in addition to compulsive gambling traits.
Why Treatment May Be What You Need
If you or a loved one has a gambling addiction, it is not too late to get help. Gambling can wreak havoc on the gambler’s life and the life of loved ones. The end result usually creates financial problems and mental preoccupation. If you cannot control your addiction, intervention or treatment is best.
Across Illinois, a new of synthetic marijuana outbreak has taken to the streets. It isn’t illegal. The producers make sure to only use ingredients that are permitted by the law. The police can’t arrest you for using it, and it won’t show up on a drug test. So, where’s the downside?
Synthetic marijuana, also known as “Spice” and “K2,” is plant material that has been coated in chemicals to simulate the effects of THC. However, due to lack of regulations, synthetic marijuana can contain nearly any chemical, be it safe for human consumption or not.
Over 170 people have gone to the hospital for excessive bleeding as a result of the synthetic marijuana outbreak. This is due to brodifacoum, an anti-coagulant that is commonly used in rat poison, in a batch that is currently being distributed. This latest outbreak of synthetic marijuana has caused people to find blood in their urine and feces, cough blood, and bleed from their ears and eyes. While only three have died in connection to these effects, others have required extensive treatment in emergency rooms to be stabilized.
There have been 164 hospitalizations across 15 counties in Illinois.
Two people have been hospitalized in Indiana.
There has been one hospitalization in Missouri, though the state is preparing for more.
One hospitalization was reported in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
One hospitalization believed to be connected in Maryland.
This strain of K2 has spread as far south as North Carolina, where two have been hospitalized.
Why is Synthetic Marijuana Legal?
Synthetic marijuana is popular for many who are looking for the effects of marijuana but on a much stronger level. The levels of THC in synthetic marijuana can be anywhere from two to 100 times more potent than the amount in regular marijuana. However, this level of THC, the psychoactive agent in cannabis, isn’t real and is incredibly harmful to the human brain.
Every package of Spice found in a convenience store will be marked as “not for human consumption.” This is because, despite the ingredients being legal, they are deemed hazardous to the human body. Manufacturers know this, but they choose to use these ingredients regardless.
While the government has banned some dangerous synthetic marijuana strains, all the producers had to do was to tweak their formulas before going back on the market. Much like the world of designer drugs, synthetic marijuana manufacturers can stay ahead of the law by using different formulas.
NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION
The CDC reports that there are currently over 150 different strains of synthetic marijuana on the market. On top of that, there aren’t any standards, guidelines, or requirements in the synthetic marijuana world that companies need to follow. As long as the chemicals used aren’t banned and they keep the disclaimer, they are able to sell their product.
Addiction to Synthetic Marijuana
If you believe that you or someone you know may be addicted to synthetic marijuana, it is important to address immediately. Some variants of synthetic marijuana can be more lethal than heroin, and all are labeled as “not for human consumption” for a reason. If you don’t know where to start, reach out to a dedicated treatment specialist. They can help you figure out the next steps towards recovery.
Popular music is bombarded with song lyrics glamorizing lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous, fancy cars, and wild adventures. Listeners hear songs condoning the use of illicit drugs and consuming large amounts of alcohol. Popular songs like “Mask Off” by Future and “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd are recent examples of popular songs connected to drug use. However, the relationship between drugs and music stretches across genres and decades. For example, recent surveys find country music sustaining higher amounts of lyrics revealing drug use, and songs from the 60s and 70s famously embraced drug culture, promoting trippy journeys and altered states of mind.
The Impact of Drugs and Music on Teenagers
How does music affect the listener, and who is most affected by the influence of music and the curiosity to try drugs? According to studies, adolescent listeners are most likely to abuse drugs after hearing song lyrics relating to chemical dependence. For example, teenagers who listen to music about marijuana are at a greater risk of marijuana use. A recent study of 9th graders confirms this theory, especially the impressionability of younger listeners. However, attempts to connect alcohol use to music were not as conclusive.
Other factors connecting marijuana and music are the songs the listener listens to, with the exposure to the music they hear. For instance, individuals listening to music referencing marijuana in stressful times or low moods may promote the benefits of using the drug and can entice listeners to try it. Teens may also have the false beliefs musicians need drugs to enhance their creative urges or musicians need drugs to help them clear their minds to create. Teens may also falsely believe musicians who use drugs can better cope with conditions like depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and overall stress.
MDMA, EDM, and Drug Culture
Songs in the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) genre often contain colorful lyrics praising various forms of MDMA such as Ecstasy and Molly, in many cases their euphoric and stress-reducing effects. MDMA is a popular drug at raves, where upbeat, bass-filled instrumentals often surround lyrics emphasizing the highs of MDMA and wild gatherings.Young individuals attending raves may have access to Ecstasy as part of the high-vibe environment accompanying heavy, fast-paced bass drums.
With an open mind to listeners seeking “good vibes” and little consequences and access to MDMA at raves, dependencies and addictions can easily become the norm for some. Dangers of these glamorized drugs are numerous. Aside from the risk of addiction, curious experimenters can get bad batches of MDMA laced with cocaine, bath salts, heroin, or crack.
MDMA is increasingly referenced by rappers and pop musicians as well as EDM artists. Molly, a powdered or crystalized form of MDMA, in particular is popular in modern music—particularly with and Hip-Hop and EDM. Many musicians directly reference Molly experimentation, with some artists penning songs about mixing molly with water, a combination known as molly water.
Studies have revealed the power of drug suggestion in music is linked to an increase in MDMA use. Open-minded, adventurous listeners can easily stumble upon suggestive lyrics fueling their curiosity.
Music Festivals and Recreational Substance Abuse
Music festivals are exciting experiences combining community and the thrills of musical expression. Unfortunately, many attendees consider drug and alcohol abuse to be a significant part of the experience. Many individuals at music festivals note drinking alcohol, smoking Marijuana, and using MDMA to increase the experience. A recent survey of music festival attendees found that:
75% used alcohol
38% used Marijuana
13% used Molly or Ecstasy
8% used Mushrooms
8% used LSD
7% used Cocaine
4% used Opioids
The open environment and availability of drugs at music festivals create a tempting space to use. The carefree attitudes of festival members also encourage impressionable youth to feed their curiosity to experiment with drugs.
Understanding the power of creative expression combined with the suggestion of thrills and excitement by the promises of drug use can greatly inhibit risk of drug use and addiction. What may start off as an innocent experiment can later spiral into dependence, uncomfortable symptoms, reckless and risky behavior, hangovers, and in some cases, addiction.
Help for substance abuse may come in many forms, but traditionally, those enrolled in treatment programs have been required to show up in person to access needed support. Since there may be a variety of barriers with that model of care, telemedicine (aka telehealth) offers new options for those who need mental health services and substance abuse treatment. Here’s a look at how and why to use telehealth for substance use treatment, and how it works.
Seeking Treatment Through Telehealth
Broadly speaking, telehealth uses HIPAA-compliant technologies, including telephone-based services, smartphone applications, videoconferencing, and web-based tools, to provide care over distance without requiring patients to travel to a clinic or provider’s office. One of the most common technologies used is videoconferencing with a secure online platform.
A recent post by the online Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program from USC’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work describes how the university is doing just that. Dr. Nadia Islam is an associate professor of clinical practice in the DSW program and clinical director of USC Telehealth, a virtual outpatient behavioral health clinic. She says telehealth support is a “real game-changer” that is underutilized for substance abuse treatment.
I see it having the most impact in terms of helping to reach people before their problem becomes really acute,” she said. “From the flip side, many people will seek assistance when they experience a crisis and then there’s difficulty with maintaining follow-up. There is room in prevention and early intervention for tele mental health care, but I also think there’s a place for aftercare and follow-up.”
Reasons to Seek Telehealth Treatment
There are many reasons to pursue treatment through telehealth, and often they’re related to overcoming barriers to care. These might include the stigma associated with seeking help, lack of access to providers in remote areas, the inability to take time away from a job or other responsibilities, and the costs of traveling to a provider’s location.
Islam says she has frequently witnessed the impact of such barriers: “Many of the clients we work with tell us that they have never sought therapy in the past or if they have sought therapy they haven’t stuck with it. Not always because they didn’t want to, but sometimes because barriers around transportation, mobility, taking time off work, childcare … it was just too much. When it came to juggling all these things, their own self-care was the first thing to go.”
She says the opinions of others can also be a barrier: “They’ll tell us that the stigma around not just having a mental health problem, but seeking help for that mental health problem, was so great that they were reluctant to even try. So, I’ve always said that telehealth really provides an opportunity and an option for individuals who otherwise wouldn’t seek help for a variety of personal and structural reasons.”
Although she sees telehealth as an excellent option, Islam emphasizes in-person care may still be best “in the most acute situations that involve a level of high risk of harm to either the client themselves or to others.”
Potential Benefits of Telehealth Care
In addition to improved access, Islam highlights another benefit of telehealth: more holistic care. “There’s a greater appreciation for trauma and how trauma influences substance use and abuse. For instance, one of the services that telehealth provides involves Seeking Safety, which is a cognitive behavioral intervention developed to address both trauma and substance use disorders concurrently. Telehealth offers a specific advantage in its capacity to respond not only to addiction and related behaviors, but to also address trauma and perhaps other mental health conditions underlying that problematic behavior.”
Another benefit is the network of partnerships that may form as a result. When the resources of a large telehealth program like USC’s combine with providers in the community, everyone benefits. Small clinics and individual providers can gain access to expertise and secure technologies — and both can serve as referral sources and partners to meet the needs of the local community, no matter where that may be.
Convincing Someone to Try Telehealth Services
If you see someone in need of help, just offering the suggestion might make all the difference. “I think one major piece that we’ve observed that’s so important is having someone who the person trusts recommend telehealth as an option for them. Just knowing that something exists may not be enough to inspire the level of trust needed to motivate someone to try it,” Islam says. “For instance, if a student is talking to a professor or a guidance counselor — or even a friend —having them say, ‘It sounds like you’re really struggling with this. Have you thought about contacting a therapist at telehealth?’ Often, that’s the crucial link.”
The Tragedy of Mental Health and Substance Use in the Workplace
Mental health and substance use in the workplace are closely correlated problems. Luckily, employers can take many preventative measures.
According to a 2017 poll for the American Psychological Association, just 48 percent of working adults reported their employer provided resources to help meet mental health needs, and only 42 percent reported receiving sufficient resources to help manage stress. However, with a growing awareness of just how many employees are struggling with mental health issues, many organizations are starting to step up to the plate to meet these needs. In a recent post, the online Master of Arts in Counseling Program from the Family Institute at Northwestern University examined the mental health needs of workers and how some companies are providing more support.
Why Mental Health Services Are Needed in the Workplace
In the U.S., one in five employees report that mental health problems have made challenges in their jobs more difficult to handle—and younger workers may struggle the most. Only five percent of baby boomers reported that mental health issues can make work more challenging, while 17 percent of GenXers and 29 percent of millennials confirmed experiencing mental health issues related to their work.
Dr. Eric Beeson, a core faculty member at Counseling@Northwestern and a licensed professional counselor, says an increased awareness among younger workers may help explain the trend: “I think that the younger folks today have a more holistic view of well-being and are more aware of the importance of work-life balance,” he said. “However, this work-life balance is often challenged with performance demands. Thankfully, some organizations are fostering social and emotional health in the workplace, so if folks are going to sacrifice balance, some of these needs can be met in the office.”
Tips for Your Organization
Even if your company doesn’t have a program in place to support employees with mental health issues, Dr. Beeson says a few key strategies can help you get started:
Create a culture of acceptance;
Raise awareness about the reality of mental health challenges;
Support employees through formal training and education;
Incentivize wellness initiatives;
Promote wellness in benefits packages;
Because there is often a stigma attached to mental health issues, the first step may be the most important. “There’s sometimes the fear of repercussions,” Dr. Besson says. “There’s a fear that people will be viewed as weaker or ‘less than,’ or depending upon the mental illness, maybe (having) a moral failing of their own.”
Services for Mental Health and Substance Use
With an emphasis on employee health, the workplace provides a prime opportunity to address mental health and addiction challenges among workers. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction (NCADD), establishing an EAP is the most effective way to do it. Additional recommendations by the NCADD include:
Implementing drug-free workplace and other written substance use policies;
Offering health benefits that provide comprehensive health benefit coverage for substance use disorders;
Including aftercare and counseling;
Reducing stigma in the workplace;
Educating employees about the health and productivity hazards of substance use through company wellness programs.
Regardless of your role in an organization, you can make a difference in supporting the mental health needs of those in your workplace. One of the most valuable things you can do is just show you care.
You may have heard about fentanyl on the news, radio, or even on this site. What you may not know are the full dangers of the synthetic opioid or the importance of knowing what you’re taking. Even a small amount of fentanyl can cause a deadly overdose, which is why checking for fentanyl is so critical.
The Dangers of Fentanyl
Fentanyl, on average, is 100 times stronger than morphine. It is incredibly dangerous and only safe to take as prescribed by a doctor, typically in a transdermal or intravenous manner. However, as with any drug, clandestine labs started producing their own illicit analogue. A majority of drug users weren’t looking for fentanyl. The concentration of the drug makes it dangerous if not measured properly, and it takes as little as 3 mg to kill an average adult male. However, dealers found that using traces of fentanyl in their other drugs, notably heroin, could increase their potency while cutting their costs. Without finely tuned equipment and a greater understanding of the potency of the fentanyl, people who bought their drugs from those dealers and then used them without checking for fentanyl began overdosing in great numbers. This has caused the greatest opioid epidemic our nation has ever found itself in.
31 percent of nearly 64,000 overdose deaths were from fentanyl.
75 percent of the heroin in Santa Barbara County has tested positive for fentanyl.
70 percent of the users have stated that they would take measures to avoid drugs that contain fentanyl.
Fentanyl isn’t just turning up in other opioids. It has been found in methamphetamines, MDMA, and even cocaine. People all over the continent are dying from taking fentanyl unknowingly. Deaths tripled in California alone from 2016 to 2017. In reality, a standard buyer can’t determine if the drug they’re being sold is pure, good quality, or even if the drug is what the dealer says it is. So, how can go about checking for fentanyl? The answer is a system originally used to test people for the presence of fentanyl in their system.
Fentanyl Test Kits
In Toronto, Canada, a company developed strips that were originally designed to detect traces of fentanyl in peoples’ urine. After their development, a clinic in Vancouver, who were wary of the dangerous of taking fentanyl unknowingly, found a way to use them to test other drugs for fentanyl. The company now sells the strips in test kits at $1 per strip to different clinics and programs in bulk so that users have access to them. Some states, like California, even supply the kits at no cost so everyone has access to them.
Where to get Fentanyl Test Kit?
More and more states are providing access to fentanyl test kits at needle exchanges. If there isn’t a local provide near you, they can also be bought online. While knowing what you are taking is important, the peace of mind that comes with independence from a substance addiction is invaluable. If you are tired of your addiction putting you into harm’s way then reach out to a dedicated treatment specialist today.
Designer drugs, as a term, first came about in the 1980s. It was applied to synthetic drugs incidentally created by pharmaceutical companies. Drugs like methamphetamines and LSD were originally created as medications. Today, “designer drugs” are any synthetic alternative of a narcotic, usually intended to increase its potency while minimizing the side-effects.
Typically produced in clandestine labs, designer drugs are made with the goal of getting around the law. Many of the drugs popularized at clubs and raves, like ecstasy and LSD, are now designer drugs. Though there will be variations from source-to-source, all drugs that fall into those categories are considered illegal. Other drugs, however, have been harder for the law to crackdown because of how section 813 of the Controlled Substances Act is phrased.
A controlled substance analogue shall, to the extent intended for human consumption, be treated, for the purposes of any Federal law as a controlled substance in schedule I.
Synthetic marijuana, or Spice, is often found in stores sold as products labeled as “Not for Human Consumption.” This simple disclaimer is all most local legislations require for it to be sold legally. Meanwhile, employees in those shops will discretely encourage it to customers. In cases where legislators catch wind of the dangerous drug, it will become illegal and pulled from shelves. It will then be back up in a matter of months when the maker finds a new blend that isn’t prohibited by law. However, in staying ahead of these regulations, many who use these drugs often expose themselves to untested dangers.
The Danger of Designer Drugs
Designer drugs may sound like a safer alternative, considering they were originally made with that intent, but they’re often more dangerous than the original they try to synthesize. The nature of these clandestine labs means that no user can be 100% certain what chemicals they ingest. Many people who smoke K2, a synthetic marijuana, wind up in emergency rooms. Not because of THC, but the other synthetic chemicals combined with it to make a greater high.
K2 has caused people to fall into a catatonic state in Texas, lock up, and fall wherever they’re smoking. Others have bled out in Missouri from a chemical in K2 that was also found in rat poison. However, the intense sensations that synthetic marijuana can bring on, the relative low cost to make and purchase, and the fact that it can’t be detected on a drug test have brought people to it again and again.
Common Designer Drugs
Public awareness of designer drugs has skyrocketed in the media. Drugs like methamphetamine, LSD, ecstasy, bath salts, K2, spice, and even fentanyl have gained the spotlight in recent years. However, people still take great risk on these drugs as they try to chase a high that can’t be obtained. These drugs are commonly found in clubs, raves, and house parties and have become their own sub-culture of users.
Seeking Help for Designer Drug Use
Growing up can mean a lot of things today. Many look at it as a chance to try new things and discover who they really are. On college campuses today, that usually means going to parties, drinking, and experimenting with drugs. What most won’t realize, however, is the dangers that some of the drugs can carry.
It is easy to say you’re just trying it, but with the dangerous effects these unregulated drugs can hold once is enough to become addicted, or in some cases, die. If you’ve started using designer drugs and don’t know how to stop, try reaching out to a dedicated treatment specialist. They’re here to help you turn your life around.
There are hundreds of dangerous drugs in the world, hiding throughout each corner of our planet, seeping into new areas and creating new addicts every day. You can probably name at least ten deadly drugs right now. Have you heard of any of the ones below? You might want to familiarize yourself with their irreversible effects before you ever think about trying them.
1. Foxy Methoxy
Also known as DiPT (abbreviated at 5-MEO-DIPT scientifically), Foxy Methoxy is a hallucinogenic drug that is known for its auditory psychoactive effects that not only causes users to see unreal things, but also hear, smell, feel, and even taste things that only dwelling within the imagination. There is a lack of studies pertaining to this particular drug, and it is virtually impossible for users to know the source and purity of any sample, both of which can lead to potentially fatal consequences. It is a part of the category Tryptamines, which are drugs that can be found naturally in the body or in a synthetic form. Foxy Methoxy is a synthetic substance that has been classified as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it has no medical benefits and is illegal to possess in all circumstances. The drug can potentially continue to affect your hearing even after it wears off, by leaving users unable to differentiate between sounds in proximity and background noise.
Also known as Qat, Quaad, or Arabian Tea, many believe this drug influences terrorism. Khat is very common throughout the Middle East, where in some places it is as popular as coffee. Khat is either chewed or consumed in a liquid form. Many people ingest it in the morning before work or a test to give a boost of energy and focus. Others believe it is dangerous because it gives users a sense of invincibility, which is why it is used by some terrorists before going out on a mission. Terrorist groups also profit from the manufacture, trafficking, and sale of Khat. For example, the drug is one of the primary sources of funding for the infamous al-Shabaab terrorist group of Somalia.
Dragonfly, also known as Bromo-DragonFLY or B-DFLY is a chemical within the “2C” drug family that manipulates serotonin to produce hallucinogenic feelings and visuals. Dragonfly earned it’s street name because it’s chemical structure superficially resembles a dragonfly’s wing. The difference between Dragonfly and other hallucinogenic drugs is its potency and the duration which it lasts. Extremely potent compared to most hallucinogens, even a small dose can put you at an altered state of mind for several days. Seizures, confusion, heart problems, and death have occurred. Dragonfly has earned a reputation in the drug community for being especially dangerous. Even scarier, dangerous drugs like Dragonfly can be illegally purchased online at the click of a button, meaning anyone, anywhere could be impacted.
4. Benzo Fury
A more recently introduced drug, Benzo Fury is legally sold due to the dishonest label (similar to the drug K2’s label) “not for human consumption,” allowing anyone to abuse the drug without the risk of criminal punishment. Similar to the drug MDMA, Benzo Fury provides hallucinogenic affects, but it is much riskier due to its higher potency. As a hallucinogen and a stimulant, Benzo Fury can last up to 14 hours. Incidents of overdose of the drug have been reported, resulting in self-harm and hospitalization. The number of deaths from the drug between 2011 and 2012 caused the UK to ban the drug in 2014. When mixed with other drugs such as alcohol, Foxy Methoxy.
Known for being “the perfect substance for an easy crime,” Scopolamine, also known as Devil’s Breath or Scopolamine Datura, is a powder derived from the Borrachero tree native to Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. There is substantial debate over how Scopolomine actually works, and it is hard to separate fact from legend.
Scopolamine allegedly causes the complete elimination of free will, leaving victims conscious but with their actions controlled by a predator. Just like a child, victims allegedly obey whoever gives them a command. Perpetrators are completely in control of their victim’s mind and actions, without leaving trace of memory. Some scientists dispute this is possible, claiming that Scopolamine actually acts as a tranquilizer.
All agree that too much of the drug can be fatal, and in some cases immediately so. Some use the drug recreationally by grinding the roots and flowers of the tree and liquefying them into a tea that causes hallucinations. In any case, there is absolutely no medical benefit to this plant.
Also known as Krok, Krokodil is often referred to as the Poor Man’s Heroin because its cheap doses supposedly impact users in similar ways to Heroin. Krokodil is most commonly found in Russia and other former Soviet Republics, but it is also beginning to appear around the world. The drug is named after crocodiles because the leathery, ripped up skin at the injection site resembles the skin of a large reptile. Hydrochloric acid, paint thinner, red phosphorous, and other deadly chemicals come together to rot your skin from the inside out. Krokodil is infamous for causing chunks of flesh to fall off around injection sites and eroding organs within the body. Krokodil is almost certainly the most disfiguring commonly used drug in the world, and it might be the deadliest.
Other Dangerous Drugs
There countless dangerous drugs on the black market, and more are being developed all the time. Newer and rarer drugs are often the most dangerous, as they are usually the least well-studied and their side effects are the least well-known. Unfortunately, many who are curious and determined to feel something different only end up with leaving everything they’ve ever loved behind forever.
Remembering Veterans Struggling with Addiction on Memorial Day
Memorializing soldiers who had died in combat took on major significance in the United States in the aftermath of the Civil War, and only became more important as the US entered other conflicts throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries. Congress officially declared Memorial Day a national holiday in 1971, during the Vietnam War. Memorial Day is a day to remember the men and women who have died while serving in all branches of the armed forces.
Many millions of Americans have Memorial Day off of work and use their extra time for a variety of activities, from vacations to spring cleaning. However, it is also important to remember the millions of former service members who are still alive, many of whom are locked in a new life-threatening battle: addiction to drugs and alcohol.
The Scope of the Problem
Although veterans have developed substance abuse issues during or after their time in combat for as long as there have been wars, the issue really came to the forefront of the American consciousness in the wake of the Vietnam War. At the time, the Culture Wars were raging at home, and drug use was a major issue in those conflicts. Vietnam veterans returning home addicted to heroin, marijuana, and other drugs they had encountered in Southeast Asia, were a major concern for military and civilian authorities alike. Tragically, the problem has continued ever since.
Some researchers have concluded that 1 in 15 Veterans struggle have struggled with a substance abuse disorder in the past year, a total of 1.5 million people. The number of veterans who suffer from a substance abuse disorder at some point in their lives (not just in the past year) is significantly higher, although it is harder to get accurate statistics, especially for World War II and Korean War veterans. Considering that addiction does not only impact the addicted individual themselves, but also their friends and families, the number of Americans who are affected by veteran addiction is very high indeed.
What Can I Do to Help?
If you are interested in helping to alleviate the problem of veterans and substance abuse, there are many ways you can do so.
Donate your time and money.
There are many organizations that help veterans who are trying to overcome their addiction issues. These include government, university, religious, and charity groups, among others. Many organizations that are not specifically focused on substance abuse or veterans provide support, including groups dedicated to helping the homeless or rural poor for example, dedicate substantial resources to this problem.
One thing that all of these organizations have in common is a need for more funding and more volunteers, and your contributions in either regard will be greatly appreciated. If you are looking for an organization, an excellent place to start is by checking in with local veterans groups or by talking with veterans themselves.
Learn more, and then share what you have learned.
Education and awareness are two of the most critical tools for solving any problem, and veteran substance abuse is no different. There are many resources that you can use to educate yourself on the problem. In addition to the Internet, public libraries, universities, veteran’s organizations, and substance abuse programs all have a wealth of resources available. However, one of the best ways to learn more is to talk directly with veterans who are either currently struggling with addiction or who are in recovery. You will find that many are very willing to share their stories with you.
Once you learn more, share what you know. The more people that know about how serious the problem is, the more people who can do something about it. While most are aware that many veterans suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction, few are aware of just how many do. Once educated, many are willing to volunteer their own time, encourage others to do the same, donate money, or take political action, magnifying the benefits.
Perhaps there’s no more impactful way to help a veteran struggling with addiction issues than to simply be there for them. Addiction is a lonely disease, and it gets lonelier the longer it progresses. On top of that, many veterans feel a deep underlying loneliness completely separate from their substance abuse issues. It is very common for veterans to return from service and feel disconnected and isolated from those they love, who they are afraid will no longer understand them or what they have been through.
Simply by providing companionship, a shoulder to cry on, or even just a set of friendly ears, you can make a huge difference for a veteran. Even if they don’t feel willing or able to open up to you right away, just knowing that you are there to support them and that you are willing to try is very helpful. Many addiction experts believe that connection is critical to overcoming substance abuse disorders, and you can be part of that connection.