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Lollipop, Lollipop

Dumb-dumbs putting drugs into Dum-Dums? What will they think of next? (Rhode Island Novelty)

Dumb-dumbs putting drugs into Dum-Dums? What will they think of next? (Rhode Island Novelty)

Doctors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin are warning parents about a new danger with regard to teenage substance abuse: candy laced with prescription drugs.

Basically, kids are either stealing prescription medications from their parents or getting them from other kids—who I can only assume are stealing from their parents, as well. Once they have them, they boil down the candy, stir in the drugs, allow the candy to re-harden and then package it to look like any decadently-sweet treat you might find at a corner candy store.

In other words, teenagers can walk around and unassumingly ingest anything from Xanax to Valium and no one will be the wiser—at least not until the effects of the drugs are noticeable or someone dies from it.

Yes, this practice is extremely dangerous. And I would never come out in support of anything that might harm other human beings, but you have to admit these methods are pretty ingenious. Misguided and wrong, but impressive if only for the creativity involved.

When I was a teenager, drugs weren’t our “weapons of choice,” but alcohol certainly was. I confess to nothing, of course, but some of us occasionally stole liquor from our parents so we could “throw down” over the weekend. We would stash it in the woods or some other hiding place; recover it once we were free-and-clear of all authority figures; transport it to a house party or other such function—normally at the home of whichever friend’s parents happened to be out-of-town; and use it to enhance the good times… if you know what I mean.

And I am certain that you do.

The only problem with our teenage, booze-soaked rebellion was that it often drew attention from a common enemy: the police. And believe me… convincing a cop that you haven’t been drinking illegally is hard to do in a house full of empty vodka and tequila bottles.

Drunk, teenage jackasses falling all over themselves don’t help, either, but I digress.

In an effort to divert attention away from our “extracurricular” activities—and to avoid having to hide deep in the woods to drink—we did what many others were doing at the time: we hid the liquor in plain sight, only with a disguise.

These may look like candy, but the buzz is much different (Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger)

These may look like candy, but the buzz is much different (Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger)

The tactic I remember most vividly involved Scope mouthwash, which anyone who has ever seen or used before knows is green and comes in a clear plastic bottle.

And no, we didn’t just drink the mouthwash to catch a buzz. Give us some credit, will you?

What we did do, however, was buy some Scope from the drug store—which back then was within walking distance of my home; dump out the mouthwash; clean the bottle thoroughly; pour in our own alcohol mixture, which consisted only of clear liquors; add a little Crème de Menthe for color; shake and then drink to our hearts’ content.

Granted, you couldn’t just walk around taking slugs from a mouthwash bottle in public, but you could carry it with you and not worry about it being discovered by any frisky cops. And since the Crème de Menthe gave it a peppermint scent and flavor, you could easily explain why your breath smelled so fresh if questioned by party-busting officers later.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: teenagers will always find ways to obtain and use drugs and alcohol. My friends and I got creative with mouthwash over a quarter century ago, but today’s teens have evolved even further. The only problem is that the substances have evolved, too, and taking medications not prescribed to them—even if they come in the form of Dum Dum lollipops—is never a good idea.

Might I suggest a quick mouthwash run to the drug store instead?

Beware the Zombie Drug!

Just because you like zombies doesn't mean you need to become one! (The Independent UK)

Just because you like zombies doesn’t mean you need to become one! (The Independent UK)

As if Americans didn’t have enough problems already—from the government shutdown to the debt ceiling debate and everything in between—it now looks as if we have a new headache to worry about: krokodil or desomorphine… otherwise known as the “zombie drug.”

Krokodil is an injectable opiate derived from morphine that is cheaper and easier to produce than heroin, a drug for which it is sometimes substituted, often without users’ knowledge. It first appeared in Russia and the Ukraine several years ago and has since addicted more than 120,000 people, according to a recent study published by the International Journal of Drug Policy. And the consequences of using this highly addictive drug are pretty serious, believe me.

A krokodil user cooking up (The Independent UK)

A krokodil user cooking up (The Independent UK)

“It’s a zombie drug—it literally kills you from the inside out,” Dr. Abhin Singla from the Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Illinois said recently. “If you want a way to die, this is a way to die.”

The drug—which is produced by combining things like codeine, paint thinner, iodine, lighter fluid and even gasoline—is highly impure and can be contaminated by all sorts of toxic chemicals—much like another drug that’s destroying our nation, crystal meth. Users experience a high similar to heroin after using krokodil and the withdrawal symptoms are equally intense, but check out some of the side effects: black or green scaled skin; vein and soft tissue damage; gangrene and necrosis; severe mutilations; decaying bone structure; sores and ulcers; rotting extremities, like ears and noses; liver and kidney problems; irrational thought and behavior; sleep deprivation and exhaustion; memory loss; speech problems; and quite a few more.

In other words, it isn’t a drug anyone should consider doing… at least not anyone who wants to live.

Unfortunately, it now looks as if this “zombie drug” has reached America. This past weekend alone, five people in Joliet, Illinois were hospitalized with symptoms similar to recent cases in Arizona, Oklahoma and Utah. Of course, a woman in Oklahoma City recently told a local television station about a friend who died from krokodil use last year.

Nice stems, for a rotting corpse (OASAS NY)

Nice stems, for a rotting corpse (OASAS NY)

“The doctors say it ate him from the inside out,” Chelle Fancher recounted. “It wasn’t until the next day that they told us that it was krokodil.”

Dr. Robert Geller of the Georgia Poison Center is aware of the drug—as are many doctors around the country— and fears this may only be the beginning of another drug epidemic.

“It’s not clear how widely used it is in the U.S.,” Geller said. “This may be an inexpensive high compared to other drugs, according to its reputation, but it is more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms and be a real problem for users. My advice to would-be users is ‘don’t.’ This is a risky way to try and get high.”

Foot massage, anyone? (OASAS NY)

Foot massage, anyone? (OASAS NY)

Of course, warnings like this have done little to prevent the use of other dangerous substances in the past, so I fully expect to see more about this zombie drug in the news, preferably later rather than sooner. Not seeing it at all would be ideal, though.

I only hope no one tries to blame The Walking Dead for increasing the popularity of zombies and, by association, the zombie drug! Sometimes it’s simply weak human beings who are to blame, for goodness sake!

Looking Like Meth

I just stumbled across a horrifying “info graphic” from Rehabs.com that I could not help but share. It shows the progressive deterioration in the facial features of people hooked on methamphetamines (i.e. crystal meth) for only a short period of time. And if there were ever a better deterrent for meth use, I have no idea what it could be. This is about as convincing as it gets, so I reproduce it here in the hope that it persuades people to leave this stuff alone.

The Horrors of Methamphetamines (courtesy of Rehabs.com)

The Horrors of Methamphetamines (courtesy of Rehabs.com)

Prescription drug abuse down among young people

 

English: Adderall

Adderall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fewer young adults abusing prescription drugs – The Chart – CNN.com Blogs.

A recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that prescription drug abuse among young people aged 18-25 has dropped roughly 14% in the last year. In other words, 300,000 fewer young people are either abusing their own medications or popping pills that don’t belong to them.

As someone who works at a small private college and witnesses this kind of abuse regularly, I couldn’t be happier to hear about this downturn. And my hope is that 2012 will see an even sharper drop.

Prescription drug abuse has been a growing problem on many college and university campuses for as long as I can remember. At my school, most of this abuse centers upon medications used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), namely Ritalin and Adderall.

I was diagnosed with Adult ADD several years ago and have since taken a number of different medications, finally settling on Vyvanse, which seems to be working. Of course, I know exactly what these drugs can do, especially to people for whom they were not prescribed. Obvious side effects include appetite suppression, dry mouth and insomnia, all of which can be troublesome in their own way. However, things like increased heart rate, depression and anorexia are even more serious, and in some cases can be fatal.

252/365: Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa (Photo credit: by Janine)

A college student who just stole Adderall from their roommate or bought some pills from a friend likely wouldn’t consider these potential risks. To them, it’s all about the buzz and the “concentration boost” the medication provides. And more often than not, these “abusers” use the drug as a substitute for motivation. It helps them focus enough to actually listen in class or to finish assignments they should have completed without the medication.

Students lucky enough not to experience serious side effects after taking ADD medications that don’t belong to them face another challenge: coping with college-level work when there is no drug to be had. In these instances, abusers now have to rely on their inherent skills and motivation to get them through. And if deficiencies in these areas first led them to the ADD drugs, then they may find themselves at even more of a disadvantage. Now they either have to adapt or find a new connection. Sadly, I fear most of them will opt for the latter.

Obviously, the abuse of ADD medication isn’t the only prescription drug issue among college students. They have also been known to abuse painkillers, which can be even more dangerous since some students combine them with alcohol. The news is filled with stories of young people, and even celebrities, who mixed pills and booze with deadly results. How many more have to die before people realize just how dangerous this can be?

Yes, prescription drug abuse among young people is declining, but we still have a long way to go. At this point, the best preventative measures seem to be information and persistence. We have to educate our youth about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and continue to drive our point home at every turn. Only then can we ensure our young people focus on what is most important: their future.

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