Since drugs were first introduced in the United States, they became a significant part of American culture. The truth is, the history of life-destroying drug abuse dates much farther back than most people would assume. As far back as 7000-5000 BC, chemical substances like hallucinogenic drugs and alcohol were being abused. Over time, more and more substances were introduced to society, though most of the substances introduced early on were naturally derived (think substances like opium, which is derived from the opium poppy, and cocaine, which is derived from the coca plant). In recent years, drug abuse has taken a frightening turn. Many illicit substances are now manufactured in laboratories, and are made from a combination of toxic chemicals. Over the course of the past decade or so, numerous dangerous drug trends have risen to the surface. Take a look at the five following trends, and remember that if you or someone you love has been struggling with substance abuse or dependency, help is available. At Chapel Hill Detox we help men and women of all ages and personal backgrounds begin their personal journeys of addiction recovery. Our medical detox program is a necessary first step on the road to comprehensive wellness.
Dangerous Drug Trend #1 – Polydrug Abuse
Polydrug abuse essentially means that more than one chemical substance is being ingested at one time. One of the most common types of polydrug is “speed-balling,” which means that an individual ingests cocaine and heroin or methamphetamine and heroin at the same time (ingesting a potent stimulant and a potent tranquilizer at the same time, otherwise known as an “upper” and a “downer”). Mixing drugs almost always has serious consequences, and polydrug abuse is responsible for the vast majority of overdose-related deaths reported throughout the country. It was reported that in the year 2011, over half of all emergency room visits that involved alcohol also involved a prescription medication (more about this when we get to mixing painkillers with alcohol, which is a form of polydrug abuse). Unfortunately, many do not recognize the dangers involved in taking more than one substance at a time. It is crucial that if you or someone you love has been abusing more than one chemical substance at a time, professional care is sought immediately. Otherwise, the consequences could be dire.
Dangerous Drug Trend #2 – Synthetic Drug Abuse
In around 2009, the use of synthetic or “designer” drugs absolutely blew up throughout the United States. Synthetic drugs, manufactured in home laboratories, in most cases, started cropping up in gas stations and head shops across the country. It is currently believed that there are over 200 types of synthetic drugs currently in circulation. These drugs are made using harsh and dangerous chemicals, and they are always inconsistent – meaning that the user will never know what side effects and symptoms to expect. There are two main types of synthetic drug, including synthetic cathinones and synthetic cannabinoids. Because these drugs are often legal and easily accessible, they are commonly abused by teenagers and young adults. You may have heard of drugs like “Spice” or “K2” and “bath salts.”
Because of the serious danger involved in synthetic drug abuse, the federal government passed an act called the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012. This act was geared towards facilitating widespread education and helping those who were struggling with synthetic drug addiction. Unfortunately, the number of emergency room visits directly linked to these dangerous substances is continuously on the rise.
Dangerous Drug Trend #3 – Mixing Prescription Painkillers with Alcohol
As previously mentioned, there are few drug trends as lethal as mixing prescription painkillers with alcohol. Both substances have sedative effects, and often lead to respiratory depression when combined. If an individual is prescribed a narcotic painkiller by a medical professional, he or she will be instructed to completely stay away from alcohol because of the dangers involved in mixing the two substances. Some will take medications like hydrocodone, morphine or oxycodone and then drink heavily, not realizing that drinking while on opiates increased the risk of overdose a frightening amount. If you know anyone who has combined these two substances, seeking professional and immediate medical care will be necessary.
Dangerous Drug Trend #4 – Kratom
In February, Health Day News reported that healthcare professionals and emergency room technicians were seeing a major increase in hospital visits that were directly linked to Kratom use (more specifically, Kratom poisoning). Because Kratom is legal in most states and because it is a plant-based substance, most teenagers and young adults believe that it is safe to use. This could not be farther from the truth. This substance is dangerous to use and can lead to serious health-related complications when taken in large quantities. Some individuals are using Kratom to help alleviate symptoms associated with opiate withdrawal. For example, heroin addicts who are attempting to detox on their own will take Kratom so they do not feel quite as physically ill, because Kratom mimics the effects of opiates when taken in large amounts. Attempting to detox alone is never a good idea, and utilizing an unregulated substance to do so is even more risky.
The same study reported that in 2011, emergency responders would receive an average of one call every month related to Kratom poisoning. Since then, this number has skyrocketed to two calls every day. Kratom abuse is a dangerous new drug trend that should be considered. If someone appears as if they are struggling with opiate abuse, they may, in fact, be abusing Kratom.
Dangerous Drug Trend #5 – Teenagers Vaping Marijuana
In March, the Chicago Sun Times reported that e-cigarettes and vapes were being frequently used amongst teenagers. In general, these vapes are easy to hide and they tend to be odorless, meaning that they can easily be snuck into classroom settings and used in between classes. Currently, there are roughly 3 million young people throughout the US that report vaping regularly. Out of these individuals it is estimated that roughly 40 percent are using marijuana. When it comes to marijuana, opinions will vary. Some believe that the substance is entirely harmless, while others believe that age restrictions are in place for a legitimate reason. While occasionally smoking weed on occasion is a generally harmless part of many of our teenage experiences, times are certainly changing. No longer do 17-year olds skip class once a month to smoke out of an apple… no. Nowadays, kids are smoking large quantities of THC concentrate out of harmful devices – devices that are known to do significant damage to the lungs and other essential organs. Using “dabs” makes vaping marijuana even more dangerous than it ever was beforehand.
A dab provides a significantly more intense high than regular marijuana, because the THC is so concentrated. Not only does this do eventual physical damage, but it can lead to serious psychological damage as well. Many teenagers who vape marijuana will have severe panic attacks, or develop anxiety-related disorders later on in life.
Chapel Hill Detox and Drug Addiction Recovery
At Chapel Hill Detox, we are up-to-date on current drug trends, and we know just how dangerous they can be. To learn more, give us a call today.