September 26 2015

The Science of Drug Abuse & Addiction

CRYIG MOM    NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse

The Science of Drug Abuse & Addiction

What are the immediate (short-term) effects of heroin use?

Once heroin enters the brain, it is converted to morphine and binds rapidly to opioid receptors.11 Abusers typically report feeling a surge of pleasurable sensation—a “rush.” The intensity of the rush is a function of how much drug is taken and how rapidly the drug enters the brain and binds to the opioid receptors. With heroin, the rush is usually accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and a heavy feeling in the extremities, which may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and severe itching. After the initial effects, users usually will be drowsy for several hours; mental function is clouded; heart function slows; and breathing is also severely slowed, sometimes enough to be life-threatening. Slowed breathing can also lead to coma and permanent brain damage.12

Opioids Act on Many Places in the Brain and Nervous System

Opioids can depress breathing by changing neurochemical activity in the brain stem, where automatic body functions such as breathing and heart rate are controlled.Opioids can increase feelings of pleasure by altering activity in the limbic system, which controls emotions.

Opioids can block pain messages transmitted through the spinal cord from the body.

What are the long-term effects of heroin use?

Repeated heroin use changes the physical structure13 and physiology of the brain, creating long-term imbalances in neuronal and hormonal systems that are not easily reversed.14,15 Studies have shown some deterioration of the brain’s white matter due to heroin use, which may affect decision-making abilities, the ability to regulate behavior, and responses to stressful situations.16-18 Heroin also produces profound degrees of tolerance and physical dependence. Tolerance occurs when more and more of the drug is required to achieve the same effects. With physical dependence, the body adapts to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced abruptly. Withdrawal may occur within a few hours after the last time the drug is taken. Symptoms of withdrawal include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), and leg movements. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 24–48 hours after the last dose of heroin and subside after about a week. However, some people have shown persistent withdrawal signs for many months. Finally, repeated heroin use often results in addiction—a chronic relapsing disease that goes beyond physical dependence and is characterized by uncontrollable drug-seeking no matter the consequences.19 Heroin is extremely addictive no matter how it is administered, although

routes of administration that allow it to reach the brain the fastest (i.e., injection and smoking) increase the risk of addiction. Once a person becomes addicted to heroin, seeking and using the drug becomes their primary purpose in life.

Why does heroin use create special risk for contracting HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C?

Heroin use increases the risk of being exposed to HIV, viral hepatitis, and other infectious agents through contact with infected blood or body fluids (e.g., semen, saliva) that results from the sharing of syringes and injection paraphernalia that have been used by infected individuals or through unprotected sexual contact with an infected person. Snorting or smoking does not eliminate the risk of infectious disease like hepatitis and HIV/AIDS because people under the influence of drugs still engage in risky sexual and other behaviors that can expose them to these diseases.

Injection drug users (IDUs) are the highest-risk group for acquiring hepatitis C (HCV) infection and continue to drive the escalating HCV epidemic: Each IDU infected with HCV is likely to infect 20 other people.21 Of the 17,000 new HCV infections occurring in the United States in 2010, over half (53 percent) were among IDUs.22 Hepatitis B (HBV) infection in IDUs was reported to be as high as 20 percent in the United States in 2010,23 which is particularly disheartening since an effective vaccine that protects against HBV infection is available. There is currently no vaccine available to protect against HCV infection.

Drug use, viral hepatitis and other infectious diseases, mental illnesses, social dysfunctions, and stigma are often co-occuring conditions that affect one another, creating more complex health challenges that require comprehensive treatment plans tailored to meet all of a patient’s needs. For example, NIDA-funded research has found that drug abuse treatment along with HIV prevention and community-based outreach programs can help people who use drugs change the behaviors that put them at risk for contracting HIV and other infectious diseases. They can reduce drug use and drug-related risk behaviors such as needle sharing and unsafe sexual practices and, in turn, reduce the risk of exposure to HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. Only through coordinated utilization of effective antiviral therapies coupled with treatm

What are the treatments for heroin addiction?

A variety of effective treatments are available for heroin addiction, including both behavioral and pharmacological (medications). Both approaches help to restore a degree of normalcy to brain function and behavior, resulting in increased employment rates and lower risk of HIV and other diseases and criminal behavior. Although behavioral and pharmacologic treatments can be extremely useful when utilized alone, research shows that for some people, integrating both types of treatments is the most effective approach

Pharmacological Treatment (Medications)

Scientific research has established that pharmacological treatment of opioid addiction increases retention in treatment programs and decreases drug use, infectious disease transmission, and criminal activity.

When people addicted to opioids first quit, they undergo withdrawal symptoms (pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting), which may be severe. Medications can be helpful in this detoxification stage to ease craving and other physical symptoms, which often prompt a person to relapse. While not a treatment for addiction itself, detoxification is a useful first step when it is followed by some form of evidence-based treatment.

Medications developed to treat opioid addiction work through the same opioid receptors as the addictive drug, but are safer and less likely to produce the harmful behaviors that characterize addiction. Three types of medications include: (1) agonists, which activate opioid receptors; (2) partial agonists, which also activate opioid receptors but produce a smaller response; and (3) antagonists, which block the receptor and interfere with the rewarding effects of opioids. A particular medication is used based on a patient’s specific medical needs and other factors. Effective medications include:

Methadone (Dolophine® or Methadose®) is a slow-acting opioid agonist. Methadone is taken orally so that it reaches the brain slowly, dampening the “high” that occurs with other routes of administration while preventing withdrawal symptoms. Methadone has been used since the 1960s to treat heroin addiction and is still an excellent treatment option, particularly for patients who do not respond well to other medications. Methadone is only available through approved outpatient treatment programs, where it is dispensed to patients on a daily basis.Buprenorphine (Subutex®) is a partial opioid agonist. Buprenorphine relieves drug cravings without producing the “high” or dangerous side effects of other opioids. Suboxone® is a novel formulation of buprenorphine that is taken orally or sublingually and contains naloxone (an opioid antagonist) to prevent attempts to get high by injecting the medication. If an addicted patient were to inject Suboxone, the naloxone would induce withdrawal symptoms, which are averted when taken orally as prescribed. FDA approved buprenorphine in 2002, making it the first medication eligible to be prescribed by certified physicians through the Drug Addiction Treatment Act. This approval eliminates the need to visit specialized treatment clinics, thereby expanding access to treatment for many who need it. In February 2013, FDA approved two generic forms of Suboxone, making this treatment option more affordable.

Naltrexone (Depade® or Revia®) is an opioid antagonist. Naltrexone blocks the action of opioids, is not addictive or sedating, and does not result in physical dependence; however, patients often have trouble complying with the treatment, and this has limited its effectiveness. An injectable long-acting formulation of naltrexone (Vivitrol®) recently received FDA approval for treating opioid addiction. Administered once a month, Vivitrol® may improve compliance by eliminating the need for daily dosing.

Behavioral Therapies

The many effective behavioral treatments available for heroin addiction can be delivered in outpatient and residential settings. Approaches such as contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy have been shown to effectively treat heroin addiction, especially when applied in concert with medications. Contingency management uses a voucher-based system in which patients earn “points” based on negative drug tests, which they can exchange for items that encourage healthy living. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is designed to help modify the patient’s expectations and behaviors related to drug use and to increase skills in coping with various life stressors. An important task is to match the best treatment approach to meet the particular needs of the patient.




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September 23 2015


indian warrior 1

I am Ricky, I am the mother of a Beautiful Son, who grew up in a home with a Mother, Father, Brother and two Sisters. Our home was always full of Love, Caring and Trust..

My story, is about how I dealt with my youngest son, and how he became sick. With a disease that has effected so many families across the world. In one way or another. How I, tried desperately to cope with my life and my families lives as everything seemed to unravel before my eyes. My family was know longer the same. My Husband & I, my growing children and this child who was know longer the same person that I nurtured.

He is and always will be the light of my heart. I never thought I would have another, child. He came ten years after my first son.

I was in denial of the crisis that this boy was going through. Yes, there were so many signs. Being the mother who thought, she had all of the control. To a Mother, who realized there is no such thing as being in control. Of anything or anybody. My control was over myself and know other.

Control for me was, whatever I said. Whatever I stood for. My rules.

Were in place for my children to adhere to. Funny thing was, this Mother was listened to, until they started to grow up and make decisions for themselves. They past me by as they learned, grew and moved.

My Son, was the last to live with us. When he began High School, I was afflicted with a terrible illness that lasted for seven years. Leaving him to flounder. My son faced many challenges. During this time.

Trying desperately to figure out what he wanted to be, what he wanted to do with his life. On this road he experimented with many Drugs.

His last before he entered a Rehab Facility was, “HEROIN”!

I am forever grateful that he was SAVED! Today he is clean. By the Grace & Love, of G-d, My Son is alive and well.

He has made his life a, Mission to help People who have succumbed to this Disease! He has also grown to be a beautiful loving, caring man. With his family forever by his side with Love, Caring and Trust.



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September 10 2015

I Have A Son

cropped-hands-of-hope-or-death.jpgHe is tall, strong and kind. His smile lights up my heart. Have you ever met him? You would remember him as he has a great personality and he loves his family. Have you ever spoke to him? He has not much to say as I feel, he fell into a very deep hole and has a hard time expressing himself around family. I have been looking for him for a long, long time. Do you think he is having a problem? My Son… Maybe you could help him if you have met him. Have you seen him? Please tell me. Have you seen him? I do not think he knows how deep the hole is! I cannot find him.

I Miss Him….Have you seen My son? Can you find him and bring him home to me?

I miss you Son..

I want to see the love in your eyes again. Not this blank deep stare that you show. Not your sallow skin. That was once pink. Not the lips that move with the sound
of needing something that, will one day, destroy the man that I call my Son.

If  I could turn back the clock. If I had the power I surely would! How did this happen? Why did this happen? Am I, to be blamed for this travesty. I think of all the times while you were growing up that I tried to keep you safe.

If he called out very loud and shouted my name. I would Hear him… But I cannot? He does not want to be heard. “I know you have him and you will not tell me, you have a grip on my Son”!You are holding on so tight to him.

You are trying to Ravage him. Because that’s what you do. As you have Ravaged so many, “Son’s & Daughter’s”, before him.

I know your name, I know who you are…………

Tell My Son I Love Him……………..

When he calls on you for the Next hit, the Next snort! The Next High!

I have a beautiful SON!

I do not know where He is………….

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