A new drug appears to be hitting the college and nightclub scene lately. A drug called “Molly”. Molly is a hallucinogenic and is very closely related to its cousin, Ecstasy. People can take this drug in pill form, or crushed or diluted in liquid such as water. “Molly” and “Ecstasy” are slang terms for methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA. These drugs can cause people to feel hyper, energized, they can make colors brighter, music louder and prevent fatigue. Although this drug can produce pleasurable feelings like the ones described, the crash is very risky, when this drug wears off, it usually results in exhaustion and dehydration.
Most people have heard of the latest trend of synthetic cannabis, often claiming its “safety” or how harmless it really is. Teens and young adults are using this drug more than ever, and for some, the consequences have been extremely dangerous and in some cases, fatal. The marketing for synthetic marijuana has been very cunning, often advertising the products as safe or harmless. The mixtures of numerous herbal ingredients do simulate a marijuana-like “high“. It is often sold as “incense” and labels on the package often warn consumers that the product is “not for human consumption”, a disclaimer by the makers of the product. More times than not the contents resemble potpourri. It may contain dried, shredded plant material and chemicals that create the mind-altering effects. People buy it in head shops, convenience stores, and even on the Internet. It is illegal to sell synthetic marijuana in some states. Most people compare synthetic cannabis to the new trend of homemade drugs such as “bath salts”. These products are known by such names as: –> K2 –> Black mamba –> Spice –> Skunk –> Fake weed –> Genie –> Zohai –> Yucatan fire –> Genie Like marijuana, this drug is mainly smoked.
A recent study conducted by BMC Medicine claims that people over 55 who drink a little alcohol, averaging about a glass – generally of wine – per day, are less likely to be clinically depressed than those who drink more and those who don’t drink at all. So, are there significant benefits to that glass of wine at night? There have already been a slew of other medical findings that have suggested that red wine can improve cardiac health as well.
We have all heard about the negative effects global warming has had on our planet and the environment. We may have even, in some way, taken a stand against it. However, we have not really had much discussion about the mental health impact global climate change can cause on certain people or places. We all know that Alaska has a very high rate of depression coupled with substance abuse due to their long hours of darkness and cold weather. Recently, another location has caught the attention of the psychiatric community. A region where its very livelihood is at significant risk. The growing number of environmental threats which include climate change and man/animal conflict appear to be the primary cause of the high depression rate, psychotic symptoms and even suicide in Sunderbans islands. Due to growing concern for the villagers of the Sunderbans, psychiatrist Arabinda N Chowdhury, who worked with the Institute of Psychiatry in Kolkata, studied how eco-stress has impacted the mental health in this area. (1)
“Don’t drink too much soda before bed, you won’t sleep” and other warnings were all something we heard as children and may even say to our own children today. The belief that soda can cause hyper, restless behavior was accepted amongst every mom that I have ever ran into with a five year old in tow, but now there has been some recent research published that is pointing to the theory that soda could also be causing aggressive behavior in some children.
We have all seen the horrific acts of violence on TV, the recent school shootings and most recently the Cleveland kidnappings. As we sit in horror in our safe living rooms and watch the details of the events unfolding right before our eyes, we try and understand the motives and mindset behind such heinous acts. Not long after the initial coverage of any event, we find ourselves glued to the latest “TV psychiatrist” that Nancy Grace just pulled out of her pocket, trying to gather some sense to the crimes. We watch and listen to their assessment and without a doubt jump to the conclusion that mental illness played a part in the decision to murder, or rape most violently, another human being. Well, to be fair to the public, unless a psychiatrist has done a complete forensic evaluation on the alleged criminal, gathered history on any previous criminal behavior and has access to any mental health records, that psychiatrist is doing a terrible injustice to the public. We cannot, however, put all the blame on these TV doctors, looking for a few minutes of fame, we also have to take a grain of salt before we put our trust in some TV anchors.
Opioid addiction has become the most difficult addiction to treat and one that is costing America 55 billion a year, 25 billion which is spent on healthcare needs as a result of this addiction. In the U.S., 75% of all drug overdoses from prescription medication has occurred from abuse of opioid drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, methadone, and codeine, according to the Centers for Disease Control. (1) Since 2003, opioid drugs have caused more deaths from overdoses than cocaine and heroin combined. There are 17,000 deaths from opioid pain relievers in the U.S. every year. Maine and Florida have become the two states with the highest opioid replacement treatment centers. Traditional twelve step meetings, sponsors, support groups and regular substance abuse counseling have proven to produce low success rates. In addition, with high relapse rates and millions being spent on the treatment of this health problem, the medical field has been put under pressure to come up with more effective treatment options. Addiction to opioids and abuse in narcotic medications has increased so profoundly that the widely used pain medication Oxycontin had to be reformulated so it could not be crushed and liquefied so it could not be used for IV injection. IV injection is typically used after an addict no longer experiences the “high” from taking these medicines orally or through inhalation. The new formulation of the drug turns a crushed tablet into a gel that is impossible to heat up, which is what needs to happen in order to be used intravenously.
As a former crisis worker of 13 years, I can tell you how stressful, overworked, unappreciated and underpaid you feel at the end of the week. Sitting in a hospital waiting area, trying to complete paperwork, fighting with state and private mental hospitals to admit the patient sitting in the next room who is psychotic, suicidal and possibly violent. This scene can take place for hours and of course takes place in the wee hours of the night. Typically accompanying me during these emergency room visits were a few police officers, being called in to help manage the situation and to keep the medical staff safe. This was a common occurrence during my work week. I can tell you that the majority of interactions with the mentally ill and police have been positive, but of course some have not. I have also witnessed verbal abuse and the degrading of people with severe and chronic mental illness. Overall, since we live in a rural area, we do have the resources to assist people who cannot maintain their own safety in a respectful, safe manner. In cities or other over populated areas, this may not be the case. Thousands of people with a history of mental health issues are taken into police custody. Most are suicidal, homicidal or have developed severe enough psychosis that they are no longer able to care for themselves. They are often brought into their local emergency room departments or even holding cells until proper placement is secured. Sadly, the people that are experiencing mental health symptoms can increase their paranoia simply by being placed in police custody. The point is that these people are ill, they are not suspected criminals, and police custody cells are not designed to support their needs. Often this is where they will [...]
Anyone who has worked with long-term alcoholics or drug addicts can tell how the addict’s neurological and cognitive capacities have become impaired. In some cases, these capacities have completely shut down. Take a person with long-term alcoholism as an example. After several years of alcohol consumption, the brain structure begins to change shape and even shrink much as someone with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. This is actually called alcohol dementia. Another disease of the brain that is a result of alcoholism is called “wet brain” also known as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. If an alcoholic abstains from alcohol, then alcohol dementia can be halted and, in many cases, reversed. Sadly, this is not the case with Wet Brain Syndrome. If caught early, it can be managed and improved, but if the condition is allowed to progress it will cause serious and permanent brain damage and can be lethal. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome will kill 20% of people who suffer from this disease. It is as straightforward as that. (1)
Sports stars are becoming more and more popular. They have now become as sought after as some celebrities. They are on magazine covers, they attend the most exclusive Hollywood parties and compete with one another for the top sponsorship opportunities. My case in point is Lance Armstrong. He became a household name, a role model to young people everywhere and a legend in sports performance. Sadly, some of these high profile athletes are so hungry for that small taste of fame they are doing anything to get it.