Prescription Drug Abuse

Drugs are essentially poisons. This is true of any drug. I believe we must educate the public about the truth about all drugs including supplements. This is especially true when it comes to prescription drugs. Caregivers must be hyperaware of the problem and be active in attempting to prevent this universal disaster!

Many of the patients that I have seen in my office complained of symptoms and these patients were sent by their doctors for a second opinion. They had many investigations which were negative. At least 25% of their problems were due to a prescription drug side effect. I am not including those drugs that were being used by parents or other members of the family! These were drugs that were prescribed for symptoms by their doctors. Some of the more common ones were used for the treatment of attention deficit disorder or chronic pain. As we all know, there is now an epidemic of narcotic drug abuse such as OxyContin or Fentanyl and other similar prescription drugs. Many of these drugs are also being used for so-called “recreational use”. These include depressants, opioids and morphine derivatives, stimulants, and antidepressants. 

The Truth about Prescription Drugs

Depressants such as Valium, Librium, and Ativan are commonly used and go by such names as Candy, Sleeping  pills, Red birds, Yellow jackets, or Barbs. Side effects include slow brain function, visual disturbance, disorientation, lack of coordination, fatigue, and eventually addiction. There are at least twenty short-term effects of these drugs. The users are trying to obtain the original high and therefore increase the dosage and dependency and cravings result. Interestingly enough, these drugs can also increase the incidence of diabetes and weight gain and may well be part of the reason for the rising incidence of diabetes in young people. These drugs can cause all the above listed effects on the central nervous system. There is no doubt that the long-term effects of these drugs can result in physical dependence and addiction.

Here is an abbreviated version of what one these patients  told me and my colleagues:

“One of my friends turned me on to OxyContin and I found that I was increasing the dose from 40 mg to over 100 mg within a month. I knew I was getting hooked because I needed an ever increasing dose to function. I felt horrible without them. I couldn’t deal with people and I couldn’t live without them. I ended up in the intensive care unit. Now I am in rehab.”

I have heard this story too many times. When I spoke to his parents they told me that they had noticed a change in his behavior but never suspected that he was addicted to drugs! He lost interest in school and his marks were terrible. The school psychologists phoned them just before the crash.

The use of stimulants such as Ritalin and Dexedrine are sometimes prescribed by physicians or suggested by school teachers because of the diagnosis of attention deficit disorder. There are at least twenty street names for this category of drugs, including Speed, Dandies, Black duties, and Uppers. As usual with dependency, the stimulation requires ever increasing doses of these medications and they can be addictive. These people frequently present to the emergency room with cardiac rhythm disturbances which can be fatal, severe anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. It is interesting to note that some of the parents or siblings of these victims are also using drugs or alcohol!

ANTIDEPRESSANTS

Another category of chemicals that is causing havoc are antidepressants. As mentioned in another article on this site, this problem became public because of the research of Dr. David Healy, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Cardiff in Wales. He actually was appointed to be the Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto at the time he published his findings about antidepressants such as Prozac.

The drug company that marketed these drugs had given the Department of Psychiatry in Toronto a huge grant. They threatened to remove the grant if Healy was not dismissed. He was dismissed. He sued them, won the case, and has returned to Wales. This demonstrates the power of so-called BIG Pharma and is a blot on the University of Toronto! The list of possible side effects of these drugs is long and includes anything from insomnia to suicidal thoughts, irregular heartbeat, and paranoia. It has been established in a recent study that 14% of young people taking these drugs, present to the emergency room with severe aggression and even violence. Many of them consult with their physicians or to the emergency room with suicidal thoughts. Many physicians are unaware of these problems. When the patients return to them, the response of some physicians is to increase the dose of the antidepressant or change to another one.

Here is another interview with a young woman whom I saw was on Zoloft—another antidepressant:

” my brain feels like it is screaming at me to get more of these pills because the feelings I have without them are unbearable. I need help to get through drug withdrawal. I’m so depressed that I started cutting my arms and I’m not even sure when. Also, I hallucinate every few hours and see things. I saw blood dripping down my wall in my bedroom. I had to go to hospital because of withdrawal symptoms included wishing I was dead, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, vomiting, and a terrible electric sensation in my head.”

She spent one month in a rehabilitation hospital.

COUGH AND COLD MEDICATIONS

Recently, it has now been recognized that over-the-counter cold and cough medicines containing a substance called Dextromethorphan can cause severe behavioral problems! It’s important to mention that some of these drugs such as Coricidin, Robitussin and similar medications, are causing significant difficulty in some patients who are taking them to relieve the symptoms of the common cold such as coughing, sniffles, and chest pain. They go under the name on the streets such as poor man’s PCP, Triple C, and Uppers. It has been noted  by emergency room physicians that these people present with hallucinations, insomnia, slurred speech, delusions, and can even cause chemical changes in the liver. They are frequently contaminated with other drugs such as painkillers and alcohol. Death is common! The problem is that with the increased incidence of opioid addiction and death, the awareness of the problems with these particular brand of drugs has been ignored.

Here is an interview with one of these young victims who was taking a cough mixture:

“my experience was with a cough medicine called DXM , My whole body felt weak and I gave up everything I did, including sports  because I was obsessed with taking this  medicine. All I cared about was the high feeling that I got when I took them. I never expected that these drugs were addictive  and nobody ever warned me, including my doctor and pharmacist, about side effects.”

Recent investigation in the international community, including Europe, South Africa, Southeast Asia, and the United States revealed that this tragedy is increasing. In the United States, 2500 youths aged 12 to 18 are using these medications, including those listed above prescribed by physicians. There is evidence that at least 30% are also abusing cocaine, heroin, and other brain damagers as far back as 2006. Over 2 million people abused prescription drugs for the first time.

This is not a new phenomenon. According to the Centers of Disease Control, over 22,000 deaths occurred in the United States due to prescription and nonprescription medication in 2007. Forty percent of the deaths were due to opioid painkillers. Suddenly, it has become a major topic in the media—twenty years later! As far back as 2005, 4.4 million teenagers were taking prescription painkillers and  2.3 million took a prescription stimulant such as Ritalin! This medicine is still being used to treat various so-called attention deficit disorders in school children! The statistics obviously have increased. In the last study in 2016, it was discovered that over 1 million emergency room admissions in the United States were associated with abuse of these medications, either alone or in combination with other drugs! It has also been discovered that over half of these victims, if they survive, are addicted to alcohol and other dangerous medication and drugs. I know I’ll be criticized it for the next revelation but these unfortunate young people are five times more likely to use marijuana, which is now being legalized in my country of Canada and is also legalized in at least 20 States in United States. These unfortunate people are also at least 20 times more likely to use other illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and related addicting and dangerous chemicals. The press and the media have recently  been reporting on deaths from Fentanyl. This is also not a new phenomenon. As an example, the Drug Enforcement Administration found that the abuse of Fentanyl, killed more than 1000 people in the United States in 2007! This drug is 50 times more powerful  than heroin.

DON’T DELAY – JOIN A GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT

This is not merely a North American problem, but is now universal and that is why I have entitled this website DRUG PANDEMIC KILLS! I was accused by one of my colleagues who I asked to comment on the website, of being hysterical and overstating the case! I replied one cannot overstate this case!

As I have said previously in this website, we, the medical profession, have no answer to this pandemic. As I stated before, when a pandemic occurs the whole medical apparatus is mobilized to attempt to find out the cause, preventative measures, and medication. The last evidence of this was the epidemic of AIDS, which has now become a chronic condition and is treated with medication. This is one of the great advances of medicine in history. It is right up there with the discovery of vaccines, antibiotics, and insulin.

The war on drugs is a failure and in fact since and they declared that war, the incidence of drug addiction has skyrocketed. How are we going to stop this epidemic? In my personal opinion we must educate our young people about the dangers of drugs beginning in the teenage years. Parents, grandparents, and friends must be educated on the personality changes which commonly take place in some teenagers. Some people say that this would make parents and grandparents overprotective and that the children will rebel against this advice. There’s no evidence for this. Some critics accused me of suggesting brainwashing! If it takes a moderate amount of brainwashing to stem this cataclysm, it may well be true!

I also have to admit that there is no evidence that early education will have an effect despite the fact that there are at least forty organizations in Canada alone active in educating young people. However, the study must be done with careful follow-up proof if this is the way to prevent this tragedy and what I call “The War On Our Children”.

Finally, I will repeat that people take drugs illegally, to fit in, to escape and relax, to relieve boredom, to seem grown-up, to rebel, and to experiment. I think that drug education should be a mandatory subject in junior high school. I volunteered my services to the Department of Education of the Province of Alberta and they rejected my offer. This is very disappointing.

The Foundation for a Drug-Free World, based in Los Angeles California, states in one of their many publications:

“Difficult as it may be to face one’s problems, the consequences of drug abuse are always worse than the problem one is trying to solve with them. Obviously one answer is to get the facts early and not to even take drugs in the first place unless absolutely necessary.”

What we really need is a massive Grassroots Movement, otherwise We are Doomed!

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