Nursing Home Use of Antibiotics Adverse Affects

Granddaughter with her grandfather
Photo by Pexels: Kampus Production 

No one likes putting a loved one into a nursing home, but it can be unavoidable at times. In this article, we will be focusing on drugs used in these facilities, specifically antibiotics, and how strict control is needed to maintain a balance when given to nursing home patients.

In a 2015 study, nursing home patients were exposed to a 24% greater risk of adverse events from antibiotics and suffered related illnesses such as gastroenteritis, the development of antibiotic-resistant organisms, as well as allergies, and general medication adverse events.

Vile of pills
Photo Pixaby

Antibiotics are prescription drugs that fight infections caused by bacteria. Similar to how the process of neutralizing the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus works from the vaccines, antibiotics kill the bacteria or prevent them from copying themselves. This is known as antibiotic resistance.

The most common antibiotics are the following:

      • amoxicillin
      • doxycycline
      • cephalexin
      • ciprofloxacin
      • clindamycin
      • metronidazole
      • azithromycin
      • sulfamethoxazole

You may be familiar with amoxicillin. Besides normal prescriptions from medical doctors, it is also prescribed by dentists for those who have certain heart conditions such as mitral valve prolapse.

High Antibiotic Use and Its Potential Consequences

Overuse of antibiotics can have the opposite effect of what they were initially designed for. Instead of killing the bacteria, it can make the bacteria stronger and subsequently resist the exact drug that is trying to neutralize them.

Residents in nursing homes with high antibiotic use have a 24% higher risk of an antibiotic-related adverse event, which is an unexpected medical problem that occurs during prescription drug treatment according to a  study published in JAMA by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, located in Ontario, Canada.

The researchers studied more than 100,000 residents in more than 600 Ontario nursing homes and found a 10-fold variability in antibiotic use. The range was from as low as 20 antibiotic days per 1,000 resident days to as high as 200 antibiotic days. Antibiotic-related issues usually involve the digestive system and can include C. difficile, which is an infection of the large intestines, diarrhea, or gastroenteritis. Also, allergic reactions have been recorded.

Our findings show that these adverse outcomes affected not only residents who directly received antibiotics, but also those residents who did not directly receive antibiotics because infections like Clostridium difficile and antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be transmitted between patients,” lead author Nick Daneman, MD, MSc, an adjunct scientist at ICES, said in a statement.

You are Not Alone!

Even residents not receiving antibiotics could be at risk of these consequences. One of the antibiotic-related harms is antibiotic-resistant organisms. A condition where bacteria develop the ability to overtake the drugs that are designed to neutralize them. That means the germs are not killed but continue to grow, which not only affects the recipient but also can indirectly affect others besides the patient.

Overall, 13.3% of residents in a nursing home with high antibiotic use experience adverse antibiotic-related events compared with 11.4% of residents in a low antibiotic-use nursing home.

Antibiotic use is highly variable across nursing homes; residents of high-use homes are exposed to an increased risk of antibiotic-related harms even if they have not directly received these agents,” the authors concluded. “Antibiotic stewardship is needed to improve the safety of all nursing home residents.”

Taking Extra Care!

Some nursing homes are notorious for over-medicating patients, so those of you who have a loved one in a home should be vigilant when bringing a patient into a facility and while the patient is already living there.

Case in Point

A nursing home on Long Island recently had patients become infected with Covid-19. This baffled the staff as this facility maintained strict Covid regulations. Everyone entering the home had to wear a mask, show their vaccination card, be Covid tested (via rapid diagnostic), be checked for temperature, and be photographed. Yet, patients still got infected, so those facilities with even the best intentions still can be subject to unexpected circumstances. If you would like recommendations for quality nursing homes in New York State, please feel free to contact us.

Implications of Marijuana Legalization: The Pros

Is legalizing marijuana the right thing to do?

As part of our series on marijuana use, we will explore this contentious issue. There was a time when the public, medical industry, politicians, and law enforcement agencies were on the same page regarding the status of marijuana. This cannabis strain was considered a dangerous drug and on par with heroin and cocaine. It was the proliferation of marijuana from that laid the foundation of a long drug war in Mexico and the US.

However, progress has been made in the last three decades with respect to the legal status of marijuana in the US. As of now, 10 US states have legalized marijuana for all its uses. Moreover, 30 states allow its medical uses. In short, the greater part of a statewide jurisdictional area in the US is now covered with marijuana legalization laws.  

The last midterm election has also shown that public support is increasing for recreational marijuana. Amid all this, it seems as if the federal government is completely oblivious of these developments. As per federal law, marijuana is still classified as a Class I substance alongside dangerous synthetic drugs. Even though few voices in Congress advocate legalization, the federal echelons largely incline towards maintaining marijuana’s current status.

It’s also interesting to note that both proponents and opponents of marijuana legalization use its implications to prove their points. The authorization of recreational marijuana is not a matter that can be seen in black and white. In this two-part article series, we are going to discuss both the pros and cons of marijuana legalization. In this piece, we will discuss some of the proven and supposed benefits of marijuana legalization.

The Black MarketQuandary

Recreational marijuana became a legal commodity in California last year. Before that, all the pot users in the state procured their stuff through the black market, but those states that still maintain a ban on recreational marijuana has sowed the seeds for an ongoing and thriving criminal pot enterprise.

By legalizing cannabis for recreational use, states can exterminate the unique selling point of marijuana black markets, or at the very least, decrease their pforits by a substational margine, as no pot user willingly goes to illegal drug dealers with the ever-looming risk of getting arrested by law enforcement personnel.   

There may even be a reduction in crime; albeit, most drug crime is from addicated addicts, which is usually not associated with marijuana absorbtion, but those that (non-addictively) crave for pot on a daily baises, some call ‘pot heads’, may be inclined to acquire more money when they are financially strapped, even if they have to steal.   

Quality Assurance Becomes Possible

You can’t implement quality and safety control on illegal wares. Unregulated marijuana can be laced with combinations of other more dangerous drugs and even insecticides that can be detrementral to the user.

A recent case of deaths caused by fentanyl-laced heroin highlight the dangerous implications of buying drugs off the street.

By taking marijuana in a legal ambit, authorities can maintain a quality assurance regimen for the sake of public safety. Some states have employed seed-to-sale tracking for a legal cannabis crop to assure its quality and safety aspects.

Canada has already set an example of quality assurance of legal cannabis products. In November, Health Canada recalled two dried cannabis products over fear of contamination. Such vigilance can be only maintained when a product is being sold and controlled within a legal environment.

An Additional Tax Revenue Stream

There is no second opinion regarding the economic implication of marijuana legalization. The majority of pro-legalization lawmakers often talk about how legal marijuana can turn around the fortune of states with an additional tax revenue stream.

Tax data from legal states also substantiate this assertion.  In Colorado, the pioneer legal state, the Department of Revenue collected more than $200 million in cannabis taxes in the fiscal year 2017-2018. On the other hand, California generated over $60 million in the first quarter after the blanket legalization.

When other tax sectors are stale or showing little growth, legal weed offers a hefty tax revenue. This incentive is also the major reason why many politicians have a change of heart on marijuana in the last couple of years.

Easy Access to Medicinal Cannabis

Medical research has shown many therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids present in marijuana. It has been studied that CBD and THC (cannabinoids) has had an advantage impact on the symptoms of many diseases. This is the reason why the majority of US states have decided to allow at the very least, the medicinal use of cannabis.

CBD extracts have become a leading alternative medicine for treating rare epilepsy conditions, especially in minors. By putting blanket legalization in place, administrations can make it easy for patients and their caregivers to procure their medicinal requirements.

Relief for Law Enforcement Entities and Judiciary

No doubt law enforcement has been inuaded with drug crimes, much of it associated with marijuana. Adding insult to injury, the police and courts are working on strained budgets. The legalization of marijuana can have advantageous implications for police and courts in two ways.

More Funds: State and federal administrations can improve the funding of policy and judiciary with the help of additional income coming from legal marijuana taxation.

Better Focus on Serious Crimes:  Many states spend their valuable resources on dealing with petty marijuana crimes. A simple marijuana possession case wastes many working hours of both law enforcement bodies and courts.  And in many cases, people apprehended for the ‘crime’ don’t have any criminal background. So, apart from wasting law enforcement and judicial resources, such cases also stain the records of individuals who are leading a regular life otherwise.

With marijuana out of the equation, police will be able to focus on curbing more the serious and violent crimes. Prisons will not face the issue of overcrowding and the number of pending cases in circuit courts will lessen.

The above discussion makes a strong case for the legalization of marijuana. However, it is necessary to have the same thorough analysis of the other side of the picture before reaching any conclusion. In our next article, we will focus on the disavanges of selling marijuana legally.

A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis

What is it about marijuana that fascinates so many people? Recently, there has been a high demand for its legalization across the country today. As the knowledge regarding the medicinal and therapeutic benefits that cannabis is believed to offer becomes prevalent, there has been an outcry for its legalization, both for medical and recreational use.

As a result, the drug has been legalized in many countries – some have attached conditions to its distribution and usage, while others have completely authorized its usage unconditionally. Many other countries are in the process of making amendments in laws regarding the drug’s status and usage.  

An Introduction to Cannabis

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is one of the most popular drugs in the world. While there are claims that certain strains of this plant can help treat and manage a number of health conditions – including the ones that medical science has not been able to find cures for – marijuana use still falls under the Schedule I category of controlled and illegal substances.

Where Does Cannabis Come From?

Cannabis comes from the buds, flowers, stems, leaves, and seeds of the Indian hemp plant, also called Cannabis plant. While there are many different varieties of the plant, the drug is derived from the only two varieties – Indica and Sativa.

A dried mixture of marijuana seeds, flowers, stems, and leaves is used to experience the effects. It is usually brown, green, or gray in color.

Alternative Names for Cannabis

There are a lot of different names for the cannabis drug. Some of the commonly known ones are: marijuana, pot, weed, dope, hash, joint, gunja, yarndi, stick and cone.

Cannabis’ Effects on the Human Body

How cannabis interacts with the human brain and body depends upon a variety of factors. These include the strain of the plant, dosage, method of consumption, the biology of the person’s body, and even their age.

This is why the drug affects every person in a different manner – some people find it highly effective in relieving symptoms of certain diseases, while others find it ineffective or even counter-productive.

Research has shown that Cannabinoids – the chemicals found in the cannabis plant – have a chemical structure similar to some naturally occurring compounds in the human body. Due to this, when cannabinoids enter into the body, they get attached to the brain receptors looking for similar compounds and provide relief from certain health problems.

Most Important Chemicals in Cannabis Plant

The cannabis plant contains around 400 different types of chemicals, 80 of which are known as cannabinoids. But only two of the cannabinoids are known for producing the effects that the drug is widely known for. The chemicals – Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – produce contrasting effects on the human mind and body.

CBD is known to help manage and treat various health issues whereas TCH has been found to produce psychotropic and mind-altering effects. THC is responsible for causing the ‘high’ that is associated with cannabis.

Some Commonly Used Forms and Methods of Cannabis Consumption

Cannabis is available in a variety of forms and people use different methods to consume the drug. Some of the commonly used ones are:

  • The most common way to consume cannabis is smoking the dried plant i.e. marijuana in a bong or joint.
  • The dried plant resin is often mixed with tobacco and smoked. However, it can also be added to various foods and baked. Known as Hashish, it is widely used in brownies and cookies.
  • Hash oil

As evident from the name, this is the liquid form of the drug. It is often consumed by adding it on the tip of a cigarette.

Cannabis produces immediate effects when smoked, but it takes an hour or so to show results when eaten. The time taken by the drug to show its effects is proportional to the increased likelihood of over-dosage.

Health Benefits Cannabis Can Provide

Research shows that CBD which can be referred to as the good chemical, is safe and well-tolerated when consumed as prescribed. Also, it can provide relief from many health conditions. Some of the health issues CBD are said to help with are:

  • Chronic pain
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea caused due to chemotherapy
  • Muscle spasms or stiffness due to multiple sclerosis
  • Seizures caused due to epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and Dravet syndrome
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

There is also limited evidence that cannabis can benefit people experiencing from:

  • Sleep problems due to sleep apnea, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and long-term pain
  • Extreme weight loss and reduced appetite due to AIDS

Effects of Recreational Usage

When used for recreational purposes, cannabis can cause any of the following effects:

  • Nausea
  • Increased appetite (‘the munchies’)
  • Altered thinking
  • Slight hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced psychomotor coordination
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Mood alteration, such as relaxation or euphoria
  • Altered sense of time
  • Altered sense of distance
  • Impaired memory and coordination
  • Difficulty focusing

When marijuana is consumed in high quantities, cannabis can also cause delusions.

Possible Side Effects

The reason why it is recommended to always use cannabis under the supervision of a healthcare expert is because you need to be careful about the strain and dosage. The use of the wrong strain or overdose can cause a number of negative effects, some of which are:

  • When consumed for a long period of time, it can weaken the immune system. This makes a person more vulnerable to catch different types of infections and diseases.
  • When used without supervision, it can increase the risk of developing psychosis
  • Increases the risk of gum-related diseases
  • According to research, regular consumption of cannabis for a long time can negatively impact the functioning of the brain and can even lead to memory loss


Cannabis is a unique drug. On one hand, there is a significant amount of evidence that it can help to manage or treat a variety of health problems. On the other hand, there is research that does not support the use of cannabis due to its potential negative effects.

What makes the situation even more complicated is the fact that even though the medicinal use of the drug has been legalized in about 60% of the U.S., the Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies it as a Schedule I drug. Due to these opposing views, the legalization of cannabis has been one of the most debated issues lately.

To sum up, it can be said that pot use shouldn’t be freely consumed by anyone. Since there are a number of factors that need to be considered to gain the benefits, using cannabis without consulting a doctor is not recommended.  Even when intended to use for medical purposes, cannabis should always be taken under the supervision of a healthcare expert.

Five Misconceptions about Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse

Assortment of medication on a tableDrug addiction and substance abuse have the most misconceptions against them. Societal prejudice, improper representation in the media and other myths all contribute to painting a bleak picture and misconstruing facts. In this case, if anyone even wants to seek help, they are unable to do so because of the stigma associated with drug addiction and substance abuse.

Hesitance to seek help for drug addiction is prevalent, which has allowed a significant number of individuals struggling with drug addictions to increase drastically. In 2015, around 24.6 million people in the US alone were dealing with drug dependence and substance abuse and this number has more than doubled in recent years.

To ensure that proper help and treatment is being made, you need to let go of many of the misconceptions that could be clouding your perception.

  • Addiction is a Conscious Choice

Opioid pillsMany people believe that staying addicted is a conscious decision made by the person. They can cite examples of people who used drugs occasionally and stopped when they wanted to. On the other hand, addiction is different. It might start out voluntarily but by the point, an addiction has developed, it is not easy to stop. In fact, the individual might not even realize it until it’s too late. Just look at all the smokers around us who say they’re are going to quit, only to come back to it a few weeks later. Nicotine, the part of the cigarette that is addictive does not make it easy on them.

According to the NIDA – National Institute on Drug Abuse, an addiction is a mental disorder that changes the chemistry of the brain over time. It develops a tolerance for the substance that makes one crave more and more amounts of the drug to get the same high or reaction from it. As the brain chemistry changes, the person’s ability to control impulses are also greatly impacted. Addicted people will exhibit reckless, compulsive and harmful behaviors which are difficult for them to control, regardless of how damaging it might be to them.

  • It is a Personality Flaw

Another common misconception is that drug addiction occurs because a person’s moral compass is wrong. They must already have questionable values to make use of drugs. Fortunately, this is not true at all. Drug addiction and substance abuse doesn’t discriminate and can affect people from all socioeconomic backgrounds, regardless of their moral compass, values, mores and norms, their gender or race.

The following are some common social and psychological factors that increase the chances of drug addiction and substance abuse:

  • Environmental Factors – Peer pressure, isolation, boredom, and escapism can lead to substance abuse and drug addictions. In this instance, these are factors that are outside someone’s control.
  • Exposure – Being around individuals with addictions and substance abuse can increase the chances of someone developing an addiction because they become normalized to this aspect.
  • Other Disorders – Addiction and substance abuse are higher in people who have PTSD, depression or anxiety.
  • Trauma –Anyone who has experienced a traumatic incident might also turn to drugs as they are looking to mentally escape the trauma, even when they are in a safe environment.

Contrary to popular belief, the financial background of a person has no impact. In fact, people who earn more have surplus income to buy hard drugs like cocaine. Needless to say, we are unfortunately hearing about Hollywood stars who have succumbed a drug habit and subsequently die. Judy Garland, Heath Ledger, and River Phoenix are just a few celebrities who have paid the ultimate price from drug addiction.

  • Addiction can only happen with Hard Drugs

Media representation of addictions has led to a prevalent misconception that substance abuse can only occur with the use of hard drugs. From Requiem for a Dream and Trainspotting to Scarface you will see the protagonists struggle from one bad decision to another while using hard drugs such as cocaine, meth, heroin, and alcohol.

In reality, your prescription pain medication is more likely to create an addiction. Opioids such as hydrocodone, fentanyl, and oxycodone are known for this aspect. In fact, there is a current opioid crisis happening with over 54 million people making use of prescription medicine for non-medical reasons. Even low-risk medication is problematic as people have even developed addictions with repeated use of cough syrup for non-medical purposes.

  • Addicts are Identifiable

Another misconception is that an addict is easily identifiable. This is one of the worst misconceptions as it hinges on stereotypes. The common belief is that if someone has a criminal background or comes from a certain background, they are either addicts or on their way to becoming addicts. In general, they are considered to be problematic people who are unable to hold down jobs, not very well dressed or are careless or have no money.

On the other hand, nothing can be further from the truth. High functioning addicts are ones who are able to hold steady jobs, earn well and are generally loved and respected by their peers. Understanding the stigma associated with drug addiction and substance abuse, they actually go to bigger lengths to hide this dark secret. It is only when their addiction has progressed to an extreme point that they are unable to maintain their high functioning status.

  • Alcohol Addiction is Different

Man fell asleep with bottle in handSince it is usually consumed in social settings and for recreational purposes, many people don’t consider how easy it is to develop an addiction to alcohol. Alcohol addiction is also not considered to be as harmful or damaging as a drug addiction. In fact, the NIAAA – National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that alcoholism is more prevalent and is largely untreated and undetected.

Due to the fact that alcohol is more easily available and so socially consumed, alcohol addicts are more likely to indulge in their addiction without any problems. Unfortunately, this fact makes alcohol addiction more difficult to identify which delays treatment.

Maybe it is partially due to the fact that it can be obtained legally, but when alcohol was made illegal, look at what happened. And now there is the question about marijuana and if it should be legalized? There are practical and legitimate reasons to argue this on both sides and the only way to officially determine if it should be legalized would be to allow it to become so. Maybe for just six months until enough statistics can be measured. With that said, some will say that many people will become a statistic by just dying from the result of being high on pot (e.g. car accidents). This is a wait and see dilemma, but one thing is for sure at this time. Relapses are also more common with recovering addicts. Nearly 88,000 deaths in the US occur on an annual basis because of alcohol addiction.  

By setting aside misconceptions about drug addictions and substance abuse, you can offer your loved ones more support and help them seek out the treatment they need. Keep in mind that it will be an uphill battle, but with persistence and perseverance, the addiction can be battled.

How E-Cigarettes Harms Your Health

E-Cigarette canistorPhoto by Adrian. Today –
In our last article, we compared E-cigarettes with conventional cigarettes. In this article, we are going to dwell deeper into the actual effects that your body is subjected to when using these apparent ‘safer’ non-nicotine equivalents of the standard cigarette.

Electronic cigarettes are sold as a safer alternative to consume nicotine as compared to conventional cigarettes. They have been becoming increasingly popular with many people, especially youngsters in order to fulfill their nicotine needs.

Apart from the e-cigarettes stylish look, which attracts many impressionable teenagers, many people genuinely consider them harmless for oral health.  But with more scientific studies on the subject, dangers of e-cigarettes are coming to the fray.  

Misconception: E-cigarettes are harmless to Oral Health

One of a recent study conducted in the University of Rochester Medical Center reveals that electronic cigarettes are equal in their extent of damage to oral health as conventional cigarettes. It is an extensive research study, first of its kind, which studied the harmful effects of e-cigarettes on gums and teeth. It concludes that this form of nicotine consumption is equally and in some cases more damaging to oral health. These oral health problems include tooth loss, gum inflammation, and even oral cancer.

The liquid used in e-cigarettes doesn’t contain tobacco in its conventional form, which is notorious for its harmful impact on health. However, it contains nicotine, flavoring agents and other chemicals that can compromise the user’s health.

Laid Back Attitude Towards the Harm of E-cigarette

Due to lack of awareness about the dangers of e-cigarettes, society does not perceive it as a threat to health. Stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a rapid increase in the use of e-cigarettes among youngsters. In 2015, around 16 percent of high-school students were using e-cigarettes as compared to just 1.5% in 2011.

One of the reasons is that it is still considered relatively safe for health is because its long-term effects are not known yet. There is very limited data available on the subject which lags the process of research on the subject.  

However, the research from the University of Rochester has given substantial proof of the negative effects of e-cigarette vapors. Research has used nonsmokers to observe the effects of e-cigarettes and it has been concluded that the vapors cause damage to tissue cells of gum. When cells are exposed to nicotine-led vapors, it results in the denaturation of inflammatory cellular proteins resulting in high levels of stress within cells. Stressed tissue cells make gums more vulnerable to different oral diseases. Another study finds out that vapors of e-cigarette can kill mouth cells at a rapid pace.  

Apart from dangerous to oral health, e-cigarettes are also considered bad for many other reasons.

Suppression of Immune System

A comparative research study on the effects of conventional and e-cigarettes reveals that e-cigarettes suppress the activity of 300 immune system-aiding genes as compared to the conventional smokes. The research is conducted on nasal epithelial cells. The conclusion of the study clearly points out that the vapors of e-cigarettes contain immunosuppressive effects on the body.

Electrical Hazard

Since e-cigarettes are operated through batteries, they contain an inherent electrical hazard that can be very dangerous for users. The lithium-ion batteries used in e-cigarettes can overheat to cause a small explosion which can severely injure the mouth.

Unregulated Amount of Nicotine

Nicotine is a psychoactive chemical compound. Its continuous and excessive use can transform into substance abuse. In most of the e-cigarettes liquids, nicotine is included without any regulation and users are not aware of the quantity they are consuming.

Aerosol of E-Cigarettes Contain Metal Particles

Researchers have studied the constituents of e-cigarette aerosols. It has been found that metals such as tin, silver, iron, silicate, and chromium were present nearly on the same levels as they have been found in conventional cigarette smoke.  Presence of these nanoparticles in the body is associated with different health complications such as respiratory diseases and abnormal cell growth.

Its Liquid is Poisonous

According to a press release issued from CDC, the number of calls into poison centers involving e-cigarettes liquid had increased 215 times in the span of four years. The incidents involve the cases of ingestion, absorption, and inhalation of the liquid. Many of the emergencies involve children who might be attracted to the candy and fruit flavor of the e-cigarette liquid.

Due to all these problems originating from e-cigarettes, it is very evident that they are injurious to health and can cause damages akin to conventional smoking.  

Ten Indicators that You May be Addicted to Marijuana

Did you know you can become addicted to marijuana? Consistent use of the drug can lead to an issue known as marijuana use disorder, which can subsequently lead to a form of addiction in some cases. Although not as common or dangerous as other drug addictions; such as opioid use, recent studies have shown that 30 percent of those who use pot may have some degree of this disorder. People who begin taking the drug before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than comparatively older people. 

It is quite difficult to assess yourself objectively with regards to judging whether you are addicted to a substance. However there are signs of addiction that are unique to certain drugs. The first step in recovering from any addiction is recognizing that the problem exists. You might not need a rehab center or go through painful withdrawal symptoms, but addicted you may well be if you are subjected to any of the following indicators below:

  • Withdrawal and Tolerance

Humans naturally develop a tolerance for any drug that they consume regularly. The same is the case with weed. What that means is that you need to take more of the drug in order to get the same level of high. What follows from that conclusion is that you are building up a tolerance for that drug. Experiencing tolerance or withdrawal symptoms is a possible sign of marijuana addiction. Withdrawal signs can include insomnia, loss of appetite, irritability and anxiety.

  • Consuming More Than You Intend To

Your initial intention may be to just “take a couple of drags”. But you may end up consuming the entire joint and then going for more. Consuming more than you intend to is an indicator of addiction.

  • Inability to Stop Using Canabis

You may be making an attempt to quit using marijuana and finding that you are not being able to stop as easily. Experiencing a level of difficulty in stopping your habit is an indication that you may be hooked onto the substance.

  • Consuming All of Your Time

Be aware for how you are spending the majority of your free time or worse, during work or school time. Marijuana addicts do not realize it, but much of their time is spent getting high, waiting for the time to get high or trying to procure the drug. Although it draws negative connotations, you may becoming a ‘pot head’. When you get to this point, your addiction can get more problematic as your social lifestyle may be interrupted, as well as failing grades and/or slacking off from your job. Is that what you want?

  • Loss of Interest in Other Activities

To continue from the previous point, marijuana users who become addicted, stop doing other things. Their physical activities decrease along with other recreational activities and are all substituted by getting together with people who consume marijuana and getting high. 

  • Persistently Consuming the Drug

If you continue to consume marijuana before going to school or work, despite having been caught and warned about it, then you could be a subject of marijuana use disorder to some level.

  • Using Marijuana as an Escape Mechanism

If consuming marijuana precedes trying to deal with any problems that you have e.g. relationship issues, work problems etc, then you may be addicted\. This indicates that marijuana is being used to escape the unpleasantness of a current situation. This is more common with alcohol, but take a lesson what happens to some people who go down that path. It is not pleasant.

  • Relying on Marijuana for Creativity, Enjoyment and Relaxation:

If you feel that you need to consume canabis to relax, get in your creative zone or just enjoy yourself, you could be addicted. Regular users are unable to realize that the period of “relaxation” wears off and then they are prone to irritability and anxiety, which could actually lead to violent behavior.

  • Choosing Things to Do or Relationship Partners Based on the Possibility of Marijuana Usage

If the possibility of whether you’ll be able to use marijuana dictates your choice in relationships and activities, it could indicate an addiction to marijuana.

  • Inability to Fulfill Daily Obligations

Regular users of marijuana start to fall short on attending to any daily responsibilities that they may have. Thinking about them may lead to irritation as they perceive them to be larger than they actually are. This is because their minds are on getting high; an indication of being addicted.

Bottom Line

If you are taking marijuana, you must be aware of the consequences, both within your own body and indirectly, how you may be affecting others, you friends, family, school and workplace. In addition, whether you are addicted to the drug or not, do not drive or work machinery that could be harmful to you or others. And one more thing – marijuana is illegal in most states!

Substance Abuse Treatment with Alternative Methods

 Drug Addiciton
There are substitute methods that one can try when addicted to drugs

Alternative methods for treating substance abuse have become so pervasive that many medical providers and treatment centers have abandoned the traditional approach. In fact, these methods are not even considered alternative anymore by the people who have benefited from them. Also called holistic treatment, these remedies focus on working the mind and body in a more natural environment. In the following section, we will look into some of the most commonly used and effective alternative methods for the treatment of drug addiction.

NAD IV treatment

In alternative treatments for drug abuse, use of a coenzyme derivative of a vitamin B3 complex called NAD has become very popular. It is an organic compound and is considered to be one of the basic human nutrients. NAD IV treatment has been especially beneficial for alcohol and opiate abusers.

The coenzyme acts as catalyst in many biochemical metabolisms in the body that are necessary for energy production. Substance abusers or addicts have low levels of proteins and vitamins in their system. Nutrients which are essential for the organic formation of NAD. Therefore, their energy levels are low, and the craving and withdrawal symptoms become more intense. Such people are extremely susceptible to rebound.

NAD IV treatment works on the lines of providing the patient with large doses of NAD intravenously. This increases energy levels and helps in lowering the intensity and frequency of withdrawal symptoms. The whole course of administering NAD is considered as a detox plan, which helps in providing improved mental clarity, better cognition and a more stable mood.

Practice of mindfulness

Mindfulness is a state of mind in which a person becomes more self-aware and is able to maintain his or her focus on the present moment. An important part of mindfulness is to expel negative thoughts without obsessing over them. Mindfulness and meditation practices also help in lowering levels of a hormone called cortisol in the blood. Cortisol is a steroid by nature which is responsible for inducing stress in the human body.

People affected with substance abuse find it tough to recover from the vicious cycle of addiction. They live under constant stress, negative thoughts and emotions and this increases their chances of relapsing. Meditation and mindfulness along with other addiction treatments can help them maintain a stable state of mind.

Biochemical Restoration

In the early stages of rehabilitation, recovering addicts are feeling terrible due to anxiety, depression and mood swings. All these things happen because in this cleansing phase, their body undergoes a drastic biochemical imbalance which makes it difficult for them to pass through the recovery phase.

In biochemical restoration, consumption of nutrients plays a very important role, because many of the bodily reactions, from the regulation of neurotransmitters to the levels of blood sugar, are affected by our patterns of nutrient consumption.

Biochemical restoration uses suitable amounts of different nutrients to make sure that the recovering addict can successfully get rid of his/her harmful habits.


Exercise, as most people know is one of the most effective ways to stay healthy, even if you are not ill; subsequently, this is another way to fight off the hold of addiction. Of course, there are lots of benefits that can be contributed to daily exercise and collectively, all of these can be used as a substitute method for the treatment of drug addiction.

It is not necessary that one should start with an extensive exercise routine, recovering addicts should start with light physical activities. While physical exercise has many well-known physiological benefits, there are also certain positive mental and psychological advantages that can fight against addiction.

  • Exercise provides a sense of purpose and perception that you are striving for your own improvement
  • During exercise our body releases hormones called endorphins, also known as happy chemicals because they boost mood
  • Exercise encourages neurogenesis in the hippocampus, which improves memory and learning

Work with your medical professional to discuss exercise, as he/she may want to put you on a special training plan due to your condition.


Acupuncture, now an integral part of alternative medicine, has been around as part of traditional Chinese medicine for a long time. This medical practice is usually performed to relieve physical pain but there are theories that suggest that acupuncture can also regulate neurotransmitters and the endocrine system, which results in relaxed state of body and mind.

Keep in mind, acupuncture is not a standalone treatment for drug addiction. But it can be used with other alternative drug addiction treatments for enhanced results.


People tend to think that they have to choose between traditional and alternative treatments when it comes to drug addiction. They feel it’s the case of ‘either or”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A holistic approach could be devised by combining both types of treatment options, but no decision should be made alone. It should always be reviewed by a medical professional. So, discuss these holistic approaches with your doctor first, as this can help you pave your path for a more convenient recovery.

A Look into the History of Opioids

Opioids are unique and strange compounds. On one hand, they are feared because of the possibility of abuse, addiction and the worst consequences; while on the other hand, they are one of the most effective compounds when used as painkillers.

Although the use of opioids in some form can be traced back to ancient times (the cultivation of opium poppy plants can be traced back to about 5000 years), its widespread use began in late 1800s when morphine addiction was one of the gravest concerns of various societies. Later, ‘heroin’ was marketed at a huge level as an alternative for morphine that was used in treatment of pain and used often for injuries of Civil War veterans. Its usage as a cough suppressant was also promoted.

After the initial clinical trials, heroine was labeled as a ‘wonder drug’, which lead to its commercial production and sale.

Although the negative effects of heroine soon became evident and The Heroine Act was passed by the US government in 1924 to prohibit the manufacture, import and possession of the drug, opioids continued to be used by a large number of people, illegally. Smuggling of heroin in the US reached its peak during the Vietnam War in the 1960s.

As awareness regarding the harmful effects of morphine and heroine spread, scientists tried to find alternatives to treat conditions of chronic pain. In 1937, ‘methadone’ was produced by German scientists in an attempt to find a painkiller that could be used during surgeries and is not as addictive as morphine and heroin. However, it was later claimed by many scientists and healthcare practitioners that methadone had more potential for addiction than the two opioids.

During the later 1900s, illegal production and trade of opium reached to such a high level that Southeast Asia alone was producing as much as 2500 tons per year. At the same time, some other synthetic opiates were introduced to the public as painkillers, with the approval of the Food and Drug Administration. The drugs included Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet.

In late 1990s, as the pharmaceutical companies continued to formulate new opioid medicines and market them as effective for treating conditions of chronic pain, the medical community was hit by a storm. This coupled with some successes achieved in surgical, palliative and cancer procedures and treatments lead to the emergence of a new set of researchers that was comprised of pain specialists. They were of the opinion that opioid analgesics are highly effective for the treatment of chronic pain and can be used for that purpose.

The resulting increase in opioid prescriptions and their easy availability ultimately lead to opioid abuse, dependence, addiction and overdose deaths. The opioid epidemic that the US has been going through lately, does not only include the abuse of illegal drugs, but also the abuse of prescription opioid drugs.

Top Challenges in the Addiction Recovery Process

Do you know that more than 100,000 people lose their lives every year because of alcohol dependence and drug addiction?

Drug addiction has become a serious issue in the United States. The alarming rise in the number of people, including both youngsters and adults, who are becoming drug dependent, especially with opioids, calls for immediate, widespread and effective measures to be taken across the country in order to overcome this issue before it gets out of control.

But, as they say, there is always a little ray of sunshine even in the darkest night. The good news is that addiction is not incurable. Thanks to medical science, there are multiple treatment options available to help drug addicts overcome their disease.

Yes, addiction is a disease, in fact a chronic one!

As per the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.

This explanation has noted that addiction is a chronic disease due to which a person could not hold himself away from substance abuse. The disease causes a lack of control in the patient due to which he/she could not stop drug usage.

Like all other chronic diseases, addiction also affects a person in various ways. Not only does it negatively affects a patient’s physical health, but also leads to various emotional, biological, social and behavioral issues. Thus, recovering from addiction is a long and difficult process that needs a lot of determination, commitment, motivation, support and professional help.

Denial – The Greatest Hindrance in Addiction Recovery

The first and the greatest obstruction in the process of addiction recovery is the State of Denial.  

Since the majority of addicts do not consider addiction as a problem, they do not look for solutions. What makes this situation even worse is the fact that when others try to convince them to abandon their drug habit or to seek help, they contrarily look for ways to justify their dependency.  

Even after addiction patients realize that they have a problem that needs to be properly addressed, there is an uneasiness that can hold them back from getting medical help. These include:

Fear of Abandonment

A lot of people refrain from openly accepting their addiction problem because they have a fear of being rejected by their loved ones and by society at large. This also highlights one of biggest problems of the society we live in. Rather than encouraging addicts to face their problem and supporting them, a majority of people abandon them. This apprehension of abandonment and rejection is one of the greatest challenges in addiction recovery.  

Fear of Failure

Not only addicts, but many of us experience a fear of failure at some point in our lives. Whether it be in the workplace, within the family unit or under pressure to be successful in a sport, it is normal for us to be apprehensive at some point in our lives, particularly when a situation demands us to leave our comfort zone. The problem begins when we allow this trepidation to overpower our decision making ability, which subsequently prevents us from pursuing a constructive effort to achieve our goals. This fear then leads to self-doubt.

How do you overcome this fear? Be cognizant of how our emotions may override our reasoning.

Fear of the New Life

The fear of new life starts dominating a patient of addiction when he/ she is being told (or realizes himself/ herself) that in successful recovery demands them to make some tough decisions in their lives. These may include cutting off relationship with their close friends, some family members, neighbors (in case they are also addict or in any way negatively affects their recovery process), quitting an old job, relocation etc.

How to Overcome Fears?

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

– Nelson Mandela

The success lies in facing your fears rather than running from them. This applies to the fears that hinder the addiction recovery process. A great way to gain the strength to face your fears is to surround yourself with positive and supportive people who not only help you in realizing your problem, but also push and support you to seek help to overcome the problem. Once you realize that you have a problem of substance abuse or drug addiction, do not be afraid of accepting it. After acceptance, comes the phase of searching for the solutions. Find out the treatment options available to you and seek professional help as soon as possible. The earlier you start the treatment, the easier and shorter recovery process would be for you.

Preventing Relapse and Staying Sober

This is another huge challenge that drug addicts face during the later stage of recovery process. While it is true that a lot of people do relapse after coming out of a rehabilitation center, it is also an undeniable reality that a large number do completely recover from addiction disease.

According to a survey conducted in 2012, around 23.5 million adults were seeking treatment and hence, recovering from addiction and substance abuse. Keeping in view the increase in governments’ efforts (both at federal and state level) to counter drug addiction, advancements in medical science that have provided us with several new ways to deal with the problem, increase in the numbers of treatment facilities, easy accessibility, and efforts to increase awareness among the population, it can be easily said that the figure must have significantly increased.

According to research studies, 60% of people who struggle with substance abuse and 90% of people who are trying to overcome alcohol addiction relapse after coming out of treatment facilities.

While completing the treatment program at a rehabilitation centre is a great achievement on its own, it is only a phase in the long process of addiction recovery. Therefore, efforts need to be continued during the transitioning phase i.e. returning to normal life after coming out of a treatment facility.

While the post-rehab phase proves to be much more difficult than the rehab phase for most of the people because of the absence of support system and the presence of various triggers, complete recovery is not impossible.

Take following measures to make sure you do not lose the gains made at the rehab and to eliminate the chances of relapse:

  • Consider living at a half-way house
  • Continue attending counseling sessions or take regular refresher courses
  • Join support groups to avoid depression and anxiety, to express and to learn from others’ experiences
  • Cut off all negative energy from your life
  • Adopt positive and healthy habits, and surround yourself with supportive people to stay motivated and focused
  • Do not reverse the lifestyle changes you brought during the rehab period
  • Avoid emotional triggers by ensuring that you prevent yourself from experiencing the feelings of Hunger, Anger, Loneliness and Tiredness; called HALT by the professionals.


A lot of people assume that there is no need to continue the efforts for staying away from drugs and for preventing relapse once they come out of the treatment facility. However, according to both professionals and statistics, they are wrong.

National Institute of Drug Abuse stated that out of every 3 people, 2 relapse during the 6 months in post-rehab period. This tells us how long a patient needs to continue the efforts for staying sober. Addiction recovery is a really long journey.

Remember the old adage  – slow and steady wins the race?

While addiction recovery is not a race, this adage applies here as well. One needs to be slow but, steady to reach his/her destination.


Opioid Epidemic Update: The Gravest Threat Looming Over Today’s Society

Much is being done about opioid abuse? Photo by Raeky 

Do you know that drug overdoses have become the leading cause of death in the United States?

How is the Government Responding to the Opioid Crisis?

In response to the rapid increase in opioid misuse, addiction, and deaths in children, teens, and adults alike, the US government has been taking several measures to limit the prescription of these drugs.

This April, President Trump, via executive order has appointed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to lead an opioid commission to combat this public health crisis.

Crashing Down on Drug Dealers

Law enforcement agencies have been increasingly tightening the grip on drug dealers as well. Just recently, a large ‘pill mill’ was busted by DEA and other law enforcement agents. This illegal organization was responsible for producing over six million pills of opioid-related drugs.

The government is also undertaking several measures to protect people from opioid abuse and help them recover from their addiction and the courts have been giving severe punishments to the arrested drug dealers. If it is proved in court that someone has died by using the drug supplied by a dealer, he/she could be sentenced to an imprisonment of 20 years or more.

Restricting Fentanyl Usage

Fentanyl Pills

The Drug Enforcement Administration has labeled certain drugs as “Schedule I drugs” because they not only have the potential for abuse but also because they do not have any acceptable uses in the field of medical science. The list is comprised of different forms and types of fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a type of synthetic opioid painkiller that is 50 times stronger than heroin.

This step was much needed because of the huge threat fentanyl has been posing to US citizens recently. Between the years 2013 and 2015, a 600% increase was seen in death cases due to fentanyl overdoses.

Prescription Limitations

Additionally, various states have revised their laws with regard to prescribing opioid medicines and have put restrictions upon doctors to only prescribe if absolutely necessary and only for a short period i.e. 5 or 7 days. Also, the government has advised doctors to not prescribe narcotics during the earlier stage of treatments for pain relief.

Synthetic drugs are the most commonly misused opioids and heroin is gaining popularity because of the restrictions the government is putting on medical prescriptions, such as the prescription monitoring program known as I-STOP in New York State.

Immunity Laws

In response to the several research studies that reported that a lot of people do not call for help, even when someone from their family, friends, and/or acquaintances end up overdosing because they fear that it will create problems for them as well. This fear of getting arrested prevents a large number of people from obtaining immediate help due to drug mishandling.

To overcome this problem, many states introduced immunity laws to protect the people who report such cases from getting arrested.

Ensuring Easy Access to Treatment Programs and Facilities

Both federal and state governments have also been taking efficient measures to ensure people can easily access rehabilitation or treatment centers to get help. The fact that only 11.2% of those drug abusers who need professional help actually go to a treatment facility is alarming and has pushed the governments to increase the efforts to make sure people do reach out for help.

While governments have been increasingly implementing opioid-specific treatment programs in many states, affordable access is still lacking in areas where they are needed the most, particularly in the Southeast region of the United States, research studies found out. More steps need to be taken to make opioid treatment affordable for low-income Americans.

Halfway Houses

In addition to treatment facilities, Halfway houses also greatly help addicts in completely recovering from the addiction and also prevent the chances of relapse. Halfway houses help addicts not succumb to the post-rehab struggles and help them to not return to the drug usage after returning to normal life.

Development of Newer Techniques

Healthcare professionals have also been researching ways to deal with drug addiction in a better way and are coming up with newer techniques and methods. The approval of Probuphine implant by the FDA is a step in this direction.

Probuphine implant gets attached to the same nerve cells receptors as opioids drugs and slowly releases buprenorphine medicine into the patient’s body. The drug provides patient protection against the drug’s withdrawal symptoms for a period of six months, at least.

Training programs have been initiated for doctors to effectively use the lien of treatment to help addicts from relapsing after coming out of the rehabilitation center.

Latest Opioid Statistics

OpioidsAccording to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 23.5 million of 12 years or older Americans are involved in drug abuse to such an extent that they need proper medical treatment for that.

Within the category of drugs, opioid addiction and overdose have become the most prevalent problem and the gravest threat looming over the US. A report recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that cases of opioid overdoses and deaths, as a result, have greatly increased between the years 2010 and 2015.

In 2010, opioids were the cause of 57% of all drug overdose deaths, but the percentage reached 73% in 2015. According to CDC statistics, 91 Americans lose their lives every day as a result of opioids overdose.

Prescription drugs also contribute greatly to opioid overdose; they have caused four times to increase in numbers of deaths between 1999 and 2016.

The US Department of Health and Human Services has recently issued an alert that tells us how worse this problem of the opioid epidemic has become, in the country. It stated, “The United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. If you or your loved ones need help, know that treatment is available and it can help saving lives”.

Since now we know how widespread and grave the problem has become, it is highly important that we look into it and try to identify and understand the factors contributing to the issue in any way.

Final Word

Although the opioid epidemic is severe and poses great threats to the citizens, the government has been efficiently responding to the issue and increasingly taking measures to overcome it.