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Nation's ER's Report: Abuse of Anti-Anxiety Drugs Up

drug treatment center pills addiction drug rehabThe number of drug-abuse related visits to hospital emergency rooms (ERs) involving benzodiazepine medications exceeded 100,000 in 2002, a 41 percent increase since 1995, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration's Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). Nearly half of the emergency department (ED) visits involving benzodiazapines -- which include such psychotherapeutic sedatives as Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan -- were connected with suicidal ideation, gestures or attempts.

> Read the Nation's ER's Report

Prescription Drug Abuse in The Military

drug treatment center pills addiction drug rehabToday, some of the most pressing substance-abuse concerns in the U.S. military involve prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Some health officials contend that too many troops are being authorized to take antidepressants and sleeping pills, while others are worried about the illicit sharing of prescription drugs and the overuse of OTC meds by men and women in uniform.

> More on Prescription Drug Abuse in the Military

For Many, Stress Leads to the Use and Abuse of Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco...

drug treatment center pills addiction drug rehabSome of the Basic Facts
Stressful events can have a direct affect on the use of alcohol or other drugs. Stress is a major contributor to the initiation and continuation of drug addiction and alcohol abuse, as well as to relapse or a return to drug use after periods of abstinence.

Stress is one of the major factors known to cause relapse to smoking, even after prolonged periods of abstinence.

Children exposed to severe stress may be more vulnerable to drug use. A number of clinical and epidemiological studies show a strong association between psychosocial stressors early in life (e.g., parental loss, child abuse) and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, impulsive behavior, and substance abuse in adulthood.

> More on Stress Related Usage
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Stages of Crack Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine, in any form, is a powerful, addictive, dangerous stimulant drug. The powdered, hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected. Crack is cocaine that has not been neutralized by an acid to make hydrochloride salt. Crack usually comes in a rock crystal that can be heated; the vapors are then smoked. The term "Crack" refers to the crackling sound heard when it is heated.

No matter how someone uses cocaine or how frequently, a user can experience:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Respiratory failure
  • Seizures

Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest followed by respiratory failure.

Crack addicts who are currently using experience: Hallucinations - visual and auditory; hyper-vigilance which sometimes leads to paranoia. Some people experience other hallucinations such as skin crawling and/or seeing bugs on their skin.

The Panic Stage typically begins 1-3 hours after the last use of the drug. During this phase, money is the primary concern of the addict -- they need to get more drugs; addicts may resort to pawning, borrowing, begging or stealing to get their next fix. Withdrawal symptoms show up immediately after last using; cravings are overwhelming and the addict may be unable to think rationally.

The Crash Stage begins 3 - 24 hours after last use. Depression is common during this phase, sometimes so severe it leads to suicide. In desperate need of sleep, the chemical (serotonin) necessary for sleep have been depleted and so rest is next to impossible.

One to five days after the last use can be called the Honeymoon Stage - it is during this period that addict is likely feeling good. Cravings are reduced and easily managed for many. The drug's effects are wearing off and the addict begins to believe they "can handle the addiction". The chemical messengers of the brain (serotonin and dopamine) which are necessary to enjoy crack, are still depleted and are the cause of this temporary lack of interest in using the drug. There is a high risk of people checking out of treatment during this phase; they believe they don't have a problem anymore.

Typically, five to fourteen days after use signals the Return of Cravings. It is during this period the addicts experiences an overwhelming upsurge in hunger for the drug which can be accompanied by depression and anger. The body has produced enough serotonin/dopamine for the person to crave more, but not enough to stabilize moods or emotions.

Emotional Intensification can kick in 14-28 days from ending use up to 2 years later. The addict finds it difficult to cope with the normal stresses of life. The top of the mood swing finds the addict unhappy; the bottom finds them extremely sad. Users often call this period "making mountains out of molehills". This state is related to biochemical responses induced by strong emotions which stimulate areas where mood and mind-altering drugs act on the brain. The body is trying desperately to repair damaged areas of the brain caused by drug use. As a result, the addict may be slightly "off balance" but may not be aware of it. Because judgment is impaired, this is a good time to align oneself with a support group - such as N.A. or A.A.

Covert Cravings may span 28-35 days after last using. Craving is not as strong as it once was and there is an increased need for the addict to keep the cravings secret. Addicts may not want to admit they still crave the drug for a number of reasons, including: thinking it is a sign of weakness or poor moral character. In fact, cravings are completely normal during this phase of withdrawal. Joining a support group and having someone to talk to about these feelings can help calm the addict's fears.

Alcoholics and addicts of all kinds will experience 'triggers' that may cue a craving to use. Triggers could be: money, anger, happiness, sadness, music, a film or anything strongly associated with using. These triggers can catch an addict off guard and could lead to relapse if not recognized and worked through.

Withdrawal periods vary from addict to addict; often depending on how much and how frequently they had been using crack.

Recovery begins when the addict recognizes they no longer have control over their addiction and that their lives have become unmanageable. At this stage, many crack addicts may have lost jobs, relationships, families, homes, self-respect, etc. Only when the addict truly asks for help can actual recovery begin.

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