What are the Deadliest Trends in Drug Abuse Today?

Drug AbuseKeeping up with the latest trends is always a challenge, but staying abreast of what’s trending in substance abuse can literally save your life or that of someone you love. Protect yourself and your loved ones by staying informed regarding the latest deadly drug crazes. That way, you’ll know what to look for and when to seek help.

Caffeine Abuse

Caffeine powder overdoses are among the most recently trending cases of drug abuse. In June 2014, a high school senior in Ohio mixed an unknown quantity of powdered caffeine into a beverage. After drinking it, his heart began beating erratically, he experienced seizures and he died, all within a short time period.

Caffeine overdoses are on the rise. Anyone can legally purchase caffeine powder online. You might think caffeine is safer than hard drugs like heroin because you see people using it every day, but too much can be deadly.

Although college students have long been using caffeine tablets, coffee or black tea to stay awake for all-night study sessions, more young people than ever before are taking caffeine stimulants to decrease appetite for weight loss, to stay alert despite lack of sleep and simply to get high. It is available in energy drinks like Red Bull and in gel strips designed to dissolve on the tongue. Ingesting too much is risky, especially for children.

Soon after the highly publicized death of the Ohio high school student, the FDA issued a public advisory about the dangers of powdered caffeine. The document states that just 1 teaspoon of powder contains the amount of caffeine in 25 cups of coffee, a potentially deadly dose. FDA recommends that you avoid using it altogether.

The symptoms of caffeine overdose include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Erratic heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stupor
  • Disorientation
  • Seizure
  • Death

Abuse of Computer Air Spray Cleaners

Sniffing, inhaling or “huffing” household products like glue, gasoline, paint, shoe polish or solvents to get high is not a new practice by any means. However, a dangerous and disturbing trend within recent years is huffing computer air cleaning products such as Dust-Off. It produces an instant high that lasts for a short time, typically a few seconds to a couple of minutes.

Dust-Off is easy to buy at plenty of stores, making it even more attractive to some kids, especially those between 12 and 17 years of age. Even in states that restrict the sale of such products, teens can often find it at home, at the office or at school. Huffing or otherwise ingesting these sorts of household and industrial chemicals is extremely dangerous and can cause instant brain damage and death by asphyxiation or cardiac arrest. Symptoms of inhalant abuse include:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Nausea
  • Impaired coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Lowering of inhibitions
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Belligerence
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Intense headaches
  • Damage to the brain
  • Death by asphyxiation
  • Death by cardiac arrest

Inhalant abuse can also significantly damage the liver, kidneys and lungs. It can impair a person’s thought processes, speech and memory. No one can predict whether a fatal event will happen upon the first incident or the 50th.

Prescription Drug Abuse: Pharm Parties

Pharm PartiesWith prescription drug abuse becoming ever more common, “pharm parties,” also known as “Skittles parties” and “punchbowl parties,” remain a strong and dangerous trend. Participants toss a mixture of different types and colors of prescription pills into a big container and ingest handfuls, washing them down with alcohol. Taking a combination of mystery medications is clearly a potentially deadly practice, and adding alcohol to the mix increases the danger of overdose death.

You may believe that the prescriptions in your family medicine cabinet are safe for anyone to take because they come from a legitimate medical source. However, they are not safe to take in unregulated doses or in conjunction with other medications.

Symptoms of prescription drug abuse vary according to the type of drug, dosages, combination of drugs taken and other factors such as age and weight. Opioids and psychotropic drugs have lists of side effects, many of which include high potential for abuse, dependence and addiction. The most commonly abused pharmaceuticals include drugs in three categories:

Opioids Prescribed for Pain like Vicodin and Percocet

Central nervous system (CNS) depressants for anxiety and sleep disorders, such as Xanax, Valium and Klonopin

Stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall

When you take opioids like hydrocodone (Vicodin) with alcohol or with depressants like Valium, the combination is potentially fatal. Taking high doses of stimulants can cause spikes in body temperature, while mixing stimulants and decongestants can result in an irregular heartbeat. Combining opioids and CNS depressants slows down your respiration to the point that you may stop breathing.

A 2011 report from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) shows that the number of drug-related emergency room visits increased by 100% over the number reported in 2004. Of these drug-related visits, 51% resulted from illicit drug use, 51% from non-medical use of prescription drugs, and 25% from mixing drugs and alcohol. A certain percentage of patients had mixed illicit drugs, prescription drugs and alcohol and thus counted in multiple categories. To put it more succinctly, none other than the White House cites prescription drug abuse as an “epidemic” in America.

Synthetic Drug Use

In recent years, new synthetic or “designer” drugs have been coming to market faster than lawmakers can regulate them. With no restrictions on the purchase and use of certain substances, they become especially attractive to underage users. You may believe that they are safer than illegal drugs, but this is simply untrue. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reported that the number of calls they received regarding synthetic drug use in 2011 was four times the number they received in 2010. Well over half of all synthetic drug users are under the age of 25. One of the biggest sources for these artificial drugs is the internet.

So-called “bath salts” for example are highly toxic and addictive drugs similar to methamphetamine. Some of the side effects one may experience after ingesting or injecting these substances include:

  • Paranoid delusions
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Agitation
  • Numbness
  • Poor judgment
  • Hyperthermia
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Coma
  • Death

Synthetic drugs are largely untested and unregulated. Minimal research exists regarding their long-term effects, but statistics from emergency rooms have confirmed that these chemicals can be fatal. You’d think that would be enough to cause people to steer clear, but like anything related to drug abuse and addiction, the steps are EDUCATE, DETOXIFY and REHABILITATE.

If you or someone you love is struggling with potentially deadly drug abuse, we can help. Our holistic approach to recovery addresses the immediate problem as well as those factors that contribute to and perpetuate the addiction.