Substance Abuse and Addiction

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    Many people believe that the use of snuff and other forms of smokeless tobacco is safer than smoking. However, potent human carcinogens (N-nitrosamines) are also present in high concentrations in smokeless tobacco. These carcinogens have been clearly linked to cancers of the lung, esophagus, liver, pancreas, bladder, cervix, nasal and oral cavities. There simply is no safe way to use tobacco products. 
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    Having addictions in your family is considered a risk factor for developing addictions. Patients who receive a prescription for opioids to treat pain can also be at risk of developing an addiction to this medication if they have the following risk factors: 
    • Depression, anxiety or other psychiatric issues present at the time of opioid treatment or in their past history. 
    • Ongoing substance abuse with alcohol or other drugs.
    • Poor coping skills and a tendency to imagine “worst possible outcomes” in difficult situations. An individual with these traits may be primed to become addicted to these powerful drugs. 
    It’s always a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor about the pros and cons of taking any medication, especially an opioid that falls within the Schedule III classification of controlled substances.
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    A , Addiction Medicine, answered
    There are numerous options for opiate users looking for help. The long-standing standard of non-abstinence treatment for this group used to be methadone treatment, although buprenorphine treatment (Suboxone, Subutex) has gradually been gaining favor for being easier to administer in an office setting as well as having some abuse-protection built in.

    Some anecdotal evidence even supports replacement of opiate use with marijuana use, although research on the success of such options is limited.

    Most importantly, individuals seeking help with a heroin addiction should take into account factors such as access to the medication, ability to pay, as well as their individual reaction to the medication when considering the best option.
    Finally, most of these therapies are meant as short-term methods to replace heroin and then gradually reduce the medication, with the ultimate goal being abstinence. While some individuals use them as maintenance drugs, that initial aim should be kept in mind if a person is seeking to become opiate-free.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Some people think that marijuana -- by far the most popular illegal drug -- is harmless. Unfortunately, that's simply not true. While it may be less immediately dangerous or addictive than other drugs, it can still take a toll on your health, making your RealAge (physiologic age) older. Marijuana contains 50 percent more carcinogens and four times as much tar as cigarettes. Studies show that the heavy use of marijuana can cause residual neurologic effects that decrease cognitive (the learning, thought process part of mental) functioning. Heavy users actually experience aging less from the drug itself than from the behaviors it tends to induce, most notably a lack of motivation. For example, users are less likely to exercise, eat a healthy diet, or maintain the kinds of social networks that help protect against stress. They are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as unsafe sex or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
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    A , Family Medicine, answered
    While several research studies have demonstrated a correlation between marijuana use and schizophrenia, scientists aren't certain if the drug actually causes the illness. Experts question whether people who are already at risk for developing schizophrenia are more likely to use marijuana at a younger age. Because early life stress is a possible risk factor for schizophrenia,  those exposed to stress early in life may also be more likely to use marijuana. Using large amounts of marijuana can trigger psychotic symptoms, such hallucinations and paranoia, in some people. Marijuana may also cause some people to have a relapse of symptoms of schizophrenia even while they are receiving treatment.
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    A , Addiction Medicine, answered
    Studies suggest that some people experience withdrawal symptoms when stopping marijuana. These symptom patterns include craving for marijuana, reduced appetite, sleep difficulty, weight loss, and—in some cases—anger, aggression, irritability, and restlessness.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered

    Nicotine is the addictive drug in tobacco products, so there's a simple way to prevent nicotine addiction: don't use tobacco in any form. Most tobacco users start when they're teenagers - and about three thousand teens start smoking every day. School-based programs that teach about the dangers of tobacco have been shown to be very effective in keeping kids from starting. 

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    Acetaldehyde is a chemical that is produced when sugar is burned. Internal studies conducted by cigarette maker Phillip Morris revealed that adding acetaldehyde to nicotine significantly increases the desire to smoke.

    While patches and gum may help to stave off a craving for nicotine, they don't touch the acetaldehyde.

    It is no coincidence that it is harder to resist smoking when you are drinking a beer: once the acetaldehyde in your system is activated by the beer, you will crave more, in the form of a cigarette.

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Like all addictive drugs, nicotine affects your brain, making you feel good and wanting more of it. Nicotine has an upside: It can improve your concentration and alertness, boost your mood, and suppress your appetite. Of course, the downside, like the risk of lung and heart disease, far outweighs the upside, but try telling that to your addicted brain. When your brain doesn't get nicotine for even a few hours, you'll probably find yourself pacing around, feeling irritable and depressed, having a headache, and unable to concentrate.
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    Testosterone and anabolic steroids are taken orally, or they may be self-injected. Often, athletes take multiple anabolic steroids simultaneously, according to one of two methods, cycling or stacking. Both of these methods are considered equally dangerous.

    Cycling: Athletes take multiple types of high dose steroids simultaneously in cycles of weeks or months, and then abstain from their use for a wash out period before beginning the cycle again. This pattern is thought to maximize the benefits of the steroids by preventing the body from adjusting to, and thus weakening the effects of the drugs.

    Stacking: Individuals take multiple brands or types of anabolic steroids simultaneously in the belief that such a dosing pattern will have more of an effect than any one drug taken individually. While this pattern is thought to reduce the short-time side effects of anabolic steroid abuse, it does not in any way minimize the often irreversible long-term side effects.

    Some individuals turn to other drugs to counteract the immediate side effects of steroids (e.g. irritability or acne). Such use may result in further medical complications or multiple addictions.

    It is illegal to bring anabolic steroids, including testosterone, into the United States with the intent to use the drugs to boost athletic performance or to distribute to athletes.

    You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.



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