Medical Issues

January 7, 2010

Heroin: The Basics

Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is from the opium poppy.  It is a depressant (also known as a “downer”) that influences the pleasure system of the brain and stops the perception of pain.  Heroin is a powder or tarish substance that can range in color from white to dark brown.  Heroin can be used in an array of ways that include injected intravenously or intramuscular, smoked, or snorted.  The short term effects of heroin occur soon after it is abused and then disappear after a few hours.  These effects include a rush of euphoria that comes with a warm flushing of the skin, heavy extremities, and dryness of the mouth.  After this initial burst of euphoria, the abuser goes through a series of alternating states of wakefulness and drowsiness.  Since the central nervous system is depressed, mental functioning is reduced.  Additionally, speech may become slowed or slurred, pupil dilation, droopy eyelids, vomiting, and constipation are common short term effects.  Heroin’s long term effects appear after repeated use; chronic abusers can develop infection of the heart lining and valves, collapsed veins, abscesses, and liver disease.  Pulmonary effects can result in poor health of the abuser due to heroins depressing effects on the respiratory system.  Due to additives in the drug, blogging of blood vessels can also occur.  This causes reduce blood flow and can cause infection or death of small areas of cells in vital organs.  These are the basic facts about heroin, and the effects that are commonly seen in abusers of this drug.

December 22, 2009

Methamphetamine Complications

Methamphetamine abuse can lead to an array of cardiovascular issues.  These include rapid or irregular heart beat, elevated blood pressure, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), irreversible stroke-producing damage to the brain’s small blood vessels, and convulsions in the cases of overdose, which if not immediately treated can cause death.  Chronic abuse of meth causes inflammation of the heart lining and damages blood vessels and skin abscesses (for those that inject meth).  Methamphetamine abusers commonly have fits of violent behavior, confusion, insomnia, paranoia, or anxiety.  Those who heavily abuse meth show symptoms of social and occupational deterioration.  These psychotic symptoms can last months or even years after the user has stopped using.  Acute lead poisoning is another risk of methamphetamine users; a common method of production requires lead acetate as a reagent.  Errors in this production process can lead to meth that is contaminated with lead.  These are some of the complications that methamphetamine users experience.

August 5, 2009

Methamphetamine: Risk Factors

There are an assortment of methamphetamine risk factors that make someone more likely to try and become a meth addict.  Researchers at the University of Alberta found that teens who have never done drugs before, but engage themselves in other risky behaviors, such as sexual activity, drinking, and smoking are more likely to start using methamphetamine.  Their results also showed that among teens already using other drugs, the ones with unstable family environments will be more likely to use crystal meth.  The researchers divided adolescences involved in the study into two groups: low risk (no prior drug use) and high risk (prior drug use or spent time at a juvenile detention center).  In the low risk group, their results supported the conclusion that boys were more likely to try methamphetamine compared to girls and that being bisexual or homosexual was also a risk factor for meth.  In the high risk group, girls were more likely to use crystal meth compared to boys.  Also, a family history of alcohol abuse was linked to meth use, but drinking alone was not a risk factor.  Additionally, strict parental monitoring was found to be protective against methamphetamine use.  The research done by the University of Alberta was quite useful in determining which risk factors are associated with meth use, and how prevention can be used to attack the problem of methamphetamine at another angle.

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