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Pharming The New Drug Danger


Pharming The New Drug Danger

Don’t look now, but the most dangerous drugs today are likely to come from your local pharmacy. When taken as prescribed, powerful time-released drugs like Ritalin, Adderall and OxyContin treat conditions like Attention Deficit Disorder and chronic pain. But without a doctor’s supervision, each of these drugs may cause serious hazards to your health—and life-threatening reactions.

RITALIN® and OTHER STIMULANTS

Street names: Rids, Vitamin R, pineapple, uppers, Jif

What is it? A stimulant in pill or tablet form

How is it used? Swallowed; crushed into powder and inhaled or mixed with water and injected

What are its short-term effects? Increases energy, alertness and euphoria; reduces appetite; may cause hallucinations

What are its long-term effects? Increasing tolerance and addiction; irritability and depression; insomnia; irregular heartbeat; paranoid psychosis

How does it interact with alcohol? Disguises the effects of both; increases the risk for overdose

Legal or illegal? Ritalin®, Aderall® and Cylert® are legal prescription drugs—but it’s illegal to use them, share them, sell them or even possess them unless they are prescribed for you.

OXYCONTIN®

Street names: Hillbilly heroin, Oxycotton, Oxy

What is it? A highly potent opiate-based tablet or capsule for severe pain

How is it used? Swallowed; crushed into powder and snorted or dissolved into water and injected

What are its short-term effects? Intense heroin-like euphoria; may be accompanied by slurred speech, drooling, sluggish movements, slowed breathing

What are its long-term effects? Physically and psychologically addictive, with severe withdrawal symptoms, including muscle and bone pain, diarrhea and vomiting

How does it interact with alcohol? May suppress vital functions like breathing, and lead to death

Legal or illegal? OxyContin®, Demerol®, Percocet® and Vicodin® are legal prescription drugs—but it’s illegal to use them, share them, sell them or even possess them unless they are prescribed for you.

PROZAC, PAXIL & OTHER ANTIDEPRESSANTS

Street names: happy pills

What is it: A pill or tablet that changes the balance of a chemical, usually serotonin, in the brain

How is it used: Swallowed

What are the short-term effects: You may not feel much; most antidepressants take weeks to kick in, so short-term effects are typically minimal

What are the long-term effects: Sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, addiction; unprescribed use may cause chemical imbalances in the brain and emotional disturbances

How does in interact with alcohol? Combined use increases risk for overdose and may also worsen depression, sometimes leading to suicide

Legal or illegal? Antidepressants are legal prescription drugs—but it’s illegal to use them, share them, sell them or even posses them unless they are prescribed for you

VALIUM, XANAX & OTHER ANTI-ANXIETY DRUGS

Street names: downers, goof balls, tranks, xanies, xan bars, footballs

What is it: A pill or tablet that effects the central nervous system

How is it used: Swallowed, or crushed and snorted

What are the short-term effects: Reduced anxiety, lowered inhibitions, poor concentration and coordination, decreased sexual interest, slowed reflexes, cloudy judgment

What are the long-term effects: Sleep disturbances, memory problems, mental confusion, addiction; unsupervised withdrawal may be life-threatening; large doses can cause respiratory failure and death

How does in interact with alcohol? Both impair motor and memory skills and slow respiration; combined use increases risk for overdose and death

Legal or illegal? Antidepressants are legal prescription drugs—but it’s illegal to use them, share them, sell them or even posses them unless they are prescribed for you

AMBIEN, LUNESTA & OTHER SLEEPING PILLS

Street names: sleepers, A-minus, zombies

What is it: A pill or tablet prescribed for insomnia

How is it used: Swallowed

What are the short-term effects: Drowsiness, dizziness; may cause morning-after “hangover,” facial swelling; severe allergic reaction possible

What are the long-term effects: Daytime drowsiness, sleep behaviors such as sleep eating and sleep driving, persistent headache, blackouts and memory loss; stopping abruptly may cause withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, nightmares, muscle cramps, vomiting and shakiness

How does in interact with alcohol? Combined use increases sedative effect; may cause dizziness, confusion, fainting, respiratory failure and death

Legal or illegal? Sleep aids are legal prescription drugs—but it’s illegal to use them, share them, sell them or even posses them unless they are prescribed for you

STEROIDS

Street names: ‘rhoids, juice

What is it? A manufactured hormone-like drug similar to testosterone; available in tablet or liquid form

How is it used? Swallowed or injected

What are its short-term effects? Increases muscle mass and athletic performance; may also cause acne, high blood pressure, liver tumors, jaundice and ‘rhoid rage

What are its long-term effects? Hypertension, heart disease, wild mood swings; women may stop menstruating and develop beards and other masculine characteristics; men may develop breasts, shrunken testicles and become impotent

How does it interact with alcohol? Combined use increases risks for heart and liver disease, as well as for aggression and violent mood disturbances

Legal or illegal? It is illegal to produce, possess or use steroids for non-medical purposes

Resources:

Core Institute (2010). National Drug and Alcohol Survey. Southern Illinois University:

Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2007). Harmful interactions: Mixing alcohol with medicines. Bethesda, MD. Available online at:
http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Medicine/medicine.htm

National Institute on Drug Abuse

National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Mayo Clinic

Facts on Tap