Hallucinogens in Addiction Treatment

Hallucinogens in Addiction Treatment

Treating Drug Abuse with…Drugs?

An up-and-coming approach to treating drug abuse is the use of hallucinogens in addiction treatment. Specifically, researchers are looking to Ibogaine, a natural hallucinogen that has been used for centuries in other parts of the world for ritual ceremonies. Currently, Ibogaine is being used in some European countries and Mexico for the treatment of drug addiction.

What are Hallucinogens?

Hallucinogenic compounds found in some plants and mushrooms (or their extracts) have been used—mostly during religious rituals—for centuries. Almost all hallucinogens contain nitrogen and are classified as alkaloids. Many hallucinogens have chemical structures similar to those of natural neurotransmitters. While the exact mechanisms by which hallucinogens exert their effects remain unclear, research suggests that these drugs work, at least partially, by temporarily interfering with neurotransmitter action or by binding to their receptor sites.

Using Hallucinogens in Addiction Treatment

Ibogaine, is a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in plants. A hallucinogen with both psychedelic and dissociative properties, the substance is banned in some countries; in other countries it is being used to treat addiction to methadone, heroin, alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other drugs. Derivatives of ibogaine that lack the substance’s hallucinogenic properties are under development.

And scientists say Ibogaine might be the best way to break drug addicts of their habit.

Ibogaine has intrigued researchers since 1962, when Howard Lotsof, a student at New York University and an opiate addict, found that a single dose erased his drug cravings without causing any withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, the hallucinogen can increase the risk of cardiac arrest, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency lists it as a Schedule I substance, a classification for drugs like ecstasy and LSD with “no known medical value” and “high potential for abuse,” making it difficult to get federal funding to run clinical trials. That is, currently it is not legal to use hallucinogens in addiction treatment.

Animal tests have shown the drug’s medicinal promise. “Rats addicted to morphine will quit for weeks after receiving ibogaine,” says Stanley Glick, the director of the Center for Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience at Albany Medical College. And addicts have reported positive effects in Mexico and Europe, where ibogaine therapy is legal.

From the limited research, though, scientists have two theories about how the use of hallucinogens in addiction treatment works. Some say it’s purely biological—that ibogaine degrades into a compound that binds with opiate receptors in the brain to quiet cravings. Others believe that it is also psychological. Those who use hallucinogens report a change in perspective and outlook on life. Researchers believe that this aspect of the hallucination provides perspective on the negative aspects of drug use, and so the drug addict will strive to quit.

The Argument for the use of Hallucinogens in Addiction Treatment

Regardless of the mechanism, proving ibogaine works is essential to winning approval and funding for clinical trials of using hallucinogens in addiction treatment. And, in the U.S., the sooner the better: Nearly seven million Americans abuse illicit drugs, costing the nation an estimated $181 billion a year in health care, crime and lost productivity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.drugabuse.gov

http://www.popsci.com

www.wikipedia.org

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

Xanax is the name brand of the medication known as Alprazolam. Xanax falls into the category of medications known as benzodiazepines. The street term for these types of medications is “benzos”. Xanax as a benzodiazepine is used medically for the treatment of anxiety, panic disorders, and seizures. Even though Xanax is usually prescribed to patients with an anxiety disorder, Xanax is used recreationally for its euphoric effects.

The side-effects of recreational Xanax use generally consist of feelings of well-being, euphoria, loss of inhibition, loss of memory and drowsiness. Once a Xanax user has developed a tolerance some users describe becoming more social, outgoing or feeling as if they are on a stimulant such as cocaine. Some of the adverse or negative effects of Xanax use consist of mania, rage or aggression, twitches and hyperactivity.

It is extremely easy to build a tolerance to Xanax and a user may find themselves needing more to continue getting the desired effect after a very short period of time. This is because Xanax binds to the benzodiazepine receptors in the brain creating a build-up of alprazolam within the user; also Xanax has a rapid onset. In other words, the effects of Xanax are felt only 30 minutes after taking the drug and only last a short amount of time creating a want to use more.

The comedown after a brief period of use is not extremely unpleasant but the user will want to regain the positive effects of the drug once again after only a short period of time creating a pattern of habitual use and a tolerance.

If a user has begun a habitual use and needs more and more Xanax to continue getting the same effect they are probably now physically dependent or addicted. Once a physical dependence or addiction on Xanax has been established any kind of rapid cessation of use will cause Xanax withdrawal symptoms.

Xanax withdrawal symptoms, much like alcohol, can be fatal. Xanax withdrawal symptoms can begin within 12 hours of stopping use and will start to peak at around 3-4 days. Some general Xanax withdrawal symptoms consist of but are not limited to:

  • • Malaise
  • • Weakness
  • • Tachycardia (An erratic heartbeat)
  • • Lightheadedness
  • • Dizziness
  • • Anxiety
  • • Panic
  • • Hallucination
  • • Insomnia
  • • Moodiness
  • • Tremors
  • • Convulsion
  • • Nightmares
  • • Nausea
  • • Vomiting

The most serious (but more rare) Xanax withdrawal symptom is convulsion – and these can be life threatening. More common Xanax withdrawal symptoms are psychological in nature, and are very unpleasant.

Problematically, Xanax withdrawal symptoms usually lead the user back to Xanax use rather than continue to push through the Xanax withdrawal symptoms continuing the addiction rather than trying to stop. Xanax withdrawal symptoms are very unpleasant and it is always best to seek medical attention from a detox facility if a user is experiencing any of these symptoms. Just as with alcohol withdrawal symptoms; Xanax withdrawal symptoms can end up being fatal so it is highly recommended that a user find a safe medical detox facility where they can be under a 24 hour watch while withdrawing.

Also Xanax withdrawal symptoms are extremely uncomfortable if not fatal and a detox facility can provide the comfort and care to keep the user from returning to Xanax use once again.

What is Tramadol?

What is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a narcotic like pain reliever that is used to treat moderate to severe pain. Tramadol is an extended release drug that is used to treat moderate to severe chronic pain when pain relief is needed around the clock or in other words for long periods of time.

The brand name for tramadol is Ultram. Tramadol was invented in the 1970s in Germany. Tramadol is different than other prescribed pain relievers like codeine or hydrocodone and is generally accepted as being less addictive although some people do become addicted to it. The drug has a similar effect as antidepressants particularly the medication Effexor which is a SSRI. Most often tramadol is prescribed to treat pain associated with different forms of neuralgia. Other conditions tramadol is prescribed for are restless leg syndrome, migraines, withdrawal of addictive medications, fibromyalgia, and OCD.

Tramadol may be the preferred drug for people suffering from chronic pain conditions because it is well tolerated without a huge risk of addition, serious side effects or overdose when used appropriately. However, there are dangers associated with tramadol. For instance many people who suddenly stop taking tramadol experience withdrawal symptoms. Tramadol is also a central nervous system depressant and shouldn’t be used in combination with other drugs that can depress the central nervous system. People who take tramadol should avoid taking alcohol, tranquilizers or any other drugs that can suppress breathing. This is how a tramadol overdose happens.

Some of the most common side effects of tramadol are:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation

Withdrawal symptoms of tramadol are:

  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep
  • Pain and tremors

Anyone who takes tramadol for a long time should work with a doctor or a medical detox facility to begin a safe withdrawal from the medication.

Tramadol can be taken as capsules, tablets, suppositories and in injectable forms. Some of the types of tramadol include analgesics like acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory agents like aspirin. The recommended dose of tramadol is no more than 400mg a day. It is especially important to use tramadol exactly as prescribed for the length of time it is prescribed. It should never be shared with others or used in a manner unadvised by a doctor. Using tramadol other than prescribed is known as tramadol abuse.

Here are some signs of tramadol abuse:

  • Tramadol use resulting in a recurrent failure to fulfill work, school or home obligations
  • Tramadol use in physically hazardous situations such as driving or operating machinery
  • Tramadol use resulting in legal problems such as drug-related arrests
  • Continued use despite negative social or interpersonal consequences

Some of the symptoms of tramadol abuse are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Euphoria
  • Shallow breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness or sedation

Physical tolerance can occur as the body becomes accustomed to tramadol; thus, more tramadol is needed to produce the original desired effect. Psychological dependence can occur as people believe that that they cannot function properly without tramadol. Individuals with a tolerance to tramadol are at risk of overdose due to the consumption of increased amounts of the drug.