Tag Archives: cocaine

Cocaine Use by Fathers at Conception May Cause Learning Disabilities in Children

cocaine useThere has been extensive research regarding drug use by pregnant women and the effects on their children before and after birth. However, very little research has been conducted into possible links between a father’s drug use and the effects on the children. Recently, a research team at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania decided to take on the task of determining if there are any health repercussions for babies who were fathered by someone using cocaine at the time of conception.

It turns out that the researchers did find some interesting data regarding the possibility of negatively effecting the health of their children. Although initial research involved rats, the results implicated similar behavior in humans. The study authors found that male babies whose biological fathers used extensive amounts of cocaine were more likely to develop learning disabilities than those whose biological fathers did not consume drugs. Also, it appears that male babies and not female babies are effected by paternal cocaine use, the researchers are not clear as to why this is the case.

In order to come to these conclusions, the researchers studied baby rats that were born to fathers who had been administered cocaine for a substantial length of time and compared the babies behavior to those born to fathers who were not given cocaine. The scientists observed that babies in the first group had more difficulty locating objects or remembering locations of items. They also discovered that these rats had impaired synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning.

In this case, the researchers have concluded that the excessive cocaine use causes changes to the genes of the father, which he eventually passes to his son. So, even though the sons were never actually exposed to cocaine, they still felt the negative, and long lasting, effects of the drug. This study is telling in multiple ways, as little research has been done as to how genetics are affected from the start by the introduction of foreign substances such as illegal drugs or prescription drugs. In a time where our society is more drugged than ever with pharmaceuticals, we should continue to investigate the long-term effects.

Opioids and Cocaine Make for a Dangerous Combination

Opioids and CocaineThere was a time when cocaine use was sweeping across the country. The drug took inner cities by storm in the eighties and nineties and claimed many lives in the process. Then, cocaine use generally went down after prescription painkillers and heroin became more popular.

Now experts have noticed that more people are dying from drug overdoses involving cocaine than in subsequent years. In an effort to isolate the reasons why this may be occurring, researchers investigated the most recent string of overdose deaths . They found that it is much more common to mix cocaine with opioids than previously thought. This deadly combination has been identified as the reason for the surging fatalities.

“Opioids, primarily heroin and synthetic opioids, have been driving the recent increase in cocaine-related overdose deaths. This corresponds to the growing supply and use of heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl [a synthetic opioid] in the United States,” explained the researchers.

It was discovered that cocaine and opioid overdoses increased between 2006 and 2015, despite the number of cocaine users declining over that same period of time. This indicates that they are more like additional opioid deaths who also used cocaine, rather than the other way around, as there has also been a long upward trend of poly-drug users. Mixing multiple substances in such a fashion makes overdoses more likely to happen as well.

There have also been reports of cocaine users unknowingly ingesting synthetic opioids that were added to the powder. “In the absence of recent, regular opioid use, someone using cocaine and fentanyl (knowingly or unknowingly) would be highly susceptible to opioid-induced respiratory depression and subsequent overdose,” the authors wrote.

In a day where drug overdose deaths continue to rise, the threat for every single user becomes a very real possibility. There are too many things that can go wrong and synthetic drug additives for any user to really know what they are consuming. If you have a loved one who is addicted to drugs, contact us today to learn more about successful intervention and treatment options.

Hormones May Help Women Overcome Addiction

psychopharmacologyAs researchers discover more information about drugs and their interactions mentally and physically, some powerful data shows that women become addicted to drugs faster than men, but there are more addicts overall who are male. However, the mechanisms that cause this phenomenon can also help women overcome their substance abuse.

Researchers at Davidson College in North Carolina have discovered that hormones likely play a role in this difference between men and women and their susceptibility to misuse drugs. They then wanted to see if these hormones could be used to help reduce subsequent drug use, and their findings were published in the journal Psychopharmacology.

“There are a lot of data to indicate that women transition from that initial use to having a substance-use disorder much more rapidly,” explained Mark Smith, a psychologist at Davidson.

The researchers were able to track drug use in female rats as they went through their menstrual cycles. They found that the hormones, progesterone and estrogen, proved to be factors in significant reduction of drug use. For example, when a rat’s hormone levels were the highest, the amount of heroin that was consumed went down drastically, leading to a direct correlation of reduction of drug use.

This new information points to estrogen and progesterone as possibly being effective supplements for women who are seeking treatment for opiate addiction. However, there are still a lot of questions researchers have to answer before this type of medication becomes available to female addicts. For instance, the researchers are unsure if estrogen, or progesterone or both are responsible for the decrease in the urge to consume opiates. Research trials are being conducted to find out the answer to these questions, and similar studies must be done with humans to better determine the real-life application of this information.

MIT Study Shows Treatment More Cost Effective than Drug War Expense

cocaine userSouth America has long been in the cross hairs of the DEA and other government officials in regards to the illicit drug trade. The continent has been the biggest supplier of cocaine to the United States for decades. In an effort to curb the massive amount of cocaine funneling into the country, the Federal government mounted a significant and expensive attack on coca plant farmers and the drug cartels. Unfortunately, a new look at these measures show that the expectations of this attack do not match the outcome.

Daniel Mejia and Pascual Restrepo, economists at MIT and Colombia’s Universidad de los Andes, respectively, released an analysis that shows that very little positive results were attained from the United States’ $4.3 billion dollar effort from 2000 to 2008.

Plan Colombia was presented to taxpayers as a radical and aggressive way to significantly reduce the amount of cocaine coming into the United States. In order to cut the production of cocaine in Columbia, the United States invested over $4 billion dollars into aerial spraying of crops, interruption of cocaine smuggling and intelligence. However, these efforts have not paid off. In fact, according to the economists, in order to eliminate one kilogram of cocaine, the United States spent $940,000.

If they just wanted to get the drug off the streets, they could literally buy up the cocaine coming in and dispose of it – at a cost of only $30,000 per kilogram.

Mejia and Restrepo included an example of a much more cost effective approach to reducing the cocaine problem in this country. They cited a different analysis that shows that the cost of eliminating one kilogram of cocaine by investing in drug treatment centers would cost the country between $12,500 and $68,705 per year.

“If the U.S. wants to reduce drug consumption, it is better off investing in treatment and prevention programs domestically than subsidizing source country interventions, [such] as Plan Columbia,” explained Jonathon Caulkins, a drug policy expert at Carnegie Mellon University. Caulkins joins many other Americans who have begun to call for more treatment funding rather than punishment for addicts. As more and more people suffer from drug and alcohol addictions, it is becoming vital that the United States invests in reliable and effective treatment options.

Cocaine Cut with Caffeine Found to be More Dangerous

americanjournalonaddictionsAs if cocaine was not dangerous enough, drug dealers have found another way to make it more addictive and potent. By adding caffeine, drug manufacturers in South America have increased the potency and addictiveness of cocaine. This information is important because it helps explain why the drug is still wreaking havoc on millions of people throughout the world.

In addition to the initial high, cocaine users will often experience paranoia, hallucinations and depression, but the drug is so powerful that many people continue to abuse it, often in an attempt to make those unwanted side effects to go away. However, we know that more use of the drug only makes things worse, rapidly.

“Nearly 80 percent of the coca paste samples were adulterated. Most with caffeine,” explained Jose Prieto, a neurochemist at the Biological Research Institute Clemente Stable in Montevideo, Uruguay. This information is important because it highlights the dangers of cocaine and caffeine separately as well as together. It allows researchers to better help future and current addicts.

An experiment was done to see what the differences were between cocaine and cocaine laced with caffeine. The rats that were administered just cocaine would run around and appear to have a lot of energy. The rats that were administered cocaine and caffeine did the same thing, however much more intensely, but it would run out faster. With the increased sensitization to the drug, it’s more potent effect wore off faster, thus driving users back for more in less time compared to cocaine alone.

As with all addiction research, the more that is known and understood about the chemical, biological and behavioral aspects, the more treatments can be developed to help people recover. This research was published in the American Jouranl on Addictions.

Deformities Caused By Excessive Cocaine Use

cocaine useMany cocaine users often do so in binges, meaning periods of abstinence and then heavy abuse for a day or so. There are also those who become addicted to the drug and wind up using it daily. Any amount of cocaine use had the potential of serious health risks.

Since cocaine is a stimulant, it most immediately has a negative impact on the heart and vascular system. While heart attacks seem to be more commonly reported side effects of cocaine use, other problems that can occur include deformities caused by vascular constriction.

When users snort the drug, on problem that has been found is called a Nasal Septal Perforation, which means it creates a hole in the person’s nose between nostrils. A lesser-known and more serious problem is a perforated palate.

Palatal perforation can cause major problems with performing the essential functions of life. Eating, speaking and drinking are all impacted by this deformity. The constricting vessels of the palate cause delicate tissue in the roof of the mouth to erode, thus creating the hole, pictures of which can be seen here.

Although cocaine use seems to be declining in America, it is still one of the most abused illicit drugs in the country as well as around the world. If you or someone you love has a problem with cocaine, contact us today to find out more about how we can help.

Scientists Discover Method of Detecting Cocaine Use from Fingerprints

analystScientists may have discovered a more effective way to detect cocaine use among people. Currently, the most common methods of drug testing are urine analysis (UA) and blood tests. These measure substances by parts per million and are very sensitive, yet UAs can sometimes be unreliable and blood tests are inconvenient and invasive as well.

There are other ways of conducting drug tests, such as breathalyzers for alcohol and even marijuana use, as well as saliva and hair testing. The discovery that drug use, specifically cocaine, can be determined by analyzing the fingerprint may allow for quicker results and a less invasive approach to testing.

“The beauty of this method is that, not only is it non-invasive and more hygienic than testing blood or saliva, it can’t be faked. By the very nature of the test, the identity of the subject is captured within the fingerprint ridge detail itself,” explained Dr. Melanie Bailey, a chemistry professor who worked on the project.

The cocaine fingerprint test works by spraying the individual’s fingerprint with a chemical that reacts with benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine, both are secreted after a person has ingested cocaine. Scientists were able to determine if a person had cocaine in their system because the spray would indicate the presence of the metabolized residue that is secreted. The results of their work were published in the journal Analyst.

There is a definite need for tests that can measure illicit drug use that are portable, accurate and easy to use. The applications include law enforcement use during traffic stops to schools, work, at home and at drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs as well.

Researchers Examine Treatment for Brain Damage Caused by Cocaine

uthealthOne side effect of heavy cocaine usage can be brain damage. An addiction to cocaine is difficult to overcome due to the extreme cravings, but brain damage from the drug makes it even harder for addicts to stay away.

For many years doctors and scientists have been working to help those whose brains have been damaged from cocaine use. Now, doctors at UTHealth Medical School are conducting an experiment using a diabetes drug called Plytieulong. The hope is that the drug will help reverse some of the negative effects cocaine has on the brain.

Scans of people’s brains who have abused cocaine for many years show large white spots. This is where the damage has been done. It was discovered that Plytieulong helped to reverse the damage and now scientists are conducting an experiment to see how extensive the reversal is. They have created two groups. One group of cocaine users are receiving a placebo drug, while the other group is receiving the Plytieulong. Scientists are watching the two groups to see if the drugs are as promising as they hope. In the future, the same drugs may also be used to treat other brain damage, whether caused by addiction or different diseases.

“I think this study is important because of the impact of addiction in general. There are estimates as high as 24 million Americans have a drug use disorder yet only a small percent of them are actually receiving treatment,” explained Dr. Joy Schmitz, one of the doctors conducting the study.

Cocaine abuse is not in the media as much as heroin or prescription drug abuse, however it is just as damaging to addicts and takes an extreme toll on users both mentally and physically. While the study is not complete, the hopes are that people who suffer from an addiction to cocaine will soon be able to receive help in repairing some of the damage they caused to themselves by using the drug.

Study Reveals Possible Connection Between Drug Abuse and E-Cigarettes

nicotinenejmAs an emerging alternative to smoking cigarettes, e-cigarettes have become the subject of tons of research. A recent study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine explains results that nicotine in any form serves as a “gateway drug” priming the brain for harder drugs to keep the reward system satisfied. Husband-wife researchers, Denise Kandel and Eric Kandel, have been studying nicotine for years and their recent findings reveal risks associated with the newly popular e-cigarette.

Interestingly enough, when nicotine was administered to mice before cocaine, they responded more powerfully to the cocaine compared to the mice that did not receive nicotine. The reason is that nicotine stimulates a reward-related gene, which causes dramatically enhanced effects of cocaine. Lowered inhibitions are also a reported symptom of the nicotine/cocaine combination.

Once the reward gene is activated, the mice behaved differently on cocaine. They were more active and spent an excessive amount of time in the area where they received their food. The scientists believe that this is because they were craving cocaine and were attempting to satisfy that craving by seeking out more from the space where they were fed.

E-cigarettes were originally introduced as a healthier alternative to smoking. The devices do not contain the tar and chemicals that cigarettes do, however they do have the same amount of nicotine. The idea was that smokers could get their nicotine fix without the dangerous components that are in cigarettes. E-cigarettes were advertised as the best way to quit smoking. Many people have embraced e-cigarettes and big tobacco companies have become invested, but not that much research was available before they hit the market.

The connection between e-cigarettes and cocaine is alarming to some because a device that was intended to help people quit smoking cigarettes may actually lead to more dangerous behavior.

“This is a powerful facilitator for addiction to cocaine and perhaps other drugs as well. If people knew that this is in fact the danger they’d be much less enthusiastic about using nicotine,” explains Eric Kandel. Addressing the damage that nicotine has on the brain is a bit of a new take – as most people focus on the damage that it creates in the body.

“We’ve worked very hard to reduce smoking in this country, and I think it’s been a fantastic success,” Denise says. With the introduction of e-cigarettes, “Now I think we’re on the verge of destroying all of the progress that we’ve [made].”

Alcohol Shown to be the Most Dangerous Drug

drugharmIf asked, most Americans would state that heroin and cocaine are probably the most dangerous drugs. Surprisingly, they would be wrong. Alcohol is proving to be more dangerous than heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine or prescription drugs. A study was conducted that factored in 16 different ways in which a drug can be harmful. Based on these criteria, alcohol was demonstrably the most dangerous substance of them all.

Some examples of the criteria that were used to calculate the dangers of alcohol compared to other drugs included crime, dependence, the death rate of those that consumed the drug, injury, drug-related impairment of mental functioning and economic cost. Based on these elements and more, alcohol continues to be the most harmful drug for people overall.

Researchers in the study came up with a point system to determine how different drugs relate on the danger-scale. The study included a variety of drugs in addition to alcohol, such as heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, powder cocaine, tobacco, amphetamine, marijuana, ketamine and ecstasy. It was important for researchers to find out what drugs were most dangerous not only to the individual, but to society as well.

Addiction can be selfish disease. When a person becomes addicted to drugs and/or alcohol they tend to live life thinking about only what they want. Addicts become obsessed with obtaining their next fix. They will often stop at nothing to get the money they need in order to get the high they are seeking. This creates a very self-serving and dangerous environment for the addict’s family, friends, neighbors and the rest of society.

Interestingly, because alcohol had such a great potential to be harmful to society, when that was not taken into account, crack cocaine became the most harmful to the addict. This difference highlights that drug addiction does not just affect the user; it affects the economy, families, other drivers, healthcare costs and crime rates.