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The Most Horrifying Drug in the World Comes to the U.S.

From TIME:

A flesh-eating drug called Krokodil, because it makes user’s skin scaly and green before it rots away, has arrived on American soil. The Banner Poison Control center in Arizona has reported the first two users of the drug — which has been available in Russia for more than a decade — here in the U.S.

Krokodil most closely resembles morphine or heroin and is injected into the veins. It is made of codeine, a painkiller often used in cough syrup, and a mix of other materials including gasoline, paint thinner, and alcohol.

“As far as I know, these are the first cases in the United States that are reported,” Dr. Frank LoVechhio, co-medical director at Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center in Arizona, told CBS 5. “So we’re extremely frightened.”

When it is injected, the drug rots the skin by rupturing blood vessels, causing the tissue to die. As a result, the skin hardens and rots, sometimes even falling off to expose the bone. ”These people are the ultimate in self-destructive drug addiction,” Dr. Ellen Marmur, chief of dermatological and cosmetic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City told Fox News, “Once you are an addict at this level, any rational thinking doesn’t apply.”

Posted: 9/27/2013 11:30:00 AM

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Suboxone: The New Drug Epidemic?

From the National Pain Report:

A drug increasingly being used to treat opioid addiction may be fueling a new epidemic of diversion, overdose, addiction and death in the United States.

The drug’s name is buprenorphine, but it is more widely known by its brand name – Suboxone – which for many years was sold exclusively by Reckitt-Benckiser, a British pharmaceutical company. Since Reckitt’s patent on Suboxone expired in 2012, several other drug makers have rushed to introduce their own formulations – hoping to grab a share of the $1.5 billion market for Suboxone in the U.S.

Two generic versions of buprenorphine were introduced earlier this year. And this month a Swedish drug maker began selling a menthol flavored tablet – called Zubsolv – that is designed to mask the bitter taste of buprenorphine. Other formulations of the drug include a film strip that dissolves under the tongue and a buprenorphine skin patch. One company is even developing a buprenorphine implant to be inserted under the skin.

“This is insanity,” says Percy Menzies, a pharmacist and addiction expert. “Buprenorphine is one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in the world.”

Buprenorphine is a narcotic, a powerful and potentially addicting painkiller that was first approved as a treatment for opioid addiction in the U.S. in 2002. When combined with naloxone to make Suboxone, the two drugs can be used to help wean addicts off opioids such as heroin, Vicodin, OxyContin, and hydrocodone. Naloxone blocks opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system.

Over three million Americans with opioid dependence have been treated with Suboxone. Although praised by addiction experts as a tool to wean addicts off opioids, some are fearful the drug is overprescribed and misused.

A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found a ten-fold increase in the number of emergency room visits involving buprenorphine. Over half of the 30,000 hospitalizations in 2010 were for non-medical use of buprenorphine.

How many died from buprenorphine overdoses is unknown, because medical examiners and coroners do not routinely test for the drug.

The problem with Suboxone, according to Menzies, is that many addicts have learned they can use the medication, not to treat their addiction, but to maintain it. Suboxone won’t get them “high” but it will help them smooth out withdrawal symptoms between highs.

Suboxone is so popular with addicts that it has turned into a street drug – to be bartered or exchanged for money, heroin or other illegal drugs. According to one estimate, about half of the buprenorphine obtained through legitimate prescriptions is either being diverted or used illicitly.

Posted: 9/24/2013 10:22:00 AM

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Randall County nets Texas' first felony conviction for K2

From the Amarillo Glode-News:

A local shop owner was the first person convicted of felony charges for the synthetic drug K2 in Texas.

James Medina has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in Randall County to selling the drug in his shop, Up N Smoke, a year ago.

Potter County District Attorney Randall Sims said Potter also is doing everything in its power to eliminate K2.

Three other seizures have been made in the past year for similar drugs. Randall County authorities arrested the owner of The Green Gorilla Smoke Shop on a drug charge in November. In April, Amarillo Police Narcotics Unit seized similar substances at Planet X and Borger police arrested a Pampa man for delivering such substances.

Posted: 9/17/2013 1:51:00 PM

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'Dabbing' the new drug of choice for teens?

From ABC15 (Phoenix, AZ):

It’s a new twist on an old drug and it’s becoming increasingly more popular among teens in Arizona.

The drug is called “Butane Hash Oil” or BHO.

On the street it goes by many names including shatter, wax, ear wax, honey oil, amber or dabbing.

Dabbing because you only need a dab.

This latest butane form of hash oil is highly potent.

According to Not My Kid, strong strains of marijuana contain 25% tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, while some butane hash oil can contain upwards of 60-90% THC.

For teens, it’s easier to conceal, easier to carry, but much more dangerous to make.

Another danger is butane can be left in the oil.

“The person that uses it could be smoking butane which is neurotoxic and very dangerous,” Watson warns.

Parents should look for items like butane containers, glass or metal tubes, glass baking dishes, isopropyl alcohol, and coffee filters.

Posted: 9/17/2013 10:57:00 AM

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What you need to know about synthetic drugs

From CNN:

What exactly are synthetic drugs?

There is no exact definition, because the term is used to describe a wide range of chemical products that are ever-changing. Synthetic marijuana and "bath salts" are the most common of these drugs. Unlike drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, these drugs do not come from plants; they are manmade.

When did they start appearing in the United States and who's using them?

These drugs first appeared in the United States around 2009, according to Scherbenske, and they have since exploded in popularity, particularly among teenagers.

Social media-savvy teens use the Internet to spread the word about where to find these drugs to -- as Scherbenske explains -- "discuss the effects these substances had on their body."

What's the point of making synthetic drugs?

Synthetic drugs makers have easy access to customers by marketing these drugs as harmless household items. So they make lots of money.

Are these drugs legal?

The federal government and at least 38 states have taken steps to ban the substances. But, as soon as one compound is banned, the molecular structure of the synthetic product is altered and that "changes the whole structure of the drug, so the drug becomes legal and we're at it again," James Capra, DEA chief of operations, said at a news conference in June, according to Time magazine.

Retailers are also skirting the law by labeling the drugs as "not for human consumption," according to the DEA's Scherbenske.

The manufacturers' main goal is to alter the chemical compound to stay one step ahead of the law.

The combination of those compounds and their reactions "is very scary," Scherbenske said.

"We do not know the long term effect that it will have on a person's body."

Who is making this stuff?

Most of the chemicals that are used to make these synthetic drugs are coming directly from China, according to the DEA's John Scherbenske.

Who's selling it here in the U.S.?

Scherbenske says people are starting their own businesses to sell these drugs once they see the profit potential.

These retailers have even taken the feds to court to protect their business: four stores sued the DEA in 2011, claiming the federal agency was "impeding their business," Scherbenske said.

3 deaths may be tied to synthetic marijuana in Colorado

From CNN:

Three people in Colorado may have died after smoking synthetic marijuana, state health officials fear. The Colorado Department of Public Health has launched an investigation into an outbreak of illnesses at hospitals that may be tied to the dangerous substance.

"Initial reports show approximately 75 people who reported smoking a form of synthetic marijuana may have been seen at hospitals in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs beginning in late August," said Dr. Tista Ghosh, interim chief medical officer for the state, in a written statement. "Several individuals were in intensive care and three deaths are being investigated as possibly associated."

The Colorado Department of Health, with help from local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will attempt to figure out if the synthetic marijuana is to blame, and if so, whether all the patients were sickened by the same product or different ones.

Posted: 9/6/2013 2:48:00 PM

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With Labs Pumping Out Legal Highs, China Is the New Front in the Global Drug War

From TIME:

The drugs arrived in an “unnamed, unmarked package,” recalls Timothy LaMere. The rest of what happened that night is more of a blur. After sharing the 2C-E — a synthetic imitation of the rave drug ecstasy — with friends at a house party in Blaine, Minn., things started to go very wrong. Those who took the drug became dangerously unwell — sweating, shaking, rolling around on the floor and experiencing seizures and severe pain. LaMere was among 10 people hospitalized, while one friend, 19-year-old Trevor Robinson, father of a 5-month-old baby, died after “punching walls, breaking items, staring and having dilated pupils and yelling,” according to the criminal complaint. LaMere is currently serving a 10-year sentence for third-degree unintentional murder in a state correctional facility.

The 2C-E that LaMere purchased online is part of the latest drug scourge of new psychoactive substances (NPS), dubbed “legal highs,” to blight not only the U.S. but countries all over the world.

Almost 90% of countries surveyed for the 2013 U.N. World Drugs Report attributed synthetic drugs a significant market share. Suburban laboratories around Chinese port cities are the principle source, from where they can be easily shipped to Europe or North America using regular international courier services. These new drugs are specifically created to mimic the effects of illicit street drugs such as cocaine and cannabis while skirting legal prohibitions. The labeling on packages uses a variety of fanciful descriptions — such as “plant food,” “bath salts” or even “potpourri” — and usually includes the token proviso “not for human consumption.” Yet the brand names used (“Benzo Fury,” “The Joker” and “Blaze”), the psychedelic wrapping and their sale alongside drug impedimenta such as glass pipes and bongs leaves no doubt as to their true purpose.

At present, over 200 such substances exist with more created every day. As soon as one variation is explicitly banned, the chemists tweak the molecules and “it changes the whole structure of the drug, so the drug becomes legal and we’re at it again,” James Capra, DEA chief of operations, said at a news conference in June. To make matters worse, Chinese chemists are not just sitting back waiting for their products to be made illegal. Often they have already created the next variation of a substance and have it ready to hit the streets before the ink on the banning order of its parent drug has dried. The subtle changes in the formulas can also have lethal effects.

In the U.S., 11% of 17- and 18-year-olds admit to using legal highs, and they are now the second most popular class of recreational drug among American students after cannabis. Despite being marketed as legal and even low-risk, many are actually more dangerous than traditional narcotics.

Drug Use Drops for America's Youth, Rises in the Over 50 Crowd

From ABC News:

Drug use among America's youth is dropping, but it's booming among people over 50, a U.S. government survey released Wednesday shows.

Last year, the rate of illicit drug use among children and teenagers 12 to 17 years old dropped to 9.5 percent, down from 11.6 percent a decade earlier, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) latest national survey.

Meanwhile, illicit drug use among adults 50 to 64 years old has increased in the past decade.

Specifically, illicit drug use among adults 50 to 54 has more than doubled since 2002, reaching 7.2 percent last year. For people 55 to 59, such drug use has more than tripled, reaching 6.6 percent last year.

Marijuana is by far the most-used illicit drug among both children and adults, according to SAMHSA, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.

At a press conference Wednesday in Washington, officials expressed particular concern about use by those 12 to 17 years old.

"There's no question that marijuana is harmful to the developing brains of adolescents," said SAMHSA administrator Pamela Hyde, adding that marijuana use has been linked to "significant I.Q. declines."

As for young adults – those 18 to 25 years old – rates of illicit drug use have remained somewhat steady over recent years, with a slight increase in marijuana use, according to the survey.

Illicit drug use among children had remained steady at 10.1 percent from 2009 to 2011, which was a slight increase from years before. Overall, though, use for that age group has dropped in the past decade.

The data was released at the start of September to help kick off National Recovery Month, a government-sponsored promotion of preventing and treating substance abuse and mental health disorders.

Posted: 9/5/2013 11:37:00 AM

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Molly: An Old Drug With Terrifying New Tricks

From Yahoo! Shine:

Molly — the innocuous street name for a drug linked to at least three fatal overdoses in the past month — sounds more like someone’s great-aunt than an illegal substance. A better name for the designer drug, according to both drug enforcement and medical experts, would be “Russian Roulette.”

“When a buyer abuses something called Molly, there’s no way to tell what’s in it,” Rusty Payne, a spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Agency told Yahoo Shine. “That’s the most dangerous thing about these drugs.”

The so-called party drug is believed to be responsible for two deaths and for sickening several more attendees of last week’s Electric Zoo music festival in New York, though final toxicology reports are still pending. Earlier in the week, Molly, which sells for $30 to $50 in capsule pill or powder form, was linked to another death at a concert in Boston.

In its purest form, Molly (short for 'molecule'), is a crystallized and powdered form of MDMA, a mind-altering combination of research chemicals with euphoric, empathetic and heightened sensory effects which can last anywhere from 3 to 6 hours. But the unintended side effects range from depression due to the surge of serotonin the drug releases in the brain, to severe dehydration, elevated body temperature and rapid heartbeat. And that’s if the drug is pure.

As demand for the drug spikes, Payne tells Yahoo Shine, he’s seeing synthetic counterfeits, particularly Methylone, sold under the same name. Described by one Redditor as “Molly’s sketchy cousin,” Methylone is a synthetic drug in the family of bath salts. In a 2012 report published in a toxicology research journal, one woman who believed she’d ingested Molly collapsed at a concert after taking the drug, then returned to her feet before convulsing and later dying.

While drug enforcement agents have had Molly on their radar for some time, the drug has just now come into mainstream consciousness, with references everywhere from Instragram hashtags and T-shirt lines to pop music. For parents, even those who came of age when X signified more than just a generation, hype around the drug is alarming, if not alarmist. “I’m not saying everyone is going to die if they take ecstasy,” says Clark. But he warns, “the drug can be dangerous to some people and we don’t know which people.”

Posted: 9/5/2013 8:25:00 AM

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