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More Americans than ever are turning to the use of drugs and alcohol. Statistics from 2013 revealed that 24.6 million citizens 12 or older had used an illicit drug in the previous month. These growing numbers are more than a little worrisome, and West Virginia’s drug and alcohol related deaths are being affected just as much as the rest of the country. The addiction to alcohol and other substances, it seems, has become an epidemic.Many people don’t realize just how costly America’s drug and alcohol problem has become. For prescription drug abuse alone, it’s estimated that the United States loses up to $72 billion per year. Lost productivity, criminal justice costs, treatment, and medical expenses pile up with every case of abuse. Combined with illicit drugs and alcohol, substance abuse is taking quite a toll on our economy.However damaging the problem is financially, it is much more devastating to the minds and bodies of those who use. A ripple effect also brings emotional harm to their family, friends, and coworkers. Each substance poses different risks, but none of them are menial.There’s a long list of drugs designed purely to get people high. Cocaine, crystal meth, ecstasy, PCP, marijuana, and heroin are only a few of the most popular varieties circling our streets. The consequences for using these substances are generally much worse than alcohol or prescription medications, without even accounting for the fact that they’re illegal. The specific physical reactions depend on the drug of choice and can vary from hallucinations, anxiety, and paranoia to heart malfunction and respiratory issues. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.Long-term exposure can completely change a person. Facial features and skin conditions can alter and degrade, and changes to one’s mental state (such as irritability and trouble concentrating) remain for months or years. Many people who are addicted to such substances must begin committing crimes to keep up with their cravings and spiral into dangerous dealings for a secure supply.

Alcohol’s popularity is built on its legality and easy accessibility. In fact, there are more than 40,000 different liquor stores across the nation, selling $45 billion worth of spirits annually. People like to “unwind” with drinks, consuming alcohol everywhere from restaurants to college parties to their living room couches. Along with this temporary feeling of relaxation, however, comes a deluge of negative effects.

Long-term exposure can completely change a person. Facial features and skin conditions can alter and degrade, and changes to one’s mental state (such as irritability and trouble concentrating) remain for months or years. Many people who are addicted to such substances must begin committing crimes to keep up with their cravings and spiral into dangerous dealings for a secure supply.

Opioids—prescription and illicit—are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.

In 2015, the five states with the highest rates of death due to drug overdose were West Virginia (41.5 per 100,000), New Hampshire (34.3 per 100,000), Kentucky (29.9 per 100,000), Ohio (29.9 per 100,000), and Rhode Island (28.2 per 100,000).

Significant increases in drug overdose death rates from 2014 to 2015 were primarily seen in the Northeast and South Census Regions. States with statistically significant increases in drug overdose death rates from 2014 to 2015 included Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia.

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Panel 1

Home

More Americans than ever are turning to the use of drugs and alcohol. Statistics from 2013 revealed that 24.6 million citizens 12 or older had used an illicit drug in the previous month. These growing numbers are more than a little worrisome, and West Virginia’s drug and alcohol related deaths are being affected just as much as the rest of the country. The addiction to alcohol and other substances, it seems, has become an epidemic.Many people don’t realize just how costly America’s drug and alcohol problem has become. For prescription drug abuse alone, it’s estimated that the United States loses up to $72 billion per year. Lost productivity, criminal justice costs, treatment, and medical expenses pile up with every case of abuse. Combined with illicit drugs and alcohol, substance abuse is taking quite a toll on our economy.However damaging the problem is financially, it is much more devastating to the minds and bodies of those who use. A ripple effect also brings emotional harm to their family, friends, and coworkers. Each substance poses different risks, but none of them are menial.There’s a long list of drugs designed purely to get people high. Cocaine, crystal meth, ecstasy, PCP, marijuana, and heroin are only a few of the most popular varieties circling our streets. The consequences for using these substances are generally much worse than alcohol or prescription medications, without even accounting for the fact that they’re illegal. The specific physical reactions depend on the drug of choice and can vary from hallucinations, anxiety, and paranoia to heart malfunction and respiratory issues. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.Long-term exposure can completely change a person. Facial features and skin conditions can alter and degrade, and changes to one’s mental state (such as irritability and trouble concentrating) remain for months or years. Many people who are addicted to such substances must begin committing crimes to keep up with their cravings and spiral into dangerous dealings for a secure supply.

Alcohol’s popularity is built on its legality and easy accessibility. In fact, there are more than 40,000 different liquor stores across the nation, selling $45 billion worth of spirits annually. People like to “unwind” with drinks, consuming alcohol everywhere from restaurants to college parties to their living room couches. Along with this temporary feeling of relaxation, however, comes a deluge of negative effects.

Long-term exposure can completely change a person. Facial features and skin conditions can alter and degrade, and changes to one’s mental state (such as irritability and trouble concentrating) remain for months or years. Many people who are addicted to such substances must begin committing crimes to keep up with their cravings and spiral into dangerous dealings for a secure supply.

Opioids—prescription and illicit—are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.

In 2015, the five states with the highest rates of death due to drug overdose were West Virginia (41.5 per 100,000), New Hampshire (34.3 per 100,000), Kentucky (29.9 per 100,000), Ohio (29.9 per 100,000), and Rhode Island (28.2 per 100,000).

Significant increases in drug overdose death rates from 2014 to 2015 were primarily seen in the Northeast and South Census Regions. States with statistically significant increases in drug overdose death rates from 2014 to 2015 included Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia.

Panel 2

Addiction Defined

By: National Treatment Solutions Network

According to Webster’s, Addiction is defined as-“the compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized  tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful”. We accept addiction as taking many forms; alcohol, drug, cigarettes, sexual, gambling and food.

Illegal drugs that cause addiction.

Some of the illegal drugs relating to addiction are: cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, opium, ecstasy, marijuana, and hashish.

Legal drugs that cause addiction.

They are many and wide spread. The most common legal drugs sold in the world today are caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. There are drugs that relax or sedate, drugs that increase energy and drugs that change the state of awareness or perception. The legal stimulation drugs are amphetamines with brands names such as, Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, and Vyvanse. Keep in mind that caffeine is also a stimulant and considered a drug which is why it is forbidden from use by certain religions. Legal sedation drugs are: alcohol, opiates, tranquilizers and morphine.

One of the common addictive drugs popular today comes from the opiate family. Some of these are as follows: Oxycodone, OxyContin, Percodan and Percocet. The street names for Oxycodone and OxyContin are Blues or Roxy’s. Oxycodone is an analgesic medication synthesized from poppy-derived thebaine. It was developed in 1916 in Germany as one of several new semi-synthetic opioids in an attempt to improve on the existing opioids: morphinediacetylmorphine (heroin), and codeine.

Where did this addiction come from?

Most but certainly not all addictions begin slowly. Most people don’t start out taking heroin with needles when they begin their journey into drug use. Most addicts start out with “gateway” drugs. These “gateway” drugs can be as seemingly harmless as alcohol, tobacco or caffeine. A young person tries a beer, glass of wine or cocktail; likes the effects they feel and increases the amount with each use. Similarly, a young person studying for a test drinks cup after cup of coffee or caffeine stimulant to stay awake. Again they like the end result of apparent endless energy with no sleep and increase the amount with each use. As with anything, moderation is the key.

A phrase I hear from former addicts seems to tell the story with addiction. If you walk in slippery places there is a good chance you’ll fall.

Suddenly the social drinking turns into alcoholism and the use of caffeine stimulants for all night studying turns into an everyday occurrence. This person abusing caffeine talks to a friend or classmate about how the coffee just isn’t “doing” it for them anymore. The person drinking alcohol every day needs to “sober up” to drive home, go to school, go to work or whatever the cause. They talk to someone who introduces them to cocaine or methamphetamine “just this once and just to sober up”. Hence the “gateway” is opened for the introduction of any number of illegal stimulant drugs.

One of the problems with the legal drug addiction problem is that the majority of those addicted to these legal drugs are not prescribed them by doctors. They receive these drugs from many of the same sources as those who purchase illegal drugs. As much as we in the middle class suburbs refuse to believe, our upper-middle class children in their Polo shirts and Ralph Lauren jeans are driving to the “bad” part of town to purchase what we as adults were getting freely from our doctors for pain. Most of our children addicted to these pain killer, opiates began their journey of addiction from a legitimate use of the medicine. Some of our children began their addition by shopping freely from our medicine cabinets because most of the parents were so sedated by their medication that they didn’t realize that some of it was missing. The rest just become addicted by use, availability and misfortune.

What are some signs of drug abuse?

First you have to break the signs down into physical and behavioral. Both physical and behavior can show signs of drug abuse. How each individual behaves differs depending upon what drug they are addicted to, the cycle of the addiction they are in and of course, each person is different and might display different signs.

For the most part, however, signs of drug abuse include: slurred speech, dilated or contracted pupils, agitation, jumpiness or the inability to sit still and picking at their skin or clothing. Some secondary signs include: missed work or school, severe mood swings, depression or elation. Some signs that you as a loved one might experience from this persons addiction is: money or valuables missing from your home, the person being gone for several days at a time with no explanation for their absence, a change in the type of people they associate with or even knowing glances or comments from neighbors or other family members. As the loved one of a person abusing drugs we tend to ignore the signs we see on an everyday basis because we can’t imagine that it could be true.

There is also the cycle of the addiction-“High” and the “Withdrawal”. Physical signs of the “High” is euphoria, dilated pupils, disorientation and sweating. Physical signs of the “Withdrawal” are fever, cramping, muscle spasms, sweating, and etcetera. Because drug use causes real changes to the body the withdrawal of anything with long term use is real and can be extremely painful. Thus the individual will do almost anything to make the withdrawal symptoms go away. The behavioral signs can be depression, anxiety, mood swings, anti-social behavior, paranoia and anger that can range from moderate to outrage. People in the withdrawal cycles who are trying to get more drugs have been known to exhibit behavior that would have never even been considered before their addiction. Women and men have been known to sell their body for drugs or money to buy drugs, commit crimes against family members for money to buy drugs. People with clean records for all of their lives have been known to rob banks, steal from family members and turn “tricks” just to get more drugs.

The point to take away from this is that a person in withdrawal who is trying to get more drugs is not the person you think you know. This person cannot be considered a friend or beloved family member. You must consider this person an addict who will do or say anything to get drugs or to get the money to buy drugs. These people become master manipulators who can deceive even the most knowledgeable and educated into getting more drugs. Even doctors have been fooled for a short time by these individuals on the mission to find more drugs.

Panel 3

Awareness Starts At Home

More Americans than ever are turning to the use of drugs and alcohol. Statistics from 2013 revealed that 24.6 million citizens 12 or older had used an illicit drug in the previous month. These growing numbers are more than a little worrisome, and West Virgininia’s drug and alcohol related deaths are being affected just as much as the rest of the country. The addiction to alcohol and other substances, it seems, has become an epidemic.

Many people don’t realize just how costly America’s drug and alcohol problem has become. For prescription drug abuse alone, it’s estimated that the United States loses up to $72 billion per year. Lost productivity, criminal justice costs, treatment, and medical expenses pile up with every case of abuse. Combined with illicit drugs and alcohol, substance abuse is taking quite a toll on our economy.

There’s a long list of drugs designed purely to get people high. Cocaine, crystal meth, ecstasy, PCP, marijuana, and heroin are only a few of the most popular varieties circling our streets. The consequences for using these substances are generally much worse than alcohol or prescription medications, without even accounting for the fact that they’re illegal. The specific physical reactions depend on the drug of choice and can vary from hallucinations, anxiety, and paranoia to heart malfunction and respiratory issues. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Long-term exposure can completely change a person. Facial features and skin conditions can alter and degrade, and changes to one’s mental state (such as irritability and trouble concentrating) remain for months or years. Many people who are addicted to such substances must begin committing crimes to keep up with their cravings and spiral into dangerous dealings for a secure supply.

Alcohol’s popularity is built on its legality and easy accessibility. In fact, there are more than 40,000 different liquor stores across the nation, selling $45 billion worth of spirits annually. People like to “unwind” with drinks, consuming alcohol everywhere from restaurants to college parties to their living room couches. Along with this temporary feeling of relaxation, however, comes a deluge of negative effects.

There are numerous short-term consequences of alcohol. For example, there are minor symptoms that most people are familiar with and will experience, such as slurred speech and drowsiness. More intense manifestations include breathing difficulties, unconsciousness, anemia, blackouts, and even coma. The most severe of the temporary results, however, pale in comparison to the long-term dangers of continued use.

Liver disease, nerve damage, ulcers, gastritis, heart disease, brain damage, and cancer are examples of why engagement with alcohol is so dangerous. Of course, these conditions are in addition to the unintentional injuries that come with a clouded state of mind. Almost 10,000 people are killed each year in accidents involving the influence of drinks, and thousands more are wounded or crippled.

Despite their noble intent, opioids and other painkillers are taken for the wrong reason all across America. They’re a bit harder to come by, but the implementation of “pain clinics” has helped streamline the process of acquiring them. Prescription drugs pose some universal risks – especially the high chance of addiction.

When abusing these medications, the particular effects vary between drugs. There are some general symptoms, however, that painkillers share in common. Mood swings, poor judgement, altered mental status, increased need of sleep, changes in energy, nausea, and headaches can all signal recent misuse of the drugs.

Over long periods of time, users can experience a barrage of other changes within their bodies and lives. Problems tend to arise in their finances, careers, and academics. They’re also more likely to engage in illegal activities to secure more drugs and please their cravings. Withdrawal can happen quickly and powerfully and cause tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, hallucinations, and more, in addition to the regular altered mental states that the influence presents.

There’s a long list of drugs designed purely to get people high. Cocaine, crystal meth, ecstasy, PCP, marijuana, and heroin are only a few of the most popular varieties circling our streets. The consequences for using these substances are generally mu

Long-term exposure can completely change a person. Facial features and skin conditions can alter and degrade, and changes to one’s mental state (such as irritability and trouble concentrating) remain for months or years. Many people who are addicted to such substances must begin committing crimes to keep up with their cravings and spiral into dangerous dealings.

In  2015, the five states with the highest rates of death due to drug overdose were West Virginia (41.5 per 100,000), New Hampshire (34.3 per 100,000), Kentucky (29.9 per 100,000), Ohio (29.9 per 100,000), and Rhode Island (28.2 per 100,000).

Significant increases in drug overdose death rates from 2014 to 2015 were primarily seen in the Northeast and South Census Regions. States with statistically significant increases in drug overdose death rates from 2014 to 2015 included Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia.

(more…)

Panel 4

What Is Addiction???

By: National Treatment Solutions Network

According to Webster’s, Addiction is defined as-“the compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized  tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful”. We accept addiction as taking many forms; alcohol, drug, cigarettes, sexual, gambling and food.

Illegal drugs that cause addiction.

Some of the illegal drugs relating to addiction are: cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, opium, ecstasy, marijuana, and hashish.

Legal drugs that cause addiction.

They are many and wide spread. The most common legal drugs sold in the world today are caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. There are drugs that relax or sedate, drugs that increase energy and drugs that change the state of awareness or perception. The legal stimulation drugs are amphetamines with brands names such as, Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, and Vyvanse. Keep in mind that caffeine is also a stimulant and considered a drug which is why it is forbidden from use by certain religions. Legal sedation drugs are: alcohol, opiates, tranquilizers and morphine.

One of the common addictive drugs popular today comes from the opiate family. Some of these are as follows: Oxycodone, OxyContin, Percodan and Percocet. The street names for Oxycodone and OxyContin are Blues or Roxy’s. Oxycodone is an analgesic medication synthesized from poppy-derived thebaine. It was developed in 1916 in Germany as one of several new semi-synthetic opioids in an attempt to improve on the existing opioids: morphinediacetylmorphine (heroin), and codeine.

Where did this addiction come from?

Most but certainly not all addictions begin slowly. Most people don’t start out taking heroin with needles when they begin their journey into drug use. Most addicts start out with “gateway” drugs. These “gateway” drugs can be as seemingly harmless as alcohol, tobacco or caffeine. A young person tries a beer, glass of wine or cocktail; likes the effects they feel and increases the amount with each use. Similarly, a young person studying for a test drinks cup after cup of coffee or caffeine stimulant to stay awake. Again they like the end result of apparent endless energy with no sleep and increase the amount with each use. As with anything, moderation is the key.

A phrase I hear from former addicts seems to tell the story with addiction. If you walk in slippery places there is a good chance you’ll fall.

Suddenly the social drinking turns into alcoholism and the use of caffeine stimulants for all night studying turns into an everyday occurrence. This person abusing caffeine talks to a friend or classmate about how the coffee just isn’t “doing” it for them anymore. The person drinking alcohol every day needs to “sober up” to drive home, go to school, go to work or whatever the cause. They talk to someone who introduces them to cocaine or methamphetamine “just this once and just to sober up”. Hence the “gateway” is opened for the introduction of any number of illegal stimulant drugs.

One of the problems with the legal drug addiction problem is that the majority of those addicted to these legal drugs are not prescribed them by doctors. They receive these drugs from many of the same sources as those who purchase illegal drugs. As much as we in the middle class suburbs refuse to believe, our upper-middle class children in their Polo shirts and Ralph Lauren jeans are driving to the “bad” part of town to purchase what we as adults were getting freely from our doctors for pain. Most of our children addicted to these pain killer, opiates began their journey of addiction from a legitimate use of the medicine. Some of our children began their addition by shopping freely from our medicine cabinets because most of the parents were so sedated by their medication that they didn’t realize that some of it was missing. The rest just become addicted by use, availability and misfortune.

What are some signs of drug abuse?

First you have to break the signs down into physical and behavioral. Both physical and behavior can show signs of drug abuse. How each individual behaves differs depending upon what drug they are addicted to, the cycle of the addiction they are in and of course, each person is different and might display different signs.

For the most part, however, signs of drug abuse include: slurred speech, dilated or contracted pupils, agitation, jumpiness or the inability to sit still and picking at their skin or clothing. Some secondary signs include: missed work or school, severe mood swings, depression or elation. Some signs that you as a loved one might experience from this persons addiction is: money or valuables missing from your home, the person being gone for several days at a time with no explanation for their absence, a change in the type of people they associate with or even knowing glances or comments from neighbors or other family members. As the loved one of a person abusing drugs we tend to ignore the signs we see on an everyday basis because we can’t imagine that it could be true.

There is also the cycle of the addiction-“High” and the “Withdrawal”. Physical signs of the “High” is euphoria, dilated pupils, disorientation and sweating. Physical signs of the “Withdrawal” are fever, cramping, muscle spasms, sweating, and etcetera. Because drug use causes real changes to the body the withdrawal of anything with long term use is real and can be extremely painful. Thus the individual will do almost anything to make the withdrawal symptoms go away. The behavioral signs can be depression, anxiety, mood swings, anti-social behavior, paranoia and anger that can range from moderate to outrage. People in the withdrawal cycles who are trying to get more drugs have been known to exhibit behavior that would have never even been considered before their addiction. Women and men have been known to sell their body for drugs or money to buy drugs, commit crimes against family members for money to buy drugs. People with clean records for all of their lives have been known to rob banks, steal from family members and turn “tricks” just to get more drugs.

The point to take away from this is that a person in withdrawal who is trying to get more drugs is not the person you think you know. This person cannot be considered a friend or beloved family member. You must consider this person an addict who will do or say anything to get drugs or to get the money to buy drugs. These people become master manipulators who can deceive even the most knowledgeable and educated into getting more drugs. Even doctors have been fooled for a short time by these individuals on the mission to find more drugs.