Jan 092016

Many people wonder how ISIS fighters can stomach the thought of killing innocent people. Some say that these fighters are brain-washed by charismatic leaders, while others surmise that they’re attracted to the thought of fighting for a seemingly holy cause and/or proving their masculinity.

All of these might be true, but experts suggest that there’s another reason: ISIS fighters may be on drugs.

But not just any drug. Authorities suspect that they’re taking Captagon, a tiny but extremely powerful pill that quickly produces intense feelings of euphoria. Casual users in the Middle East, who appeared on a BBC documentary, revealed that Captagon made them fearless and powerful and caused them to feel like they own the world. One user commented that he couldn’t sleep after taking the drug, no matter how he tried to close his eyes.

Ex-Syrian fighters seem to agree. One ex-fighter who was interviewed by the BBC revealed that he was introduced to the pill by his brigade leader. After taking the drug, he felt physically fit and was awake all the time, without getting tired or feeling the need to sleep. He also became fearless and courageous and felt that he could follow whatever his leader ordered with a brave heart.

These testimonials might make Captagon sound like a super-pill that ISIS leaders concocted to feed to their men. But this isn’t really the case. Captagon is derived from a synthetic medication known as fenethylline (a stimulant) which was widely available in Western countries in the 1960s and was used to treat patients with depression, narcolepsy, and hyperactivity. However, long-term use exposed the drug’s intense addictive effects, leading many countries (including the United States) to ban it.

But this didn’t exactly stop people from using the drug, and it became popular in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest consumers of the drug, with seven tons (or around one-third of the global supply) landing in the country in 2010. Syria, which is known for being a stopover for drug deliveries from Europe to the Middle East, even took things a step further by producing its own Captagon (which is easy to manufacture using legal materials).

Captagon might be tiny, but it seems to be playing a huge role in ISIS’s battle against the world. Illegal sales of the drug inject millions into Syria’s black-market economy, and experts assume that a large portion of this money ends up in ISIS’s hands. So, aside from making fighters brave and causing them to kill mercilessly, Captagon may also be contributing to the organization’s coffers and giving it the finances to buy weapons and other equipment.

This seems to be well and good for ISIS, but what about its fighters? According to doctors, long-term use of the drugs can result to psychosis, brain damage, and other dangerous side effects. So, while Islamic State fighters might feel like they’re Superman now, they most likely won’t feel so super later.

And it doesn’t stop there. As long as ISIS fighters are on Captagon, they’ll continue to feel the euphoria that lets them harm people and claim innocent lives. It’s a vicious cycle that’s fueled by a tiny but highly dangerous pill.





 Posted by at 2:23 pm
Nov 282015

A lot of people nowadays have become addicted to a wide range of substances. Some are attached to tobacco and nicotine and smoke several sticks or packs a day, while others are hooked on alcohol and can’t stop drinking. Still others are dependent on marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine as well as various club drugs like ecstasy.

In Tennessee, though, the drug of choice among the residents seems to be prescription painkillers. This type of substance abuse isn’t exactly new since many people over the years have become addicted to pain medicine, but what is alarming is the fact that a large portion of Tennesseans are dependent on it.


Troubling Statistics

This information has been gathered by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services of Tennessee. They tracked the use of prescription painkiller among Tennesseans in 10 years (from 1992 to 2012) and found out that it has increased over time. This is true among all age groups but is even more pronounced in people who are in their 20s and 30s.

The department noted that 59 percent of respondents aged 21 to 24 years old pointed to prescription pain medicine as their most-abused drug. Almost 50 percent of those in their early 30s and 21 percent of those in their early 50s also reported the same thing.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there since prescription painkiller addiction can result to disastrous circumstances. According to a recently released report by the state’s Department of Health, 580 people from Northeast Tennessee have died from drug overdose within just five years, from 2009 to 2014. The report also shows that the overdose death rate in this area is well-above the state average and is not showing any signs of slowing.


Prescription Drugs Facts

The question now is this: why do people become addicted to prescription pain medicine? There are actually many reasons, but they usually stem from the fact that these painkillers (like many other types of addictive substance) produce a kind of short-term euphoria. Those who use these drugs begin to crave this pleasant feeling, which causes them to take painkillers in ever-increasing dosage until they become fully addicted.

Many people who are dependent on prescription pain medicine are introduced to it in a seemingly unremarkable way. They may have experienced migraines, incurred an injury, or gone through an operation in the past, which prompted their physician to give them painkillers to keep them away from discomfort. Unfortunately, they become hooked to the euphoria that these drugs give, and they continue taking them even when they no longer need to.


New Laws

This issue has reached the ears of government officials in Tennessee, and they are looking into creating a legislation that will reduce the supply and effectively manage the distribution of prescription painkillers. This way, they won’t be easily obtained by those who have no medical need for it. Lawmakers are also looking for ways to help those who are dependent on the substances and provide them with the opportunity to obtain high-quality treatment.


 Posted by at 9:10 am
Oct 062015

The news of children getting drunk on hand sanitizer is enough to make parents take a good look at the hygiene products they use at home. But nothing could be worse than kids ending up in emergency rooms because of what is supposed to be something that will help disinfect, and help ensure health and safety at home. Unfortunately, more children are drinking alcohol-based hand sanitizers rather than using it for its intended purpose.

Six-year old Nhaijah Russell is one of those kids who had first-hand experience with the alcohol in hand sanitizers. It tasted like strawberry, which prompted her to drink three or four squirts. She ended in an emergency room sotted like an old drunk – unable to walk in a straight line or talk straight.

Because of this incident and many others, poison control centers all over the U.S. are warning parents of the increasing number of kids getting drunk on hand sanitizer. In fact, based on an analysis done by the Georgia Poison Center, the number of calls related to children ingesting hand sanitizers has increased by 400% since 2010.

According to the director of the University of Kansas Hospital poison control center, Tama Sawyer, “Kids are getting into these products more frequently and, unfortunately, there are a percentage of them going to the emergency room. It doesn’t take very much, less than a tablespoon, to make a child extremely drunk,”

So far this year, the KU Hospital has handled over 150 calls involving children under 12 years old who drunk or accidentally ingested hand sanitizer. Because of its alcohol content, it should be treated like any alcohol-based products that have the ability to intoxicate. What makes it more dangerous, however, is that it has 45% to 95% alcohol content, which is dangerously high compared to the 12% and 5% alcohol in wine and beer, respectively. So now you know why hand sanitizers can have a potent effect on children.

When Nhaijah Russell was tested for blood alcohol level, she had twice as much alcohol in her blood than an adult who is legally drunk, 0.179 to be exact. Because her intoxication caused her to fall and hit her head, her trip to the emergency room is twice as frightening for her parents. Not only is Nhaijah Russell treated for intoxication, but closely monitored for any signs of brain trauma as well.

To avoid a similar situation from happening to your own child, keep alcohol-based hand sanitizers out of reach of young children. It is believed that the product is enticing to kids because of its scent. You should also seriously question why your child is carrying a large of bottle of hand sanitizer in the purse or backpack. They might be drinking it as they are not yet legally allowed to buy beer at a liquor store.

What are the signs of alcohol poisoning or children getting drunk on hand sanitizer? Symptoms may include drowsiness, vomiting, confusion and, in severe cases, a child can stop breathing. Don’t let this happen to your child. Heed the warning of poison control centers and ensure that hand sanitizers are far from a child’s reach.

 Posted by at 3:38 pm
Sep 102015

Scientists have identified the insular cortex as the portion of the brain that could be vital in getting people to stop smoking as well as treat other kinds of addiction.

Based on the results of two studies, researchers found that smokers who suffered a stroke in the insular cortex were more likely to quit and experience withdrawal symptoms that are fewer and less severe compared to those who have had strokes in other parts of their brain. The findings of these studies were published in Addiction and Addictive Behaviors.

Lead author Amir Abdolahi said: “These findings indicate that the insular cortex may play a central role in addiction.” The research Abdolahi conducted was done when he was a doctoral student at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Abdolahi, now at Philips Research North America, said that “When this part of the brain is damaged during stroke, smokers are about twice as likely to stop smoking and their craving and withdrawal symptoms are far less severe.”

Currently, the frontline prescription drugs – such as buprion and varenicline – being used treat tobacco dependence. These drugs target mainly the “reward” pathways of the brain by meddling with the release and binding of dopamine in the brain in response to nicotine. Although these drugs achieve their intended effects, they aren’t real guarantees for quitting. In fact, they have high rates of relapse.

The insular cortex, which is a central region of the brain, may also have a vital role in the cognitive and emotional processes facilitating drug and tobacco use, according to recent studies.

Researchers involved in the addiction studies tested this theory. They tried to determine whether smokers with a damaged insular cortex were more likely to quit smoking. To do this, they looked at tow different set of indicators: did patients resume smoking after a stroke and how severe their craving was for cigarettes when they were hospitalized.

For the study, 156 stroke patients were involved. These patients were identified as active smokers and were admitted to three hospitals. MRI and CT scans were used to determine the location of the stroke for each patient.

The patients were then divided into two groups: those whose stroke occurred in the insular cortex and those whose stroke happened in another part of the brain.

Researchers then measured the level of smoking withdrawal of these patients while they were recovering in the hospital. Now, hospitalization does require patients to refrain from smoking for a certain amount of time. This was the kind of environment ideal for the measurement of how severe a patient’s withdrawal symptoms were.

Results of the study showed that patients who had a stroke in the insular cortex had less severe, as well as fewer, withdrawal symptoms compared to those who had a stroke in other areas of the brain.

The patients involved in the study were further monitored by the researchers for three months in order to determine whether they had taken up smoking again or not. The results? 70% of those who suffered a stroke in the insular cortex quit smoking compared to 37% of those who had a stroke in another part of the brain.





 Posted by at 3:04 pm
Aug 052015

When it comes to treating alcoholics, one of the most interesting new methods is a form of virtual reality therapy. From a preliminary study that was performed in South Korea, the use of virtual reality therapy has actually demonstrated positive effects that might offer new hope to those plagued with alcohol addiction.

The study itself only involved ten patients, but the researchers were able to get promising results using a type of virtual reality that puts people in real-life situations and forces them to be active participants in this virtual world.

How It Works

The first part involves a detoxification program that lasts for one week which is then followed by the virtual reality therapy sessions. The virtual reality set-up uses a 3D television and is performed twice each week for five weeks in a row. In each session, a participant will undergo three types of virtual reality settings.

The first setting is simple relaxation where the patient can simply lay back and enjoy the world that is around them. The second setting is designed to actually trigger the cravings of alcohol by putting them in a world where they see others drinking. The final setting is one that creates an unpleasant feeling to be drinking. This setting shows people in a room getting ill from the consumption of alcohol. To add to this virtual reality, the patients actually drank a vomit-tasting substance as part of their aversion therapy.

The three settings stimulated areas of the brain that was sensitive to alcohol. It demonstrated repeated changes under each exposure which could be measured and then properly treated. Before each therapy session, the researchers would compare the brain metabolism of the patients to people in a control group who did not have any alcohol dependence. By making the comparisons using tomography scans, it was determined which areas had more metabolic activity in the brain’s behavioral and emotional locations.

Over a five week period of time during the therapy sessions, it was determined that in the ten person research study that the metabolic activity in the brain’s behavior and emotional centers had significantly decreased which meant that they had fewer alcohol cravings than before.

The Future of Virtual Reality Treatment

As a trial system, virtual reality treatment for alcohol addiction has shown some promise thanks to the initial results of the study. It is a non-invasive form of treatment that goes straight at the emotional and behavior centers of the brain which identify, monitor and eventually adjust reactions to create a lesser response to the craving for alcohol.

While more research is needed, the treatment represents an interesting new addition to help alcoholics overcome their cravings and resist temptation. The truth is that without long term research studies, the full effects of the treatment will not be known. This means that the virtual reality therapy sessions may only have a short-term effect as the passage of time and continues studies with the group will be needed as well as future study groups.


Relevant External Link



 Posted by at 3:13 pm
Jun 192015

Taken as doctor’s prescription, opioids can help manage pain safely and effectively. However, when abused, even a single large dose can cause severe respiratory depression and even death. Regular and long-term abuse of these drugs can lead to physical dependence and, in most cases, addiction. While it has bad effects on single individuals in terms of how they lead their lives, it is worse for fathers and mothers. Here are the usual consequences of opioid addiction among parents:

  • Elevated Risk of Neglect for Their Children

Parents who abuse opioids tend to neglect their children, making them at risk of getting certain health and safety issues. Addiction experts found that these parents are perceived to disrupt the stability of their family life by channelling household resources towards payments for the drugs and messing up routines, such as meal and bed times.

  • Poor Approach to Discipline

Drug misuse is linked to parents’ responsiveness and involvement with their children, as well as their approach to discipline. Research shows that parenting quality of mothers decreases as their involvement with drugs increases. In comparison with non-drug users, they behave in more power-assertive ways towards their children and display more disapproving and provoking behaviours.

  • Social and Psychological Difficulties Among Children

Studies of child outcomes generally suggest that children whose parents are suffering from opioid addiction or are being dependent on other illicit substances, like cocaine, are at some risk of experiencing social and psychological difficulties. These include behavioural adjustment, communication, intelligence and developmental progress.

These children are also reported to be scoring lower than those of non-drug users in terms of academic competence. However, to date, the processes by which child outcomes come about still has not been adequately explored, though there has been recently seen a growth of interest in explaining links between parental drug dependence and the quality of children’s nurturing environments.

  • Weaker Bonds Between Members of the Family

Children of drug users are more likely to have lived outside their family home, most often with some relatives. Also, some of them would be placed in care outside, like an orphanage, or, worse, would become homeless.

On the part of the parents, they will feel dissatisfied with the levels of the children’s availability, both in terms of physical presence and emotional responsiveness. This is mainly because of three factors, which include the contextual/lifestyle (which relates to acquisition and ingestion of drugs, imprisonment and attendance at treatment facilities), physiological (which relates to intoxication and withdrawal syndrome) and psychological (which relates to pre-occupation with drugs and instability of moods).

Considering these consequences, it is also a fact that grandparents are feeling the negative effects of opioid addiction or any other drug dependence as well. They are finding themselves raising their grandchildren because of their own children’s abuse of such substances. Often times, they have to deal with difficult choices, such as being forced to move out of elderly homes because these facilities do not allow live-in children or putting grandchildren in foster care because they are not able to take custody due to health or financial barriers.

So, to prevent these scenarios from happening, one should avoid any substance of abuse, in this case, opioids. Then he/she will be able to live a happy, healthy and long life with the whole family.


 Posted by at 3:02 pm
Apr 102015

It’s no secret that medical marijuana has been making a comeback over the past couple of years. And now, magic mushrooms or psilocybin may be headed down the same path for some patients.

According to CBS News New York, “In a trial at New York University, doctors gave Marritz and 31 other cancer patients psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms, to see if it could ease their depression after one-time use …

“…Guss, one of the study’s directors, said the outcomes were stunning; like Marritz, two thirds of patients had positive and long-lasting results.”


 Posted by at 2:51 pm
Mar 262015

In Glasgow, Scotland criminals are being more creative with their drugs. They have found a way to cook up a new substance that is much cheaper but still gives the same high that heroin brings. And they are not afraid of selling this newly created product to the drug addicts in the city.

A bag is sold at £10 and contains fake heroin with a purity of around 4%. Junkies who purchase the items believe that they are getting the real deal, but in fact they are getting a much more riskier substance than the actual drug.

Even if they manage to get the same high when using fake heroin, it still doesn’t erase the fact that each bag they get of the synthetic opioid has various chemical combinations whose effects are totally unpredictable.

According to a drugs worker who supports addicts in Glasgow, “Drug dealing is about making money.” Dealers want to sell the cheapest products in order to get maximum profit. This is why if they can add something cheap to the product, they will do it – without bothering to check the consequences. Even if they don’t know a thing about what substance they’re using, they simply don’t care because it’s all about making money.

When the formula of a substance is tweaked, chemists can create several variations of a drug. Most of the time, they are a much stronger version of the original one. As a result, these substances become a lot more harder to regulate.

In addition, the newly created drug can trigger unknown side-effects and can increase the risk of overdose. Although the police in Glasgow are trying to stay on-top of the synthetic drugs, new ones are created just as compounds are made illegal.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), an EU drugs agency, stated: “Among the public health concerns highlighted in the report are new synthetic opioids – often highly potent and sold as heroin to unsuspecting users – posing a high risk of overdose.

The EMCDDA added that three of the five opioids found in 2014 were from a family of drugs called fentanyls which have been linked to hundreds of deaths in Europe, as well as in the US.

EMCDDA director Wolfgang Götz mentioned that substances like fake heroin pose a challenge for health professionals. He said that the challenges lie with how fast these synthetic drugs appear and the lack of information with regards to their effects and how it could harm people.

The heroin market in Glasgow has been severely thrown into disarray after an elite squad of officers were able to perform a crackdown on their operations. As a result, desperate drug dealers have been topping up their products with legal highs. The problem is that these legal highs are just as deadly as hard drugs or even more severe.

Glasgow police are also looking into a case of heroin contaminated with botulism – a fatal illness that causes paralysis of the arms, legs and the muscles that control breathing – that was buried by a dealer while he was locked up in jail. When he was released, he dug up his stash and started selling them.


External Resource



 Posted by at 2:27 pm
Feb 232015

According to a new study by University of Florida researchers, ADHD is linked to earlier illicit drug use in teens and young adults. The use of both depressants and stimulants starts earlier in life for those with ADHD.

According to US News, “In the study, Dunne’s team looked at questionnaires completed by more than 900 adults who had used illicit drugs in the past six months. Of those, 13 percent said they had been diagnosed with ADHD.

“On average, those with ADHD began using alcohol at age 13, about 1.5 years before those without ADHD. Among participants who injected cocaine, those with ADHD began doing so at an average age of 22, two years earlier than those without ADHD.”


 Posted by at 1:52 pm
Jan 222015

As if the U. S. Border Patrol didn’t have their hands full enough catching drug smugglers trying to get across Mexican and U. S. borders, now drones are in play. The drone, carrying 6 pounds of Meth crashed into a parked car alerting police in Tijuana.

According to the BBC, “Authorities are investigating where the flight originated, who controlled it and where it was bound for. Police say it is not the first time a drone has been used for smuggling drugs across the border.

“In April, US authorities in South Carolina found a drone outside a prison fence which had been carrying mobile phones, marijuana and tobacco.”


 Posted by at 4:03 pm