By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Drug use articles making news – parents beware.
Over the last week, a lot of articles have appeared in the news about the effects of new trends in drug use. In a previous post, I talked about new drugs and drug trends. Here are the latest developments on that front.
Drug use during pregnancy.
A recent study reported that there are more and longer-term effects of methamphetamine use on children. My experience in counseling in California’s central valley led me to expect to see more of this and now we are. A large multi-site study shows that children with perinatal exposure to Meth have long-term problems with behavior. The symptoms look a lot like ADHD but include lots of other behavior problems and learning disabilities.
Counselors have learned to be skeptical of these kinds of studies, but this one is different. A lot was made out of the phenomenon of “Crack babies.” Long-term studies were not as certain. Crack babies were being born prematurely and with low birth weight, but given good care, they did catch up. Many of the early problems in “Crack babies” diminished as the child matured. Not so with meth babies.
Meth babies are often born prematurely with low birth weight also. Yes given good care, they put on the weight and mature also. But unlike Crack babies, the Meth children do not seem to be outgrowing their problems.
Now in all fairness and the interest of honesty here, pregnant women who knowingly use meth during pregnancy is not the largest part of the problem.
The injury done to the unborn by the mother’s use of drugs depends on the point in the pregnancy at which the mother consumes the drugs. A whole lot of damage gets done during the first trimester of pregnancy when women do not yet know they are pregnant. This is particularly an issue for young women who may underestimate the chance of getting pregnant for the first time.
We should also remember that no matter how serious the damage which was done to the unborn by meth or cocaine, there is another drug that is doing more damage. One drug alone account for more than half of all the avoidable birth defects – and that one drug is – Alcohol.
Kratom use is picking up in the U. S.
This drug is banned in its native country but is being produced in the U. S. now. It is also more available than ever via the internet. Like most other drugs that some people use to get high, this drug now has a fan club that wants to promote the benefits of “Medical Kratom.”
Synthetic Marijuana use goes up.
Doctors in emergency rooms are seeing and sometimes missing overdoses of synthetic marijuana. Clients in substance abuse programs have been caught smoking these products to get high because they think they will not get detected by drug tests. The synthetic marijuana’s do show up in the toxicology screens but E. R. doctors are missing this because the symptoms can vary so much from one person to another. Over ten percent of high school students are reporting they have smoked synthetic marijuana. Symptoms go anywhere from a mild high to psychosis and catatonia. Hearing voices and not being able to move is not what people expect from smoking this drug but it can happen.
Energy drinks send their users to the E. R.
Getting your energy from a bottle or a can may not be all we thought it was. Hospital emergency room visits for people, mainly men, under the influence of energy drinks has gone up 1,000% since 2005. Some brands contain not only caffeine but lots of other stimulant chemicals. When the stimulants kick in especially when combined with coffee or other caffeinated beverages the symptoms can look like a heart attack.
Even more serious is the combination of energy drinks and alcohol. People think they are ok because of the stimulant in the energy drink but are impaired by the alcohol without knowing it.
Khat may be banned in the Netherlands.
Now when a country with notoriously liberal drug laws bans a new drug we have to wonder what is up with this one. Some people are suggesting that the reason the Netherlands is banning Khat is racially motivated, most Khat users are also ethnic Somali’s or from eastern African. The official government version is that this is not about race but because of the problems they are seeing with those who use Khat on a regular basis.
The liberal drug laws of Amsterdam may be fading away. What the Netherlands has found is that while liberal drug laws may have helped control some diseases in the population it has also attracted a lot of drug addicts from other European countries. Some articles suggest that even Amsterdam is no longer enthralled with being the drug tourist attraction it once was.
So there you have it. Some updates to my last post about new drug trends parents should keep in mind.
Till next time, David Miller, LMFT, LPCC
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