Archive for the ‘Ambien’ Category

High Prescription Drug Use and Abuse in Colleges

March 8, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
March 9, 2008

American college students use and abuse prescription drugs like never before.  They are following in the always dangerous and sometimes deadly steps of celebrities.
alprazolam 2mg tablet bottle

alprazolam 2mg tablet bottle

Actor Heath Ledger died from an accidental overdose of prescription medications including painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills, the New York City medical examiner’s office said.  Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and other “celebrities” have also been known to take these medications.  Used together — and with alcohol — these drugs have an unpredictable impact, can be addictive and are sometimes fatal. 

Lohan in a frightful piblicity photo.

And the shooters in the most violent campus multiple-killings, at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, have both had some history with a mixture of prescription medications.
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The journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine recently reported that compared to college students taking prescription drugs for medical reasons, those who use medications without a prescription are more likely to abuse illegal drugs.  The report also gave information on the high number of our college students using such drugs as sleep aids and anti-depressants.

Sean Esteban McCabe, Ph.D., M.S.W. (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) says that in the last decade there has been a dramatic increase in prescription rates of medications – such as stimulants, opioids, and benzodiazepines – that are likely to be abused in the United States.

“These increases are likely the result of many factors, including improved awareness regarding the signs and symptoms of several disorders, increased duration of treatment, availability of new medications and increased marketing,” said Dr. McCabe. “The increases in prescription rates have raised public health concerns because of the abuse potential of these medications and high prevalence rates of non-medical use, abuse and dependence, especially among young adults 18 to 24 years of age.”

Most people familiar with today’s young people, the Hollywood tabloids and other information sources can readily conclude what drugs are most used and abused.

Painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills are the most used and abused drugs among our college students and throughout our society, experts say.

According to Medical News Today, Dr. McCabe used a Web survey of 3,639 college students to acquire information about prescription drug use and potential drug abuse. The average age of the sample was 19.9 years. Students were asked if they used prescribed or had used without a prescription.

Students were also asked if they had experienced drug-related problems like engaging in illegal activities to obtain drugs, having withdrawal symptoms, or developing medical problems due to drug use.

Results of the survey are summarized below:

–59.9% reported medically using at least one of the four drugs with a prescription

–About 20% reported taking them without a prescription for non-medical reasons

–39.7% reported that they had used the drugs only by prescription

–4.4% used medications, but were not prescribed them

–15.8% reported using some medications, both with and without prescriptions

The researcher also found that students who reported using drugs without prescriptions were more likely to screen positive for drug abuse compared to students who never used them or who had only used them for medical reasons.

Dr. McCabe believes that physicians should be extremely careful when prescribing commonly abused drugs to college students.

“Clearly, appropriate diagnosis, treatment and therapeutic monitoring of college students who are receiving abusable prescription medications is crucial, not only to improve clinical outcomes but also to help prevent the abuse of these medications within a population that is largely responsible for its own medication management,” he writes.

“Finally, any efforts aimed at reducing non-medical use of prescription drugs will have to take into consideration that these drugs are highly effective and safe medications for most patients who use them as prescribed.”

There is another insidious implication of Dr. McCabe’s study.  If college students are taking these drugs at an alarming rate; when did they start?  For most, they start down this path while in high school or before.

Some of the Commonly Abused Medications

Oxycodone, a painkiller, is the active ingredient in the prescription drug OxyContin. Hydrocodone, another painkiller, is often combined with acetaminophen, as in the prescription drug Vicodin. Diazepam, sold under the commercial name Valium, is used to relieve anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures and to control agitation caused by alcohol withdrawal. Temazepam, brand name Restoril, is prescribed in the short term to help patients fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.

Alprazolam, commonly known under the brand name Xanax, is part of a class of medications called benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain.

Doxylamine, found in common “nighttime sleep aids,” is an an antihistamine that causes drowsiness as a side effect and is used in the short-term treatment of insomnia. (It is also used, in combination with decongestants, to relieve cough and cold symptoms.)

Ambian is a nightime sleep aid that is often abused and can be addictive.

The painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone are opiates, which are dangerous when combined with anti-anxiety medicines like diazepam, alprazolam and temazepam. According to a Drug Enforcement Administration Web site, oxycodone is often abused and an acute overdose can cause respiratory arrest and death.

Diazepam is sold under the brand name Valium and alprazolam is sold under the name Xanax. Temazepam is also used as a sleep aid and sold under the name Restoril. Doxylamine, a sleep aid and antihistamine, is an active ingredient in a number of over-the-counter medications, including NyQuil.

Related:
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Teen Prescription Drug Abuse: Alarming Facts

Northern Illinois Univ Killer Took Usual Deadly Cocktail Of Prescribed Drugs

February 21, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 21, 2008

Jessica Baty said that her boyfriend of two years, Steven Kazmierczak, 27, had been taking Xanax, used to treat anxiety, and Ambien, a sleep agent, as well as the antidepressant Prozac.  All apparently were doctor prescribed medications.

Mr. Kazmierrczak killed five students one week ago today at Northern Illinois University before he killed himself.

This undated image obtained from a MySpace webpage shows Steven ...
Kazmierczak (AP photo)

CNN said that Kazmierczak had been taking the three drugs prescribed for him by his psychiatrist, prior to the Northern Illinois University killings.

We at Peace and Freedom have written about the danger of these particular drugs before.  Moreover, nobody seems to know or understand what happens inside the human mind when these drugs are used in combination.

All of these drugs were found nearby the body of actor Heath Ledger after his death.

Ledger 

Actor Heath Ledger, 28, died January 22 at an apartment in Lower Manhattan.

Britney Spear and other troubled celebrities have also taken two or more of these drugs in combination and experienced personality changes.

Britney Spears is seen here in January 2008. A Los Angeles court ... 
Britney Spears is seen here in January 2008.  Her year so far has featured admission to a hospital psychiatric unit for evaluation, a continuing custody battle with her “ex” over her children and her own custody being awarded to her natural father because a court found her a danger to herself and others, officials said.
(AFP/File/Gabriel Bouys)

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Death Threat: What Do Many Teens Have in Common With Heath Ledger, Britney Spears?

Drug Abuse, Drug Overdose Killed Heath Ledger

Britney Spears: Decline Repeatedly Noted Before
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USA Today
February 21, 2008
From staff and wire reports

DEKALB, Ill. — Steven Kazmierczak was an academic star at Northern Illinois University. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the Cole Hall auditorium where his passion for sociology began and where he returned to carry out his deadly attack.

Teachers saw a young man eager to learn. His books were littered with tabs, highlighting thoughts he literally wanted at his fingertips.

“He was just devastatingly good, he would talk about ideas,” said Jim Thomas, an emeritus professor of sociology and criminology at NIU.

That makes Kazmierczak’s assault on the hall where he took his first sociology class confusing to people who knew him.

“This young man enjoyed some of the greatest satisfaction and success of his life at this institution, and why he chose to come back to here and commit this heinous crime is a mystery,” NIU spokeswoman Melanie Magara said.

Last Thursday, the 27-year-old opened fire during a science lecture with a shotgun and pistols, killing five students before he committed suicide.

CNN reported Wednesday that Kazmierczak’s former girlfriend, Jessica Baty, said he had been taking Xanax, Ambien and Prozac, prescribed by a psychiatrist. Xanax is an anti-anxiety drug. Prozac is an antidepressant and Ambien is a sleeping aid. Baty said that she tried to persuade him to stop taking one of them and that he stopped taking Prozac three weeks before the attack.

It’s not unheard of for psychiatrists to prescribe all three drugs for one patient, and the combination isn’t necessarily problematic, said Emil Coccaro, psychiatry chief at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Baty also told CNN that Kazmierczak was “being secretive” with his computer. “When he would sit on the couch with his laptop, he would turn it away from me,” she said.

Police continued searching for motives as NIU prepared to mark the first week since the deadly rampage. Beginning today at 3:06 p.m. Central Time, people will observe five minutes of silence as bells at the Holmes Student Center and area churches chime until 3:11 p.m. — one minute for each slain student.

When classes resume Monday, there will be “a significant increase” in security on campus, NIU Police Chief Donald Grady said at a news briefing Wednesday. “We’re going to do everything we possibly can to make certain that not only are the students safe … but that they actually feel safe as well.”

He said investigators have interviewed 100 people and examined 120 pieces of evidence.

Kazmierczak left no suicide note, Grady said.

Death Threat: What Do Many Teens Have in Common With Heath Ledger, Britney Spears?

February 7, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 7, 2008

There is a huge likelihood that a teenager you know shares these following things with Heath Ledger and Britney Spears: Vicodin, Oxycontin and Xanax and the belief that since doctors prescribed these they are OK to use.

But what few grasp is this: doctors are not saints.  Several told us that they prescribe drugs quickly so they can get to the next patient faster.

Add to this people who mix drugs, take more than is prescribed, mix drugs with alcohol, mix drugs without the primary care physician’s knowdge and “doctor shop.”

You end up with addiction, other illnesses and death.

Sadly, Heath Ledger’s Dad knows this too well.

“While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy,” he said.

Intervention is that course of action that stops an abuser or an addict dead in their tracks — before death knoks on their door.

If you know someone who needs care due to drug (including alcohol) addiction or abuse: take action.  Show your love by causing an intervention.

You’ll regret looking the other way for the rest of your life.

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Heath Ledger, President Bush, The Addicted and Our Medical Professionals

Addicts Neglected, Over-Medicated Despite Vast System of “Care”

Drug Abuse Usually Starts At Home

February 7, 2008

ABC News
February 6, 2008

Greg was a good student and thought prescription pills were a “smarter” way to get high.

“I could rationalize and justify taking these pills because doctors made these. It wasn’t like I was buying a white bag on the street,” he explained.

Greg has been sober for about six years.

But doctors say that whether taken alone or mixed, the painkillers teens are abusing are as deadly as street heroin. The proof can be seen in emergency rooms across the country.

The number of lethal prescription drug overdoses has soared 84 percent in five years. And now, more people die from prescription drug overdoses than cocaine and heroin combined.

Abuse prevention expert Linda Surks said, “There’s a perception that they are safe … and that can’t be further from the truth.”

Surks had been working in drug prevention for more than a decade, when her son, Jason, overdosed and died.

“He had a combination of Vicodin, Oxycontin and Xanax in his system,” she said.

Jason was a 19-year-old sophomore at Rutgers University, majoring in pharmacy. His mother had no idea he was ordering and using drugs from the Internet without a prescription.

An ABC News team placed an online order. Less than 24 hours later, a bottle of antidepressants was delivered to the team’s doorstep. No one asked for a prescription or any identification. All they wanted was a credit card number. It is illegal, but that doesn’t stop thousands of Web sites from selling drugs.

Frustrated advocacy groups can only warn parents that the teen drug of choice shouldn’t be stored next to the toothpaste.

Steve Pasierb, president of Drug-Free America, said, “Sometimes these don’t belong in your medicine cabinet. Sometimes they belong in the family safe.”

Heath Ledger, President Bush, The Addicted and Our Medical Professionals

January 30, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
January 30, 2008

President Bush yesterday said for the first time that he was actually addicted to alcohol.  This may be a cause for celebration for care givers and addicted people who usually need great resources of hope to conquer addictions.

We are facing a crisis of drug and alcohol addiction in America. Most experts agree that about ten percent of our population of 300 million people are addicted or routine users. Many more family members, friends, co-workers and employers suffer harmful consequences – and our medical establishment is strained by people suffering from addictions.

On January 1, 2008, in almost every hospital emergency room across America, at least one or two individuals could be found suffering from Delirium Tremens (DTs), milder tremors, seizures and other alcohol and drug-related overdose symptoms.

My friend, physician and recovering alcoholic Len, took me for a post-party tour of a big city hospital emergency room on January 1.

“Look at the carnage following the biggest annual drinking binge Americans wink at every year. It will look like this the Monday after the Super Bowl, too,” Len told me.

In fact, experts say “Super Bowl Sunday” is the biggest day for drinking in America because it is an all day party. Most police agencies issue more tickets for impaired driving on “Super Sunday” than on any other day. And the Center for Science in the Public Interest claims that beer and alcohol advertizing for the Super Bowl targets underage drinkers.

Len invited me into his work environment after reading a Washington Times commentary I wrote for the December 27, 2007 editions. That article discussed the time of year when many recovering alcoholics and drug abusers relapse and end up in the hospital: the “holiday” season between Thanksgiving and January 1.

“For all sorts of reasons, many of the addicted who are in recovery and making progress crash and burn during the holidays. I think the pressure and chaos of buying too many presents and acting like a boy scout drives some in recovery back into really bad and sometimes fatal habits,” Len said.

Len is a recovering alcoholic who attends daily Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) meetings. Len is not his real name. We agreed to protect his anonymity in keeping with A.A. traditions and guarantees.

As an emergency room physician, Len has gained invaluable insight into the disease of the mind called addiction. He is also an expert in how many of his colleagues treat alcoholics and the drug addicted.

“Most physicians I know are first rate. They care deeply for their patients, spend the time necessary to provide excellent care, and operate fair and honest practices,” Len told me.

But once Len finished with what sounded like an American Medical Association (AMA) commercial, I told him I had personally seen some sloppy, even potentially criminally negligent “care” of the addicted doled out by his MD colleagues.

Two patients seeking emergency care for bouts with alcohol were not admitted to emergency rooms while I researched this topic. They were told to make an appointment for ten days to two weeks into the future. For some: this poses a life-threatening dilemma.

We also experienced physicians mis-prescribing and over prescribing drugs and medications to patients they knew to be addicted.

One doctor had his sleepless patient on Ambien for two years. The maximum recommended duration of Ambien therapy is one week. Ambien is addictive. Withdrawal symptoms include behavior changes, stomach pain, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, sweating, anxiety, panic, tremors, and seizure (convulsions).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns doctors and pharmacists not to prescribe Ambien to alcoholics or other addicts.

We also saw doctors giving Xanax to drinking alcoholics to relieve anxiety.

Xanax relieves anxiety in people who do not drink: but it is never recommended for heavy drinkers. This medication may cause dependence. Addicts frequently react violently to the drug and vomit sometimes for hours after taking it and experience other distressing and even life-threatening side effects.

We also met a man who went to his doctor two years ago with severe anxiety symptoms. Today he rarely ventures out from his one-bedroom apartment. There are three deadbolts on the door. He has five physician prescribed drugs delivered to his apartment when he needs refills. He is no longer able to work. He is lost as a productive member of his family and our American society. 

Bill Alexander, who manages a private drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, recently told us, “There are doctors in America who are killing alcoholics and drug abusers because they haven’t properly availed themselves to the literature and education needed for treating the addicted and they pay too little attention to the warnings associated with all medications.”

We also observed a clear disregard for many addicted patients: an attitude and actions akin to racial prejudice.

Alcoholics and others are frequently looked down upon and can be viewed as “winos” or other disreputable types not worthy of full and complete diagnosis and care.

If the addicted man or woman seeking treatment causes the doctor to become unsettled, the doctor might quickly end the evaluation phase of treatment and hastily write prescriptions for pain killers, sleep aids and other drugs.

“Some doctors, but clearly not all, cut corners. They reach for the prescription pad too readily. They under evaluate and over-prescribe. They are in too much of a hurry. Even when the vast majority of care givers to the addicted advise doctors to first consider a cold-turkey detoxification – without the benefit of additional medications,” said Dr. Len.

“We doctors write prescriptions sometimes even when they are not mandated. Insurance companies pay most of the cost and the doctor feels that he has taken action on behalf of his patient. Some have even told me, ‘I gave the patient exactly what he wanted.’”

The patients, because they are addicted, often act irrationally and not in their own best interests. They self medicate, over medicate, and “shop” for agreeable doctors willing and ready to help them get their “fix.”

Addicts are risk takers – and even knowing that buying drugs below cost and on the street probably means the drugs are impure, dangerous or otherwise filled with a foreign country’s idea of a money-making substitute – they often use and abuse until death.

Despite the herculean efforts of an army of diligent care-givers and treatment facilities nation-wide, many alcoholics or drug addicted people are misdiagnosed, living on the streets, ignored, abused or shunned. Treatment facilities and in-patient care is at maximum capacity with no room for new comers. And the care of medical professionals is stretched thin.

One doctor told us, only after asking for anonymity, “You’ll be lucky if this man can see a physician’s assistant or a nurse. There are no doctors available.”

And more doctors may not necessarily make things better.

“Calling for more doctors, like prescribing more drugs, for an already overmedicated patient, may only make things worse,” said Dr. David Goodman, a professor of pediatrics and family medicine at Dartmouth Medical School, which researches heath care quality and costs.

He says as the American population grows and the “baby boomers” enter their retirement years, more doctors writing more prescriptions and seeing more patients only escalates the costs of an already exorbitantly expensive medical system.

He favors more study and analysis before anyone jumps to conclusions on how to solve the multi-faceted dilemma of our medical system’s future.

Then there is the case of actor Heath Ledger, who died in January 2008 in New York.

Though Heath himself admitted to The New York Times in November that he has taken two Ambien in a row to battle insomnia, psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow says that the likelihood of an Ambien overdose is unlikely.

“By and large, Ambien is not something people overdose on,” he said. But Ambien is addictive and how it interacts in the human body with other prescription medications like those in Mr. Ledger’s SoHo living quarters is unclear.

Mr. Ledger had Xanax, Valium and other drugs in his apartment.

“It’s all Russian roulette once you start using these medicines in excess or start using these medicines with illegal drugs,” said Dr. Ablow, author of Living the Truth.

Of all of these prescription drugs, Xanax can be particularly harmful, especially considering that the Brokeback Mountain star reportedly had issues with substance abuse.

“If I could have taken one agent out of his possession prior to these events, and said, ‘This one is absolutely one you can’t have,’ it would’ve been a Xanax,” he says.

“I would never prescribe Xanax to someone with a potential substance abuse history — ever.”

The reason? Xanax is highly addictive because it takes effect quickly and is relatively short-acting (the pleasurable feeling you receive from it only lasts about four hours).

In contrast, Ambien can take longer to take effect and lasts eight hours, so a person can get a build-up of substances in their system without realizing it. Also, people who have a history of drug abuse are often unreliable in taking their medicines at the proper time or in the proper dose.

Often, drug abusers and addicts mix drugs recklessly.“I can think of few worse combinations than Xanax and cocaine because Xanax slows the heart and cocaine speeds the heart up, so you have two substances at odds with each other,” said Dr. Ablow. “So you can have a situation where someone is trying to dose themselves to an ideal mood state but their cardiac status is deteriorating and they can’t tell because Xanax suppresses the racing heartbeat.”

The bottom line is this: despite their best intentions, medical professions do not always have the time nor the knowledge to properly treat serious drug abusers and the addicted.

Secondly, too many times, doctors are in a rush and the addicted receive less than the full attention of medical staffs who determine that they have “higher priorities.”

Finally, the knowledge of how different drugs interact in the human body is far from complete. In fact, mixing drugs and doctor shopping are seriously dangerous and often times fatal.

John E. Carey is a frequent contributor to The Washington Times, a former senior U.S. military officer and president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.

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(February 6, 2008)

We added this new information on Wednesday evening, 30 January:Heath Ledger’s abuse of heroin, cocaine and pills forced his ex-fiancee Michelle Williams to drive him to rehab in 2006, but he didn’t want to go, Us Weekly reports.For three years, Williams was a firsthand witness to the actor’s use of alcohol and drugs, including cocaine, heroin and “a variety of pills,” a Ledger confidant reportedly told the magazine.In March 2006 — when their daughter, Matilda, was only 5 months old — Williams drove Ledger to Promises Treatment Center in Malibu, Calif., the confidant reportedly told Us Weekly. Ledger refused to check in, instead swaying her with a pledge to clean up, the source said.

Both Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan were treated at Promises.

Even after the couple realized “they were in way over their heads,” according to a source, and split in September 2007, two sources told Us that Williams demanded Ledger be drug-tested before his visitations with Matilda.

When news of Ledger’s death broke last Tuesday, Williams was inconsolable, another source said.

“She cried and screamed as soon as she heard,” a source on the Swedish set of her latest film, “Mammoth,” told Us Weekly.