The Perils of Youth Substance Abuse

The launch of the educational program D.A.R.E., or Drug Abuse Resistance Education, was the structured acknowledgment of a growing youth substance abuse issue in America. As the days of free love and experimentation faded into the background, a realistic look at drug abuse from the United States hit our communities head on, as the Woodstock generation discovered themselves confronted with wellness issues and continuing addictions. Recognizing the detrimental impacts of the drug culture, the government decided to attempt to nip youth substance abuse inside bud by promoting education within the topic at a young age. Sadly, the issue continues these days.

Youth substance abuse is far more pervasive than one may possibly initially believe. The most frequently accessed drug for children is alcohol, with most youngsters dabbling in its use far prior to their 21st birthday. The second most generally applied drug for minors is tobacco. On the other hand, illicit drug you still a massive issue. Marijuana use remains a continuous difficulty for the youth of America, and so known as “club drugs,” just like ecstasy, continue to gain in popularity. The newest trend in youth substance abuse is quickly prescription drug abuse. Pills prescribed for pain relief are simply accessible in medicine cabinets, making them the high of selection for numerous children right now.

Youth substance abuse is really a challenging trouble to tackle. Most experts agree that prevention starts at house. Mom and dad require being honest and open with their youngsters for the topic of drug use and abuse. Some father and mother discover this complicated, particularly if they have had experiences with illegal drugs within the past. Nevertheless, parental silence puts small children in a precarious position. Youth substance abuse is only fueled when young children need to turn to their peers for data about the topic, which generally results inside the transmission of partial or false facts. It’s critical that dad and mom sit their children down to talk concerning the consequences of youth substance abuse. Father and mother will need to list distinct kinds of drugs, the negative impacts the drugs have within the body, plus the legal consequences that drug abuse carries.

Even so, our schools also present an superb opportunity to educate our young children about youth substance abuse. Whilst programs just like D.A.R.E. have received mixed reviews, incorporating drug abuse info into basic health class opportunities makes sure that young children will consistently be informed concerning the risks associated with youth substance abuse. This kind of coursework is often tailored being age appropriate, plus the continuity of education from year to year ensures that the children are getting the correct details at the correct time.

How to Stop Substance Abuse and Drug Addiction

Most people associate dangerous addiction with the use of illegal drugs, but substance abuse consists of any dangerous dependence, including alcoholism and reliance on prescription drugs. For centuries, substance abuse was regarded by society as a personal failing or moral fault, and addicts were shunned and forced to the fringes of the community. Substance abuse today is recognized as a disease, typified by the brain becoming reliant on certain substances to deliver neurotransmitters like dopamine or serotonin. Street drugs like marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines react with the brain in a similar way to legal addictives, such as alcohol, tobacco, and inhalants.

These substances all increase the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, resulting in various “highs,” drunkenness, or relaxation of the nerves and it is this rise in dopamine levels which is the root of substance abuse. As drug abusers, alcoholics, pill poppers or cigarette smokers continue to engage in substance abuse, their brains eventually lose the ability to produce critical neurotransmitters on their own. Because dopamine and similar neurotransmitters are responsible for feelings like pleasure, the drug user becomes dependent on the substance being abused which causes the intense cravings and feelings of addiction.

Fortunately for the victims of chemical dependency, societal attitudes towards addiction have softened and treatment programs for drug, alcohol, prescription pills or tobacco use are commonplace. Rehabilitation clinics strive to assist those suffering from substance abuse, helping them to cope with their cravings incrementally, and providing personal, psychological, and spiritual guidance through the recovery process. There are national substance abuse programs, such as the 12-step Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), psychiatric help, medicinal options and even loving support from friends and family can help addicts rid themselves of their dependencies.

People afflicted with substance addictions can rely on an extremely accessible network of meetings, found in almost every city or town in the country, which serve as a coping mechanism, a therapy session, and a confessional at the same time. Drug testing kits are now readily and cheaply available for home use to help stop the addictions privately. Substance abuse is worth the efforts being made to combat it, because the damage caused by addiction is extensive and far reaching. Almost every aspect of society, from the legal system and the medical field to families and schools, is touched in some way by the destructive power of substance abuse, and the battle to prevent dangerous addictions will always be one worth fighting.

Help put a stop to substance abuse and chemical dependency by interfering and impeding at the first signs of addiction. Openly talking to the individual about your concerns and the effects of their addiction is the first stride towards acceptance and recovery. Do not be afraid to drug test at the first signs of misuse. This is especially true of prescription pills abuse as many individuals do not view Oxycontin or Vicodin as habit forming because of a prescription.

There are many home drug tests that can uncover traces of harmful narcotics like Percocet and the mind altering diazepams Xanax or Valium. Alcohol breathalyzers and oral saliva testing kits are available to discover a hidden drinking habit. Regardless of the specific substance addiction, there are many options available to help stop the cycle of drug dependency.

Substance Abuse Craving – Reduction Therapies

One example of an attempt to treat substance abuse behavior is U.S. Pat. No. 5,013,752, issued May 7, 1991, entitled “Prevention and Treatment of Alcoholism by the use of Dietary Chromium.” While the claim that chromium deficiency is by itself a cause of alcoholism is debatable, the use of chromium has become well established since that time as an ingredient in anti-craving compounds.

Amino-acids have been known for some time as potential agents for dealing with various conditions. U.S. Pat. No. 4,357,343 issued to Madsen, et al on Nov. 2, 1982, entitled “Nutritional Composition for Management of Renal Failure” is a typical example. A recent development in addiction therapy is the use of craving-reduction medications based upon amino-acid precursors of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. In this approach, the patient is administered with an oral medication containing substances selected for their ability to promote healthy neurotransmitter function. Certain amino-acids are known to be precursors of the neurotransmitters. For example, the amino-acid 5-hydroxytryptophan is believed to be a precursor of serotonin while the neurotransmitter L-phenylalanine is believed to be a precursor of dopamine. Other amino-acids also function as metabolic precursors of the desired neurotransmitters.

Unfortunately the complexity of the human brain can substantially reduce the efficacy of merely providing a patient with a precursor amino-acid. The reward/pleasure system is not dependent upon any one single biochemical reaction, nor even upon a small number or class of biochemicals, nor does it occur in any one region of the brain. The interactions between the different chemicals in the human anatomy mean that even a subtly different medicinal formulation may have surprising or unexpected results.

In greater detail: the reward/pleasure response in the brain is a complex process in which stimulus in one part of the brain controls stimulus in others, which may in turn lead to stimulation of yet another part of the brain. Each of the steps of release, reception or uptake of neurotransmitters takes place at simultaneously at different locations, and for different substances, and different steps in the neurotransmission cycle may be under the influence of different neurotransmitters or other biochemicals: the release, reception or uptake of neurotransmitters is frequently under the control of other substances: amino-acids, vitamins and minerals. A short example is provided: a low level of a neurotransmitter in the brain can be partially or wholly offset by application of precursor amino-acids which help to build up the level. However, the level of the precursor amino-acids in the brain may be determined by their ability to cross the blood/brain barrier, which in turn may be governed by the amount of a given mineral in the blood stream.

The rate of breakdown and maintenance of the same neurotransmitter in the brain may also be effected or even controlled at that point by the availability of some vitamin or mineral in the system acting upon the enzyme controlling the neurotransmitter. And a mineral which promotes the crossing of the blood/brain barrier by one amino-acid might act to reduce the crossing of the same barrier by other amino-acids. To provide details of this short example: L-tryptophan is a precursor which promotes neurotransmitter activities, while D-phenylalanine promotes neurotransmitter activity by inhibiting enzymatic cleavage. Administration of niacinamide, a form of the vitamin niacin, reduces the premature breakdown of L-tyrptophan in the blood stream because tryptophan is typically used in a 60 to 1 ratio to produce niacinamide. Niacinamide later appears to reduce the rate of serotonin breakdown in the brain by inhibiting the action of tyrptophan pyrrolase.

The mineral calcium assists L-tryptophan to enter the brain, and then further assists conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, but drives other amino-acids into muscle tissue instead. L-tryptophan is desired for its ability to elevate serotonin levels, act as asleep agent, and reduce depression. When a patient is sleeping well and not depressed, the L-tryptophan may actually be removed from alternative embodiments of the present invention. Obviously while L-tryptophan is desirable, it is not desirable to encourage L-tryptophan’s action at the expense of the other amino-acids used in the present invention. There are literally hundreds of such interactions taking place, creating a system too complex for present day modeling techniques to interpret.

Thus formulation of amino-acid based anti-craving medications is an unpredictable task, and anti-craving medications tend to involve a spectrum of ingredients designed to assist the combined efficacy or efficiency of the anti-craving effect. Examples of anti-craving compounds show the wide variation in formulations. For example, as referenced previously, U.S. Pat. No. 6,132,724, issued on Oct. 17, 2000 to Blum and entitled “ALLELIC Polygene Diagnosis of Reward Deficiency Syndrome and Treatment” provides a great deal of background material on RDS and the probable genetic causes thereof, and furthermore discloses and claims an oral anti-craving composition comprising a substance which inhibits the enzymatic destruction of a neuropeptidyl opiate, a neurotransmitter-precursor amino-acid, chromium, and either an herbal extract from Rhodiola rosea or huperzine. U.S. Pat. No. 4,761,429 (“Enkephalinase and Endorphinase Inhibitors as Anti-Craving Compositions”, issued Aug. 2, 1988) and U.S. Pat. No. 5,189,064 (“Treatment of Cocaine Disorders”, issued Feb. 23, 1993) both to the same inventor as the ‘724 patent, disclose craving reduction by means of administering amino-acids which “inhibit the destruction of neuropeptidyl opiates . . . in an amount sufficient to reduce the craving”.

The same inventor (Dr. Kenneth Blum, a leader in the field) has also stated that he has a pending patent application which was filed on Mar. 21, 2000, (application and number are unavailable to the present applicant) regarding short-term bolus administration of amino-acids and Rhodiola extract. Useful as these methods are, they nonetheless represent theoretical research towards the formulation of a compound of high efficacy. One result is that these compounds often do not take into account the special medical situations of typical substance abuse patients. For example, oral compounds are in practice administered with calcium, with consequent losses of efficiency due to the fact that calcium tends to drive several of the desired amino-acids from the blood stream into the muscles, rather than the across the blood/brain barrier. For another example, these three granted patents rely upon an oral administration of the medication. However, the typical substance abuse patient has severe damage to the stomach lining and intestinal tract caused by the ingestion of substances such as alcohol. Even individuals suffering the effects of intravenous substance abuse have stomach lining and intestinal damage.

Thus, such oral formulations tend to pass through the digestive tract with relative alacrity and a low rate of absorption. As a result, the “amount sufficient to reduce the craving” is unnecessarily higher than it need be. But the stomach/intestinal lining damage is merely one practical barrier to efficient use of the medication by the body of the patient. In fact, the bodies of substance abuse patients present several barriers to the absorption, metabolization and usage of such compounds; these “substance-abuse derived” barriers will be discussed in the detailed description to follow. Another barrier to efficient usage of administered amino-acids, albeit a barrier present in all human beings rather than just those suffering from substance abuse disorder, is the blood/brain barrier.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,650,789 and U.S. Pat. No. 4,897,380, respectively issued to Pollack and to Pollack, et al, on Mar. 17, 1987 and Jan. 20, 1990, for “Method and Composition for Increasing Production of Serotonin” and “Method and Composition for Relieving Dietary-Related Disorders” also propose amino-acid medications for neurotransmitter re-balancing. These two patents both teach the use of L-tryptophan as the amino-acid, along with ingredients designed to assist it across the blood/brain barrier. However, in order to assist L-tryptophan in crossing the blood/brain barrier, both patents suggest the use of fructose to drive other amino-acids in the patient’s blood stream into the muscles, thus increasing the relative concentration of L-tryptophan and speeding its passage to the brain. Obviously, this is counterproductive if the objective is to administer a group of amino-acids.

Another example of this problem is the administration of cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12). While cyanocobalamin is the form of vitamin B 12 which is metabolized in oral administration, and thus the form known in the art in anti-craving compositions, it is also a form which must first pass through the metabolic machinery of the liver to become hydroxycobolamin, then be metabolized by the liver a second time in order to become the metabolically active form of the agent vitamin B12. This known process is disadvantageous for use by substance abuse patients, as will be explained below in the detailed description of the present invention.

All of these compositions contain weaknesses in terms of their practical efficiency of use by the body of a substance abuser. In some cases, important components are administered in a form which decreases their ability to be absorbed into the blood stream at all. Some of the same references offer important active agents in forms which are slow or difficult to metabolize in the body of an individual who has abused substances. Other references teach the use of agents such as fructose which assist the use of one amino-acid at the expense of all others. Finally, compounding of numerous amino-acids, vitamins and minerals into a formula suitable for IV administration, with the consequent advantages thereof, is quite difficult. Amino-acid medications via intravenous drip may require the administration of a dozen or more vials of medication. Combinations of numerous ingredients, however, are likely to precipitate or react in storage. This both teaches away from the creation of multiple agent medications and also makes it difficult to find suitable formulas for such agents.

A second issue which arises is that of form of administration. The efficacy of a given medication will be a function of the concentration in the body of the individual achieved by a given method of administration and the time for which that concentration is maintained. Known oral medications are inefficient in terms of the concentration achieved. Direct injection via short-term bolus therapy on the other hand will merely “spike” the desired active agents in the body of the patient without providing a substantial amount of time for the agents to take effect. The knowledge that the active anti-craving agents would quickly depart the metabolic system appears to have caused previous researchers in the field to tend to avoid water soluble forms of the active anti-craving agents.

Thus, a need remains for an anti-craving medication which is formulated and administered for high efficacy due to the combination of active agents, but which is also formulated for efficient usage by the body of an individual suffering from the typical conditions of a substance abuser.