Tag Archives: SafeLaunch

Recognize the most commonly misused drugs

Rx Bottle

Watch this slideshow and learn what these drugs of misuse look like.

(Credit: Medicine.net)

In 2010, around 7 million people in the U.S. were “nonmedical” users of prescription drugs. This amounts to about 2.7% of the total population. Estimates of the number of people who have used a prescription drug for a nonmedical use are even higher and range to up to 20% of the population. In 2009, 16 million Americans age 12 and older had taken a prescription pain reliever, tranquilizer, stimulant, or sedative for nonmedical purposes at least once in the year prior to being surveyed. Although any type of medication has the potential to be abused, certain groups of prescription drugs are most commonly abused.

Painkillers: Opioids such as codeine and morphine are narcotics prescribed to treat pain. Other drugs in this class include oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco, etc.), meperidine (Demerol), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), diphenoxylate (Lomotil), and propoxyphene (Darvon).

CNS depressants/tranquilizers: Drugs in the Benzodiazepine class are central nervous system (CNS) depressants used to treat anxiety disorders and sometimes for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Examples include alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and triazolam (Halcion).

Barbiturates: Barbiturates are also central nervous system depressants. They include phenobarbital (Luminal), pentobarbital (Nembutal), and mephobarbital (Mebaral). Barbiturates are prescribed to treat insomnia, tension, and anxiety.

Stimulants: Stimulants are sometimes prescribed to treat obesity and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Examples include methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine, Adderall). Some of these preparations can be found in over-the-counter diet pills.

Dextromethorphan (DMX): DMX is the active cough suppressant found in cough and cold medications.

The elderly are particularly vulnerable to prescription-drug misuse and are known to have the lowest rate of compliance with instructions for medication use.

Teens and young adults are prone to prescription drug abuse, particularly of painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone. A survey of teens who abused prescription drugs showed that the majority reported receiving them from friends or relatives.

Many experts believe that health-care workers (including doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and veterinarians) may be at increased risk for prescription-drug abuse because of their easy access to medications.

The misuse and abuse of prescription drugs can lead to drug addiction. Addiction to prescription drugs is treated in much the same way as addiction to illegal drugs and may result in withdrawal symptoms just like addiction to illegal drugs. Behavioral therapy can teach people how to properly use medications and how to manage the cravings and relapses that accompany addiction. Medications can also be used to treat withdrawal symptoms and drug overdoses.

In many cases, the misuse of prescription drugs can be prevented by education about the medications and by strict adherence to the directions for the use of prescription drugs.

Changing the dosage of a drug without consulting a doctor and the sharing of prescription medications with others are two practices that dramatically increase the risk of prescription-drug abuse and dependency. You should check with your doctor before changing the dose of a medication. And never share prescription drugs with anyone.

United States. NIDA. Prescription drugs.
United States. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Come See the Portraits of Addiction and Hope Portrait Show at TVSB January 15 – March 30, 2014


In 2012, teen photographers from the SafeLaunch Media $500 Contest met with people in recovery at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, and read their stories. Teen artists then artistically interpreted the portraits and the stories. The message is loud and clear: Avoid early first exposure to alcohol and drugs.  As the poet-philosopher Noah BenShea says, “Addiction is a powerful teacher, but the tuition is your life.”

SafeLaunch is proud to offer the community a second look at these faces of addiction and hope. Through art and education, SafeLaunch offers new perspectives to encourage a shift in our attitudes, beliefs, and practices toward the disease of addiction. The time has come to prevent addiction where it begins 90% of the time… in early first exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

 “All of the participants have played an important role in raising awareness of the increased risk that teens have to addiction,” SafeLaunch co-founder Janet Rowse said. “The impact of the personal stories of the people in recovery who participated is evident in the art and photography by these talented students.”

Thursday, January 16, 2014
5pm to 7pm
TV Santa Barbara Multimedia Center
329 South Salinas St, Santa Barbara, CA 93103

View the invitation at this link: Invitation to the Reception, Show, and Tour

Genetic Factors Linked to Smoking Addiction in Teens

Teen SmokingTeen Smoking (Photo credit: M Hooper)

Why is it that some teens who try cigarettes get addicted rather quickly while others do not? Well, based on a new study with over 40 years of data, genes may play a role in this phenomenon.

Researchers examined data from previous studies to develop a genetic risk score for heavy smokers. Following this, they screened the genes of over 1,000 New Zealanders from birth to age 38 to see whether those with high risk scores were addicted to cigarettes more rapidly as teens– and whether they had a more difficult time quitting smoking as adults.

According to results of the study in JAMA Psychiatry published online March 27th, those teens with a “high-risk” genetic profile who tried smoking were 24 percent more likely to become daily smokers by the age of 15 and 43 percent more likely to smoke a pack a day by the time they were 18.

These high-risk teens were also 27 percent more likely to become addicted to nicotine and 22 percent more likely to fail quit-smoking attempts as adults, when compared to teens with lower scores. Subjects in the study with high-risk gene scores also smoked almost 7,300 more cigarettes than the average smoker by age 38.

It turns out that an individual’s genetic risk profile did not predict whether they would try cigarettes. Nearly 70 percent of study participants had tried smoking. Those who did try cigarettes and had a high-risk gene score were more likely to become heavy smokers. The risk score was a greater predictor of becoming a smoker than family history according to the study.

Based on this study, it appears that certain genes can enhance the potential for developing an addiction to cigarettes. A number of participants in this study had tried smoking cigarettes at the age of 15, but the majority did not go on to become heavy smokers.

Overall, there was no relationship between these “high risk” genes and risk of becoming a heavy smoker when people began smoking as adults as opposed to during their teen years. A so-called “vulnerable” period for susceptibility for developing an addiction to smoking appears to be in the teen years.

Thus, it seems that genetic risks during adolescence may be a determining factor in whether teen smokers become adult smokers, suggesting the possibility to intervene in this process.

While anti-smoking campaigns which focus on teens may be useful, an important aim is to determine the ways in which these specific genes influence progression to begin smoking, and to further evaluate whether medications currently on the market which reduce cigarette cravings have any influence on these high risk genes. Developing newer medications which target these genes may potentially hold promise as well.

The concept that there is a “window” of time where health care providers can potentially intervene and prevent a teen smoker from developing into a lifelong heavy adult smoker has important implications from a public health standpoint.

The long held belief that adults who are unable to quit smoking is ultimately related to duration of smoking may potentially be replaced by such research showing that there are specific genetic factors which could influence teen smokers to become heavy smokers throughout their lives.