With drug abuse at an uptick in the past year, it is more critical than ever to intervene quickly and help thwart preventable deaths caused by drug overdoses.
Addiction and Drug Effects on the Brain
Drugs that form a dependency, also known as an “addiction”, are commonly abused. Neuroscientists have studied addiction for decades and are still trying to understand the underlying biology at the core of addiction.
Although substance use disorder is a difficult topic to research and understand, it is important to note that it is not that the addicted individual lacks the willpower or moral principles to stop using drugs—it is much more complicated . Drugs alter the brain in such a way that makes quitting extremely difficult, despite the user’s knowledge and understanding of the harmful consequences .
Altering Brain Chemistry
To be more precise, a proper reward system in a non-user’s brain motivates the individual to repeat behaviors required for thriving such as eating. However, drugs of abuse affect the reward center of the brain by attaching to drug receptors and releasing dopamine—a chemical that produces a feeling of pleasure and euphoria.
This alters the brain of drug users and motivates them to keep taking the drug regardless of the harmful consequences that the drug may bring . Eventually, the drug receptors are desensitized to the drug. This means that subsequent drug use leads to an increase in drug tolerance, as it takes more of the drug to produce the same high (pleasure and euphoria) as it did during the first instance of drug use. These are the biological mechanisms that contribute to an increase in drug quantity consumption.
Drug Abuse Today
The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a rise in drug abuse (in both frequency and quantity of drug use). In particular, experts have concluded that there is a current surge in stimulant and opioid abuse within the past year . Not surprisingly, the isolation of addicted individuals with other mental health necessities during the pandemic resulted in an increase in overdoses .
Loneliness, economic stressors, and general anxiety, feelings intensified by the pandemic, are thought to contribute to the rise in drug usage . Some experts believe that this is because “resilience promoting activities” (activities that help minimize the need for drug usage), such as socializing and physical activities, are more difficult to engage in during a pandemic.
Additionally, polysubstance abuse, the combination of drugs by users, is now a widespread issue—particularly involving the combination of methamphetamines and opioids .
Regrettably, many types of drug abuse lead to overdosing and death. In just six years (2013-2019) psychostimulant (i.e., amphetamines, methylphenidate, etc.) deaths increased by 317 percent . In the same timeframe, synthetic opioids, excluding methadone, were responsible for a 1,040 percent increase in drug-related fatalities . Today, fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than heroin and morphine, shows up in most overdose deaths .
Unfortunately, drug abuse does not solely impact the drug user. It takes a toll on family members including children and fetuses .
The heavy burden that drug abuse creates for family members includes, but are not limited to, emotional and economic burdens, tension and distress within the family, family instability, and a variety of developmental issues imposed on the developing fetus of a mother who abuses drugs during pregnancy .
Even once addiction is addressed, the negative psychological effects of trauma it bestowed on a family can persist for years and even a lifetime.
Addressing the Epidemic
The rapidly changing drug epidemic is difficult to address. Although the use of naloxone is becoming more widespread to treat opioid overdoses, there are still no pharmaceuticals approved for treating methamphetamine overdoses .
Adapting overdose prevention and quick response strategies is required to overcome the current crisis. Among these strategies is early detection of drug use such as through the administration of periodical drug screening and testing . Even clinicians in various practices have adopted screening of patients for substance abuse .
While screening procedures may seem financially burdensome, periodical drug and alcohol testing does not have to add up to a costly expense. In fact, drug tests in bulk from 12 Panel Now are the most affordable in the industry.
Drug Test Kits
12 Panel Now has an array of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved multi drug tests for sale. Most of the kits available for purchase from 12 Panel Now are CLIA waived, meaning that the tests are simple enough to administer at home without clinical supervision . Therefore, these devices serve as great home drug tests.
These drug tests are available in individual units or in bulk; however, purchasing drug tests in bulk is more economical. Due to the accuracy and ease of use of these cheap drug tests, rehab centers, workplaces, sports organizations, police stations, hospitals, academic environments, and private homes are able to benefit from their use.
Easy to Use
The variety of easy-to-administer tests include drug test cups, 16, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8, 6 panel urine tests, dip cards, drug test strips, oral swabs, and drug test cartridges. For instance, 12 Panel Now offers a 12 Panel Drug Test Cup that is 99% accurate and detects some of the most commonly abused drugs (Methamphetamine, Opiates OPI, Barbiturates, Methadone, Amphetamine, Buprenorphine, Tricyclic Antidepressants, Benzodiazepine, Oxycodone, Cocaine COC, Ecstasy [MDMA] and Marijuana [THC]). This type of testing is the most common method for multi-drug screening. These are suitable for clinical environments or as an at home test.
It displays results after the donor urinates into the cup. Once the urine samples are collected, the temperature strip can be evaluated. The urine drug test cup has a temperature reader on the label and the positive or negative test results will display on the label in less than 5 minutes.