Emerging Drug Trends
Like all other aspects of human existence, drug abuse follows trends. When you are not involved in the drug scene, you usually pick up only on the really big trends. Most people over the age of 30 have heard of LSD, heroin and crack because they all made it to the mainstream news at some point in the last several decades.
Many drug users experiment with new ways to get high or to increase the intensity and length of their experience. Trends often develop out of this experimentation. When something seems to work, everyone wants to try it. But increasing the intensity of a habit that is already dangerous is extremely risky.
These drug trends may seem crazy to someone who has never felt the cravings of a heroin addiction. The sad reality is, they represent desperate attempts to feed a disease that cannot be satisfied. Addiction pushes people to do things beyond their limitations, beyond the scope of realism, and, in many cases, beyond what the human body can withstand. Here we delve into several dangerous, crazy-sounding drug trends you may not be familiar with.
What is Flashblooding?
What might you do if you couldn’t get the drugs you needed, if you ran out of them or could not afford to buy any more? If you were suffering from addiction, you’d do almost anything to get the high you crave and avoid the pain of withdrawal. Addiction can prompt people to steal and break the law in other ways that they never would have considered otherwise.
Now, imagine you are in this situation. You are desperate for another hit of heroin, you think you might go out of your mind if you don’t get some, and your buddy just shot up his last dose. While he drifts into that comfortable oblivion you are trying to reach, you get an idea. If the drugs are already in his bloodstream, you just need to get some of his blood for yourself.
Flashblooding is the practice of injecting yourself with someone else’s blood. The goal is to experience the high of another heroin user when you don’t have any heroin for yourself. The National Institute on Drug Abuse discovered this practice in very poor sections of Africa. It is not a common practice right now, but there is concern it will trend.
Flashblooding is a way of stealing someone else’s high when you can’t afford to get your own. This is an example of addiction pushing people to a new low in behavior. Stealing money or drugs is not unusual for people struggling with drug addiction, but taking another person’s blood is extreme. Like all trends, if this practice continues, more people will hear about it and possibly consider it an option in a desperate situation.
Dangers and Side Effects of Flashblooding
The dangers of intravenous drug users sharing needles are fairly well known. The possibility of being exposed to even one microscopic drop of blood from someone who is carrying a blood-borne illness is a big health risk. There are several diseases that can be transmitted this way, but the most serious is HIV.
By purposely injecting someone else’s blood into your body, you are guaranteed exposure to whatever disease they may be carrying. There are no maybes on this type of contamination. Even if the person is not exhibiting symptoms or has not received a diagnosis, if the pathogens are in his blood, they will be transferred to yours. The chances of a person struggling with addiction having a strong enough immune system to fight off whatever disease they are exposed to are slim.
The areas in Africa where flashblooding is practiced were also the epicenter for the AIDS epidemic. It took decades to address the AIDS crisis in Africa, and in the meantime, the disease spread around the world. Flashblooding, if the practice spreads, is likely to rekindle the AIDS epidemic, so it poses a great health risk to people who don’t even take intravenous drugs.
HIV/AIDS can be contracted through contact with the body fluids of someone who has it. The more people who have the disease, the faster it can be spread. It is not dependent on drug use, although the habits of many drug users, including sharing needles and trading sex for drugs, increase the risk. The original African epidemic was caused partly by needle sharing among intravenous drug users who were too poor to get fresh needles and too addicted to heed the health warnings.
The side effects of flashblooding, other than potentially being exposed to dangerous blood-borne diseases, are few. The amount of heroin you consume by injecting yourself with someone’s blood is minimal. Although the anecdotal evidence suggests that people are getting high from this practice, the science does not back that up:
- The heroin is already highly diluted in the bloodstream, so the small amount of blood you inject doesn’t contain enough heroin to make a difference.
- It may offer a placebo effect, however, where the person expects to get high and so they do.
What is Vodka Eyeballing?
Another crazy drug trend, one that originated a little closer to home, is vodka eyeballing. Like the name suggests, it is done by pouring vodka into your eye. The theory is that by passing through the mucous membranes in your eye and entering the bloodstream, the alcohol will cause a faster, stronger high than alcohol that has to pass through your digestive system.
Vodka eyeballing became a party game in the UK a couple years ago. The trend hit the media and went viral. The controversy surrounding this crazy drug practice centered on claims that the trend was actually a hoax, something the media blew out of proportion. There were several claims that vodka eyeballing was not a popular party game but had only occurred in isolated incidents. The number of YouTube videos depicting the practice, however, suggests vodka eyeballing is in fact a trend.
The trend came to the United States just a few weeks after it was initially reported in the UK. It is mostly attributed to teens and college kids as a crazy party game. The first six weeks of college, students are particularly vulnerable to developing drinking habits, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:
- Approximately 2 out of 3 American college students engage in binge drinking.
- The number of college students who die from alcohol-related injuries is around 1,825 annually.
Dangers and Side Effects of Vodka Eyeballing
Since binge drinking is so prevalent among college students, it is no surprise they try to invent new ways to get drunk faster. Binge drinking alone puts people at increased risk for addiction, alcohol poisoning and death. There is also a strong link between binge drinking and sexual assault, another common problem among college students. Students tend toward a feeling of immortality and often engage in dangerous behaviors, even more so when they are under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Vodka eyeballing is just another way for students to injure themselves with alcohol. The claims of a faster high do not stand up to scientific scrutiny. Because of the inflammation caused in the eye by such a strong concentration of alcohol, a large percentage of the alcohol does not make it into the bloodstream.
Vodka contains approximately 40 percent alcohol, which makes it similar to pouring paint thinner into your eye. Even the students who have tried vodka eyeballing say it is very painful. Part of the game, however, is to push through the pain for the great high. The side effects of pouring straight vodka into your eye include corneal damage and even blindness.
Although the smoke in e-cigarettes does not contain the chemicals most associated with diseases caused by traditional tobacco cigarettes, they do still contain nicotine — the addictive substance inside tobacco cigarettes — and their safety is far from assured. In addition, e-cigarette smoke contains carcinogens and other toxic chemicals, which means they are not yet a safe alternative to tobacco. The bottom line? Don’t believe the safety hype.
Is Distilling Hand Sanitizer Dangerous?
Distillation is a process by which alcoholic beverages are concentrated. By heating an alcohol-containing liquid such as wine, a more concentrated beverage such as brandy can be produced. The basic principle of distilling relies on the fact that the boiling point of alcohol is several degrees lower than that of water. When you bring wine to the boiling point of alcohol, the alcohol vaporizes and the water remains. By condensing that vapor, you capture the essence of the liquid and a majority of the alcohol content, leaving out the excess water.
Alcoholic beverages have been produced through the process of distillation for centuries, but distilling hand sanitizer is relatively new. Unfortunately, addiction exerts such a strong force on many people that they will do anything to get high. The alcoholic content of hand sanitizer makes it a target for those struggling with alcohol addiction who have no other access to alcohol.
Hand sanitizer is readily available in many hospitals, school, and other public buildings. Approximately 68,712 people tried to consume hand sanitizer between 2005 and 2009, according to the National Poison Data System. The exposures during that time period resulted in 12 major medical complications and 288 moderate complications. Although deaths from hand sanitizer consumption are rare, the rate at which these exposures are increasing suggests a rising death rate could be the next problem.
Although the ethanol found in hand sanitizer has the same chemical make-up as the alcohol in vodka, for example, it is highly concentrated and therefore extremely dangerous. In fact, vodka in large doses is also extremely dangerous, but at roughly 40 percent alcohol it takes more of it to have a toxic effect. Also, vodka or other alcoholic beverages, when consumed traditionally, take effect slowly, giving your body a chance to defend itself by passing out or throwing up.
The side effects of consuming concentrated alcohol such as that distilled from hand sanitizer include:
- Depression of the central nervous system
- Cardiac dysrhythmia
- Depression of the respiratory system
- Cardiac arrest
- Liver damage
- Brain damage
Medical assistance is required to survive most of these side effects. There is nothing that will reverse the alcohol poisoning, but measures can be taken to support breathing and other vital functions until the effects of the alcohol subside. Once you are out of danger, though, the larger issue of addiction needs to be addressed, since that is the underlying condition that likely drove you to consume hand sanitizer in the first place.
Dangers of Sizzurp
As disgusting as prescription cough syrup tastes, people looking to get high sometimes mix this powerful drug with soda to get a concoction called sizzurp. Sizzurp, also known as purple drank or lean, contains codeine and promethazine — a strong opioid painkiller and sedative that produce euphoria and relaxation when abused. Fatal overdose is possible with sizzurp because of its breath-depressing effects, especially when mixed with alcohol.
Molly, sometimes called ecstasy or MDMA, is a popular stimulant on the club and electronic music scene. It raises body temperature to alarming levels, which can end in death. Regular abuse causes depression — a phenomenon known as “suicide Tuesday” — in addition to problems with cognition and sleep. As if these problems weren’t bad enough, molly isn’t always pure MDMA. Instead, illicit dealers sell meth, bath salts, cocaine, heroin and other harmful drugs instead, significantly amplifying the risk to users.
If someone offers you legal acid, don’t take it — this synthetic hallucinogen, which comes in powder, blotter paper and liquid form, is more powerful than LSD. It is also more deadly. Small amounts of N-Bomb cause severe physiological reactions and overdose can end in death; at least 19 people died throughout one year, thanks to this dangerous drug.
What is Krokodil?
Time Magazine called krokodil the world’s deadliest drug in a feature article in 2013 that probed the Russian drug culture where this substance recently became popular. In response to a crackdown on heroin by the Russian government, people learned to make krokodil from codeine, iodine and red phosphorous from the end of a match. The resulting drug gives a high similar to heroin at a fraction of the price, and the ingredients are legal and easy to find in a drugstore.
Like many other illicit drugs, krokodil was first created for medical purposes. The Swedish pharmaceutical lab Roche developed krokodil as desomorphine in 1934, a pain reliever much stronger than morphine. An opioid made from a derivative of opium, desomorphine was manufactured under the name Permonid for a short time in the 1930s. The drug was pulled from the commercial market because it had a short shelf life and was extremely addictive.
Dangers and Side Effects of Krokodil
While krokodil is extremely potent and fast-acting, its high is short lived. The intense but short high leaves users looking for more right away. Substance abusers who turn to krokodil for a cheaper fix will find themselves taking more of the substance to stave off the withdrawal symptoms. The short high often has the effect of increasing the intensity of a person’s addiction by speeding up the physical component.
As a homemade drug, krokodil contains a number of toxins and impurities that can produce extreme side effects. Street drugs are not produced to any specifications, so the ingredients in each batch can be completely different. One of the many dangers of street drugs is you have no way of testing them for toxins or impurities.
Some people believe the street name krokodil comes from the crocodile skin-like lesions that develop on the skin. These green and yellow scaly patches of rotting skin make krokodil use easy to spot, as do other side effects:
- When krokodil is injected into the veins, it has the effect of rotting the muscles and tissue from the inside.
- The lesions that appear on the skin become stinky and gangrenous.
- In extreme cases, the wounds go so deep as to expose bones.
People who use krokodil have a life expectancy of only 2-3 years. Anyone who survives to overcome the addiction to krokodil is permanently disfigured.
What is Oxidado, or Rust Drug?
Oxidado is a new crack-like drug that recently became popular in the Amazon. With the street name “rust,” oxidado is supposed to be twice as strong as crack with a much lower price tag. Like crack, oxidado comes in rock format and is smoked in a pipe, or it can be crushed and snorted.
Although oxidado was created in the 1980s by people who traveled to an area between Brazil, Bolivia and Peru to experiment with hallucinogenic plants in the rainforest, it recently made a comeback. Perhaps because of the cheap price of the drug, oxidado has become prevalent in a number of poor inner city neighborhoods throughout the Amazon region, and it is spreading.
Oxidado, like crack, contains cocaine, but it is mixed with kerosene and quicklime. The result is extremely powerful. The effect hits you right away. Of course, the toxins in kerosene and quicklime add a dangerous new edge to this drug. Oxidado users are said to live only about a year.
Dangers and Side Effects of Oxidado
The dangers of oxidado begin with the dangers of cocaine. Altering your brain chemicals for recreational purposes can lead to addiction, brain damage and death. The addiction experienced by oxidado users is even stronger than that experienced by cocaine users. Anecdotal evidence from these drug users shows oxidado is immediately addictive and tempts even veteran drug abusers to use more frequently than any other substance.
Add to that the presence of additional toxins and there is no telling how bad oxidado can be. There is certainly nothing safe about this drug. Side effects of oxidado include:
- Tooth decay
- Liver disease
- Yellow skin
- Weight loss
The spread of oxidado across the Amazon region and beyond is a testament to how serious addiction can be. With all of the dangers of ingesting toxic substances, people are still doing it because they cannot help themselves. The evidence of dangerous side effects to oxidado is all around them, and yet people suffering from addiction will put themselves in mortal danger to get their next high.
Get Help for Drug Addiction
We live in a global world now where trends from far-away continents travel to the U.S. in a matter of weeks. New substance abuse ideas are transmitted through the Internet and word of mouth. People suffering from addiction struggle to make good decisions because their brain chemicals are altered to believe that their only salvation is their next high.
These crazy drug trends are often sparked by a desire to cut down on the price of getting high. Unfortunately, the price of drug and alcohol abuse, addiction and all the trauma that comes with it cannot be reduced with another cheap substance. Addiction is a serious, sometimes fatal, illness that requires immediate attention. You cannot reduce the risk of addiction and all of its side effects. You have to eliminate it.
At 12 Keys we know drugs and alcohol prompt people to do things they are not proud of. We understand when you are using, you are not yourself. The demon of addiction takes over your mind and your body, and you don’t even recognize yourself. When you’re ready, we are here at 12 Keys to help you reclaim your life. All you have to do is call.
The treatment we offer at 12 Keys will address your whole life, not just your substance abuse habits, because addiction affects every part of your life. Our holistic approach to addiction recovery includes exercise, nutrition, education, and family counseling.
Call 12 Keys to find out how to begin this awesome journey toward healing. You can start today by talking to us about what is happening in your life and the changes you’d like to see. Our individualized programs guide people just like you out of addiction and into healthy living. No matter what your situation, we have the experience and the treatment modalities to put you on the road to a happy, substance-free life.