Bath Salts (Designer Drug) and Zombies?

psychpost | 7/28/2012 12:37:00 PM | 13 Comments
"Bath Salts" Packaged to look like healthcare products.
Bath Salts are the name of a family of designer drugs containing amphetamine-like compounds. They are packaged to resemble bath and healthcare products. Bath Salts are often sold in online shops and head shops.

History: Like other designer drugs, Bath Salts are slightly modified versions (analogues) of already known drugs. Bath salts typically contain modified versions of Cathinone, which is the active ingredient found in Khat and has effects similar to cocaine and amphetamine.

Substituted Cathinone, Similar structure to Amphetamine.
Effects: The effects are similar to cocaine and amphetamines, refer to my previous post for details Cocaine and Amphetamines, Psychomotor Stimulants. The behavioral effects and physiological effects are similar. Bath Salts also have similar health risks and potential for addiction.

Zombie-ism: Recently in the news there have been several reports about Bath Salt consumption leading to fits of zombie-like behavior. Violent outbursts involving cannibal behavior (eating another's face) have been attributed to Bath Salt use.

Crack Cocaine, Smokable form of cocaine.
Origin: Cocaine is found in the plant Erythroxylon coca, native to South America. The cocaine can extracted from the coca leaves or the leaves can be chewed.

Routes of Administration:
Intravenously: An IV injection of cocaine will produce the quickest "rush" of cocaine's effects because the drug is immediately present in the blood. Not a preferred route of administration.
Freebasing (smoking): Smoking crack cocaine produces effects just a little bit slower than IV injection. A preferred route of administration.
Intranasally (snorting): The peak effects are not typically reached until 30-60mins. Effects are weaker than IV and smoking, but snorting cocaine can lead to more prolonged mild effects. Along with smoking, this is a preferred route of administration.
Orally: Powdered cocaine is water soluble and is readily dissolved into drinks. This method will produce the slowest "rush" of cocaine's effects because the drug must first travel through the stomach and liver before finally into the brain.

Mechanisms of Cocaine Action
Cocaine is able to block the reuptake (reabsorbtion) of the neurotransmitters: Dopamine, Serotonin, and Norepinephrine The reuptake is prevented by Cocaine binding to each of the neurotransmitter's transport protein and inhibiting them. This leads to an increase of the neurotransmitter concentration at these synapses.

Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction

psychpost | 7/07/2012 01:53:00 PM | 3 Comments
Are abuse and addiction the same thing?  Photo source. 

The terms Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction may seem to be two different ways to talk about the same thing but they are actually quite different.

Drug Abuse - the use of a drug "in a matter that deviates from the approved medical or social patterns in a given culture" (Jaffe).

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders  (DSM-IV) Drug Abuse is defined as:
1. Recurring substance use that interferes with major role obligations.
2. Recurrent use in situations where dangerous.
3. Recurrent legal problems related to use.
4. Continued use despite social or interpersonal problems caused by use.

An important point to note with drug abuse is that the same use of drugs will be considered abuse in one situation but not another. For example: Having 3 alcoholic drinks at a part on Friday or Saturday night is generally not considered Drug Abuse, whereas having 3 alcoholic drinks right before work or class is considered to be Drug Abuse. But using heroin in any situation is typically considered to be Drug Abuse.

The term Drug Addiction is very hard to define because there are so many theories trying to explain how it happens. Presently, Drug Addiction is characterized by:
1. Compulsive use: Overwhelming involvement with use of drug.
2. Compulsive Drug Seeking: The Securing of its supply.
3. High Tendency to Relapse after Withdrawal (Jaffe).

As we see from these two different definitions, Drug Abuse is primarily characterized by the situation in which drugs are used and Drug Addiction is characterized by the frequency of occurrences.

Drugs, The Brain, and Behavior

psychpost | 7/04/2012 04:04:00 PM | 3 Comments

Marijuana, Cannabis, Pot, Weed, etc. Most commonly consumed illegal drug. Photo source.
Yesterday I began my summer Psychology course about Drugs and Behavior. I'm looking forward to writing several posts about specific drugs, how they work in the brain and body, behaviors associated with drug use, and addiction. This post will be a rough and basic outline on what is known as Psychopharmacology.

A very important question to answer before going further is: "What is a drug?" There are several different definitions on what a drug is and here are two of them:

1.Any substance, when absorbed in the body, alters normal bodily functions.
2.Any substance used "primarily to bring about a change in some existing process or state" be it psychological, physiological, or biochemical.

In the study of Drugs and Behavior the focus is on Psychoactive Drugs, drugs which affect brain function. It is important to note that drugs are only able to act upon preexisting systems and structures found in our bodies.

Here is a list of several classes of Psychoactive Drugs which I will be writing about in detail:
1. Opiates (Narcotics): Morphine, Heroine, Codene, etc.
2. Depressants: Which include Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines.
3. Stimulants: Cocaine, Amphetamine, Nicotine, Caffeine, etc.
4. Hallucinogens: LSD, Psilocin/Psilocybin
5. Dissociative Anesthetics: PCP, Ketamine
6. Cannabinoids: Cannabis
7. Designer Drugs: MDMA

Psychopharmacology:  The study of changes in mood, thinking, and behavior caused by using drugs.