The use of the drug called “Molly” is on the rise and college counseling professionals are uncertain how to deter the abuse of Molly and similar drugs. The spotlight has been on students at Washington State University (WSU) since last summer, when a student died after reportedly taking the drug at a music festival. The final autopsy report showed he had died of heat exhaustion and dehydration from methamphetamine but those who knew him said he had taken Molly. The confusion over which drugs caused what is becoming more common as students are mixing drugs or thinking they are getting one type of drug when they are getting something else entirely.
It apparently all comes down to how much a person trusts their drug dealer. According to Cassandra Nichols, director of Counseling and Testing Services at WSU. “You don’t know what you’re getting…(People think) that somehow because it’s in pill form, and it looks like a prescription pill, that it’s something that’s regulated, which it’s not. Or that somehow it being a more pure form of Ecstasy means something; it doesn’t.”
And the spike in hospitalizations from Molly indicates that these drugs are certainly not regulated and often mixed with meth or synthetic drugs like bath salts. Many students have ended up in Pullman Hospital close to WSU with symptoms like hyperthermia, organ failure and cardiac incidents that are common with bath salts or methylone which law enforcement say are increasingly mixed with Molly.
The problem is that Molly is affordable and accessible, but WSU counseling professionals don’t think scaring people off of the drug will work. Patricia Maarhuis, coordinator of WSU’s alcohol and drug counseling services said, “We’re not using scare tactics. We’re using it more in terms of ‘Let’s look at the context’ and how many students would be vulnerable to the same situation.” Whether that situation involves trusting the wrong drug dealer or having serious life threatening conditions associated with Molly and whatever it is mixed with is an important question.
Here at our Florida drug rehab center, we have a special addiction program for college students – many who have had adverse reactions to drugs resulting in hospitalizations. Although it is hard to scare an addict away from a certain drug, when life-threatening incidents happen to them it can scare them into seeking out treatment and sobriety.
The adage that “addiction does not discriminate” rings true when we contrast addicts depicted in popular shows like Breaking Bad with others like Betty Ford. Addiction impacts everyone from the underprivileged to those in office.
We are reminded of that recently by following State Rep. Martin Walsh, the Bostonian with 18 years of sobriety who is bidding for mayor. Just as Betty Ford leveraged her recovery to encourage people to be open about addiction and seek help, Walsh is leveraging his past by saying, “Being in recovery is going to make me a better mayor…It gives me that edge every day when I get up and go out the door.”
We speculate that Walsh considers recovery an asset because it is not just about putting down the drugs and alcohol – it runs deep into the core of who people are in their everyday lives. Those that have a good program of recovery often harness spiritual principals to be better people. For example, honesty, loyalty, discipline and integrity shield people against negative and dramatic situations. In other words, spiritual principals are part of recovery because they protect addicts from the things that make them want to drink and use. These principals are also the same that make people good, desirable people – whether they are mothers, fathers, teachers or city leaders.
Being in recovery also makes people feel good because it is about being of service to others, as Walsh is. The Boston Globe said, “many more know the Dorchester lawmaker’s reputation as the go-to politician for addicts in desperate need of a treatment program or detox bed.” However, Walsh asserts “I don’t contact the people I’ve reached out to and helped.” But it turns out he hasn’t needed to – people remember those that have helped them through difficult situations and Walsh has ample support.
|Photo Via Martin J Walsh for Mayor|
The high rates of professionals with substance abuse disorders are not limited to the US. Although doctors, lawyers, anesthesiologists and pilots have higher rates of addiction than others, it is also not limited to these professions.
This was evident last week when several employees at Apple’s European headquarters were found to be using drugs like cocaine and marijuana while at work. The headquarters in Cork, Ireland were swept by drug sniffing dogs after upper management got wind of rumors that staff were using drugs on site. The sweep turned up cocaine and marijuana at 14 workstations throughout the headquarters.
In response to this an Apple spokeswoman said, “We have a zero tolerance policy toward drug use and possession” which seems to imply an automatic loss of one’s job. In fact their website says, “Apple is a drug-free workplace… Any employee who violates this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.” This differs from the policies of other companies in industries where drug addiction and abuse is more common. For example, United and other major airlines participate in an FAA program that helps pilots get alcohol and drug treatment and monitoring after they return to work. A similar program has been established for doctors and nurses.
The 14 guilty of drug possession in Cork combined with the incidences of Apple employees leaving out secret products while drinking at bars – like Gray Powell – may point to a larger substance abuse problem within the tech industry writ large. Perhaps they, like the medical field and FAA, should consider an alternative to a zero tolerance policy and work with employees in entering addiction treatment and monitoring programs – as the success rate for addiction treatment for impaired professionals in other industries has been high.
Addiction impacts all walks of life – it impacts men, women, the rich and famous, the poor and unemployed and renowned professionals alike.
Addiction is particularly a problem for professionals with high stress jobs such as airline pilots, lawyers and health care professionals. There are no particular drugs of choice associated with each professional group, but according to a recent study in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, health care professionals are increasingly becoming addicted to Propofol, an anesthesic. This likely has to do just as much with access as it does drug preference as health care professionals have greater access to heavy sedatives.
Propofol is widely used in the procedural sedation of patients in order to prepare them for surgery. It is fast acting and has a fast recovery time. According to the study, “patients awaken feeling refreshed with little anesthetic hangover” after its administration. Many were unaware of Propofol’s abuse potential until it was one of the drugs associated with the death of Michael Jackson in 2009. In fact, over the past 20 years there have been higher incidences of admissions to addiction treatment for propofol abuse than before. The report states that each semi-decade since 1990 has resulted in a 25% increase in those admitted to rehab for Propofol abuse.
Most of those seeking addiction help for Proprofol worked as operating personnel and anesthesia providers and had access to the drug. Not surprisingly, most had a history of depressive disorder, a family history of addiction or a traumatic childhood. Reasons for abusing the drug varied between using it to sleep or to numb emotional pain. Because of the fast acting and strong nature of the drug, 50% of those admitted to treatment had sustained injuries such as car accidents or head injuries from passing out and falling down after injecting themselves with the anesthetic.
The nature of the drug makes it extremely dangerous not only because it knocks people unconscious but also because of its high overdose potential. It is because of this overdose potential that the study suggests that clinicians see their propofol dependence as a “condition best treated by terminating a career.”
This differs from addiction treatment outcomes for impaired professionals such as airlines pilots and lawyers who enter into programs that help them re-establish their career after addiction treatment. But then again, they don’t have careers that require them to be around substances – such as anesthesiologists having to administer their drug of choice daily.
If you are an impaired professional seeking addiction help, our Impaired Professionals Addiction Treatment Program at Synergy Group Services can help. Please contact us today.
Natural High’s programs include a DVD series that are distributed at no cost to every middle school and high school in the US. The series feature young celebrities embracing life on natural highs rather than using drugs or alcohol. Because these celebs are icons to many middle and high schoolers, Natural High hopes they will be positively influenced to follow suit. Those featured so far include professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, actress Lauren Conrad and the famous surfer who lost her arm to a shark, Bethany Hamilton. The DVDs come with associated lesson plans for teachers to promote living sober and having fun while doing it.
The organization targets middle and high schoolers because they are most susceptible to peer pressure. By seeing that being sober and saying “no” to drugs is considered cool among many young celebs, Jon Sundt the founder of Natural High, hopes the teens will lean towards natural ways to be happy. Jon lost two of his brothers to addiction who he says were influenced by peer pressure to use drugs.
Here at Synergy Group Services addiction treatment center, we promote activities that foster a natural sense of well being among our clients, which include but are not limited to:
- Personal Training Sessions
- Massage Therapy
- Trips to the Fitness Center
- Nutritional Guidance
Because recovery from drugs and alcohol begins with feeling physically well, we aim to help clients reach their optimal state while in drug treatment. Eating well can lift the mood especially when combined with exercise, which naturally releases “feel good” chemicals in the brain.
We also foster an unparalleled sense of community because we are small by design. An intentional and natural outcome of accommodating a select number of clients is that they bond with one another. Nothing lifts the mood better than the feeling of community and support from being with others who understand you. Many of our clients were isolated because of their drug use and are uplifted by interacting with others again.
By engaging in so many feel-good activities while in treatment, our goal is that clients incorporate these activities with their plan of personal recovery long after addiction treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and want to learn how to live a substance-free life, Synergy Group Service’s addiction rehab in South Florida can help.