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Learn more about substance abuse

substance abuse

Stuff you should know about substance abuse, and illicit drugs.

Abuse of drugs and alcohol is often painful for families and friends as substance abuse is difficult to understand. We have put together a list of commonly abused drugs showing their effects and symptoms. Moreover, we have provided links to products that detect these drugs.

Nicotine Metabolites

Cotinine, the major metabolite of nicotine, is an analyte for the determination of tobacco usage. Nicotine can be detected in urine, but it is influenced by a variety of factors including; the type of tobacco used, filtered vs. nonfiltered cigarettes, how heavily the individual inhaled the smoke, and the number of cigarettes smoked per day. These variables make it difficult to determine precisely how much an individual smokes or uses tobacco; however, the testing methodology does have the precision to differentiate applicants exposed in a smoking environment from the tobacco user.  The cotinine test identifies nicotine use.  We estimate 25% of smokers or 5% of the total population fail to report potent correct smoking status.

Tests for Nicotine are available HERE.

Alcohol (Ethanol)

Ethanol, the metabolite of alcohol, is commonly used to screen for recent alcohol consumption. Peak blood levels usually occur within 40-70 minutes on an empty stomach. Food in the stomach can decrease the absorption of alcohol. Symptoms of intoxication in the presence of low alcohol levels could indicate a severe acute medical problem requiring immediate attention. The half-life and effectiveness of certain drugs (e.g., barbiturates) are increased with the presence of ethanol. 

Tests for Alcohol abuse are available HERE.

Amphetamines

substance abuse

Amphetamines are potent central nervous system stimulants with high abuse potential. They produce an initial state of euphoria (a high) followed by restlessness, agitation, irritability, and sometimes extreme paranoia. Tolerance develops rapidly and, although physical dependence has not been proved, psychological dependence is very high. Amphetamines are prescribed primarily for the treatment of attention disorder, hyperactivity, and narcolepsy, but, because of the high abuse potential, these compounds are used as a last resort in these treatments. 

Tests for Amphetamine substance abuse are available HERE.

Barbiturates

There is a variety of these sedative-hypnotic drugs. However, all are derivatives of barbituric acid. The long-acting barbiturate phenobarbital selectively reduces the excitability of rapidly firing neurons and is, therefore, an everyday anticonvulsant drug.  Short and ultra-short drugs inhibit arousal, hence their sedative and hypnotic effects.  Low doses produce sedation, drowsiness, sleep, and also impaired judgment. At high doses, anesthesia is produced.  Very high doses can cause stupor, convulsions, and death. 

Tests for Barbiturates substance abuse are available HERE.

Benzodiazepines

Among this group of drugs, the most prominent is Valium. Benzodiazepines are used therapeutically as so-called minor tranquilizers. Doses between 2.5 and 10 mg produce a calming effect while higher doses produce muscle-relaxing results. Drug addicts utilize Valium in high doses to counter the excitatory effects of other drugs or as a means of inducing tranquil states. Acutely, benzodiazepine overdose may produce lethargy, confusion, seizures, and coma. Rarely, hypertension, respiratory depression, and cardiac arrest may occur. Chronically, physical and psychological dependence occurs. Sudden discontinuance of the drug may lead to anxiety, sweating, irritability, hallucination, diarrhea, and seizures. 

Tests for Benzodiazepine substance abuse are available HERE.

Marijuana

Marijuana consists of the dried leaves and flowering tops of the Cannabis sativa plant and is a source of psychoactive agents, a major one being delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol ( Delta 9-THC). This drug is rapidly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract and the respiratory system after oral or inhalation routes of ingestion. When smoked, the drug is quickly metabolized and detected in the urine within a few hours and for up to thirty days.  Regular users report a feeling of euphoria, hallucinations, and relaxed inhibitions. 

Tests for Marijuana substance abuse are available HERE.

Cocaine

substance abuse

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant. It usually appears in the form of a fine crystal-like powder, although it can come in larger pieces called rocks, which are the free-base form of the drug and are injected, snorted, or smoked.  The effects of the drug begin within minutes and peak within 15 to 20 minutes. These include dilated pupils, an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature. The dangers associated with cocaine use vary depending on how the drug is taken, and the individual. Some regular users report feelings of restlessness, irritability, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Even low doses of cocaine may create psychological problems. The use of high doses of cocaine over a prolonged period may lead to paranoia, commonly called cocaine psychosis, which includes hallucinations of touch, sight, taste, and smell. 

Tests for Cocaine substance abuse are available HERE.

Methadone

Methadone is a non-bicyclic drug that binds to morphine receptors in the brain. Although it can become addictive, the effects are less than those of equivalent concentrations of heroin. Thus, the administration of methadone to heroin addicts allows them to experience the effects of heroin but in a modulated manner. A gradual lowering of the dose reduces physical dependence; however, addiction to methadone can also occur. 

Tests for Methadone substance abuse are available HERE.

Methaqualone

The primary use of Methaqualone is for its sedative-hypnotic properties. It also possesses anticonvulsant, antispasmodic, local anesthetic, antitussive, and weak antihistamine actions. Oral administration leads to rapid and complete absorption of the drug with peak concentrations within 2 to 3 hours. Tolerance to some of its actions, as well as dependence, occurs such that abusive dosages can be up to six or seven times greater than those employed therapeutically. Symptoms of overdose are similar to barbiturate toxicity and produce depression with lethargy, respiratory depression, coma, and death.  Unlike barbiturate overdose, muscle spasms, and convulsions can result.

Opiates

substance abuse

Opiates are drugs such as heroin, codeine, and morphine and can produce a very high physical or psychological dependence by their users. You can test for codeine and morphine (a metabolite of both codeine and heroin), and also the metabolite of heroin.  You can also check for the hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and Oxycodone (Percodan) from a full drug screen. Users report feelings of euphoria, analgesia, drowsiness, and respiratory depression. 

Tests for Opiates substance abuse are available HERE.

Phencyclidine

Phencyclidine is exclusively used as a drug of abuse. It has numerous effects on a variety of different neural pathways, and hence a wide array of bizarre symptoms can be seen in the same patient. It’s physiological effects appear to be analgesic, anesthetic, and paradoxically, stimulating.  Because of its various actions, clinically acute manifestations vary from depression to euphoria and can induce catatonia, violence, rage, and auditory and visual hallucinations. Vomiting, hyperventilation, tachycardia, shivering, seizures, coma, and death are also common occurrences that result from the abuse of this drug. 

Tests for Phencyclidine substance abuse are available HERE.

Propoxyphene

Propoxyphene is an analgesic drug very similar pharmacological properties to those of opiates like morphine. A primary cause of drug-related deaths is propoxyphene overdose, either alone or in combination with depressants like barbiturates and alcohol.  Results show that the symptoms are similar to those of opiate overdoses, i.e., respiratory depression, cardiac arrhythmia, seizures, pulmonary edema, and coma. 

Tests for Propoxyphene substance abuse are available HERE.

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