Category Archives: Alcohol and Other Drugs
As a whole, the nation has seen a major rise in the recreational use of the synthetic drug, Fentanyl. In many cases, Fentanyl is used as a heroin substitute. Its euphoric effects are much like heroin and morphine, which has been a major motivation for its use. Fentanyl is 30-50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. In high and unregulated doses, this pain reliever can be very dangerous; in fact, Fentanyl is the strongest pain reliever (Opioid) used in the medical field. For this reason, it should not be used recreationally, even in doses as small as .25 mg it can cause major health effects.
Fentanyl use is occurring in several way, all of which are very dangerous. Fentanyl can be used in the same way as heroin- through injection with a needle, inhalation, or a pain reliever patch. The full effect of the patch occurs within 12-24 hours after being in contact with the skin. It is very dangerous to even be in the area of Fentanyl use, especially if it is being ingested in powdered form. Individuals that accidentally inhale Fentanyl can still experience its negative effects. Even if you are not directly participating in using Fentanyl, be sure to stay out of settings in which Fentanyl use is occurring.
Fentanyl is extremely dangerous on its own, but is even more potent when mixed with the use of other illicit drugs or alcohol. If you see someone experiencing the following symptoms after using Fentanyl, call for help immediately.
• Hypoventilation (slow or below normal breathing)
• Abdominal pain
Check out the video below for a PSA from your very own Grand Forks healthcare providers:
I saw a meme the other day that made me both chuckle and think about my habits during my first semester as a graduate student. It was from a fellow classmate after we finished with our last final and it said, “Caffeine, you’re on the bench. Alcohol, suit up.” I’m sure it was funny to the majority of my classmates. It made me reflect on my study habits and my cycles of “self-medicating.” Both caffeine and alcohol are indeed drugs, legal ones, but too many people have developed a dependency on them.
I can remember a few tests this semester where I had more caffeine than I should have while studying. I knew skipping coffee on any day would make me feel unproductive. I associated mental arousal with that irresistible hot black beverage. I even went on a caffeine detox for a week and I felt horrible during the first couple of days.
After those tests were done, I often found myself wanting some sort of alcoholic beverage just to relax. I didn’t want to go to parties and binge drink my brain away, but rather enjoy the effects of a drink or two in solitude. See, my mind was so overstimulated from the caffeine that the depressive effects of alcohol seemed to balance it out. I needed one drug to counteract the effects of another. I thought I was being smart, only having one or two drinks on Friday evening. My mindset was “I’m old enough to legally drink; I’m doing so responsibly, there is nothing wrong here.”
Many will argue that caffeine and alcohol are fine in moderate amounts and in appropriate situations; however, I do believe we need to get out of the vicious substance controlled undulation of our state of minds. Instead of relying on caffeine to heighten our senses, we should be altering our lifestyles in a manner that brings more balance. Instead of unwinding with a drink after a week of taxing our minds with caffeine and dull textbooks, we should be seeking out positive and enriching experiences outside school. I’m not going to be giving up on my green tea anytime soon, but I will avoid using it solely as a means to be more attentive.
Can alcohol really help you sleep better at night?
NO, it affects the deep sleep cycle and causes the sleeper to have a more fitful night of sleep. This is due to the fact that the body is processing and metabolizing the alcohol. During this processing, ones’ sleep becomes lighter and more distressed. The notion that drinking alcohol before bed can help you sleep better seems to be widespread in part because in some cases people have believed it can help one fall asleep more quickly. However, it does not actually help you stay asleep or give you the greatest quality of sleep. Concentration of alcohol in the blood is usually highest one hour after ingesting the drink, so drinking too close to falling asleep (even just one drink) can decrease your chances of having a good nights sleep by a significant amount!
It’s also unwise to drink before sleeping, especially the night before a big test or presentation.
Fun Fact: A great deal of memory formation and retention happens while sleeping. If you’re not getting a good quality and a substantial amount of sleep then the memory retention occurring at night is not to its’ best ability. Binge drinking, drinking 5+ drinks for men and 4+ drinks for women in the course of two hours, can affect the brain and body’s functions for up to three days; add that to not getting enough sleep and one’s overall functioning is looking pretty dim.
What less sleep can be doing to you:
1. Increasing episodes of depression
2. Difficulty performing everyday tasks and increased irritability
3. Decreased motivation, memory, and concentration
4. Impaired social functioning
5. Lowered mental stamina
6. Decreased creativity and spontaneity
Can Caffeine really keep you up at night?
Unlike alcohol, caffeine is a stimulant which in turn reduces the flow of sleep inducing chemicals in the brain while also increasing adrenaline production. Caffeine can have stimulating effects as soon as 15 minutes after consuming the beverage and it shortens the deep sleep cycle. It takes around 6 hours for half of the caffeine ingested to be eliminated from your body. Therefore, it is best to curb drinking caffeine at about 6 hours before going to bed. However, at that point only half of the caffeine would be fully processed and eliminated by your body. So maybe it’s best to stick to that one morning cup a day rule.
Fun Fact: It is possible to be physically dependent on caffeine just as it is equally possible to be physically dependent on alcohol. There is a disorder in which many people dependent on caffeine are susceptible to, known as Caffeine Induced Sleep Disorder. This disorder occurs when caffeine has lengthened the amount of time it takes for one to fall asleep.
What caffeine can be doing to you:
1. Reducing fine motor skills
2. Headaches, nervousness, and dizziness
3. Causing insomnia
4. Rapid heartbeat
It’s safe to say that alcohol, caffeine, and sleep do not mix well together. Careful what you choose to drink before bed… Sweet Dreams.
Many of us have uttered these words as we’ve walked out of Target trying to remember where we parked. Some of us may have said these words after a long night of partying hard. Although, driving after a party if you’re completely sober is fine, it is important to remember not to drive after you have had any amount of alcohol.
When people drive after drinking alcohol, the chances of a fatal car accident increase significantly. Nationally, a person is injured approximately every two minutes from alcohol related crashes and every thirty minutes someone is killed because of an alcohol related crash. On average, every weeknight between 10:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m., 1 in 13 drivers is drunk; between 1:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., 1 in 7 drivers is drunk (www.dot.nd.gov). If you are caught driving after you have had a few drinks you may receive:
• A class B misdemeanor
• A fine no more than $500 if your BAC is below .1, or two day imprisonment and no more than a $750 fine if your BAC is .16 or greater
• Addiction evaluation
• A 91 day license suspension if your BAC is below 1.8 or a 180 day license suspension if your BAC is 1.8 or higher.
These are some pretty serious consequences for driving while intoxicated, and they just represent the first time you are caught drinking and driving. The second offense has much greater fines and restrictions. Fortunately, we have come up with an acronym to help you remember to be a little more prepared for a fun night without intoxicated driving.
Although you may feel and think you’re fine to drive after you have had some alcoholic drinks, the truth is that the consequences can be deadly. Don’t underestimate the power you have while you are drunk. You have the power to make a bad choice and potentially ruin someone’s life (or your own) and the power to make a good choice and have a safe night. It’s up to you. Last but not least, don’t forget that there are always alternatives to driving drunk, like having a designated driver take you and your friends home, calling a cab, or spending the night at the place you’re at (if it’s a friend’s house).
This week the Health & Wellness Hub will be having a display case in the Memorial Union in honor of education about drunkorexia.
Drunkorexia is a slang, non-medical term that refers to a person or persons who excessively restrict their food calorie intake in order to make more room for the calories of alcohol. Many do this in a number of different ways, but in most cases it involves purging. A number of studies have shown that 30% of women between the ages of 18 to 23 restrict their calories throughout the day in order to make more room for calories from alcohol. This is a new and shocking discovery considering the known risks that this can involve. These behaviors often occur from the fear of weight gain from both drinking and eating. Often times this is seen in college-aged women, but on the other hand, it can also be seen in men. Too often, in many extreme cases, this can be related to medical terms such as anorexia and or bulimia. In such extreme cases vomiting is mostly seen, and alcohol is used to make that process easier.
Combining both binge drinking and eating disorders can have a huge impact on one’s health. These are some of the risks associated with this behavior:
• Drinking on an empty stomach increases the rate at which alcohol reaches the blood stream, your blood alcohol content (BAC) will be raised quickly and self-control will decrease.
• Binge eating may also be experienced because the person is extremely hungry and may be unable to control their urges.
• Purging often follows after these spurts of binging on food.
• Reducing food caloric intake puts a person at risk for not getting the nutrients needed to function properly.
Ways to find balance and stay healthy:
• Moderation instead of elimination: Eating throughout the day and making sure to have three meals a day and plenty of healthy snacks, can help prevent excessive hunger and overeating. This can also help oneself manage their alcoholic beverages with the addition of nutrients in the system.
• Knowing your own limits: Make sure to plan ahead so you are able to manage your alcohol intake. Keep in mind that binge drinking is considered to be 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men in one sitting. Also, make sure to keep track of the amount of drinking that you are doing throughout one sitting. Alternate water or non-alcoholic beverages in between alcoholic beverages.
• Seek Support: Seeking support, understanding, and advice from loved ones who support a healthy lifestyle can help you get on track as well. Even though drunkorexia is not a medical term and there may not be many support groups, there are groups that do support those with specific eating disorders and alcohol abuse and these together can help one get on the right track when seeking a healthier lifestyle.
“Drunkorexia?” Drunkorexia. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.