Snorting the cremated remains of Great Danes (+ doggie xanax and other tales – 2/10/11)
Stealing Doggie Xanax
Sometimes the dog did not do it.
One of my patients has a son who struggles with mood swings and addictions. After a recent hospitalization he returned home. He appeared to do quite well in his classes and social relations. His use of illicit drugs seemed over.
Or so his parents thought.
A massive storm blew up one night. The wind was high and the noise overpowering, terrifying their dog. Soon his behavior turned unntrollable. Mom rushed out to find his veterinary grade tranquilizers. Half the pill bottle was gone.
Her son took his time but finally admitted the truth – he was snorting the pooch’s xanax. Enough was still around to calm the dog, though not the mother.
That’s not the only canine product kids have been snorting of late.
The Secret of Love, Joy, and Magic Lake
Last month police were called for a break-in in a small town in central Florida named Silver Spring Shores. The owners had returned home to discover the cremated remains of the homeowner’s father and two Great Danes trashed on the floor. The cases holding the ashes were missing.
The police quickly found the perpetrators, five young men. They had snorted the cremated remains believing the ashes were cocaine or possibly heroin. Recognizing their error, they quickly decided to hide their deed by dumping the urns and cases holding the cremated remains into the lake beyond.
Police divers dove into the turbid waters of Love, Joy and Magic Lake (yes, that’s its real name.) They recovered the urn of the father and one of the Great Danes; the other urn remains missing.
Snorting Out Your Life
People have snorted drugs for a very, very long time. In the US, snorting of cocaine, particularly crack cocaine, has been a decades long public health disaster. More recently, snorting of “popped” oxycodone sustained release pills has killed hundreds, provoking a more than $600 million fine to Purdue Pharma, maker of the drug.
Yet few would recognize the recent craze for snorting almost any imaginable powder. Snorting veterinary drugs is bizarre. Snorting bath salts is crazy (okay, many of them are not really bath salts but chemical stimulants, which is even crazier.) But snorting the cremated remains of dogs?
Anything Goes in the Sunshine State
Some might ascribe this news item to the strange styles of life now current in Florida. Few recognized America’s historical tectonic shift when, soon after the new Millenium began, O.J. Simpson decamped from southern California to the Sunshine State. Within a short time California was losing its status as Kook Central to America’s southernmost shores. Novelists like Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey have continued to mine this regional trend, writing stories so inconceivable only Floridians recognize them as slightly re-arranged local news stories.
But why are kids snorting everything they can get their hands on? Perhaps because
- Kids are trying every prescription drug they can find or steal (including “bowl parties” where everything is thrown together and sampled, as if drugs were M&Ms.) Some claim prescription drugs are “safer” than street drugs.
- Snorting gets drugs into the bloodstream faster, leading to more intense effects.
- Snorting’s novelty value.
Public Health Effects
Snorting may occasionally leads to higher highs, but it also brings faster deaths. Most drugs are not devised to be inhaled through your nose.
The doses go in too fast. There are more arrhythmias and seizures. Both may provoke rapid death in otherwise healthy young people.
Then there are the multiple and volatile changes in metabolism. Often drugs, like crystal meth, are combined with other drugs.
More drugs, more lethality. More drugs, more addiction. More rapid induction of drugs, more rapid addiction.
Then there’s the results on your nose.
Snorting with the Stars
The American nose has to take on and survive endless challenges. There are the fungi, bacteria and viruses that cause sinus infections; the innumerable allergies that provoke chronic sinusitis; the many thousands of new chemicals that human nose must sniff and help identify as friend or foe.
Otolaryngologists know that cocaine necroses the nasal septum, sometimes leading to a collapsed nose (though the mechanism was different, think Michael Jackson – do you really want fifty varieties of nasal prostheses?) Clinical studies with other drugs is sparse – most people don’t want their doctors to know they’re snorting crystal meth or whatever’s in Mom’s medicine cabinet. Yet infection rates go up and up.
What will stop this novel form of self-destruction? More public information may help. Snorting of drugs not designed for nasal inhalation is a rather repulsive activity.
Perhaps here is a chance for Reality TV to show its public spiritedness. Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler, now judging American Idol, has publicly admitted snorting sleeping pill lunesta to treat his feet in 2009. He fell off the concert stage that day, leading to more than that concert’s cancellation. Undoubtedly the horrors of snorting drugs could also be demonstrated by many other celebrities.
So perhaps one day we will wake up to a new Reality TV show – “Snorting with the Stars.” Yet public health issues rarely excite TV programmers. We may have to settle for “Pole Dancing with the Stars” first, before the public health is served.
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