Should You Take Lunesta While Pregnant?

Pregnancy can often be a difficult process just on its own without also having to navigate what foods, drinks, activities, and most importantly, medications are safe for pregnant women.

What’s considered safe and unsafe during pregnancy is almost constantly changing as technology improves. People can expect to receive more accurate information and learn more about new medications that are released even if their effects on pregnant women are not yet known.

There are so many potential uncomfortable side effects of being pregnant, including intense nausea, constipation, hemorrhoids, and insomnia, to name a few. This is why it is so important to know what is and isn’t safe for women to take to try and help ease these symptoms.

During pregnancy, insomnia especially can take a toll on your already overtaxed body. Because of this, many women want to know if it is safe to use sleeping pills when pregnant.

While women may be more likely to avoid using benzodiazepines like Xanax, non-benzo sedatives like Lunesta may seem like a safer alternative. But is Lunesta actually safe to take while pregnant?

What Are Pregnancy Medication Categories?

In order to help pregnant women determine what medications are safe for them to use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has different pregnancy medication categories on a scale of the risks associated with the use of a given drug.

There are five pregnancy categories:

  • Class A drugs have been thoroughly tested on people and have been shown to be safe to use and pose no risk to the fetus.
  • Class B drugs have either not been tested on people but have been studied on animals with no negative effects observed or have been tested on people and animals. While there may have been risks to the fetus in animals, there were none observed in the people tested.
  • Class C drugs have not had enough studies done on animals or people, or there have been studies on animals that have shown risk to the fetus. But there is no information on how the drug affects a human fetus.
  • Class D drugs have been proven to pose a risk to a human fetus, but the benefits may still outweigh the dangers if the mother has a life-threatening disorder that cannot be treated with safer drugs.
  • Class X drugs have been conclusively proven to be harmful enough to a human fetus that it outweighs any possible benefit of taking it.

For context, there are no Class A sedatives. Benadryl is considered a Class B drug, while benzodiazepines like Xanax and Klonopin are Class D drugs. The Lunesta pregnancy category is Class C.

Lunesta and Pregnancy: A Lack of Information

Lunesta is a Class C drug because while there have been some animal studies done in which no risks to the fetuses were observed, there is little to no information available about the relationship between Lunesta and pregnancy in humans.

While Class C drugs are obviously not as overtly dangerous as drugs in Class D or C, this does not necessarily mean they are safe.

Some Class C medications that can potentially be very dangerous include over-the-counter medications like Motrin and ibuprofen, which can delay the onset of labor and increase the risk of miscarriage and possible hemorrhaging in both the mother and the fetus. Antibiotics like Cipro can cause nerve damage and muscle and skeletal problems in fetuses.

Since Class C drugs still have the potential to do serious harm to an unborn baby, the safest course of action may be to avoid Lunesta and other sleeping pills when pregnant.

Side Effects of Lunesta: What You Need to Know

While the Lunesta pregnancy category means that the extent of possible risks to the mother and fetus are not yet known, there are still plenty of reasons to avoid taking Lunesta while pregnant based purely on the common side effects of Lunesta.

Some of the regularly experienced side effects of Lunesta include:

  • Memory problems
  • Dizziness
  • Daytime drowsiness, also known as “sleep hangover”
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating

So, even if Lunesta can help solve one issue, it has the potential to create new and possibly worse ones. Side effects like ongoing daytime grogginess and depression especially can lead to pregnant women putting themselves in unnecessarily risky situations. Then there are also the more severe possible side effects of Lunesta, such as:

  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Memory loss
  • Increased aggression
  • Sleepwalking

If someone taking Lunesta experiences these side effects, they should stop all use and contact their doctor. All of these side effects can lead to serious negatives consequences for both you and your baby.

Sleepwalking, in particular, can cause someone taking Lunesta to leave their home, eat a large amount of food, and even engage in intercourse or get behind the wheel of a car while still asleep, with no memory of their actions later.

It is easy to see how these side effects of Lunesta use are plenty dangerous on their own without even considering how the medication itself might affect a fetus. For these reasons, we do not recommend that you take Lunesta or other sleeping pills while pregnant.

Do You Need Help with Sedative Abuse?

Are you or a loved one struggling with sedative abuse or addiction? If so, it is important to take it as seriously as any other addiction and seek out professional addiction treatment services as soon as possible. At Arete Recovery, we can help you to both get on the road to recovery and to stay on it.

At Arete, our experienced and compassionate staff members understand how hard fighting back against addiction can be, which is why our doctors, nurses, therapists, and case managers do whatever it takes to provide you with everything you need for a successful recovery.

Call us now at 855-781-9939 to speak to one of our admissions specialists or contact us online for more information.

Cultural Drugs: Should Khat Be Illegal?

Around the world, different cultures have different preferences when it comes to getting high. In some areas, like the United States, opiates like heroin are sweeping the nation as the epidemic continues to build steam in our communities. Other places may, instead, favor cocaine or other substances. But one substance that you may not have even heard of is causing plenty of issues in South Africa due to its transportation and production. Khat, which is pronounced “cot”, is a lesser-known drug, but it still packs a punch.

What is Khat?

Khat is a flowering plant native to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. It contains the alkaloids called cathinone and cathine. It acts as an amphetamine-like stimulant. Much like other stimulants, it causes the user to experience excitement, loss of appetite, and euphoria. It is similar to the coca leaves in South America and the betel nut in Asia.

Since it originates in one of the oldest areas of the world, the act of Khat “chewing” (literally gnawing on the plant) has been around for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians considered Khat to be a divine food and used it in a multitude of religious ceremonies. Today, many people simply use Khat to achieve its stimulant effects. Used in both a recreational and cultural sense, the use of Khat has been seen in countries around the world.

Khat can be taken orally in a tea, chewed into a paste, or put in food. Most commonly, its leaves, twigs, or shoots are chewed on and stored in the cheek. Khat is only potent immediately though. As soon as 48 hours after disturbing the plant by cutting it, Khat will begin to lose its potency.

How Does it Affect the User?

Since the side effects of Khat mimic amphetamines, they directly impacts the synapses of the brain. Following consumption of the drug, the user will feel a burst of energy, a decline in their appetite, and an increase in levels of alertness and motor activity.

Users will also experience an increase in their confidence, become more extroverted, and experience a greater level of contentment. These are the side effects most appealing to the user, which can attribute to the development of a psychological dependence to the substance over time.

However, not all effects of Khat are positive. People have reported some less than enjoyable side effects like hallucinations, grandiose delusions, and paranoia. This is likely due to the presence of the cathinone found in the plant.

Cathinone causes the body to produce an excess of dopamine. Over time, as more dopamine accumulates, a person may end up experiencing hallucinations, schizophrenia, and high blood pressure.

Is it Addictive?

One massive part that comes into play when talking about Khat is whether or not it is an addictive substance. The World Health Organization (WHO) has, in fact, classified it as a drug of abuse. It received this classification in 1980 when it was determined that it can produce psychological dependence. WHO does not consider the substance to be much a problem, but is this accurate?

The Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, has labeled the plant as dangerous. In 1993, the DEA placed the active ingredient in Khat, cathinone, on the Schedule I list. In doing so, it also basically banned the plant altogether in the United States. Due to its stimulant-like effects on users, the DEA determined it had too great of a risk for abuse and potential for addiction. But is it actually addictive or not?

There is no actual proof that Khat can be physically addictive. However, there is evidence supporting that it is in fact psychologically addictive. People who use the drug frequently can become psychologically dependant on the substance. The withdrawal symptoms, while minor, consist of lethargy, depression, nightmares, and a slight tremor.

So, is it Legal?

Depending on where you may be in the world, Khat may be illegal or legal. In the United States specifically, it has no legitimate use, and therefore has been labeled as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This means, Khat has been determined to have a high potential for abuse but had no currently accepted medical use in the United States. It also has no currently accepted safe uses under medical supervision.

While Khat may not necessarily have a physically addictive nature, it is probably better off keeping this particular substance illegal. Khat has no actual benefits behind its use, and psychological addiction can be just as serious as a physical addiction.

Need Help?

Being trapped in addiction can be a scary place to be. No matter what substance you or a loved one may be struggling with, Arete Recovery is here to help. Call us at 844-318-7500 now or contact us online, and you’ll be connected to our addiction specialists who are available 24/7 to get you started on the admissions process. Don’t delay; begin your journey toward recovery and the happy, healthy life you deserve today!

Prescription Drug Monitoring Databases: Is Your Health Data Safe?

As the nation grapples with an opioid addiction and overdose crisis that continues to see record numbers of deaths, officials are looking for ways to crack down on drug abusers seeking illegal prescriptions and the doctors who illegally prescribe them.

State-run prescription drug monitoring databases (PDMDs), were created with this purpose in mind, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the programs “continue to be among the most promising state-level interventions to improve opioid prescribing, inform clinical practice, and protect patients at risk.”

Despite its promise in helping officials flag illegal drug activity in the US, some observers contend there are costs to having PDMPs, and one of them is medical privacy, they say.

There are now prescription drug monitoring programs in all 50 states since the initiative started in 2011. Missouri became the last state in July 2017 to launch one. Lawmakers in that state were concerned about privacy, which is why it was the holdout state in establishing such a program.

Different States, Different Approaches

The state-run databases track prescriptions for certain powerful, addictive medications that have emerged time again in the opioid overdose epidemic, such as OxyContin, heroin, and fentanyl, among others.

Many states use the system to alert doctors and pharmacists to suspicious activity and identify people who appear to be “doctor shopping” to feed an addiction to prescription medication. Depending on the state, doctors are required or encouraged to check the database before issuing a prescription to a patient.

States can share data from their PDMD with other states electronically, but according to the Presidential Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, the databases aren’t being used as much as they could.

The report stated that 49 of the U.S. states now have Prescription Drug Monitoring Databases. However, most of them are not sharing the information gathered. The commission urged that a July 1, 2018 deadline is set to “achieve this data sharing” among state and federal PDMP systems.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the databases also serve other functions like acting as a patient care tool and as a way to help investigate insurance fraud.

How Much Access Is Too Much?

While all states have a Prescription Drug Monitoring Database, not all have approached the setup of their PDMDs the same way. According to the Marshall Project article, some are using their databases as a tool to empower law enforcement officials with information to aid the fight against opioid abuse while others are using it as a public health intervention.

Some states are examining how best to use PDMPs weighing how much database access should be granted to officials and law enforcement officials. In summer 2017, New Jersey became the latest state to consider proposed legislation allowing officials to use its prescription drug monitoring database without the order of a court.

It is not alone. Oregon and Utah recently granted the Drug Enforcement Administration permission to access their prescription drug databases without warrants to support the agency’s probes into suspected drug abuse. In July 2017, California’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of a state medical board’s access and review of patient records in the state’s prescription drug monitoring database, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The American Civil Liberties Union writes that PDMDs contain sensitive information that law enforcement should be required to obtain a warrant for before being granted permission to search the database. There are concerns among some advocates that granting too much access could lead to abuses of the personal health information databases contain.

Warrantless Searches Already Underway

According to a 2016 analysis done by WCPO Cincinnati, 31 states grant law enforcement warrantless access to databases containing personal drug histories. “… And the US Drug Enforcement Administration is pushing hard to search records even in states that have privacy safeguards,” it added.

The analysis also highlights the findings of a five-month investigation by Scripps News, which reportedly found that “law enforcement tapped into at least 344,921 prescription histories of Americans between 2014-2015 in the states that don’t require a warrant or another form of court authorization.”

Public health advocates expressed to the Marshall Project concern that physicians may turn “problem” patients away because they know prescription activity is being monitored. They caution, in particular, this could present a challenge for people in active addiction who need to be connected to physicians who can provide stability and make drug treatment referrals, and prescribe naloxone, which is credited with saving many lives after drug overdoses.

In addition to expressing its support for PDMDs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said, “Additional research is needed to evaluate PDMP practices and policies to identify best practices.”

Leave the Depths of Addiction Behind

If you or someone you love is suffering from prescription drug addiction or opiate withdrawal, call Arete Recovery at 844-318-7500 today to learn about recovery options from one of our specialists who can guide you to a new life of health, sobriety, and happiness.

Social Media And Addiction

Social media users share more than they ever have before and post just about everything — from what they ate for dinner to a selfie of their weekend plans — but what if a person’s social media activity actually revealed whether he or she is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction?

Many status updates and posts that are posted receive a passing glance if that. But such posts, while plentiful, may reveal more than just where a person is or what they are doing.

Researchers at the Penn Social Media & Health Innovation Lab at the University of Pennsylvania recently launched a study in which they are examining the language people use in their posts on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to see if it reveals clues about their mental, emotional, and physical health. Substance abuse is among the conditions they are looking for along with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic illnesses.

According to researchers, the structure of the language used as well as the words used can indicate a decline in their cognitive health or whether they are struggling with a disorder.

Social Media And Teenagers

The mining of health data from social networking sites can help identify web users who are at risk of abusing drugs or alcohol, or both, and help them enter a drug treatment program while they are in the early stages of addiction. Early detection could save money and years of trying to treat the disease before it progresses. A closer look at the patterns in social media posts could reveal red flags that signal intervention might be the next step.

A 2011 National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVI: Teens and Parents conducted by the CASAColumbia at Columbia University found that youths in the US between the ages of 12-17 who spend time on social networking sites are at an increased risk of smoking, drinking and drug use.

According to its findings, students who spend more time on social media are five times likelier to use tobacco, three times likelier to use alcohol and twice as likely to try marijuana.

Students’ exposure to drugs and alcohol as well as the behavior associated with addiction also increases with their social media use.

CASAColumbia’s data show social media sites increase high-school students’ access to someone who drinks, smokes or uses drugs as well as connect them to someone who deals drugs.

Images shared via social media websites can also hint at substance abuse or addiction. According to the same survey, “40 percent of all teens surveyed have seen pictures on Facebook, Myspace or other social networking sites of kids getting drunk, passed out, or using drugs.”

It also found that “half of teens who have seen pictures of kids drunk, passed out, or using drugs on Facebook and other social networking sites first saw such pictures when they were 13 years of age or younger; more than 90 percent first saw such pictures when they were 15 or younger.”

As a result of such exposure, students are at a greater risk of engaging in the behavior they see portrayed in the words and images shared online.

The study found that students are more likely to drink and smoke marijuana; they are also “four times likelier to get marijuana and three times likelier to get controlled prescription drugs without a prescription and more than twice as likely to be able to get alcohol in a day or less.”

The findings also show that such young social media users are likelier to know friends and classmates who abuse both illegal and prescription drugs.

Mining Social Media For Addiction Clues

Here are some general behaviors shared in social media posts that could indicate a drug or alcohol abuse or addiction. If spotted, it is possible that the person who posted the update could be facing challenges and may need to seek treatment or intervention may be needed.

  • Status updates, images, videos that mention or portray risky, irresponsible behaviors while drinking alcohol and abusing drugs, both illegal and prescription
  • Posts in which a person is operating a motor vehicle after heavy drinking has been implied or expressed; such posts could indicate the person is driving while impaired
  • Images of drug paraphernalia, such as a crack pipe, spoon, bong, alcohol bottles, needles
  • Frequency of social media posts that promote drinking alcohol or using illegal substances or legal substances in an illegal manner
  • References to pills, medicines, illicit drugs
  • Updates that indicate mood swings or erratic behavior, intense anger or depression and sadness
  • Changes in a person’s posting habits. For example, this could include frequently posting every day and then not posting at all for a few days, weeks or months.
  • References to sleep deprivation, depression and other mental health issues
  • Images that show a gradual, marked change in a person’s appearance; weight loss or weight gain, skin changes, bloodshot eyes and other physical changes could hint at a bigger problem
  • Noticeable changes in behavior after a major life event, such as job loss or the death of a loved one

Possible Link Between Social Media Use Substance Abuse

In 2014, University of Albany researchers published a study that explored the possible connection between addictive social media and Internet behavior and substance abuse.

They surveyed 253 undergraduate students about their social media habits, Internet addiction, emotion regulation and alcohol use, and found that those who reported what researchers termed”disordered social media use” were more susceptible to problem drinking.

Use of social networking sites in this manner, researchers said, results from poor emotion regulation skills, the same lack of impulse control that can lead to alcohol addiction.

“Our findings suggest that disordered online social networking may arise as part of a cluster of risk factors that increase susceptibility to both substance and non-substance addictions,” said lead study author Julia Hormes in a press release about the study.

If You Suspect A Social Media User Is Struggling With Addiction…

You might want to consider whether addressing the issue with them is the next step. There is the question of privacy and whether such information gleaned from social media posts should be used to gauge a person’s health status or whether they are experiencing challenges with addiction. Just because someone appears in photos in which he or she is holding an alcoholic beverage doesn’t mean the person is an alcoholic or is problem drinking. However, if the person’s behavior or messages conveyed on social networking sites are cause for concern, it might be a sign they may want or need help.

If you, or someone you suspect, is struggling with or exhibiting signs of addiction, seek professional help or call a hotline to speak with a health professional. Arete Recovery has resources to help you. For more information about recovery or to discuss the available treatment options, call Arete Recovery at (855) 781-9939 or contact us online. Our specialists and intake team are always available to those in need.

Arete is personally invested in each and every patient. Our goal is to help you or your loved one begin the journey to healing and achieve lasting sobriety.