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Case study (Applied Pharmacology) - Essay Example

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The effects of heroin vary among individuals. The most common cause of this variation includes: difference in drug tolerance, and difference in drug purity (Fernandez & Libby, 2011)…
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Case study (Applied Pharmacology)
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Case study (Applied Pharmacology)

Download file to see previous pages... The most common cause of this variation includes: difference in drug tolerance, and difference in drug purity (Fernandez & Libby, 2011). In addition, poly-drug use also increases the probability of fatal over dosage. Heroin overdose usually occurs to new users or recovering addicts, who slipped into their old habit and injected a dose similar to their peers or similar to the amount of heroin they were taking at the prime of their active use (Fernandez & Libby, 2011). Overdosage usually occurs as a result of decreased tolerance that causes the effects to double in magnitude resulting in respiratory arrest instead of the usual decreased in respiratory depth. Additives used by drug distributors to increase their profit such as quinine, milk sugar, starch, powdered milk, talcum powder, and fentanyl have been proven to cause serious health problems (Fernandez & Libby, 2011). Talcum powder, for instance, does not dissolve in the blood instead; it causes blood to coagulate, predisposing the user to deep vein thrombosis (Fernandez & Libby, 2011). Fentanyl--a more potent opiate analgesic than morphine when mixed with heroin--can amplify the effects of the latter causing respiratory depression and arrest, sedation, unconsciousness, and coma (National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA], n.d.). Apart from the dangers of the cutting agents mixed with the drug, heroin sold in the market was found out to be as pure as 40% from its typical purity of 17% to 20% (Sober Living by the Sea [SLS], 2010). Users who are unaware of the increased concentration may take the same amount of their usual dose, which had less than 40% of pure heroin and can easily overdose (SLS, 2010). Poly-drug use is an increasing trend among addicts. They do this to potentiate the effects of another drug, to counteract the effects of another drug, to be on the latest trend, and to use it as a replacement for their drug of choice, which is usually in conjunction with other drugs (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations [DEEWR], n.d.). However, the dangers increase exponentially when drugs are taken in combination with other drugs since the effects can be doubled and the drug’s half-life can be prolonged (Watkins, n.d.). Q2. From a pharmacological perspective, explain the likely impact of the patients’ alcoholism and level of intoxication on his/her condition? (10 marks). Heroin is a synthetic opioid that stimulates specific receptors--mu, kappa, delta, in the central nervous system as well as in the periphery. These results in the inhibition of synaptic transmission; thus, depressing most of the body’s functions including heart rate, respiratory rate, and bowel movement among others (Flora, et al., 2004). Alcohol, on the other hand, lessens the excitatory effect of the neurotransmitter, glutamate, causing unconsciousness, and respiratory depression or arrest at high levels (Genetic Science Learning Center [GSLC], n.d.). Heroin and alcohol, which are both depressants, can act synergistically, compete for metabolism, and can potentiate the effects of each other in the CNS (Schuckit, 2006; Maisto, et al., 2011). Its combined effects can slow body functions enough to stop the heart from beating, to cause blood pressure to drop to dangerous levels, and to cause breathing to slow down or come to a complete halt (Maisto, et al., 2011). Q3. What would be your primary course of action? Describe the expected outcome and the physiological rationale for your intervention (10 marks). During an emergency, stabilizing the patient takes precedence over administration of an antidote to counteract the effects of the abused drug (Bebarta, n.d.). The effects of heroin such as: respiratory depression, decreased heart rate, and decreased blood pressure ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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