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Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts

NOTE: This fact sheet discusses research findings on effective treatment approaches for drug abuse and addiction. If you’re seeking treatment, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357) or go to https://findtreatment.gov/ for information on hotlines, counseling services, or treatment options in your state. 

What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences and changes in the brain, which can be long-lasting. These changes in the brain can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who use drugs. Drug addiction is also a relapsing disease. Relapse is the return to drug use after an attempt to stop.

The path to drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs. But over time, a person’s ability to choose not to do so becomes compromised. Seeking and taking the drug becomes compulsive. This is mostly due to the effects of long-term drug exposure on brain function. Addiction affects parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and control over behavior.

Addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior.

Can drug addiction be treated?

Yes, but it’s not simple. Because addiction is a chronic disease, people can’t simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Most patients need long-term or repeated care to stop using completely and recover their lives.

Addiction treatment must help the person do the following:

  • stop using drugs
  • stay drug-free
  • be productive in the family, at work, and in society 

Principles of Effective Treatment

Based on scientific research since the mid-1970s, the following key principles should form the basis of any effective treatment program:

  • Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.
  • No single treatment is right for everyone.
  • People need to have quick access to treatment.
  • Effective treatment addresses all of the patient’s needs, not just his or her drug use.
  • Staying in treatment long enough is critical.
  • Counseling and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of treatment.
  • Medications are often an important part of treatment, especially when combined with behavioral therapies.
  • Treatment plans must be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.
  • Treatment should address other possible mental disorders.
  • Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of treatment.
  • Treatment doesn’t need to be voluntary to be effective.
  • Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.
  • Treatment programs should test patients for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases as well as teach them about steps they can take to reduce their risk of these illnesses.

What are treatments for drug addiction?

There are many options that have been successful in treating drug addiction, including:

  • behavioral counseling
  • medication
  • medical devices and applications used to treat withdrawal symptoms or deliver skills training
  • evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
  • long-term follow-up to prevent relapse

A range of care with a tailored treatment program and follow-up options can be crucial to success. Treatment should include both medical and mental health services as needed. Follow-up care may include community- or family-based recovery support systems.

How are medications and devices used in drug addiction treatment?

Medications and devices can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, and treat co-occurring conditions.

Withdrawal. Medications and devices can help suppress withdrawal symptoms during detoxification. Detoxification is not in itself “treatment,” but only the first step in the process. Patients who do not receive any further treatment after detoxification usually resume their drug use. One study of treatment facilities found that medications were used in almost 80 percent of detoxifications (SAMHSA, 2014). In November 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted a new indication to an electronic stimulation device, NSS-2 Bridge, for use in helping reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms. This device is placed behind the ear and sends electrical pulses to stimulate certain brain nerves. Also, in May 2018, the FDA approved lofexidine, a non-opioid medicine designed to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Relapse prevention. Patients can use medications to help re-establish normal brain function and decrease cravings. Medications are available for treatment of opioid (heroin, prescription pain relievers), tobacco (nicotine), and alcohol addiction. Scientists are developing other medications to treat stimulant (cocaine, methamphetamine) and cannabis (marijuana) addiction. People who use more than one drug, which is very common, need treatment for all of the substances they use.

  • Opioids: Methadone (Dolophine®, Methadose®), buprenorphine (Suboxone®, Subutex®, Probuphine® , Sublocade), and naltrexone (Vivitrol®) are used to treat opioid addiction. Acting on the same targets in the brain as heroin and morphine, methadone and buprenorphine suppress withdrawal symptoms and relieve cravings. Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids at their receptor sites in the brain and should be used only in patients who have already been detoxified. All medications help patients reduce drug seeking and related criminal behavior and help them become more open to behavioral treatments. A NIDA study found that once treatment is initiated, both a buprenorphine/naloxone combination and an extended release naltrexone formulation are similarly effective in treating opioid addiction. Because full detoxification is necessary for treatment with naloxone, initiating treatment among active users was difficult, but once detoxification was complete, both medications had similar effectiveness.
  • Tobacco: Nicotine replacement therapies have several forms, including the patch, spray, gum, and lozenges. These products are available over the counter. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two prescription medications for nicotine addiction: bupropion (Zyban®) and varenicline (Chantix®). They work differently in the brain, but both help prevent relapse in people trying to quit. The medications are more effective when combined with behavioral treatments, such as group and individual therapy as well as telephone quitlines.
  • Alcohol: Three medications have been FDA-approved for treating alcohol addiction and a fourth, topiramate, has shown promise in clinical trials (large-scale studies with people). The three approved medications are as follows:
    • Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors that are involved in the rewarding effects of drinking and in the craving for alcohol. It reduces relapse to heavy drinking and is highly effective in some patients. Genetic differences may affect how well the drug works in certain patients.
    • Acamprosate (Campral®) may reduce symptoms of long-lasting withdrawal, such as insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and dysphoria (generally feeling unwell or unhappy). It may be more effective in patients with severe addiction.
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse®) interferes with the breakdown of alcohol. Acetaldehyde builds up in the body, leading to unpleasant reactions that include flushing (warmth and redness in the face), nausea, and irregular heartbeat if the patient drinks alcohol. Compliance (taking the drug as prescribed) can be a problem, but it may help patients who are highly motivated to quit drinking.
  • Co-occuring conditions: Other medications are available to treat possible mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, that may be contributing to the person’s addiction.

The best treatment programs provide a combination of therapies and other services to meet the needs of the individual patient.

How are behavioral therapies used to treat drug addiction?

Behavioral therapies help patients:

  • modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug use
  • increase healthy life skills
  • persist with other forms of treatment, such as medication

Patients can receive treatment in many different settings with various approaches.

Outpatient behavioral treatment includes a wide variety of programs for patients who visit a behavioral health counselor on a regular schedule. Most of the programs involve individual or group drug counseling, or both. These programs typically offer forms of behavioral therapy such as:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations in which they are most likely to use drugs
  • multidimensional family therapy—developed for adolescents with drug abuse problems as well as their families—which addresses a range of influences on their drug abuse patterns and is designed to improve overall family functioning
  • motivational interviewing, which makes the most of people’s readiness to change their behavior and enter treatment
  • motivational incentives (contingency management), which uses positive reinforcement to encourage abstinence from drugs

Treatment is sometimes intensive at first, where patients attend multiple outpatient sessions each week. After completing intensive treatment, patients transition to regular outpatient treatment, which meets less often and for fewer hours per week to help sustain their recovery. In September 2017, the FDA permitted marketing of the first mobile application, reSET®, to help treat substance use disorders. This application is intended to be used with outpatient treatment to treat alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and stimulant substance use disorders. In December 2018, the FDA cleared a mobile medical application, reSET®, to help treat opioid use disorders. This application is a prescription cognitive behavioral therapy and should be used in conjunction with treatment that includes buprenorphine and contingency management. Read more about reSET® in this FDA News Release.

Inpatient or residential treatment  can also be very effective, especially for those with more severe problems (including co-occurring disorders). Licensed residential treatment facilities offer 24-hour structured and intensive care, including safe housing and medical attention. Residential treatment facilities may use a variety of therapeutic approaches, and they are generally aimed at helping the patient live a drug-free, crime-free lifestyle after treatment. Examples of residential treatment settings include:

  • Therapeutic communities, which are highly structured programs in which patients remain at a residence, typically for 6 to 12 months. The entire community, including treatment staff and those in recovery, act as key agents of change, influencing the patient’s attitudes, understanding, and behaviors associated with drug use. Read more about therapeutic communities in the Therapeutic Communities Research Report.
  • Shorter-term residential treatment, which typically focuses on detoxification as well as providing initial intensive counseling and preparation for treatment in a community-based setting.
  • Recovery housing, which provides supervised, short-term housing for patients, often following other types of inpatient or residential treatment. Recovery housing can help people make the transition to an independent life—for example, helping them learn how to manage finances or seek employment, as well as connecting them to support services in the community.

Is treatment different for criminal justice populations?

Scientific research since the mid-1970s shows that drug abuse treatment can help many drug-using offenders change their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors towards drug abuse; avoid relapse; and successfully remove themselves from a life of substance abuse and crime. Many of the principles of treating drug addiction are similar for people within the criminal justice system as for those in the general population. However, many offenders don’t have access to the types of services they need. Treatment that is of poor quality or is not well suited to the needs of offenders may not be effective at reducing drug use and criminal behavior.

In addition to the general principles of treatment, some considerations specific to offenders include the following:

  • Treatment should include development of specific cognitive skills to help the offender adjust attitudes and beliefs that lead to drug abuse and crime, such as feeling entitled to have things one’s own way or not understanding the consequences of one’s behavior. This includes skills related to thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering.
  • Treatment planning should include tailored services within the correctional facility as well as transition to community-based treatment after release.
  • Ongoing coordination between treatment providers and courts or parole and probation officers is important in addressing the complex needs of offenders re-entering society.

Challenges of Re-entry

Drug abuse changes the function of the brain, and many things can “trigger” drug cravings within the brain. It’s critical for those in treatment, especially those treated at an inpatient facility or prison, to learn how to recognize, avoid, and cope with triggers they are likely to be exposed to after treatment.

How many people get treatment for drug addiction?

According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 22.5 million people (8.5 percent of the U.S. population) aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit* drug or alcohol use problem in 2014. Only 4.2 million (18.5 percent of those who needed treatment) received any substance use treatment in the same year. Of these, about 2.6 million people received treatment at specialty treatment programs (CBHSQ, 2015).

*The term “illicit” refers to the use of illegal drugs, including marijuana according to federal law, and misuse of prescription medications.

Points to Remember

  • Drug addiction can be treated, but it’s not simple. Addiction treatment must help the person do the following:
    • stop using drugs
    • stay drug-free
    • be productive in the family, at work, and in society
  • Successful treatment has several steps:
    • detoxification
    • behavioral counseling
    • medication (for opioid, tobacco, or alcohol addiction)
    • evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
    • long-term follow-up to prevent relapse
  • Medications and devices can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, and treat co-occurring conditions.
  • Behavioral therapies help patients:
    • modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug use
    • increase healthy life skills
    • persist with other forms of treatment, such as medication
  • People within the criminal justice system may need additional treatment services to treat drug use disorders effectively. However, many offenders don’t have access to the types of services they need.

Learn More

For more information about drug addiction treatment, visit: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition

For information about drug addiction treatment in the criminal justice system, visit: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-abuse-treatment-criminal-justice-populations

For step-by-step guides for people who think they or a loved one may need treatment, visit: www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment


  1. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBSHQ). 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2015.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS): 2013. Data on Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2014. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-489. BHSIS Series S-73.

This publication is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA. Citation of the source is appreciated, using the following language: Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Drug addiction (substance use disorder) – Symptoms and causes


Drug addiction, also called substance use disorder, is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication. Substances such as alcohol, marijuana and nicotine also are considered drugs. When you’re addicted, you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes.

Drug addiction can start with experimental use of a recreational drug in social situations, and, for some people, the drug use becomes more frequent. For others, particularly with opioids, drug addiction begins with exposure to prescribed medications, or receiving medications from a friend or relative who has been prescribed the medication.

The risk of addiction and how fast you become addicted varies by drug. Some drugs, such as opioid painkillers, have a higher risk and cause addiction more quickly than others.

As time passes, you may need larger doses of the drug to get high. Soon you may need the drug just to feel good. As your drug use increases, you may find that it’s increasingly difficult to go without the drug. Attempts to stop drug use may cause intense cravings and make you feel physically ill (withdrawal symptoms).

You may need help from your doctor, family, friends, support groups or an organized treatment program to overcome your drug addiction and stay drug-free.

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Drug addiction symptoms or behaviors include, among others:

  • Feeling that you have to use the drug regularly — daily or even several times a day
  • Having intense urges for the drug that block out any other thoughts
  • Over time, needing more of the drug to get the same effect
  • Taking larger amounts of the drug over a longer period of time than you intended
  • Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug
  • Spending money on the drug, even though you can’t afford it
  • Not meeting obligations and work responsibilities, or cutting back on social or recreational activities because of drug use
  • Continuing to use the drug, even though you know it’s causing problems in your life or causing you physical or psychological harm
  • Doing things to get the drug that you normally wouldn’t do, such as stealing
  • Driving or doing other risky activities when you’re under the influence of the drug
  • Spending a good deal of time getting the drug, using the drug or recovering from the effects of the drug
  • Failing in your attempts to stop using the drug
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop taking the drug

Recognizing unhealthy drug use in family members

Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish normal teenage moodiness or angst from signs of drug use. Possible indications that your teenager or other family member is using drugs include:

  • Problems at school or work — frequently missing school or work, a sudden disinterest in school activities or work, or a drop in grades or work performance
  • Physical health issues — lack of energy and motivation, weight loss or gain, or red eyes
  • Neglected appearance — lack of interest in clothing, grooming or looks
  • Changes in behavior — exaggerated efforts to bar family members from entering his or her room or being secretive about where he or she goes with friends; or drastic changes in behavior and in relationships with family and friends
  • Money issues — sudden requests for money without a reasonable explanation; or your discovery that money is missing or has been stolen or that items have disappeared from your home, indicating maybe they’re being sold to support drug use

Recognizing signs of drug use or intoxication

Signs and symptoms of drug use or intoxication may vary, depending on the type of drug. Below you’ll find several examples.

Marijuana, hashish and other cannabis-containing substances

People use cannabis by smoking, eating or inhaling a vaporized form of the drug. Cannabis often precedes or is used along with other substances, such as alcohol or illegal drugs, and is often the first drug tried.

Signs and symptoms of recent use can include:

  • A sense of euphoria or feeling “high”
  • A heightened sense of visual, auditory and taste perception
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Red eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased coordination
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Anxiety or paranoid thinking
  • Cannabis odor on clothes or yellow fingertips
  • Exaggerated cravings for certain foods at unusual times

Long-term (chronic) use is often associated with:

  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Poor performance at school or at work
  • Reduced number of friends and interests

K2, Spice and bath salts

Two groups of synthetic drugs — synthetic cannabinoids and substituted or synthetic cathinones — are illegal in most states. The effects of these drugs can be dangerous and unpredictable, as there is no quality control and some ingredients may not be known.

Synthetic cannabinoids, also called K2 or Spice, are sprayed on dried herbs and then smoked, but can be prepared as an herbal tea. Despite manufacturer claims, these are chemical compounds rather than “natural” or harmless products. These drugs can produce a “high” similar to marijuana and have become a popular but dangerous alternative.

Signs and symptoms of recent use can include:

  • A sense of euphoria or feeling “high”
  • Elevated mood
  • An altered sense of visual, auditory and taste perception
  • Extreme anxiety or agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure or heart attack
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion

Substituted cathinones, also called “bath salts,” are mind-altering (psychoactive) substances similar to amphetamines such as ecstasy (MDMA) and cocaine. Packages are often labeled as other products to avoid detection.

Despite the name, these are not bath products such as Epsom salts. Substituted cathinones can be eaten, snorted, inhaled or injected and are highly addictive. These drugs can cause severe intoxication, which results in dangerous health effects or even death.

Signs and symptoms of recent use can include:

  • Euphoria
  • Increased sociability
  • Increased energy and agitation
  • Increased sex drive
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Problems thinking clearly
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Psychotic and violent behavior

Barbiturates, benzodiazepines and hypnotics

Barbiturates, benzodiazepines and hypnotics are prescription central nervous system depressants. They’re often used and misused in search for a sense of relaxation or a desire to “switch off” or forget stress-related thoughts or feelings.

  • Barbiturates. Examples include phenobarbital and secobarbital (Seconal).
  • Benzodiazepines. Examples include sedatives, such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin) and chlordiazepoxide (Librium).
  • Hypnotics. Examples include prescription sleeping medications such as zolpidem (Ambien, Intermezzo, others) and zaleplon (Sonata).

Signs and symptoms of recent use can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Irritability or changes in mood
  • Problems concentrating or thinking clearly
  • Memory problems
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Slowed breathing and reduced blood pressure
  • Falls or accidents
  • Dizziness

Meth, cocaine and other stimulants

Stimulants include amphetamines, meth (methamphetamine), cocaine, methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, others) and amphetamine-dextroamphetamine (Adderall, Adderall XR, others). They are often used and misused in search of a “high,” or to boost energy, to improve performance at work or school, or to lose weight or control appetite.

Signs and symptoms of recent use can include:

  • Feeling of exhilaration and excess confidence
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased energy and restlessness
  • Behavior changes or aggression
  • Rapid or rambling speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Confusion, delusions and hallucinations
  • Irritability, anxiety or paranoia
  • Changes in heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature
  • Nausea or vomiting with weight loss
  • Impaired judgment
  • Nasal congestion and damage to the mucous membrane of the nose (if snorting drugs)
  • Mouth sores, gum disease and tooth decay from smoking drugs (“meth mouth”)
  • Insomnia
  • Depression as the drug wears off

Club drugs

Club drugs are commonly used at clubs, concerts and parties. Examples include ecstasy or molly (MDMA), gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), flunitrazepam (Rohypnol ― a brand used outside the U.S. ― also called roofie) and ketamine. These drugs are not all in the same category, but they share some similar effects and dangers, including long-term harmful effects.

Because GHB and flunitrazepam can cause sedation, muscle relaxation, confusion and memory loss, the potential for sexual misconduct or sexual assault is associated with the use of these drugs.

Signs and symptoms of use of club drugs can include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Dilated pupils
  • Chills and sweating
  • Involuntary shaking (tremors)
  • Behavior changes
  • Muscle cramping and teeth clenching
  • Muscle relaxation, poor coordination or problems moving
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Heightened or altered sense of sight, sound and taste
  • Poor judgment
  • Memory problems or loss of memory
  • Reduced consciousness
  • Increased or decreased heart rate and blood pressure


Use of hallucinogens can produce different signs and symptoms, depending on the drug. The most common hallucinogens are lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and phencyclidine (PCP).

LSD use may cause:

  • Hallucinations
  • Greatly reduced perception of reality, for example, interpreting input from one of your senses as another, such as hearing colors
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Rapid shifts in emotions
  • Permanent mental changes in perception
  • Rapid heart rate and high blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • Flashbacks, a re-experience of the hallucinations — even years later

PCP use may cause:

  • A feeling of being separated from your body and surroundings
  • Hallucinations
  • Problems with coordination and movement
  • Aggressive, possibly violent behavior
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Lack of pain sensation
  • Increase in blood pressure and heart rate
  • Problems with thinking and memory
  • Problems speaking
  • Impaired judgment
  • Intolerance to loud noise
  • Sometimes seizures or coma


Signs and symptoms of inhalant use vary, depending on the substance. Some commonly inhaled substances include glue, paint thinners, correction fluid, felt tip marker fluid, gasoline, cleaning fluids and household aerosol products. Due to the toxic nature of these substances, users may develop brain damage or sudden death.

Signs and symptoms of use can include:

  • Possessing an inhalant substance without a reasonable explanation
  • Brief euphoria or intoxication
  • Decreased inhibition
  • Combativeness or belligerence
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Appearing intoxicated with slurred speech, slow movements and poor coordination
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Tremors
  • Lingering odor of inhalant material
  • Rash around the nose and mouth

Opioid painkillers

Opioids are narcotic, painkilling drugs produced from opium or made synthetically. This class of drugs includes, among others, heroin, morphine, codeine, methadone and oxycodone.

Sometimes called the “opioid epidemic,” addiction to opioid prescription pain medications has reached an alarming rate across the United States. Some people who’ve been using opioids over a long period of time may need physician-prescribed temporary or long-term drug substitution during treatment.

Signs and symptoms of narcotic use and dependence can include:

  • Reduced sense of pain
  • Agitation, drowsiness or sedation
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems with attention and memory
  • Constricted pupils
  • Lack of awareness or inattention to surrounding people and things
  • Problems with coordination
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Runny nose or nose sores (if snorting drugs)
  • Needle marks (if injecting drugs)

When to see a doctor

If your drug use is out of control or causing problems, get help. The sooner you seek help, the greater your chances for a long-term recovery. Talk with your primary doctor or see a mental health professional, such as a doctor who specializes in addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry, or a licensed alcohol and drug counselor.

Make an appointment to see a doctor if:

  • You can’t stop using a drug
  • You continue using the drug despite the harm it causes
  • Your drug use has led to unsafe behavior, such as sharing needles or unprotected sex
  • You think you may be having withdrawal symptoms after stopping drug use

If you’re not ready to approach a doctor, help lines or hotlines may be a good place to learn about treatment. You can find these lines listed on the internet or in the phone book.

When to seek emergency help

Seek emergency help if you or someone you know has taken a drug and:

  • May have overdosed
  • Shows changes in consciousness
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has seizures or convulsions
  • Has signs of a possible heart attack, such as chest pain or pressure
  • Has any other troublesome physical or psychological reaction to use of the drug

Staging an intervention

People struggling with addiction usually deny that their drug use is problematic and are reluctant to seek treatment. An intervention presents a loved one with a structured opportunity to make changes before things get even worse and can motivate someone to seek or accept help.

An intervention should be carefully planned and may be done by family and friends in consultation with a doctor or professional such as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, or directed by an intervention professional. It involves family and friends and sometimes co-workers, clergy or others who care about the person struggling with addiction.

During the intervention, these people gather together to have a direct, heart-to-heart conversation with the person about the consequences of addiction and ask him or her to accept treatment.


Like many mental health disorders, several factors may contribute to development of drug addiction. The main factors are:

  • Environment. Environmental factors, including your family’s beliefs and attitudes and exposure to a peer group that encourages drug use, seem to play a role in initial drug use.
  • Genetics. Once you’ve started using a drug, the development into addiction may be influenced by inherited (genetic) traits, which may delay or speed up the disease progression.

Changes in the brain

Physical addiction appears to occur when repeated use of a drug changes the way your brain feels pleasure. The addicting drug causes physical changes to some nerve cells (neurons) in your brain. Neurons use chemicals called neurotransmitters to communicate. These changes can remain long after you stop using the drug.

Risk factors

People of any age, sex or economic status can become addicted to a drug. Certain factors can affect the likelihood and speed of developing an addiction:

  • Family history of addiction. Drug addiction is more common in some families and likely involves genetic predisposition. If you have a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling, with alcohol or drug addiction, you’re at greater risk of developing a drug addiction.
  • Mental health disorder. If you have a mental health disorder such as depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or post-traumatic stress disorder, you’re more likely to become addicted to drugs. Using drugs can become a way of coping with painful feelings, such as anxiety, depression and loneliness, and can make these problems even worse.
  • Peer pressure. Peer pressure is a strong factor in starting to use and misuse drugs, particularly for young people.
  • Lack of family involvement. Difficult family situations or lack of a bond with your parents or siblings may increase the risk of addiction, as can a lack of parental supervision.
  • Early use. Using drugs at an early age can cause changes in the developing brain and increase the likelihood of progressing to drug addiction.
  • Taking a highly addictive drug. Some drugs, such as stimulants, cocaine or opioid painkillers, may result in faster development of addiction than other drugs. Smoking or injecting drugs can increase the potential for addiction. Taking drugs considered less addicting — so-called “light drugs” — can start you on a pathway of drug use and addiction.


Drug use can have significant and damaging short-term and long-term effects. Taking some drugs can be particularly risky, especially if you take high doses or combine them with other drugs or alcohol. Here are some examples.

  • Methamphetamine, opiates and cocaine are highly addictive and cause multiple short-term and long-term health consequences, including psychotic behavior, seizures or death due to overdose.
  • GHB and flunitrazepam may cause sedation, confusion and memory loss. These so-called “date rape drugs” are known to impair the ability to resist unwanted contact and recollection of the event. At high doses, they can cause seizures, coma and death. The danger increases when these drugs are taken with alcohol.
  • Ecstasy or molly (MDMA) can cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and complications that can include seizures. Long-term, MDMA can damage the brain.
  • One particular danger of club drugs is that the liquid, pill or powder forms of these drugs available on the street often contain unknown substances that can be harmful, including other illegally manufactured or pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Due to the toxic nature of inhalants, users may develop brain damage of different levels of severity.

Other life-changing complications

Dependence on drugs can create a number of dangerous and damaging complications, including:

  • Getting a communicable disease. People who are addicted to a drug are more likely to get an infectious disease, such as HIV, either through unsafe sex or by sharing needles.
  • Other health problems. Drug addiction can lead to a range of both short-term and long-term mental and physical health problems. These depend on what drug is taken.
  • Accidents. People who are addicted to drugs are more likely to drive or do other dangerous activities while under the influence.
  • Suicide. People who are addicted to drugs die by suicide more often than people who aren’t addicted.
  • Family problems. Behavioral changes may cause marital or family conflict and custody issues.
  • Work issues. Drug use can cause declining performance at work, absenteeism and eventual loss of employment.
  • Problems at school. Drug use can negatively affect academic performance and motivation to excel in school.
  • Legal issues. Legal problems are common for drug users and can stem from buying or possessing illegal drugs, stealing to support the drug addiction, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or disputes over child custody.
  • Financial problems. Spending money to support drug use takes away money from other needs, could lead to debt, and can lead to illegal or unethical behaviors.


The best way to prevent an addiction to a drug is not to take the drug at all. If your doctor prescribes a drug with the potential for addiction, use care when taking the drug and follow the instructions provided by your doctor.

Doctors should prescribe these medications at safe doses and amounts and monitor their use so that you’re not given too great a dose or for too long a time. If you feel you need to take more than the prescribed dose of a medication, talk to your doctor.

Preventing drug misuse in children and teenagers

Take these steps to help prevent drug misuse in your children and teenagers:

  • Communicate. Talk to your children about the risks of drug use and misuse.
  • Listen. Be a good listener when your children talk about peer pressure, and be supportive of their efforts to resist it.
  • Set a good example. Don’t misuse alcohol or addictive drugs. Children of parents who misuse drugs are at greater risk of drug addiction.
  • Strengthen the bond. Work on your relationship with your children. A strong, stable bond between you and your child will reduce your child’s risk of using or misusing drugs.

Preventing a relapse

Once you’ve been addicted to a drug, you’re at high risk of falling back into a pattern of addiction. If you do start using the drug, it’s likely you’ll lose control over its use again — even if you’ve had treatment and you haven’t used the drug for some time.

  • Stick with your treatment plan. Monitor your cravings. It may seem like you’ve recovered and you don’t need to keep taking steps to stay drug-free. But your chances of staying drug-free will be much higher if you continue seeing your therapist or counselor, going to support group meetings and taking prescribed medication.
  • Avoid high-risk situations. Don’t go back to the neighborhood where you used to get your drugs. And stay away from your old drug crowd.
  • Get help immediately if you use the drug again. If you start using the drug again, talk to your doctor, your mental health professional or someone else who can help you right away.

Oct. 26, 2017

Substance Priority List | ATSDR

1 ARSENIC 1676 7440-38-2
2 LEAD 1531 7439-92-1
3 MERCURY 1458 7439-97-6
4 VINYL CHLORIDE 1356 75-01-4
6 BENZENE 1327 71-43-2
7 CADMIUM 1318 7440-43-9
8 BENZO(A)PYRENE 1307 50-32-8
10 BENZO(B)FLUORANTHENE 1253 205-99-2
11 CHLOROFORM 1201 67-66-3
12 AROCLOR 1260 1191 11096-82-5
13 DDT, P,P’- 1181 50-29-3
14 AROCLOR 1254 1172 11097-69-1
15 DIBENZO(A,H)ANTHRACENE 1160 53-70-3
17 CHROMIUM, HEXAVALENT 1149 18540-29-9
18 DIELDRIN 1143 60-57-1
19 PHOSPHORUS, WHITE 1141 7723-14-0
21 DDE, P,P’- 1126 72-55-9
22 CHLORDANE 1125 57-74-9
23 AROCLOR 1242 1125 53469-21-9
24 COAL TAR CREOSOTE 1124 8001-58-9
25 ALDRIN 1115 309-00-2
26 DDD, P,P’- 1113 72-54-8
27 AROCLOR 1248 1106 12672-29-6
28 HEPTACHLOR 1101 76-44-8
29 AROCLOR 1101 12767-79-2
30 BENZIDINE 1092 92-87-5
31 ACROLEIN 1090 107-02-8
32 TOXAPHENE 1089 8001-35-2
35 CYANIDE 1069 57-12-5
37 DISULFOTON 1048 298-04-4
38 BENZO(A)ANTHRACENE 1048 56-55-3
39 1,2-DIBROMOETHANE 1043 106-93-4
40 ENDRIN 1038 72-20-8
41 DIAZINON 1038 333-41-5
43 BERYLLIUM 1030 7440-41-7
44 ENDOSULFAN 1029 115-29-7
45 AROCLOR 1221 1028 11104-28-2
46 1,2-DIBROMO-3-CHLOROPROPANE 1027 96-12-8
47 HEPTACHLOR EPOXIDE 1021 1024-57-3
48 ENDOSULFAN, ALPHA 1019 959-98-8
49 CIS-CHLORDANE 1017 5103-71-9
51 AROCLOR 1016 1012 12674-11-2
52 COBALT 1011 7440-48-4
53 DDT, O,P’- 1009 789-02-6
54 METHOXYCHLOR 1007 72-43-5
56 ENDOSULFAN SULFATE 1004 1031-07-8
57 DI-N-BUTYL PHTHALATE 993 84-74-2
58 NICKEL 993 7440-02-0
59 ENDRIN KETONE 993 53494-70-5
61 BENZO(K)FLUORANTHENE 974 207-08-9
62 TRANS-CHLORDANE 969 5103-74-2
63 ENDOSULFAN, BETA 968 33213-65-9
64 CHLORPYRIFOS 965 2921-88-2
65 XYLENES, TOTAL 962 1330-20-7
66 CHROMIUM(VI) TRIOXIDE 961 1333-82-0
67 AROCLOR 1232 959 11141-16-5
68 ENDRIN ALDEHYDE 959 7421-93-4
69 METHANE 952 74-82-8
70 3,3′-DICHLOROBENZIDINE 941 91-94-1
71 2-HEXANONE 940 591-78-6
72 2,3,7,8-TETRACHLORODIBENZO-P-DIOXIN 940 1746-01-6
73 BENZOFLUORANTHENE 937 56832-73-6
74 TOLUENE 914 108-88-3
75 ZINC 913 7440-66-6
78 CHROMIUM 893 7440-47-3
79 AROCLOR 1240 889 71328-89-7
80 2,4,6-TRINITROTOLUENE 878 118-96-7
81 NAPHTHALENE 878 91-20-3
82 1,1-DICHLOROETHENE 873 75-35-4
84 DDD, O,P’- 867 53-19-0
85 2,4,6-TRICHLOROPHENOL 867 88-06-2
86 BIS(2-CHLOROETHYL)ETHER 867 111-44-4
87 HYDRAZINE 862 302-01-2
88 2,4-DINITROPHENOL 859 51-28-5
89 4,4′-METHYLENEBIS(2-CHLOROANILINE) 859 101-14-4
91 1,2-DICHLOROETHANE 852 107-06-2
92 THIOCYANATE 847 302-04-5
94 ASBESTOS 840 1332-21-4
95 RADIUM-226 833 13982-63-3
96 RDX (Cyclonite) 833 121-82-4
97 URANIUM 833 7440-61-1
98 2,4-DINITROTOLUENE 831 121-14-2
99 ETHION 831 563-12-2
100 4,6-DINITRO-O-CRESOL 828 534-52-1
101 RADIUM 827 7440-14-4
102 THORIUM 824 7440-29-1
104 CHLORINE 821 7782-50-5
105 1,3,5-TRINITROBENZENE 820 99-35-4
106 RADON 818 10043-92-2
108 RADIUM-228 815 15262-20-1
109 THORIUM-230 813 14269-63-7
110 URANIUM-235 812 15117-96-1
111 THORIUM-228 810 14274-82-9
112 RADON-222 810 14859-67-7
113 URANIUM-234 809 13966-29-5
114 COAL TARS 808 8007-45-2
116 METHYLMERCURY 808 22967-92-6
117 CHRYSOTILE ASBESTOS 806 12001-29-5
118 PLUTONIUM-239 806 15117-48-3
119 POLONIUM-210 805 13981-52-7
120 COPPER 805 7440-50-8
121 PLUTONIUM-238 805 13981-16-3
122 LEAD-210 805 14255-04-0
123 AMOSITE ASBESTOS 804 12172-73-5
123 PLUTONIUM 804 7440-07-5
123 STRONTIUM-90 804 10098-97-2
126 RADON-220 804 22481-48-7
127 1,1,1-TRICHLOROETHANE 804 71-55-6
128 AMERICIUM-241 804 86954-36-1
129 HYDROGEN CYANIDE 803 74-90-8
130 AZINPHOS-METHYL 802 86-50-0
131 CHLOROBENZENE 802 108-90-7
132 CHLORDECONE 802 143-50-0
133 NEPTUNIUM-237 802 13994-20-2
134 PLUTONIUM-240 801 14119-33-6
135 1,2,3-Trichlorobenzene 801 87-61-6
136 BARIUM 800 7440-39-3
137 ETHYLBENZENE 800 100-41-4
139 FLUORANTHENE 799 206-44-0
140 MANGANESE 797 7439-96-5
141 CHRYSENE 793 218-01-9
142 2,4,5-TRICHLOROPHENOL 791 95-95-4
143 Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid 788 1763-23-1
145 DICOFOL 785 115-32-2
146 1,1,2,2-TETRACHLOROETHANE 776 79-34-5
147 SELENIUM 775 7782-49-2
148 PARATHION 774 56-38-2
152 BROMINE 771 7726-95-6
153 AROCLOR 1268 765 11100-14-4
154 1,3-BUTADIENE 763 106-99-0
155 Perfluorooctanoic acid 758 335-67-1
157 TRIFLURALIN 755 1582-09-8
158 Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid 749 355-46-4
159 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9-OCTACHLORODIBENZOFURAN 743 39001-02-0
160 AMMONIA 742 7664-41-7
161 2-METHYLNAPHTHALENE 725 91-57-6
162 2,3,4,7,8-PENTACHLORODIBENZOFURAN 724 57117-31-4
163 1,4-DICHLOROBENZENE 723 106-46-7
164 NALED 721 300-76-5
165 1,1,2-TRICHLOROETHANE 719 79-00-5
166 1,1-DICHLOROETHANE 719 75-34-3
168 1,2-DIPHENYLHYDRAZINE 718 122-66-7
169 PHORATE 716 298-02-2
170 TRICHLOROETHANE 712 25323-89-1
171 TETRACHLOROBIPHENYL 710 26914-33-0
172 ACENAPHTHENE 710 83-32-9
173 PALLADIUM 706 7440-05-3
174 OXYCHLORDANE 705 27304-13-8
175 INDENO(1,2,3-CD)PYRENE 705 193-39-5
176 CRESOL, PARA- 703 106-44-5
177 GAMMA-CHLORDENE 702 56641-38-4
178 TETRACHLOROPHENOL 698 25167-83-3
179 1,2-DICHLOROBENZENE 696 95-50-1
180 1,2-DICHLOROETHENE, TRANS- 689 156-60-5
181 P-XYLENE 687 106-42-3
182 CHLOROETHANE 686 75-00-3
183 ALUMINUM 685 7429-90-5
184 PHENOL 684 108-95-2
185 CARBON MONOXIDE 684 630-08-0
186 CARBON DISULFIDE 681 75-15-0
187 2,4-DIMETHYLPHENOL 679 105-67-9
188 DIBENZOFURAN 675 132-64-9
189 HEXACHLOROETHANE 670 67-72-1
190 ACETONE 670 67-64-1
191 Butyl methyl phthalate 668 34006-76-3
192 CHLOROMETHANE 665 74-87-3
194 HYDROGEN SULFIDE 657 7783-06-4
196 DICHLORVOS 656 62-73-7
198 CRESOL, ORTHO- 652 95-48-7
201 VANADIUM 648 7440-62-2
202 Perfluorononanoic acid 647 375-95-1
203 1,2,4-TRICHLOROBENZENE 646 120-82-1
204 ETHOPROP 644 13194-48-4
206 BROMOFORM 635 75-25-2
208 1,3-DICHLOROBENZENE 628 541-73-1
211 2,3-DIMETHYLNAPHTHALENE 619 581-40-8
212 2,4-DICHLOROPHENOL 619 120-83-2
213 2,3,7,8-TETRACHLORODIBENZOFURAN 619 51207-31-9
214 1,4-DIOXANE 617 123-91-1
215 FLUORINE 613 7782-41-4
216 NITRITE 610 14797-65-0
217 CESIUM-137 610 10045-97-3
217 Chromic Acid 610 7738-94-5
219 POTASSIUM-40 607 13966-00-2
220 DINITROTOLUENE 607 25321-14-6
221 1,2-DICHLOROETHYLENE 606 540-59-0
222 2-BUTANONE 606 78-93-3
223 FORMALDEHYDE 606 50-00-0
224 COAL TAR PITCH 605 65996-93-2
225 THORIUM-227 605 15623-47-9
226 NITRATE 605 14797-55-8
227 ARSENIC ACID 604 7778-39-4
228 ARSENIC TRIOXIDE 604 1327-53-3
229 SILVER 604 7440-22-4
230 BENZOPYRENE 603 73467-76-2
231 CHLORDANE, TECHNICAL 602 12789-03-6
232 STROBANE 602 8001-50-1
233 4-AMINOBIPHENYL 602 92-67-1
233 PYRETHRUM 602 8003-34-7
235 ARSINE 602 7784-42-1
235 DIMETHOATE 602 60-51-5
237 CARBOPHENOTHION 602 786-19-6
239 ALPHA-CHLORDENE 601 56534-02-2
239 IODINE-131 601 10043-66-0
239 MERCURIC CHLORIDE 601 7487-94-7
239 SODIUM ARSENITE 601 7784-46-5
239 URANIUM-233 601 13968-55-3
244 ANTIMONY 601 7440-36-0
246 CRESOLS 597 1319-77-3
247 DICHLOROBENZENE 595 25321-22-6
248 2,4-D 595 94-75-7
249 2-CHLOROPHENOL 591 95-57-8
250 BUTYLATE 591 2008-41-5
251 DIMETHYL FORMAMIDE 585 68-12-2
252 PHENANTHRENE 584 85-01-8
253 DIURON 580 330-54-1
254 4-NITROPHENOL 580 100-02-7
255 TETRACHLOROETHANE 577 25322-20-7
256 DICHLOROETHANE 568 1300-21-6
257 ETHYL ETHER 566 60-29-7
258 DIMETHYLANILINE 563 121-69-7
259 1,3-DICHLOROPROPENE, CIS- 561 10061-01-5
260 PYRENE 559 129-00-0
261 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HEPTACHLORODIBENZO-P-DIOXIN 559 35822-46-9
262 PHOSPHINE 557 7803-51-2
263 TRICHLOROBENZENE 556 12002-48-1
264 2,6-DINITROTOLUENE 555 606-20-2
265 FLUORIDE ION 550 16984-48-8
267 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HEPTACHLORODIBENZOFURAN 549 67562-39-4
268 1,3-DICHLOROPROPENE, TRANS- 548 10061-02-6
269 ACRYLONITRILE 544 107-13-1
270 BIS(2-ETHYLHEXYL)ADIPATE 543 103-23-1
271 CARBAZOLE 540 86-74-8
272 2-CHLOROANILINE 539 95-51-2
273 METOLACHLOR 539 51218-45-2
274 1,2-DICHLOROETHENE, CIS- 538 156-59-2
275 1,2,3-TRICHLOROPROPANE 537 96-18-4

What You Know Can Help You

Armed with some basic facts about toxic substances, you can reduce your exposure to chemicals and lower the chance of harmful health effects.

The old saying, “what you don’t know can’t hurt you,” isn’t always good advice. When it comes to toxic substances, WHAT YOU KNOW CAN HELP YOU. Radon in basements, lead in drinking water, exhausts from cars and chemicals released from landfills are just a few examples of toxic substances that can hurt you. By understanding how, you can reduce your exposure to chemicals and reduce your risk of harmful health effects.

What is a toxic substance?

A toxic substance is a substance that can be poisonous or cause health effects. People are generally concerned about chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxin which can be found at some hazardous waste sites. Products that we use daily, such as household cleaners, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, gasoline, alcohol, pesticides, fuel oil and cosmetics, can also be toxic. Any chemical can be toxic or harmful under certain conditions.

Health effects: toxic or hazardous?

Chemicals can be toxic because they can harm us when they enter or contact the body. Exposure to a toxic substance such as gasoline can affect your health. Since drinking gasoline can cause burns, vomiting, diarrhea and, in very large amounts, drowsiness or death, it is toxic. Some chemicals are hazardous because of their physical properties: they can explode, burn or react easily with other chemicals. Since gasoline can burn and its vapors can explode, gasoline is also hazardous. A chemical can be toxic, or hazardous, or both.

How can toxic substances cause harm?

Since chemicals can be toxic, it is important to understand how they can affect health. To determine the risk of harmful health effects from a substance, you must first know how toxic the substance is; how much, and by what means, a person is exposed; and how sensitive that person is to the substance.


Some substances are more toxic than others. The toxicity of a substance is described by the types of effects it causes and its potency.

  • Types of Effects: Different chemicals cause different effects. For example, Chemical A may cause vomiting, but not cancer. Chemical B may have no noticeable effects during exposure, but may cause cancer years later.
  • Potency: Potency (strength) is a measure of a chemical’s toxicity. A more potent chemical is more toxic. For example, sodium cyanide is more potent than sodium chloride (table salt) since swallowing a smaller amount of cyanide can poison you.

    The potency and, therefore, the toxicity of a chemical can be affected by its breakdown within the human body. When a substance is absorbed into the body, its chemical structure may be changed or metabolized to a substance that is more toxic or less toxic. For example, carbon tetrachloride, once a commonly used solvent, is changed by the body into a more toxic chemical that causes liver damage. For some other chemicals, metabolism changes the chemical into a form that is more easily eliminated by the body.

  • Exposure: A chemical can cause health effects only when it contacts or enters the body.
  • Routes of Exposure: Exposure to a substance can occur by inhalation, ingestion or direct contact.

    Inhalation (breathing) of gases, vapors, dusts or mists is a common route of exposure. Chemicals can enter and irritate the nose, air passages and lungs. They can become deposited in the airways or be absorbed by the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood can then carry these substances to the rest of the body.

    Ingestion (swallowing) of food, drink or other substances is another route of exposure. Chemicals that get in or on food, cigarettes, utensils or hands can be swallowed. Children are at greater risk of ingesting substances found in dust or soil because they often put their fingers or other objects in their mouths. Lead in paint chips is a good example. Substances can be absorbed into the blood and then transported to the rest of the body.

    Direct contact (touching) with the skin or eyes is also a route of exposure. Some substances are absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream. Broken, cut or cracked skin will allow substances to enter the body more easily.

    The route of exposure can determine whether or not the toxic substance has an effect. Breathing or swallowing lead can result in health effects, but touching lead is not harmful because lead isn’t absorbed through the skin.

  • Dose: The amount of a substance that enters or contacts a person is called a dose. An important consideration in evaluating a dose is body weight. If a child is exposed to the same amount of chemical as an adult, the child (who weighs less) can be affected more than the adult. For example, children are given smaller amounts of aspirin than adults because an adult dose is too large for a child’s body weight.

    The greater the amount of a substance a person is exposed to, the more likely that health effects will occur. Large amounts of a relatively harmless substance can be toxic. For example, two aspirin tablets can help to relieve a headache, but taking an entire bottle of aspirin can cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, convulsions or death.

  • Exposure medium: Exposure to chemicals occurs when we breathe, eat or touch soil, water, food or air that contains chemicals. The amount of a chemical in the medium is called its concentration. Common ways of reporting concentrations are parts per million, milligrams per liter or milligrams per cubic meter. These and other units of measure are defined in the Glossary of Environmental Health Terms available from the New York State Department of Health.

    A person’s dose can be determined by multiplying the concentration of the chemical times the amount of the water, air, food or soil that a person takes in. For example, the average adult drinks about 2 liters (roughly quarts) of water and breathes about 20 cubic meters (roughly cubic yards) of air a day. If drinking water contains 1 milligram of lead per liter, then the person would take in a total of 2 milligrams of lead in a day.

  • Length of exposure: Short-term exposure is called acute exposure. Long-term exposure is called chronic exposure. Either may cause health effects that are immediate or health effects that may not occur for some time.

    Acute exposure is a short contact with a chemical. It may last a few seconds or a few hours. For example, it might take a few minutes to clean windows with ammonia, use nail polish remover or spray a can of paint. The fumes someone might inhale during these activities are examples of acute exposures.

    Chronic exposure is continuous or repeated contact with a toxic substance over a long period of time (months or years). If a chemical is used every day on the job, the exposure would be chronic. Over time, some chemicals, such as PCBs and lead, can build up in the body and cause long-term health effects. Chronic exposures can also occur at home. Some chemicals in household furniture, carpeting or cleaners can be sources of chronic exposure.

    Chemicals leaking from landfills (dumps) can enter the groundwater and contaminate nearby wells or seep into basements. Unless preventive measures are taken, people may be exposed for a long time to chemicals from their drinking water or indoor air.


All people are not equally sensitive to chemicals, and are not affected by them in the same way. There are many reasons for this.

  • People’s bodies vary in their ability to break down or eliminate certain chemicals due to genetic differences.
  • People may become allergic to a chemical after being exposed. Then they may react to very low levels of the chemical and have different or more serious health effects than nonallergic people exposed to the same amount. People who are allergic to bee venom, for example, have a more serious reaction to a bee sting than people who are not allergic.
  • Factors such as age, illness, diet, alcohol use, pregnancy and medical or nonmedical drug use can also affect a person’s sensitivity to a chemical. Young children are often more sensitive to chemicals for a number of reasons. Their bodies are still developing and they cannot get rid of some chemicals as well as adults. Also, children absorb greater amounts of some chemicals (such as lead) into their blood than adults.

How do we learn how chemicals affect health?

We don’t know all the effects of exposure to every chemical. We learn about the health effects of many chemicals from human exposures and animal studies.

  • Human Exposures: Information about human exposures that have occurred at work or by accident is very useful, even though it may be incomplete. For example, if a person has been exposed to more than one substance, it may be hard to find out exactly which substance caused a health effect. Also, some health effects (such as cancer) don’t appear until many years after the first exposure, making the cause of the disease hard to determine. Even when the substance that caused the health effect is known, the exact dose that caused the effect may not be.

    Sometimes a human population that has been exposed to a toxic substance (usually at work or from an environmental source) is compared with a population that has not been exposed. If the exposed population shows an increase in a certain health effect, that health effect may be related to the chemical exposure. However, these studies often cannot determine the exact cause of a health effect.

  • Animal Studies: Many toxicity tests are done on animals. Animal tests are often good indicators of chemical toxicity in humans even though animals may not react exactly like people. Many things are considered when applying the results of animal toxicity tests to humans. For example, animals are smaller, they have shorter lifespans and their bodies sometimes handle chemicals differently from humans. Large doses are used in the animal studies to see if there will be any effect. When guidelines or standards for human exposure to chemicals are developed, these differences and others are taken into account.

What can happen if you are exposed to a chemical?

A chemical exposure can produce a health effect directly at the site of contact (local) or elsewhere in the body (systemic), and that effect can be either immediate or delayed.

  • Area of the Body Affected: Chemicals can affect any system in the body, including respiratory (nose, air passages and lungs), digestive (mouth, throat, stomach, etc.), circulatory (heart, blood), nervous (brain, nerve cells) and reproductive (sperm, egg, etc.). Some chemicals, like acids, are nonspecific and cause damage on direct contact. Other chemicals, like gasoline, can be absorbed into the blood, and carried throughout the body. Some chemicals affect only certain target systems or target organs.

    Every organ system has different functions and physical characteristics. So the effect of chemicals on each system has to be evaluated slightly differently. As an example, consider three ways that chemicals can affect one system: the reproductive system.

    First, chemical exposure can affect a man’s or woman’s reproductive system by making the production of normal sperm or eggs more difficult.

    Second, the chemical may act directly on an unborn baby (fetus). Since chemicals can be transferred from the mother’s blood to the unborn baby’s blood, the fetus can be affected when the mother is exposed to certain chemicals. A pregnant woman who drinks alcohol can have a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome. The health effects can range from birth defects to learning disabilities.

    And finally, some chemicals can have indirect effects on the development of the fetus. For example, smoking during pregnancy can reduce the amount of oxygen to the fetus. The lack of oxygen can affect the baby’s growth.

    Not all chemical exposures affect reproduction, but it is best to minimize exposure to all toxic substances during pregnancy.

  • When Health Effects Will Occur Immediate health effects happen right away. They can occur directly at the site of contact or elsewhere in the body. For example, inhaled ammonia can irritate the linings of the nose, throat and lungs. Alcohol can cause dizziness. Immediate health effects are sometimes reversible and may disappear soon after the exposure stops. However, some immediate health effects do not go away; acute exposure to a corrosive substance, such as battery acid, may cause permanent damage to skin or eyes.

    Delayed health effects may take months or years to appear and can result from either acute or chronic exposure to a toxic substance. The delay between the exposure and the appearance of health effects is called the latency period. Delayed health effects can be reversible or permanent. Permanent effects don’t go away when the exposure stops. For example, breathing asbestos over a period of time may cause lung disease. Once the lung disease begins, it will continue even if the exposure stops or decreases.

    Cancer is an example of a delayed health effect. Cancer is the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body. There are many kinds of cancer. Cancer can be caused by a number of things, including exposure to toxic substances, ultraviolet sunlight and ionizing radiation. Exposure to some chemicals, such as benzene and asbestos, can produce cancer in humans. Some chemicals produce cancer in animals, but whether they will in humans is unknown. Because cancer may not appear until 5 to 40 years after exposure, determining the cause of cancer is difficult.

    What you know can help you!

Protect Yourself

Even though chemicals we use or are exposed to every day can be toxic, you can protect yourself and your family from chemical exposures. No matter how toxic a substance may be, if you are not exposed to the substance, it cannot affect your health. The important rule to remember is: minimize your exposure.

  • Before you use a product, read the label carefully and follow the instructions. Pay attention to warnings on the label.
  • Use proper ventilation. Ventilation means getting fresh air into your home or workplace. When using strong chemicals, open your doors and windows whenever the weather permits. When you use a toxic chemical indoors, you may wish to blow air out the window with a fan. Have another window or door open to let fresh air into the room. If you use chemicals in your hobbies, use them outdoors or in a well- ventilated area away from your living space.
  • Wear appropriate protective gloves when handling chemicals. If you use substances that are harmful to breathe (like fiberglass which can lodge in the lungs), use an appropriate mask.
  • Store chemicals safely and out of the reach of children. Label all containers and do not store liquids in commonly used household containers such as soda bottles or food cans.
  • If clothes become soiled while handling chemicals, change the clothes as soon as possible to reduce exposure. Wash soiled clothes separately; then run the machine through a rinse cycle to clean it before washing more clothes.
  • If you must use a toxic substance, buy only the amount needed so there will be less material left for storage or disposal.
  • Try to avoid using a toxic substance. If that is not possible, choose products that have less toxic ingredients. For example, water-based paints are generally less toxic than oil-based paints.
  • Indoor air can contain chemicals from outside air, soil or water. Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, can affect your health. It enters homes through holes or cracks in basement floors or walls. Learn how to test for radon. If the radon levels in your home are elevated, take corrective steps as soon as possible.
  • Drinking water can contain harmful chemicals. Lead can leach from (dissolve out of) lead pipes or lead solder. Reduce the amount of lead in your water by using cold water and by running the water for a minute or two before using it for drinking or cooking. Filters can take out some chemicals from drinking water. Filters should only be used when necessary; be sure that the one you use takes out the chemical you are concerned about, and maintain the filters regularly.
  • If you are concerned about chemicals in water, indoor air, household products, landfills or factories, the following agencies may be able to provide information and assistance:
    • your local county or city health department, or a district office of the New York State Department of Health;
    • your regional office of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation;
    • the New York State Department of Health’s Center for Environmental Health. To contact the Center, email [email protected], or call 518-402-7800 and leave your name, telephone number and a brief message. Department of Health staff will respond promptly to your call.

Public and university libraries, professional organizations or citizen groups may also be helpful.

The more you know about toxic substances, the more you can reduce exposure. What you know can help you!

Substance Use and HIV Risk

How Can Using Drugs Put Me at Risk for Getting or Transmitting HIV?

Using drugs affects your brain, alters your judgment, and lowers your inhibitions. When you’re high, you may be more likely to make poor decisions that put you at risk for getting or transmitting HIV, such as having sex without a condom, have a hard time using a condom the right way every time you have sex, have more sexual partners, or use other drugs. These behaviors can increase your risk of exposure to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Or, if you have HIV, they can increase your risk of spreading HIV to others.

And if you inject drugs, you are at risk for getting or transmitting HIV and hepatitis B and C if you share needles or equipment (or “works”) used to prepare drugs, like cotton, cookers, and water. This is because the needles or works may have blood in them, and blood can carry HIV. You should not share needles or works for injecting silicone, hormones, or steroids for the same reason.

Here are some commonly used substances and their link to HIV risk:

  1. Alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption, notably binge drinking, can be an important risk factor for HIV because it is linked to risky sexual behaviors and, among people living with HIV, can hurt treatment outcomes.
  2. Opioids. Opioids, a class of drugs that reduce pain, include both prescription drugs and heroin. They are associated with HIV risk behaviors such as needle sharing when infected and risky sexual behaviors, and have been linked to outbreaks of HIV and viral hepatitis. People who are addicted to opioids are also at risk of turning to other ways to get the drug, including trading sex for drugs or money, which increases HIV risk.
  3. Methamphetamine. “Meth” is linked to risky sexual behaviors, such as having more sexual partners or sex without a condom, that place people at greater risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Meth acn be injected, which also increases HIV risk if people share needles and other injection equipment.
  4. Crack cocaine. Crack cocaine is a stimulant that can create a cycle in which people quickly exhaust their resources and may engage in behaviors to obtain the drug that increase their HV risk.
  5. Inhalants. Use of amyl nitrite (“poppers”) has long been linked to risky sexual behaviors, illegal drug use, and sexually transmitted diseases among gay and bisexual men.

Therapy, medicines, and other methods are available to help you stop or cut down on drinking or using drugs. Talk with a counselor, doctor, or other health care provider about options that might be right for you. To find a substance abuse treatment center near you, visit SAMHSA’s treatment locator or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

How Can You Prevent Getting or Transmitting HIV from Injection Drug Use?

Your risk is high for getting or transmitting HIV and hepatitis B and C if you share needles or equipment (or “works”) used to prepare drugs, like cotton, cookers, and water. This is because the needles or works may have blood in them, and blood can carry HIV.

If you inject drugs, you are also at risk of getting HIV (and other sexually transmitted diseases) because you may be more likely to take risks with sex when you are high.

The best way to lower your chances of getting HIV is to stop injecting drugs. You may need help to stop or cut down using drugs, but there are many resources available to help you. To find a substance abuse treatment center near you, visit SAMHSA’s treatment locator or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you keep injecting drugs, here are some ways to lower your risk for getting HIV and other infections:

  • Use only new, sterile needles and works each time you inject. Many communities have needle exchange programs where you can get new needles and works, and some pharmacies may sell needles without a prescription.
  • Never share needles or works.
  • Clean used needles with bleach only when you can’t get new ones. Bleaching a needle may reduce the risk of HIV but doesn’t eliminate it.
  • Use sterile water to fix drugs.
  • Clean your skin with a new alcohol swab before you inject.
  • Be careful not to get someone else’s blood on your hands or your needle or works.
  • Dispose of needles safely after one use. Use a sharps container, or keep used needles away from other people.
  • Get tested for HIV at least once a year
  • Ask your doctor about taking daily medicine to prevent HIV called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
  • If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV within the last 3 days, ask a health care provider about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) right away. PEP can prevent HIV, but it must be started within 72 hours.
  • Don’t have sex if you’re high. If you do have sex, make sure to protect yourself and your partner by using a condom the right way every time or by using other effective methods.

How to clean your syringes (PDF 192 KB)

What Are Syringe Services Programs?

Many communities have syringe services programs, also called syringe exchange programs or needle exchange programs. SSPs are places where injection drug users can get new needles and works, along with other services such as help with stopping substance abuse; testing and, if needed, linkage to treatment for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C; and education on what to do for an overdose. SSPs have been demonstrated to be an effective component of a comprehensive approach to prevent HIV and viral hepatitis among people who inject drugs, while not increasing illegal drug use.Find one near you.

Staying Healthy

If you are living with HIV, substance use can be harmful to your brain and body and affect your ability to stick to your HIV treatment regimen. Learn about the health effects of alcohol and other substance use and how to access substance abuse treatment programs if you need them.

Definition of Substance by Merriam-Webster


| \ ˈsəb-stən(t)s



: a fundamental or characteristic part or quality


: ultimate reality that underlies all outward manifestations and change


: practical importance : meaning, usefulness

the … bill—which will be without substance in the sense that it will authorize nothing more than a set of ideas— Richard Reeves


: physical material from which something is made or which has discrete existence


: matter of particular or definite chemical constitution


: something (such as drugs or alcoholic beverages) deemed harmful and usually subject to legal restriction

possession of a controlled substance substance abuse


: material possessions : property

a family of substance

Substance Abuse Treatment Programs | Washburn House

Different types of drug addiction require different treatments. Substance abuse of every kind is damaging and painful, but the type of substance you use makes a difference in how you detox and heal over the long-term. We’ll take this and the severity of your addiction into account during the evaluation that takes place during the Washburn House admissions process. Our team then uses that information to build the treatment plan that’s right for your recovery. We determine which substance abuse treatment programs will be ideal to aid in your recovery journey.

Available Substance Abuse Treatment Programs Worcester Massachusetts Provides

When it comes to effective substance abuse treatment programs in Worcester Massachusetts, look no further than Washburn House. We provide a variety of drug addiction treatment programs in MA that target specific substances and the needs of those struggling. Through our full continuum of care, we make it possible for our clients to begin living a full and healthy life.

Substance Abuse Treatment Programs for Opioid Addiction

Many drugs fall under the category of “opioids.” A few of the most common are:

  • Oxycodone (known as “oxy”)
  • Hydrocodone (known as “hydro”)
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Heroin

Opioids are extremely addictive, and they’re especially dangerous because of the risk of overdose. Unfortunately, they’re also widely available because many of them are legal medications prescribed for pain.

Warning signs of addiction to opioids include cravings for the drug, symptoms of depression, and needing more and more of the drug to get the same effects. An opioid addiction treatment program in Worcester Massachusetts will provide the necessary support and medical attention to set you up for successful recovery.

Substance Abuse Treatment Programs for Alcohol Addiction

Addiction to alcohol is incredibly common. This is because alcohol is legal, widely available, and drinking is an accepted social activity. If you continue to drink when others have stopped or feel like you need to drink to relax, you may have a problem with alcohol. It’s easy to build up a tolerance to alcohol over time, meaning you may become addicted to the substance without realizing it. There are severe health consequences of prolonged alcohol abuse, such as liver and brain damage, so it’s important to get treatment right away. Through an alcohol addiction treatment program, you have the ability to safely detox and recover from the substance.

Substance Abuse Treatment Programs for Benzo Addiction

Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are commonly used prescription drugs. They give a powerfully calming effect to the user, so they’re typically prescribed for:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures

Benzos are relatively easy to find and have a long withdrawal process, making recovery difficult without professional support. Because of the symptoms of detox, you should never try to quit without medical supervision. A benzo addiction treatment program provides you with the medical care you need to stay safe.

Substance Abuse Treatment Programs for Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is known for its short-lived but intense feelings of heightened mood, increased energy, and increased motivation. These symptoms together are known as “euphoria.” Signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction include:

  • Needing more of the drug to get the same high
  • Reacting negatively while “crashing,” as effects wear off
  • Being willing to do whatever it takes to get more of the drug

Staying off of cocaine while you get sober is difficult, so having trained support from medical professionals through a cocaine addiction treatment program is vital.

Substance Abuse Treatment Programs for Meth Addiction

Methamphetamine is powerfully addictive. Using it in any form can be deadly because it raises your blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and respiration—often to a point you can’t handle. It’s also extremely difficult to quit.

If you’re addicted to meth, your loved ones might point out that you’re:

  • Paranoid
  • Isolated
  • Panicked
  • Aggressive

A meth addiction treatment program will help you work through withdrawal and achieve recovery success.

Substance Abuse Treatment Programs for Heroin Addiction

Unlike other opioids, there’s no medical purpose for heroin, and it’s especially dangerous because:

  • It’s easy to become addicted to heroin.
  • You risk infection from dirty needles if you inject heroin.
  • It’s easy to overdose on the drug.

A heroin addiction is difficult to break, and detox can be perilous. That’s why it’s important to seek the help of healthcare professionals through a heroin addiction treatment program and not attempt to recover on your own.

Substance Abuse Treatment Programs for Marijuana Addiction

Many people believe that marijuana is not addictive, but if you prioritize your marijuana use above work, relationships, and sober hobbies, you may be addicted.

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Vivid dreams, including nightmares
  • Headaches
  • Decreased appetite
  • Cravings for the drug

When you come to our marijuana addiction treatment program, we’ll incorporate your unique needs and goals into your treatment.

Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders at a Substance Abuse Treatment Center Worcester Massachusetts Provides

You have a co-occurring disorder if you’re abusing a substance and have a mental illness like:

  • An anxiety disorder
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • A personality disorder, like borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Washburn House is co-occurring capable. While we are primarily a substance abuse treatment facility, we do treat some co-occurring disorders if your primary diagnosis is substance-related. Through dual diagnosis treatment in MA, clients are able to address both issues in order to break the cycle of addiction.

Our Substance Abuse Treatment Center in Worcester Massachusetts

If you are ready to make a powerful, positive change in your life, give Washburn House a call today. We have an array of programs, including inpatient rehab treatment and our intensive outpatient rehab program. Our treatment programs are designed for all types of drug and alcohol addictions. One of them is right for you. Our team of Masters-level clinicians, case managers, and health care providers will help you get back on your feet and learn to live a meaningful life free of substances. For high-quality addiction treatment in a sensitive and welcoming environment, contact Washburn House in Worcester, MA at 855.298.3104. Our team is ready to help.

Hazardous and flammable substances »Items prohibited for shipment» Parcel »Business» Omniva

Explosive and explosive substances

Any chemical compounds, mixtures or agents that can cause an explosion or the use of which is accompanied by the risk of immediate heating and gas evolution. All explosives are prohibited.


nitroglycerin, pistons, fireworks rockets, incendiary mixtures, explosives, flares, ammunition, etc.d.

Gases (compressed, liquefied or dissolved under pressure)

Stable gases that do not liquefy under the influence of ambient temperature, dissolved in a solvent under pressure. Prohibited:

  • Compressed and flammable gases: hydrogen, ethane, methane, propane, butane, lighters, stove gas cylinders, blowtorches, etc.
  • toxic compressed gases: chlorine, fluorine, etc.
  • Non-flammable compressed gases: carbon dioxide, nitrogen, neon, fire extinguishers containing such gases, etc.p.
  • aerosols

Liquids, mixtures of liquids or liquids containing solid particles in the form of a solution or suspension that create flammable vapors. All liquids with an ignition temperature in a closed container below 55ºC are prohibited.


acetone, benzene, cleaning agents, gasoline, lighter fuel, paint thinners and cleaning agents, kerosene, solvents, etc.p.


Solid materials. which can ignite due to friction, absorption of moisture, spontaneous chemical reaction or heat trapped during processing, or which are highly flammable and burn.


matches, calcium carbide, cellulose, substances containing nitrate, metallic magnesium, nitrocellulose-based film, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, sodium hydride, zinc powder, zirconium hydride, etc.p.


These substances are spontaneously flammable, although not always, they can cause or contribute to the ignition of other substances. In addition, they can explode, cause a dangerous reaction, interact with other substances and pose a health hazard.


bromates, chlorates, components of glass fiber repair products, perchlorates, permanganates, peroxides, etc.p.


Substances which, if swallowed, inhaled or in contact with the skin, can cause death or injury. Substances containing microorganisms or their toxins that can definitely or possibly contribute to the spread of diseases.


arsenic, beryllium, cyanide, fluorine, hydrogen, selenite, mercury, mercury salts, mustard gas, nitrogen dioxide, pathogenic material, rat poison, serum, vaccines, etc.p.


All materials with a specific activity higher than 74 kilobecquerels per kilogram (0.002 microcurie per gram). All radioactive materials are prohibited.


decaying substances (uranium 235, etc.), radioactive waste, uranium ore or thorium ore, etc.


Substances that can cause serious harm because they have a chemical effect on living tissue, goods or vehicles.


aluminum chloride, sodium hydroxide, corrosive cleaning liquid, rust remover / preventor, corrosive paint remover, electric batteries, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, etc.


Substances that pose a threat that cannot be classified according to the above categories.


asbestos, dry ice, magnetized material with a magnetic field strength of 0.159 A or higher at a distance of 2.1 m from the package, etc.NS.
90,000 Natural Toxins in Food

What are Natural Toxins?

Natural toxins are toxic substances of natural origin produced by some types of living organisms. These toxins are not harmful to the organisms that produce them, but can be toxic to others, including humans, if taken with food. These chemicals are diverse in structure and differ in biological function and degree of toxicity.

Some toxins are produced by plants and act as a defense mechanism against predators, insects or microorganisms, or are formed as a result of damage to plants by microorganisms such as molds due to climatic stress (drought or extremely high humidity).

Other sources of natural toxins are microscopic algae and plankton that inhabit oceans and sometimes lakes and produce chemicals that are toxic to humans but not to fish or shellfish that feed on these organisms. In the case of human consumption of fish or shellfish containing these toxins, adverse reactions can quickly occur.

Below is a description of some of the most common natural toxins in foods that pose a threat to our health.

Biotoxins produced by aquatic organisms

Toxins produced by seaweed and freshwater algae are called algal toxins. These toxins are produced by some types of algae during the flowering period. Shellfish such as mussels, oysters, and scallops are more likely to contain these toxins than fish. Algal toxins can cause diarrhea, vomiting, tingling sensations in the limbs, paralysis, and other effects in humans, other mammals and fish. They can accumulate in shellfish and fish, or contaminate drinking water.They are colorless and odorless and do not deteriorate during heat treatment or freezing.

Another example is ciguatera, or poisoning from eating fish contaminated with ciguatoxin, a substance produced by dinoflagellates, an aquatic single-celled organism. Ciguatoxin accumulates in fish such as barracuda, black grouper, dog snapper and king mackerel. Symptoms of ciguatera include nausea, vomiting, and neurological symptoms such as a tingling sensation in the fingers and toes.There is currently no cure for ciguatoxin poisoning.

Cyanogenic glycosides

Cyanogenic glycosides are phytotoxins (i.e. toxic compounds produced by plants) found in at least 2000 plant species, many of which are consumed in some regions of the world. The most commonly consumed foods containing cyanogenic glycosides include cassava, sorghum, stone fruit kernels, bamboo roots, and almonds. The toxic potential of a cyanogenic plant depends mainly on how high the concentration of cyanide in the human body will be as a result of its consumption.In humans, acute cyanide intoxication can have the following clinical signs: increased breathing, drop in blood pressure, dizziness, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, cyanosis, accompanied by fibrillar muscle contractions and convulsions, followed by a terminal coma. Death from cyanide poisoning can occur when they reach concentrations that exceed the metabolic capacity of a particular organism.


These toxins are produced by a variety of plants such as parsnips (a plant related to carrots and parsley), celery roots, citrus fruits (lemon, lime, grapefruit, bergamot) and some medicinal plants.Furanocoumarins are toxins produced by a plant in response to an irritant such as physical injury. In sensitive individuals, these toxins can cause gastrointestinal disturbances. Furanocoumarins are photosensitizing and can cause severe skin irritation when exposed to ultraviolet light. Most often, such reactions occur when the juice of these plants gets on the skin, however, cases of a similar effect have been described as a result of eating large amounts of vegetables rich in furanocoumarins.


Many beans contain toxins called lectins. They are most concentrated in beans, especially red beans. Just 4 or 5 raw beans can cause severe stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Lectins are destroyed by soaking dried beans for at least 12 hours and boiling them over high heat for at least 10 minutes. Canned beans have already undergone this processing and can be eaten ready-made.


Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxic substances produced by some types of molds.Molds grow on a variety of foods such as cereals, dried fruits, nuts, and spices. Mold growth can occur both before and after harvest, during storage, and / or on finished food under conditions of favorable temperature and high humidity.

Most mycotoxins are chemically stable and are not destroyed during heat treatment. Mycotoxins present in food can cause acute intoxication, symptoms of which develop shortly after the consumption of highly contaminated food and can even be fatal.Chronic consumption of mycotoxins in food can have long-term negative effects on health, in particular, provoking cancer and immunodeficiency.

Solanin and Chakonin

All plants of the nightshade family, which include tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants, contain the natural toxins solanine and chaconin (glycoalkaloids). As a rule, the concentration of these substances in plants is low. However, they are present in higher concentrations in potato shoots and skins and greenish parts of its tubers with a bitter taste, as well as in green tomatoes.Plants produce a toxin in response to external stimuli such as mechanical damage, ultraviolet radiation, colonization by microorganisms, and attack from pests and herbivores. To prevent the formation of solanine and chaconin in potatoes, it is important to store the tubers in a dark, cool and dry place. It is also not recommended to eat the green or sprouting parts of the tubers.

Poisonous mushrooms

Wild mushrooms may contain a number of toxins, such as muscimol and muscarine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, visual impairment, increased salivation and hallucinations.Symptoms begin 6-24 hours after eating the mushrooms. Usually, fatal poisoning is characterized by the late development of severe symptoms characteristic of damage to the liver, kidneys and nervous system. Cleaning and heat treatment of mushrooms does not allow to eliminate the toxins contained in them. It is recommended to avoid eating any wild mushrooms in the absence of complete confidence in their harmlessness.

Pyrrolizidine alkaloids

Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) are toxins produced by about 600 plants.Most of them are produced by plants of the families borage, aster and legumes. Many of these plants are agricultural weeds that infest food crops. PAs cause a wide range of negative effects. They can be acutely toxic. In this regard, the main source of concern is the ability of some PA to damage cell DNA, which can provoke cancer.

PA are not destroyed during heat treatment.They are found in herbs, honey, aromatic herbs and spices, and other foods such as cereals and cereals. However, the level of their consumption by humans is considered to be low. Due to the complexity of the issue and the large number of such compounds, the overall health risk has not yet been fully determined. The FAO / WHO Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food is developing recommendations to prevent PA-containing plants from entering the food chain.

What can I do to reduce the risk of natural toxins?

It is important to remember that natural toxins can be present in a variety of crops and foods. In a normal, balanced, healthy diet, the concentration of natural toxins is well below the acute and chronic toxicity thresholds.
To reduce the health risks associated with the presence of natural toxins in food, it is recommended:

• not to think that everything “natural” is harmless by definition;

• to dispose of damaged, wrinkled, discolored and, in particular, moldy food;

• throw away food that smells or tastes not fresh or tastes unusual;

• Eat only those mushrooms or wild plants that are definitely not poisonous.

WHO Activities

WHO, in collaboration with FAO, is responsible for assessing the risk of natural toxins to humans from food contamination and advising on the protection needed.

Risk assessment of the presence of naturally occurring toxins in food is carried out by the FAO / WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and is used by national governments and the Codex Alimentarius Commission (regulatory intergovernmental body on food standards) to determine the limit values ​​for the concentration of various impurities in food or other risk management recommendations to prevent or reduce contamination.Codex standards provide an international benchmark for domestic food producers and food traders, and are designed to ensure that consumers around the world that the food they purchase meets established safety and quality standards, wherever they are produced.

JECFA sets maximum permissible levels for the consumption of various natural toxins.
JECFA or FAO / WHO ad hoc scientific expert groups are composed of independent international experts who provide scientific reviews of all published studies and other data on selected natural toxins.As a result of this health risk assessment exercise, either intake limit values ​​or other recommendations are formulated to indicate the degree of health hazard (eg exposure limits). Recommendations are made regarding risk management and measures to prevent and reduce contamination, as well as analytical methods and monitoring and control measures.
To avoid harm to human health, the content of natural toxins in food should be as low as possible.Natural toxins not only pose a risk to human and animal health, but also negatively impact food security and nutritional status by limiting people’s access to healthy food. WHO strongly encourages national authorities to monitor the content of the most significant natural toxins in food products marketed in their markets and take measures to minimize it and ensure compliance with international guidelines on limit values, storage conditions and legislation.

Surfactants – What are Surfactants?

Surfactants are chemical compounds that, concentrating on the interface, cause a decrease in surface area

Surfactants are chemical compounds that, concentrating on the interface, cause a decrease in surface tension.
The main quantitative characteristic of a surfactant is surface activity – the ability of a substance to reduce the surface tension at the interface is the derivative of surface tension with respect to the surfactant concentration as C tends to zero.

However, the surfactant has a solubility limit (the so-called critical micelle concentration or CMC), at which, when the surfactant is added to the solution, the concentration at the interface remains constant, but at the same time self-organization of surfactant molecules occurs in the bulk solution (micelle formation or aggregation).

As a result of this aggregation, so-called micelles are formed.

A distinctive feature of micelle formation is the turbidity of the surfactant solution.

Aqueous solutions of surfactants, during micelle formation, also acquire a bluish tint (gelatinous hue) due to the refraction of light by micelles.

Theoretically, any chemical compound with hydrophilic and hydrophobic regions in the molecule will be surface active.

However, in reality, only a few of them are effective detergents, emulsion and foam stabilizers, film formers, etc.

According to their application, surfactants of this class are divided into wetting agents, solubilizers, emulsifiers, detergents, foaming agents.

According to their chemical properties, they are divided into:
-anionic surfactants – decompose in an aqueous solution with the formation of negatively charged ions;
– cationic surfactants – decompose in an aqueous solution with the formation of positively charged ions;
– amphoteric surfactants – in an aqueous solution, depending on the pH of the medium, they can exhibit cationic (in an acidic medium, pH <7) or anionic (in an alkaline medium, pH> 7) properties;
– nonionic surfactants – do not form ions in an aqueous solution.

Simplified, the action of surfactants can be described as follows.

Due to the fact that surfactants have surface activity, they reduce the surface tension of water, so pollution lags behind the surface (skin, hair) better.

This ensures the transfer of contaminants into a solution, i.e., washing off contaminants.

This is due to the fact that the surfactant molecule has a dual structure; one of its ends is hydrophilic (i.e.i.e. loves water) other lipophilic (i.e. loves fat).

Anionic surfactants are responsible for the detergency of any alkaline soap (baby, hand made, bath, toilet, etc.), as well as most shampoos and liquid soaps.

In detergents, the fat-soluble part of the anionic surfactant molecule binds and envelops dirt particles in the secretion of the sebaceous glands, which are then washed out with water.

At the same time, the water-soluble part of the molecule orients these particles away from the negatively charged skin.

At the same time, greasy contaminants get inside the surfactant molecule, so that they do not settle on the surface again.

And they leave with the water, being held in it thanks to the hydrophilic part.

The first surfactant – soap – has been “living” for almost 4000 years, but since 1950 x . it was somewhat replaced by detergents and cleaning agents based on alkylbenzenesulfonate.

However, the world consumes 9 mln.tons of soap.

Thus, soap remains the most common surfactant in the world.

What the bones are made of

author: PD Dr. med. Gesche Tallen, erstellt am: 2013/04/12,
editor: Dr. Natalie Kharina-Welke, Translator: Dr. Natalie Kharina-Welke, last modified: 2017/08/29

Our bones are primarily made up of bone matter, which contains calcium salts. In general, the bone as an organ also consists of such soft tissues as articular cartilage and periosteum (in the language of specialists, the periosteum), bone marrow inside the bones, as well as blood vessels and nerves that pass through the periosteum and bone marrow.

Bone matter

Bone matter makes up the bulk of our bones. It is very durable, since it contains calcium (experts talk about calcium salts), its weight can be up to 70% of the weight of bones. Bone matter occurs in bones mainly in two forms: compact bone matter and cancellous bone matter .

Compact bone substance is a hard, dense, whitish mass. First of all, it seems to envelop (cover) with a thick layer the bone marrow cavities inside the long tubular bones (for example, the femur or humerus).But the cancellous bone substance consists of rather thin plates / crossbars. It can be found in our short, flat bones like our vertebrae.

Bone matter is made up of mature bone cells called osteocytes. Osteocytes have processes and with the help of these processes they are connected to each other. Working together with the young osteoblast cells, which are responsible for bone formation, new bone begins to grow. Bone tissue is destroyed by cells called osteoclasts.

Articular cartilage

Articular cartilage is found in almost all bones, with the exception of the bones of the skull. They cover the articular surfaces and are the last remaining skeleton from embryonic (embryonic, embryonic) development.


The periosteum (which experts call the periosteum) covers the outside of all our bones. Therefore, the bone substance itself is nowhere to be seen.It is covered either by the periosteum or by the articular cartilage.

Bone marrow

Bone marrow is a soft mass that resides in cavities within bones. Bone marrow is red and yellow. Red bone marrow is responsible in the body for hematopoiesis. And the yellow bone marrow is mainly adipose tissue.

Yellow bone marrow does not appear in a person immediately, but gradually in the course of a person’s development, the red bone marrow is replaced by yellow.Therefore, the older a person becomes, the more yellow bone marrow he becomes. In adults, the yellow bone marrow fills the central part of the long bones (this can be, for example, the humerus), which experts call the diaphysis. Red bone marrow is found mainly within short and flat bones (for example, inside the vertebrae).

Blood vessels and nerves

Blood vessels and nerves are found in the bone substance, and in the periosteum, and in the bone marrow.They transmit information, nutrients and oxygen to bone cells. Through the smallest holes on the surface of the bones, they enter the bone, and from the bone they go out into the circulatory system or, accordingly, into the nerves that connect them to the nervous system.


About products that provoke the formation of cancer cells and products that have the ability to prevent the degeneration of healthy cells into malignant ones.

Foods that provoke cancer:

1. Food additives “E” , many of which have strong carcinogenic properties (cause cancer of the gastrointestinal tract and skin). The most dangerous: E102, E123, E127, E284, E 285, E512, E574, E999, E1200.

2. Nitrate products. Nitrates , entering the body with early vegetables and fruits, pass through the filter – the liver. If you just overeat with such a salad, the liver will not cope and this will lead to acute poisoning.If nitrates are abused constantly, then the poisons will accumulate in the liver and can provoke its cancer.

3. Food cooked with reused oil, the preparation of which produces one of the most powerful carcinogens – benzpyrene . First of all, it adversely affects the liver and bone marrow (causes leukemia). Moreover, benzpyrene poses a threat to health in any quantity.

4. Margarine and mayonnaise because of their dangerous fillers ( trans fats ).If the consumption of these products exceeds 1 / 4-1 / 5 of the total diet, then the risk of bowel, breast and prostate cancer increases dramatically.

5. Moldy bread. it produces highly toxic poisons – aflatoxins , strong carcinogens, which, first of all, “hit” the liver.

6. Sausage and smoked meats, tk. they contain nitrites, nitrosamines and a number of food additives, incl. “E” are carcinogenic.They can cause gastrointestinal tumors.

7. Liver and fatty meat , due to the fact that it is there that most toxins accumulate. Therefore, it is recommended to consume such products no more than 3 times a week.

8. Repeatedly boiled water. In water boiled more than 4-5 times, the content of carcinogenic substances increases – dioxins , which can lead to breast cancer.

9. Coffee increases the risk of bladder and pancreatic cancer when consumed more than 5-6 cups daily (50 g ).

10. Alcohol . Carcinogenic substances contained in alcoholic beverages “hit” the liver, pancreas, throat, pharynx and esophagus.

List of products that have the ability to prevent the degeneration of healthy cells into malignant ones (in decreasing order of their effectiveness) :

1. Carrots and pumpkin . They contain beta-carotene, which has the property of preventing the degeneration of healthy cells into malignant ones (especially in the prostate, lungs, cervix, mammary glands, pancreas and large intestine). Daily dose – about 50 g of carrots and 200 g of pumpkin .

2. Green tea and rose hips . They contain the substance epigallocatechin gallate, which “programs” the death of cancer cells . Daily dose – 3-4 cups of green tea or 4-5 cups of steamed rose hips .

3. Walnuts . They have an anti-cancer effect due to the influence of provitamin A and vitamin E, an antioxidant that neutralizes oxygen free radicals that often cause cancer (prophylactic dose – about 50 g per day ).

4. Bran . Contains ballast substances that bind carcinogens in the intestine and prevent the occurrence of intestinal cancer . Daily dose – 35 g.

5. Garlic . Rich in selenium, a trace element that protects the stomach, colon, esophagus, oropharynx, mammary glands and skin against carcinogens. Daily dose – 1-2 cloves per day .

6. Red dry wine . It has an anti-cancer effect (primarily for the kidneys) due to the high content of quercetin, rosverartrol – bioflavonoids that protect cells from degeneration. Prophylactic dose – 150-200 g per day .

7. Bow . Contains quercetin, which inhibits the formation of malignant cells in the mammary glands, prostate gland, and ovaries. Daily dose – 40-50 g .

8. Bright red n omidors. Contains lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes oxygen free radicals that often cause cancer. Dose – 2-3 pieces per day.

nine. Radish, celery, horseradish . They contain indoles and isothiocyanates – strong anticarcinogenic substances. Dose – 50-60 g of these products .

10. Tuna, salmon, sardines . They are rich in vitamin D, which suppresses the formation of blood vessels that feed the tumor, and omega-3 fatty acids, which increase anti-tumor immunity. Daily dose – 150 g.

Methods for removing carcinogenic substances from the body.

Carcinogens accumulated in the body can be removed by activating the liver.To do this, you need to switch to fractional meals (4-5 times a day). The basis of the diet is thermally processed vegetables, fruits and bran, which act as an enterosorbent.

Another simple sorbent is a crushed leaf of a large plantain (preferably dry), which must be mixed with honey or jam (3: 1) and taken 1 tbsp. l. 3-4 times a day between meals (take 2 weeks, then take a 2-week break and repeat).

You can also use apples.Take out the core with seeds, fill the vacant space with a mixture of bran and sugar (2: 1) and bake. There is such a dessert several times a day (you can eat it throughout your life).

It should be remembered that carcinogens mainly accumulate in adipose tissue . And until the volume of adipose tissue begins to decrease, the elimination of cancer provocateurs is impossible. Therefore, should not overeat and you must carefully monitor excess weight!

90,000 alcohol, nicotine, psychotropic and narcotic substances, psychoactive medicinal substances

Screening determination of the presence of psychoactive substances is intended for the diagnosis and control of the treatment of pathological conditions that develop during their use or abuse.

English synonyms

Urine analysis “bad habits”: alcohol, nicotine, psychotropic and narcotic substances, psychoactive drugs.

Research method

Gas chromatography mass spectrometry.

Which biomaterial can be used for research?

Single portion of urine.

How to properly prepare for the study?

No preparation required.

General information about the study

The practice of drug testing has spread in health care, workplaces, and legal and investigative activities.The most common method has become urine immunological tests due to the simplicity and short time to obtain results. However, these methods have a certain proportion of false positive results, so the data is confirmed by a more accurate method – gas chromatography.

Alcohol is rapidly metabolized in the human body. From 90% to 95% of it is oxidized in the liver by alcohol and aldehyde dehydrogenase, a microsomal ethanol oxidation system. About 1-2% of consumed alcohol is excreted in the urine unchanged, the detection time in urine is 1-2 days.

Amphetamines and methamphetamines are available on prescription, but due to their stimulating and euphoric effects, they are often illicitly purchased. Most tests for amphetamines are designed to detect amphetamine itself, its compounds (eg methamphetamine, dextroamphetamine), and illicitly used analogs (eg methylenedioxyamphetamine, methylenedioxymethylamphetamine). The test for amphetamines is one of the most difficult, as many other compounds can give a false positive result.The duration of detection in urine after consumption is from 1 to 3 days.

Benzodiazepines are drugs widely used in healthcare, especially in psychiatric practice. They have 4 pharmacological properties: sedative, anxiolytic, antiepileptic, muscle relaxant. Most often, drugs from this group are abused, which have a short half-life and the greatest lipophilicity – due to the euphoric effect.

Marijuana, or cannabis, is one of the most frequently used drugs.Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is one of the most potent psychoactive chemicals. Urinalysis screening methods are designed to detect 11-nor-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid and other metabolites. Cannabis has a high lipid solubility, which leads to its slow excretion and a long time of detection in urine (up to a month). Use can be suspected by strange behavior, transitions from excessive calmness, drowsiness, apathy to unreasonable aggression and nervous breakdowns, loss of previous interests, far-fetched anxiety, sudden leaving home / work under far-fetched pretexts.Often the habit of use lasts for years, inevitably changing the psyche and lifestyle of a person.

The use of cocaine is often caused by its euphoric effect, initial heightened attention, heightened emotions, decreased appetite and sleep. Urine tests for cocaine use are very accurate, so there are positive results for the minimum concentration of cocaine after consuming, for example, cocca leaves in tea, or inhaling cocaine smoke in a contaminated environment.

Opioids is a class of drugs that includes registered drugs (morphine and codeine) as well as illegal analogues. Urine tests for opioids often reveal a metabolite, morphine, which is further metabolized to 3-morphine-glucuronide and 6-morphine-glucuronide. Most of the codeine in the human body is metabolized, from 10 to 15% of the substance is converted into morphine and nocodeine.

Methadone is a synthetic narcotic analgesic that is most commonly used to treat opioid dependence, and may itself cause dependence.Due to the peculiarities of its pharmacokinetics, about 23-52% of the total dose is found in urine after 24 hours.

LSD , or d-lysergic acid diethylamide, is a semi-synthetic psychoactive substance. When used, the effects of euphoria, detachment occur, behavioral and perception disorders are characteristic. This drug can be detected in urine within a few days (about a week).

Smoking is one of the most common bad habits. In this case, the main substance that enters the human body is nicotine .Immediately after smoking, nicotine is found in the urine after a few hours (about 7), its main metabolite, cotinine, is excreted more slowly, the time of its detection can reach several days.

In barbiturates , the main pharmacological effects are sedative, anticonvulsant, hypnotic. Due to the difference in their structure and pharmacokinetic effects, the detection period in urine can vary greatly, for example, for cyclobarbitone 4 hours, and for phenobarbital – up to a week.Most often, an overdose of barbiturates occurs due to the development of drug tolerance.

When is the study scheduled?

  • As part of the survey:
    90,015 90,016 minors – in agreement with the parents and at their request;
  • 90,016 adults in an inadequate state – in controversial, conflict situations.

  • When monitoring the systemic intake of psychoactive substances (especially when taking several drugs at the same time) – to correct the course and dose of drugs.

What do the results mean?

Reference values ​​

Narcotic substances: not detected.

Psychotropic and potent substances: not found.

Nicotine, cotinine: not detected.

Ethanol: not detected.

Volatile Toxic Substances: None detected.

Download an example of the result

Also recommended

[19-011] Determination of the level of ethyl alcohol, quantitatively (blood, urine)

[19-001] Screening test for the presence of narcotic, psychotropic, potent substances and their metabolites

[19-009] Determination of narcotic, psychotropic and potent substances in hair or nails (preliminary and confirmation tests)


  • Moeller KE1, Lee KC, Kissack JC.Urine drug screening: practical guide for clinicians. / Mayo Clin Proc. 2008 Jan; 83 (1): 66-76.
  • Hansson T, Helander A, Beck O, Elmgren A, Kugelberg F, Kronstrand R. Uniform analyzes of drugs in urine needed for rule of law. / Lakartidningen. 2015 Sep 22; 112.
  • Liechti M. Novel psychoactive substances (designer drugs): overview and pharmacology of modulators of monoamine signaling. / Swiss Med Wkly. 2015 Jan 14; 145.

Intravenous urography | Bērnu klīniskā universitātes slimnīca

Intravenous urography is a method of studying the kidneys, urinary tract and bladder by X-ray using an intravenous contrast medium.This method allows you to depict the anatomy of these organs, as well as see how the urinary system is filled and emptied.

An examination may be required in the following cases:

  • Kidney disease;
  • Congenital disorders of the kidneys, urinary tract and bladder;
  • Tumors;
  • Kidney stones.

How to prepare for your visit?

It is necessary to have with you identity documents, a doctor’s referral, the results of previous examinations (radiological, functional diagnostics, especially EEG data, if the brain is examined for a patient with epilepsy), images, test results and hospital records, if any.This is necessary for the doctor to have the most complete information about the child’s health. During the previous day before the examination, the child should consume a lot of fluids (water, tea). On the day of the examination, you cannot eat 3 hours and drink 1 hour before the procedure.

Carrying out diagnostics

  • Duration of the examination is about 1 hour, in some cases the patient can be invited to take repeated X-ray images after a few hours. Before the examination, a thin plastic tube (intravenous catheter) will be inserted into the patient’s vein.This process can be somewhat painful and unpleasant. The child will be weighed, then the radiologist’s assistant will clarify the information about allergies, after which the radiologist will inject a contrast agent containing iodine into the vein.
  • The contrast used in this examination does not have a long-term effect on health, however, during its introduction in the area of ​​the catheter, a strange sensation of cold and warmth may be present. Some patients may experience headache or nausea immediately after administration.
  • Several X-rays will then be taken to show how the contrast agent travels from the kidneys to the urinary tract and bladder. The last shot will be taken after urinating to see the bladder emptying. If the child is very restless or mobile, the quality of the images may decrease, so in some cases the doctor may recommend the use of anesthesia.


This examination should not be performed on pregnant women.If the patient has certain kidney problems, allergies to iodine and iodine-containing contrast media, the doctor should be told to minimize possible negative health effects. To reduce the degree of harm to health caused by ionizing radiation, the dose of radiation is selected taking into account the age, weight and volume of the examined surface of the patient’s body. To reduce the effect of radiation on the child’s genitals and thyroid gland, if necessary, they will be covered with a special blanket.

During the examination, the child is exposed to a small dose of radiation, which most likely will not cause any harm. it is known that ionizing radiation can cause oncological diseases, the study is permissible only in the case of a justified reason – when it is really necessary.

Iodine-containing contrast agent, which is injected during intravenous urography, can aggravate kidney function, therefore, before the examination, it is necessary to determine the level of creatinine in the blood, which will make it possible to judge changes in kidney function.If the patient has type 2 diabetes mellitus and is taking metformin, which, when combined with a contrast agent, can impair kidney function, therefore, metformin should be discontinued and another medication should be taken instead. You should consult with your child’s endocrinologist.