Falkenburg: It’s never too late to get over drugs
Published: Thursday, January 30th, 2014
Dr. Joy Falkenburg had a message for the audience attending Monday evening’s Reclaiming the Brain seminar: It’s never too late.
“I think it takes a village to raise children. I think a lot of us recognize that drug and alcohol problems exist around us,” she said. “This issue will affect all of us at one time or another. It’s insidious and slow — that’s the thing that’s scary about it; you don’t see it coming.”
In her 12 years working in Custer, Falkenburg has saved people from drugs, seen addicts who are still struggling and has even seen people die from the addiction.
“What I want everyone to know is that it’s never too late,” she said. “If you have an addiction disorder or someone you know has an addiction, there’s always hope for that person. Helping that person to get the help he or she needs is super important and you should never give up hope.”
Falkenburg spoke about the different types of drugs, what she and other doctors have seen in the community and how they affect the brain.
“Drug use is a chronic health problem. The disorder is chronic. You aren’t cured and the problem doesn’t go away,” she said. “It’s a day-in, day-out battle and something (addicts) need to be constantly vigilant about.”
Falkenburg described the brain as one big nerve which is composed of neurotransmitters and receptors. The neurotransmitter come across the brain and attaches to the receptor, which tells the body and system what to do, like control pain, calm down or get excited. When drugs are used, all of those are affected in different ways.
Some of the drugs Falkenburg and other doctors have seen are bath salts, alcohol, methamphetamines and caffeine.
The fastest-growing drug used in Custer is bath salts — synthetic drugs that are difficult to detect since they don’t show up in urine tests.
“The chemical make-up of this stuff can constantly be changed by one thing,” Falkenburg said. “Things like K2 and potpourri are being smoked — that’s a terrible thing to smoke! It severely damages lungs and the users act like they’re out of their mind when they’re high.”
Bath salts, which are given the name since a salt is in their chemical make-up, are often sold as household products and are easily obtained. The drug cannot only kill brain cells, but can cause users to hallucinate.
Methamphetamines, referred to as “meth,” are also constantly changing and are most often made in trailers and abandoned houses. Wyoming was named the number one user of the drug.
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