A dangerous new substance that’s used as an anti-worming agent has been found in recent cocaine samples taken by Swiss researchers, according to a report by Big Think.
Cocaine is the second-most popular drug worldwide, and it’s almost always “cut” with another drug or substance so that the drug is more profitable. In some cases, medications like fentanyl are added to cocaine to make it more addictive – but it’s also more dangerous. Usually, it’s baking soda or ammonia that’s added with the simple goal of thinning out the drug content.
Now, however, two studies from the University of Zurich (UZH) discovered that levamisole, a powerful animal anti-worming agent, has been turning up in the cocaine supply. Scientists speculate that it is being used by chemists to make the effects of cocaine last longer.
It’s also possible that it’s leaving brain damage in regular cocaine users. The long-term effects are impaired cognitive performance and the thinning out the prefrontal cortex. Levamisole is also leading to changes in blood counts and blood vessels, and in animals, it has been shown to attack the nervous system.
Two Studies Show Damage From Levamisole
A team from the Psychiatric Hospital and the Institute of Forensic Medicine identified people who had ingested the levamisole-tainted cocaine through a hair drug test. The higher levamisole levels in their body, the more they exhibited impairment of cognitive functions.
A second study had users who took the drug with levamisole in it had MRI’s to view the effects of the drug on their brain. The MRI study showed that people who ingested the cocaine with a high level of levamisole had a very clear thinning of the prefrontal cortex. This finding is significant because it’s the part of the brain responsible for executive functions.
Where is the Brain Damage?
Executive function is the part of the brain that provides self-control, working memory, and mental flexibility. Most of these functions are needed when you are problem-solving, and without them, people make poor choices.
In Maryland, the government has been doing its best to fight the addiction crisis, but they’re not yet winning: in 2017, the number of fatal overdoses increased 9%. Most of these overdoses (90%) were considered to be opioid-induced, with Fentanyl overdoses increased by 42 percent last year, rising from 1,119 in 2016 to 1,594. Fentanyl is a drug that is 50 times stronger than heroin and is typically used in a medical setting. When added to other street drugs, it can be deadly, especially if novice opioid users are taking the drug. In Maryland, they have discovered that a fentanyl-cocaine combination of drugs is causing deaths. Between 2015 and 2016, cocaine deaths doubled because of this lethal combination.
The Maryland Department of Health Secretary Rober R. Neall called the increase in fentanyl-related deaths “staggering.” Officials think that the overdose deaths of cocaine containing fentanyl were accidental; the user may have had no clue that the two drugs were combined. Over 71% of cocaine deaths in 2017 was due to the fatal combination.
These deaths did not seem to have anything in common other than they were accidental. State officials say that the increase in cocaine deaths took place across demographics, affecting all age groups and both genders almost equally.
Heroin overdose deaths have also been decreased in the last year. In 2016, they had amounted to 58% of overdose deaths in the state.
In 2017, the amount of drug fatalities hit an all-time high in Maryland, although the actual increase in drug deaths was just 9%. This number compares to a 66% increase from 2016 to 2017. So it’s possible that efforts to combat fatal overdoses are working. One way the state is helping prevent these overdoses is via Narcan, an opioid antagonist that can help reverse overdoses. They are available both to first responders as well as over-the-counter for residents that have taken the training online.
Years of substance abuse appear to have led to the death of former world champion boxer Hector Camacho in a drug-related drive by shooting. In November of 2012, former world champion boxer Hector ‘Macho’ Camacho, died tragically after he was shot in the head while sitting in a parked car. According to the New York Times, several bags of
Oscar cocaine were found in pockets of a friend of Camacho’s who was with him in the car and also killed.
As we cover the news of drug addiction and arrests, we have noticed an inordinate amount of those arrests having to do with Reggae artists.
What is it about the music of Jamaica that tends to appeal to a rough and lawless crowd?
Particularly dancehall reggae artists themselves seem to be getting arrested in high profile criminal cases.
Ninjaman is yet another a dancehall reggae artist who has a history of drug use and arrest.
Ninjaman had many dancehall hits in the late 80s and 1990s. True to the “rude” lifestyle his lyrics embodied, he faced a lot of legal problems and accusations of (among other things) rape and murder. The negative press Ninjaman received led to career troubles and he also struggled with crack cocaine addiction.
By 1997 he had changed his name to “Brother Desmond” and sought to revive his career as a born again Christian through the genre of “gospel reggae.”
Ninjaman was assaulted with a machete in 2001 and suffered injuries including some to the head.
In 2009 Ninjaman was arrested and charged with the murder of a man on Marl Road, in Kingston Jamaica. To the best of our knowledge Ninjaman is still incarcerated.
A Mysterious and Unexplained Connection Between Continents
A toxicology report found trace amounts of cocaine in the mummified remains of a body buried thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, then known by the name Kamet. But cocaine 3000 years ago could only be found in Peru and some parts of the Andes… how could ancient Egyptians have acquired such a far away, distant, exotic item?
Researchers established the presence of cocaine in the mummified corpses in Egypt and Sudan which date as far back to the time when Columbus landed in America. Was there an ancient trade transatlantic trade route between ancient Egypt and Peru…or…even more difficult to imagine…a Pacific trade route…meaning from the continent of Africa, south east towards India and moving past Indonesia across the Pacific ocean till reaching the shores of Peru?
In England it is estimated that over a million people take ecstasy every weekend. Imagine that. Pounds of the stuff on that tiny, little island nation.
Under supervised tests done on ecstasy and its effects on the brain, doctors noticed that taking more than two tablets in a limited window of time, say 6 to 10 hours, caused detectable changes in the brain similar to those seen with people who go on to develop Parkinson’s disease.