Providing straightforward information pertaining to drugs, drug use & drug policy. The Grey Pages promotes drug-related literacy and advocates a system of viable and tolerant drug policies. This is my personal collection of commentaries, essays, tid-bits, and other such writings on everything ranging from drug use, drug policy and drug-myths, to drug-science, addiction, human behavior, and the workings of the human brain. I started this blog with a particular focus on opioids, and over the past year have found my interest gravitate toward the intriguing, ever-changing world of designer intoxicants (i.e. "research chemicals" or "designer drugs").

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Angry Drug Policy Rant

Calls for reforming drug policy continue becoming more common place. One might think this would be encouraging, however many of the proposed alternatives I am hearing leave me less than optimistic. 

It seems more and more people try to show others how they too are "progressive" in their drug policy ideology. They throw around phrases like "end the war on drugs", "evidence based approaches", "rethink drug policy", "explore alternatives", and "pursue a multi-faceted drug policy". I find in all too many cases, this is just empty rhetoric. Many of these individuals speaking of sweeping reform in our drug laws are merely promoting repackaged strategies based on the same fundamental premises that have shaped drug policy for the last several decades.

The common denominator, among most of these "progressive" approaches being proposed, is the dogmatic premise that drugs are bad, drug users do not know what is best for them, and individuals must be somehow "kept from" consuming the drugs they like. In the minds of all too many "reformists", it still seems to go without saying that users of illicit drugs must be told how to live, and must have their personal choices made by others. Proposals for "progressive" reform continue to involve some variation on a predictable narrative of one party, who believe they know best, imposing their values on another party.

Those who foster such ideology have none of my respect or sympathy, regardless of their intentions.

Jailing more users, reducing demand, pouring our efforts into "treatment", or remedying the social problems which are assumed to lead to drug use - calls for such approaches are premised on the idea that one person (or rather, group of people) has the right to control another person (or group), and take for granted that individuals will submit to such tyranny.

Many just assume it's acceptable to use coercion to stop individuals from behaving in a manner in which we personally disapprove. And the justification for such coercion? The service of some ill defined "greater good", the notion that we must collectively do "our part" as individuals to live our lives in a way which feeds the greater socioeconomic system. We've abandoned the American principles of individualism for principles of fascism. So if one is to step outside of this current social system (by pursuing his own individual happiness), his failure to conform is declared a detriment to society as a whole, and he is subsequently forced into changing his ways - whether it be through punishment or through paternalism.

Yet it is fucking perversely anti-American to force treatment, spirituality, or jail on individuals for self-regarding conduct which in no palpable way deprives another of his rights. The "crime" of drug use has no identifiable victim. However, the snakes of prohibition have dealt with this inconvenience by muddying the standard for what constitutes harm to others in a dishonest quest to convince the public that drug use in fact does victimize others; they've shamefully deceived the public and grossly distorted logic, as well as data, to suggest that the social costs incurred by a relatively small percentage of criminals and otherwise irresponsible citizens who just so happen to use drugs somehow demonstrate that the act of drug use "harms society", and that everyone who sells or consumes certain drugs is contributing to these social costs and thus "victimizing" others. 

The reasoning is beyond disingenuous, and those who continue to deliberately infect the public with such manipulative and deceptive ideology are fucking despicable. The drug warrior is an enemy of freedom, and an enemy of the American people.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Up to Date Information on Buprenorphine

I've neglected to see much of the recent literature on buprenorphine in humans, published in very recent years (post 2005). I'll highlight a few relevant points, some of which contradict earlier assumptions about this drug and its action. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Project Narco's Introductory Guide to the Narcotic Drugs

Table of Contents:

(1) Terms to Know
(2) Clinical and Non Clinical Narcotic Use
(3) Alkaloids of Opium (Traditional Opiates)
(4) Semi-Synthetic Derivatives of Opium Alkaloids
(5) Synthetic Morphine-Mimicking Compounds 
(6) The Morphine Receptor (Mu Receptor)
(7) Pharmacodynamic and Pharmacokinetic Profiles
(8) Chemical Classification of Narcotics
(9) Therapeutic Classifications of Narcotics

Terminology to know:

"Narcotic": In the most traditional sense, "narcotic" refers to the large family of opium or opiate derived drugs, and their synthetic counterparts, which produce a set of opium-like effects; characterized by sedation, analgesia, and well being.

"Opiate": Opiate refers to the naturally occurring compounds which are derived from the latex of the ripened papaver somniferum (i.e. opium poppy) flower pod, specifically, morphine and codeine. The term has also been extended to a number of chemically altered derivatives of morphine and codeine where certain additions, reductions, or substitutions have been made to the molecular structure of the natural parent compound, through various chemical processes. Proper use of the term opiate is always reserved for the aforementioned naturally occurring compounds morphine and codeine, as well as the immediate derivatives such as heroin, created from morphine and codeine.

"Opioid": Opioid is a flexible term in its meaning. In the most straightforward context, an opioid is any compound which acts on the human opioid receptor - or more specifically, the compounds which act at the "mu" opioid receptor subtype. Opioid refers to any compound which mimics the clinical and pharmacological effects of opium, morphine, and codeine - specifically through action at the human morphine receptor (also known as the micro receptor, mu receptor, or MOR), the main receptor subtype responsible for the prototypic "narcotic" effects of analgesia, sedation, and euphoria. Simply put, any of the following can be properly considered "opioids"; a) synthetically produced compounds which mimic the actions of morphine but differ in their molecular classification (i.e. methadone or demerol), b) any compounds, naturally derived or synthetic, which act on the opioid receptor system. Opioid is a vague term and is conveniently used to refer to both opiates such as morphine or codeine, or chemically unrelated morphine-mimicking compounds such as methadone, demerol, or fentanyl. Let me emphasize, there are multiple types of opioid receptors - so although we technically might consider any compound with activity at any type of opioid receptor to be an opioid, for the purpose of this blog and in the context of most drug use, when we use the term opioid here we are usually referring to a compound whose targets of action includes the morphine-type receptor.

"Opioid Receptor": In the simplest of terms, they are the physiological target sites in the body that opiates and opioids act on (i.e. bind with) to produce their effect. Such drugs are attracted to these sites and "bind" to them much like a magnet. Opioid receptors are small cellular sites located on the ends of neurons. Narcotic drugs such as morphine are absorbed from the bloodstream to the central nervous system (brain and spinal compartment) where the attatch to opioid receptors and trigger a cellular response - which for all practical purposes, depending on the type of opioid receptor (there are several), either impedes the firing of signals from one neuron to the next, or impedes the ability of a neuron to carry along the signals which it receives. There are three main subtypes of opioid receptor; the morphine or "mu" receptor, the delta receptor, and the kappa receptor. All three subtypes play a role in analgesia, and contribute to the effects of many narcotics, but primarily the morphine subtype is most relevant to the effects of narcotics such as heroin and morphine. Nearly all available opioids act much more strongly at the mu receptor than the other types. Delta and kappa receptors play their own unique roles; for instance, the delta receptor is believed to potentiate the activity of mu receptors (including reward and dependence) and promote the growth of certain neural pathways, while the kappa receptor is believed to mediate analgesia in the spinal cord and counteract certain mu-receptor actions such as euphoria and the development of addiction.

"Analgesia": The relief of pain, whether it be directly by blocking the neural-reception or transmission of pain signals to the brain, or indirectly, by suppressing the suffering caused by the emotional perception of pain. Narcotics relieve pain through both of these actions.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Physiological Component of Opioid Withdrawal is Mediated Centrally, Not Peripherally

I recently received a comment on the blog; specifically in reference to this older piece about the efficacy of loperamide in suppressing opioid withdrawal. 

"Loperamide will bind to any peripheral opiate sites in the body and the ability [to do so] completely eliminates all physical opiate withdrawal symptoms. As for the CNS and brain, the physical relief of stopping opiate withdrawal is all I needed. When my body tells my brain the withdrawals are over I do not give a crap what it is.."

Let me summarize; the reader is stating how, supposedly, loperamide is able to eliminate the physiological symptoms of opioid withdrawal because of its action on peripheral receptor sites throughout the body. For the record, "peripheral" refers to any receptor site outside of the central nervous system; i.e. throughout muscle tissue, beneath the skin, in the GI tract, etc. Being that I've seen people make many remarks similar to this one before, I'm led to believe there may be a common misconception as to the nature of opioid withdrawal. This entry has little to do with loperamide itself, and more to do with opioid withdrawal.

"The Narcotic Farm" (A History Lesson)

(Also known as the Addiction Research Center at Lexington, or the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital)

This piece discusses much of the influential research done at the historical US Public Health Services Hospital and Prison in Lexington Kentucky, and its impact on our modern understanding of narcotics and narcotic addiction.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

GABA-A Complex: An Overview

This piece explains the function of the GABA-A receptor, a subtype of GABAminergic receptor involved in the action of a variety of depressant drugs.