The Zombies Among Us
There is a zombie apocalypse happening and we have brought upon ourselves.
Like the zombies of pop cultural myth, the real zombies among us are also unthinking, compulsion-driven creatures existing under some kind of diabolical spell. But, unlike the living corpses of the pop cultural myth, these zombies exist under the thrall of something much more mundane: chemical addictions.
Americans are turning to substance abuse in epidemic proportions. “40 million Americans age 12 and over meet the clinical criteria for addiction involving nicotine, alcohol or other drugs.”1 And another 40 million could be considered “risky substance abusers,” meaning that while they may not be addicted, they are a threat to public health and safety.
It would appear the legion of zombies is growing.
And with more on the way: Americans, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), try more drugs than anyone else in the world. We also misuse more prescription opioids than anyone. Our drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions. And even at these proportions, it remains America’s most neglected disease2.
How are drugs making America into a zombie nation?
1. The Zombie Pill
It has been called “America’s most dangerous pill.” Rock goddess Stevie Nicks famously said the “horrible, dangerous drug” had “turned me into a zombie.” Guitar icon Eddie Van Halen described his experience with the drug as “catatonic.” The fog induced by Klonopin, one of a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, is legendary. Doctors have been accused of handing it out like candy. Originally prescribed for a range of neurological disorders like epilepsy and insomnia due to anxiety, it is often used to help addicts in recovery, especially for preventing seizures during detox. Klonopin dramatically affects brain function by lowering its electrical activity.
It can affect people in ways that are unpredictable except one: It is highly addictive. Its withdrawal symptoms can be severe and dangerous.
2. Bath Salts
Did you hear about the 19 year old Florida student who tried to bite off his victim’s face? Or the man who stood on top of his apartment building threatening to shoot himself and others? Or the man who called himself Thor and was found having sex with a tree? This is not just the stuff of urban legend but reactions to “zombie drugs” flakka AKA bath salts. In the case of the face biter, deputies’ attempts to subdue him with a stun gun, punches and kicking, and a police attack dog would be to no avail. In the end, it took four deputies and the dog to contain the attacker. Police said he had “exhibited abnormal levels of strength.”
Flakka is a synthetic hallucinogen and psychostimulant. Sold on the internet under the name “bath salts,” the drug has been associated with excited delirium, violent aggression, severe paranoia, and seizures. YouTube offers many examples of what that may look like. Apart from the face biting incident described above, the fears of widespread cannibalism and superhuman strength are unfounded. Given the drug’s availability and widespread distribution, there would undoubtedly be more reports of such cases publicly available.
3. Devil’s Breath
A substance so toxic and powerful, it makes everyone who ingests it into suggestible, compliant, and amnesiac zombies: Such is Devil’s Breath.
Also known as Scopolamine, criminal gangs in Europe are reportedly using the drug by blowing it into the faces of hapless victims who, in a hypnotic state, are then persuaded to hand over their most valuable possessions. Taken from the seeds of a plant that grows wild in Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, these zombie drugs are related to the deadly nightshade.
Used by shamans and witch doctors for its hallucinogenic qualities, legend has it that the drug was so potent that it was used by South American tribes on the wives of dead chiefs as they were buried, still alive as was the custom, with their dead husbands. It was also used as a “truth serum” by the CIA and in experiments on Jewish prisoners by Joseph Mengele.
Relatively new to the market is Spice, a synthetic cannabinoid. Also known as K2 and as many as 500 other names, reports are that tests of street versions of the drugs have found it to be as much as 100 times stronger than marijuana. And the popularity of its use has been skyrocketing.
You can see the problem.
It also turns users into zombies.
Chemically, Spice/K2 is nothing like marijuana. While chemically similar in make up to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, it affects the brain’s receptors very differently. Often mislabeled as an “all natural” product, the drug’s active ingredients are sprayed onto plant material which is intended to be smoked. It is also available in liquid form for vaping. There are more than 450 synthetic cannabinoids available on the market. Spice has reportedly sent many to the emergency room. It can also kill.
We breakdown Spice’s chemicals and their effects here.
Fentanyl, an opioid 100 times more potent than morphine that dissolves quickly and is more easily absorbed by the body, is a painkiller that was created to provide relief from catastrophic pain – especially of the type suffered by cancer patients. It is also effective for those with a developed opiate tolerance. Because of this, overdosing can be very easy.
Fentanyl is also relatively easy to synthesize. It can be made in a four-step process that uses readily available non-prescription drug ingredients. This allows fentanyl to be manufactured cheaply. Because it is a white powder that turns the appropriate color when tested, it has proved to be an ideal ingredient for cutting other drugs such as cocaine, heroin, counterfeit pills, and MDMA. This makes the drugs cut with fentanyl highly dangerous. Even tiny amounts of fentanyl can be deadly. Fentanyl has been blamed for a spike in drug overdoses.
What Does It Mean for the Future?
The bad news is, with the help of the zombie drugs above, overdoses are up in all 50 states4 – and the rise was quick. The only thing in history comparable to this rise in deaths was the HIV epidemic of the 1980s. Super-potent fentanyl had a lot to do with it. Overall, drugs are the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.
The good news is, the drug epidemic may have peaked. New drugs are being developed that could give us a less addictive alternative to opiates. While new drugs may still be years away from market it does offer hope. Also, it is also true that more people quit their addictions than maintain them. When people come to realize how destructive addiction can be, they develop the confidence to change. Even if quitting takes more than one try, people most often will eventually stay with recovery and succeed.
Support from others can be crucial: And above all, hope.
If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.