Key facts about Heroin addiction from Dr Prakash Masand M.D., a psychiatrist and the founder of the Centers of Psychiatric Excellence in New York City, in light of alleged Demi Lovato overdose
Dr. Masand says:
- There are approximately 800,000 heroin addicts in America right now. Although I have not personally treated Demi Lovato, generally speaking, comorbid substance abuse with bipolar disorder is common and can lead to non-response, relapse and difficulty achieving remission.
- A bipolar patient suffers from periods of depression, mania and a mixed stage. Most patients spend two-thirds of their time in the depressive stage but ironically enough, typical antidepressants don’t work well for bipolar patients and are not FDA approved to treat bipolar depression. There are currently three FDA approved medications for bipolar disorder (Latuda, Seroquel and Symbyax), but again, comorbid substance abuse is very common.
- Heroin binds with the opioid receptors of the brain giving the patient an unbelievable high. This high or sense of euphoria is very short lived, lasting only a few minutes and then leaves the person feeling sleepy. Getting that high again requires taking more and more of the drug which sadly leads to many overdoses. Heroin is very addictive and withdrawal symptoms can be very unpleasant
- Demi Lovato is one of the lucky ones if she pulls through, but this needs to serve as a teaching moment for everyone. There are three takeaways: we need to do a better job treating bipolar disorder. Heroin is extremely dangerous and addictive. Anyone, despite fame, money or anything else, can struggle with mental illness and we need to get rid of the stigma immediately.