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View Full Version : Lithium as a drug of abuse: WTF?


Mr. Slant
02-11-2009, 10:47 AM
I read this local article:
http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/02/westlake_8thgraders_caught_wit.html

Quote: 'WESTLAKE Police confiscated a lithium pill at Lee Burneson Middle School Tuesday, and two eighth-grade boys were suspended for drug possession.'

How, exactly, does one get high or "low" on Lithium?
I seem to recall all it did is stabilize moods. What were these kids doing?

Shagnasty
02-11-2009, 11:05 AM
They have no idea what they are talking about but the boys probably didn't either. Lithium won't do anything to you in the immediate term, especially, just one pill. Even then, you need to be bipolar to see results in 2 - 6 weeks from it. You could poison someone with a bunch of lithium pills but that isn't the case here and there is certainly no "high" involved. Lithium is an element just like lots of vitamins are. It just has a niche use as a bipolar treatment and it certainly isn't recreational.

Duckster
02-11-2009, 11:10 AM
Where does lithium rate with respect to the federal drug schedule?

Mr. Slant
02-11-2009, 11:12 AM
I wonder if the real story is that the kids THOUGHT they were dealing/selling/etc those pills as something else?
Hmmm.

Hirka T'Bawa
02-11-2009, 11:19 AM
Where does lithium rate with respect to the federal drug schedule?

Lithium is not a scheduled drug, which means the DEA doesn't care about it. It however is a legend drug, so is RX only.

ZipperJJ
02-11-2009, 11:43 AM
Most schools, including Westlake, do not tolerate possessing drugs in any form - this goes for Tylenol as well as pot. Prescription drugs are a big no-no, even if it's something you can't get "high" or "low" from.

From the Westlake Student Manual (http://westlake.k12.oh.us/policymanual/SectionJ/JFC-R.htm) (bolding mine):

Rule 29 - Alcohol/Controlled Substances/Drugs/Narcotics/Inhalants

During school, summer school, travel on any school-provided transportation or at any school-sponsored activity held on or off school property, students shall not knowingly possess, buy, sell, use, supply, transfer, apply or be under the influence of any mood-altering chemical of any kind, including alcohol. "Possession" includes, with limitation, retention of a student's person or in a student's purse, wallet, locker, desk or automobile parked on school property. "Under the influence" is defined as manifesting signs of chemical misuse including, but not limited to, staggering, red eyes, odor, nervousness, restlessness, memory loss, abusive language, falling asleep in class or any other behavior which is not considered normal for the particular student. The term "mood-altering chemical" includes, without limitation, narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, counterfeit drugs, marijuana, alcohol and inhalants. These prohibitions also extend to prescription drugs, unless prescribed by a licensed physician for the student in question, and kept in the original container with the student's name and with directions for proper use. Prescription medications shall be kept in the school office. All other procedures outlined in school policy should also be followed.

A. Legal authorities will be informed.
B. The substance will be turned over to legal authorities.
C. The student will be suspended and/or expelled from school.
D. The student will be referred to an Insight Group.
E. The student may be referred to an outside agency for an assessment. If this assessment is in conjunction with the 5/10 suspension option, then the student must follow through with the assessment recommendation.
F. A first incident of selling, supplying or transmitting mood-altering chemicals shall be treated as a second offense as defined below.

OFFENSE CONSEQUENCE
1st 5/10 option and/or referral to an assessment with the recommendation being followed. Five days of out-of-school suspension are in effect with the remaining 10 held. If not the 5/10 option, then a 10-day out-of-school suspension and/or a police contact and/or a court referral and/or a recommendation for expulsion.

2nd 10 days out-of-school suspension and a police contact, court referral and a recommendation for expulsion.

Mr. Slant
02-11-2009, 11:52 AM
My GQ was more along the lines of a medical inquiry than an honor code or law inquiry, ZipperJJ.
If nothing else, these kids need to be disciplined for plain stupidity.

Joey P
02-11-2009, 02:40 PM
I didn't read the article, but my guess is the kids thought anti-depressant med = mini ecstasy. I had friends in high school that would steal a zoloft here and there from their parents claiming they would take a pill and be happy and talkative all night. Except one friend, they only allowed him a half a pill otherwise he would get to hyper.
That's probably the same case here.

Napier
02-11-2009, 05:24 PM
Lithium is an element, but it is quite a busy element, generating all kinds of excitement when it contacts water or things made mostly of water. Like humans.

FWIW, the "lithium" discussed as a drug would be a lithium salt.

Canadjun
02-11-2009, 05:41 PM
Lithium is an element, but it is quite a busy element, generating all kinds of excitement when it contacts water or things made mostly of water. Like humans.

FWIW, the "lithium" discussed as a drug would be a lithium salt.

True, but I think you will find that whenever lithium is used in a medical context it refers to an appropriate compound of lithium used to treat bipolar disorder, not the element alone. There's lots of other examples where scientific terminology <> common terminology (do you talk about putting sodium chloride or salt on your food? Potassium cyanide is also a salt!).

MichaelJohnBertrand
02-11-2009, 05:57 PM
I read this local article:
http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/02/westlake_8thgraders_caught_wit.html

Quote: 'WESTLAKE Police confiscated a lithium pill at Lee Burneson Middle School Tuesday, and two eighth-grade boys were suspended for drug possession.'

How, exactly, does one get high or "low" on Lithium?
I seem to recall all it did is stabilize moods. What were these kids doing?

Sounds like a combination of the stupidity of teenagers and the stupidity of these "zero tolerance" policies in schools these days.

All through high school, I had a big bottle of el cheapo ASA in my massive backpack. Guess I was a hardcore junkie.

I'm trying to imagine what a lithium trip would be like.

"Try this man, you will be so freaking reasonable.... I'm telling you dude, you will be stable as a table and calm as a bomb!"

Uh. Party on?

susan
02-12-2009, 04:07 AM
You can go to Ashland, Oregon and slurp up the naturally lithium-containing waters of Lithia Spring. There's even a water fountain for it. Tastes terrible, though.

Strider
02-12-2009, 06:01 AM
A long time ago, in a land far, far away...

A buddy and I got jobs and moved to a very remote location. My buddy was a little troubled and had addiction/drug problems, one of those guys always looking for the next high, whatever it was...

Anyway, we get to our new digs and the only drug he can find is weed. Well that isn't good enough for him and he already had a history of mental health issues so he goes to the local clinic and talk to the pysch guy there. After a couple (free) sessions the guy prescribes my friend Drug A and lithium. To this day I am still not familiar with what these drugs are for or if he really needed them or if he just acted like he needed them. At any rate, he knew very well what they were and as soon as he got his prescription filled he came home and took Drug A, crushed it and snorted it. I guess he liked it because within a week or two he has used all of Drug A and was only left with the lithium.

So he gets bored one night and wonders if he snorts the lithium, will it give him a buzz. So he does. Immediately he drops to the floor and starts going into convulsions, something I have never seen before. I rolled him to his side as he convulsed and just hoped for the best. After maybe a minute he starts to calm down and after about 5 minutes he starts to come around and talk. Seemly, no harm done but I took the rest of the bottle and threw it away, lest my friend get curios and bored again.

Bottom line. There are a lot of drugs out there that you can abuse to try and "have a good time". Lithium is NOT one of them.

-n

Napier
02-12-2009, 06:25 AM
>True, but I think you will find that whenever lithium is used in a medical context it refers to an appropriate compound of lithium used to treat bipolar disorder, not the element alone.


Hmm. Yes, I guess you are right. When they are talking about lithium as a drug, they actually mean a lithium salt. I stand corrected.

HMS Irruncible
02-12-2009, 06:33 AM
Hmm. Yes, I guess you are right. When they are talking about lithium as a drug, they actually mean a lithium salt. I stand corrected.
This is in fact true of so many drugs that it's largely a pointless nitpick unless we're talking about whether lithium pills explode when in contact with water (no) or whether it can be smoked (no, it's a metallic salt, and does not convert to a free base).

Spezza
02-12-2009, 10:45 AM
Back in the day I saw one of my buddies on lithium at a party. I didn't see him take the pill(s?), but by the time I got there he was as wrangled as I've ever seen him. I remember being a little worried about him. Actually, that night he jumped into the pool and just sat at the bottom watching the rest of us. I was in the process of taking off my shirt to jump in a save him when he came back up to the surface and laughed at me.

I cannot be certain he took real lithium, but whatever it was it was marketed as lithium.

Mr. Slant
02-12-2009, 10:50 AM
Spezza,

Did you observe any other oddities?
Could your buddy have been high on a placebo affect?

Joey P
02-12-2009, 11:36 AM
Actually, that night he jumped into the pool and just sat at the bottom watching the rest of us. I was in the process of taking off my shirt to jump in a save him when he came back up to the surface and laughed at me.

Ferris Bueller, you're my hero.

Spezza
02-12-2009, 01:01 PM
Spezza,

Did you observe any other oddities?
Could your buddy have been high on a placebo affect?

It was years ago at a random house party in the country. What I remember is him being very very wrecked. While we all used to get very wrecked very often back then, he was having a "special" night. Besides the pool incident my only other memory is of him being able to take these amazing long breaths in. He seemed to be able to inhale forever.

As for the placebo affect, doubtful. While any drug use is obviously affected by the individual's expectations of the drug, we were all far to accustomed to drug use to magically manifest such extreme symptoms. Now, as a disclaimer, he would have also been on marijuana and alcohol that evening, possibly other intoxicants as well. The affects of the other drugs, or their combination, could have been the real cause of his extreme trip that night. Nonetheless, from a buddy I've seen wrecked on many many occasions, that night was definitely in the top 5.

Markxxx
02-12-2009, 03:19 PM
The kids probably think it's an antidepressent and they are thinking antidepressent are "uppers."

People think if you're depressed then you're down so to get stable you need something to bring you back up. This is quite a common misconception among antidepressents.

People say "I don't want uppers," when they are mood stabilizer.

Lithium is pretty benign by itself, a placebo affect is most likely, it really is much more effective in stablizing mania than at controlling the depression end of bi-polar issues.

Lithium most problematic issue is it can interfere with electolytes in the body and cause headaches

Lithium though has been popularized by some songs as a mellowing agent, so I bet the kids thought it would give them a high

Thing Fish
02-12-2009, 07:36 PM
I am a psychiatrist... I have heard one (and only one!) of my many chronically drug abusing patients claim that she used to sell her lithium pills to people who would snort it to somehow augment their crack high. Based on this one unreliable report, I am not willing to assume that this bizarre practice is actually widespread.

I would be worried about toxicity...lithium is quite easy to overdose fatally on, or at least end up needing lifelong dialysis or a kidney transplant. Take only as prescribed, kids!

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