Is it Safe to Detox at Home?

man in bed detoxing at home

Whether you, or someone you love is struggling with addiction, the urge to try to detox at home can be powerful. Shame, fear or concerns about missing work or school may motivate the decision. We may try to convince ourselves and others we can control a crisis that’s already out of our hands. The choice to consider outside help for alcohol or drug addiction doesn’t always come easily. No matter the circumstances though — it is critical to recognize addiction as a serious medical situation.

Dangers of Withdrawal

Drugs of abuse, including alcohol, create complex chemical changes in the body which affect everything from neurotransmitters to hormones. Withdrawal symptoms are not only uncomfortable, they can be dangerous and even deadly. Withdrawal from alcohol or benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Klonopin can be especially dangerous. Symptoms can include tremors, extreme anxiety and seizures.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) more than 2 million Americans are struggling with opioid abuse. (1) Opiate withdrawal often induces cold sweats, spasms, cramps, diarrhea and insomnia. The effects of withdrawal often last far beyond the initial week or so of the most intense physical symptoms. Compound effects like insomnia, lethargy, anxiety and depression can persist for weeks and even months. Research into the phenomenon known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is in its infancy, but we are learning more about how to mitigate the long-term effects of prolonged drug abuse every year.
Medical science is beginning to unravel the complex relationship between addiction and neurochemistry. We know drug abuse can cause long-lasting changes to the brain. Studies at the National Institutes of Health have found these changes can include suppression of endorphin production and interference with the action of dopamine and serotonin. (2)

Should You Detox at Home?

What is certain is that a drug detox is a delicate process. Attempting to detox at home introduces unnecessary elements of medical risk and increases the likelihood of relapse. A supervised medical detox is designed to effectively alleviate withdrawal symptoms. More importantly, a patient is under observation so that any dangerous reactions can be immediately addressed. Following a medical detox, patients can be given a comprehensive plan that includes treatments which target the most common pitfalls that lead to relapse. Getting the detox process right is a key component of success in early recovery.

Building a life in recovery begins much like building anything else, with the foundation. Stable footing makes the work of recovery much more manageable. Many of the common causes of relapse can be avoided by diagnosing co-occurring psychological problems early on so treatment can address them. If you or someone you love is ready to take the first step, it’s worth having as many advantages in your corner as possible. Recovering from addiction can be a tremendous challenge. A safe, comfortable detox under medical supervision followed by a thorough treatment plan is the most solid foundation for a successful life in recovery.



Am I Addicted? Five Questions to Ask Yourself

man thinking about whether or not he is addicted to drugs

Admitting that drugs or alcohol may have the upper hand usually isn’t easy. Whether it’s pride, fear or overconfidence that causes a person to remain in denial, it’s clear that we can’t begin to solve a problem until we accept that it exists. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) more than 23 million Americans struggle with drug addiction at some point in their lives.(1) The same NIAAA study also found that nearly one-third of adults in the U.S. have an alcohol use disorder at some point, but only about 20 percent receive treatment.

Most experts agree that cases of drug abuse and alcoholism in the U.S. are likely under-diagnosed and studies show the majority of sufferers never receive treatment. The disease of addiction does not discriminate. It does not matter how educated you are, how wealthy or accomplished you are. Addiction is not a moral failing or a sign of poor discipline. Addiction is a mental health issue that can affect virtually anyone. The first step towards a solution is recognizing that there is a problem and accepting that we need outside help to solve it.

Here is a series of questions you can ask yourself to help determine if addiction may be a problem for you:

  • Do you drink or use drugs alone?
  • Has your drinking or drug use affected your work or school performance?
  • Do you find yourself avoiding social situations where you cannot drink or use?
  • Have you ever lied about or minimized the extent of your drinking or drug use?
  • Have you ever had a DUI or any other legal consequences as a result of drinking or using?

If you answered “yes” to at least one of the above, there is a good possibility that you have a substance abuse and/or drinking problem.

Addiction ultimately comes with consequences. Often times we are already suffering those consequences before we become fully aware of our addiction. This is perhaps one of the most insidious things about the nature of addiction. It tries to keep itself hidden. Addiction lies to us and denies its own existence, often until we reach a point where the consequences are so terrible, they stop us in our tracks. Every addict reaches that crossroads at a different time. The good news is you get to decide where your bottom is. You do not have to wait until tragedy befalls you. You don’t have to wait until you lose your job or your marriage or family. You don’t have to wait until you are bankrupt or destitute.

The truth is if you are in a position to be asking yourself if you are an addict, then you probably answered ‘yes’ to more than one of the questions above. You already suspect you are addicted, but perhaps you weren’t quite ready to admit it to yourself. Shame and guilt can be two of the biggest obstacles that prevent people from getting help. It is important to recognize that an addiction to drugs or alcohol is a medical condition. Admitting you may need help is not a confession of failure. It’s affirmation that you aren’t going to let a substance control your life any longer. The key is to see that moment of awareness as a gift. Use it as inspiration to take the next step and ask for help. There is a whole new life waiting outside the spiral of addiction and despair. There are people who will help. All that’s needed to begin is a little willingness.


Orthopedic Injury Can Lead to Opioid Addiction

Injuries that occurs to the musculoskeletal system, such as dislocations, fractures, breaks, and sprains are orthopedic injuries. They can range from uncomfortable to excruciating depending on the type. In the past, prescription of opioids were commonly used to treat the pain of these injuries. However, the risk of opioid addiction from orthopedic injury has led to a change in pain management practices in recent years. 


Addiction Risk 

Opioids are very good for pain management because they stop your pain receptors from telling your brain that you’re hurting. If the pain is simply a part of your healing, and not an indicator of further injury, it made sense to use opioids to manage a patient’s discomfort during this process. 

However, opioids carry a high risk of abuse and addiction. There are two fundamental reasons for this. Firstly, opioids target the reward center of your brain. In addition to shutting down the transfer of pain-related data from the injury site to the brain, they make you feel extremely good.

Secondly, it’s very easy to build up a tolerance to opioids. The initial dosage may have shut down pain data and gave you a euphoric lift. But over time, this dosage will produce a lower and lower euphoric response and may not even control your pain. This means that you need a higher and higher dose to produce the same result. To continue to feel good, you must chase the high. This chasing of the next “buzz” or euphoric response is the basis of addiction.

When suffering from an injury, your brain is continually receiving and sending a pain response. Your muscles may seize up around the injury, making stretching out in physical therapy or on your own extremely difficult. Often the healing process in physical therapy leads to more pain and suffering in order to heal effectively. 


Endorphin Release Effects

When we exercise, endorphins are released. This is the rush after a workout that makes you feel great. Endorphins are also released when we take opioids, which is one of the reasons they are so appealing. The problem is that over time that release is lessened. If you are injured and can’t exercise to boost your endorphin output, opioid intake must increase to get the same good feeling.

To this end, opioids are doubly destructive. They cause an endorphin release, but over time the body reduces that release, so you need more opiates to get the same rush. Because your natural endorphin release system is suppressed by the opiate dosage, your natural endorphin level doesn’t just dip, it plummets. 


When the Opioids Stop

Withdrawal from any mood-altering substance is brutal, but opioid detox is particularly challenging. Even more so with a chronic orthopedic injury, as the pain from the injury returns along with a myriad of other problems related to opioid withdrawals and addiction. Aside from physical symptoms, there are the mental effects that injury can bring. Your injury may never recover to the same standard that you had before. 

Thus, in the case of injury, withdrawal is about more than physical pain. Your life is different. If you were part of a team, you find yourself losing a major source of social connection. You still have to work through physical therapy to try to build up range of motion and strength, so your schedule has changed and your work life may be altered. 

Finally, those feel-good endorphins have been suppressed by the opiate painkillers, so you’re likely feeling emotionally low, even as your physical pain has decreased.

After the acute phase of an injury is over, the doctor typically stops prescribing opioid painkillers. For someone who has built a tolerance or become addicted to opioids, this becomes a problem. Often to deal with their pain or feed their addiction, people will go to the streets in search of their fix. Unfortunately, street prices of prescription opioids can be staggering, leading people to use a cheaper and even more dangerous alternative, heroin. This pattern has played out many times and is a major contributor to the United States’ ongoing opioid crisis.


Getting Help

Opioid addiction is highly dangerous. If you are struggling opioid addiction after an orthopedic injury, it is critical that you seek professional help. Contact us anytime, our caring staff can talk you through your concerns, discuss options with you, and ultimately help you get back on track.

What is a Psychiatrist? All About This Exciting Occupation

Psychiatrist Occupation

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who diagnose and treat mental illness and disorders. It is one of the most important occupations in the mental health field. Psychiatrists are able to make a difference in their patients’ lives and watch them transform as they work towards overcoming depression, anxiety, addiction, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and many other psychological conditions. 


What Does A Psychiatrist Do?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who assess their patients from a holistic point of view. Much like therapists, they listen to their patients and help address psychological conditions through talk and skills-based approaches. However, unlike therapists, psychiatrists are able to diagnose psychological conditions and prescribe medication to treat these conditions. 

Typically a patient is referred to a psychiatrist by their primary care doctor or therapist. They can operate in outpatient offices, hospitals, addiction treatment centers, and more. 


How Does Someone Become a Psychiatrist?

To have the occupation of psychiatrist, a person will undertake extensive training. After high school, a psychiatrist will typically train for 11-12 years. They must complete an undergraduate degree and medical school. Following that is a 4-year residency and a minimum of four months in internal medicine experience. After the training period, they must pass an examination before the Board of Psychiatry in order to be certified. 


How Do Psychiatrists Support Mental Health?

As people in recovery will agree, the first step in addressing a problem is acknowledging it. A psychiatrist’s job is to identify mental health problems in order to determine adequate treatment options. They examine a patient’s mental and physical health, as well as the connections between the two, in order to make a diagnosis and treat the mental health condition.

In treating mental health conditions, medication management plays a vital role. It is the psychiatrists job to prescribe medications such as mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and anxiety medications to reduce the intensity of their patient’s symptoms. They then monitor their patient’s progress, side effects, and experience. In some cases they may need to alter the dose or change the medication altogether in order to find the best fit for the patient. 

By helping a patient to manage and reduce their difficult psychiatric symptoms, the psychiatrist helps them to live fuller, more productive lives. Patients on successful treatment plans typically report an improvement in their quality of life. They are able to do things they couldn’t before, such as hold steady jobs, do everyday tasks, and spend time with family and friends. Furthermore, in some cases the psychiatrist’s treatment can be life saving by lessening suicidal thoughts and preventing attempts. 


Psychiatry in Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment provides one example of the benefits of psychiatric care. Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and addiction often co-occur with other psychological conditions. Often people become addicts after using substances to self-medicate the symptoms of their mental health condition. In many cases, these individuals do not know they have an underlying condition and it goes undiagnosed until the individual seeks addiction treatment. 

A psychiatrist can help support people struggling with SUD or addiction. They are able to help patients uncover and manage any underlying psychological conditions they may be experiencing. They are able to help addicts learn to cope with any Co-occuring Disorders they may have through prescription medication, therapy, and healthy strategies. In doing so, psychiatrists are able to help their patients with Co-occurring Disorders reduce the urge to use substances and overcome their addiction or SUD. 

Becoming a psychiatrist requires extensive training, but it is a highly rewarding and impactful occupation. If you are considering the psychiatrist occupation, more information about the requirements can be found here. At Harmony Recovery Group we are immensely grateful to our team of Addiction Medicine specialists and Psychiatrists for helping our patients thrive in their recovery. 


Getting Help

If you or a loved one are struggling with SUD, addiction, and/or Co-occurring Disorders, please don’t hesitate to reach out and get the help you need. Our specialist team of kind and caring advisors are here to talk. They can help discuss treatment options in order to help you live the life you deserve. Contact us today. 

Tips for Spending 4th of July Sober 

Celebrating 4th of July Sober Tips


The 4th of July is one of America’s biggest “party holidays.” Often those of us in sobriety feel we have to miss out in order to protect our sobriety and avoid triggers. It’s true, we certainly need to take precautions. But there are plenty of ways to cope with the 4th of July and even have fun celebrating it, while staying sober.


1. Before You Do Anything, Start With Self Reflection 

Where are you in your recovery journey? Do you feel ready to go to a place where alcohol will be served and not partake or be triggered? Have I built a support network I can call upon if I feel triggered? It’s important to check in with yourself and determine where you are at, what your limits are, and set boundaries to protect your sobriety. If you can’t say with confidence that your sobriety would be safe in a situation where people are drinking, don’t go. 


2. Do Something Different This Year

It’s probably best not to spend the holiday with your old party crew. It’s just not worth the risk. 4th of July is a triggering holiday as it is so heavily connected to a party mentality. As Joanne Ketch of Chrysalis Counseling says, “Don’t do the same old thing. Try a new way to celebrate. Go to a different home, grill something new, go to the park, even change the music. Changes will help your brain not associate the day with drinking or using.” 


3. Get your Sober Friends Together 

This is one of the best ways to celebrate. Getting like-minded sober friends together means you can have all the fun of the holiday while significantly reducing the risk of triggers or relapse. Throw a barbecue, buy some sparklers, play a few games and enjoy the day. 

If you don’t have a group of sober friends to call, look online. Sites like Meetup can help you find sober events in your area. You may find a great way to spend the holiday and make sober friends while you’re at it. 


4. Get Outside

We’ve all been inside a lot lately but the outdoors is really great for your mental health. Plus, the weather is usually pretty awesome on the 4th of July. And now, instead of wasting it away drinking on a beach or lake, you can finally enjoy the beautiful day! Get some sober friends together and go on a hike, visit a water park, go rafting or jet skiing. Do something active that allows you to really enjoy the scenery of the country we are celebrating. 


5. Attend a Meeting

If you’re finding that the holiday itself is triggering for you, going to a meeting can be a really helpful outlet. Spending time with like-minded people who understand what you are going through can really ground you in your sobriety and help you process the difficult emotions you might be experiencing. 


We hope these tips for spending 4th of July sober have been helpful. But if you still find yourself struggling, please give us a call. We are here to help. 

Jessica Simpson Opens Up About Alcohol Addiction

Jessica Simpson Alcohol Addiction

Earlier this year, singer and entrepreneur Jessica Simpson made two big announcements. One, she had written a new book about her life. And two, that book is about a drinking and prescription pill problem she has been hiding for years. In the powerful memoir, Open Book, Jessica Simpson details her struggle with alcohol and drug addiction, dealing with childhood trauma, and her journey to sobriety. Now, sober for nearly two and a half years, she shares about the trauma that led to her using. 


Childhood Trauma and Addiction

Trauma is a major driver of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and addiction. In the book and subsequent press tour, Jessica shares for the first time that she was the victim of sexual abuse as a child which was never addressed until adulthood. Furthermore, she shot to fame whilst still a minor and carried the pressures of stardom with her for her entire adult life. In order to cope with the emotional pain and the career stressors she experienced, Jessica turned to alcohol and prescription pills.

Over the years, Jessica’s addiction deepened. She found herself unable to function without alcohol, even drinking it first thing in the morning. Jessica recalls constantly carrying what she called her “Glitter Cup” which was “always filled to the rim with alcohol”. 

She also claims she used stimulants to counteract the effects of the booze, diet pills to maintain an unrealistic weight in the public eye, and sleeping pills to get to bed at night. 


Getting Help

Jessica claims she hit rock bottom at a Halloween party in 2017. Hosted at her home, she realized she had a problem when was too drunk to dress her kids for the party. “I was terrified of letting them see me in that shape,” Simpson said. “I am ashamed to say that I don’t know who got them into their costumes that night.” 

The next day she recalls telling friends, “I need to stop. Something’s got to stop. And if it’s alcohol that’s doing this and making things worse, then I quit”. That month Jessica Simpson sought treatment for alcohol and prescription pill addiction. She went into therapy to deal with the underlying issues that had caused her to use. 

Jessica told People magazine, “When I finally said I needed help, it was like I was that little girl that found her calling again in life.I found direction and that was to walk straight ahead with no fear.”

She said she realized she had to surrender and vowed to never miss another Halloween or Christmas with her children. She wants to show up and be present.  

We commend Jessica Simpson for her bravery in sharing her struggle with addiction so publicly. We hope her story inspires others to seek treatment and ask for the help they need. 


Are you or a loved one struggling?

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, contact us today. Our expert advisors can talk with you about your options for treatment and ongoing support. We’re here to help. 

4 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health and Sobriety in Difficult Times

Ways to Support Mental Health and Protect Sobriety

2020 has been quite the year already, and we’re only halfway through it. With everything going on in the world, many people are struggling with their mental health. For those of us in sobriety, we’ve got another layer on the cake. We know that supporting our sobriety means supporting our mental health but sometimes this is harder than others. Let this article serve as the reminder we all need to prioritize ourselves. Finding ways to mitigate the effects of the news on our wellbeing, and support our mental health so we don’t succumb to cravings and risk our sobriety, is something each and every one of us needs to focus on now more than ever. 


1. Take a Media Break

Many of us are torn between wanting to stay informed and needing a break from the constant stream of difficult stories. We’re afraid that if we stop checking the news, if we stop checking social media, we will miss something important. The truth is the news moves at light speed these days, and trying to keep up is a tall order even in “normal” times. It is absolutely okay, and often necessary, to take a break for your mental health and emotional wellbeing. We all want to be the best advocates we can be, but burning out helps no one and it puts your sobriety at risk. As the airlines always say, put your mask on first. You can’t help anyone if you aren’t well. 


2. Prioritize Healthy Habits

When we’re mentally exhausted we tend to cut corners on exercise and healthy eating. Maybe you skipped the daily run that has been such an important part of your recovery journey. Or perhaps you had ice cream for dinner because you didn’t feel like making anything. It’s really easy to slip into bad habits, we’ve all done it before. And suddenly getting out of the slump feels like hard work. Just remember that it’s worth the effort. Think of the endorphins you get from exercise or the energized feeling after eating something healthy. These things help immensely to support our mental health and sobriety. So make the effort to get back on track. Once you do it’s like a train that keeps on rolling and you’re so much better off for it. 


3. Practice Self-Care

Whether it’s spending time outside, cleaning out your closet, or taking a long bath, finding a self-care practice that works for you is so important for your mental health. It is easy to forget to take care of yourself when the world is seemingly falling apart, but that is when it is most crucial to take time to support your mental health, especially when in recovery. We made a list of 30 ways to support your sobriety on Harmony Recovery Center’s site. Find what method works best for you and take time to prioritize your wellbeing!


4. Talk to Someone

Whether it’s a close friend, sponsor, family member or therapist, it’s always good to talk. They may be feeling just like you and now you know you are not alone. Or they might offer a fresh perspective you hadn’t considered before. It’s important to always be willing to reach out when we need help. It may simply be that we need to hear that reassuring voice on the other end of the phone. Or maybe it’s more serious and we need real help after a relapse. Don’t be afraid: Always ask for the help you need. There is always someone willing to help. 


If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please don’t’ hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help. Call us today.

Women’s Healthcare Month: Addiction and the Mental Health Gender Gap

Women's Mental Health and Addiction

What is the Gender Gap in Mental Health Care? 

Women are twice as likely to suffer from a mental health disorder than men. This statistic encompasses women from all socioeconomic positions, races, and geographical regions. However, some research finds a connection between women who experience significant gender and wealth inequality and higher rates of mental health conditions. Understanding the reasons for the higher rates of mental health issues affecting women is an important aspect of closing the gender gap with regards to women’s healthcare and addiction treatment. 


Co-Occurring Disorders in Women

Co-occurring disorders are mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety which coincide with substance abuse and/or addiction. Research suggests that 40% of people with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) have a Co-occurring Disorder. 

We know that mental health conditions can lead to substance abuse and addiction, as people often use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate. But equally, addiction can often precede a mental health condition. For example, in men addiction is more likely to lead to depression rather than the other way around. In women, the opposite is true. For example, women are far more likely to suffer from depression and use drugs or alcohol to cope with their symptoms, leading to SUD and/or addiction. 

Thus, Co-occurring Disorders are often found to be drivers of SUD and addiction in women. For instance, studies have shown that 6 in 10 women with addiction also have PTSD. Without treatment for mental health, SUD and addiction thrive, creating a vicious cycle in which one condition exacerbates the other. 

Risk Factors for Women

Women are more likely to experience certain types of trauma which can adversely affect their mental health. They are more vulnerable to physical attacks, domestic violence and sexual abuse, all of which are key risk factors for women and mental health conditions. In fact, one in three women will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime and are statistically more likely to experience sexual abuse, incest, and neglect in their childhood. 

Women also experience higher rates of socioeconomic disadvantage and income inequality. Furthermore, women are more likely to be carers which often carries with it psychological and physical burdens.

Lastly, certain types of depressive conditions can be unique to women, such as Premenstrual Depressive Disorder, Perinatal Depression, and Perimenopausal Depression.


Getting Help 

When SUD and addiction combine with mental health conditions, the patient should be treated for both conditions. Women’s mental health and SUD and addiction should be addressed together. Finding a center which specializes in treating Co-occurring Disorders is crucial for obtaining the best possible outcome. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, addiction and/or mental health conditions, help is available. At Harmony Recovery Group we treat addiction and mental health holistically to create the best chance of long-term recovery and wellbeing.

Contact us today, we are here for you. 



What is Lean? The Highly Addictive Codeine Drink

Codeine Cough Syrup used in Lean

What is Lean? 

Lean or Purple Drank is a drink made from a mixture of Codeine cough syrup, soda, and sometimes hard candy and/or alcohol. The Codeine cough syrup used is a prescription opioid medication which is typically prescribed for illnesses such as Strep Throat and severe colds or flus. The codeine acts as both a cough suppressant as well as pain relief for symptoms. Unfortunately abuse has become widespread and street prices for Codeine cough syrup can be as much as $200 per bottle. 

Codeine is an opioid, similar to Morphine. It is weaker but like all opioids, regular abuse leads to tolerance and addiction. Further concern lies in the fact that with Lean, the amount used in the drink can be up to  25x the recommended dose and thus can lead to overdose. Codeine cough syrup that also uses Promethazine, a strong antihistamine, can cause further issues. Promethazine is another central nervous system depressant. In combination with codeine, promethazine can slow breathing to the point of complete respiratory arrest. This is particularly troubling due to the high amounts of the syrups used in Lean drinks. 

Additional concerns come into play when alcohol is mixed into a Lean cocktail. Adding alcohol increases the change of respiratory depression. This can lead to organ damage, coma, or death due to the reduced oxygen flow to the brain. 


Other Names for Lean

  • Purple Drank
  • Sizzurp
  • Syrup
  • Dirty Sprite 
  • Purple Lean
  • Purple Tonic
  • Texas Tea
  • Memphis Mud
  • Drank

Lean in Pop Culture

Codeine cough syrup has been abused by people for years but in the past few decades Lean was popularized in pop culture through songs and interviews with musicians. It became particularly prominent in the hip hop community and is reported to be the reason for Lil Wayne’s ongoing hospitalizations for seizures. Bow Wow recently shared about nearly dying from Lean addiction and the late Mac Miller also spoke of his struggles with addiction to Lean in 2013. Even Justin Beiber has sung about the drug, leading to a dangerous growth in popularity and curiosity. 


Side Effects of Lean 

The name “Lean” comes from the tendency to lean or be off balance when the drink is consumed. Lean can produce the feeling of euphoria associated with opioids but it can also have very negative consequences, especially in the amounts used in Lean. These include: 

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme sedation
  • Wheezing
  • Respiratory depression or trouble breathing
  • Loss of coordination
  • High body temperature
  • Severe constipation
  • Itchy skin
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Changes in heart rhythm
  • Night Terrors

Long-term Health Issues Associated with Lean 

  • Seizures
  • Irregular Heart Beat
  • Liver damage
  • Trouble breathing
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Weight gain
  • Tooth decay

Codeine Overdose Symptoms

Early treatment can save a life. If you or someone else experiences these signs or symptoms after consuming Codeine or any other opiate, call 911 immediately: 

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Blue fingernails and/or lips
  • Trouble breathing
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

Withdrawal from Codeine

Like all opiates, addiction to codeine can lead to significant withdrawal symptoms when the user tries to quit. Codeine is considered a fast-acting opiate, so withdrawal symptoms can start as soon as 12 hours after last use. The symptoms can be severe enough to require medical intervention in the form of a professional detox center. Symptoms of Withdrawal include; 

  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Agitation
  • Watery Eyes
  • Runny nose 
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia 
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal Cramps 
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Fever

Withdrawal symptoms also carry the risk of complications. For example, lung infections caused by vomiting or severe dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea. Severe dehydration can lead to problems of its own such as seizures. 

Detoxing from codeine addiction is best done in a clinical environment where the patient can safely come off the drug with medical supervision. In a clinical setting, like Harmony Recovery Group’s centers, doctors can prescribe medication to support the patient through the detox and withdrawal process, reducing symptoms and cravings. Furthermore, trained professionals can put a plan in place that includes therapy, group support and tools to promote long-term recovery. 


Seeking Help

We hope this article has helped you better understand what Lean is and the risks associated with Codeine abuse. If you or a loved one are struggling with Lean, codeine or any substance addiction, please reach out. 

Call us today and find out how we can help. 



Myths About Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addicts

At Harmony Recovery Group, we offer Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) plans that help patients to manage opiate cravings in the long-term and help them build a new life in sobriety. However, there are many myths and misconceptions about Medication Assisted Treatment that we would like to clear up. 

Firstly, many types of Medication Assisted Treatments exist, encompassing medications like Suboxone, Subutex, Methadone, Vivitrol, and Naltrexone. 

In our facilities we use Suboxone, which we consider the safest option for an assisted recovery. Suboxone works because it binds to the same receptors as opiates in order to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It binds 7x stronger than morphine. Because of this, patients are unable to abuse opiates with Suboxone because they will have no effect due to the binding effect on the receptors. 

Suboxone use reduces the risk of relapse significantly. Studies have shown that Suboxone reduces the risk of relapse by 3x compared with other forms of MAT such as Vivitrol and Naltrexone. And those forms of treatment have a 3x reduction in relapse compared to going cold turkey. Compared to non-medication assisted treatment, there is a 75% improvement in retention rates in sobriety programs. 

We spoke with Dr. Jill Thompson, Board Certified Doctor in Addiction Medicine and our Medical Director at our facility Midwood Addiction Treatment, to discuss the common myths and misconceptions around Medication Assisted Treatment. 


Myth: “Medication Assisted Treatment is Just Legal Heroin”

Beuprenorphine, the primary ingredient in Suboxone, is not heroin. It is made a different way. Narcotics like Oxycontin, Hydrocodone and other opiates are called Full Agonists whereas Buprenorphine is a Partial Agonist. Even though Buprenorphine binds to the same receptors that narcotics do, it acts very differently. For example:

1. You can never become tolerant to Buprenoprhine.

With any other narcotic the more you take it, the more you start to need. A dose that once created a feeling now feels like nothing at all because you develop tolerance to it.  With Buprenorphine you are always on the same dose and you never need to go up in dosage. Jill says, “For example, I had a patient who was on the same dose for 17 years. Unfortunately he passed away in a car crash a few years ago but we had never once changed his dose the entire time I treated him.”

2. Buprenorphine has what’s called a Sealing Effect

This means you cannot take more and more of the medication and get higher and higher. As Jill says, “Your receptors become saturated at a certain dose and that’s it. You can’t take more and more and feel euphoric like you can with opiates.” 

3. Unlike opiates, it is nearly impossible to overdose on Buprenorphine.

The only reported incidents of overdose have been when the medication was mixed with high amounts of other medications such as Benzodiazepines. There is no known case of overdose from Buprenorphine on its own. 


Other MAT medications, like methadone do not have this protection against tolerance nor the sealing effect, making them quite different from the safety of Suboxone. For example, with methadone, a patient can become tolerant and need higher doses and they can also take higher doses and become high. 


Myth: People Who Use MAT Aren’t Actually Clean

This simply isn’t true. What is your definition of “Clean?” Does it mean not getting high? Not getting altered or impaired? Being able to function in everyday life? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then people on MAT are in fact Clean and Sober. 

Dr. Jill puts it this way: “There is a difference between addiction and dependency. Addiction encompasses having a physical and psychological craving for something that is so strong you will do anything to get it. Dependency is the same as if you were a Diabetic and had to take insulin everyday. You are dependent on your insulin for your disease. Yes, someone who is using Suboxone in their MAT program is dependent on it, but it is the same as any medication out there to treat chronic illness. You still have to go to meetings, you still need to do the work, but you have help in managing your condition.” 

Because Suboxone does not impair patients and the sealing effect means there is no way to take more and feel altered, they can get a job, they can concentrate, and they can function as normal. 

Taking a pill once a day for your medical condition does not mean you are not clean. 


Myth: Medication Assisted Treatment is a Lifelong Commitment 

Many people think that if they start taking MAT, they will never be able to get off of it. The truth is, with the exception of using it in Detox for a week to get off of drugs, Suboxone is not a short-term fix but it is not a life-long commitment either. You can come off of it if you want to. 

As Dr. Jill says, “People are very different and this is a very individualized thing. The phrase “longer term” will be different for different people. Some people may want to come off in a year or two, some people may want to be on it for the rest of their lives. At this point in time, we do not know of any reason people cannot stay on it indefinitely.” In fact, the FDA recently released a statement saying that they advocated using Suboxone for indefinite treatment. However, if patients do want to come off of it, they certainly can. 

If and when you want to come off the medication, it’s important to reduce the dose in a slow and controlled manner. When people decide to skip their dose at random or get off on their own, this creates a very high risk of relapse. If the medication reduction is down systematically with a trained professional, you should not run the risk of relapse. This is because with careful tapering, you won’t be feeling bad or noticing you are withdrawing from it. Dr. Jill suggests patients plan on committing 6-12 months to tapering off slowly and safely.


Myth: Suboxone Causes Precipitated Withdrawal

This is a common misconception among opiate users and is not true. Buprenorphine, the active medication in Suboxone, has been around for decades. But, in the early 2000’s Buprenorphine was approved for use in drug treatment. At the time its brand name was Subutex and it was purely made of Buprenorphine. 

Unfortunately heroin users realized that it could be abused and began to liquify it and inject it. In this manner, a user can in fact get high from Buprenorphine. But, it’s most important use to users was the drug’s ability to stave off withdrawal. If a heroin addict is going to run out of heroin they will typically go into withdrawal within 6-12 hours. With Buprenorphine (brand name Subutex), they won’t go into withdrawal for 2-3 days. 

When Subutex began to flood the streets for this purpose, the manufacturer changed the formula to include Naloxone. Thus, the combination was named Suboxone.  

As most people know, Naloxone is the medication that can stop an overdose. It works intravenously by immediately removing all the heroin left on the body’s receptors. However, Naloxone only works when injected. If Suboxone is administered orally, as intended, the small amount of Naloxone is inert and will not have this effect.

Now, if a heroin user tries to shoot up Suboxone, the Naloxone is fully effective. The user will go into immediate, precipitated withdrawal. This means that all the withdrawal symptoms a user would experience over 48 hours happens in the next two hours. 

No Need To Fear Suboxone

Heroin users are often afraid of Suboxone, thinking they will go into immediate withdrawal if they take it. This is absolutely false. If taken as recommended, orally, Suboxone will block cravings and prevent withdrawal symptoms. In the case that there is heroin in your system, the Suboxone will knock it off and bind to receptors instead, because it is much stronger. If you try to use heroin on top of Suboxone, you will feel nothing because the Suboxone binds that much tighter. That is why it is so effective in preventing cravings. The Naloxone in the pills is simply to prevent intravenous abuse on the street level. It is completely inactive in pill form. 

In the end, choosing the type of treatment for your needs is a very personal choice that should be made with the guidance of a trained professional. We hope this cleared up some of the myths around Medication Assisted Treatment. If this sounds like the right fit for you, or if you are seeking any type of substance abuse treatment, please contact us today. We are here to help. 


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