Why is Fentanyl So Dangerous?

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl belongs to a class of drugs called opioids. Like other opioids, it has a legitimate medical use: easing pain. Opioids work by changing how the body responds to and deals with, pain. Fentanyl’s original purpose was to abate pain in cancer patients (1). Doctors will prescribe fentanyl to patients recovering from surgery, or to those experiencing chronic pain. Prescription fentanyl may appear under brand names such as Duragesic, Subsys, Ionsys, Actiq, and Sublimaze. These prescriptions may take the form of a dermal patch on the skin, an injection, or even lozenges.

Without A Prescription

On the street, fentanyl might be known as Apache, China Girl, China White, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, Tango and Cash, or TNT (3). Since fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine (2), a little goes a long way. For this reason, dealers will mix fentanyl with other drugs. It’s not unusual to see it combined with ecstasy (MDMA), cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin. Buyers have no way to determine how much fentanyl is in their supply. Therefore, overdoses can be very common.

Where Is The Danger?

As with other opioids, fentanyl alters how our brains respond to pain. A person under the influence of fentanyl might feel relaxed and mellow. They could experience some drowsiness and be sluggish. Fainting, nausea, and seizures are frequent side effects. Users often experience shortness of breath and can stop breathing altogether. Subsequently, the blood is deprived of an adequate supply of oxygen, a condition known as “hypoxia” (3). If a person remains in this state for too long, they could become comatose. During the COVID-19 pandemic, opioids like fentanyl have caused a tremendous spike in overdose deaths (4).

Is Treatment Available?

Absolutely. No two recovery journeys are exactly the same. Different treatments provide different results for different people. But recovery is always possible.

One option, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), is a two-pronged approach to recovery. MAT combines the use of medication with counseling. In conjunction with medication, therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can provide a person with a holistic path to recovery (5). Another alternative might be partial hospitalization (PHP), a semi-structured method of recovery that allows for plenty of outside activities. However, a recovering person might require less regimented options. Intensive Outpatient (IOP) programs could involve extended group meetings, taking place either in the morning or evening. Recovering persons might opt for family therapy, or nonverbal therapies like art, music, or yoga. For a person interested in learning more about aftercare, resources on future relapse prevention are readily available.

Recovery Is A Lifestyle

Outpatient (OP) treatment might involve a once-a-week commitment to group meetings, individual meetings with a therapist, or life-skills training. Continuing support is available from aftercare options like Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous. Other alternatives include Rational Recovery and faith-based programs like Celebrate Recovery. Recovery doesn’t end with the completion of a program. Or even several programs. Recovery never ends; it’s a lifestyle.

What’s Next?

If you or someone you love is struggling with fentanyl addiction, contact Recovery By The Sea now. Hope is real, and recovery is possible. Call us at 877-207-5033 now.

Sources
(1) https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/fentanyl
(2) https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl#ref
(3) https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/drug-street-names/
(4) https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p1218-overdose-deaths-covid-19.html
(5) https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment

Can Heroin Withdrawal be Fatal?

heroin needle, spoon, and pill bottles on a table

Any person who has been addicted to opioids for a while is well-acquainted with the fear of withdrawal symptoms. Nearly everyone knows that heroin use is inherently dangerous. The specter of overdose and withdrawal are constant companions. Many are aware that withdrawal from alcohol or benzodiazepines can result in deadly seizures. What is not as clear is whether or not heroin withdrawal can be fatal. The answer is a bit complex, but it is safe to say that overdose presents the greatest risk of fatality for any heroin user.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms can include cold chills, muscle spasms, vomiting, and diarrhea. While these symptoms typically are not fatal a great deal depends on the person and the circumstances. Someone caught in the throes of heroin addiction generally is not taking good care of their health. This puts them at greater risk for any number of complications. Vomiting and diarrhea are both ways the body tries to rid itself of toxins. However, the side-effects of those symptoms include severe dehydration and higher blood sodium (hypernatraemia). Those conditions can lead to cardiac arrest and heart failure. (1) While deaths from heroin withdrawal are uncommon, they aren’t unheard of. Withdrawal puts extraordinary stress on the body. Combined with poor nutrition, personal hygiene and a lack of self-care makes it worse. Add just one more element like a congenital heart condition or a propensity for seizures and it is quite possible that heroin withdrawal can be fatal.

Another risk associated with withdrawal comes from the psychological effects. The physical agony is not the only potentially dangerous symptom of heroin withdrawal. Anxiety, depression, and anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure) can be intense during and following heroin withdrawal. Combined with the physical discomfort it can be too much to bear for some, making it a risk factor for suicide.

There is reason to be hopeful, however. The opioid use epidemic in the U.S. has led to innovations in treatment and an increase in accessibility of care. Tens of thousands of people recover from opioid addiction every year in this country. Regardless of how awful your story may be, there are people out there who will genuinely understand and are willing to help. Turning the corner from heroin addiction starts with the addict themselves though. It takes willingness and courage in equal measure to admit you have met your match and you no longer want to live that way.

A range of options awaits anyone who is ready to give up the fight and get off of heroin for good. The ideal for most people is to start with an inpatient medical detox. This is generally the safest and most comfortable way to begin. After detox, it’s best to attend a residential program for at least 30 days if possible and follow that up with a stint in a sober living of 6 months to a year. The ideal protocol may not fit everyone’s life or means, however, and there are choices to be made. Outpatient detoxes and Medication Assisted Treatment have grown in popularity recently and make recovering from heroin addiction within reach for even more people.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with heroin addiction, pick up the phone and give us a call. We are happy to provide information about treatment options or just advice on how to proceed.


Sources
(1) https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/blog/yes-people-can-die-opiate-withdrawal

How is Heroin Addiction Treated?

man outside searching on his phone for how heroin addiction is treated

The Heroin Epidemic

It’s no secret that heroin addiction has reached epidemic proportions in the United States over the last couple of decades. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found heroin overdose deaths increased by almost 50% since 2010. (1) There were 14,996 OD deaths from heroin in 2018 alone. That’s not including OD deaths attributed to fentanyl, which have skyrocketed to over 30,000 since 2014 alone. The positive side to these grim statistics may be that more people are going to treatment for heroin addiction than ever before. Demand for effective heroin addiction treatment has also driven innovation in care.

The Front Line Assault

The initial approach to anyone entering treatment for heroin addiction is medical stabilization. Anyone who has endured opiate withdrawal knows the terrible physical and mental discomfort it entails. Job number one is getting a patient stable and as comfortable as possible. This is ideally accomplished in an inpatient detox setting. Opiate detox protocols have become increasingly targeted and effective in recent years. Someone who detoxed years ago may well have an obsolete idea of what the process is like in the present day. A new class of medications is being deployed in an evidence-based model that delivers results. Buprenorphine (Subutex®) is part of most detox protocols, but only a part. Long-acting medications like IV Vivitrol may be used. Clonidine is a blood pressure medication that has been found to reduce adrenaline. By subduing the body’s “fight or flight” response, a patient can be made calm and more comfortable. Lofexidine is another non-narcotic medication that has proven effective at relieving heroin withdrawal symptoms. Certain antidepressants including Fluoxetine (Prozac) and Venlafaxine (Effexor) can also produce positive results. In some cases, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) medications may be used. (2)

Supporting Early Recovery

After the initial week or so of heroin detox, most patients are ready to phase out of the medical detoxification portion of treatment. Research has shown dramatically better long-term outcomes for patients who remain engaged in treatment beyond the detox phase. (3) The options here vary from a longer inpatient stay to Partial Hospitalization (PHP, Intensive Outpatient (IOP), or a combination of these. An old adage in the treatment field says that there is no such thing as too much help for a problem, there is only ‘not enough’ and the research supports this idea. Heroin addiction is about more than chemical dependence. It is a complex ailment that involves the mind as much, or more than, the body. In order to have a fighting chance at recovery, a heroin addict must learn entirely new behaviors. These must become ingrained as habits they can sustain for a lifetime. Modern medicine has made total recovery more accessible than ever before. But there is no ‘easier, softer way’ that doesn’t involve dedicating oneself to a lifetime of recovery.

Holistic Recovery for Heroin Addiction

The term holistic is often misunderstood. This may be especially true as it relates to recovery. Simply put, holistic means treating the entire person, rather than just the symptoms. The detox phase of treatment is about relieving symptoms and allowing the body to rest. Little else can happen until a person is well enough to engage in therapy and activity. Effective heroin addiction treatment is a transformative experience. The detox phase is only the beginning. Assessments and accurate diagnosis of any co-occurring disorders usually follow. Then the real work begins. Individual and group therapy. Reading. Working on yourself becomes your primary purpose. Overcoming heroin addiction for a lifetime is a process. Luckily, many have followed the path before and they know the way.

The results any person gets from addiction treatment are proportional to the degree of dedication they apply. Change isn’t easy, but you don’t have to go it alone. Call us at Recovery By The Sea to discuss your options for care. A new way of living is just a phone call away.

(1) https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4014033/
(3) https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment

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. 

 

Sources

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-in-women/index.shtml

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5959880/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/addiction-in-women

https://www.who.int/mental_health/media/en/242.pdf?ua=1

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. 

 

How to Tell If Someone Is On Meth

How to Tell If Someone Is On Meth | Recovery By The Sea

Methamphetamine (meth) is a stimulant similar to amphetamine that is most often found illicitly. Meth is usually more powerful than other amphetamines, however, and is very rarely used for any legitimate medical purpose. Because it is such a dangerous drug, it’s important to know how to tell if someone is on meth.

Meth is usually either purchased from a dealer on the street or “cooked” at home or in a clandestine lab. Street names for meth include crystal, ice, glass, and crank. It usually appears as a crystal or rock-like substance that is clear, semi-transparent, or bluish. Occasionally it is found in powdered or tablet form.

Signs of Meth Use

Regular meth use often leads to a myriad of changes in a person’s life that can be easy to identify if you know what signs and symptoms to look for.

Changes in Lifestyle

Meth users are often secretive and try to conceal their use. However, over time, it will likely become increasingly difficult to disguise their habit, as they continue to spend an increasing amount of time and money procuring and using the drug.

As meth use becomes a priority and central in a user’s life, they will begin to fail to attend to responsibilities at work and at home. For instance, expenses related to drug making, buying, or using may result in financial difficulties and a failure to pay bills. Also, binges may be followed by long periods of inactivity in which childcare and other critical responsibilities are ignored.

Mood Swings and Adverse Mental Changes

Like other stimulants, such as cocaine and Adderall, meth use causes the brain to release excessive amounts of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of reward and well-being. With long-term meth use, the brain becomes less able to produce dopamine without the drug’s help. This effect can leave the user feeling depressed, anxious, and experiencing other negative feelings during periods of abstinence.

Chronic meth use can also result in paranoia, delusions, and even full-blown psychosis. Users may experience irrational fears and adverse psycho-emotional effects that continue long after meth use has ended—a condition known as PAWS. Highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms are common among long-term meth abusers when they try to quit using or cut back.

Behavioral Changes

Because meth is a potent CNS stimulant, the increase in activity in both the brain and body leads to feelings of euphoria. It also creates a boost in mood and energy. Users are often extremely talkative and hyperactive and may compulsively engage in obsessive and repetitive activities, such as cleaning.

Meth users may also experience strange tactile sensations or hallucinations that cause itching or the feeling of bugs crawling on or under their skin. This can lead to repeated scratching and the development of sores.

What’s more, chronic meth use often results in appetite suppression, and thus, noticeable weight loss. Over time, users begin to appear malnourished and gaunt as a result of poor eating and sleeping habits.

How to Tell If Someone Is On Meth | Recovery By The Sea

Physical Signs

Signs of meth use include itching, sores, weight loss, and a generally ill appearance. In addition, long-term meth users also encounter dental problems commonly known as “meth mouth”. This condition comes from a loss of tooth enamel due to poor oral hygiene and chronic dry mouth, leading to rampant tooth decay.

Depending on the way it is use, meth can have different effects on a user’s outward appearance. For instance, a person who smokes meth face a higher risk of bronchitis and pneumonia and may suffer from chronic coughing and congestion. And snorting meth, similar to snorting cocaine, can result in frequent nosebleeds and irreversible damage to the septum and surrounding nasal tissues.

Finally, injecting meth, although relatively uncommon, can lead to open wounds and sores on the skin, infections, and vein damage.

Meth Paraphernalia

Paraphernalia using for ingesting meth may include any of the following:

  • Razors, mirrors, rolled paper, or hollow tubes for snorting
  • Glass or metal pipes, bongs, foils, or light bulbs with a hollow tube attached for smoking
  • Spoons, lighters, syringes, and surgical tubing or tourniquets for injection

Signs of a Meth Lab

Not all meth users cook their own meth. However, the following signs may indicate someone you know is operating a meth lab in their home:

  • Excessive and threatening home security measures such as “Beware of Dog” or “Private Property” signs, alarm systems, etc.
  • Items for concealing the home such as blackened windows, drawn curtains, high fences, etc.
  • Chemical smells that are detectable around the home, garage, or yard
  • Garbage contains suspicious bottles, containers, or sheets stained from filtering chemicals
  • Evidence of dumping chemical waste, such as in burn pits

Treatment For Meth Abuse And Addiction

Meth addiction occurs when a user’s body has developed a dependence on the substance, and unpleasant side effects onset when the user tries to quit. When a user has become dependent, they will continue to engage in compulsive drug-seeking behavior. They will do whatever it takes to obtain and use meth despite the adverse consequences that result.

Treatment for meth use should include medical detox, followed by participation in multiple therapeutic services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, and group support. Recovery By The Sea is a specialized treatment center that offers care and support for meth users and others who suffer from drug dependence and addiction.

If you believe that a loved one is abusing meth, other drugs, or alcohol, we urge you to contact us today to discover how we can help!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: The Dangers of Injecting Meth

Is It Safe to Mix Xanax and Weed?

Is It Safe to Mix Xanax and Weed?

Xanax (alprazolam) and weed (marijuana, cannabis) are two substances that are frequently used and sometimes abuse, and there may be interactions and dangers of using both drugs concurrently. Although the possible interactions and risks of mixing Xanax and weed aren’t well-established, many health professionals believe that combining the two could result in amplified side effects, such as profound drowsiness and poor judgment.

Such effects can be hazardous because a person who is high on weed and using Xanax may put themselves in dangerous situations such as driving. Their combined impact may be unpredictable, and different people will experience different effects, some of which may be unwanted.

Also, marijuana in and of itself can cause distress and anxiety in some people, so for these individuals, marijuana should be avoided, especially when using Xanax. It could undermine the medication’s ability to work effectively.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorders, seizures, and, occasionally, insomnia. Xanax is a powerful depressant and works by reducing activity in the central nervous system, which result in a person feeling more relaxed. However, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion may also occur, and Xanax is considered to have the potential for dependence and addiction.

For this reason, Xanax is only intended to be used for short-term treatment, and it’s important that people only use it with a legitimate prescription and precisely as directed.

What Is Weed?

Weed is a slang name for marijuana, which is an herb derived from the Cannabis plant. In the last few years, many states and municipalities have decriminalized its use or made it legal to use for either medical or recreational purposes.

In light of this, the stigma of marijuana use has further been reduced, particularly as researchers have found that it may have some therapeutic value in many cases. However, marijuana remains illegal in many states, and despite public outcry, the Drug Enforcement Agency has thus far refused to re-classify it, and it remains a Schedule I controlled substance.

When a person ingests marijuana, the active chemical THC binds to certain brain receptors and can induce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and, in some people, anxiety, and paranoia. Side effects may also include drowsiness, dizziness, or cognition or memory impairments.

Interactions and Dangers of Mixing Xanax and Weed

Although mixing Xanax and weed isn’t as hazardous as mixing Xanax with some other substances, such as opioids or alcohol, potential users are urged to exercise caution. Doing this can amplify the effects of both substances, and result in severe drowsiness, confusion, and profoundly impaired judgment.

Impaired judgment is especially concerning because a person may not be able to make sound decisions that will prevent them from injuring themselves or others. Coordination may also be impaired, making walking and performing regular daily takes challenging or impossible and result in falls or injury.

There is unlikely to be a direct, life-threatening interaction from using Xanax and weed, but complications can occur, such as those aforementioned as well as suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Is It Safe to Mix Xanax and Weed?

Getting Treatment for Drug Dependency

By offering a variety of evidence-based treatment options, Recovery By The Sea effectively approaches addiction from multiple angles, which can increase the effectiveness of each element of treatment.

Some of our therapeutic options are as follows:

Group Therapy – Group therapy addresses interpersonal, family, and social struggles and fosters communication and the learning of relationship skills. It also nurtures a shared identity by promoting an allegiance of understanding and loving peers, as well as encourages appropriate attitudes and behaviors.

Individual Therapy – During individual therapy, people will benefit from one-on-one engagement with a licensed, trained therapist in a private, non-judgmental environment. Behavioral therapies are employed, which seek to identify negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and find ways to replace them with ones that are healthy and positive. During therapy, patients are encouraged to explore the connection between their thoughts and behaviors in an effort to gain insight into the root causes of their addiction and understand themselves better. They will be encouraged to work through challenging and negative memories and experiences thoroughly.

Experiential Activities – Experiential activities can provide patients with an alternative way to express their feelings, as well as develop leisure and relaxation skills. These activities promote goal-directed thinking and problem-solving skills. Popular options include art, music, and adventure therapy.

A Comprehensive Approach Is Important for a Long-Term Recovery

Together, the above-mentioned therapies and services can enhance the effects of each other and make the overall treatment plan exponentially more effective than the sum of its parts.

By using a customized, multi-dimensional approach, clients learn better-coping skills to deal with cravings and triggers, prevent relapse, and manage co-occurring mental health conditions, such as anxiety.

If you are suffering from anxiety, other mental health problems, and drug dependence, we urge you to contact us today! Discover how we help people escape the prison of addiction and remain happy and healthy for life!

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Can You Overdose on Cocaine?

Can You Overdose on Cocaine? | Recovery By The Sea

Cocaine is a remarkably dangerous and powerful illicit stimulant drug that works by increasing the concentration of dopamine in the brain, a neurochemical responsible for feelings of reward and euphoria. This high can become very desirable, and anyone who uses cocaine, even once, is indeed at risk of experiencing a life-threatening overdose.

Powdered cocaine is white and is most commonly snorted, but can also be mixed with water and injected intravenously. In this form, a cocaine habit can be quite costly, but is still commonly abused and accounts for more than 500,000 emergency room visits each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths involving cocaine increased from 3,822 to nearly 14,000 from 1999-2017. 

One reason that cocaine overdoses continue to rise is due to an increased propensity for drug users to combine cocaine with opioids. This practice is commonly known as “speedballing,” which can lead to dangerous drug interactions and death.

Crack Cocaine

There has also been a rise in the use of crack, which is a less pure but highly-concentrated form of cocaine that is usually smoked. Crack can be derived from powdered cocaine by diluting it and adding other substances (usually baking soda), and it is less expensive than its pricey counterpart. The mixture is boiled to form a solid, which is then cooled, broken into pieces, and sold on the street as crack. It appears as a rock-like substance that is usually white, cream, tan, or light brown.

Cocaine Overdose Symptoms

In most instances, cocaine overdose symptoms are very pronounced versions of the drug’s typical effects. Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system (CNS), and in doing so, produces an invigorating high. An overdose will intensify these effects to an extent in which the body is unable to handle. This overstimulation can result in a number of worrisome symptoms, including the following:


  • Headaches
  • Chest pain
  • Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Twitching and tremors


  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Stroke


The euphoria of cocaine can distract a person from these symptoms, many of which can cause irreversible damage. Chronic, heavy cocaine users are at high risk for heart attacks, strokes, seizures, coma, and death.

Can You Overdose on Cocaine? | Recovery By The Sea

Cocaine Overdose Signs

If you suspect someone you know may be experiencing an overdose, there are several warning signs to look for, including the following:


  • Elevated blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Talkativeness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Confusion
  • Restlessness


  • Agitation and aggression
  • Teeth grinding or chattering
  • Excessive sweating
  • Respiratory or kidney failure
  • Cerebral hypoxia
  • Heart attack


Cocaine overdoses can ravage the human cardiovascular system. If you notice that the above signs are present following cocaine use, it is vital to seek emergency medical help by calling 911 or visiting the nearest emergency room promptly. Death from a cocaine overdose can happen rapidly, so time is of the essence in these situations.

How Much Cocaine Is Too Much?

An overdose of cocaine usually occurs either because the user ingests an excessive amount in a single episode or because they repeatedly abuse cocaine to sustain the euphoric high, which typically lasts less than half an hour. The latter is often the most dangerous behavior since the user doesn’t always realize how much they’ve actually ingested until it’s too late.

There is no one precise amount of cocaine that will induce an overdose in everyone. Instead, the required amount varies, depending on individual risk factors. For one, the concurrent use of other substances, such as alcohol or other drugs, is more likely to result in an overdose, and it might take a lot less cocaine for this to happen than if it was used on its own.

Beyond polysubstance abuse, an individual’s body chemistry, level of tolerance, and age play a role, as well as a person’s overall health. The method administration used and the potency of the cocaine also have a great deal to do with the risk for overdose. For example, injecting cocaine can lead to a life-threatening reaction at just 20 mg in some cases, while snorting the drug usually requires much more.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction is a devastating condition that adversely impacts those who suffer as well as those close to him or her. Treatment for cocaine addiction usually begins with a medically-supervised detox, followed by long-term care in the form of comprehensive addiction treatment programs

Recovery By The Sea offers an integrated, individualized approach to addiction treatment that includes essential services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and more. Our addiction specialists seek to provide our clients with the knowledge and tools they need to recover fully and sustain long-lasting wellness and happiness. 

You CAN regain your life, and fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone—we can help! Please contact us today!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Can You Overdose on Meth?

Can You Overdose on Meth?

Can You Overdose on Meth? | Recovery By The Sea

Methamphetamine (meth) is a stimulant drug that is most commonly found as a white powder or in crystalline form (crystal meth). Meth is rarely found legally, but it is sometimes prescribed to treat particularly stubborn ADHD or obesity.

Can you overdose on meth? Yes, most definitely, and in some regions of the U.S., overdoses are prevalent. Like other potent drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, meth is very dangerous, especially when used in excessive amounts. Occasionally, this can result in complications that may be life-threatening. And although there are many health risks associated with meth use such as memory loss and aggressive behavior, an overdose is perhaps the most severe consequence of its use.

What Causes an Overdose?

An overdose occurs when a person uses a substance and experiences negative effects as the drug interacts adversely with the body. These effects are usually the result of a person being exposed to a higher dose than his or her body can process. If left untreated, many overdoses can be fatal.

Most meth-related overdose fatalities occur when the body develops hyperthermia, a condition that can eventually lead to multiple organ failure. A meth overdose can also cause a sharp spike in blood pressure that leads to liver failure and hemorrhaging. In rare cases, lead poisoning can occur related to the presence of adulterants used in the manufacturing process.

Signs of a Meth Overdose

Whenever a person uses excessive amounts of meth, he or she will face the possibility of experiencing an overdose. Because meth is most commonly found as an illegal, unregulated substance, potential users are often unaware of the drug’s purity or the presence of certain toxic ingredients used to produce it.

If someone you love suffers from meth abuse, being able to recognize the signs of an overdose could help to save their life. Common signs and symptoms of a meth overdose include the following:


  • Chest pain
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Difficult or labored breathing
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Anxiety and panic attacks


  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Seizures
  • Accelerated or slowed heartbeat
  • Hyperthermia (high body temperature)


If a person suffers from a meth overdose, the likelihood that they will recover depends on the amount consumed and how quickly they receive treatment. It is certainly possible to survive a meth overdose, but the person overdosing must receive emergency medical attention promptly. And, because a meth overdose is a clear indication of a substance use disorder, professional treatment should closely follow once the person is physically stable.

Can You Overdose on Meth? | Recovery By The Sea

What You Can Do

As noted, if you suspect that someone is overdosing on meth, it is critical that they receive medical help as soon as possible. Call 911 or visit the nearest emergency department immediately if signs of an overdose are evident. If you are waiting for an ambulance, you must take measures to keep the person as safe as possible until help arrives. 

If someone is having a seizure, gently hold the person’s head to prevent injury and turn it to one side to prevent them from choking if they vomit. Do not, however, try to secure their arms or legs.

If you call 911, have the following information ready, if known:

  • The person’s age and approximate weight
  • The amount of the drug that was ingested
  • The method by which the drug was administered (e.g., snorting, injecting)
  • How long ago the person last used the drug

When emergency personnel arrives, they should be able to provide vital medical attention. First responders as EMTs will likely administer activated charcoal orally to begin the detoxification process, and also conduct a poison and drug screening. The patient can be administered intravenous fluids to mitigate side effects such as dehydration and high blood pressure.

Other medications may also be used to treat certain complications related to the overdose, such as problems with kidney function or cardiac issues. A person overdosing of meth has the best chances of recovery if the condition is addressed with swift and appropriate medical intervention.

Treatment for Meth Addiction

Meth addiction is a potentially devastating condition that significantly affects the health and emotional well-being of those who suffer and also tends to impact the lives of those around them profoundly. The best to prevent a life-threatening overdose from occurring is to seek help as soon as possible.

Fortunately, meth addiction is very treatable. Through the use of an evidence-based approach to substance abuse, former meth users can get the help they need to achieve abstinence and restore mental and physical wellness to their lives. 

Recovery By The Sea offers professional addiction treatment, including behavioral therapy, counseling, and other services shown to be vital to the recovery process.

If you or someone you know has developed an addiction to meth, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss treatment options. We are dedicated to helping people recover from addiction and reclaim the joyful and fulfilling lives they deserve!

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