The United States is Facing a Meth Crisis: Here’s How it Happened

Crystal Meth Use in the United States is on the Rise and Reaching Crisis Point

Back in the early 2000’s, authorities thought they had a handle on meth use in the United States. The government had created task forces to crack down on clandestine meth labs and simultaneously limited the amount of cold medicine that can be purchased at once. This effectively wiped out a major source of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in Crystal Meth production.

The legislative efforts worked and for the next couple years, as production slowed, so did meth use. However, those quiet years were just the calm before the storm. Production was being outsourced and meth use would soon come back stronger than ever. Now the United States faces a meth crisis. Here’s how it happened: 

 

Cartel Production and Distribution

When the US cracked down on all the factors involved in producing meth, production was outsourced over the border to Mexico. In the hands of Mexican cartels, production scaled up significantly in what are often called “superlabs”. As a result, the product is purer, more potent, less expensive, and more abundant than ever. 

Drug runners transport the product in liquid form, which is more difficult to detect. States across the US are being flooded with liquid meth, which is then brought to small-scale conversion labs across the country. In these labs, found in residential neighborhoods, office buildings, and even apartment buildings, they turn the liquid product into the crystal form that is popular on the street. These conversion labs are extremely dangerous. Meth is a highly combustible substance and accidents are prevalent. These are not trained chemists converting the substance but drug runners. Explosions are common and in residential areas they often can take innocent lives with them. 

 

Cheap and Plentiful

The sheer volume of meth coming in from Mexico has put pressure on local dealers, who are often selling the drug to users on credit. Steven Bell, a DEA spokesperson, has said “I have been involved with meth for the last 25 years. A wholesale plummet of price per pound, combined with a huge increase of purity, tells me they have perfected the production or manufacturing of methamphetamine. They have figured out the chemical reactions to get the best bang for their bucks.”

Meth can be found for around $5 per hit which is highly cheap as far as illicit substances are concerned. It is so cheap that police officers are finding that long-term addicts who were addicted to crack are switching to meth, citing that it’s half the price.

 

Public Health and Safety Crisis

Methamphetamine is associated with a host of public health concerns including increased risk of STDs and MRSA. It is also associated with serious long-term health consequences for users including heart failure, Parkinson’s and early onset Dementia. Furthermore, meth creates erratic behavior. One user shared with an Atlanta news outlet that as time went on, the consequences of her meth use worsened. She said, “I felt rage. I had too much energy. I screamed often.” Angry outbursts and violent behaviors can be side effects of meth use, called “ice rage”. Users can become highly agitated and unstable for seemingly no reason, creating significant public safety risks. 

Emergency room visits due to Crystal Meth are on the rise across the country. In San Francisco, meth related ER visits increased 600% in 2016 with 1965 visits. At San Francisco General Hospital, 47% of psychiatric ER visits were due to people who were high on meth rather than mentally ill. In Oklahoma, one of the hardest hit states in the Meth Epidemic, crystal meth is the leading cause of drug-related deaths, by a long way. 

Related: How Meth Use Increases Disease Risk

 

Getting Help

Crystal Meth is ravaging the United States and taking thousands of lives with it. But these deaths are preventable. Professional addiction treatment in a clinical environment like those at Harmony Recovery Group can make all the difference. Don’t let you or someone you love be next. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with Meth Use or addiction, please don’t hesitate to reach out for the help you need.

Call us today.

Signs of Adderall Abuse and Addiction

Adderall Abuse and Addiction

Adderall is a powerful amphetamine stimulant which helps people focus. It is typically prescribed to people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to help them focus their attention in order to function in daily life, school, and work. However, Adderall will make anyone focused. This makes it a prime target for abuse in settings such as college study sessions and stressful workplaces. Adderall use, abuse, and addiction has exploded over the past two decades.

Prescriptions for the medication increased fivefold between 2002 and 2012. From 2006 and 2016, manufacturing of prescription stimulants increased a staggering nine million percent. This widespread use has also led to increased availability through friends, colleagues and even on the street. 

 

Adderall Abuse 

Abuse as a “Study Drug” 

One of the main reasons for Adderall abuse is as a “study drug”. Students claim that they use it to stay up late and study before a big exam or write big papers on a deadline.

In fact, it is so prevalent among college students that one study at a small university in Maine found that one in three students had abused Adderall at some point.

 

Abuse as a Party Drug 

Further abuse comes when Adderall is used as a stimulant for energy purposes. Often for people with ADHD, which has a hyperactive component, Adderall (and other stimulants like Ritalin) can actually calm them down and the focus it provides helps them remain in the present moment. However, this is not the case for people who abuse the drug without medical need for it. The stimulant properties of Adderall can therefore make some people feel energized, upbeat, and outgoing. This is often why it is found on the party scene. Some college students claim it makes them more talkative, better company, and able to stay up later. 

Another big risk of Adderall abuse comes in when it is mixed with alcohol. Mixing depressants (alcohol) and stimulants can be very dangerous, masking the effects of both and leading to overconsumption.

Abuse for Weight Loss 

Lastly, Adderall’s appetite suppressant qualities mean many people use it as an unhealthy weight loss tool. A study among college student users found one in five women who take Adderall do so to lose weight. Unnatural and ongoing appetite suppression can cause multiple health problems such as malnutrition and can lead to eating disorders. Furthermore, eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa often co-occur with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) or Addiction to drugs like Adderall. 

 

Adderall Side Effects, Abuse Warning Signs and Overdose

Side Effects of Adderall 
  • Dry Mouth
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling wired
  • Paranoia
  • Nausea
  • Severe anxiety or Panic Attacks
Warning Signs of Abuse 
  • Excessive Weight loss
  • Secretive behavior
  • Overworking
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Mania
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Twitching
  • False sense of well-being
  • Restlessness
Adderall Overdose

Adderall is a potent amphetamine and abuse in high amounts can lead to dangerous complications such as heart attack, stroke, and liver failure. When combined with other substances like alcohol, the risk of overdose increases. Signs of Adderall overdose can include symptoms such as: 

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Convulsions
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures
  • Uncontrolled shaking
  • Dark red or brown urine

Adderall overdose can be fatal. Therefore, if someone you know is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. 

 

Adderall Withdrawal 

Dependence and tolerance can develop relatively quickly if Adderall is taken every day. Subsequently, withdrawal symptoms can occur when the drug is not taken after a long period of regular use. Withdrawal symptoms can include depression, irritability, difficulty sleeping, nausea, vomiting, and/or unusual fatigue. Sometimes stimulant withdrawal can make a user feel hungover. Depending on duration of use and dosages taken, symptoms can last a few days or a couple weeks.  

 

Understanding the difference between abuse and addiction

Taking Adderall recreationally or to study for an exam is a form of abuse, but not necessarily addiction. However, regular abuse is a dangerous road that can lead to full blown addiction. People who are addicted to Adderall will prioritize the drug above all else and need it to function. 

Signs of Adderall addiction may include: 
  • Missing social events or important obligations in order to use Adderall 
  • Unable to do work without it
  • Requiring larger and larger doses in order to feel the effect of Adderall 
  • Spending significant time and money obtaining, using, and recovering from use
  • Unable to feel alert without it
  • Wanting to quit but feeling unable to do so
  • Experiencing withdrawal when not using Adderall

 

Treatment

If you or a loved one are showing signs of Adderall addiction, it is recommended that you attend a treatment program. Treatment can help you work through not only the physical dependence but the emotional and psychological reasons for using. Further, working a treatment program offers the best outcome for long-term recovery and a better life.

If you think you may have a problem with Adderall, call us today. We’re here to help and we’re here to listen.  

Sources

http://www.center4research.org/study-drug-abuse-college-students/

https://www.jhsph.edu/newoung-adults.html

Teter CJ, McCabe SE, et al. “Illicit Use of Specific Prescription Stimulants Among College Students: Prevalence, Motives, and Routes of Administration.” Pharmacotherapy 2006. 26(10):1501-1510.

Women’s Healthcare Month: Substance Abuse Effect on Female Fertility

Substance Abuse Effects on Female Fertility

June is Women’s Healthcare Month and we will be talking about the intersection of addiction and substance abuse on women’s health all month long. Addiction and substance abuse have been found to negatively impact both male and female fertility but research has shown that women are more susceptible to the long-term physical health effects than men. 

 

Effect of Substance Abuse on Female Reproductive Health 

Increased STD Risk

Lowered inhibitions and impaired judgement caused by alcohol and drug abuse increase the chance of engaging in risky sexual behaviors. These include unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners which both increase the risk of contracting Sexually Transmitted Diseases. There is also a greater risk that someone in active addiction will not be receiving regular medical care and therefore will not be screened for STDs. Certain STDs such as Syphilis and Chlamydia can cause reproductive damage and infertility if left untreated. 

 

Hormonal Disruption

Drug and alcohol use can cause hormonal disruption and dysfunction which can lead to menstrual cycle changes, including Amenorrhea (absence of period). Over time these hormonal issues can cause reproductive health problems. 

 

Cancer Risk 

Certain STDs such as Human Papilloma Virus correlate to higher risk of certain cancers such as cervical cancer. Because drug and alcohol users are at higher risk of STDs, this is cause for concern. Furthermore, women who use drugs and alcohol are at higher risk overall for numerous forms of cancer, including those that affect reproduction. 

 

Sexual Dysfunction

Drug and alcohol abuse can impact sexual performance, drive, pleasure and arousal. For example, studies have found that heroin use can cause long-term loss of sexual desire and inability to achieve orgasm.

 

Effect of Substance Abuse on Fertility

Each of the above health effects has their own impact on female fertility. Further effects depend on the substances used.

 

Tobacco Use and Fertility

Tobacco use correlates to infertility. One study shows that just a half-pack per day is linked to reduced fecundity (ability to produce multiple offspring). Another study shows that smoking is associated with increased failure to conceive in both a 6-month and 12-month duration of study. Smoking also correlates to shorter menstrual cycle length. 

 

Alcohol Use and Fertility

Research has shown that women with alcohol use disorders are more likely to have problems with fertility than women who are low to moderate alcohol users. Studies have found that women’s alcohol intake was associated with a decreased chance of conception, particularly when participants consumed five or more drinks per week. 

 

Drug Use and Fertility

Drug use and infertility connect in multiple ways depending on the substance. In a study by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), women who reported using Marijuana were found to have higher rates of infertility than non-users. Further, female cocaine use can cause fallopian tube damage which can result in permanent infertility. As well as irregular periods and hormonal imbalances which make fertility tracking impossible for months after last cocaine use was reported. 

 

Getting Help 

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we can help. Contact us today, we’re here for you. 

 

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1523510/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31241750/

https://rbej.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12958-020-0567-7

https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2011/03/methamphetamine-abuse-in-women-of-reproductive-age

https://www.asrm.org/globalassets/asrm/asrm-content/news-and-publications/practice-guidelines/for-non-members/optimizing_natural_fertility.pdf

Global Parents Day: Support for Parents of Addicted Children

Help for Parents of Addicted Children

Today, June 1st, is Global Day of Parents, a holiday created by the UN to recognize and appreciate the parents in our lives and society. To all parents of addicted children: we see you, we appreciate you, and we support you. 

We know that holidays can be particularly painful for parents of addicted children, we’ve listed some coping strategies for dealing with this crisis.

 

Learn all you can about Addiction 

Addiction is a chronic disease that takes over the lives of those it affects and their loved ones. There are many misconceptions around addiction and substance abuse. Learning about how addiction happens, how it affects your child and how it affects you and your family are all important steps to understanding and healing. Educating yourself on the subject can also help you spot signs and symptoms as well as help manage expectations before and during the recovery process. 

 

Understand the Difference Between Helping and Enabling

As parents, we love our children. We have spent our lives as parents keeping them safe from harm, teaching them, helping them grow. To watch them in crisis is unnerving. Our protection instincts kick in and all we want to do is help. Unfortunately this helping instinct can lead to enabling. Addicted children will take advantage of this to keep the flow of their addiction running. 

It’s important to ask yourself, “Will this action enable my child’s addiction?” To get your child through addiction means you must ask yourself this at every turn. Every action you take, every boundary you establish needs to be working towards getting them into sobriety. 

Enabling comes in when the actions you take make it easier for your child to continue using drugs. Sometimes it’s pretty clear: Giving food or gas money that may be used to buy drugs, paying their rent so they still have a place to live, or bailing them out of trouble their drug use has caused are all overt acts of enabling.

But enabling can also be more subtle. Do you minimize their drug use to family members? Have you ever lied for them to cover their addiction? Do you avoid it altogether, so that when your child comes home for dinner one week things can just “be normal for once”? Staying quiet to keep the peace or minimizing the scope of the situation are both dangerous acts of enabling. Addiction thrives in the dark. 

 

Understand that their choices are not reflections of your parenting 

Addicts lie, cheat, and steal. They are consumed by finding their next fix. It is not because you did not teach them right from wrong, it is not because you failed them as a parent. There is a phrase in addiction circles called the “3 C’s”: You did not cause their addiction, you cannot control their addiction. All you can do is change yourself and your reaction. Do not blame yourself. Find support groups, seek therapy, and find ways to care for yourself. In truth, all we can ever truly have control over in life is ourselves and our emotional response. Learning to change the natural, impulsive reactions we have to situations like this can go a long way in weathering the storm. 

 

Create boundaries to protect yourself and your family 

Boundaries are the anti-enabling. It is important to set clear rules and boundaries with addicted children to protect yourself, your loved ones, and ultimately your addicted child. Not letting them come to the house while high, if they’re still living at home not allowing them to have drug-using friends over, not allowing them to abuse, insult, or manipulate you. These are all healthy boundaries that can protect your family physically and emotionally from addictive behaviors. 

 

Practice Self-Care 

This journey you are on is a painful, stressful, exhausting one. Living in crisis can cause serious mental and physical health issues which is why it is so important to take time to prioritize your wellbeing. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating right, and taking time for yourself. 

 

Establish an Open Dialogue

Learn to communicate with honesty, vulnerability, and acceptance. Anger, yelling, and/or blaming do not create safe spaces in which to discuss problems and can push the addict further away. Once you have stopped enabling and have firm boundaries set, having this open channel of communication will be helpful when your addicted child does decide to discuss their situation. A safe space is one in which help can be asked for, and treatment can be suggested. 

 

Treatment is the answer, but they need to want it for themselves 

Getting your addicted child into treatment is the best possible option for getting them into a life of sobriety and health. However, it is important to know that treatment works best when the addict truly wants to change. Sometimes an addict needs to hit rock bottom to make this change but not always. Learn all you can about treatment options and continue encouraging it until they decide they want to get help. When the time comes, professional treatment can change their life. 

 

Seeking Help

Being the parent of an addicted child is one of the biggest and most painful challenges a parent can face, we hope this article was able to offer some support and coping strategies. If you are struggling with an addicted child and don’t know what to do, please reach out. 

Our expert team at Harmony Recovery Group are here to help, both as a supportive ear and a strategy for change. Call us at (866) 461-4474

Health Effects of Heroin Addiction

Health Effects of Heroin Addiction

 

It’s no secret that heroin use is bad for your health, but just how bad is it? From mild symptoms to severe and permanent health problems, the health effects of heroin addiction run a spectrum that can become progressively worse the longer it is abused. Furthermore, depending on how it is used, some organs and systems are damaged worse than others. 

 

What is Heroin? 

Heroin is an opioid drug derived from the Opium Poppy plant. It can be found as a brown or white powder or as a black sticky substance known as Black Tar Heroin. It can be injected, snorted, or smoked. 

Because opioid receptors are located in the brain, brain stem, spinal cord, lungs and intestines the effects of heroin use can be far reaching within the body. It depresses the Central Nervous System, slowing the heart rate, lung and brain function. 

Heroin is extremely addictive and causes physical dependency. A heroin user will go into withdrawal within 6-12 hours of their last use so the constant chase of their next fix can become all consuming. For most heroin users, the drug is the only thing that matters in their life. 

 

Health Effects of Heroin Addiction

Heroin’s depressive function on the circulatory system puts users at greater risk of lung complications like pneumonia and tuberculosis. Even in the short term, there have been cases of respiratory failure following heroin use. 

Heroin affects all organ systems in the body and can cause liver and kidney diseases. Furthermore, many of the additives in street heroin do not readily dissolve and can clog the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys or brain. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs. Allergic or immune reactions to these or other contaminants can cause autoimmune issues such as arthritis or rheumatologic problems. 

Heroin can also cause long-term impotence in men, loss of sexual desire in women, and an inability to orgasm in all sexes. 

 

Injection (Intravenous Use) Risks

Further health effects can result from intravenous usage. For example: 

Vein Collapse

Heroin causes vein collapse which inhibits the body’s ability to circulate blood. Sometimes the veins can be repaired but other times the collapse is permanent. 

Blood, Tissue, Skin Infections

Bacterial infections, abscesses (boils) and other soft tissue infections at or around injection sites can be caused by intravenous use. Wound from intense itching, a common side effect of heroin use can also cause also increase risk of infections. 

Increased risk for HIV, Hepatitis, and other communicable diseases

Shared needles can increase the spread of communicable diseases. For example, drug injection accounts for 1 in 10 cases of HIV and is a major cause in the spread of Hepatitis C.

 

Overdoses from Heroin

Perhaps the most serious health complication and major cause of death among heroin users is overdosing. In 2018, nearly 15,000 people in America died from heroin overdose and cases have been rising sharply in the US over the past few years. There are multiple causes for overdose but a factor of major concern at present is the prevalence of Fentanyl in street heroin. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and many times more potent than heroin. It is a major contributor to overdoses across the country because heroin users do not know it is there and take their normal amount, but the dose is far more potent than it would normally be. Often even dealers do not know that the heroin they are selling contains Fentanyl. The dangers associated with heroin are only increasing. 

 

Withdrawal Symptoms of Heroin

Withdrawal symptoms from heroin can be particularly painful. The severity of symptoms depends on the average amount, frequency and potency of heroin a person uses. Avoidance of withdrawal symptoms often causes addicts to return to heroin use even when they’ve resolved to quit. 

These symptoms include: 

  • Muscle Aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Cold Flashes
  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Shakiness
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Bone Pain

*Note: Quitting heroin cold turkey can be dangerous to your health and should be done with medical supervision wherein withdrawal symptoms can be properly managed.

 

Detoxing from Heroin in a Professional Treatment Environment

Professional addiction treatment centers, like Harmony Recovery Group, can help mitigate the health risks associated with heroin withdrawal and reduce symptoms and cravings through medication. At Harmony, we use prescription medication Suboxone which can help patients through the detox process or even be used in the long-term to prevent relapse. Learn more about Medication Assisted Treatment on our recent blog.

We hope this has helped to clarify the health effects of heroin addiction and the risks associated with its use. The sooner you seek help for your addiction, the more able to recover your body and mind will be.  If you or a loved one are struggling with Opioid or Heroin Addiction, contact us today. We are here to help. 

 

Sources 

https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/heroin.html

 

Why is BPD Often Tied to Addiction?

Why is BPD often tied to addiction

Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental health condition characterized by instability in relationships, self image, and emotions. Among the symptoms for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are: 

  • Intense fear of abandonment
  • Inappropriate or extreme emotional reactions
  • Impulsive or risky behavior
  • History of unstable relationships
  • Unstable or dysfunctional self image 
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Explosive anger
  • Intense and highly changeable moods 
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

 

Addiction and Borderline Personality Disorder 

Addiction and BPD are strongly linked. While BPD affects only 2.7% of adults, 78% of those will also develop a substance-abuse related disorder at some time in their lives. Feelings of emptiness, distorted self image, and a high propensity for impulsive, risky, or self-destructive behaviors are thought to be key drivers in a BPD sufferer’s tendency toward substance abuse. 

A patient with BPD from Harmony Recovery Group, who asked to remain anonymous, described life with the disorder as having your self image distorted because you are different and you know it. Feeling like an outsider or “alien” as she called it makes a BPD sufferer more likely to mask their feelings of self-loathing and insecurity through drugs and alcohol. 

 

Treating Addiction and BPD Together 

It is important that BPD be addressed in the treatment plan because studies have shown that these persons are less likely to to complete treatment and have shorter abstinence phases. Thus this combination requires a comprehensive therapeutic approach. 

 

Treating both issues concurrently ensures the best chance for long-term success, as treating one without the other creates a vicious cycle in which the BPD fuels the desire to use and the substance abuse exacerbates the BPD symptoms. 

 

Borderline Personality Disorder has been historically difficult to treat. Studies have shown significant progress can be made using Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). DBT is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that uses a philosophical concept called “Dialectics,” based on the idea that everything is composed of opposites. Then, change can occur when there is discussion between the two opposing forces. It teaches mindfulness, distress tolerance, and emotional regulation to help patients function better in everyday life. 

 

Is Treatment Right For Me? 

At Midwood Addiction Treatment, we aim for dual diagnosis patients to have the best chance at long-term recovery. If you or a loved one are in need of support for BPD, please contact us today. 

 

Risks of Using Imodium for Opioid Withdrawal

Imodium for Opioid Withdrawal | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Imodium (loperamide) is an over-the-counter medication treatment for acute and chronic diarrhea. When used in large quantities, however, Imodium can induce effects similar to opioids, such as euphoria. For this reason, some individuals suffering from opioid addiction abuse Imodium to get high or help manage withdrawal symptoms.

Loperamide works by reducing the flow of fluids and electrolytes into the bowel, effectively decreasing the frequency of bowel movements. The medication can be found in tablet, capsule, or liquid solution for oral consumption.

Imodium Side Effects

Using Imodium can help regulate bowel movements and reduce dehydration in people who are experiencing severe, acute, or chronic diarrhea. However, in addition to these desirable results, abuse of this medication has been associated with a variety of adverse and potentially harmful effects as well. These side effects can vary from mild to severe and may include any of the following:

  • Dry mouth
  • Flatulence
  • Stomach cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Problems urinating

Why Abuse Has Become Prevalent

Like many drugs, the risk that adverse effects will occur is increased when the drug is abused, and an excessive amount is ingested. Abuse of the medication has risen sharply within the past decade, and health officials are blaming the opioid epidemic as the primary catalyst for this problem.

People have discovered that when used in very high doses, Imodium can cause effects similar to those of opioids. The medication is, indeed, believed to be an opioid agonist, and therefore, has the potential to induce euphoric feelings. Due to the drug’s chemical structure, it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier in low doses. Moreover, it will not produce a high unless used in excessive amounts or in conjunction with other drugs.

Also, the drug is widely available OTC at pharmacies and, when compared to both illicit and prescription opioids, it is very affordable. In fact, the cost of 200 capsules of generic loperamide can be as low as $10. People who abuse the drug may take anywhere from 50-400 pills in a single day to experience euphoria comparable to that of opioids like oxycodone and heroin.

Overall, Imodium’s accessibility, low cost, and legal status all contribute to its high potential for abuse. Additionally, many people use loperamide to relieve withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid use. Rather than utilizing loperamide to mimic the euphoric high of opioids, people use the drug to treat physical dependence on opioids. For this reason, loperamide abuse has been referred to as “poor man’s methadone.”

Unfortunately, using Imodium as replacement therapy for opioids also requires the user to take very high doses of the medication, which can result in an overdose. Consuming large and frequent amounts of loperamide places a person at a high risk of developing cardiac arrhythmias and profound central respiratory depression, which can lead to death.

Imodium for Opioid Withdrawal | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Signs of Imodium Abuse and Addiction

There is a popular misconception that because loperamide is available without a prescription, it’s safe to use or abuse. However, this belief is not true and can be dangerous. High doses of any drug that has psychoactive effects can lead to the development of chemical dependence if chronically abused. Even a person who has taken higher-than-recommended doses of loperamide due to gastrointestinal issues or diarrhea can become accustomed to the drug’s effects on his or her system and develop a dependence.

After a chemical dependence has developed, users will encounter unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit using the drug. These symptoms are similar to those related to opioid withdrawal and may include nausea, vomiting, depression, irritability, anxiety, cramps, diarrhea, profuse sweating, and muscle aches and pains.

Addiction is characterized by both dependence and compulsive drug-seeking behavior. People who become addicted will continue using Imodium despite encountering adverse consequences. They may also use it in combination with other substances to achieve a more intense high. Alcohol is often abused with Imodium because each substance amplifies the effects of the other.

Unfortunately, engaging in polydrug use significantly increases the chance of a life-threatening overdose due to the possibility of cardiac problems or profound central nervous system depression.

NOTE: When compared to Morphine, Imodium has been shown to be 40-50 times more effective at producing antidiarrheal and central nervous system (CNS) depressant effects.

Help for Imodium Abuse or Opioid Addiction

All drugs, even those that are OTC, can be hazardous when not used as directed. Using Imodium to get high or to relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms other than diarrhea is a form of drug misuse.

If you are abusing loperamide or are using the drug to treat opioid dependence, we urge you to call Midwood Addiction Treatment as soon as possible to discuss treatment options. We employ a comprehensive approach for the treatment of substance abuse and addiction that can help you get on the path to a clean, drug-free life.

Are you ready to take that first step? If so, we are here to help!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Opioid Addiction Treatment

Spice and K2 Effects and Risks

Spice and K2 Effects and Risks | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Spice and K2 are synthetic psychoactive drugs that generally consist of chemicals sprayed onto some type of plant material that is suitable for smoking. K2 is also found in liquid form, so it can be inhaled using vaporizers and e-cigarettes.

Although these substances are commonly referred to as synthetic marijuana, they are nothing like marijuana from a chemical perspective and are, in fact, far more risky and dangerous to use. A Spice/K2 user is much more likely to encounter severe adverse effects than a person who smokes natural cannabis, and these may include psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and paranoia.

Until recent years, K2 was not a controlled substance, meaning it was easy to obtain with little fear of legal ramifications. However, today many of the chemicals typically found in K2 have been classified as schedule I substances, meaning they have no medical purpose and a high potential for abuse and addiction.

Still, there are hundreds of brands of synthetic marijuana on the market, and they can easily be purchased online. Furthermore, drug makers are apt at evading the law by continually altering the chemical compounds in the drug, which may lead to more unpredictable and hazardous mixtures that can result in an overdose.

Drugs like K2 are often touted as a safe alternative to marijuana. However, this is far from being the case.
Packaging often advises that K2 is “not for human consumption,” but users ignore this warning, knowing it is only there to exploit a loophole in substance regulation.

There is a lot of misleading advertising regarding synthetic marijuana, as labeling will often indicate that the packages contain natural material. And while this is true, K2 effects are entirely related to the chemicals that have sprayed onto the dried plant materials. False information is a serious issue regarding these drugs. Because they are relatively new, people, in general, are not as educated on K2 as they may be on traditional illegal substances.

Spice and K2 Effects

K2 binds to the same brain receptors as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. For this reason, the drug is commonly referenced as synthetic marijuana. However, K2’s effects on the brain can be more intense than those of its natural counterpart, making the drug more unpredictable and risky to use.

Some of the reported desirable effects of synthetic cannabinoids include improved mood, altered perceptions, and relaxation. However, these are not the only effects that can occur, as users also commonly report experiencing the following psychotic effects:

  • Confusion
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Profound anxiety or paranoia

 

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) states that K2 remains in a person’s system for a prolonged period, and the long-term effects of drugs such as this are still not fully known. People who have used K2, however, have exhibited more severe short-term symptoms than mentioned above and have gone to an ER related to serious problems, including the following:

  • Violent behavior
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Repeated vomiting

Spice and K2 Effects and Risks | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Moreover, while some effects of K2 are comparable to those of marijuana, many do not simulate marijuana use at all. Such effects can lead to risky behavior, and people under its influence may put themselves in dangerous situations. Like all synthetic drugs, users don’t always know what they are ingesting when they use substances such as these.

Synthetic cannabinoids have been found to be up to 100 times more potent than marijuana and highly addictive, which can result in withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation of use. Withdrawal from these substances has been associated with the following:

  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Impaired concentration
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Tremors and shakiness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Nightmares
  • Severe drug cravings

Withdrawal is an especially unstable time for a person with a physical dependence on a substance, and relapse is an imminent possibility, so medical supervision is highly recommended.

Getting Help for Drug Abuse

With the widespread legalization of marijuana, it would seem that more dangerous, synthetic drugs such as Spice/K2 would be waning in popularity. Unfortunately, this is not the case, especially among teenagers and young adults. What’s more, Spice/K2 is actually much more addictive than marijuana, so users may, therefore, be more likely to benefit from professional, intensive treatment.

At Midwood Addiction Treatment center, we focus on treating the individual and their unique needs instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach. We understand that no two people face the same challenges in sobriety and mental health, and our objective is to go the extra mile for each client and help them foster happy and fulfilling lives.

If you are ready to take the first step toward a life of sobriety, and wellness, contact us today! We can help you reclaim your life, free from the abuse of drugs and alcohol, one day at a time!

How Long Does THC Stay in Your System?

How Long Does THC Stay in Your System? | Midwood Addiction Treatment

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, can be identified in bodily fluids for 1-30 days after last use. As with many other substances, it may be detected in hair follicles for several months.

Upon inhalation, active THC can be detected in the bloodstream in just seconds and in plasma for several hours. According to a 2004 study, the plasma concentration of THC is highest in just 3-8 minutes after inhalation and decreases rapidly with a half-life of only 30 minutes. The study posits that THC can be identified in blood for around five hours, but the THC metabolite THC-COOH has a detection window of up to 25 days.

Moreover, although the active form of THC doesn’t stay in the bloodstream for very long, THC metabolites can still be detected in the body several weeks after use.

Marijuana detection times can vary between individuals, however, and depends on the amount ingested and the frequency in which it’s used. Higher doses and daily use are associated with a more prolonged period of detection. In regular users, THC use can be detected for many months after the last use using a hair follicle test.

Drug Detection Windows

Drug screens check for the presence of THC and its by-products, known as metabolites.

Urine Tests

The Mayo Clinic states that THC can be found in the urine for the following periods after last use:

  • Occasional users (who ingest it three times per week or less): three days
  • Moderate users (who ingest it a few times per week): 5-7 days
  • Long-term users (who ingest daily): 10-15 days
  • Heavy, chronic users (more than once per day): more than 30 days

Unlike other water-soluble drug metabolites, THC metabolites attach to fat cells in the body. As a result, it can take a prolonged period for them to be cleared from a person’s system.

Blood Tests

THC can be found in the blood seconds after inhalation and for up to two days. However, in some instances, it’s metabolites have been identified for several days 25 days or longer. Long-term heavy use prolongs the length of time that it can be detected.

For this reason, blood tests are only useful to reveal relatively recent marijuana use. Urine tests are used more often, however, because they are less invasive.

Saliva Testing

Marijuana can be identified in saliva for the following periods after the last use:

  • Occasional users: 1-3 days
  • Chronic users: 1-29 days

THC can enter the saliva through smoking or smoke exposure. Its metabolites are only present in saliva when it has been smoked or ingested in another way. In areas where marijuana has been legalized, saliva or mouth swab tests may be used by law enforcement for roadside testing.

Hair Follicle Tests

Hair follicle tests can identify marijuana use for up to three months. After use, marijuana reaches hair follicles through small blood vessels. Trace amounts may remain in the hair. Because hair grows about 0.5 inches per month, a 1.5-inch hair sample taken near the scalp can provide a detection window of THC use for the past 90 days.

Metabolization Time and Factors That Influence It

How Long Does THC Stay in Your System? | Midwood Addiction Treatment

THC is absorbed into the blood after being ingested and some is stored in fatty tissue and organs. It is then processed by the liver, that this results in over 80 metabolites. THC-COOH is inactive and highly fat-soluble, so, as noted, it can remain in the body much longer than active THC itself.

Several factors can affect how long THC and its metabolites stay in a person’s body. These include age, sex, weight, and body mass index. These aren’t associated with marijuana use itself, but rather how each person’s body processes and metabolizes it.

Other factors are related to marijuana itself and how it is normally used. Frequent use and ingesting higher doses will likely prolong the amount of time for THC metabolites to be eliminated from a person’s system. More potent marijuana strains that are particularly high in THC may also stay in the body for a more extended period. Likewise, marijuana that is ingested orally may remain in the body for longer than that which is smoked.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot a person can do to expedite this process. Once in the blood, the body requires time to break THC down and excrete it. Exercise and staying hydrated may help, but there is unlikely to be a drastic difference in the detection timeline.

There are many marijuana detox kits available that typically require a person to drink a copious amount of water to dilute urine. These often include vitamin or herbal supplements, such as vitamin B12, to conceal the dilution. In general, these kits are not found to be very reliable.

Time to Experience Effects

The effects of THC may onset rapidly, often within 15-30 minutes after inhalation. When ingested orally, it usually takes longer, perhaps even 1-2 hours after consumption.

Common effects of marijuana use include the following:

  • Euphoria or sense of well-being
  • Relaxation
  • Slowed time perception
  • Humorousness
  • Talkativeness
  • Altered sensory perceptions

Other short-term effects may include the following:

  • Impaired focus and concentration
  • Increased appetite (the “munchies”)
  • Impaired coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Restlessness
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure, dizziness
  • Feeling faint or fainting

In rare instances, high doses of marijuana can induce hallucinations and delusions. These reactions may also occur in individuals who are predisposed to them, such as those with psychotic disorders.

Ingesting marijuana every day can have other effects on the brain and body. People who do may be at a higher risk of cognitive, learning, and memory impairments, although these are believed to be mostly reversible after cessation of use.

They may also be more likely to have a stroke or develop heart disease and respiratory problems such as lung infections or bronchitis if they commonly smoke. Mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, may also be more likely to occur.

Timeline for Effects

How Long Does THC Stay in Your System? | Midwood Addiction Treatment

THC’s short-term effects generally start to wane after 1-3 hours. Some effects, however, such as memory problems or difficulty sleeping, can persist for several days.

Researchers aren’t entirely sure how long the effects of chronic marijuana use can last. Because the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, funding for research is scant. However, it appears these effects may persist for days, weeks, or months after marijuana use has been discontinued. It is possible that, in some cases, consequences may be chronic or even permanent.

Getting Treatment for Marijuana Abuse

Due to the psychoactive chemical THC, marijuana is a substance with a high potential for abuse, albeit with a low potential for dependence and addiction. Although it is a relatively mild drug in terms of effects, use can lead to adverse health consequences, at least in the short-term, and can affect performance at work or school and cause conflict in relationships.

Marijuana’s ability to lead to physical dependence may be up for debate, but the truth is, for many, it can be a tough habit to break. Midwood Addiction Treatment offers comprehensive programs designed to treat all aspects of substance abuse and mental health.

Our services include those clinically-proven to be very useful in the treatment of addiction, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, peer support groups, substance abuse education, aftercare planning, and more.

If you or someone you love is struggling to quit using marijuana or other substances, contact us today and find out how we can help!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: What Is Marijuana Withdrawal?

Risks of Combining Downer and Upper Drugs

Upper Drugs and Downer Drugs | Midwood Addiction Treatment

“Downer” and “upper” drugs are casual terms that refer to how different substances act on the central nervous system (CNS). In short, downers are depressants and uppers are stimulants. Downers commonly include sedatives and tranquilizers, such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Uppers include drugs like amphetamine, methamphetamine, and cocaine.

In addition to sedatives, many other substances have depressant effects, such as alcohol, opioids, and muscle relaxers. Anecdotally, many people report using downers to diminish the undesirable effects of stimulants, and conversely, a person might use an upper to reduce sedation. At first glance, it appears that this approach could be a reasonable way to mitigate the adverse effects of these substances. Unfortunately, it also increases the risk of severe health complications and overdose.

What Are Downers?

As the name implies, downers depress the CNS and can reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure, and cause sedation and impair cognition. Examples of prescription downers include sedative/hypnotics such as Ambien and Lunesta, as well as benzodiazepines such as Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax, among others.

Side effects of depressants may include the following:

  • Sedation
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Trembling
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Impaired coordination
  • Impaired memory
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy

Different types of downers can affect various processes in the body. For this reason, they are usually classified into three subgroups: alcohol, opioids, and sedatives/hypnotics.

Depressants that are prescribed for anxiety, panic, or sleep disorders are generally referred to as sedatives or tranquilizers. Opioids can be found in both prescription and illegal forms (e.g., oxycodone and heroin, respectively.) Opioids are technically classified as painkillers but can also have potent depressant effects. Finally, alcohol is legal to drink in the U.S. for those over 21 years of age and is readily available in most areas of the country.

Upper Drugs and Downer Drugs | Midwood Addiction Treatment

CNS Depression

An overdose of depressants can occur when a person consumes excessive amounts of drugs or alcohol, and it can cause profound CNS depression that is potentially life-threatening. Symptoms of a depressant overdose include the following:

  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired cognition
  • Impaired vision
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Slowed, labored, or stopped breathing
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Coma and death

Alcohol, hypnotic/sedatives, sleep aids, painkillers, and other downers can cause profound CNS depression, especially when multiple substances are used in combination.

What Are Uppers?

Uppers or stimulants work on the CNS to increase activity, heart rate, blood pressure, and boost energy levels. They also increase the production of dopamine and adrenaline, two chemical messengers responsible for feelings of reward and well-being. Uppers can also improve alertness and focus, reduce appetite, and extend wakefulness.

In addition to drugs such as cocaine and meth, which are usually found in illicit form, prescription stimulants commonly misused include Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin. These are medications most often used to treat ADHD and sometimes narcolepsy. MDMA (Ecstasy) is also a type of stimulant, but it is sometimes placed in its own category due to its potential to induce hallucinations and alter sensory perceptions.

Side effects of stimulants may include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Headache
  • Chest pains
  • Muscle tension
  • Jaw clenching
  • Tremors
  • Heart palpitations

Mixing two stimulants can also be risky, as the effects of all substances in a person’s system are amplified. A life-threatening overdose may occur that can include aggression, dehydration, hypertension, hyperthermia, heart failure, and seizures. Overdose can occur even in a first-time user, depending on the amount of drug ingested in one episode.

Risks of Combining Depressants and Stimulants

As noted, many people will use downer drugs to mitigate undesired effects related to upper drugs or vice versa. They may also be seeking to experience a particular type of high such as that produced by a combination of a potent stimulant and depressant. This cocktail is traditionally cocaine and heroin, otherwise known as a speedball.

Combining cocaine, amphetamine, or methamphetamine with opioids such as heroin, however, is extremely risky. Indeed, this combination was the reported cause of death for many famous actors, such as John Belushi, River Phoenix, and Chris Farley, among others.

Unfortunately, dangerous drug interactions can also occur unintentionally for those who take other medications for depression, anxiety, pain, or ADHD. An adverse reaction is especially likely if an individual consumes alcohol while using these drugs. Sometimes people use uppers and downers together, unaware of the dangers of using them in conjunction.

Upper Drugs and Downer Drugs | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Health Risks

In addition to potentially lethal overdoses, the upper-downer combination has been associated with several other serious health risks, including the following:

1) The combined effects of these opposite-acting substances can result in minimization of the symptoms of either, thus creating the illusion that the individual is not as intoxicated as they really are. Stimulant effects can motivate a user to continue partying and engaging in substance use longer while underestimating their level of intoxication. Uppers can dull warning signs that profound CNS depression is happening, while downers might mask a perilously accelerated heart rate.

As a result, a person may use more of a stimulant substance than initially intended, especially if it is combined with alcohol consumption. The body’s default response to heavy alcohol intake is to induce unconsciousness. Because stimulants can prevent this from occurring, a person might be able to consume more alcohol than they otherwise could without passing out. If other depressants are added into the mix, the person faces the risk of slipping into a coma and death.

2) Combining cocaine and alcohol is particularly dangerous. Alcohol changes how the body metabolizes cocaine, and this results in the development of a chemical byproduct. Also known as cocaethylene, this metabolite is more toxic than either cocaine or alcohol on their own and remains in the body longer. As a result, the liver and heart are placed under undue, prolonged stress, and death can occur just a few hours after using alcohol with cocaine.

3) Stimulants cause dehydration, and this can be made worse by drinking alcohol. When a person is not well-hydrated, he or she may encounter dizziness, disorientation, diarrhea, and vomiting. If dehydration persists, vital organs can be damaged, and death can occur.

4) The counteraction of using opioids and stimulants in combination can result in heart problems, heart failure, and death.

Getting Help for Polydrug Use and Addiction

A significant risk of using downer and upper drugs in combination is that an individual can become addicted to multiple drugs at the same time. A person with an addiction to one substance may turn to the abuse of another in an attempt to manage the symptoms of the original addiction. However, this approach almost never works, and instead, can force a person into a self-perpetuating cycle of substance abuse, making each addiction more dangerous and intense than it would be on its own.

If addiction to one or more substances develops, professional treatment offers the most effective path to recovery. You should never try to discontinue the use of any of these drugs suddenly or “cold turkey.” Depending on the drugs of abuse, you could encounter significant pain and discomfort, and, in some instances, withdrawal can even be life-threatening.

Importantly, rehab centers, such as Midwood Addiction Treatment, can provide medical and psychological support during withdrawal and can ensure that clients are as safe and comfortable as possible. Following detox, clients are urged to continue intensive treatment that includes behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support.

Please do not continue to make the risky decision to continue using upper and downer drugs—the dangers of doing so may be far greater than any perceived benefits. If you suspect that you or someone you love are struggling with addiction, we can help. Call us today and start the path to a new life without the use of drugs or alcohol!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: What Is a Speedball?