What is Doctor Shopping?

Have You Heard About Doctor Shopping?

People go into the medical field to help those who suffer. But often, others exploit that desire to help in the form of doctor shopping. Believe it or not, some people go from doctor to doctor looking for something specific. They do not need medical attention. Rather, they are doctor shopping to find one or more who will nurture their addiction.


In this article, Midwood Addiction Treatment attends to the following matters:


  • What is doctor shopping?
  • How is doctor shopping different from prescription drug use?
  • Why do people shop for doctors?
  • How does doctor shopping relate to opioid abuse?
  • What if I want more information about doctor shopping?


What Is Doctor Shopping?

Doctor shopping refers to filling prescriptions from more than one healthcare provider. Or it might look like filling the same prescription at the same provider. A person could fake an illness and then visit a doctor. Next, the doctor writes the person a prescription. The person fills the prescription. After that, they visit a different doctor. Then, the entire process repeats.


Granted, one should seek out the best physician to fit ones’ needs. Not every doctor provides a good fit for every person. But doctor shopping to fuel an addiction makes a different matter. If a doctor refuses to fill a prescription for you, they likely have a good reason for doing so.


How Is Doctor Shopping Different From Prescription Drug Use?

Doctors intend for prescriptions to help you. You know how visits to the doctor’s office go. You bring a symptom to their attention. They may (or may not) prescribe you medication to help with that symptom. If you do get a prescription, take it per the label directions. Take the exact dosage with the directed frequency. When the prescription runs out, refill it if needed. That constitutes legitimate prescription drug use.


Good Doctors Ask Questions

But, a good doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms. Good questions about what else might be contributing to your illness. They might ask you about recent stressors in your life. They might grill you about how you eat, and how often you exercise. If you’re thinking about asking for a specific medication, ask yourself a few things:


  • What consequences will I face if I do not have access to this medication?
  • What non-medicinal changes could I make in my life to help with this problem?
  • Why do I want this specific medication?
  • Are my symptoms pointing to a deeper problem that I need to address?
  • What will this medicine add to my life that I don’t have right now?


Why Do People Shop For Doctors?

We understand that sometimes people might opt for a different doctor. But when people doctor shop, they do it to access drugs. Prescriptions can provide legitimate medicines for legitimate needs. But some people use this legitimate means for illicit purposes.


Often, those abusing opioids will doctor shop. You may know that opioids work as painkillers. Naturally occurring in the poppy plant, opioids have become susceptible to high rates of abuse. Opioid abuse can cause a person to descend into opioid use disorder (OUD). For a person suffering from OUD, doctor shopping appears as a tangible solution to a problem.


How Does Doctor Shopping Relate To Opioid Abuse?

This study showed a positive correlation between doctor shopping and opioid abuse. What does that mean in everyday language? People addicted to opioids become more likely to look for a doctor who will cater to their demands. And they exhibit a willingness to travel in order to get their fix.


What Consequences Exist For Doctor Shopping?

Tennessee requires prescribers to report patients who drift from place to place. The state considers doctor shopping as a form of fraud. Therefore, the state could severely punish someone convicted of doctor shopping. If convicted, a judge might sentence a person to jail. Such a sentence might incarcerate someone struggling with opioid use disorder. Some forms of MOUD (medication for opioid use disorder) exist in prisons. Unfortunately, less than 1% of jails and prisons provide MOUD.


What If I Want More Information About Doctor Shopping?

Perhaps you know someone who struggles with opioid use disorder. Maybe you’ve discovered them shopping for doctors. This person experiences quite a bit of pain. Additionally, they may also endure a mental illness. People with both ailments have become common. Researchers call this comorbidity – when a person has both a substance use disorder and a mental illness.


Please know that hope exists for you. It likewise exists for your loved ones. Doctor shopping, and its underlying illnesses, need not be a lifetime practice. You can break these kinds of cycles.


If you or someone you know may be doctor shopping to support and addiction, you are welcome to give us a call for advice and guidance. All calls are completely confidential. Midwood Addiction Treatment can help. 





Is Speed as Addictive as Meth?

black and white image of smoke coming from man's mouth

At first glance, it’s not difficult to see why people confuse amphetamine and methamphetamine. They both produce a stimulant chemical high that can rapidly lead to dependence. Both are also highly addictive. They even have a similar chemical makeup, which helps to create even more confusion.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, both drugs have the same short-term effects, namely a quick onset of intense euphoria, a burst of energy, and appetite suppression. These three effects largely contribute to their popularity as recreational drugs. But what are the differences between the two drugs, and would taking one be more harmful than the other?

Difference Between Amphetamine and Methamphetamine

Since both drugs are used recreationally, you would often hear their “street names” used when referring to them. Amphetamines are known as “speed”, while meth goes by a range of names, with “ice” or “crystal meth” being the most widely known. The latter’s wide recognition may be attributed to the popular series Breaking Bad.

Let’s take a closer look at each substance.


Amphetamines are drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. After taking amphetamines, the user will experience a greater ability to focus on tasks, as well as an increased sense of productiveness.

Doctors prescribe amphetamines to people with ADHD to help with focus and concentration, and you may be familiar with one of the most well-known brands of the drug: Adderall.

When prescribed, amphetamines come in either pill or tablet form. For street use, however, “speed” looks like a loose powder that is snorted, smoked, or injected.


Since methamphetamine (meth) is very similar to amphetamines (speed) in terms of their chemical make-up, they also have similar effects. There is one key difference, however, and this difference goes a long way toward explaining why meth tends to be much more addictive than ‘regular’ speed.

In short, methamphetamine crosses the blood-brain barrier more rapidly and in greater amounts than amphetamines. The result of this is an almost immediate and incredibly intense euphoric high.

Why Meth is Highly Addictive

While both substances are classified as Schedule II controlled substances by the DEA, doctors are warier to prescribe meth because of the extreme reaction triggered by the drug. Since meth is more fast-acting, people are more prone to getting addicted to the effects and going on binges to “chase” the high, which can lead to addiction much faster.

Another reason why people are more prone to getting addicted to meth is the method of consumption. Smoking or injecting meth results in the drug getting into the bloodstream much quicker compared to ingesting a pill or snorting powder.

Are There Harmful Long-Term Effects?

Yes, there are harmful long-term effects for both speed and meth if they are taken for recreational use, rather than under a strict and controlled prescription. These effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Psychosis
  • Weakened immune system
  • Heart damage
  • Permanent brain damage

Is Speed as Addictive as Meth?

In a nutshell: no, speed is not as addictive as meth because of the speed at which meth crosses the blood-brain barrier and becomes active in the body’s metabolism. However, this does not mean that speed is safe to take without a doctor’s prescription. As with any prescribed drug, the only way to safely take amphetamines is to follow the prescribed amount and schedule. Though experimentation with speed is very common, recreational use of it nearly always leads to negatives outcomes.

Methamphetamine Effects on the Body

woman struggling from meth addiction sitting uncomfortably

What Is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine (or “meth” for short) was discovered in 1893. During World War II, combatants on both sides of the Atlantic used methamphetamine to stay alert (1). Methamphetamine belongs to a class of drugs called amphetamines. They work by speeding up the functions of the brain. As prescribed by a doctor, amphetamines can be used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and obesity. Some research also indicates that therapeutic doses of amphetamine can improve focus, concentration, and memory (2). Methamphetamine may resemble shards of glass or crystal. For this reason, it may be referred to as “crystal,” “glass,” or “ice” on the street. Other names for it include “tweak,” “speed,” and “tina.” Meth can be consumed by smoking, snorting, swallowing, or injecting.

How Does Meth Affect The Brain?

Meth is a stimulant. It mainly affects the brain’s central nervous system (CNS). This part of the brain that assists in regulating our emotions and behavior. The nerves in this part of your brain are called neurons. As a stimulant, meth makes the natural processes of the neurons work faster. When consuming meth, you experience a heightened sense of energy. Your heart rate increases and your breath quickens. Your blood pressure and body temperature escalate. Your appetite will be suppressed so you won’t feel hungry. Meth also deteriorates the glial cells of the prefrontal cortex. These cells are responsible for judgment, abstract thought, and attention (3). Glial cells are likewise responsible for protecting the body against infection.

Effects of Prolonged Use

Methamphetamine is inexpensive to produce, and it is also incredibly potent. As a result, it is highly addictive. Since its production involves toxic chemicals, making meth can be just as dangerous (if not more so) than consuming it. Labs are known to combust, killing or injuring those nearby. Prolonged use of meth can lead to severe weight loss and malnourishment, memory loss, and repetitive scratching. You are likely also familiar with “meth mouth” via images of users with rotten teeth and gums. Those who inject methamphetamine put themselves at risk for hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV. Living with a constant elevated sense of awareness leads users into paranoia. Combined with a lack of sleep (often for days at a time), hallucinations result. Meth’s hold on the brain is so strong, that users can even experience psychosis during withdrawal or detox. Symptoms of meth psychosis can include stronger hallucinations, delusions, agitation, and violence (4). Between 2011 and 2018, the number of methamphetamine-related deaths increased five-fold (5).

Is Recovery Possible?

Definitely! Recovery is always possible, even from a substance as noxious as methamphetamine. A recent study (6) indicated that a combination of an oral medication (bupropion) and an injection (naltrexone) might aid in treating meth addiction. At present, there are no medication-assisted therapies for recovery. That makes this study a first of its kind. Current treatments for meth addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational incentives (7).

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to methamphetamine, take heart. Treatment is available, and recovery is possible. Call Midwood Addiction Treatment now at 888-628-1110.


(1) https://www.history.com/topics/crime/history-of-meth
(2) https://rdw.rowan.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1056&context=som_facpub
(3) https://americanaddictioncenters.org/meth-treatment/effects-on-the-brain-and-cns
(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5027896/
(5) https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2021/01/methamphetamine-overdose-deaths-rise-sharply-nationwide
(6) https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2020214
(7) https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine

What is Crystal Meth Psychosis?

Shows the pain of comorbidly occurring anxiety disorder and addiction

For anyone who’s ever experienced crystal meth-induced psychosis, there’s no need to ask what it is. In fact, most of these people understand it all too well, at least from the first-person perspective. This post is designed to describe the general characteristics of crystal meth-induced psychosis to drug users, their loved ones, and the general public.

A Quick Look at Methamphetamine

A thorough discussion of methamphetamine (or crystal meth) is beyond the scope of this post. However, a generalized understanding of the drug is necessary to understand the phenomenon of crystal meth-induced psychosis.

Here’s a summary of what you need to know about methamphetamine to understand the psychosis that can be associated with it:

  • Crystal meth is a highly addicted central nervous (CNS) stimulant that creates a powerful but temporary sense of euphoria in the user
  • It also increases activity and talkativeness, while decreasing the appetite and the need for sleep
  • The euphoria and increased productivity associated with crystal meth are powerful at first, but the user quickly requires more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect
  • Even after just a few uses, people who imbibe crystal meth can start to experience frightening withdrawal symptoms

This is a very incomplete description of methamphetamine, but it will suffice to give some insight into the phenomenon of crystal meth-induced psychosis.

Crystal Meth Induced Psychosis: An Overview

Crystal meth-induced psychosis is an example of a broader class of stimulant psychoses. Interestingly, the symptoms of crystal meth psychosis can arise as a result of a binge or during acute withdrawal.

Crystal meth-induced psychosis is marked by the following symptoms:

  • Paranoia, including delusions that someone is ‘after them’
  • Feelings of grandiosity
  • Extreme agitation and irritability
  • Erratic movements
  • Auditory and/or visual hallucinations
  • Irrational thinking and speaking
  • Extreme feelings of fear and panic

The symptoms of crystal meth-induced psychosis can resemble those associated with schizophrenic psychosis, but the drug-induced variety tends to resolve much quicker than the type associated with schizophrenic disorders.

It is difficult to predict when (and if) a methamphetamine user will crystal meth-induced psychosis, but there is a definite correlation between the condition and the frequency of use. Long-term users are also more likely to experience crystal meth psychosis, but there are many hidden factors involved as well. Needless to say, it is imperative to seek medical help immediately if you or a loved one experiences any form of drug-induced psychosis.

The Aftermath of Methamphetamine Psychosis

Typically, the worst symptoms of crystal meth-induced psychosis start to improve a day or two after the amphetamine use is discontinued. There may be a few lingering symptoms beyond this time frame, but they can usually be managed without medical care.

However, anyone who experiences crystal meth-induced psychosis should seek emergency medical attention immediately and strongly consider entering a drug treatment facility to get started on the path to long term recovery.

Can You Overdose On Cocaine?

cocaine overdose

In the U.S. there are about 1.5 million current cocaine users aged 12 or older. Adults 18-25 years old have a higher rate of current use than any other group by age, with 1.4% of young adults reporting cocaine use within the past month. (1) If you or someone you know uses cocaine, you may have wondered about the potential for overdose. The fact is that cocaine overdose is a very real danger. Cocaine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. Whether it is snorted, smoked, or injected, the risk of overdose and even death is real. In fact, almost 15,000 people a year in the U.S. die as a result of a cocaine overdose. (2)

Here are some signs of cocaine overdose to watch for:

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Nausea and stomach cramps
  • Confusion, seizures, tremors
  • Increased sweating, body temperature, or heart rate

Psychological symptoms can include:

  • Extreme nervousness or anxiety
  • Delirium
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Cocaine Overdose May Cause Heart Attack

Cocaine overdose can often lead to a heart attack, which is one of the most common causes of death in a cocaine overdose. Other fatal consequences may include stroke or seizure. Cocaine is obviously especially risky for anyone who already suffers from heart disease or a heart condition of any kind. Someone who is predisposed to seizures can be at exceptional risk too.

Mixing Cocaine with Other Substances

Cocaine is often consumed with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants like opioids or benzodiazepines. These can actually increase the risk of fatality contrary to what some believe. There is a twofold risk. The first major risk factor comes from the fact that the effects of a CNS depressant can make a person less aware of some of the cocaine’s effects. This can prompt them to use even more than they might ordinarily. The second major factor comes from the interaction of cocaine with other substances in the body. The combination of cocaine and alcohol is both the most common and perhaps one of the most dangerous. When alcohol and cocaine combine in the body, they form a third chemical called cocaethylene, which extends the duration of cocaine euphoria, but is also incredibly toxic to the body. The psychoactive nature of cocaethylene didn’t even begin to be studied until the 1990s. (3)

It’s no mystery that cocaine use is dangerous. Some people find a false sense of security if they begin a cocaine habit that isn’t daily in the beginning. Perhaps they only use it on weekends. They never use it alone. They have heard that there aren’t any “real” physical withdrawal symptoms, like alcohol or opiates. These are all incredibly dangerous misconceptions that have lead many people to the gates of delirium and even death. Cocaine use is serious. Cocaine addiction costs people their livelihoods, their families, and sometimes even their lives.

If you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine use, don’t wait. It is never too soon to seek help for yourself or someone else. Millions of people have recovered from cocaine addiction successfully. You are welcome to contact us to discuss the treatment options for cocaine addiction or ask any questions you may have about recovery.

(1) https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states
(2) https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
(3) https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/395284

Does Medicated Assisted Treatment Work?

doctor with arms crossed holding a stethoscope

Medication-Assisted Treatment or MAT has been a part of drug and alcohol treatment for decades. In simple terms, it consists of the use of medications in concert with counseling and behavioral therapy to treat addiction. One of the first medications used in MAT beginning in the 1960s was methadone for heroin addiction. While methadone continues to be used in certain circumstances, pharmacological research over the past 30 years or so has made new, more targeted medicines available, including buprenorphine and naltrexone, that have far fewer compromises.

Understanding MAT

The goal with MAT is not to simply treat symptoms. A common misunderstanding about MAT is that it is simply some sort of long-term detox process. The reality is that modern MAT is an evidence-based treatment methodology with proven results. Medication is used in parallel with therapy to establish new behaviors. The outcome targeted by MAT is lifetime abstinence. Numerous studies have shown that MAT:

• Increases the likelihood of patients remaining in treatment.
• Decreases opiate abuse and criminal activity in patients prone to those behaviors.
• Decreased alcohol abuse and criminal activity, e.g. DUI arrests among treated alcoholics.
• Improves the ability of the patient to attain and retain gainful employment

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are engaged a long-term study of over 1,188 patients at 65 sites across the U.S. to research outcomes for patients receiving MAT for opioid use disorders.(1) This historic study is scheduled to conclude in Summer 2021 with final analysis. It is widely anticipated to answer lingering questions about this form of treatment and to fuel the growing acceptance of MAT in the treatment and recovery communities.

The Evolution In Addiction Treatment

The field of addiction medicine is continuously evolving and innovation in recent years has largely been driven by America’s exploding opioid crisis. The demand for lasting solutions has grown geometrically over the past decade. It is become more evident than ever that to simply triage addicts with week-long detox stays is woefully insufficient. Major cities and small towns across the country are being impacted in a very real way. Emergency services stretched to the breaking point managing overdose calls, increases in property crime, and overdose fatalities. All of this has driven the federal government to bring unprecedented resources to bear on the problem. The previously mentioned CDC study is just one example of the work being done.

The efficacy of MAT is easier to understand than most might imagine. Simply put, medications can mitigate withdrawal symptoms and cravings and even block the effects of illicit opiates. By removing much of the physical cravings and treating residual effects like depression, anxiety, and lethargy, patients are empowered. There is a synergistic effect in action. The patient is at less of a disadvantage. This makes them better able to participate in therapy and to benefit from it. The more time patients can remain abstinent, while simultaneously practicing positive new behaviors, the better their odds of success at long-term recovery.

Medication-Assisted Treatment is a tool that when used appropriately, improves the chances for successful recovery over the years and lifetimes.

(1) https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/Medication-Assisted-Treatment-Opioid-Use-Disorder-Study.html

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

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?