The 8 Steps America Is Taking to Battle the Opioid Crisis

opioid crisis

What are Opioids?

Opioids and opiates, also known as narcotics, are a class of drugs derived from the poppy plant. They include street drugs, such as heroin, and a variety of prescription painkillers, including:

  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone (such as Vicodin)
  • Hydrocodone with acetaminophen
  • Oxycodone (such as Oxycontin)
  • Oxycodone with acetaminophen
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine

Prescription opioids require a prescription and carry a high potential for addiction, even when used as prescribed. Whether used illegally or with a prescription, all opioid drugs affect the brain in the same way. They work by binding to receptors in the brain and spinal cord to prevent the release of a chemical called GABA, which normally regulates dopamine production. When GABA is blocked, dopamine floods the brain. This combination blocks pain messages to the brain and produces a pleasurable high. Because opioids carry such a strong potential for habit formation, it is critical to take these drugs only when necessary and to follow the doctor’s instructions for timing and dosage.

The Opioid Crisis in America

In recent years, opioid abuse in America has skyrocketed. Since the year 2000, deaths from opioid overdose has tripled; in 2015, more than 33,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose, and more than 2 million Americans struggled with substance abuse disorders related to prescription painkillers. Clearly, this abuse requires a response as soon as possible in order to prevent more damaged lives and deaths. Here are eight proposed steps to curb this epidemic:

  1. Save lives by reducing deaths from overdose and infectious disease. Overdose deaths can be prevented by increasing the availability of naloxone, a medication that can prevent death in someone who has overdosed on opioids. Needle exchange programs can limit the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
  2. Treat, don’t arrest: allow addicts to ask law enforcement officers for opioid addiction help instead of repeatedly arresting offenders.
  3. Fund treatment: support Medicaid-funded treatment for opioid addiction recovery.
  4. Combat stigma: utilize public education campaigns to dispel myths and promote understanding about opioid addiction so that people will feel more comfortable admitting their problems and seeking treatment.
  5. Support medication-assisted treatment: replacing opioid use with the medically-monitored use of suboxone, methadone, or buprenorphine has been demonstrated to be an effective approach to opiate addiction recovery, yet fewer than one-third of conventional drug treatment centers in America utilize medication-assisted treatment. We should encourage this method of treatment by expanding its availability at federally-funded treatment centers, expanding Medicaid and Medicare coverage, and requiring staff training at federally-funded centers and Veterans Health Administration hospitals.
  6. Enforce mental health parity: strictly enforce the federal mental health parity laws that require insurers who cover behavioral health to offer the same benefits for mental health and addiction as they do for surgery or medical therapies. As many as 50-70% of people with substance abuse problems also suffer from mental health conditions such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
  7. Teach pain management: train doctors in the management of prescription opioids and misuse prevention; sadly, many addicts begin using prescription drugs legitimately but segue into abuse.
  8. Start prevention education at an early age: begin to educate children as young as seventh-grade, not just as to the risks of drug abuse, but with the decision-making skills for their teenage years and beyond.

Addiction Treatment and Recovery

While challenging, opioid addiction recovery is possible. Addicts must undergo the uncomfortable process of detox and withdrawal, which can be eased through the use of appropriate medications. With therapy and support, addicts can learn to navigate life without substance abuse. If you or someone you love struggles with opioid addiction, our trained staff can help. Call our toll-free number today.

Married to an Addicted: How to Know When It’s Time to Leave

drug addict

A marriage can be a beautiful and a rewarding union, and usually, it is. Typically, it is just that. Sometimes, however, things can come up that can create difficult issues and hardships within the marriage, and this is pretty normal. However, sometimes things can get really, really tricky within a marriage and the issues and the struggles that a marriage can face can be too much for it to bear. Certain things can come up in a marriage that can create difficulty and a hardship and a lot of struggles for people, and these can truly create a grueling and big problem situation for the marriage. Things can come up like adultery, serious financial problems, power struggles, and addiction.

A marriage can veritably be ruined by drug and alcohol addiction. When addiction comes into a marriage, people wonder, do drug addicts ever change? Well, as soon as they realize that drug addicts do not change unless they get into a rehab center that can help them kick their addiction habit, those spouses often then wonder how to end a relationship with an addict. Having a drug addict or an alcoholic for a spouse is one of the worst life situations that one could possibly face, and this is the simple and concerning truth of the matter. Though drug and alcohol addiction is a constant and a growing issue for those who have to deal with it, it is also a huge problem and a big worry for the family members and loved ones of those who are connected to that addict too.

How to Know When its Time to Go

How to know when its time to go? Love is not something you can just turn on and off like a switch. It just doesn’t work like that. There are a lot of other factors here to consider. People often wonder when the right time to leave an addicted spouse or loved one is. People often wonder just exactly how they are going to find peace of mind and freedom in their lives when faced with the struggles and difficulties of having an addicted spouse.

The simplicity of it is there are very straightforward signs and indicators that show you when it is time to leave your addicted spouse. For some of these signs, just one indication or happenstance is enough to call it quits. For some of these signs, several of them adding up indicate it is time to leave them:

  • Has your spouse, partner, or significant other abused you or the kids physically or verbally?
  • Has your spouse, partner, or significant other used drugs or alcohol in front of you or the kids?
  • Has your spouse, partner, or significant other gotten high or strung out or drunk in front of the kids?
  • Has your spouse, partner, or significant other refused to go seek help at a rehab center?
  • Has your spouse, partner, or significant other ever stolen from you or from anyone else?
  • Has your spouse, partner, or significant other seriously impacted the lives of your kids or your life?
  • Has your spouse, partner, or significant other created constant and permanent turmoil in your life or in the lives of your kids because of their substance abuse?

How to Leave a Drug Addict?

Do you know how to leave a drug addict? The thing with leaving a drug addict or alcoholic spouse, partner, or significant other is that the above situations have gotten so bad that your life or the lives of your kids are now being seriously, negatively impacted by the person’s habits. When this happens, you need to throw in the towel and call it quits with them. When this happens the truth of the matter is that people really do need to stop with what they are doing. They need to just put their foot down and leave the person.

What they don’t realize is that their leaving their spouse will often have a very good effect on their spouse. Realistically, getting away from the spouse is a form of the tough love approach, and this can actually have a very good effect on the person. Suddenly losing their spouse and kids can be enough of a slap in the face to show them that they really do need to make a change and they really do need to do something about their habits.

Getting away from a substance-abusing spouse can give a person the peace of mind and the stability that they need to start rebuilding and stabilizing their lives. This can make a spouse want rehab. Furthermore, getting people off of an addiction and getting them these types of tools can be very helpful and very effective for getting that person to realize the direction their lives are going in. Call Choices Recovery today for more information at 877-692-2313.

Delaying Addiction Treatment Because of Rehab Waiting Lists Can Be a Death Sentence

Rehab Waiting Lists

Alcohol and prescription drugs have a place in our society. Many people enjoy a drink or two, and moderate drinking has health benefits such as reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death and disease. Prescription drugs are used to treat a host of medical conditions, such as diabetes, infection, or chronic pain. However, substance abuse, whether it is binge drinking or using prescription or illegal drugs recreationally, can have a severe impact on a person’s health and may lead to dependence and addiction. If you are struggling with addiction, don’t delay treatment because of rehab waiting lists. Too many people accidentally overdose every day while waiting to receive treatment for their addictions.

Binge Drinking

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines binge drinking as drinking enough alcohol to raise the blood alcohol level to 0.08 or higher; for men, this typically involves drinking five or more drinks in two hours, and for women, four or more drinks in two hours.  People who binge drink regularly can become dependent on alcohol.  Their bodies become so accustomed to alcohol that they feel sick without it.  They may use it as a means of coping with stress and forget how to handle stress without drinking.  Personal relationships suffer as the person prioritizes drinking over spending time with friends and family.

Over time, heavy drinking damages a person’s health.  Adverse consequences of alcohol abuse include:

  • Hepatitis (liver inflammation)
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Damaged heart muscle
  • Increased risk of certain cancers, including mouth, larynx, pharynx, liver, esophagus, breast, rectum, and colon
  • Violent crime
  • Automobile accidents
  • Drowning
  • Falling
  • Alcohol poisoning

Drug Abuse Effects

Many people start out using recreational drugs just to try them out or because they enjoy the high, but that can easily lead to addiction, and with it, the health consequences of addiction.  Prescription drugs such as OxyContin or fentanyl, street drugs such as crystal meth, marijuana, heroin, or cocaine—all take a toll on the body.  The physical consequences of drug abuse depend on the type of drug used but include:

  • Death from overdose
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Seizure
  • Coma
  • Brain damage
  • Increased risk of infections, including HIV and hepatitis C
  • Collapsed veins
  • Bowel problems
  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Liver damage or failure
  • Increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases

Reasons for Addiction Rehab Waiting Lists

It can be tough for an addict to admit they struggle with substance abuse, reach out for help, and seek placement in a rehab facility.  But for those who do so, there may not be a place available when they are ready for treatment. Sadly, many people die from addiction before they can enter treatment. Each day in America, 144 people die from a lethal drug overdose. But unfortunately, rehab waiting lists are very common today. Three main reasons keep people from receiving treatment when they need it:

Lack of Space: There are more addicts than beds available in residential rehab programs.  Wait times for such facilities can vary from a month and a half to a year.  Non-residential programs may also have long waiting lists.  Hospitals do not have to admit people for detox because it is not considered a medical emergency.

Lack of Money: Not all insurance companies consider addiction to be a medical disease, and so they can easily deny coverage for treatment.  Treatment is financially prohibitive for many people.

Lack of specialists: There is a shortage of doctors who specialize in rehab medicine.  Only a physician can prescribe medication-assisted treatments such as methadone or buprenorphine.

Waiting to seek treatment can be a death sentence—do not delay if you are ready to enter recovery.  If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, let us help you find a rehab facility today.

How Heroin During Pregnancy Affects Both Mother and Baby

heroin during pregnancy

Heroin is an incredibly addictive illegal street drug. It is derived from morphine, which comes from the opium poppy plant. On the street, heroin is sold as either a brown or white powder or black tar heroin that users smoke, inject, or snort. It is incredibly addictive and harmful to the user’s health. Sadly, many women become pregnant while using heroin. While heroin is detrimental to the mother’s health, it is even worse for the developing fetus. Using heroin during pregnancy can indirectly harm the fetus by its negative impact on the mother’s health, or it can directly affect the fetus.

Effects on the Mother When Using Heroin During Pregnancy

Pregnant women using heroin are at greater-than-normal risk for lifestyle problems that can affect the growing baby, such as:

  • Malnutrition
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Infections, such as HIV or hepatitis
  • Depression
  • Domestic violence
  • Relationship problems
  • Self-harm
  • Criminal activity
  • Poor prenatal care

They carry a higher risk for pregnancy complications such as:

  • Bleeding during pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and hepatitis
  • Respiratory failure
  • Preeclampsia

Effects on the Developing Fetus

Heroin passes through the placenta to the unborn child, increasing many health risks to the fetus and raising the possibility of heroin dependence in the fetus. Heroin use during pregnancy can cause:

  • Increased risk of miscarriage: loss of baby before 20 weeks in utero
  • Increased risk of stillbirth: loss of baby after 20 weeks in utero
  • Placental abruption: separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus. This condition can cause massive bleeding and can be fatal for the mother or child.
  • Pre-term birth: birth before 37 weeks in utero
  • Low birth weight: under 5.5 lbs.
  • Birth defects: a change in shape or function in one or more body parts
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): unexplained death of the baby before one year of age
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Infants who become dependent on heroin during pregnancy may experience Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) at birth. NAS is withdrawal for the baby, who no longer receives heroin via the placenta from the mother. The onset of NAS typically takes place in the first 1-3 days after birth but may take place up to one week after delivery. Symptoms include:

  • Excessive crying
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Reduced ability to breastfeed
  • Blotchy, mottled skin
  • Seizures
  • Slow weight gain
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Death

Babies with NAS are hospitalized and treated with medication, usually morphine, to relieve symptoms. The babies are then weaned off of opioids until they are fully detoxified.

Long-Term Effects of Heroin During Pregnancy

Children exposed to heroin in the womb are more likely to have behavioral disorders, difficulties with concentration and attention, hyperactivity, aggressiveness, and a lack of social inhibition.

Treatment When Using Heroin During Pregnancy

While it is critical for a pregnant woman to stop using heroin, it is actually dangerous, and potentially fatal, for her unborn child if she stops cold turkey. Doctors suspect that when the baby is cut off from heroin, it becomes hyperactive, then oxygen-deprived, and that may cause death. For this reason, pregnant mothers using heroin should seek medical help instead of trying to quit heroin on their own. A combination of medication-assisted treatment and counseling can help pregnant women quit heroin. While Methadone and buprenorphine treatments can be used during pregnancy, both carry high risks to the mother and child, and it is important to know these before using this method of therapy.

If you are pregnant and struggling with heroin addiction, or know someone who is, help is available. Call Choices Recovery to stop using heroin now.

The Heroin Addiction Recovery Rate is Better Than You Think

heroin addiction recovery rate

Heroin is an incredibly addictive illegal street drug derived from morphine, which comes from the opium poppy plant. It was originally sold as a painkiller until it became apparent that heroin is highly addictive. It is sold on the street as either a brown or white powder or black tar heroin that users smoke, inject, or snort. More than 2000 people die each year from heroin use. However, contrary to popular belief, the heroin addiction recovery rate is much better than people realize. An individual who is addicted to heroin can recover and live a full, healthy life.

Why is Heroin So Addictive?

Because of the way that heroin affects the brain, it is incredibly addictive. Once heroin enters the body, it is converted to morphine, which quickly attaches to opioid receptors in the brain. Activating these receptors blocks the production of the brain chemical GABA, which regulates dopamine production. Dopamine then floods the brain, producing feelings of pleasure and euphoria. The rush is relatively short-lived, lasting 15-30 minutes, but feels so good that users crave it and will use heroin again and again to reproduce that high.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Over time, the body builds up a tolerance to heroin, requiring more frequent or greater doses to achieve that high. Without heroin, the user will go into withdrawal, which includes unpleasant symptoms such as:

  • Restlessness
  • Severe muscle and bone pain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Uncontrollable leg movements
  • Cold flashes
  • Anxiety
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Racing heartbeat

Statistics on Heroin Addiction

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) estimates that 4.8 million Americans have used heroin, including 681,000 in 2014. Nearly 80% of heroin abusers began by abusing prescription painkillers. In recent years, heroin abuse has been on the rise, resulting in a more than six-fold increase in deaths from an overdose from 2002 to 2015, when more than 14,000 people died.

Can You Really Recover and What is the Heroin Addiction Recovery Rate?

Yes! While these numbers are daunting, and withdrawal from heroin is a challenge, heroin addiction can be overcome. The relapse rate for heroin addicts is high, estimated as high as 80%, but that does not mean it is impossible to recover from heroin addiction. Depending on the approach, the heroin addiction recovery rate ranges from 35-65%. 

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

The first step in kicking heroin addiction is detoxification to remove heroin from the body. This process causes withdrawal, which can be so uncomfortable that the addict may be tempted to use heroin again, just to curb the symptoms. A supportive recovery environment is critical at this time when the risk of relapse is so high. Treatment can be inpatient or outpatient. A combination of counseling and medication-assisted treatment improves rates of recovery.

The medication-assisted treatment uses medicines to ease the discomfort of withdrawal. There are a few options available. Methadone binds to the same receptors as heroin, reducing withdrawal symptoms and preventing the euphoric high heroin produces. It must be prescribed by a doctor and taken in a supervised clinic. Buprenorphine works similarly to methadone but can be prescribed by a physician to be taken at home. Because methadone and buprenorphine bind to opioid receptors, there is potential for abuse. Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors so that if a person uses heroin, it will have no effect. Because it blocks the receptors instead of binding to them, naltrexone has no potential for abuse. Naloxone also blocks opioid receptors. It can be used on its own to prevent overdose, or in combination with buprenorphine to prevent buprenorphine abuse during treatment for heroin addiction.

While medications may help with withdrawal and the risk of relapse, counseling, and support assist the user to deal with the problems behind their substance abuse and prepare for a sober future. Recovery is possible. Call Choices Recovery for more information.

The Symptoms and Side Effects of Crack Withdrawal

crack withdrawal side effects

What is Crack Cocaine?

Cocaine is an illegal stimulant drug that is derived from the leaves of the South American coca plant. Crack, or crack cocaine, is a form of cocaine that has been processed into a rock crystal. Users smoke the crystal, inhaling the vapors. Crack cocaine is the second most trafficked illegal drug in the world.

How Does Crack Affect the Body

The effects of crack on the body begin with the brain. Crack increases dopamine levels in the brain, creating a “high” feeling of happiness, alertness, and high energy. It does so by circumventing the brain’s normal pattern of recycling dopamine, creating a euphoric rush. This high is short-lived, lasting between 5 and 10 minutes. The vapors from crack reach the brain more quickly than snorting powdered cocaine, producing a more rapid, intense high.

Crack’s effects are not limited to the brain, however.  Side effects include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle twitches
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Hypersensitivity to light, sound, and touch.

Crack overdose can occur after the first use or any subsequent use. If treated immediately, recovery from an overdose is possible, but it can cause death by heart attack, stroke, respiratory failure, cerebral hemorrhage, or seizure. Crack users are also more likely to engage in risky behavior, putting them at higher risk for infection with HIV and hepatitis C.

Crack Cocaine Addiction

Frequent use of crack leads to both tolerance and addiction. The user will require a higher or more frequent dose to achieve the same high, will crave crack, and suffer symptoms of withdrawal without it. Crack is one of the most addictive forms of cocaine, leaving the user psychologically and physically dependent on it.

Crack Use During Pregnancy

When a pregnant woman uses crack, it can affect the pregnancy and the developing fetus. When taken in the first few months of pregnancy, crack can increase the risk of miscarriage or lead to placental abruption late in pregnancy. Placental abruption can cause severe bleeding, early birth, and even fetal death.

In pregnancies carried to term, crack passes through the placenta to the fetus, where it can cause brain damage and congenital disabilities. So-called “crack babies” may suffer:

  • Smaller than average head size
  • Reduced growth potential
  • Kidney, brain, and genital defects

Even in children who appear developmentally typical, exposure to crack in the womb can cause deficits in cognitive performance, attention to tasks, and information processing.

Symptoms of Crack Withdrawal

It is a challenge to overcome crack addiction, but it is not impossible. The first step is detoxification to allow all traces of crack to leave the body. Detox will cause symptoms of withdrawal. Symptoms may begin within hours of the last hit of crack, and can include:

  • Aggression and violence
  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal feelings
  • Paranoia
  • Extreme cravings for crack
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Exhaustion
  • Flu-like symptoms

A supportive rehab environment can help the user during this time when the risk of relapse is high. Medications can be used to ease the withdrawal symptoms or to help the user gradually wean off of crack. Medications can include:

  • Muscle relaxants
  • Pain relievers
  • Anti-seizure medications

Counseling can be helpful in determining the mental and emotional root of the drug abuse and prepare the user for a sober future. This may include understanding triggers for drug use and how to avoid them, new techniques for dealing with stressful situations, and how to structure a sober lifestyle.

If you or someone you loves struggles with crack addiction, call our toll-free number today.

The Side Effects of Oxycodone Use

opioid prescription drugs

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is an opioid prescription drug, also known as Percocet or Oxycontin, used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is an opiate, meaning that it is synthetically made but shares the same basic chemical structure as heroin and other opiate painkillers such as codeine, hydrocodone, and fentanyl. Even though it is a prescription medication, oxycodone is highly addictive. When taking oxycodone for pain management, it is critical to follow the doctor’s instructions as to how often and how much oxycodone to take. Even when taken as directed, it is possible to become addicted to oxycodone. If you are concerned that you or someone you care about has developed a dependency on oxycodone, seek treatment from a drug rehab like Choices Recovery.

How does Oxycodone Affect the Brain?

Oxycodone interferes with pain messages from the body to the brain, making it an effective medication for pain management. It binds to pain receptors in the brain and spinal cord to prevent the release of a chemical GABA. GABA signals the brain to stop production of dopamine, a chemical that produces feelings of pleasure. When a person is hurt, GABA production prevents dopamine release, creating pain. Oxycodone reverses this sequence and floods the brain with dopamine, preventing feelings of pain and producing a euphoric high sought after by abusers.

Oxycodone Addiction

Oxycodone is extremely addictive because of the way that it interacts with the brain to create such feelings of pleasure. The user becomes tolerant to the drug over time, meaning that a larger or more frequent dose is needed to produce the same effect; the current treatment will no longer work. Dependence begins when the body physically requires the drug and without it, the person will experience extreme cravings for oxycodone and may feel symptoms of withdrawal. Addiction can drive people to behave outside of their typical character, even going so far as to steal the drug or request multiple prescriptions from different doctors to obtain more oxycodone. Because people with an opioid prescription drug addiction tend to take a higher dose than a doctor would prescribe, the risk of overdose is even greater than with someone using it as directed.

People can become addicted to oxycodone when using it for a legitimate medical need or as a recreational drug. Between 21 and 29 percent of individuals using opiate painkillers medically misuse them, and 8 to 12 percent become addicted. These people are at greater risk to become heroin users because heroin is cheaper and easier to obtain. About 80% of heroin users began abusing prescription opiates.

Side Effects of Oxycodone

Oxycodone is very effective as a painkiller, but unfortunately, it comes with a host of side effects. The greatest danger is an overdose, which can be fatal. Oxycodone can cause breathing rates so slow as to cause death. Thankfully, there is a medication available, naloxone, which can reverse overdose when administered in time. Other short-term side effects of oxycodone include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Appetite loss
  • Mood changes

Long-term abuse can have a lasting, negative impact on the body, such as:

  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Brain damage

Chronic overuse of acetaminophen (Tylenol) damages the liver, so people who abuse use oxycodone with acetaminophen have a greater risk of liver failure.

Treatment for Addiction to Opioid Prescription Drugs

Treatment for oxycodone addiction begins with detoxification at a drug addiction rehab center. Treatment can be either inpatient or outpatient and may use medications to ease the withdrawal symptoms, which can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle aches

After detox, it is easy to relapse, especially if oxycodone is readily available. The support of a rehab center can help during this difficult time. Call Choices Recovery today if you need help for an addiction to opioid prescription drugs or if you would lilke more information about the side effects of oxycodone.

Cocaine and its Highly Addictive Properties

cocaine addiction

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is an illegal stimulant, sold on the street as a fine white powder. It is derived from the leaves of the South American coca plant.  Users snort cocaine, rub it on their gums, or mix it with water to inject into the bloodstream. Sometimes cocaine is combined with other stimulant drugs, such as amphetamine, or dealers may mix it with other powders, such as flour or cornstarch, to increase profits. It is a commonly used recreational drug that can have devastating side effects, from instant death to long-term damage to the body.

What is Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is a highly addictive form of cocaine that has been processed into crystals. Users smoke the crystal, inhaling the vapors. Crack cocaine is the second most trafficked illegal drug in the world.

Cocaine and its Effects

How ever it enters the body, cocaine increases dopamine levels in the brain, creating a “high” feeling of happiness, alertness, and high energy. It does so by circumventing the brain’s normal pattern of recycling dopamine. The brain usually releases dopamine as a response to a pleasurable stimulus and then recycles it. Cocaine causes the brain to release dopamine, but instead of recycling it, allows it to build up, creating a euphoric rush. This high can last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the method used.

Cocaine’s effects are not limited to the brain, however. As a stimulant, cocaine causes:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle twitches
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate

Other side effects include paranoia, irritability, and hypersensitivity to light, sound, and touch. The various methods of using cocaine damage the body in different ways:

  • Oral ingestion: damage to bowel from reduced blood flow
  • Needle injection: increased risk of hepatitis C, HIV, and other bloodborne pathogens
  • Snorting: loss of sense of smell,  chronic runny nose, nose bleeds, difficulty swallowing

A cocaine overdose occurs when the user takes in more cocaine than the body can handle. An overdose can occur after the first use or any subsequent use. If treated immediately, recovery from an overdose is possible, but it can cause death by heart attack, stroke, respiratory failure, cerebral hemorrhage, or seizure. Cocaine users are also at risk for infection with HIV and hepatitis C, even if they are not injection users because they are more likely to engage in risky behavior.

Signs of Addiction

Frequent use of cocaine leads to both tolerance and addiction. Tolerance to cocaine means that the user will require a higher or more frequent dose to achieve the same high. Addiction means that the user will crave cocaine and suffer symptoms of withdrawal without it. Cocaine and crack addictions are some of the most devastating addictions, leading people to act in ways they would never have before their addiction. Addicts will go so far as to commit a crime, all to obtain the drug.

The first step in treating cocaine and crack addiction is to recognize the signs of addiction. A person addicted to cocaine may show the following symptoms:

  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Mood change
  • Insomnia
  • Denial
  • Poor hygiene
  • Loss of interest
  • Extreme weight loss

Treatment for Cocaine and Crack Addictions

Overcoming an addiction to cocaine is possible. Inpatient treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy can be very effective. In this type of treatment, the user will aim to understand the cause of the addiction and learn how to approach the future more healthily, avoiding situations that may trigger drug use. We can help you or someone you love to overcome a cocaine and crack addictions. Call us at our toll-free number today.

Do You Know Someone Who is Addicted to Prescription Drugs?

Addicted to prescription drugs

Do you have a friend or family member who is addicted to prescription drugs? Prescription drugs play a vital role in health care, addressing conditions as diverse as high blood pressure, diabetes, and infection, as well as countless others. While there is no doubt that these medications benefit many people, some of these drugs have a downside which is the potential for dependency and addiction. While we do need prescription drugs to manage both chronic and acute pain, some of the more commonly abused medications include prescription painkillers.

As many as 1 in 5 Americans admit to abusing a prescription drug at some point. For some, it is an isolated incident, but for too many, that abuse develops into an addiction. If you know someone who is addicted to prescription drugs, please help them see that they need professional help immediately. Addiction to opioids and opiates (painkillers) is at epidemic proportions in the US today.

Prescription Drug Addiction

Addiction occurs when a person feels compelled to take a drug, even when it will cause them to suffer adverse side effects. The person physically craves the drug and will go to great lengths to obtain it. But how does a person become addicted to prescription drugs in the first place?

Some people start out taking medication for a legitimate medical need, but some people just decide to use prescription drugs recreationally. Many prescription painkillers give the user a feeling of euphoria and well-being.Either way, over time the body becomes accustomed to the drug and becomes tolerant to the current dose. This tolerance requires a higher or more frequent dose to achieve the same effect. The body becomes dependent on the drug, and the user may experience symptoms of withdrawal without it.

Addicted to Prescription Drugs

Prescription painkillers are among the most commonly abused prescription medications. Opioid painkillers, which share the same basic chemical structure as heroin, carry the highest potential for abuse and dependency. They work by binding to receptors in the brain and spinal cord to prevent the release of a chemical called GABA. GABA normally regulates dopamine production, so when painkillers block GABA, dopamine floods the brain. This combination blocks pain messages to the brain and produces a pleasurable high.

Because opioids carry such a strong potential for habit formation, it is critical to take these drugs only when necessary. To prevent becoming addicted to prescription drugs, you must follow the doctor’s instructions for timing and dosage. The greatest risk is that an overdose of opioid painkillers can cause coma or even death. Accidental overdose is the number one cause of mortality in prescription drug addiction today.

Dangerous Prescription Drugs of Abuse


Vicodin is an opioid used to manage short-term pain. It is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen (known over-the-counter as Tylenol). Vicodin is a tablet to be swallowed so that it will affect the brain slowly, but abusers may use other means to speed up the body’s reaction. Crushing the pills to snort or mix with water to inject into the veins provides a more rapid but more dangerous high. The most dangerous side effect is death from overdose. Other adverse side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Decreased heart and breathing rate
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Poor judgment
  • Drowsiness or loss of consciousness

Long-term Vicodin abuse can also lead to liver failure. Prolonged use of the acetaminophen in Vicodin damages the liver, leading to failure, and that failure can be fatal.


Fentanyl is a highly powerful painkiller, reserved for pain that will not respond to other medications. It is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Physicians prescribe fentanyl under the brand names Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze. As a painkiller, doctors administer it as either an injection, a transdermal patch, or a lozenge, but abusers will modify that form to speed up absorption. For example, an abuser may break open the transdermal patch and directly consume the gel orally or inject it. The fentanyl dose that is intended for slow release over many hours rushes to the brain in a matter of minutes. Because fentanyl is such a potent opioid, rapid absorption can be deadly, and most often is. Fentanyl can lower breathing rate so quickly as to cause instant death.

Choices Recovery can help with prescription drug addiction. Call to speak with a professional counselor if you have a loved one or friend who is addicted to prescription drugs. Don’t wait until it is too late.

Life After Addiction Recovery – How to Start Again

life after addiction recovery

Making the decision to begin treatment for a substance abuse disorder can be incredibly difficult for some people, as can actually putting in the hard work at rehab, but returning home after addiction recovery isn’t easy either. It’s natural to feel anxious when thinking about life after rehab, and returning to a challenging environment after the security of a treatment facility, but there are steps you can take and decisions you can make to stay sober long after you’ve completed treatment. If you are in recovery, and you want to know how you can successfully transition into life after rehab, call Choices Recovery at (844) 288-8039 to learn how you can start fresh and overcome urges to use.

How to Deal with Triggers

Returning home after substance abuse treatment means learning how to deal with an environment full of triggers that once compelled you to use, and may tempt you to use again. Some addicts may be surrounded by friends and family members they once used drugs or alcohol with, and others may have to pass by the spots where they used to score. Some triggers you can learn to prevent or avoid, but others are inevitable, and coming up with ways to deal with them is key. By being prepared for triggers or stressors, and learning how to handle them as they arise, you can prevent a relapse and improve your chances of life-long sobriety. The following are some ways you can deal with triggers:

  • Leave the situation
  • Call your sponsor
  • Practice self-talk (remind yourself that you’re not alone in experiencing triggers and that you can avoid using)
  • Distract yourself by engaging in a positive behavior
  • Go to therapy or counseling
  • Practice patience
  • Have a support system
  • Remind yourself of negative consequences of substance abuse

Sober Living Environments

Recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction is an ongoing process, and for some recovering addicts, returning to their home environment is not conducive to sobriety. For these individuals, living in a sober living community after rehab may be a good way to gradually transition into life after addiction recovery, without the stressors and temptations they might face in their home lives. These safe, drug-free environments help ensure abstinence by administering regular drug tests and many offer additional recovery services, such as support groups, job placement, and sober recreational activities for recovering addicts to participate in. If a sober living home isn’t an option for you, consider asking a sober friend or family member if you can stay with them temporarily, until you can ensure that you won’t be tempted to begin using again.

Reconnecting with Loved Ones

With drug abuse and addiction often comes anger, aggression, and destructive behavior and for addicts whose alcoholism or drug use has fractured their relationships with loved ones, reconnecting with friends and family members can be a difficult but rewarding process. Once you have completed drug treatment and proven that you are no longer using, it may take a while for you to earn the trust of your loved ones again. Just because you are sober doesn’t mean your friends and family members have forgotten what you said or how you acted while you were using, and rebuilding those relationships may take time. Over time, they will adjust to your new way of life, and your recovery will only benefit from rebuilding these positive and healthy relationships.

Benefits of Addiction Recovery

For addicts who want to start fresh and turn their life around, drug rehabilitation at a facility like Choices Recovery is an effective method for overcoming addiction and achieving lifelong sobriety. At Choices, founder and CEO Per Wickstrom, who struggled with substance abuse in the past and is in recovery himself, is committed to helping others beat their addictions and recover in an environment that addresses every contributing factor in addiction. If you or a loved one is facing a substance use disorder, and you believe Choices Recovery can help, contact the rehab facility today at (844) 288-8039 to speak to a certified recovery counselor about your options.