What We Treat
What is Drug Addiction?
Drug addiction is an issue that affects millions of Americans on a daily basis. Those who are hooked on mind-altering substances like benzos, heroin, cocaine, and meth often find themselves struggling with personal, professional, financial, and social consequences as a result. Unfortunately, putting a stop to active addiction is not something that can be done in a blink of an eye. Instead, it takes professional resources to help rehabilitate those who are ready to stop using drugs for good.
Drug addiction takes the lives of thousands of people each year. Those who are not afforded the opportunity at a second chance typically exhibited several signs and symptoms of their drug addiction prior to their passing. Depending on the type of substance that they were abusing, signs and symptoms can vary — as can end results.
Benzodiazepines, or “benzos”, come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Xanax bars are white, or similar to Valium, round in a hue of blue, yellow, or peach. Ativan is round and white with an “A” on it. Librium comes in capsules with aqua blue and yellow casings. Benzos come in the form of pills that can be swallowed or dissolved on the tongue. Abusers often open capsules or crush up pills to snort them or dilute them, then inject them by needle. The pills can also be taken in a less obvious way, by putting them in the rectum. People use benzos that aren’t prescribed to achieve a sense of relaxation. When taking a large dose of benzos, abusers can experience a “high.” Users often combine benzos with other drugs to “balance out” effects of stimulants or to ward off the anxiety that comes with withdrawal symptoms of other drugs. However, benzos are highly addictive as well.
Symptoms of Benzo Addiction
If you or your loved one is using benzos, you’ll start to notice obvious signs, such as a lack of energy and excessive drowsiness. They may also seem confused, have problems recalling correct memories, slur their speech, or they may not be as quick with their words, movement or reflexes as they used to be. In addition to these signs and symptoms, you may notice pill bottles with a name that doesn’t match theirs on the prescriptions, or pills in an unlabeled plastic bag.
Short-term use of benzos usually subside when the body gets used to them. To achieve the same high each time, a user must take more than they did before. The short-term effects become more severe with larger doses. Long-term abuse can contribute to the risk of having dementia or Alzheimer’s in the future. Quitting cold turkey can be dangerous and create a stronger anxiety than before taking the benzos, which is why it’s important to detox under professional guidance and supervision.
Short-term effects include:
- Loss of coordination
- Impaired memory
- Loss of appetite
- Vision problems
Long-term effects of benzo addiction can include:
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
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Cocaine, when in its hydrochloric salt state, is a fine, white powder that resembles baby powder. It can be clear white, an off-white or have a slight yellow tint and smell like floral perfume. Crack cocaine can resemble rocks, and it smells like burning rubber or plastic. Cocaine can be snorted through the nose or rubbed onto the gums. It can also be dissolved and injected or smoked. A user can inhale vapors from crack cocaine to get a faster high than snorting it.People use cocaine to experience a euphoric high. They feel a surge of dopamine and experience intense feelings of happiness and energy for an extended period of time. People use cocaine if they have trouble becoming happy on their own, or due to boredom or peer pressure.
Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine increases stress hormones in the brain, so even when an addict isn’t experiencing withdrawal symptoms, you may notice anger or violence you haven’t seen before. They can also develop anxiety, paranoia, or psychosis. Constant stress also raises blood pressure, which can result in damage to the heart and lungs.
While some users may experience feelings of intense happiness in the beginning, they’ll shortly start to notice that they’ll develop mood swings, feelings of being paranoid, and ongoing headaches. With long-term use, they may have hallucinations and psychosis. Physically, they may experience a loss of smell and nosebleeds if they snort it, lung diseases if they smoke it, bowel decay if they eat it, or HIV if they inject it. They may also have seizures, stokes, or a heart attack.
Short-term effects of cocaine addiction include:
- Damage to nasal passages
- Suppressed appetite
Long-term effects of cocaine addiction can include:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Acute pulmonary syndrome
- Bowel decay
- Nosebleeds /loss of smell
- HIV or hepatitis
Heroin is sold as a white or brown powder and is typically used for snorting or smoking. Heroin can also be a sticky black tar-like substance, similar to coal or roofing tar. Black tar heroin is usually injected. Heroin can be smoked, snorted, or injected. Typically before injection, heroin is heated with a lighter or candle in a spoon or bottle cap. Heroin is heated because it inactivates the HIV virus that can come from sharing needles. People use heroin to receive a feeling of euphoria from the opium that is in heroin. Many addicts use it to escape unhappy personal lives or to self-medicate for anxiety or depression. In the 2000’s, many prescription painkiller addicts turned to heroin when the government began to crack down on the over prescription of OxyContin to combat the opioid epidemic.
Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
If you or your loved one is addicted to heroin, you’ll begin to notice symptoms that resemble the flu, including vomiting and sweating. They may seem to be acting out of sorts, such as slurring their speech, moving slowly, or sleeping excessively. They may do whatever it takes to cure their heroin craving, including stealing or getting in trouble with the law. Withdrawal symptoms can happen as soon as their first or second experience with the drug.
The short-term effects of heroin include euphoria and a feeling like a user is dreaming or walking through a dream. Then they may feel heavy limbs and depressed breathing. They also may experience a nodding off sensation that goes from drowsiness to alertness. Long term, users could experience respiratory failure. From inserting dirty needles, addicts could get an infection in their heart lining or valves. Injection can lead to a vein collapse.
Short-term effects can include:
- Dry mouth
- Feeling of heavy limbs
- Warm, flushed skin
- Nodding off
- Depressed respiratory rate
- Foggy mental feeling
Long-term effects can also include:
- Skin infections
- Stomach cramps
- Kidney disease
- Heart infections
- Respiratory depression
- Collapsed veins
- Liver disease
Occasionally sold as large rock-like chunks, crystal meth is a powdery, crystallized substance that sometimes has shards that resemble glass. Sometimes the rocks are a blue and white color, while other times it may be clear. There are a variety of ways people consume meth. To start, people can smoke it using pipes. Meth can also be snorted. Other ways to ingest meth include injecting it and swallowing it. Many young adults take meth at dance clubs and parties. It is a preferred drug of many as its effects can last for up to 12 hours, which is longer than cocaine. For some people, meth use can lead to rapid weight loss. However, this weight usually returns once the drug is no longer used. Depressed people may also use meth for its euphoric effects. While they are only temporary, the dopamine surge can easily become a highly addictive antidepressant. Other reasons people may use meth include its ability to increase your sex drive, as well as the pleasure associated with sexual acts
Symptoms of Meth Addiction
Because meth affects both a user’s mind and body, symptoms of addiction are wide-ranging. To start, a person may suddenly lose interest in things they used to enjoy. This can include any pastimes, relationships, and career aspirations. While a meth user may initially try to hide their addiction, before long, its effects will be so prominent that it will be hard to keep the drug a secret. What may begin as a recreational activity can quickly become a meth user’s number one priority. Hyperactivity, mania, skin sores, rotted teeth, and agitation can also occur.
Meth addiction can affect you in a short period of time. Your body may start to depend on it after you start. At first, you or your loved one may start to experience withdrawal symptoms when you’ve stopped taking meth, as soon as a few hours after your last dose.
Below are the short-term symptoms you may have when you are addicted to meth:
- Inability to sleep
- Irregular heartbeat
- Appetite suppression
Long-term effects of meth addiction can include:
- Heart arrhythmias
- Liver damage
- Heart failure
Opioids come in many shapes, sizes, and colors of pills. Heroin is a white powder that looks similar to cocaine. It can also be a brown powder or a black tar-like substance. Some opioid abusers swallow the pills. Some people crush pills or open the capsules, mix it with water and inject it into their vein or muscle. Others snort the pills. Heroin can be snorted and heated with a lighter and spoon or bottle cap before injecting it. Opioids are typically used for pain relief and a feeling of euphoria. Opioid abusers use the drugs to feel relaxed and to get “high.” Heroin users may combine the drug with cocaine for a more intense high, or alcohol for relaxation.
Symptoms of Opioid Addiction
You’ll start to notice a loss of control over the dosage of opioids that you take. You may not feel euphoric or energetic, but you’ll notice you’re sensitive to pain. You may experience flu-like symptoms, and your breathing may become shallow. Opioids in pregnant women can result in neonatal abstinence syndrome. For users who inject opioids or heroin, there is a greater risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C from sharing needles.
The effects of opioid addiction can start small, where you may notice that you or a loved one hasn’t changed clothes or brushed their teeth in a few days and has withdrawn socially. They may avoid work or school, sleep at odd hours, and have mood swings that contribute to financial distress. Opioid addiction can result in overuse and a fatal overdose of the drug. Shallow breathing may cause hypoxia, which limits oxygen to the brain. Short-term effects of opioid addiction can include:
Short-term effects of opioid addiction can include:
- Slowed breathing
- Mood swings
Long-term effects can include:
- Change in appetite
Prescription Painkiller Addiction
Prescription painkillers come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. If you are concerned that your loved one has prescription painkillers, you may also look for a powder form of the pills. Prescription painkillers are swallowed. Abusers take more than the recommended dosage. Prescription painkillers can also be injected, or crushed and snorted. Prescription painkillers are medically meant to provide pain relief. Those who use painkillers for medical reasons could become addicted to them if they are used frequently. Those who abuse prescription painkillers can take more than an average dose to achieve a euphoric feeling.
Symptoms of Prescription Painkiller Addiction
If your loved one is addicted to prescription painkillers, you may begin to notice a change in their behavioral habits, including visiting the doctor more often or lying about where they’re going. You may also notice medication missing from your medicine cabinet or that they have pill bottles that don’t belong to them. Other obvious symptoms include social withdrawal, social isolation, and slurred speech.
Short-term use of prescription painkillers may result in subtle changes, such as a difference in appetite, heart rate, and blood pressure. Long-term use of prescription painkillers can create a physical dependence and may eventually be unable to function a day without them. Eventually, prescription painkiller addicts will have to take larger doses to feel the same effects.
Short-term effects can include the following:
- Lack of energy
- Poor concentration
- Mood swings
- Slowed breathing
Long-term effects can include:
- Polysubstance abuse
- Mental illnesses
- Suicidal tendencies and behaviors
Xanax comes in white, rectangular bars with indentations that look like a “ladder,” which is a street name for the drug. Xanax also comes in blue, yellow or peach circular pills. Xanax is typically taken orally in its pill form. Those who abuse the benzo swallow multiple pills, crush up the pills and snort them, inject them with a needle, or take them with blotter paper. People use Xanax to help their symptoms of anxiety. But when abused, people use Xanax to either feel calm or to get high. They often combine it with other drugs or alcohol, which can be a deadly combination. Xanax pills can be laced with other drugs, such as fentanyl.
Symptoms of Xanax Addiction
Symptoms of Xanax addiction may begin with an obsession around using and obtaining Xanax. You or your loved one may start to lose interest in activities and social situations that were once enjoyed. You or your loved one may be tired all the time and start to show impulsive or risky behavior. Over time, Xanax abuse and addiction can lead to impaired coordination, memory, and cognitive abilities.
Xanax addiction can sneak up on the average user who intends to use the drug only as intended. This is because some people can easily build a tolerance to benzos, and they may not even realize that they are addicted to the drug, which is normally prescribed short-term for that very reason. Xanax users begin to show symptoms such as being tired often or lethargic, and abusers may pass out or blackout.
Here are some short-term users may experience day-to-day:
- Slurred speech
Long-term effects of Xanax addiction can include:
- Impaired thinking
- Manic moods
Living with drug addiction is no way to live at all. The symptoms and effects that can develop as a result of drug addiction can permanently alter the course of the rest of your life. Thankfully, with evidence-based treatment and professional support, this disease is one that can be treated effectively.
If you are struggling with a drug addiction and need help, do not waste any more time continuing to use. Reach out right now for the help that you desperately need and deserve.