Category Archives: Drug Addiction

Hitting Rock Bottom: 4 Crises That Can Prompt Recovery


Despite popular belief, you do NOT have to hit rock bottom to seek professional treatment. While some addicts will end up waiting to get help until they reach this point, it’s not something you need to wait for. Treatment is helpful at all stages of addiction. Treating the disease sooner than later often leads to faster and more successful recoveries.

Unfortunately, many people cannot get clean until they reach their lowest point. Each person is unique, so what’s considered “rock bottom” to one person may be different to another. In general, there are specific crises that take place that can lead an addict to sobriety. Let’s take a look at what these are.

1. Arrest

When abusing drugs and alcohol, there’s always the possibility of being arrested. Usually, people are arrested due to stealing, driving under the influence or being in possession of drugs. An arrest can push someone into recovery because they are in jail and can’t access drugs, or they are appointed by the courts to get help. It’s also possible that an arrest is a wake-up call, especially in a domestic situation.

2. Child Neglect

Another “ah ha” moment for some addicts is when their children are taken away. Addicts, like all parents, love their children. But, it’s difficult to be a responsible adult when abusing drugs and alcohol. If there is some type of abuse or neglect in the home, social services, the police and the courts will get involved. Children may be placed with a relative or in foster care, which can encourage a parent to get clean.

3. Accident

People who are high or intoxicated are more likely to be involved in an accident. You’ve probably heard countless stories of addicts stumbling into pools, falling off balconies or walking onto railroad tracks. An unfortunate accident can give addicts the push they need to seek professional help, especially in close call situations or when the person has become permanently disabled.

4. Overdose

With advancements in medicine, some people who overdose are able to be saved. Living through an overdose is an eye-opening experience. Not only can this experience encourage a person to get healthy, but also the hospital may refer the person to an inpatient treatment facility. Unfortunately, not all addicts who overdose will get this opportunity.

These are just a few of the crises that can prompt an addict to seek treatment for a drug or alcohol problem. Sometimes, addicts need crushing revelations to admit their problem and commit to sobriety. In other cases, families can stage an intervention and get their loved one help before one of these four things happen. If you’re not sure what to do in your situation, call The River Source. All calls are confidential.

Can Heroin Addicts Act Normal?

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Girl drinking coffee

The internet is an excellent resource when you want to learn more about heroin addiction. However, many of the signs and symptoms are obvious, and some heroin addicts do a very good job of hiding their addictions. If you suspect that a friend or family member is harboring an addiction, you may be wondering if they can act normal, even while addicted. The answer: possibly, to some degree.

Let’s explore some of the most common – though not always obvious – signs that a person could be hiding a heroin addiction.


We’re all tired from time to time, so it’s not anything out of the ordinary to feel sluggish. However, heroin use is characterized by a surge of euphoria and a long state of drowsiness.  The euphoria only lasts for a few minutes, so you probably won’t see this part of the use. Instead, you may notice that the person is sleeping at odd times, has slow speech and seems generally confused.

Anti-Social Behavior

Heroin is a very powerful, very addictive drug. Though there are some who claim they can control their use, we have yet to see or hear of this in our experience. Because of the hold that the opioid takes on a person, it’s easy for there to be a shift in priorities. No longer is hanging out with friends, playing sports or meeting family for dinner important. Addicts put all of their energy into finding their next fix.

Personality Changes

Personality and mood changes are normal in teens and young adults, so it’s difficult to attribute them to drugs. Still, most parents know that something is “off.” Trust this instinct. Isolation is common for heroin addicts. They tend to have periods of high anxiety, which is usually when they’re looking for their next fix, and surround themselves with other drug users.

Balancing Act

Early in a heroin addiction, it can be possible for an addict to lead a double life. This usually doesn’t last for long because heroin is all-consuming, but we agree that you shouldn’t wait until this point. Ask yourself if it appears that your loved one is trying to balance two different lives? Do they show up to family events but seem distracted and leave early? Have you discovered extra bank accounts? Is there a new group of friends in the picture?

If you discover that someone close to you does indeed have a drug problem, the next step is to stage an intervention with a qualified addiction specialist. You don’t have to wait for rock bottom in order to get someone help. To learn more about getting treatment for someone you care about, call The River Source. Your call is confidential.

8 Surprising Facts About Addiction

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Alcoholism Treatment

Millions of Americans struggle with substance abuse, yet only a fraction get the help they need. There are dozens of reasons why people don’t seek professional intervention. Consider the countless movies, TV shows and music that glamorize the use of drugs and alcohol. This can blur the lines between what’s acceptable and not acceptable. Additionally, the general public sometimes believes that addiction is a personal failure rather than a compulsive brain disease.

In this post, we are going to set the record straight. Here are eight surprising facts about addiction that everyone should know.

1. Painkillers are a gateway to heroin. According to a Drexel University study, published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, four out of five young heroin users started out abusing prescription painkillers. As the painkillers were harder or more expensive to obtain, they turned to heroin.

2. America consumes most of the world’s painkillers. The United States has just five percent of the world’s population. However, Americans consume almost all of the world’s painkillers, approximately 80 percent.

3. Drugs kill more people than cars. As common as car accidents are, drugs still kill more people. In 2015, over 50,000 Americans died from overdoses, which is higher than car crashes and gun homicides. Sadly, 63 percent of these deaths are related to prescription painkillers or heroin.

4. Addicts aren’t asking for help. According to SAMHSA, only about 11 percent of individuals with substance abuse problems get the help they need. The main reason why people don’t reach out for help is that they don’t think they need it.

5. Mental health and addiction go hand in hand. In 2014, SAMHSA reported that nearly 8 million Americans had a substance abuse disorder and a mental health disorder. People who struggle with a dual diagnosis require treatment for both conditions.

6. The causes of addiction are better understood. While there is no perfect recipe for who will develop an addiction and who won’t, researchers are better understanding the risk factors. Genetics and environmental factors are believed to play equal roles.

7. Addiction is most common in young adults. Though teens are known for experimenting with drugs and alcohol, it’s young adults, ages 18-25, that have the highest rates of drug and alcohol use. In 2014, one out of every six young adults had a substance abuse disorder.

8. The gap is narrowing between men and women. Traditionally, men have been more likely to battle an addiction, but the gap is narrowing. In fact, women are just as likely to become addicted as men, and they might be more vulnerable to cravings.

These facts about addiction are surprising, to say the least! Don’t underestimate what misusing a drug or abusing alcohol can do to a person. Drug addiction is a very serious disease, but it is treatable. To learn more about affordable, practical treatment options that can start as soon as today, call The River Source.

Is Cold Medicine in Your Home? Here’s What to Watch For

Cough Medicine

It’s not always illegal drugs on the streets that you have to worry about. Many addictions start in the medicine cabinet. With the opioid epidemic, more people are aware of prescription medications. However, over-the-counter medications can pose a risk, too.

Cold medicines sold over the counter are not intended to cause harm and are relatively safe when taken as directed. Unfortunately, these medications are sometimes abused and can be both dangerous and addictive.

Knowing what’s in your medicine cabinet is crucial whether you have teens, young adults or recovering addicts in the home. Let’s take a look at the types of cold medicine to be aware of and the ingredients that can cause negative effects.


Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a cough suppressant that is found in more than 40 OTC cold medicines. When taken in excessive amounts, DXM can cause psychedelic reactions that are similar to the street drug PCP. The drug is popular among teens because it’s inexpensive and easy to get. DXM is legal to purchase in most states, though more are making laws to ban the sale of the drug.

Long-term abuse of DXM puts the body at risk for liver, kidney or brain damage. It can also raise blood pressure and respiratory distress. Aside from the physical effects, there are emotional ones, too. People who abuse DXM often experience irritability and moodiness. Depression is also common.


Pseudoephedrine is another OTC drug that is sometimes abused. Unlike DXM, products that contain pseudoephedrine are limited to behind the counter. The amount of the drug that people can buy each month is limited, and a photo ID is required. This decision was made because the ingredient was being used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

Although the sale and purchase of pseudoephedrine are largely controlled, it can still be abused. The drug is used to treat allergies and sinus congestion. In large amounts, pseudoephedrine acts as a stimulant and can cause heart palpitations, anxiety, loss of appetite, nausea and dizziness.

Promethazine Codeine

Promethazine codeine cough syrup is a prescription drug that can be addictive. Codeine is a narcotic and cough suppressant, while promethazine is an antihistamine. Together, the drug works to treat coughing, sneezing and runny noses.

You may have heard of the recreational drug Purple Drank. Essentially, Purple Drank is a prescription-strength cough syrup that contains promethazine and codeine and then mixed with a soft drink and an optional hard candy. Purple Drank uses much higher doses than what is recommended, which is what makes this drink potentially serious and even life threatening.

Cold medicines can cause serious reactions when abused. Know what’s in your medicine cabinet is imperative. If you suspect that someone you care about is abusing cold medicine, addiction treatment can help turn things around. Call The River Source to learn more about our inpatient and outpatient programs.

3 Gateway Drugs to Have on Your Radar

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Satellite dish

Gateway drugs are substances that can lead to the use of harder, more addictive drugs. For example, many addiction specialists believe that when a teen uses marijuana, he or she is more likely to progress to more dangerous drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Because not all people who use marijuana move onto harder substances, and not all people who use drugs like heroin started out with marijuana, the concept of gateway drugs is a theory and not a fact.  

Debating whether or not gateway drugs play a role in drug addiction doesn’t get us any further in understanding, preventing or treating addiction. Instead, we must realize that there are many risk factors that can lead a person to drug abuse, and using drugs like marijuana is one of them. Other risk factors include an environment where drug use is accepted, a family history of addiction, a social circle that involves drugs and a mental disorder.

Let’s look at three gateway drugs that should be put on our radars and taken seriously for the damage they can create. Surprisingly, marijuana is not the only gateway drug, though we will discuss this one first.

1. Marijuana

One of the big issues with legalizing marijuana is that it can lead so-called recreational users to more dangerous drugs. Here at The River Source, we’re not here to start a debate on the legalization of marijuana, but we will say this: Marijuana can act as a gateway drug, especially for those with mental health conditions. It might not be the drug alone, but the environment and social influences that young people are exposed to.

2. Alcohol

We certainly can’t ignore alcohol as a gateway drug, even though it’s legal. As with marijuana, the younger a person starts using alcohol, the more likely they are to develop an addiction and turn to more hardcore drugs later on. It’s also worth pointing out that alcohol is a depressant. It reduces our ability to make smart decisions, and it can be dangerous to someone who is already at risk for depression.

3. Prescription Medication

Because prescription medications are legal and prescribed by doctors, people tend to think they are safer. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. In fact, they can be more dangerous! Whether it’s opioid painkillers, stimulants for treating ADD or depressants for relieving anxiety, prescription medication can be highly addictive. It can also mimic the effects of other drugs. For example, opioids can cause similar effects as heroin, which is why some people progress from painkillers to heroin.

Marijuana, alcohol and prescription medication abuse is difficult to “control.” These gateway drugs can easily lead a person down the wrong path, especially with the environment and social contexts they bring with them. If you are concerned about a loved one, please call The River Source. It’s never too soon to start treating an addiction.

What’s the Difference Between Substance Abuse and Addiction?


Addiction and substance abuse are often used interchangeably, but in reality, they mean two different things. It’s understandable why the lines are blurred. As family members and friends, it can be difficult to determine when a loved one has crossed the line from abuse to addiction.

Let’s talk more about what substance abuse and addiction mean, the differences between them and the signs to look for.

Substance Abuse vs Addiction

Put simply, drug abuse refers to the habitual use of drugs or alcohol. Addiction is the condition of being addicted. Both can have equally devastating consequences, which is why treatment is available for abuse and addiction. That said, substance abuse can be easier to treat than a full-blown addiction.

Below are the differences between drug abuse and addiction.

Abuse Can Appear Casual – Addiction Usually Does Not 

In the case of substance abuse, the drug or alcohol use can appear casual. A man in his 20s who goes out drinking with friends on the weekends might be abusing alcohol, but that doesn’t mean he’s addicted to it. On the other hand, addiction is usually less casual. Addicts continue to use drugs and alcohol despite negative consequences.

Addiction Has Withdrawal Symptoms

Another big difference between drug abuse and addiction is the withdrawal symptoms. With addiction, withdrawal symptoms are almost always present. However, withdrawal is not necessarily tied to drug and alcohol use on its own.

Addiction is a Disease

Addiction is considered a mental disorder or disease. It is the diagnosis given when a person cannot stop using drugs, even when negative consequences follow. Addiction causes permanent changes in the brain and requires a lifetime of recovery. Substance abuse isn’t technically a disease or a diagnosis, though it’s considered a precursor to addiction. Also, the changes it causes in the brain are short-term.

How to Tell the Difference

If a person continues to abuse drugs and alcohol, they are at a high risk for addiction. Not only is addiction a concern, but also so are other negative consequences such as driving while intoxicated, domestic abuse and financial problems. Additionally, the more a person uses drugs, the more tolerance builds up.

How do you know when abuse has progressed into addiction? We’ve listed out some warning signs to be on alert for. However, a proper diagnosis can only be given by a medical professional.

  • Withdrawal symptoms appear when the drug of choice is unavailable

  • Using larger quantities of the drug to get the same effects (tolerance)

  • Decreasing interest in old hobbies and activities

  • Withdrawal from friends and family

  • Unable to cut down or stop using drug of choice

  • Continues to uses drugs and alcohol despite negative effects

  • Behavior centers on getting drunk or high

If you are concerned about a loved one’s drug and alcohol use, call The River Source. We are here for you, and we have a thorough assessment process where we can properly diagnose your loved one. Remember, you never have to wait for rock bottom. Help is available, and treatment can be more effective at an earlier stage.