Category Archives: Drug Addiction

Is Purple Drank Making a Comeback?


Purple drank is a combination of prescription-strength cough syrup, soft drinks and hard candy. The drink became popular in the 1980s when hip hop artists began pouring Robitussin into their alcohol. Though any cough medicine can be used, prescription-strength is preferred (and most dangerous) because it contains the opioid codeine. Other names for purple drank include lean, sizzurp and dirty Sprite.

It’s difficult to track purple drank because the ingredients used are legal. Lean hasn’t fallen off the radar, but it has been a growing concern once again, especially as the drink is glamorized in music and sports. Because it’s easy to make, it’s important to be aware of the effects and implications of purple drank.

Below we cover the dangers of lean and what to look for in someone you care about.

What Makes Lean So Dangerous?

Purple drank may seem like a harmless drug, but it’s far from that. One of the reasons why it’s so dangerous is because it provides a synergistic effect. Prescription-strength cough medicine contains codeine and promethazine. One is an opioid and one is an antihistamine. Together, they can cause symptoms such as dizziness, impaired vision, seizures, confusion and nausea. Codeine is a powerful opioid on its own, so taking too much can lead to suppressed breathing and respiratory distress. Plus, the drug is addictive and can serve as a gateway drug.

What are the Signs to Watch For?

Sizzurp is difficult to track and measure because the ingredients can be bought from the store or prescribed by a doctor. Even if the drink is right in front of your eyes, it’s easy to miss it. Lean looks like passion fruit juice or grape juice. You might not be able to tell by the drink alone, so it’s best to watch for strange behaviors.

Here are some signs that a loved one may be abusing purple drank.

  • Stacked styrofoam cups

  • Raspy voice

  • Slurred speech

  • Constricted pupils

  • Loss of balance and coordination

  • Paleness

  • Constipation

  • Dental problems

When abusing the drink, there is more to worry about than short-term effects. People who drink lean in large doses or for long periods of time run the risk of coma or death. The effects of the drug are exacerbated when combined with other drugs such as alcohol or marijuana. Deaths have been reported from purple drank, including DJ Screw, Pimp C. and Fredo Santana.

Using purple drank to get high can lead to adverse health effects and addiction. It’s nothing to take lightly. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, call The River Source. We have both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs that can be of great help for opioid addictions.

Study Confirms Opioid Abuse Often Starts in the Home

Sitting on swing

A new study confirms that opioid addiction often starts in the family’s medicine cabinet. If someone has surgery and is given OxyContin to manage their pain, it’s more likely that others in the home will get an opioid prescription, too. Prescription opioid use can easily spread within households. The risk is small, around 1 percent. But, across the population, this can add up to a lot of people who are now at a higher risk for opioid addiction.

We are Amidst a Crisis

The opioid crisis continues to devastate our country. According to the CDC, roughly 91 people die every day from opioid-related overdoses. From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 Americans died from prescription opioid overdoses, which most commonly include methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone. Additionally, over 1,000 people are treated each day in E.R. centers for misusing prescription painkillers.

Opioid Addictions Can be Preventable

For so many opioid addicts, the first source of getting drugs is their medicine cabinet. Family members might be prescribed them or friends get them from home and sell them to others at school. Once a person starts misusing the drugs, it’s very easy to get addicted. They might try to buy more pills from friends or get their own painkillers. Prescription narcotics can also be a gateway drug to other harmful substances.  

There are effective ways to stop this cycle from happening. Let’s explore what these are.

  • Know when to prescribe opioids. Prescription painkillers are only needed for extreme cases. Non-opioid pain meds will usually do the trick, such as a combination of Tylenol and Advil. Proper prescribing would reduce the number of opioids sitting in medicine cabinets.

  • Limit the number of pills. If opioids are the answer to treating pain, doctors should limit the number of pills they prescribe. Most patients don’t need a month-long prescription to get themselves feeling better. They only need a few days.

  • Keep drugs out of reach. Those with a prescription should be educated on the safekeeping of prescription opioids. The drugs should not be accessible to others and always stored in a locked drawer or cabinet. Pills should be counted each day as well.

  • Teach proper discard methods. It’s not unusual for people to leave opioids around. People need to be educated on the proper disposal methods, such as by returning them to the pharmacy or police station.

Knowing there’s a link between prescription narcotics and use in the household, education is imperative. If someone you know is addicted to opioids, call The River Source. We frequently treat opioid addictions and our therapies have been proven effective.

What You Need to Know About Inhalant Abuse

Paint cans

The opioid crisis has been receiving a lot of attention (as it should), but there are other threats that are lurking in the shadows. One of the most concerning is inhalant abuse, particularly because young children have been known to engage in this risky behavior. “Sniffing” can begin in kids as young as 10, and by age 12, nearly 60% of kids are aware of friends who use “huffing” to get high.

Let’s learn more about inhalant abuse, the signs to watch for and when Arizona drug rehab is needed.

What is Huffing and What Makes it So Dangerous?

Inhalants include compressed air or duster, gasoline, aerosol cooking spray, aerosol whipped cream or rubber cement. When sniffed, it provides a high that is similar to alcohol. What makes inhalants so dangerous is that they are found all over the home, in kitchens, bathrooms and garages. There are thousands of inhalants available and most can be purchased from an ordinary grocery store for a few dollars. This gives curious teens and young adults a whole new arsenal to experiment with.

Inhalant abuse is extremely risky and potentially deadly because it starves off human oxygen. Usually, the effects are short and wear off in a few minutes, which encourages repeated use. Even if the user doesn’t have any immediate side effects, constantly depriving the body of oxygen can have long-term consequences, including damage to the liver, brain and kidneys.

What are the Signs?

Inhalant abuse is often believed to be a teenage problem, but don’t be misled. As this article points out, approximately 316,000 inhalant users in 2014 were adults. This number has remained steady for the past 10 years.

Child or adult, here are the signs to look for that may indicate inhalant abuse.

  • Chemical smells on clothing

  • Slurred speech

  • Loss of appetite

  • Drunk appearance

  • Stains on clothing

  • Empty containers

  • Chemical-soaked rags

  • Depression and mood changes

  • Weight loss

  • Inattentiveness

  • Lack of coordination

  • Irritability

  • Weakness

When is Rehab in Arizona Needed?

Inhalant abuse can benefit from professional intervention. In fact, it’s very hard to break an inhalant addiction because temptation is everywhere, making it easy to relapse. Inhalant abuse also leads to changes in the brain, so many users need to be treated for a dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse. It’s recommended that treatment includes the following:

  • Medical examination to check the kidneys, liver, heart and nervous system

  • Detox, which can last longer than a week because the chemicals can settle in the fatty tissues

  • Counseling, which should be intense as the chemicals may have altered brain chemistry

  • Continuing care plan to address how the person will manage temptation in their natural environment

Inhalant abuse is not only for young people, and it’s certainly not innocent. It can very easily lead to brain damage, coma or death. Treatment is crucial so please call a treatment center like The River Source to learn about your options.

What are the Signs of an Ativan Addiction?

Person facing backward

Ativan (the trade name for lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine that is used to treat anxiety. The drug works by binding to GABA receptors in the brain, slowing down chemical messages. This creates a calming effect. Because the drug typically does not affect the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, it can also be used to treat other conditions such as bipolar disorder, muscle spasms, chronic sleep problems, restlessness and symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal.

Ativan Can Be Highly Addictive

Unfortunately, Ativan is not without risk. Not only are there adverse side effects to be concerned with (drowsiness, blurred vision, muscle weakness) but also the drug is addictive. This is why doctors should always take the patient’s personal history of drug abuse, if any, into consideration. Also, the drug is only meant for short-term use, usually around 3 or 4 months.

Even though people who are prescribed Ativan can still become addicted, the risk is much lower when following a doctor’s recommendations. Abusing the medication is the more likely way to become dependent. It’s common for people to get a hold of Ativan on college campuses or in the medicine cabinets of friends and family. Taking benzodiazepines in any other way than prescribed is abuse.

Physical Tolerance and Withdrawal  

Ativan can cause physical dependence, just as many other drugs can. First, there’s tolerance. Once a person gets used to this sedative, they will need more and more to create the same effects. As tolerance builds, so does the risk of overdose and other complications because the person is taking more of the drug. If a person tries to stop at this point, they will most likely suffer withdrawal effects, making it difficult to stop.

The signs of Ativan withdrawal include:

  • Sweating

  • Anxiety

  • Confusion

  • Insomnia

  • Hallucinations

  • Depression

  • Panic attacks

  • Seizures

Withdrawal symptoms from lorazepam can be extremely dangerous. It’s never recommended to go through the withdrawal process on your own, as the above symptoms can lead to serious complications or even death. The only way to safely recover from an Ativan addiction is to seek detox in a medically supervised facility like The River Source. Your symptoms will be managed and severe complications avoided.

What are the Signs of an Ativan Addiction?

Recognizing the signs of a lorazepam addiction are not always easy because the drug is legally prescribed. We recommend learning about the side effects of benzodiazepines and keeping an eye out for the following signs:

  • Doctor shopping to get multiple prescriptions

  • Buying Ativan illegally online or on the streets

  • Stealing Ativan from others with legal prescriptions

  • Obsessing over having enough of the drug

  • Prescription bottles found in drawers, cabinets or the car

The River Source treats addictions to benzodiazepines such as Ativan. We have a holistic approach that addresses your physical, mental and emotional state. If you’re ready to lead a life that is free of Ativan, call us today.

Types of Drug Tests and Their Accuracy

This entry was posted in Drug Addiction and tagged on by .

Lab bottles

In one of our latest posts, we discussed the pros and cons to drug testing a loved one. There is no right or wrong answer – you must decide what is best for you and your family. In some cases, drug testing is a good idea, as it gives the recovering addict accountability and provides reassurance to the family.

However, before you jump into buying a drug test, it’s important to know that they are not always reliable. Not only can your loved one alter the results, but also the test could give you a false positive or false negative.

Types of Drug Tests

There are five main types of drug tests. Let’s explore.

  • Urine. Urine tests are common and used by employers and law enforcement because they are cheap, easy and noninvasive. You can buy an at-home kit for your loved one for under $50. Unfortunately, these tests are not always accurate.

  • Saliva. Saliva tests are becoming more common because they, too, are noninvasive and easy to administer. Saliva tests are generally only useful for detecting recent drug use, and there are no nationally accepted standards for detection. This means that drug use could show up on one test and not another.

  • Hair. Hair drug tests are best for detecting drug use from a longer time ago, usually up to 4 months. About an inch-and-a-half of hair is needed for the test to be completed, and a wide range of substances can be checked for. The test is more expensive than others, sometimes costing up to $150. Also, minorities or those who were exposed to marijuana smoke are more likely to get a false positive.

  • Blood. Blood tests are expensive and invasive. They are rarely used to test for drug use, though they are the most accurate and may be used to confirm the presence of drugs.

  • Sweat. In a sweat drug test, a patch is worn on the skin to check for drugs in the body. However, these tests are highly questionable since the results can be contaminated from the skin’s surface.

How People Cheat Drug Tests

If you do decide to drug test your loved one at home, please be aware of the possibility of false negatives and false positives. In the case of urine testing, here are some of the ways that the sample may be tampered.

  • Diluting the urine by drinking large amounts of water beforehand

  • Substituting urine from another friend or family member

  • Adding commercial cleaners to the urine

  • Drinking vinegar to adjust the pH balance of the urine

  • Adding substances such as salt, soap or eye drops to the urine

You must keep in mind that drug tests are not 100% accurate. If you do decide to test, follow up any positive results with a lab test to know for certain. And, always remember that you should only drug test a loved one if it’s in their best interest and helping their recovery, not hurting it.


5 Common But Deadly Drug Interactions

Mixing drugs

Drug interactions are common with all types of medications. Thankfully, doctors and pharmacists keep track of medications so they can alert you of potential interactions. However, if you’re abusing substances, there is no one to guide you. Every time you combine substances, you are taking a gamble on your life.

Below are five of the most common drug interactions and why they are potentially deadly.

  1. Vicodin and Xanax

Vicodin is a blend of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Xanax is alprazolam, a benzodiazepine. When taking the two drugs together, the effects of Vicodin are enhanced. This can lead to shallow breathing, increased sedation and a higher risk for overdose and addiction.

Sometimes, doctors might prescribe both medications. Usually, this is the case because a person is suffering from anxiety and chronic pain. If you are seeing two different doctors for pain and anxiety, be sure to share all of your medications. Or, talk to your pharmacist about the safest way to treat both conditions.

  1. Benzos and Alcohol

Benzodiazepines (Ativan, Xanax, Valium) are sometimes prescribed by doctors for treating anxiety or insomnia. They should be a last resort, as benzos are habit forming. When combined with alcohol, you’re doubling the effects of both drugs. As a result, you may experience slurred speech, paranoia, depression or hallucinations. Bottom line: never combine alcohol with benzos.

  1. Opioids and Alcohol

Another group of drugs that you should never take alcohol with is opioids. Opioids are prescription pain medications that affect the central nervous system. Because alcohol does the same thing, brain activity is impaired and motor functioning is slowed. It’s possible that you could suffer from increased toxicity and overdose that results in a loss of consciousness, coma or death.

  1. Opioids and Potentiators

Opioids are so commonly abused, people have tried other methods to enhance the effects using potentiators. For example, some people will combine hydrocodone with antihistamines, sleeping pills or nausea medication to increase the effects. Others will push feel-good endorphins that come from basic products such as orange juice or grapefruit juice. Combining opioids with any substances to strengthen the effects puts you at risk for abuse and addiction.

  1. Suboxone and Prescription Drugs

Some rehab centers recommend suboxone to treat an opioid addiction. If you are on other medications, be sure to let your doctor know. Suboxone increases the effects of other drugs and can lead to potentially fatal effects. For example, suboxone and benzos can suppress breathing and heart rate, leading to coma or death. Suboxone and stimulants can cause dangerous spikes in blood pressure and heart rate.

Drug interactions must be taken seriously. Always talk to your doctor about the medications you are on. If you suspect drug abuse in someone you care about, call The River Source today.