Category Archives: Drug Addiction

Study Shows Marijuana Use Can Lead to Painful Condition

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Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize marijuana. Even though it wasn’t that long ago, a lot has changed since then. More than two dozen states have followed suit, legalizing marijuana for medical purposes and/or recreational purposes.

If you live in an area where marijuana is not legal, the leniency from other states still has an impact. Social acceptance for the drug has increased, and in some cases, has turned positive. Some even claim that marijuana can help with chronic and acute health problems such as pain, headaches and nausea. But is marijuana really as harmless as some people think?

Regular Marijuana Use Can Lead to Painful Bouts of Vomiting

A recent study tells us that marijuana isn’t so safe after all. It can lead to a rare but debilitating condition called Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS). CHS is painful and results in stomach cramps, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Over time, these symptoms can lead to kidney problems. The severity of symptoms vary among individuals.

CHS may be rare, but it is debilitating. It often results in multiple trips to the emergency room, missed work and a decreased quality of life. Because CHS mimics other conditions (i.e., gallbladder disease, anxiety disorders), it’s easy to misdiagnose, further exacerbating the pain. The good news is that CHS is curable. Quitting marijuana eliminates the symptoms.

What Causes Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome?

Researchers are still trying to figure out why CHS occurs in some people and not others. Here is the theory.

In the brain, marijuana helps prevent nausea and vomiting, which is why it’s sometimes used for cancer patients. In the digestive tract, marijuana has the opposite effect. It makes the body more likely to feel nauseated. Fortunately, the brain signals are more profound early on and decrease nausea symptoms. However, with repeated use of marijuana, the brain receptors may stop responding and cause the symptoms of CHS.

There are three stages to CHS: the prodromal phase, the hyperemetic phase and the recovery phase. Symptoms start with nausea and stomach pain that can linger for months or years. During the hyperemetic phase, symptoms worsen and include ongoing nausea, abdominal pain, repeated episodes of vomiting, weight loss and dehydration. Recovery cannot begin until marijuana use is stopped. Recovery can last for days or months.

Though CHS is rare, it can take years to diagnose and rob you of your quality of life in the meantime. If you are ready to take control of your life and start your journey to sobriety, call The River Source today. 

Best Places to Hold an Intervention

Where you hold an intervention is just as important as who you invite to it. You need a place that is private and comfortable. You and your loved ones have been preparing letters and statements to share with the addict. This can only be done in an atmosphere that is private and quiet.

As you consider the options of where to hold an intervention, keep the following tips in mind.


Avoid hosting an intervention in a public location such as a restaurant, place of business or park. Some people assume that this is a better option because the addict can’t yell or act out. The alternative is that the addict can easily walk out. Plus, you want a place that is quiet and intimate. Your goal is to share your concerns, and it’s difficult to listen if people are coming in and out.


Holding an intervention can be stressful. Still, it’s important to create a comfortable, positive atmosphere for the intervention. Everyone should have a place to sit. The room should be uncluttered and clean. You may consider burning a relaxing candle or diffusing essential oils to make the setting more pleasant. Also, avoid distractions such as ringing phones or TV noise.   


Interventions should never be cut short. Most interventions require a lot of convincing, so be prepared to spend a couple of hours or more in your location. Also, many interventions are delayed because the addict is late or not sober enough to reason with. 

Stock a fridge or cooler with healthy beverages and snacks. Make sure there are accessible bathrooms as well. Any potentially harmful items (i.e., razors, mouthwash with alcohol, prescription drugs, cleaning products) should be removed.


Avoid bringing the addict to a place with negative associations. This could put the addict in a poor frame of mind and make them less willing to listen. Even the homes of certain family members can bring out the worst in an addict. 

Choose a neutral place, if possible, such as the home of the addict or a loving family member. And, pick a location where the addict is likely to go. If the place stands out, the addict may suspect something and refuse to come.

Each family is unique, but the most common places to hold interventions are in the homes of loved ones or in a neutral setting such as a therapist’s office. The tips above will guide you in the right direction for which location is best.

Is Doctor Shopping Illegal?


Doctor shopping is not the process of choosing a physician based on your insurance coverage. Instead, it refers to going to multiple doctors to obtain controlled substances such as narcotics. The doctors are unaware that the patient is seeing multiple physicians, so they continue to write prescriptions. Even though law enforcement has cracked down on doctor shopping, the problem still exists.

Doctor Shopping is More Common than You Think

Doctor shoppers can be successful in their efforts because they provide false information and visit multiple doctors. Some of the things they may lie about include:

  • Symptoms
  • Denying previous prescriptions
  • Leaving out important information
  • Injuring themselves on purpose
  • Claiming they lost their prescription

Typically, doctor shoppers commit this crime because they are addicted to the medication and want more, or they want to sell the drugs. The most common prescriptions that people seek out are narcotics but benzodiazepines, sleeping pills and stimulants are common as well.

Doctor Shopping is a Crime

Not everyone realizes that they are breaking the law when they doctor shop. They may admit that they are stretching the truth but not committing a federal crime. But, doctor shopping is illegal and is a federal crime. Each state has slightly different laws, but they all state that it is illegal to obtain or try to obtain a narcotic drug by lying, fraud or concealment of the facts.

If a person is caught doctor shopping, they can be charged with a felony. Punishments may include a hefty fine and prison time. In some cases, court systems will suggest that the person attend inpatient rehabilitation rather than spending time in prison. This is usually only recommended when substance abuse is suspected and the person is a first-time offender. If, however, the person is not a first-time offender and has been caught selling the drugs, their penalties may be more severe.

How to Spot a Doctor Shopper

It’s important to know the signs of a doctor shopper. Not only can this allow you to help a loved one with substance abuse, but also it can prevent them from being arrested and having to serve prison time. Here are the signs that may indicate doctor shopping:

  • Paying for doctor visits using cash
  • Seeing doctors that are far from home
  • Claiming that they lost their prescription
  • Asking for certain brands or dosages of drugs
  • Requesting more pills for the month
  • Appearing to be rushed in the doctor’s office

Doctor shopping is a serious crime with serious penalties. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, call The River Source today. We offer convenient, affordable inpatient and outpatient programs.

Accepting a Loved One’s Addiction is a Process

Couple standing together

Accepting a loved one’s addiction is not easy. You may feel tempted to downplay the issue or pretend like it’s not there. The stigma of substance abuse doesn’t help. Many families admit that they feel shunned or criticized when people learn of their issue. However, addiction is a worldwide epidemic and no one is exempt. How can you learn to accept a loved one’s addiction and support a healthy recovery?

Common Emotions When Learning of a Loved One’s Addiction

Here are some of the reasons why family members struggle with accepting addiction.

  • Denial. It’s common for families to be in denial about their loved one’s condition. They may suggest that their son can stop when he wants or that their sister enjoys having a few drinks. Sometimes families will even attribute the alcohol or drug use to stress and pressure that is being placed on the person.

  • Shame. Because there is a lot of stigma surrounding addiction, many families feel embarrassed when coming forward about their issues. You may feel like you don’t deserve this because you are a good, hard working family. Although addiction does not discriminate, people do, which is why shame is a common emotion.

  • Guilt. Feelings of guilt naturally piggyback off shame. For example, you may question your parenting skills and put the blame on yourself. Things like working two jobs, getting divorced or giving more attention to another sibling can stir up guilt. It’s important to let go of guilt, otherwise it can interfere with a healthy recovery.

How to Move Closer to Acceptance

Each family is unique. It takes some families a very long time to accept the addiction while others are more receptive. Fortunately, there are ways to move forward in the acceptance process. For example:

  • Attend Al-Anon meetings. Get support from others in similar positions. You can learn a lot during these meetings while also reminding yourself that you are not alone.

  • See a counselor. Work with a counselor who has experience in addiction. This will help you approach situations objectively while further understanding the possible reasons for the addiction.

  • Stage an intervention. Interventions can be successful in getting an addict help. They need to be well-planned, so be sure to enlist help from close family and friends as well as an addiction specialist.  

  • Define your boundaries. Work with a counselor to set boundaries to avoid enabling the addict. Once you define the boundaries, stick to them. Otherwise, your credibility will be diminished.

  • Get educated. The more educated you are, the more reasonable expectations you will have. You can learn about addiction by reading online articles and library books, participating in support groups and attending 12 Step meetings with your loved one.

When learning of a loved one’s addiction, it’s normal to be in denial. Accepting the addiction will happen over time, especially if you take the healthiest approach possible. By enlisting professional help, setting boundaries and getting educated, you can better accept the issue and support a full recovery.

What are Designer Drugs?


Parents and loved ones have had enough to worry about with cocaine, heroin and marijuana, but that hasn’t stopped other drugs from emerging. Designer drugs, or club drugs, are some of the most powerful drugs out there. Sadly, they can be some of the easiest to obtain. These drugs are produced in illegal laboratories using both legal and illegal ingredients.

What Makes Designer Drugs So Dangerous?

Designer drugs are intentionally designed to mimic the effects of other drugs, yet they are tweaked to be stronger, longer lasting and more addictive. Unfortunately, because no one knows exactly what is in the drugs, they are extremely dangerous. Using a club drug like MDMA one time can cause instant death.

Below are reasons why club drugs are a major concern for parents and loved ones.

  • Unregulated. Though we’re not suggesting that regulated drugs are “better”, unregulated ones are a whole new ballgame. Synthetic drugs are made in illegal laboratories and underground basements. There is no list of ingredients. Nobody to trace the drugs back to.

  • Lack of understanding. Many club drugs are new to the market. They also contain ingredients that have not been studied. Therefore, we do not know the effects of the drugs on the human body, nor how they interact with other medications and drugs.

  • Unpredictable. Because club drugs can contain anything and everything, the effects are unpredictable. It’s not uncommon for users to experience extreme anxiety, acute psychotic effects, irregular heartbeats and seizures.

Popular Types of Synthetic Drugs

There are always new synthetic drugs popping up with different names and formulas, making it difficult for law enforcement to keep up. However, some drugs are more commonly known than others, including:

  • Ecstasy

  • Spice

  • Bath salts

  • NBOMes

  • Ketamine

  • GHB

  • LSD

Side Effects of Club Drugs

Even though it’s difficult to know what is contained in a particular club drug, the harmful effects are similar across drugs. This happens because the ingredients often overlap. For example, ecstasy tablets are often made with ephedrine (an allergy drug), ketamine (an anesthetic) and methamphetamine (an illegal drug).

Here are some of the most common side effects of using designer drugs.

  • Feelings of panic

  • Hallucinations

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Uncontrolled shaking

  • Increased heart rate

  • Increased blood pressure

  • Paranoia

  • Sweating

  • Fainting

  • Dehydration

  • Nausea

  • Vision changes

If you or someone you care about is abusing synthetic drugs, call The River Source. Our programs are highly successful at dealing with addictions to synthetic drugs as well as understanding the root of the problem. With both outpatient and inpatient services, we’re confident that you will find a program that fits your needs – and your budget.

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.