Category Archives: Drug Addiction

8 Designer Drugs to Watch for in 2017

Drugs seem to be everywhere these days. They appear in movies, television, music and books. Drugs come in all different forms, both legal and illegal. Sadly, drug cartels in Mexico are responsible for generating many designer drugs and bringing them into the United States. This article posted in the New York Times describes how a single Mexican cartel can make billions of dollars.

Whether you are a parent or a family member to someone who has struggled with addiction, it’s important to be aware of the drug trends. Illegal drug makers continue to change their recipes, drug names and even drug appearances to outsmart law enforcement.

We’ve listed out eight designer drugs to watch for in 2017. Many of these drugs are considered legal because of the ingredients they use, though they are probably more dangerous than illegal drugs.

1. Synthetic Cannabinoids. Synthetic marijuana such as Spice and K2 is not the same as traditional pot. These smokeable herbs are mixed with chemicals to enhance their effects but they can cause hallucinations, seizures and death.

2. GHB. Gamma Hydroxybutyrate is made illegally in basement labs. It has no odor and no color, and is sometimes used as a date rape drug. Other times, the drug is used purely for getting high. It can be deadly when mixed with alcohol.

3. Benzo Fury. This designer drug has similar effects to ecstasy, as both drugs show the same effects in the brain. However, Benzo Fury is even more dangerous because it constricts the blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure.

4. Carfentanil. According to the DEA, carfentanil is the most potent commercial opioid in the world. It’s intended for knocking out large mammals, but it has found its way into the hands of humans. Sadly, some heroin deaths have been tied to carfentanil-laced heroin.

5. MXE. Methoxetamine is similar to ketamine but it lasts much longer – around 3 to 5 hours. The drug causes dissociative effects such as confusion, dizziness and a loss of reality. Unfortunately, when the drug’s effects wear off, people often feel depressed.

6. Bromo-DragonFLY. Not much is known about this new psychedelic drug, but it’s worth adding to our list. It’s a very powerful hallucinogen that produces effects that can last for days. It has been linked to a large number of fatalities and hospitalizations.

7. Bath Salts. Most bath salts contain mephedrone or methylone, though each mixture is different. These psychoactive substances go by many names – Vanilla Sky, Flakka, Cloud Nine. They are highly addictive and have been linked to erratic behavior and death.

8. Zohydro. Zohydro is a painkiller that contains five times more hydrocodone than what’s in the strongest painkiller we have available. The medication is FDA approved, even though the FDA’s own panel refused its approval at 12-2.

Drugs come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important to be alert and aware of what your loved one is doing. This can ultimately prevent a long cycle of abuse – and save a life. If you know of someone that already needs help, call The River Source. We study the latest drug trends and are happy to help answer your questions!

Meth Use is On the Rise

Throughout many parts of the United States, the use and production of methamphetamine is on the rise. In fact, meth remains one of the most pervasive drugs in the state of Arizona. In 2015, authorities seized nearly 6,400 pounds of methamphetamine – a 294 percent increase over the last six years according to the DEA. The drug has surpassed cocaine and is found in larger quantities than heroin.

It’s not just west coast states that are seeing a rise in meth production and use. In Maine, law enforcement agencies located 61 percent more labs and dump grounds in 2016 compared to 2015. The midwest states have seen a surge in meth use as well, with a newly released 2016 Wisconsin Methamphetamine Study showing the drug increased between 250-300 percent from 2011 to 2015.

Why the Sudden Growth in Meth Production and Use?

There are a couple of reasons why meth use is on the rise. First, cocaine is more difficult to get. Cocaine users are still looking for another stimulant to replace the drug, and meth is sometimes that replacement. Second, there is profit in methamphetamine. It is largely controlled by the Mexican cartels, and they continue to push the drugs into the United States for pure profit.

Domestic meth labs are not as common because of restrictions on chemicals such as the decongestant pseudoepinephrine. In Mexico, it’s possible to buy pseudoepinephrine in large quantities. Also, drug smugglers are not intimidated moving methamphetamine across the borders. Sadly, they’ve put the drugs into children’s toys or in liquified shampoos and lotions. Meth can then be turned into crystals when it reaches the states.

Being On Alert for Meth Use

Law enforcement admits that meth use is just as much of a concern as heroin and cocaine. Methamphetamine is cheap and easy to get, and it has an appeal because it’s a stimulant. People feel that they look great and can accomplish more because they don’t need to sleep or eat. This is an illusion, of course.

Here are some signs to watch for that are consistent with meth use:

  • Increased physical activity

  • Increased body temperature

  • Heavy sweating

  • Dilated pupils

  • Loss of appetite

  • Sleeplessness

  • Euphoria

  • Tremors

  • Jaw clenching

  • Doing repetitive tasks

If you are concerned about meth use in someone you care about, call The River Source. Our programs are affordable, convenient – and they work!

Cocaine Overdose Symptoms

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Cocaine is a highly addictive and powerful drug. Tolerance can build quickly, leading to a risk of addiction and accidental overdose. There is no specific amount of cocaine that can cause an overdose. It all depends on the user’s level of tolerance and their overall physical health.

What Makes Cocaine So Addictive?

Cocaine leads to significant changes in the brain. The drug acts as a stimulant, increasing dopamine levels. Dopamine is located in the reward circuit of the brain and is associated with pleasure. In normal circumstances, neurons release dopamine when the brain feels something pleasurable. It is then recycled back into the neuron, and the neuron shuts off.

However, when a person uses cocaine, the communication process is disrupted. Dopamine is prevented from being recycled and builds up in the brain. This is what creates an intense rush of euphoria. If the brain experiences this often, the brain’s reward system begins to change. This is what leads to tolerance and addiction.

Cocaine: A Leading Cause of Overdose Deaths

Recognizing how addictive cocaine is, it’s understandable why people get hooked so quickly. Heroin has received a lot of attention over the past decade, but cocaine remains a top threat as well. A report from the CDC published in 2016 found that cocaine is one of the leading causes of overdose deaths.

The report analyzed overdose deaths from 2010 to 2014. In 2010 and 2012, cocaine ranked No. 3 on the list. In 2011, 2013 and 2014, the drug ranked No. 2. The only other drugs that were found to be more deadly that cocaine were oxycodone and heroin. In 2014 alone, over 5,800 lives were lost from cocaine.

Furthermore, cocaine brings tens of thousands of people to the emergency room each year. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), cocaine is the second most frequent reason for drug-related ER visits across the United States, following alcohol in the No. 1 spot.

This report illustrates the dangers of cocaine and why it deserves just as much concern as heroin and prescription opioids.

How Does Cocaine Lead to Overdose?

There are many ways that cocaine can lead to an accidental overdose and death. The most dangerous complications of cocaine are heart attack and stroke. Snorting cocaine increases the risk of a stroke by 700% in the first 24 hours. This is why the drug has been referred to as “the perfect heart attack drug.”

Cocaine restricts the blood vessels, so the heart has to work extra hard to pump blood through the body. When it reaches a state of crisis, the heart rate and blood pressure increase. This can lead to cardiac arrest. If the blood vessels rupture, cocaine users can also suffer from stroke or seizures.

Another complication is vomiting, something that the body may do as it tries to get rid of the cocaine. However, in a half-alert person, it’s possible for them to choke on the vomit. Or, if the airways become blocked with vomit, the user can die from suffocation.

It’s also possible for the body to overheat because dopamine controls body temperature. If dopamine levels are raised, so is the body temperature. Prolonged use of cocaine can also lead to malnourishment because the drug suppresses the appetite.

The Cocaine Overdose Symptoms You Should Know About

A person who is overdosing on cocaine is dealing with a heavily overstimulated brain and body. Knowing the effects of a cocaine overdose can help save a life. Let’s review the most common warning signs that a person could be overdosing on the stimulant drug.

  • Irregular or elevated heart rate. Cocaine is a stimulant that naturally increases the heart rate. During an overdose, the heart rate is raised significantly. The user may feel their heart racing or notice that their heart is beating irregularly.

  • High blood pressure. Cocaine raises the blood pressure because it squeezes the blood vessels and makes them smaller. Not only does this lead to high blood pressure and heart rate, but also the blood vessel walls can weaken.

  • High body temperature. The metabolism is awakened by the increase in body temperature. Unfortunately, some cocaine deaths have been linked to hot weather because the body overheats to lethal levels.

  • Sweating. Because the body temperature is difficult to manage on a cocaine overdose, some users find themselves sweating profusely, taking off their clothes or cooling off in cold water or ice. This often leads to severe agitation, paranoia or hallucinations.

  • Cocaine psychosis. It is possible to go into a type of cocaine psychosis during an overdose. Paranoia is very common with psychosis, but some users might see things that are not there or feel as if something is crawling on their skin.

  • Strange, erratic behavior. With the effects on the brain, overdose can put cocaine users at risk for erratic behavior. Cocaine users are also more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, leading to STDs or HIV.

  • Seizures. All types of cocaine can cause seizures within seconds, minutes or hours of using the drug. Many fatal overdoses are related to seizures, as well as heart attack and respiratory failure.

  • Stroke. Cocaine abuse narrows the blood vessels and slows blood flow, which can lead to a stroke. Other complications that can happen as a result of the decreased blood flow are severe headaches, convulsions and blood clots.

What are the Risk Factors for Cocaine Overdose?

Anyone who uses cocaine, even one time, puts themselves at risk for overdose. It may appear obvious but it needs to be said: the only way to prevent overdosing from cocaine is to stop using the drug. Using cocaine is the biggest risk factor for cocaine overdose symptoms.

A major risk factor for overdose is combining cocaine with another drug. When using a sedative with cocaine, users may feel diminished effects. This can result in the user taking more cocaine than their body can handle. On the other hand, taking cocaine with another stimulant such as Ritalin can have the opposite effect. The effects are compounded, and this can lead to lethal consequences such as heart attack or stroke.

Cocaine is particularly dangerous when combined with alcohol because a dangerous toxin is produced called cocaethylene. Cocaethylene is eliminated slowly from the body compared to cocaine, and this can lead to greater cocaine effects. For example, the heart rate or body temperature may be increased to lethal levels.

Another specific combination is cocaine and heroin, otherwise known as a speedball. The substances have opposite effects and this can make the user think that they aren’t feeling the full effects. Once the cocaine wears off, the user can overdose from heroin.

Finally, as tolerance builds, users need to take more of the drug to get high. Taking too much cocaine at any given point in time can lead to overdose, especially if the drug is laced with another substance.

What to Do if Someone is Showing Cocaine Overdose Signs

If you notice that you or someone else is showing signs of a potential overdose, it’s important to act fast. Call 911 immediately and get emergency help. Cocaine overdose death can happen quickly, so the faster you get help, the greater the chance the person will survive. There are things you can do while you are waiting for help.

One of the cocaine overdose symptoms is elevated body temperature, so start by applying cold compresses to the body to keep it at a safe level. If the person is experiencing a seizure, there’s not much you can do to stop it. What you can do is make sure that the environment around them is safe and free of sharp edges or hard objects.

Most importantly, stay with the person until help arrives. Not only is this beneficial for them, but also you can alert the emergency crew of the drug that was taken, how it was taken and if it was combined with any other substances. This information can be crucial in saving a life.

Delivering Quality Treatment for Cocaine Abusers

If you or someone you love is struggling with a cocaine addiction, we encourage you to call The River Source. The recovery process starts with cocaine detox in a safe, supportive environment that is led by naturopathic doctors, nurses and counselors. Our detox facility has 24-hour support staff, which means your loved one will never be alone.

To make the detox process more manageable, we have a wide range of holistic therapies and medications. The most difficult part of cocaine detox is the psychological effects, and these can last for many months or years. This makes inpatient treatment for cocaine abuse exceptionally important. Recovering addicts must learn how to lead a sober lifestyle without using cocaine.

When detox is complete, counseling can begin. Our patients receive individual, group and family counseling. They will also have a number of therapies available to them during their stay such as acupuncture, massage therapy, sauna treatments and IV vitamin therapy treatments. Each patient receives an individualized treatment plan that caters to their needs.

Remember, the only way to prevent cocaine overdose symptoms is to stop using cocaine. There is no “safe” level. Call The River Source to learn more about the aspects of our program.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

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Cocaine is a dangerous stimulant drug that is available as a powder or a crack rock. People who use the powdered form of cocaine snort it or liquefy the powder before injecting it. In contrast, people who prefer crack cocaine heat a crack rock in a pipe and then smoke it. The method of cocaine consumption influences the effect of the cocaine high, but both forms of this powerful drug produce a sense of euphoria.

People who are addicted to cocaine come to rely on the euphoria that the drug produces. When someone ingests cocaine, their brain releases high levels of a feel-good chemical known as dopamine, which causes this feeling of ecstasy. This high causes approximately two million people to use cocaine each month in the United States. Many of these people will ultimately become addicted to this powerful stimulant.

Although cocaine produces some pleasurable sensations, it also causes harm to other parts of the body and mind. In fact, cocaine can be deadly in some cases, resulting in heart attacks and sometimes death. In addition to the damage that cocaine causes to the body, the drug also causes the user to “crash” when they stop taking it. This “crash” is known as cocaine withdrawal symptoms, which occur when someone who has regularly used cocaine reduces their drug use or quits taking the substance entirely. The withdrawal symptoms of cocaine can appear after even a small reduction in usage, so people can experience the unpleasant effects of withdrawal even if there is still cocaine in their system.

Since the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can be so uncomfortable, many people find it difficult to stop taking the drug. However, people are more likely to successfully stop using cocaine if they understand the withdrawal symptoms and how doctors can help manage them.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

The most common withdrawal symptom of cocaine is a strong craving for more of the drug. People who use cocaine develop dependency and tolerance to the substance. Dependency means that a person needs to continue using a drug, cocaine in this case, in order to prevent the onset of withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance refers to the fact that people who use cocaine gradually need a larger dose of the drug to achieve the same effect. Together, dependency and tolerance create a dangerous cycle of drug abuse and addiction.

There are several other signs of cocaine withdrawal in addition to cravings for cocaine. The most common symptoms of cocaine withdrawal tend to be psychological, ranging from anxiety to insomnia. Some people may also experience uncomfortable physical symptoms like muscle aches and nerve pain. However, these types of physical side effects are more common in people who are recovering from an addiction to substances like alcohol or heroin.

Here is an overview of the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Chills
  • Cocaine Cravings
  • Depression
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Generalized Discomfort
  • Inability to Feel Pleasure
  • Increased Appetite
  • Lack of Sexual Arousal
  • Muscle Aches
  • Nerve Pain
  • Nightmares
  • Restlessness
  • Slowed Thinking
  • Sluggishness
  • Suspicion
  • Tremors

Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

People can experience cocaine withdrawal symptoms soon after their last dose. In fact, some people may start seeing signs of cocaine withdrawal within 90 minutes of their last dose. If someone does not take another dose after they first start experiencing symptoms, they can expect to feel withdrawal symptoms for seven to 10 days. Although cocaine withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant, if someone can deal with them for approximately one week, they will have overcome the worst of them. While some symptoms like depression may persist for months, the right treatment can help patients manage them.

The overall length and severity of the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal varies depending on a number of factors, including the length and amount of cocaine use, type of cocaine used, environmental factors, co-occurring mental disorders, age, and overall health. As a result, someone who has used less cocaine for a shorter period of time should experience less severe symptoms than someone who has taken a large dose of the drug for an extended period of time. Additionally, younger people who are in good health tend to experience less intense symptoms.

Risks of Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

It is important to realize that cocaine withdrawal symptoms are just as strong, if not stronger, than the withdrawal symptoms of other types of substances. Additionally, since many of the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal are psychological in nature, they tend to last longer than withdrawal symptoms of other drugs. Specifically, cravings for cocaine and depression can last for months after stopping daily cocaine use.

Since the withdrawal symptoms of cocaine can be so intense and long-lasting, many people are tempted to start using the drug again. This is dangerous for several reasons. First of all, when someone stops or reduces their cocaine use, they may not realize that they have a lower tolerance than they had before and they are more likely to accidentally overdose. In some tragic cases, an overdose can lead to death. Also, when people return to cocaine use, they may find that the euphoria they once felt is replaced with unpleasant psychological symptoms like fear and suspicion.

Depression is another psychological symptom that people who are recovering from cocaine use need to be aware of. For some patients, depression will manifest as a low mood, but others may develop suicidal thoughts. Suicidal thoughts can be especially dangerous during the process of recovering from a cocaine addiction, because it is a period of acute stress. The combination of suicidal ideations and stress can prove deadly, if a person decides to act on these thoughts.

Diagnosing Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

It is generally not difficult to diagnose the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal. A doctor can ask a patient about their past drug use and current symptoms before performing a physical exam to determine if the patient is experiencing cocaine withdrawal. Generally, a physician can make a diagnosis of cocaine withdrawal using this simple method; however, there are other routine tests that they might perform to confirm the diagnosis.

Some of the most common tests include the following:

  • Blood and liver function tests like CHEM-20 to check for the presence of drugs.
  • Complete blood count, or CBC, to measure red and white blood cells as well as platelets.
  • Toxicology screening to assess drug and poison levels in the body.
  • Cardiac enzyme tests to look for evidence of heart damage.
  • Electrocardiogram, or EKG, to measure the electrical activity in the heart.

Once a physician determines that someone is experiencing cocaine withdrawal symptoms, they can help them get into a cocaine treatment program. Such a program can not only help a person manage their withdrawal symptoms, but it can also help them develop the skills and coping strategies necessary to stay sober in the long-term.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

The symptoms of cocaine withdrawal gradually disappear with time, but it can be very difficult to deal with these unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms when they are present. For this reason, drug treatment professionals recommend that patients seek medical assistance when they plan to stop using cocaine.

Medical detoxification, or detox, is designed to help patients safely get cocaine out of their system. Detox can occur in a variety of settings, including a drug and alcohol treatment center, a hospital setting, or at home. It is possible to detox from cocaine at home on an outpatient basis, with the proper support system.

Detoxing at an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center may be the best choice for people who are experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms or who have returned to cocaine use during past withdrawal attempts. In this setting, doctors, nurses, and other drug treatment professionals can provide 24/7 monitoring and medical support to ensure that the detox process is successful.

Once a patient and their doctor select the appropriate setting for detox, the detox process can begin. Rather than stopping cocaine use abruptly, doctors will slowly wean a patient off of the drug, gradually giving them a smaller dose. This technique can reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms, making detox more bearable and comfortable. If unpleasant symptoms still appear, a doctor can prescribe medications like anti-anxiety drugs and anti-depressants to treat the symptoms. However, the doctor will carefully monitor the use of these medications to prevent dependency on these substances.

Once the patient has completed detox, they can move on to psychological counseling, the next stage in the process of treating cocaine addiction. Psychological counseling is designed to accomplish a number of goals. Counseling can help determine the root causes of a patient’s cocaine addiction. It can also help patients identify new, healthy coping skills and strategies to take the place of cocaine in their lives. With the right tools, someone who was once addicted to cocaine can deal with life’s stresses without help from drugs.

Much like detox, counseling can take place in a number of settings. It can occur on an inpatient or outpatient basis, and it can be done individually, with family members, or in a group setting with other individuals who are recovering from addiction. Each type of counseling has unique advantages and some patients may decide to participate in each form of counseling.

In addition to examining the causes of addiction and helping patients develop new coping skills, counseling can also help diagnose whether a patient has a co-occurring mental disorder. Many people who use cocaine have a psychological disorder like attention-deficit disorder, ADD, or depression. When these disorders are diagnosed and treated, patients have much lower rates of relapse.

Another tool that can help improve relapse rates is attending a support group. There are several groups available, including 12-step groups like Cocaine Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and other groups like SMART Recovery. Support groups can help people in recovery learn from one another, while supporting each other’s progress. It can be very helpful for people in recovery to see that they aren’t alone in their journey to get clean and sober.

Prognosis for Recovering from Cocaine Addiction

Although it can be difficult to recover from any addiction and relapse can occur, recovery is possible. In fact, patients can achieve long-term sobriety with the right treatment and support.

In addition to undergoing detox, participating in psychological counseling, and attending support groups, here is another tip that can help people avoid returning to cocaine use.

  • People in recovery should avoid the people and places that are related to their past cocaine use. All of these things can serve as a reminder of cocaine use and potentially trigger a relapse. Avoidance is much easier than resisting temptation in the moment.

Seeking treatment for a cocaine addiction can help individuals improve their physical and psychological health as well as the quality of their lives. While the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal are primarily psychological, they can still be very unpleasant. However, with the proper treatment, they can be managed and will generally disappear within seven to 10 days. Approximately a week of discomfort is worth a lifetime of sobriety.

Dealing with the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can be difficult to do alone. The River Source treatment center offers a holistic approach to treating cocaine withdrawal symptoms and addiction. Our drug treatment professionals provide behavioral and pharmacological therapies in a supportive and temptation-free environment to help our patients detox from cocaine. After detox, each patient begins psychological counseling to learn new coping strategies, before leaving The River Source with a long-term care plan to help them stay clean and sober for life.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to cocaine, The River Source can help. Contact us today to learn more about our approach to treating cocaine addiction and how we help patients overcome the uncomfortable symptoms of cocaine withdrawal.

What are the Effects of Cocaine?

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Cocaine is a powerful, addictive drug. It has negative effects on the heart, brain and emotions. It doesn’t take long to become dependent on the drug. Even occasional use runs the risk of overdose or sudden death. Though cocaine has been sensationalized in the media, it’s far from glamorous. Let’s read on for the short and long term side effects of cocaine and what can be done to stop the cycle of abuse.

Cocaine: What Does the Average High Look Like?

Smoking, snorting or injecting cocaine leads to nearly immediate effects. The drug is absorbed rapidly in the body, quickly entering the bloodstream and traveling to the brain. Once inside the brain, cocaine interferes with the neurotransmitters that are used to communicate with each other. Cocaine blocks dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and others. Because these chemical messengers cannot be reabsorbed into the body, they build up and create a “high.”

Cocaine users usually describe being high on cocaine as euphoric. They have an increasing sense of energy and alertness as well as an elevated mood. Tasks that are often difficult to do become easier, though some users have the opposite effect. The faster the drug is absorbed, the more intense the high. However, the high also tends to last a shorter period of time. In fact, cocaine is a very quick drug, with a high that lasts anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.

Of course, not all users experience a high each time they use cocaine. It is possible to have negative cocaine side effects such as paranoia, irritability, restlessness and anxiety. When users are addicted to cocaine, however, a few negative side effects aren’t enough to stop them from returning. Cocaine addicts still chase the high and will continue to use again.

What are the Effects of Cocaine?

One of the aspects that make cocaine so dangerous is that people use it in binges. This means that the cocaine is used repeatedly and at increasingly higher doses. Additionally, cocaine may be mixed with other drugs. For example, speedballing or powerballing is mixing cocaine with heroin or morphine. As one can imagine, this is highly dangerous and can lead to overdose and death. Chris Farley, River Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman are Hollywood icons who have died from a deadly mix of opioids and and cocaine.

Physiological Effects

Let’s start by exploring the physiological side effects from cocaine. Though cocaine produces changes in the brain, it travels through the blood. Therefore, it affects the whole body. This is why cocaine is responsible for more U.S. emergency room visits than any other illegal drug, according to

  • Heart. Cocaine has dangerous effects on the heart. The drug increases heart rate and blood pressure while constricting the arteries. This means that far less blood is getting to the heart muscle, which can cause a heart attack. Cocaine can also trigger arrhythmias, which are potentially deadly abnormal heart rhythms.

  • Brain. Because cocaine constricts blood vessels, it can cause a stroke, even in an otherwise healthy individuals. The limited blood flow to the brain can also result in seizures and other strange, erratic behaviors.

  • Lungs. The respiratory system is also affected by cocaine. Snorting cocaine damages the sinus tissues and nasal passages. Smoking crack irritates the lungs and can lead to permanent lung damage.

  • Gastrointestinal tract. It’s common for illegal drugs to cause stomach problems, and cocaine is no exception. Cocaine constricts the blood vessels that supply the stomach with essential nutrients. Without these nutrients, the gut can develop ulcers. Perforations in the stomach or intestines are also possible.

  • Kidneys. When using any types of drugs or alcohol, the kidneys have to work that much harder to remove toxins from the body. Cocaine can cause the kidneys to go into kidney failure. For users with high blood pressure, regular cocaine use speeds up long term kidney damage.

  • Sexual function. Cocaine may have a reputation for being an aphrodisiac, but it’s far from that. Chronic cocaine use hinders sexual function in both men and women. Men often find it difficult to complete the act.

Psychological Effects

Cocaine is a drug that gets deep into the brain. As mentioned in our recent Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline article, cocaine withdrawal has the strongest psychological symptoms. Sadly, these symptoms can linger for years.

When using cocaine, the drug affects areas in the brain that are responsible for creating “rewards” from pleasurable behaviors. By stimulating this area in the brain with cocaine, it prompts the brain to want more.

If the user feeds the craving, their body becomes tolerant on the drug. This means that the user needs more and more of it to achieve the same high. This is what leads to dependence, and eventually, addiction.

There is no “safe” limit for using cocaine. Recreational users run the same risks as their more steady counterparts. At any given point in time, the body can become physically and psychologically dependent on the drug, especially if the person starts using cocaine to deal with stressful environments.

Using cocaine for an extended period of time leads to a host of mentally draining cocaine side effects. These include:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Fatigue

  • Inability to feel pleasure

  • Increased cravings

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Tremors, chills, aches

Short and Long Term Effects of Cocaine

It’s important to realize that there are differences between the short and long term effects of cocaine. Some users think that once the cocaine is out of their body, the long term risks are gone. This is just an illusion. Any time cocaine is used, it puts stress on the organs and can lead to health problems in the long run. Even if the body does escape the long term physical effects of the drug, there are psychological effects to contend with. These effects can last a lifetime.

Short Term Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine’s effects occur almost immediately. Users feel euphoric, energetic and mentally alert. They are often more talkative, hypersensitive to light, sounds and touch and also don’t need to eat or sleep as much. Smoking cocaine has the fastest effects, but the high only lasts for about 5-10 minutes. Snorting cocaine has the slowest onset of symptoms, with the high lasting 15-30 minutes.

The short term side effects of cocaine are:

  • Constricted blood vessels

  • Dilated pupils

  • Increased body temperature

  • Increased heart rate

  • Increased blood pressure

  • Bizarre, erratic behavior

  • Restlessness

  • Irritability

  • Anxiety

  • Panic

  • Paranoia

  • Tremors/twitches

  • Vertigo

Severe medical complications can occur even with the short term use of cocaine. The most common are cardiovascular effects such as heart arrhythmias and heart attacks. Other common effects are neurological and include seizures, headaches, strokes and sometimes coma. Mixing drugs with heroin or morphine is exceptionally dangerous. Because the effects of cocaine wear off sooner, it can lead to a deadly overdose from the heroin.

Long Term Effects of Cocaine

If users continue to use cocaine, it’s normal for them to feel “comfortable” with its effects. However, taking cocaine more frequently and at higher doses puts the brain and body more at risk for long term effects such as organ damage, depression and lifelong drug cravings.

The longer term effects from cocaine include:

  • Decreased appetite

  • Significant weight loss

  • Malnourishment

  • Chest pain

  • Cardiovascular problems

  • Organ damage and failure

  • Bleeding in the brain

  • Movement disorders (i.e., Parkinsons)

  • Difficulty paying attention

  • Memory problems

  • Impulse inhibition

Getting Help for a Cocaine Addiction

Drugs have a way of playing tricks on the brain. Once dependent on them, it’s easy to lie to yourself and assume that you have control over the situation. After all, the cocaine makes you feel good. Everyone or everything else is the enemy. Not the cocaine.

Unfortunately, cocaine is a powerful and addictive drug, even for occasional users. There is no safe way to use the drug. When life becomes stressful, people who use cocaine recreationally often pick up the habit to deal with their emotions. This quickly leads to tolerance, dependence and addiction.

The only way to deal with a cocaine addiction is to seek professional help. While the detox process from cocaine is usually not fatal, it is extremely difficult from a psychological standpoint. The cravings can be so strong, it’s almost impossible to stay away from the drug without professional intervention. This is why cocaine addicts benefit from an inpatient treatment program where they are able to reside in a safe, sober and supportive community for an extended period of time.

Once the detox process is complete, drug cravings for cocaine can last for months or years. Some recovering addicts report that cravings can appear suddenly and out of nowhere. Knowing this, it’s important that recovering cocaine addicts follow their continuing care plan. This includes forming a strong support network, attending 12 step meetings and practicing self care.

Call The River Source for Immediate Help

If you or someone you care about is dealing with an addiction to cocaine, get help now. There is no benefit in waiting. Cocaine has been glamorized in television and movies, and it’s created the false illusion that people with fame and money can use the drug at their leisure. This is not true.

Cocaine is powerful, addictive and unforgiving. Addicts need professional intervention to fight the cravings and lead a life of sobriety. Fortunately, this intervention is possible at The River Source. Call us today to learn more about our recovery programs for cocaine and why we continue to have some of the highest success rates in the country!

Understanding the Most Common Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

If you or a loved one are battling heroin addiction you understand that it is a powerful and highly-addictive drug.  In recent years, heroin has become more commonplace in cities and neighborhoods we may have never expected. Producing an intense rush of pleasure, heroin use can quickly spiral into a full-blown addiction.

What may have began as legitimate prescription drug use to treat ongoing pain can quickly spiral into heroin addiction. A cheaper alternative, heroin’s intense high can make it hard to see past the health risks associated with abusing the drug. You may be wondering how you got in this position and how you will ever break the cycle. Don’t give up on yourself.

If you or a loved one is battling heroin addiction it’s important to remember that there is help available. Simply cutting heroin out of your life can be extremely difficult. Unfortunately, when you stop using heroin your body goes through an intense period of withdrawal symptoms which can be hard to face alone. While the symptoms of heroin withdrawal can be uncomfortable, recovery is possible when you have the right medical and emotional support in place.

Heroin Addiction – Drug Tolerance and Physical Dependence

As you may have learned first hand, the nature of heroin makes it very addictive. With continued use, the drug changes the structure of your brain and causes long-term imbalances of your hormones. Even scarier, heroin can also lead to the deterioration of white matter in the brain. These kind of life-threatening risks associated with heroin use are all the more reason to seriously consider getting sober and regaining control over your life.

The physical dependence you develop when using heroin can be extremely overwhelming. The more you use heroin the more you build up a tolerance. Meaning that you need to take more of the drug over time to get the same high you once had. Physical dependence simply means that you need to continue to taking heroin to prevent yourself from feeling symptoms of withdrawal. These withdrawal symptoms can start as early as within a few hours of your last use. If the idea of getting sober sound overwhelming, try to take things day by day and know that recovery is possible with the right treatment plan.

The Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal – Early Stages and Later Stages

When you stop or reduce your heroin use after consistently using for a few weeks or more you will most likely experience withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms of heroin are typically not life threatening. However, they are uncomfortable and painful, which can often motivate you to continue using just to avoid the symptoms.

Everyone will have different experiences during heroin withdrawal. The severity and length of symptoms depend on a number of factors:

  • Severity of heroin addiction
  • Type of heroin used
  • Frequency of heroin use
  • Age and overall health of the individual

There are two primary stages of withdrawal symptoms: early stages and later stages. Each stage comes with a different series of symptoms.

The early stages of withdrawal usually start about six to 30 hours after your last dose of heroin. These symptoms may include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

The later stages of withdrawal appear approximately 72 hours after you stop taking the drug, and are usually when symptoms are at their worst. You may see your early symptoms become more severe during the later stages, and you also may see the emergence of new symptoms. The later symptoms of withdrawal can include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goose bumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Timeframe for Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal – What to Expect

For most people, the first week of symptoms is the worst. However, symptoms typically last for up to one month, while others report feeling the lingering effects of withdrawal symptoms for a few months. The withdrawal symptoms from heroin that commonly last longer than a week include anxiety, depression, fatigue, and insomnia. These are known as protracted (or post-acute) withdrawal symptoms (PAWS).

The timeframe for the onset of heroin withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person, but it generally begins six to 30 hours after your last dose of heroin. The symptoms persist for one to three days, usually becoming more intense 72 hours after your last dose. Gradually, your symptoms will become less intense between days five and seven.

Days 1 – 2

You will often find that you’ll notice the first symptoms of heroin withdrawal within a few hours of your last dose. For some, symptoms are as mild as slight discomfort, while others report severe muscle aches as well as anxiety and insomnia.

Days 3 – 5

You will likely find that your withdrawal symptoms will peak around Day 3. At this point, many of your symptoms will often manifest in an upset stomach. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are all common during this time period. At this point, it is important for you to stay hydrated to avoid dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. After Day 3, your symptoms slowly begin to diminish.

Day 6 and Beyond

When you reach Day 6 of withdrawal, you often experience a noticeable decrease in symptoms. You may still experience problems with appetite and sleeping, while others may be affected by anxiety and nausea. However, if you can make it to Day 6 then you are on the road to recovery.

Heroin Withdrawal Treatment Timeframe – It Takes Time

While everyone is different, medical research shows that three to six months of medical treatment is often ideal to help you fully recovery from heroin addiction. It might seem like a long time. However, as we discussed above, heroin changes the brain and it can result in protracted (or post-acute) withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), including anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, and irritability.

Unfortunately, these issues cannot be addressed and treated overnight. You need time for your mind and body to recover. Recovery from any type of drug addiction is a long-term process that often involves a combination of counseling, medication, and support. It is recommended that you discuss treatment goals and your care plan with your physician. With the right treatment and support, recovery is possible.

Potential Complications of Heroin Withdrawal – Things to Watch

While the symptoms of heroin withdrawal are not usually life-threatening, there are still some complications you should be aware of. Since heroin withdrawal can cause nausea and vomiting, there is a risk of aspiration. This occurs when a person accidentally inhales their vomit, and it can cause lung infections. Additionally, vomiting and diarrhea can result in dehydration.

The most serious complication of heroin withdrawal is resuming heroin use. Unfortunately, many heroin overdose deaths happen to people who have just completed detox. After heroin withdrawal, you have a reduced tolerance to heroin, meaning you can overdose on a much smaller dose than you took before going through withdrawal.

A heroin overdose slows your breathing and heart rate to dangerous levels. Other symptoms of an overdose include blue lips and fingernails, clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and sometimes death.

Due to the severity of these complications and the risk of relapse when going through withdrawal alone, it is important to receive the right treatment from experienced medical professionals.

Treatment Settings for Heroin Withdrawal – Home, Centers, and Hospitals

There are three options for where you can work through withdrawal from heroin, including at home, at a drug and alcohol treatment center, and at a hospital. You may like the idea of staying at home; however, it is not the best option for everyone.

You should speak to your doctor about your symptoms, health history, and home environment to determine the right treatment setting.

  • Home – In some cases, withdrawal can occur at home. Patients who stay at home need the right medications and support system, because this method can be very difficult.
  • Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centers – Patients can also undergo heroin withdrawal at a facility like The River Source. We follow an approach that incorporates behavioral, holistic, and pharmacological therapies to promote treatment success.
  • Hospitals – If a patient is experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, it is recommended that they go to a hospital. The medical professionals can assist with the physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal and they connect the patient with other resources.

Counseling, Medication, and Support – The Best Way to Ensure Success

A mix of counseling, medication, and support are necessary to successfully manage your symptoms of heroin withdrawal and restore normal brain function. Generally, the treatment program for heroin addiction will include several components.

  • Detox
  • Medication
  • Behavioral Counseling
  • Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Long-Term Support and Follow-Up

During the detox process, you stop taking heroin. At this period, the drug leaves your system and you experience the withdrawal symptoms discussed earlier. Doctors often prescribe several medications to treat the symptoms of heroin withdrawal during the detox period. You may continue to take some of these medications for long-term maintenance.

In addition to medications that are designed to treat diarrhea, vomiting, and sleep issues, there are other prescriptions used to treat the symptoms of heroin withdrawal.

  • Methadone reduces the intensity of withdrawal symptoms, and it can be used for long-term maintenance. Over time, the dose may be slowly decreased, but some patients may continue to take methadone for years to aid in their recovery from heroin addiction.
  • Buprenorphine (Subutex) is designed to treat withdrawal symptoms and it can shorten the length of detox. Like methadone, it can also be used for long-term maintenance. It may be combined with Naloxone to prevent drug dependence and misuse.
  • Clonidine alleviates specific withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, agitation, cramping, muscle aches, and sweating. However, it does not reduce heroin cravings.
  • Naltrexone can help prevent relapse. Patients can take it as a pill or an injection.

If you experience multiple rounds of withdrawal symptoms, you should speak to your doctor about long-term treatment with methadone or buprenorphine.

Treatment for heroin addiction will involve more than just medication. Long-term treatment should also include counseling, treatment of co-occurring disorders, and support from medical professionals, loved ones, and support groups.

  • Inpatient or outpatient counseling, like that provided by The River Source, is a highly recommended component of treatment for heroin addiction. Counseling can be performed individually, in a group, or with a patient’s family. The focus of counseling is to identify and change problematic relationships and behaviors. Counseling may also utilize neurofeedback, a type of brain training that promotes healthy thinking and behaviors.
  • Treatment of co-existing mental disorders is an important part of recovery. Many individuals who suffer from substance abuse disorders also have anxiety, depression, or another mental illness. Identifying and treating these disorders with medication and counseling reduces a patient’s likelihood of relapse.
  • Support groups are an excellent way for patients to find a helpful and understanding group of individuals to aid in their recovery. Narcotics Anonymous is an excellent option. Support from caring medical professionals as well as from friends and family is also recommended.

The symptoms of heroin withdrawal can make recovering from a heroin addiction seem like an overwhelming task. While the recovery process isn’t quick or easy, it is possible and it is very much worth the effort.

The River Source utilizes a holistic approach to heroin addiction treatment, providing behavioral and pharmacological therapies in a supportive and professional environment. Our goal is to help patients detox from heroin and then involve them in effective inpatient treatment program, where they can explore the underlying reasons for their heroin addiction. After inpatient treatment, every patient of The River Source leaves with a long-term care plan to help them stay clean and sober.

If you or a loved one is suffering from heroin addiction. The River Source can help. Please contact us today to learn more about our approach to treating heroin addiction and helping patients overcome the symptoms of heroin withdrawal.