Author Archives: inptrehabs

Patients in Recovery Facing Discrimination from Post-acute Care Medical Facilities

Twenty-nine percent of private post-acute care medical facilities in MA rejected certain hospitalized patients’ referrals for admission according to the results of a new study. The rejected patients in this instance had OUD (opioid use disorder) and were explicitly discriminated against in this instance.

Scientists at Boston Medical Center (BMC) were responsible for conducting the research. They also discovered that in 15% of rejections for SUD (substance abuse disorder), the reason for rejection was for one of the following reasons:
1. The patient already had a SUD diagnosis.
2. The patient was taking either methadone or buprenorphine. These medications are used to treat OUD (opioid use disorder).

The medical facilities had been involved in “documented and explicit” forms of discrimination against patients. The results were published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

What are Post-acute Care Medical Facilities?

Post-acute care medical facilities provide several services, depending on a patient’s needs. They are meant for patients who continue to need care following discharge from the hospital where the family is unable to provide it.

Skilled nursing facilities provide short and long-term care for patients recovering from a stroke, knee replacement, hip replacement, heart/respiratory issues, neurological diseases, and more. Assisted living facilities offer short-term care (14-30 days) focusing on safety while transitioning between hospital and home. They offer assistance for patients who need wound care, nursing observation, physical or speech therapy, nursing observation, fall management, etc.

Electronic Health Records Form Basis for Study

Researchers examined data taken from electronic health records (EHR) from adult BMC patients. Specifically, they wanted to track referrals to private facilities made in 2018. The scientists made categories for reason given for rejections and made special note of those mentioning substance use or addiction treatment medications. The records in these categories were considered discriminatory.

Their findings were as follows:

    • Two hundred nineteen hospitalizations at BMC led to 1,648 referrals to 285 private, post-acute care facilities in MA. Of these, 1,348 (81.8%) were rejected.
    • Fifteen percent of the rejections were deemed discriminatory.
    • One hundred and five patients were rejected because they being treated with methadone or buprenorphine. Ninety-eight patients were rejected because they had been diagnosed with substance abuse.
    • Eighty-three of the facilities (29.1%) had a minimum of one discriminatory rejection based on the review of patient records.

Private Facilities Previously Sanctioned for Discrimination

In 2016, the Department of Public Health cautioned private facilities that they should not be rejecting patients based on a history of substance abuse. In 2018 and again the following year, the US Attorney’s office for the District of Massachusetts settled with two private facilities for their discriminatory practices, which meant the facilities were violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The study authors called for more research to ultimately reduce these discriminatory practices. The Massachusetts Department Board of Health paid for a project starting in 2019. It provided technical support and training for better access to addiction treatment medications in skilled nursing facilities and long-term care homes.



Binge Drinking Increases Risk of Disordered Eating: Study

Unfortunately, heavy alcohol consumption is common in many college settings. People who are indulging in more than a moderate amount of drinking (defined by the Centers for Disease Control as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men) may be risking their physical and mental health, according to research conducted at the University of South Australia.

The scientists looked at the way 479 female Australian university students consumed alcohol. The study participants were between 18-24 years old. Researchers were investigating whether is any scientific basis for the belief that binge drinking can lead to Drunkorexia.

Drunkorexia: Side Effect of Binge Drinking

Drunkorexia is a type of behavior where the affected person resorts to unhealthy eating patterns to offset the negative consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. These consequences include gaining weight.

The results were surprising:

• The majority (82.7%) of female university students who participated in the survey had displayed drunkorexia-type behaviors within the past 90 days.
• More than one-quarter of the respondents (28%) were skipping meals regularly and on purpose.
• They were also using tactics such as purging or exercising after drinking and choosing low-calorie alcoholic beverages. These strategies were being used 25% of the time or more.

Alycia Powell-Jones, a clinical psychologist and lead UnisSA researcher, stated recently that this behavior has become widespread among Australian female university students. She explained that drunkorexia is very dangerous and can put the person who engages in this type of behavior at risk for several serious health consequences, including:

• Brain damage
• Cirrhosis of the liver
• Cognitive deficits
• Depression
• Heart damage
• Memory lapses

Ms. Powell-Jones points out that many people have overindulged in alcohol at some point during their lives. It becomes apparent by the next morning that it was not a good choice. When close to one-third of young, female university students are deliberately cutting back on their food intake to offset the number of calories due to alcohol, it becomes a matter of serious health concern.

Alcohol Use Increasing in the US

In the US, alcohol use increased from 65% to 73% in the adult population in the years 2001-2013. The rate was much higher among certain demographics (women, seniors, minorities, people with lower incomes and education levels).

Approximately 15 million people in the United States are living with Alcohol Use Disorder. Approximately 5.8% of the population or 14.4 million adults had the disorder in 2018.


Medicaid Expansion Linked to Fewer Opioid Overdose Deaths: Study

Medicaid expansion to include more patients is related to fewer opioid overdose deaths. It has been linked to higher numbers of methadone-related fatalities, according to statistics included in a study published in JAMA Network Open (January 10).

Researcher Nicole Kravitz-Wirtz, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the University of California Davis School of Medicine and her colleagues examined cross-sectional data collected from 3,109 counties in 49 states and the District of Columbia. They wanted to track annual mortality rates for overdoses from any of the following:

• Opioids, including natural and semisynthetic varieties
• Methadone
• Heroin
• Synthetic opioids other than methadone

Calculating Mean Rate of Opioid Overdoses by County

Using this data, the researchers noted there were 383, 091 deaths attributed to opioid overdoses in the US during the study period. The mean rate is calculated as 7.25 deaths per county.

To determine the mean, all the numbers in a set are added. The total (sum) is divided by the number of numbers making up the set.

In states where the Medicaid expansion was adopted, the fatal opioid overdose rate dropped by six percent as opposed to ones where coverage was not made available to more subscribers. Counties in expansion states also had lower death rates for heroin fatalities and deaths from synthetic opioids other than methadone.

No “Significant Association” Medicaid Expansion, Deaths from Certain Opioids

Deaths from methadone increased in expansion states. The researchers were unable to find any “significant association” between Medicaid expansion and deaths from natural and semisynthetic opioids. These are drugs that do not occur in nature; instead, they are made in a laboratory. These have a similar chemical structure to opiates and opioids. Examples of drugs in this category include the following:

• Hydrocodone
• Hydromorphone
• Oxycodone
• Oxymorphone

The study authors wrote, “[T]hese findings add to the emerging body of evidence that Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act may be a critical component of state efforts to address the continuing opioid overdose epidemic in the United States.”

Marijuana Dependency “Wrongly Skewed Toward Men”: Review

A new review claims that research conducted on marijuana dependency has been skewed incorrectly towards men. Questions included in the criteria for diagnosing the condition such as, “Have you ever operated machinery or driven a truck while intoxicated from marijuana use?” are examples of a bias toward identifying and treating males with this issue.

Gender Bias Evident in Results

Researchers estimate that 12 percent of male and 5.5 female marijuana users are dependent on the drug. Gender bias has resulted in women being markedly underrepresented in these figures.

There has also been little work done on marijuana psychosis in parts of the world where marijuana use is significant. Most research is focused on gathering information in Europe, America and Australia. The impact of marijuana use in Asia, Africa and the Middle East is not being noted, and not much is known about statistics on marijuana psychosis in these parts of the world.

Ian Hamilton, from the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences, stated that about 10 percent of marijuana users are at risk of developing a dependence on the drug. He pointed out that diagnostic criteria must be updated to ensure the problem is represented accurately.

Mr. Hamilton confirmed that, “male-oriented questions” set the criteria for marijuana abuse lower for men than for women and that this fact could account for the difference in male and female dependence statistics. He also said that researchers have a limited understanding of the effect that marijuana dependence has on women and the effectiveness of treatment options for them.

More Details About Marijuana Dependence Needed

The review asserts that acquiring more details regarding marijuana dependence figures will help public health agencies when identifying and reaching out to high-risk groups.

Mr. Hamilton also said that most people who use marijuana won’t become dependent on it. Those who do become harmed by the drug won’t be “drawn equally from the population.” Instead, these people will be made up of some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society. He stated this will be the same situation “…as with problems associated with other drugs” and that problematic marijuana use, like other drug use, is only one of the advantages affecting these groups.

CBT May be Effective Treatment for Internet and Gaming Addiction

According to the results of a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) could be an effective treatment method for those living with internet and computer game addiction.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Explained

CBT is a specific type of psychological treatment. It has successfully been used to help clients facing a variety of life issues, including:

• Alcohol and drug use problems
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Eating disorders
• Marital difficulties
• Mental illness

It is based on the principle that psychological problems come from either flawed or unhelpful thought patterns. These unhelpful ways of thinking lead to learned patterns of behavior that are also unhelpful. By learning to adjust one’s thought patterns to more positive and helpful ones, CBT clients also learn how to develop new behavior patterns that may lead to improved problem-solving abilities, less stress and anxiety and less dependence on chemicals.

Random Sample Used for Therapy Study

Researchers ran a study with a random sample of 143 men living with internet and computer game addiction. The average age of the participants was 26.2 years. One group of participants received manualized CBT, while the other one was placed on a wait-list/control group for 15 weeks.

The study was conducted in several locations serving outpatients in Germany and Austria (January 2012-June 2017). The main outcome was abeyance from internet addiction on completion of the CBT program. The result was measured using the Assessment of Internet and Computer Game Addiction Self-report.

Most Participants Report Remission After CBT

On analyzing their results, the researchers discovered that 69.4 percent of participants in the treatment group and 23.9 percent of those in the control group went into remission. The researchers also found that remission rates were higher in the manualized CBT group as opposed to the wait-list/control group. This conclusion was reached after taking into account additional factors, including the participants’ age and baseline severity of their addiction.

The study had an important limitation, which was that it relied on the participants to self-report their impressions of the effectiveness of CBT or trying to recover from internet and computer addiction without this form of therapy.

The researchers felt that more trials would be needed to investigate the long-term effectiveness of CBT on clients being treated for internet and computer game addiction. These future trials would include active control conditions and should consider the effects of any other drugs the participants are using.

Doctors Need “More Training” to Treat Opioid Addiction: Survey

The majority of Massachusetts doctors (three out of four) didn’t receive training on addiction during medical school or their residency, according to the results of a new survey. It also found that less than half of ER and internal medicine specialists believe that opioid use disorder (OUD) is a treatable disease.

Doctor Survey Funded by MA Non-profit for Shatterproof

The survey was funded by RIZE Massachusetts, a nonprofit organization, and the GE Foundation. It was conducted by the nonprofit organization Shatterproof and specifically looked at how the stigma around OUD influences how doctors treat patients living with addiction.

Massachusetts Medical Society doctors were asked questions about the following:

• Their perceptions about OUD
• Barriers to screening for OUD
• Barriers to treating OUD
• Best ways to train doctors to prevent stigma about OUD and improve patient care

Massachusetts Facing Opioid Overdose Epidemic

Julie Burns, the president and CEO of RIZE Massachusetts, stated that the state is facing an epidemic resulting in the deaths of an average of four people each day from an opioid overdose. She also said that the MA health care system is the “frontline effort in combating [the] epidemic.” Ms. Burns went on to comment that the survey findings are important part of understanding how to help physicians treat these patients as well as making it easier for people who are suffering from addiction to seek treatment.

The results of the survey found emergency providers are twice likely as medical workers in other specialties to say that providing methadone treatment for OUD only substitutes one addiction for another. Emergency medical providers also feel most strongly that treating patients with OUD takes time and resources away from other patients.

Newer Doctors More Likely to Have Received Addiction Treatment Training

The survey results also revealed that doctors who have been in practice for less than 10 years are twice as likely to have been given at least some addiction treatment training than doctors who have been in practice longer than a decade. Dr. Maryanne Bombaugh, the president of the medical society and an OB-GYN with a practice in Falmouth, said that she was surprised that there are practices that “really would not embrace caring for patients with a substance use disorder.” She said that the lack of comfort caring for patients living with an addiction stuck out for her.

Local hospitals are taking steps to respond to the survey results. They have already promised to take action to improve their methods in treating patients. Twelve hospitals in Boston and Cambridge have pledged to train their staff to provide better addiction treatment, as well as to offer better support to employees who are dealing with their own or a loved one’s addiction.

The survey results clearly indicate that more education and training for doctors is needed, according to Dr. Bombaugh. She said that this is a situation where if you can measure results, you can manage them. Now that the gaps have been identified, work can start on filling starting to fill them.

Alcohol Addiction “Blunts” Brain’s Sense of Pleasure and Reward: Study

The results of a new study, which have been published in Molecular Psychiatry, show that a portion of the brain’s reward system is blunted when a person becomes addicted to alcohol. This effect continues even after long periods of abstinence.

The researcher’s findings demonstrate that those living with an addiction to alcohol release fewer endorphins in their brain when compared to a control group. The new study found similar results to a previous study performed by the team, which looked at gambling addicts’ endorphin levels.

How are Endorphins Affected by Alcohol?

Endorphins are the body’s “feel good” chemical messengers. They are released when we engage in enjoyable activities, such as listening to music, eating chocolate or playing with a pet. Physical activity also causes the brain to release endorphins.

The researchers used Positron Emission Tomography (PET), a specialized type of scan that shows the chemical messengers’ movements. Their goal was to increase understanding of how the brain’s endorphins change with alcohol addiction.

Study Participants had History of Alcohol Abuse

Thirteen people with alcohol abuse issues, who weren’t drinking at the time of the study, underwent PET scans. One scan was taken before and one after receiving a small dose of the ADD medication dexamphetamine to stimulate their endorphin system. The control group for the study was 15 people who didn’t have a history of addiction.

The group with alcohol abuse issues released “significantly less endorphins” than the control group. The reduced level of endorphins didn’t change, even after long periods of time without drinking alcohol.

First Time Lower Endorphin Release Linked to Alcohol Addiction

This is the first time that lower endorphin release has been shown in people with alcohol addiction. The findings are similar to an earlier study conducted on participants with a history of gambling addiction, which suggests that low endorphin production is something common to those living with other addictions.

The study results didn’t indicate whether this dysfunction of the brain’s reward system is a result of the addiction or was present before the addiction took hold. The researchers are also unclear whether lower endorphins are present in people who are at higher risk for developing an addiction.

Federal Lawmakers Approve Bill to Expand Opioid Abuse Treatment

The House has approved new legislation written to give healthcare providers more options as they do their part to stem the opioid crisis. Currently more than 115 people are losing their lives to drug overdoses in the US every day.

The legislation passed easily with a vote of 396-14. It includes several opioid-related bills that lawmakers have decided to make a priority.

Drug Crisis Impacts Many Lives

Many of the lawmakers shared personal accounts of how opioid abuse has affected their family, friends and constituents when urging their colleagues to pass the bill. Majority leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said that his press secretary, Erin Perrine, lost her brother, Eamon, to a drug overdose. The news of his death in 2016 was particularly tragic for the family since it happened shortly before Perrine’s wedding.

McCarthy stated, “Let that be a lesson to us all: There is no event so joyful, no place so safe, that it is untouched by the drug crisis.”

New Law Increases Aid to Medicare Patients

The new bill encourages states to increase treatment coverage for substance abuse through Medicaid. Former prisoners and youth in foster care are among the population groups specifically targeted for increased treatment coverage. To date, 30,000 Medicare patients have been diagnosed with opioid addiction.

The legislation also seeks to increase use of medications to treat opioid abuse. It would allow more healthcare workers to treat patients with medications to reduce overdose risks. Methadone clinics will be added to Medicare program offerings. The new bill adds incentives for physicians to order post-surgical injections, as opposed to prescribing opioids.

White House Supports House’s Effort to Pass Bills

The White House announced its support for the House’s effort, which has involved passing multiple bills on the opioid abuse issue. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called on the Senate to take the legislation up and “get these lifesaving bills to the president’s desk.” Sanders went on to say that the bills represent, “the most significant Congressional effort against a single drug crisis in United States history.”

Could Stimulating the Brain be Key to Treating Drug Addiction?

Research has shown that drug addiction is a chronic disease affecting approximately 21.5 million people in the US. The exact causes are complicated, and at present it’s impossible to predict exactly what leads someone to become addicted to a drug. With repeated exposure to an addictive drug, changes occur in the brain that continue the cycle of addiction.

Addiction interferes with the reward processing circuits in the brain. A brain under the influence of an addictive drug receives a massive amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

What is Dopamine?

Dopamine is a chemical that behaves like a messenger between brain cells. It helps to determine how we learn, what we eat, how we move and whether we become addicts. Dopamine also helps with motivation to repeat a particular action, such as doing something pleasurable again.

Drugs like heroin, cocaine and even nicotine cause the brain to release large amount of dopamine. When the brain gets too much of this neurotransmitter from drugs, the person with a substance abuse problem continues to look for a “high” from the drug. Other pleasurable experiences like eating an ice cream cone or watching a funny movie won’t be enough to give the brain the amount of good feeling it needs.

TMS Targets Brain’s Neural Circuits

For this reason, addiction is called a brain disease. Until now, researchers, haven’t been able to find treatments targeting the neural circuits. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston) have discovered a treatment that targets them.

The researchers, who supervised by Colleen Hanlon, Ph.D., used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to dull the brain’s response to wanting to consume cocaine and alcohol in chronic users. This noninvasive brain stimulation technique was used in two groups of participants, and their reactions to receiving either a real treatment or a sham one. Their reactions were recorded, and the results showed “no significant interaction with region of interest [in the brain] for either experiment.”

The findings were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.

Virtual Reality Games Could be Part of Drug Addiction Rehab

Video games are an enjoyable pastime for many people. They enjoy spending time testing their skills against other players or against the computer. The video games are sought out by users as a means to release tension.

Vanderbilt University Researcher Working on Virtual Reality Therapy

A researcher at the Vanderbilt University is using video games as part of an unusual therapy being used to help drug addicts get a firmer hold on reality. Noah Robinson is a graduate student who is leading a group with the University’s Hollon Research Group conducting a scientific study to quantify whether this therapy can help addicts. (There are already anecdotal accounts that it is helpful.)

The therapy works by immersing the addict in a virtual world made up of abstract shapes and swirls of color. It isn’t just some type of fantastic treat for the eyes, though. It also includes a layer of psychological principles. The idea of using the virtual reality (VR) therapy is to teach users the skills necessary to separate themselves from the negative emotions and cravings that provide the fuel required to feed an addiction.

The therapist appears in the virtual world as a cartoon avatar, and the addict can communicate with the therapist through the virtual reality headset during sessions. The two of them can “walk” into a separate room for a talk therapy session.

VR Tool for Trying Out New Skills in Recovery

This rehab tool also lets addicts “try out” the skills they are learning in therapy. For example, the virtual reality headset can allow a recovering alcoholic to virtually walk into a bar or a party and practice turning down a drink. Afterward, the recovering alcoholic and his therapist can discuss whether it felt easy or hard to say, “No” when offered alcohol and talk about strategies for handling a similar situation in the “real” world.

The advantage to using virtual reality therapy for clients in treatment for drug addiction is that the distraction of the technology separates them from their fears and anxieties. As a result, the messages from therapy are easier to absorb.

Tennessee House Passes Governor’s Bill Limiting Some Opioid Prescriptions

The Tennessee House of Representatives has approved a new measure limiting opioid prescriptions for temporary and first-time uses. With this action, it has passed a critical part of Governor Bill Haslam’s plan to deal with the state’s opioid crisis.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, and Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville sponsored the measure, which limits prescriptions for new opioid patients. It doesn’t cut prescriptions for current prescription opioid users or patients living with chronic pain. The measure passed by a count of 94-1.

Legislation to Fight Opioid Epidemic

Rep. Sabi Kumar, R-Springfield, who is also a surgeon, referred to the measure as a “major piece of legislation in our fight against the epidemic.”

Earlier this year, the governor outlined a $30 million effort to take on the Tennessee opioid crisis.

Doctors Critical of Proposed Law

The Tennessee Medical Association and the state’s doctors were critical of the governor’s plan, called TN Together. They were concerned that it limited doctors’ ability to prescribe opioid medications to patients on an as-needed basis.

Compromise with Healthcare Providers Reached

Healthcare providers, the Haslam administration and lawmakers reached a compromise on the measure that gave doctors more leeway when prescribing opioids. Instead of the original five-day limit for prescriptions, doctors can prescribe up to 10 days’ of medication in some cases.

The goal of limiting prescriptions is to curb the number of new state residents becoming addicted to opioids. Studies have shown that patients who receive prescriptions for more than five days’ of opioids are at higher risk for addiction.

The new bill sets limits of three, five and 10 days for opioid prescriptions. Dosages can’t exceed a total of 500 milligrams of morphine equivalent.

The bill recognizes exceptions for patients with serious ailments, as well as those who are undergoing “more than a minimally invasive procedure” or one where “the risk of intense pain exceeds the risk of addiction.”

FDA Strengthens Warning About Kratom, Saying Herb is an Opioid

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) boosted its warning about kratom. The agency said that the results of new research indicated the unregulated herb has “opioid properties.” It has also been associated with numerous deaths.

FDA “Confident” in Calling Kratom an Opioid

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated recently that the Agency feels confident in “calling compounds found in kratom, opioids.” The FDA came to its conclusion based on recent computational modeling, scientific literature and reports of adverse effects on people. He added that the new data reinforced the Agency’s concerns about kratom’s “potential for abuse, addiction and serious health hazards, including death.”

Possible Addiction Treatment

Kratom is imported from Southeast Asia. The product, which is marketed as a supplement, is being bought by consumers looking for relief from anxiety, depression and pain. It is also being used to treat opioid-withdrawal symptoms. Some researchers are studying whether kratom can be used to treat addiction. Other experts warn that the supplement, which is available in capsule form or used as a tea, is simply too risky to use.

No FDA-approved Uses for Kratom

Commissioner Gottlieb stated in November 2017 that there are no FDA-approved uses for kratom. The Agency now knows of 44 deaths related to kratom which took place between April 2011 and December 2017. In one instance, the deceased had no history of opioid use, “except for kratom.”

In many of the cases, the deceased had used kratom in conjunction with other drugs. This fact makes it difficult for authorities to determine the actual cause of death. Kratom supporters say that the government has blamed it on deaths due to other substances. The new death, which occurred in the absence of other substances, reinforces the FDA’s concerns about kratom’s safety.

FDA scientists analyzed the 25 most-common compounds in kratom. They concluded that all of them share “most structural similarities” with opioid pain medications. The model also showed that 22 of the compounds bind to opioid receptors in the brain, as well as to stress reponses “that impact neurological and cardiovascular function.” The Agency had previously warned the public about kratom’s side effects, which include respiratory depression and seizures.

Concern Kratom Users May Return to Opioids

Jack Henningfield, an addiction specialist with the drug policy group Pinney Associates, said that surveys of kratom users had revealed that many of them had been taking the supplement as a tool to stop using opioids. Mr. Henningfield argued that kratom use presents a lower risk than opioids. He stated that restricting or banning kratom use could push some people toward the black market to buy kratom or even make them start using opioids again.

Cocaine Overdose, Withdrawal & Addiction Treatment in Inpatient Rehab

People tend to minimize the risks associated with cocaine, overlooking entirely the risk of overdose. But, cocaine is extremely dangerous and even first time users are at grave risk of overdose.

If you are struggling with cocaine addiction, your chance of overdose increases dramatically because you are using the drug more frequently. Unfortunately, many people do not survive cocaine overdoses; according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine overdose deaths increased 42 percent between 2001 and 2014.  Those who survive an overdose may find it is the wake-up call they needed to deal with their cocaine addiction and often FINALLY make the decision to seek treatment in an inpatient rehab.

Why Do People Overdose?

There are obviously a lot of situations that lead people to overdose, but all of them have to do with using too much cocaine in order to get high or to maintain a high. For example, some users continue to abuse the drug while there are still large amounts of cocaine in their system and this multiplies the effects of the drug. Other users may take a large dose because they have developed a tolerance and can’t achieve the same high with their old dose.

Often times, cocaine overdose is a complete accident. Users may obtain a drug that is much stronger than what they are accustomed to getting and not realize the risks when they use. If a drug has a higher potency or purity than what a user is accustomed to overdose can quickly happen without notice.

If you or someone you love is abusing cocaine, don’t wait until an overdose occurs to seek help. Call 1-800-559-0697 today to find an inpatient rehab center near you.

What Are the Signs of Overdose?

Common signs that someone has used too much cocaine may include:

  • Aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • Severe mood changes
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Extreme levels of energy
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting
  • Headache
  • Raised body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fainting and/or dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Coma

What Do I Do If Someone Is Overdosing?

Cocaine affects many of the user’s bodily systems and an overdose can quickly turn fatal if left untreated. For example, the arteries that feed the heart may constrict, starving the heart of oxygen. This can lead to a deadly heart attack or stroke that provides little to no notice before medical attention become vital.

If you suspect that an overdose of cocaine has occurred it is important to immediately call 911. While you are waiting for an ambulance:

  • Use cold compresses to reduce elevated body temperature
  • Move furniture and items out of the way in case of seizure
  • Remain present until help arrives

If there is no immediate emergency of overdose, but someone you love recently overdosed or you suspect that cocaine overdose risks are possible, call 1-888-605-7779 for help finding an inpatient rehab center.

Trying to Get Clean

After a potential overdose, you may decide enough is enough and it’s time to really focus on getting clean. If this sounds like your current situation, know first that you are NOT ALONE. Thousands of people struggle with cocaine addiction and need help. Many try several times to get clean before they seek professional help- and that’s “ok.”


Cocaine withdrawal is a real risk if you attempt to quit using after a prolonged period of use. In fact, many users struggle for months with underlying symptoms of cocaine withdrawal trying their best just to get well and feel better.

What Are the Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal?

Stimulants such as cocaine produce withdrawal symptoms that are unlike those caused by sedatives, opioids, or alcohol.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration symptoms of withdrawal from cocaine may include:

  • Drug cravings
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Psychomotor retardation
  • Hypersomnia or insomnia
  • Poor concentration
  • Depression

Cocaine withdrawal rarely produces intense discomfort or medical danger. However, if a specific patient exhibits signs of a poor outcome during detox, clinical interventions may be used.

Typically, symptoms of withdrawal from cocaine clear up after several days, but they can continue for 3 to 4 weeks or longer depending on the severity of the addiction and the length of time the drug was used.

Dangers of Cocaine Withdrawal

Many overlook the dangers associated with dysphoria (negative thoughts and feelings), but this is the most commonly cited cocaine withdrawal symptom that can be potentially fatal. Experts believe that dysphoria is a combination of \ withdrawal effects from stimulants such as cocaine coupled with the dawning realization of the consequences that have resulted from a binge. Together, these components can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Addicts may also face cardiac complications; therefore, IF withdrawal is taking place in a controlled medical detox facility the detox staff are to be made acutely aware of chest discomfort and any potential cardiac symptoms.

Another serious danger, seizures. It is common for seizures to occur during cocaine withdrawal. If someone you love is struggling with cocaine addiction, these dangers are some of the most common reasons why it is highly recommended that you seek professional treatment in an inpatient rehab center or detox center.

For help finding an inpatient rehab that can help you or your loved one overcome cocaine addiction, call 1-888-605-7779 today.

Safe Withdrawal in a Detox Center

The most effective method of safe withdrawal from cocaine is through the establishment of a period of abstinence. Intensive outpatient detox can generally accomplish this. If a patient can stay clean long enough, negative symptoms usually stop on their own. There are no medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating cocaine withdrawal.


Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Cocaine dependence and addiction are crippling, but there are many treatment options available. Help is accessible IF you’re ready and willing. Inpatient rehab can help you or your loved one to get sober once and for all.

If you’re ready to overcome cocaine addiction, call 1-888-605-7779 today to find an inpatient rehab center near you.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab

If you choose inpatient rehab, you will be required to live at the rehab center. This is a great option for people who need the security of a drug and alcohol free environment. It also benefits addicts by separating them from the triggers and stressors that they encounter in their daily life.

Outpatient treatment only requires visits to the rehab center when there is a scheduled treatment meeting or therapy session. This option works well for people who cannot take time away from their responsibilities at home or work and it may also be less expensive.

Both options can work wonderfully for those struggling with cocaine addiction. The one that will work best for you is determined by your specific situation.

Behavioral Therapy

Psychological approaches that address the motivations, thinking, and underlying psychological issues that contribute to a pattern of substance abuse are the primary focus of behavioral therapy. By dealing with these underlying factors of addiction, counselors and therapists enable patients to make positive changes in their lives.

One type of behavioral therapy commonly used in cocaine addiction treatment is contingency management. This is a treatment that uses tangible incentives (cash or prizes) to encourage positive behaviors. Much like abstinence and improved social interactions, contingency management has proven effective for many people with cocaine addictions.

Pharmacological Therapy

In addition to behavioral treatment options, many pharmacological or medicine-based approaches are available to treat cocaine addiction. While there are currently no medications approved by the FDA for the primary purpose of treating cocaine addiction or dependence, there are a wide range of medications that can be used to help reduce symptoms of withdrawal such as anxiety, depression or insomnia. Many of these same medications are sometimes used long term as the user’s hormonal balance returns to a normal state.

Emerging methylphenidate treatment is also proving effective. Typically used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, this drug is sort of like cocaine. It causes the brain to feel as if any existing cravings have been satisfied without the user actually getting high.

Finding Inpatient Rehab

If you’re ready to get sober, or you know someone that’s struggling with an addiction to cocaine and needs help, consider calling 1-888-605-7779 to find a local rehab center near you. As you’ve seen, many therapeutic options are available to help you or a loved one to balance out and feel better despite an addiction to this powerful stimulant. One call could literally save your life…don’t delay, get the help you need today.

Benefits of Inpatient Drug Rehab For Single Parents

single mother in inpatient rehabAddiction is a complicated disease for not only the person suffering from it but also for the people around them, particularly any children involved. When an addict is a single parent, they may feel like it is impossible to achieve. The cost may prove prohibited. If there is no one who can take over childcare duties, foster care may be the only option. These are valid obstacles.

However, there are aspects of treatment that are particularly useful for single parents. If you’re a single parent who needs help, call 1-888-605-7779 today to find an inpatient rehab center near you.

Family Inpatient Drug Rehab

Childcare is a legitimate concern for single parents who want to enter residential treatment. They simply aren’t free to do so unless they can trust their child to someone else. Luckily, there are inpatient drug rehab programs that are designed for parents and children. They often accommodate one parent and two children and design their programs around developing not only strategies to enable successful recovery but parenting ones as well.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Many parents who struggle with addiction also struggle with a mental illness. Having both is considered a dual diagnosis. If a parent enters a traditional 12 step based outpatient program, the mental illness won’t be addressed or treated. Inpatient drug rehab programs that cater to single parents may offer simultaneous treatment for dual diagnosis patients. Having both receive the care that they need directly impacts the quality of parenting patients are able to deliver.

Parent Coaching

Inpatient drug rehab facilities who treat parents often offer coaching as part of their treatment. There is an acknowledgment that the addiction has disrupted an ideal parenting situation and the coaching helps to address what has been done and assists patients in making changes to repair the damage done. Parents can learn important skills that they can use for the rest of their life to communicate more clearly with their children.

Get Help Today

If you or someone you love is a single parent struggling with addiction, there’s nothing better than you can do for your children than to get HELP. Many inpatient rehab programs are available with programs specifically for single parents. For women with children, some centers even allow the mother to bring her child or children with her. Don’t let anything stop you from getting the help you need to do what’s best for your kids. Call our helpline at 1-888-605-7779 today to be connected with a rehab center that can help.

Through inpatient rehab, you’ll gain a wide range of positive benefits including a renewed sense of hope, improved self-esteem and a balance that you can’t possibly achieve while addicted to drugs or alcohol. Don’t let your addiction ruin another minute of you and your children’s lives—do what’s most important, seek help today and start your journey to healing and recovery with your children’s future in mind!

Am I Addicted to Heroin? Signs You May Need Inpatient Rehab for Heroin Addiction

rehab for heroin addictionAll addiction feeds on denial and it is very common for people to continue abusing heroin for ages after their use has developed into full-blown addiction without acknowledging that there is a problem. If you are beginning to see that you might have a problem, it’s good to take some time and consider whether or not you are dealing with an addiction that may require inpatient rehab.

The following tips will help you to decipher whether you’re dealing with a serious problem or if your heroin use may be something that you still have full-well under control. Remember though, most people who abuse heroin are addicted and cannot stop without professional treatment in an inpatient rehab center.

Dependence vs. Addiction

It is important to remember that heroin use disorder is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of abuse drug use behaviors, including dependence and addiction. These two terms refer to different things.

Dependence refers to a physical reliance on heroin. You must continue using the drug to stave off withdrawal symptoms.  This occurs because your body is no longer producing endorphins naturally and you don’t “feel good” without the heroin triggering your body to release the natural feel good hormones. Normally, your body would produce enough endorphins to stop withdrawal, but increased tolerance to heroin disrupts the body’s attempt to maintain equilibrium.

Addiction, on the other hand, is classified as a disease. It is considered a “chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and drug use, despite harmful consequences.” by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Cravings will drive addicts to continue using regardless of the outcomes or consequences that result.

Whether you’re dependent on heron to get out of bed each day, or you have an addiction that makes you feel sick, uneasy and otherwise like you cannot possibly making it through life without this drug, you need help. Call 1-888-605-7779 to find an inpatient rehab that will support you needs.

If I am Dependent, Do I Really Need Rehab?

If you have an addiction, you certainly need to enter into a structured, formal inpatient rehab program. There is no doubt that this is true. However, as dependence is not as severe as addiction, many people feel they should be able to conquer the withdrawal process independently. Sadly, that’s not necessarily true.

Yes, heroin dependence is easier to treat. Typically, it can be managed with medication after an appropriate detox period. However, there isn’t a home substitute for professional care and medication. While you could try to control your use it’s best to go to the experts and undergo a period of rehabilitation to ensure your health and healing.

Is it Possible to be Dependent without Being Addicted?

Yes. It is possible that you are dependent on heroin, but not addicted however it’s unlikely. Heroin dependence quickly transitions into heroin addiction. Unlike other drugs that may cause dependence that lingers for some time but isn’t technically an addiction, heroin use tends to flow straight past dependence to addiction with almost no time in between the change. If you think you’re merely dependent, try quitting—if you can’t quit on your own, seek the help of a professional inpatient rehab center by calling 1-888-605-7779.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

If you’re secretly using heroin, you may be able to keep it hidden for some time but your drug use will eventually show. Your loved ones and friend will figure out that you’re struggling. Even if you make it a point to only use when you know you have privacy and won’t have to be around others who will judge you a time will come where you can’t hide anymore. The symptoms of the addiction will become evident and your ability to “wait” for the perfect time to get high will no longer be possible because your cravings and withdrawal will outweigh any rational decision making that you have left. This is the first MAJOR sign of heroin addiction.

Additional signs of addiction include:

  • Constricted pupils for up to 5 hours after getting high.
  • Disorientation and shallow breathing.
  • Lack of self-care and hygiene.
  • Cycles of use that cause rapid weight loss or weight gain.
  • Physical indicators including: diarrhea, muscle cramps, yawning, sneezing, and tremors.

Additional Signs of Addiction to Heroin

Drowsiness is such a common sign of heroin use that the condition has its own name: the nods. When a person uses heroin, they experience a euphoric rush that extends for a few, short, minutes. After that, users experience a state of drowsiness that lasts for hours. Therefore, drops in energy, an increase in periods of drowsiness and their frequency, and sleeping at strange times can all be signs of recent heroin use. You might also observe slow or slurred speech and mental fogginess.

If the heroin addiction is the product of IV drug use, there will be additional signs of the drug use which include:

  • Bruises
  • Scabs
  • Needle marks
  • Scars
  • Abscesses (infections of the skin that create large masses)

Unless a recent medical procedure has taken place there is no reason for these marks to be present. Track marks and other signs of intravenous heroin use are most commonly seen on  a user’s arms due to the abundance of easy-to-penetrate veins, but these signs may also appear between the toes, on or around the ankle, or on the neck.

If you think that you or a loved one might be addicted to heroin, call 1-888-605-7779 today for help. We’ll support you and help you get into inpatient rehab.

50 Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse You Can’t Miss

When most people think of prescription drug abuse, they think of opioids. The prescription opioid epidemic has gotten a lot of media attention and these are the prescriptions most people think about when they hear about addiction, but, there are actually 3 commonly abused classes of prescription medication: opioids, stimulants, and benzodiazepines. The symptoms you experience when you abuse these medications vary based on the type of medication as well as your level of abuse. If you are experiencing and of the following symptoms and you worry that you may have a problem with prescription drug abuse, it is time to speak with your doctor about treatment.

Inpatient rehab is often the first choice, especially for doctors who realize the dangers involved in addiction and withdrawal. If you’re not sure how to choose the best rehab center or you need more information about local inpatient rehab centers near you, call our helpline toll-free at 1-888-605-7779 today. We’ll help you find a residential rehab center that can treat prescription drug addiction safely and effectively so that YOU can get well.


Prescription opioids are used to treat pain. Common examples include oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine. In addition to the hundreds of opioid analgesics that are on the market and available by prescription, illicit opiates such as opium and heroin are also widely abused throughout the United States. Although opioid withdrawal is rarely fatal, prolonged users may experience symptoms of low blood pressure, seizures or other complications when they quit abruptly. As such, it is recommended that you seek inpatient rehab when you decide to quit taking opiates or any other prescription medication. Call our helpline at 1-888-605-7779 to be connected with an inpatient rehab specialist that can assist you.

Signs of prescription opioid abuse may include:

  1. Feeling no pain
  2. Sedation
  3. Vomiting
  4. Flushed or itching skin
  5. Nausea
  6. Constipation
  7. Slowed breathing rate
  8. Drowsiness
  9. Poor coordination
  10. Poor judgement or confusion
  11. Nodding off
  12. Heavy limbs

If you’re struggling with any of these symptoms, addition is a real threat and you should be concerned. Help is available if you’re ready to get sober.


Prescription stimulants are typically used to treat sleep disorders such as narcolepsy as well as behavioral disorders such as ADHD otherwise known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Commonly prescribed stimulants include Ritalin and Adderall. Most of these are considered Schedule III or Schedule IV controlled substances as they have a relatively low potential for abuse and misuse but this does not mean that taking these medications for ANY reason other than prescribed is safe. In fact, misuse of stimulants may lead to addiction and attempting to quit taking them cold-turkey will most definitely lead to withdrawal symptoms that require a professional level of monitoring and care.

Signs of prescription stimulant abuse include:

  1. Unexplained weight loss
  2. Paranoia
  3. Insomnia and trouble sleeping
  4. Increased hostility
  5. Seizures
  6. Increased heart rate
  7. Increased temperature
  8. Increased blood pressure
  9. Irregular heartbeat
  10. Irritability or agitation
  11. Anxiety
  12. Excessive hours of awake time (sometimes staying awake for days)
  13. Upbeat behavior and excessive activity

If you’re abusing stimulants, it’s important to seek the help of an inpatient rehab that can provide medically monitored detox. While certain prescriptions, such as opioids, are not likely to lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms (you may feel like you’re going to die but you’re generally not at serious risk of death), stimulants require a tapering method in order to safely reduce risk of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms during detox. Failure to seek medical treatment when you detox could lead to dire consequences including seizures, coma or death.


These medications are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders such as insomnia or the inability to fall asleep. Common examples of prescription benzos include include Xanax and Valium. These medications are usually considered Schedule IV controlled substances as they have a relatively low potential for abuse and misuse, but don’t mistake that for believing that these medications are “safe.” In fact, Benzodiazepines account for thousands of overdoses and are to blame for many drug related deaths each year. Mixing these medications with alcohol or with other medications especially opiates or stimulants could prove deadly.

Signs of prescription benzodiazepine abuse include:

  1. Unsteady walking
  2. Weakness
  3. Anxiety
  4. Anorexia
  5. Headaches
  6. Insomnia
  7. Difficulty breathing
  8. Slurred speech
  9. Lack of coordination
  10. Blurred vision
  11. Dizziness
  12. Drowsiness
  13. Confusion
  14. Problems with memory
  15. Sleeping excessively

If you’re using benzos such as Valium, Ativan or Xanax and you need help, call 1-888-605-7779 to be connected with an inpatient rehab specialist that can assist you.

Additional Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse or Misuse

The previous signs and symptoms are all physical and emotional. But, there are also behavioral cues that point to the possible abuse of prescription medications. In addition to the common symptoms of abuse listed above, you may notice a loved one is acting weird or out of sorts. Maybe you have experienced the first-hand behavioral patterns of the addiction of a loved one without even realizing what was happening right before your eyes. For instance, if you have a loved one that is doctor shopping, calling in fake prescriptions, or blaming others for taking his or her prescriptions, there may be a deeper problem that he or she is not telling you about.

With prescription drugs, any use of the medication that is not EXACTLY as prescribed could be a sign of addiction and is surely a sign of abuse. If your loved one loses medication, takes more than prescribed, or uses the medication for any reason other than for what the doctor prescribed it for, consider calling for help. Our phone number is 1-888-605-7779. We can help you differentiate between abuse and addiction, and if you decide that someone you love needs help, we’ll connect you with an inpatient rehab center near you today.

Look out for these additional signs that someone you care about is abusing potentially dangerous medications:

  1. A pattern of “losing” prescriptions, so that it’s ok to ask for another to be written
  2. Seeking and/or obtaining prescriptions from multiple doctors
  3. Appearing to be high, oddly peppy, or sedated
  4. Poor decision making
  5. Decrease or increase in sleep
  6. Remarkable hostility or mood swings
  7. Taking larger doses than prescribed
  8. Taking medication more frequently than prescribed
  9. Forging, stealing, or selling prescriptions
  10. Doctor shopping—using multiple doctors to get prescriptions

40 Health Risks of Crack Addiction that Signify a Need for Inpatient Rehab Help

When you begin using drugs like crack, you don’t think ahead to the consequences of long-term chronic use. It is recreational primarily and you don’t give it much thought beyond getting high. However, crack abuse tends to escalate quite quickly from casually getting high to relying on the drug to cope and struggling with addiction. But long before addiction sets in, certain health risks become evident. Recognizing the risks of crack addiction early on can help you to identify when you or a loved on should considering seeking help.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine, call our helpline at 1-888-605-7779 today. We’ll connect you with an inpatient rehab center that can guide you to recovery and healing one step at a time. Rehab specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your call and help YOU overcome crack addiction.

What Are the Short-Term Consequences of Crack Addiction?

Crack cocaine is known for its powerful, short-lived high. But, when it wears off, most people feel their moods swinging across the spectrum. It’s common for intense depression to quickly set in. Early on, many users notice the following signs of crack addiction:

      1. Panic
      2. Psychosis
      3. Loss of appetite
      4. Contracted blood vessel
      5. Enlarged pupils
      6. Nausea and vomiting
      7. Violent, erratic, inexplicable behavior
      8. Tactile hallucinations, like the sensation of insects burrowing under your skin
      9. Anxiety
      10. Paranoia
      11. Drug cravings
      12. High heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure
      13. Increased rate of breathing
      14. Trouble sleeping
      15. Hyper-stimulation
      16. Hallucinations
      17. Hyperexcitability

    What Are the Long-Term Consequences of Crack Addiction?

    Long-term use has an impact on every system of the body. Smoking crack for a long time can lead to seriously health deterioration and a number of consequences that require professional care including:

    1. Severe depression
    2. Severe bowel decay
    3. Permanent damage to the blood vessels of the brain and ear
    4. High blood pressure
    5. Heart attack
    6. Stroke
    7. Liver damage
    8. Kidney damage
    9. Lung damage
    10. Infectious diseases and abscesses if you inject the drug
    11. Severe tooth decay
    12. Sexual problems, including infertility and reproductive damage
    13. Mood disturbances
    14. Psychosis
    15. Delirium
    16. Severe chest pains
    17. Respiratory failure
    18. Weight loss and malnutrition
    19. Tactile and auditory hallucinations
    20. Apathy
    21. Exhaustion
    22. Disorientation
    23. Increased frequency of dangerous behavior

Finding Inpatient Rehab for Crack Addiction

Obviously, the best thing you can do is stop using crack cocaine, but that may sound much easier than it actually IS. Crack cocaine addiction is hard to beat. The intense cravings that persist for many months following an addiction can quickly lead to relapse even for the most strong willed individual. This is because addiction is a chronic disease and it has nothing to do with your will-power or strength. In fact, some of the smartest, strongest and most mentally prepared people in the world have found themselves sucked into this horrible disease of addiction and begging for a way out.

If you or someone you care about is addicted to crack cocaine, call our helpline at 1-888-605-7779 to find an inpatient rehab center that will help you see the light. Our specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide support and care that will lead you to recovery. We realize this is a tough decision, but help is available to make this terrible addiction a thing of your past. Your future is waiting…

Your Treatment May be Covered!

Did you know that many inpatient rehab centers accept health insurance? If you have health insurance, consider this an option to help you pay for rehab. In addition to the coverage that insurance may provide to help you get clean and sober, many rehab centers also offer helpful cost alternatives such as sliding fee programs, pay-as-you-go options, and government subsidized care. If you’re avoiding the call for help because you think you can’t afford it, consider one of these helpful ways to pay for rehab and learn more about how to pay for rehab here.

Alarming Cocaine Use Statistics – Infographic

Cocaine addiction is a serious problem that nobody is immune to unless they simply don’t use the drug. Unfortunately, anyone who abuses cocaine is at a significant risk of becoming addicted. These alarming statistics will shed some light on just how bad cocaine addiction really is.

infographic shows alarming statistics on cocaine abuse


Text Format:

Who’s Using Cocaine?

  • 1 in 4 Americans between the ages of 26 and 34 have abused cocaine at some time.
  • 3.3% of high school students abuse cocaine.
  • Average age group of cocaine users is actually 18-25.
  • More men abuse cocaine than women.

Who’s Dying from Cocaine Addiction

  • 15 thousand Americans per year die from cocaine use.
  • 500K emergency room department admissions result annually from cocaine use.
  • From 2001-2014 there was a 42% increase in cocaine overdose deaths from the previous period of the same length

Teens and Cocaine Abuse

  • 4% of 12th graders report having used cocaine at some time in their life by the age of 18.
  • 2.5% of 12th graders recently reported having abused cocaine in the past 12 months.
  • Fewer teens use crack cocaine than powder cocaine.

Treatment Options

  • Many treatment options are available to assist you in overcoming a cocaine addiction.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Therapeutic communities
  • Disulfiram medication
  • Modanifil medication
  • Lorcaserin medication

10 Ways to Beat Opiate Addiction – Infographic

Opiate addiction can be tough to beat. Emotionally you may feel overwhelmed, drained or otherwise unable to kick the habit alone. Physically you feel awful and as if the only possible way to feel better is by taking one more pill or using one more dose of heroin. No matter what your chosen opioid is, these tips will help you kick the habit and come out free from the addiction that’s currently in control of your life.

For help finding an inpatient rehab center that will guide you through the healing process, call 1-888-605-7779 today.

infographic ways to beat opiate addiction

The first 5 tips to help you get clean are:

  1. Seek Help with Detox
  2. Slowly Taper to Reduce Withdrawal Impact
  3. Use Over-the-Counter Medications as Needed
  4. Consider Methadone or other Maintenance Medications
  5. Seek the Help of a Support Group

Seek Help with Detox

The assistance of a controlled medical detox facility in inpatient rehab can help you to SAFELY overcome opioid withdrawal. According to WebMD, you will likely need some help overcoming withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • cravings
  • nausea
  • chills
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Medical detox will not only provide you with the support you need, but also the around-the-clock care necessary to ensure your safety during withdrawal. This is especially important if you are addicted to methadone or if you have been using high doses of opiates for a very long time. As your body adjusts to life without the narcotics you may suffer from serious complications in the early days of withdrawal. Symptoms may include lowered heart rate or other complications.

Slowly Taper to Reduce Withdrawal Impact

Daily reduction in the overall amount of the drug that you are taking can help you to reduce the impact of withdrawal on your body–but this is ONLY if you are able to taper the drug without continued use in excess of what a tapering schedule recommends. Most addicts are unable to effectively taper medication without the help of a doctor or other healthcare professional. However, when under the guidance of a medical practitioner in an inpatient rehab center, you can slowly taper the drug off reducing the impact of withdrawal as the body adjusts to the small change in the dose being taken over time.

Use Over-the-Counter Medications as Needed

Whether you are withdrawing in a residential detox program or on your own at home, over-the-counter medications such as tylenol, ibuprofen, and anti-diarrhea medications can help to reduce symptoms. If you’re in a residential rehab center or detox setting, you may also be given prescription medications to help ease symptoms of opiate withdrawal. These medications may include librium, ativan, valium, or other forms of anti-anxiety or anti-seizure medications to reduce the stress you feel during this challenging time.

Consider Methadone or other Maintenance Medications

Methadone is a widely accepted opioid replacement therapy that has been used to reduce cravings and minimize withdrawal symptoms for many years but it’s not for everyone. Before you even consider methadone or other maintenance medications such as buprenorphine or naloxone or Suboxone you MUST seek the help of a medical provider. Failure to seek medical treatment may lead to serious complications and can reduce the overall effectiveness of these medication maintenance programs. Individuals who take methadone or other maintenance drugs for opioid recovery generally find themselves on a 12-month or longer recovery plan that includes slowly tapering the medications off to reduce withdrawal impact.

Seek the Help of a Support Group

Many different types of support groups exist to help those who are addicted to opiates and other drugs or alcohol. The most common support group is Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Meetings take place around the world in public settings and are generally open to anyone interested in learning more about the 12-step recovery and healing process. You don’t have to be sober to attend an NA Meeting, but you do have to WANT sobriety and you do have to be willing to listen to others and provide support in this environment. Other forms of support include family support groups and programs that are offered in inpatient rehab centers. For help finding the support you need, call 1-888-605-7779 today.

5 ways to stay clean and overcome opiate addiction

The additional tips listed to help you remain clean and sober during the early days of opiate addiction recovery include.

6.  Consider Residential Rehab or Inpatient Rehab

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Outpatient Rehab

8. Remain Positive Despite the Worry

9. Learn How to Cope without Drugs

10. Stay Active and Involved in Your Recovery

Consider Residential or Inpatient Rehab

During residential rehab you are given around-the-clock care in a supportive environment where the only thing that matters is your recovery. Medications are provided to ensure your safety. 24-hour care is provided and you will receive counseling, therapy, and support as needed. ONLY inpatient rehab can provide you with the treatment support you need around-the-clock. While it may seem scary at first to think about leaving your family and friends behind, living in a residential rehab center for 30, 60 or 90-days can change your life. If you’re ready to get sober, call 1-888-605-7779 and we’ll help you find a local rehab center that can help.

Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Outpatient Rehab

If you attend an inpatient rehab program, your next step will be outpatient care. If you choose not to go into residential treatment, you likely still need counseling and support in order to get sober and to stay sober. Treatment in an outpatient rehab center offers flexibility that works around your busy schedule allowing you to remain actively involved in your family, work or school while also receiving medically assisted treatment for opiate addiction. Counseling and support are provided during normal business hours allowing you to get the help you need in a slightly less invasive environment.

Remain Positive Despite the Worry

It’s easy to fall victim to your own worry–especially when you’re trying so hard to overcome opiate addiction. The best advice you can be given is to remain positive. Seek ways to avoid triggers. Find opportunities for positive change. Don’t be afraid to set meaningful goals that will help you to achieve your dreams–staying sober is all about staying positive in recovery. Always do your best to have an “I can do this” attitude and you’ll find each day comes a little bit easier than the last.

Learn How to Cope without Drugs

Emotionally, opiate addiction takes over your feelings and you get a sense that you can no longer “feel good” or “feel ok” without drugs. Learning how to cope with triggers, stress, or emotional upset can be one of the most challenging elements of recovery. Stress relief activities such as exercise can help as can spending time with a pet or loved one when you’re feeling like you want to use. Relapse becomes a dangerous side effect of recovery as you inch your way into the future of sobriety. Learning how to cope with life in recovery without returning to the use of opiates such as heroin or prescription painkillers ensures that you remain on the right side and that you do not fall victim to relapse.

Stay Active in Recovery

Staying active means not only taking part in an exercise program or hobby to pass the time but also to remain active in your recovery efforts. Don’t let your guard down and don’t allow yourself to feel as if you can just let your feelings go. Seek support, stay involved in your counseling and therapy sessions, and do anything you can to beat cravings besides allowing yourself to slip back into your previous habits of drug use. If you do relapse, seek immediate counseling and support to help you get back on track–call our helpline at 1-888-605-7779 today to find a rehab center that can further help you to achieve your recovery goals.

9 Startling Heroin Use Statistics Confirming the Opioid Epidemic – Infographic

Heroin use is at an all-time high and the number of people dying as a result of this drug is heartbreaking. Help is available. If you or someone you love is addicted to heroin, please call 1-888-605-7779 today.





Reducing Guilt and Shame in Recovery through Inpatient Rehab

You come into rehab with this level of guilt and shame that seemingly cannot be overcome. You try and try, but you struggle with the past and the situations that you can’t change. But inpatient rehab can help you to learn how to overcome what happened in the past and effectively cope with the shame that you suffered as an addict.

Your first step is to accept that addiction is a chronic disease not a moral problem. It’s not something that makes you weak or otherwise incompetent. As soon as YOU accept that your addiction is a disease but that you can receive treatment for the disease, you’ll be on your way to recovery and healing.

Inpatient rehab can help you overcome guilt and prevent the shame that you’re feeling from derailing your recovery efforts. Call our helpline at 1-888-605-7779 today to find out more about how rehab can help you.

Why Does Guilt Follow You?

It’s common to be ashamed of who you have become or of the things you did as an addict. But is “who” you have become “who” you will always be? If you’re feeling guilty about the things you have done during your life addicted to drugs or alcohol, you’re not alone! Sadly, the stigma of addiction creates guilt and shame which prevents the vast majority of those addicted from seeking the professional help necessary for recovery.

Guilt anchors to you like a backpack filled with heavy weights. It makes it feel impossible to accept what has happened and even more impossible to overcome the past transgressions that have led you to treatment. But why? Why do you hold all that guilt?

According to Psychology Today, “if shame is a feeling of not being worthy of connection, then guilt is a feeling that we can make ourselves worthy.” One thing we know for certain when it comes to guilt is that it’s not an “easy” topic. People feel guilt for all different things and the way that we process it is different for everyone.

How Shame and Guilt Derail Recovery Efforts

The shame and guilt you carry around with you can jeopardize every recovery effort you have in place. Paired with stress, triggers, cravings and the constant urge to use—you’re stuck in a situation where your recovery could be completely derailed before you even realize what hit you.

What can you do to STOP the guilt and START your healing journey? How can you drop the baggage that’s hindering your recovery efforts and KNOW that you’re moving forward without an ounce of shame in your game?

You need help! Call our helpline at 1-888-605-7779 today and we’ll connect you with a support specialist that can assist you in coping with the guilt that you’re holding because of your addiction. We’ll guide you through the healing process and set you on a path to recovery.

Addiction destroys your self-esteem. If you already struggled with low self-esteem prior to using drugs or alcohol, then feelings of shame are likely to stick with you well into your recovery efforts. Often times addiction also leads to feelings of reduced self-worth. The physical, psychological and emotional trauma that occurs before and during an addiction to drugs or alcohol can leave a lasting impact on your ability to cope.

Many victims feel like addiction is their fault. Like the trauma or other harmful experiences that occurred during an addiction are the result of their actions. Sometimes this is true, but more often, the trauma that occurs prior to an addiction or during an addiction has nothing to do with any “fault” of the addict. In fact, the addict (YOU) is are a victim of these situations and the guilt you carry is usually due to low self-esteem.

How Inpatient Rehab Helps

Through rehabilitation you can learn to drop the guilt and shame that is hindering your recovery. Many programs are offered in inpatient rehab to assist you in the healing process including:

  • Yoga and meditation to help you relax.
  • Journaling to keep track of feelings and to help you to understand WHY you feel the way you do.
  • Suicide prevention and medications to assist in the healing from depression, anxiety or other psychological disorders.
  • Support to guide you through the powerful emotions that are driving your guilt and shame.
  • Counseling and therapy to help you learn how to cope with the past, prepare for the future and live sober day-by-day.

It’s important to note that guilt is not something you have to be burdened with for your rest of your life. Inpatient rehab will help you to cope with guilt, overcome it and move on with your life. Once you get involved in daily therapy and counseling, you can take additional proactive steps toward ridding yourself of the guilt that you’re carrying.

What’s next? Call our helpline at 1-888-605-7779 and we’ll connect you with an inpatient rehab center that can help you get started on the road to recovery.

Why is Counseling Recommended in a Methadone Program

inpatient rehab can provide effective counselingStarting a methadone program for the treatment of heroin dependence is a big step in the direction toward healing and recovery, but studies show that counseling should also become a part of your recovery plan in order to provide the greatest chance of success. Counseling can help to reduce the underlying emotional and psychological issues that were at the root of the addiction or which developed in conjunction with the addiction. When methadone is taken regularly under the controlled supervision of a doctor and counseling is provided, patients have improved chances for stability and lifelong recovery.

Counseling in Rehab

Inpatient rehab should involve behavioral therapies including counseling, psychotherapy, support groups, and family therapy. Individual counseling provides patients with a foundation upon which they can learn about their addiction, seek support, and grow in their recovery. Patients are encouraged to talk with a counselor about any roadblocks to recovery, their fears, their struggles, and their triumphs along the way.

For help finding an inpatient rehab that will assist you in opioid recovery, call 1-888-605-7779 today.

Group counseling is also an effective means of helping patients who are already taking methadone as part of a maintenance program to recover from heroin or opiate addiction. During group counseling, individuals will work with others who are also in recovery to develop coping skills that ensure continued efficacy in recovery.

Counseling Improves Outcomes

Studies have shown that counseling greatly improves that recovery outcomes of those who are seeking help for various types of addiction including opiate dependence. According to the University of Delaware, “programs that combine methadone maintenance and behavioral therapy (counseling) generally get better results.”

When recovering addicts receive help for the underlying elements of their addiction, including past trauma or abuse, depression or anxiety, and various other factors, they have a better chance of learning how to prevent future substance abuse and to change. Behavioral change is a necessary element of healing and recovery, but don’t realize how to change or that change is necessary until they seek counseling.

According to studies dating back more than 20 years, “Simply intensifying routine drug abuse counseling improves outcomes for patients receiving methadone.” This study found that step based care is most effective. This includes a number of steps that walk the patient through the early stages of methadone  maintenance with minimal counseling, on through two months or more of treatment during which the counseling sessions are gradually increased to meet patient needs without reducing retention rates.

Reduced Drug Use

Coordinated rehabilitation reduces or eliminates drug use. Counseling, when coordinated with methadone maintenance treatment, can reduce the length of time that a user takes methadone, minimizes the risk of relapse and can even work to reduce the use of other harmful substances such as other drugs or alcohol, according to Boise State College.

Maintained Abstinence

According to Doctor Delinda E. Mercer of the University of Pennsylvania and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, “The primary goal of addiction counseling is to assist the addict in achieving and maintaining abstinence from addictive chemicals and behaviors. The secondary goal is to help the addict recover from the damage the addiction has caused in his or her life.” Methadone helps those in recovery to achieve the abstinence that they are seeking as part of recovery by providing them with a medically effective method of reducing cravings and eliminating symptoms of withdrawal. Counseling provides patients with the means to cope with and heal from the damage caused by the addiction.

Effective healing takes time, at least 90 days of sobriety is necessary in order to achieve results in recovery and, for many, longer time is needed. Methadone maintenance programs provide patients with months or even years of recovery time. While some are able to effectively stop taking methadone following just a few months of treatment, many recovering addicts will continue to take the medication as part of their daily regimen for two years or more.

How Long is Counseling Necessary?

Counseling may not be required for the entire time that methadone is taken but psychological help is recommended for a period of at least 90 days. Inpatient rehab programs generally provide a starting point of 30 days of inpatient care. For help finding a rehab center, call 1-888-605-7779. Studies show that counseling during methadone maintenance is often neglected at first but, when the behavioral therapy becomes an integrated element of treatment, patients are more likely to remain sober.

Slowly adding counseling into the routine can help improve patient response rates. During the first 14-30 days of treatment, patients should attend counseling once per week. For the second month of treatment on methadone, 2 counseling sessions per week are recommended. During the third month of treatment counseling sessions can take place 3 or more times per week for the highest rate of recovery and minimized risk of relapse.

Each case of addiction is very different from the next. It’s important to work closely with a counselor as well as with your doctor to ensure that you have the best possible chance for recovery from an addiction to heroin or prescription painkillers. If you’re not sure where to get help or how, contact our recovery helpline at 1-888-605-7779 toll free today.

What to Know About Quitting Methadone Cold Turkey

tips for finding treatmentTaking methadone as part of a maintenance program in the treatment heroin addiction or an addiction to prescription painkillers can be highly effective for some, but the eventual need to quit using methadone can provide a number of potential downfalls. Quitting Methadone cold turkey can lead to increased withdrawal symptoms, heightened risk of relapse and an overall fear of taking the medication in the future. Here’s what you should know before you make the decision to quit taking methadone cold turkey.

Effects of Inmates Who Were Forced to Quit Methadone Cold Turkey while Incarcerated

According to the US National Library of Medicine, “Negative methadone withdrawal experiences also negatively influenced participants’ receptivity to seeking methadone treatment upon release.”  A further study concluded that, inmates who were forced to quit without any help or tapering off report going through great lengths to get their hands on any type of drug to qualm their withdrawal symptoms. Inmates injured themselves, reported symptoms related to other disorders such as alcoholism or psychotic episodes, and even took the medications of other inmates in order to “try” to feel better when they withdrew from methadone in prison or jail when no other help is provided.

Dangers of Quitting Methadone Cold Turkey for Pregnant Women

Studies show that pregnant women who are prescribed methadone and quit cold turkey are at heightened risk of relapse. Additionally, “doing so can induce withdrawal symptoms in the baby and cause an unintended abortion.”

A methadone tapering schedule can be an effective means of quitting methadone for women following pregnancy. This involves medically supervised withdrawal that takes place under the direct care of a physician and which ensures the safety of the recovering mother.

Inpatient rehab centers can help you get sober. Call our helpline at 1-888-605-7779 and we’ll connect you with a rehab center that can help you get sober once and for all.

If you are pregnant and taking methadone, talk with your doctor before making any decision to quit using the medication. Studies show that it’s generally better (more advisable) to continue taking methadone during the pregnancy as the decision to quit using the medication during pregnancy increases the risk of relapse, can increase symptoms of withdrawal and may pose undue stress to the unborn fetus resulting in premature labor and subsequent premature birth.

How Should I Quit Using Methadone?

Methadone maintenance treatment should be tapered off gradually at a rate of .25 mg every 3-5 days until the patient reaches a zero dosing level.

Various factors can affect a patient’s ability to taper the drug off effectively and according to the National Library of Medicine, “Although factors associated with successful termination of methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) have been well studied, the question of why certain methadone patients try to taper off methadone while others do not is still unanswered.”

According to the CDC, “realistic expectations of treatment reflect the understanding that recovery is a day-to-day process with occasional relapses.”

Multiple social services are likely necessary when quitting methadone. Such services can include support groups, sober living, counseling, behavioral therapy and medical care. Studies show that when quitting methadone, individuals experience the greatest chance of full recovery when they become involved in counseling, support groups and therapy. Detox is also a necessary starting point for those in recovery as, without such, the risk of dangerous withdrawal is eminent.

Getting Help

If you or someone you love has been taking methadone for a period of time, whether as the result of an addiction or as the result of having been prescribed the medication for the treatment of pain or for the treatment of an opiate addiction, consider seeking help. Quitting methadone cold turkey is not only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous.

Call our helpline at 1-888-605-7779 today to find an inpatient rehab center that will help you get off methadone.

Symptoms of methadone withdrawal are often much stronger and last much longer than those associated with opiate abuse. Individuals who quit taking methadone are at a heightened risk of serious side effects and withdrawal symptoms that can place undue strain on the heart or other organs of the body. Medical treatment is recommended in order to facilitate a safe recovery from methadone withdrawal and to ensure the continued health of the patient.

Tips for Finding Inpatient Rehab for Substance Use Disorders

substance use disorder rehabAre you looking for inpatient rehab for a substance use disorder for yourself or for someone you love? Finding the right treatment takes time, commitment and an understanding of the various treatment offerings that are available to meet your needs. If you’re considering this professional help, either for yourself or for a loved one, consider the following tips for finding a rehab. Call our helpline at 1-888-605-7779 today for help.

Talk with Your Doctor

If you’re suffering from a substance use disorder, one of the best ways to find an effective treatment is to have a talk with your doctor or healthcare provider. You may be able to get valuable information about local rehab centers from your healthcare provider. If your doctor is not able to provide you with the information that you need, he or she will likely have references in which they can refer to you to help in your search for effective treatment.

Talk with your Local Pastor or Clergy Member

Support services and similar offerings often take place at local churches. If you’re looking for treatment, consider talking about your needs with your local pastor or clergy member. Your pastor may be able to refer you to a low-cost treatment option in the community or he or she may be able to provide you with individual and family counseling that can aid in your recovery.

Consider Online Helplines

Our 24 hour, toll-free helpline can assist you in finding the right type of inpatient rehab for your substance use disorder. If you’re not sure what type of treatment to choose, what options are available in your area or you just have questions about how to begin the process of getting help, call to speak with a counselor today! We’re available to assist you 7 days a week at 1-888-605-7779.

Talk with the Courts

Often times, rehabilitation can be found through the court system or community government offices. If you’re considering getting help but you simply have nowhere to turn, talk with the community court system or your local clerk of the courts to find out what types of treatment are available. In many communities, paperwork can be filed to seek immediate assistance in securing counseling or treatment services for those who otherwise cannot afford treatment, who may be a danger to themselves or who may have found themselves in some sort of criminal trouble as a result of substance abuse.

Types of Treatment Offered

If you’re looking for rehab, it’s important to understand the various types of treatment that are offered in your area. Various types of treatment for substance use disorders exist including:

  • Residential rehab – here patients will reside in a treatment facility and receive around-the-clock care for their addiction. Treatment includes counseling, therapy, behavioral therapy, support groups, medical care and monitoring.
  • Outpatient treatment – here patients will attend regularly scheduled sessions with a counselor or behavioral therapist and they will continue their recovery efforts at home. Treatment can take place in a hospital, office or another facility as needed usually at least once per week and often times on a daily basis.
  • Detox – here patients will receive medical intervention services that aid in the effective elimination of symptoms associated with drug or alcohol withdrawal. Detox can take place in either a residential our outpatient facility depending on patient needs.
  • Support Groups – various types of support groups are offered in conjunction with treatment for substance abuse. Some of the most common support groups are twelve-step programs such as NA or AA but, depending on your individual needs, you’ll likely find a number of groups that are not 12-step based.
  • Behavioral Therapy – this type of treatment takes place both in residential and outpatient facilities. Behavioral therapy provides patients with the therapeutic opportunity to overcome their addiction and heal.

If you or someone you love needs help, understanding the different types of treatment that are available to assist you with recovery from a substance use disorder is only the first step. You can find and choose local treatment options that will assist you every step of the recovery way. Don’t let fear or a general lack of understanding prevent you from getting the help and support that you need to get well.  Call our help line toll free at 1-888-605-7779 for immediate assistance in finding and choosing inpatient rehab today.

Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse

detecting prescription drug abuseAccording to NYU Langone Medical Center, prescription drug addiction affects thousands of individuals across the country. Some have found themselves addicted following a legitimate need for the medications that they are prescribed while others find themselves addicted as a direct result of taking these medications for reasons other than prescribed or when they never were prescribed. Regardless of how addiction occurs, the symptoms of prescription drug abuse are often easy to spot.

While prescription medications contribute to the health of the individuals who use them as prescribed, they also have the potential to cause serious side effects when they are misprescribed, taken against prescribed recommendations or taken when they weren’t prescribed at all. According to the Texas Division of Student Affairs, “prescription drugs are the second most commonly abused category of drugs, behind marijuana and ahead of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs.”

Recognizing the Symptoms of Prescription Abuse

You may not realize it, but early detection of the potential symptoms of prescription drug abuse can help you know when someone you love needs professional help. Studies show that individuals take prescription drugs in an abusive manner for many different reasons including:

  • To stay awake while studying for a test or exam.
  • To have fun or extend a night out partying.
  • To relieve depression, anxiety or another mood.
  • To alleviate symptoms of pain.
  • To lose weight.
  • To counteract the withdrawal symptoms of other effects of some other illicit or controlled substances.
  • To treat underlying health conditions outside the recommendations of a doctor.

Symptoms of prescription drug abuse can include:

  • Taking more of a prescription medication that is prescribed.
  • Taking a dose of medication more often than prescribed.
  • Taking prescription medications when they haven’t been prescribed.
  • Taking the prescription medications of a friend, family member, coworker, loved one or someone else.
  • Taking prescription medications for any reason other than prescribed such as because you feel like getting high, because you feel better when you take the medication or because you simply want to see what happens when you take the medication.
  • Taking prescription medications when a doctor has told you not to.
  • Taking prescription medications as part of an unsupervised weight loss regimen.
  • Taking prescription medications to treat your mood.

How can you tell if you someone is taking a prescription medication in an abusive manner?

You may first notice signs of prescription drug abuse such as missing medication from the medicine cabinet or a continued “need” for more medication before the next scheduled refill date. Individuals who abuse drugs will often exhibit signs of depression, anxiety, changed behavior, or changed mood. Appearances may change as the individual becomes more consumed with his or her drug us and less concerned with things like showering, changing clothes or otherwise taking care of his or her appearance.

Here are some quick ways to spot a problem in someone you care about, pay close attention, if you notice the following signs, there could be a prescription drug abuse problem:

  • Missing medication.
  • Need for medication prior to refill date.
  • Medication is “lost”
  • Medication consistently runs out or doesn’t work or isn’t as effective as before.
  • Doctor shopping for more than one healthcare provider to prescribe a medication.
  • Going to more than one pharmacy in an attempt to fill medications.
  • Stealing money to purchase medication.
  • Telling lies about medical conditions in order to obtain medication.
  • Resorting to other methods of obtaining medication such as purchasing from other users on the streets.
  • Acting high or otherwise incoherent.
  • Acting reserved or otherwise not being involved with family or friends.
  • Changes in mood.
  • Changes in behavior, acting out or lashing out at loved ones.
  • Feeling sick or otherwise uncomfortable when drugs are not available.

If you or someone you love is abusing prescription medications, seeking help can change your life. While addiction may be difficult to cope with and equally difficult to control, your decision to seek treatment during your time of need could be life changing. Don’t let addiction to drugs rule your life and ruin you. Call our helpline toll free at 1-888-605-7779 to get immediate placement into a counseling or therapy program that will assist you in making the positive change necessary to live drug free.

How the Effects of Methadone Positively Impact People’s Lives

methadone can hep reduce opioid addictionMethadone, when taken as part of a maintenance program to overcome addiction to heroin or prescription drugs can lead to great improvements in the user’s life. Not only does methadone have the potential to restore balance into the user’s life, the medication can have a profound impact on the health, confidence and overall behavior of the recovering addict leading to a positive impact on the life of the individual. Here are just a few of the ways that methadone positively impacts the lives of those who take the medication during inpatient rehab as part of an opioid addiction treatment program.

Reduced Use of Illicit Drugs

Studies show that individuals who take methadone as part of an opiate addiction treatment program in conjunction with counseling and therapy have lower levels of illicit drug use than those who are treated using therapy alone.

Reduced Criminal Activity

Illicit drug use often leads to a wide range of criminal behaviors. Drug-seeking behavior is common and it often pairs with criminal activities such as stealing, shoplifting, or violence that takes place in an effort to obtain drugs or to obtain money for drugs. When methadone is used, an individual’s life is positively impacted by the reduction of criminal behavior as the individual no longer feels the need to lie, cheat and steal to obtain drugs.

Reduced Involvement in Dangerous Drug Use Practices

According to NIDA, individuals who take methadone are less likely to become involved in dangerous drug use practices. The instances of needle sharing for the use of drugs such as heroin or prescription opiates in those who take methadone as part of a maintenance treatment is dramatically reduced and, for many, eliminated completely.

For help finding an inpatient rehab center that provides treatment including methadone maintenance for opioid use reduction, call 1-888-605-7779.

Reduced Rates of infection transmission

Impromptu drug use, unprotected sex and an overall lack of proper hygiene amongst drug users often lead to an array of infections including STDs, staph infections, and viral infections. Methadone improves the lifestyle of the user, reduces the instances of unsafe sex while high, and eliminates impromptu drug use which is often responsible for the infection.

Improved life balance

According to various studies, methadone maintenance treatment improves the life balance of those in recovery by providing a crutch that prevents further substance abuse, reduces the risk of relapse and provides control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.

Improved health

Patients taking methadone report improved health overall. There are no longer instances of withdrawal associated with discontinued opiate use when methadone is prescribed. There are no longer instances of sex for drugs or sex while intoxicated. There are no longer instances of infection or other repercussions related to substance abuse.

Higher retention rate in addiction treatment

The National Library of Medicine reports that individuals who take methadone in conjunction with treatment in a controlled facility such as a rehab center are more likely to remain in treatment. Methadone reduces withdrawal symptoms and the discomfort felt by the user during the early phases of treatment and, when prescribed correctly, has the potential to greatly improve the quality of life for the user.

Reduced rate of relapse

Individuals who take methadone daily are less likely to relapse and use other intoxicating substances. The methadone works to reduce cravings that may otherwise lead to substance abuse and drug-seeking behaviors. The reduced rate of relapse that occurs as a result of the use of methadone can not only improve the life of the individual in treatment, it can also save the user’s life. Studies show that each time a relapse occurs, the risk of overdose is heightened. By reducing the risk of relapse through quality medical intervention those in recovery have a subsequent reduced risk of overdose.

Reduced rate of suicide or self-harm

Suicide is common in individuals who are heavily addicted to drugs such as heroin or prescription painkillers. Methadone stabilizes the individual’s mood, provides a consistent stream of a medication that prevents cravings and withdrawals and helps to reduce the depression that is so common when withdrawal begins to set in. Methadone reduces the rate of suicide and self-harm in those who are in recovery further improving quality of life.

Be Aware of These Methadone Drug Interactions

dangers of taking methadoneDangerous drug interactions are a common problem that results in fatal consequences for thousands of patients every year. According to the US National Library of Medicine, “Drug interactions are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality.” Individuals who are taking methadone as part of a maintenance program to overcome opiate addiction must be aware of the potential dangers associated with the use of other drugs or substances while they are taking methadone.

Potentially toxic drug interactions can occur when methadone is mixed with other substances. Drug interactions are blamed for many of the deaths that have recently taken place. In addition to the dangers that can come from the use of prescription drugs while taking methadone, dangers also exist with interactions between cocaine, alcohol and other substances.

If someone you love is abusing methadone, call our helpline for a free referral into an inpatient rehab center that can help. Assistants are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to support you. Call 1-888-605-7779.

Interactions with Medications Used to Treat HIV

Historically, HIV is directly related to intravenous drug use. Many opioid users become infected with HIV and later seek treatment options to help them overcome their addiction to heroin or similar drugs. While there are several medical treatments, including methadone, that can treat heroin dependence, certain HIV medications can cause dangerous drug interactions if methadone maintenance treatment is attempted.

  • Zidovudine – Patients being treated for HIV using the medication Zidovudine who are prescribed methadone have reported the development of symptoms similar to opioid withdrawal which may include: bone and joint pain, insomnia and depression.
  • Videx – This medication can cause high concentration levels of methadone which will lead to upset stomach for some patients.
  • Delaviridine – this medication, when taken with methadone, can inhibit the clearance of the opioid rom the body and may lead to opioid toxicity which can result in cognitive alterations and decreased respiration.

Interactions with Antidepressant Medications

Studies show that as many as 50% of those who become addicted to an opiate suffer from a higher than average level of depression. Many require medications for the treatment of underlying mental illness while others do not begin taking the medication until after they begin an attempt to quit taking opioids.

The following medications that are commonly used to treat depression can cause dangerous interactions when taken with methadone:

  • Fluxotine – this medication can reduce the plasma levels of methadone in the body rendering the individual into a withdrawal state.
  • Sertraline – the use of this medication along with methadone can lead to higher concentrations of the drug in the user and may cause toxicity.

Side effects of associated with the use of antidepressant medications while using methadone as part of an opioid maintenance program include:

  • Fever
  • Tachycardia
  • Tachypnea
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Altered mood

Interactions with Over-the-Counter Medications & Supplements

Certain over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements can also cause dangerous drug interactions when methadone is taken in conjunction with the substance. St. John’s wort, an herbal supplement, should not be used in conjunction with methadone as it can lead to an increased metabolism of the drug which will cause the rapid elimination of methadone and may lead to heightened withdrawal symptoms as if the methadone is not being used.

Interactions with Anticonvulsant Medications

Patients who suffer from seizures or certain mental health disorders such as schizophrenia may be prescribed an anticonvulsant such as Carbamazepine or phenytoin. Serious side effects may occur if these patients also take methadone. Side effects can rapidly induce the rate of metabolism of methadone causing serious drug interactions and dangers for the user.

Interactions with Illicit Drugs

Cocaine, methamphetamine, an stimulants that are commonly prescribed for the treatment of hyperactivity disorders such as ADD or ADHD can all interact with methadone. Cocaine reduces the overall effectiveness of methadone and may lead to rapid opioid withdrawal in some patients. Methamphetamine, though not directly related to the negative drug interactions associated with methadone use, should also be avoided.

Stimulants, including ADHD medications, can cause serious side effects if the user takes them while also taking methadone. The drug interactions are not clinically observed but the dangers are real. A stimulant leads to increased alertness and heightened sense of energy while the methadone leads to sedation and relaxation. Combined, the effects can be dangerous to the user’s heart and other vital organs.

Dangers of Drug Interactions

Interactions of methadone with other drugs can lead to an array of potentially serious problems for the user. When HIV drugs are being used and methadone interacts with them, there is heightened risk of viral mutations and the development of a resistance to treatment which can lead to serious consequences for the user.

For those who suffer from increased metabolism of methadone which leads to rapid withdrawal symptoms, relapse is one of the most significant dangers. If relapse occurs, there is an increased risk of intravenous drug use which can lead to unsafe practices and further complications associated with infection, abscesses and other serious conditions.

For immediate help, to overcome addiction and get your life back on track, call 1-888-605-7779.

5 Reasons to Choose an Inpatient Alcohol Addiction Rehab Center

inpatient alcohol addiction treatmentChoosing inpatient alcohol addiction treatment is an important undertaking that could lead to serious changes in your life. When alcoholism has seemingly taken over your life and caused serious complications, sometimes the only feasible option available for recovery is inpatient rehab. While there are a number of reasons to choose inpatient treatment, some of the most profound benefits involved in this type of treatment are as follows:

  1. Medications Provided in a Safe Environment

Your safety is the top concern in treatment, but without around-the-clock monitoring by qualified professionals, there are no guarantees. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, inpatient alcohol rehab centers offer medications in a safe environment that is conducive to healing and recovery.

Doctors, healthcare staff, behavioral therapists and even security are on board at most inpatient alcohol addiction treatment centers. This ensures that you are safely monitored on various levels to ensure that you are healthy during the early days of alcohol treatment and beyond. Medications may be provided for the treatment of withdrawal symptoms, underlying health problems, and various other health ailments on a case by case basis.

  1. Behavioral Therapy Provided Daily

Behavioral therapy is an integral part of the recovery process. Unfortunately, many recovering alcoholics will be apprehensive about getting therapy and, as such, they may not go to the treatment that is ordered for them. Inpatient alcohol addiction treatment centers provide in-house behavioral therapy on a daily basis. This treatment, readily available, becomes a daily part of the routine for those in recovery and helps to ensure continued healing and recovery even for those who may otherwise be apprehensive towards therapy.

Integrating regular therapy into the process of recovery can greatly improve the chance that long term sobriety is achieved. Without behavioral therapy, or with minimal therapy, relapse becomes a greater risk, especially when the recovering addict exits the residential program.

  1. Treatment is Intensive

Inpatient treatment is around-the-clock, every day, seven days a week. This intensive treatment helps patients to heal on a number of levels. During the early days of recovery, intensive treatment ensures safety and continued abstinence. As time tapers on, intensive treatment helps to reduce risk of relapse and further improve the recovery outcomes for the addict.

For help finding a rehab center, call 1-888-605-7779 today.

Unlike outpatient programs, inpatient alcohol treatment provides consistent access to medical care, support, and behavioral therapy that is conducive to healing. The treatment that is provided in these programs surpasses the typical support and counseling that is found in an outpatient program and, for those who require further care, can be very beneficial in the healing process.

  1. Relapse Rates are Reduced due to Inability to Access Alcohol or Drugs

What do you do when you’re feeling down and want to drink? If you’re in an outpatient program, chances are you’ll head to the store to purchase alcohol and drink it. But if you’re involved in a residential alcohol addiction treatment program, you won’t have access to the alcohol. Relapse rates are greatly reduced when the recovering addict has no access to alcohol or drugs.

After 30-90 days in intensive treatment, you will gain the coping skills and confidence necessary to remain sober despite the urges that you may continue to have. Inpatient treatment provides you with the necessary time to facilitate your healing so that when you exit treatment there is minimal risk that relapse will occur.

  1. Scientific Practices Form Basis of Treatment

According to a recent study posted in the NY Times, inpatient alcohol rehab is backed by scientific practices which form the basis of treatment. The majority of those in recovery require more than one active round of treatment in a residential program. In fact, many require years of treatment that takes place in a combined approach which includes residential rehab, outpatient care, and long term support and self-help.

Science has proven that treatment is most effective when it is backed by behavioral therapy, support, and medical intervention. According to the NY Times stuidy, treatment should be performed by, “a licensed addiction counselor who will see you one-on-one. Treatment should be individualized. One size does not fit all.”

Inpatient alcohol treatment centers form the foundation upon which lifestyle change and healing can occur. Scientific approaches to healing, including medical treatment and support, can help you to feel better. While each case of addiction is different, the general needs of each patient are often similar in scope. Patients require:

  • Medical care for their own safety.
  • Medical intervention to aid in comfort during withdrawal.
  • Support for continued abstinence.
  • Monitoring for abstinence and safety.
  • Scientific approaches to healing for improved recovery outcomes.

If you or someone you love needs help overcoming alcoholism, consider an inpatient alcohol rehab center for immediate help. Call our helpline toll-free at 1-888-605-7779 to find a rehab center near you.

Teens From Wealthy Families More Likely to Experiment with Drugs

Teenagers who have money, freedom and distracted parents are more likely to experiment with drugs, according to a new study from researchers at Arizona State University. Before determining that wealthy teenagers were consuming alcohol and illicit drugs at higher rates than their middle class or lower class peers, researchers gathered data from the New England Study of Suburban Youth, specifically looking at two different studies. One study followed teenagers from 12th grade through college, and another study followed teenagers from 12th grade until five years after completing college. After assessing the data gathered from these studies, the researchers were able to determine that white, wealthy teenagers were more likely to binge drink and experiment with drugs than teenagers who grew up with less money.

A closer look at the surveys show that wealthy high school students report using more drugs than the national average. While in college these students also reported being drunk more than their less wealthy peers, and more frequent use of illicit drugs. Marijuana, stimulants and cocaine were all drugs of choice for these wealthy students.

The researchers were also interested in how this increased drug and alcohol use affected adulthood. According to the studies, ecstasy, cigarettes and tranquilizers were consumed at higher rates. And by the time males who grew up in wealthy households turned 27, they were twice as likely to be diagnosed with a drug or alcohol addiction.

Additionally, females from these families were three times as likely to be diagnosed with an addiction problem.
One interesting component of the study looked at parental involvement during high school and college years. The researchers noted that parents who were more involved in their child’s lives could reduce the chances of marijuana and stimulant use later on in their child’s life.

“These results highlight the central role of schools and peers in driving social norms and expectations affecting mental and behavioral health,” explained the authors of the study.

Choosing Inpatient Rehab Centers – Infographic

In this infographic we discuss what it takes to find and choose the best inpatient rehab centers for yourself or someone you care about. We realize that this is a difficult time in your life, and support can provide a vital accompaniment to your need. Call our helpline, toll-free at 1-888-605-7779 for help finding a local inpatient rehab center today.


learn how to choose inpatient rehab - infographic

Did you know that more than half of all people who struggle with addiction are also suffering from a dually diagnosed mental health condition such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder?

Self-medicating to “feel better” because of undiagnosed or untreated mental health conditions such as these is a common cause of addiction. Co-occurring disorders, such as cases where addiction and mental illness are present, require specialized treatment.

If you or someone you love is struggling to find care, call our helpline toll-free at 1-888-605-7779 today and we’ll connect you with local inpatient rehab centers that can treat your pain, discomfort, withdrawal, mental health, physical health, and addiction–all at the same time!

Not only is support key to success in recovery, but the process of finding help, getting admitted into treatment, healing, and then living a drug or alcohol free lifestyle doesn’t just happen overnight–you will need ongoing supportive care to ensure you feel at ease, and comfortable throughout recovery.

Seek a holistic approach to care for best results. This way you know that your mind, body and spirit will be treated in a way that is most conducive to your total body healing. Because each case of addiction is unique, we can’t say exactly what it will take for YOU to recover–but our treatment specialists are ready to support you every step of the way.

Addiction is a struggle for everyone–if you’re not the addict, you’re a loved one or family member that is watching the addict throw his or her life down the drain–but why?

Because addiction is a disease of chronic relapse–and it takes more than just a will to get sober. It takes professional treatment in an inpatient rehab center! call today, and begin your journey to recovery — 1-888-605-7779.


How Recreational Users Become Addicted to Cocaine

A cocaine addiction is much different than an opioid addiction, and not just because the two drugs provide very different types of highs. A person who is addicted to opioids, such as heroin or prescription painkillers, often has a very difficult time getting over the physical withdrawal symptoms, which often lead the addict back to using opioids. These withdrawal symptoms can be extremely painful and usually last 5 – 10 days or more, depending on the severity of the addiction. However, a cocaine addict has a different obstacle to overcome.

While there are fewer physical withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine addiction, there is a significant emotional withdrawal that takes place, and lasts much longer than the physical discomforts of an opioid addiction. And, according to new research, this emotional dependence occurs in the brain much earlier than previously expected.

“The study provides evidence that some of the characteristic brain signals in people who have developed addictions are also present much earlier than most of us would have imagined,” explained Marco Leyton, a professor at McGill University and an expert on drug use and addictions.

Researchers at the university gathered recreational (not considered to have an addiction) cocaine users and had them use the drug with a friend that they had previously used with before. The sessions were videoed and then later played back to the subjects. When the subject was viewing the footage the researchers were also measuring their brain waves. They found that when the subject viewed their friend using cocaine the brain released far more dopamine than before and also indicators that cravings were more severe. This information points to recreational users who may not have as much control over their drug use as they may have thought.

This information is vital because it helps to open a discussion on recreational drug usage, especially having to do with cocaine. This extremely addictive drug is often used in party situations, and some people report occasionally using the drug, but do not consider themselves addicted. However, this new information likely shows that they may be more addicted than they thought.

Early Detection Can Help Repair Heart Damage Caused by Methamphetamine Use

A new study featured in the The Journal of the American College of Cardiology may provide hope to those who suffered heart damage caused by excessive methamphetamine use. According to researchers, the cessation of methamphetamine, combined with appropriate medical treatment, can reverse damage to the heart.

The new study, published in JACC: Heart Failure shows positive results in those that have documented heart problems caused by methamphetamine use after they quit using the drug and undergo medical examinations and treatment.

Researchers were able to determine this phenomenon by observing thirty patients who were diagnosed with heart problems due to their use of methamphetamines. All the patients were suffering from left ventricular ejection fraction problems; usually less than 40%, this is considered a state of heart failure. Symptoms of this problem include labored breathing and blood flow problems, and some also had blood clots throughout their body. However, after they stopped using methamphetamine, all symptoms stopped and the heart showed improved function, reversing the cardiac failure.

Methamphetamine is particularly destructive to the heart because of the stress it places on the vital muscle. Addicts experience an intense high and the drug speeds up function in the body, which usually over-taxes the heart.

“Methamphetamine associated cardiac myopathy will become a growing cause of heart failure in young adults. Due to the chance to recover cardiac function and symptoms at an early stage of the disease, early detection of heart problems in patients with methamphetamine abuse could prevent further deterioration of the cardiomyopathy,” explained Norman Mangner, lead author of the study.

This information can be helpful not only for those that have already developed heart problems, but also for those that are still struggling with their addictions. Oftentimes the future looks bleak for addicts that have developed diseases due to their drug use because they may be irreversible or at least very difficult to treat. However, with this new discovery, addicts are given hope.

Synthetic Marijuana Use Can Lead People to Heroin or Ecstasy

A research group at the University of Texas recently released a study showing that people who have used synthetic marijuana are more likely to have tried heroin, ecstasy and alcohol. They are also more likely to have engaged in physical altercations.

“The findings illustrate a dramatic difference in the association with risky health behaviors by type of marijuana use. We found that students who used synthetic marijuana had a significantly greater likelihood of engaging in the majority of health-risk behaviors included in the study compared to students who used marijuana only,” explained Heather Clayton, lead author of the study.

In addition to these findings, the researchers also found that students with depression or anxiety symptoms were more likely to experiment with and use synthetic marijuana.

What is especially interesting about this study is that synthetic marijuana, or Spice, is most commonly found in gas stations and specialty shops. Children and teenagers are most likely to purchase this drug and many have the misconception that it is safer than drugs found on the street. However, according to the data, the drug actually leads users to try other street drugs as well.

This would make sense to anyone once they understand exactly what synthetic marijuana is. In order to produce a high similar to marijuana, the substance must be covered in certain chemicals that are 40 to 600 times more potent than regular marijuana. So, when people use this drug they often suffer from convulsions, extreme paranoia, auditory and visual hallucinations and extreme aggression. In fact, the drug is so powerful that some users have even suffered from seizures and death.

And while many forms of synthetic marijuana have banned in the United States, manufacturers are constantly changing the recipe, therefore avoiding the government’s restrictions. While the country is continuing the long fight against prescription painkillers and heroin use, it may be that synthetic marijuana is encouraging some people to experiment with the dangerous drugs.

Cocaine Traffickers Targeted by Latin American Authorities

The United States has long received much of its drugs from Mexico and other South American countries. The drugs are smuggled through the South American countries and then brought into the United States to be dispersed among thousands of gangs and street dealers. In an effort to combat this, the United States patrols its borders, maintains intelligence on known drug cartels in Mexico and continues to share information with South American governments as it relates to the drug trade. But this is not the only thing being done to prevent the illegal sale and distribution of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. Guatemala and other South American countries are fighting back in their own countries.

In fact, Guatemalan authorities have reported that in 2016, drug cartels were stripped of 27,397.3 pounds of cocaine, the largest combined seizure in the last ten years. The last seizure of the year, made on December 3, was over 3,600 pounds of cocaine, an estimated street value of $22.3 million.

In order to achieve these types of captures though, authorities have to utilize all of their intelligence information and maintain standard policies of searching incoming vehicles, boats and planes into their country.

“They transfer the drug from Ecuador or Colombia, they depart it from the port and they bring it to Guatemala via maritime routes. There it is received by a structure that transfers it to its destination, like Mexico, or distributes it among local structures, which in turn distribute it to other structures,” explained Aldo Chapas, an anti-drug prosecutor in Guatemala.

And while these seizures happened a different country, United States officials will also feel the benefits of the reduction of over 27,000 pounds of cocaine. Experts have agreed that reducing the addiction problem in this country is a two-part answer. First, the supply of drugs has to diminish. Second, citizens need to be educated, and treated for their addiction. With the help of officials in other countries where drug smuggling is a problem, the United States can focus more on treating and educating addicts throughout the country.

Although drugs like methamphetamine and heroin have largely overshadowed cocaine use in the United States, it is still very much a problem in our country. Regardless of how effective the efforts become to try and prevent drugs from getting into our country, as long as there is a demand then someone will always be looking to cash in as a supplier. For this reason alone, it is imperative for more resources to be allocated to treatment and prevention programs rather than trafficking.

Discovery of Addiction Gene May Help with Future Treatment and Prevention

pnas addiction study

Genetics may Define Risks of Addiction

A new study conducted by a group of researchers may shed light onto why people get addicted and how to locate individuals that may be susceptible to addiction before they ever use drugs. This groundbreaking discovery is unique because the researchers were able to study the brain before and after drug addiction set in in rats that were engineered to be prone to addiction. The hope is that future generations will be able to get screened for the presence of addiction genes prior to drug or alcohol use, therefore preventing a potentially deadly addiction. This is especially important of late, given the high rate of overdose deaths in our country currently.

In order to conduct the study, researchers genetically modified rats to either be high responders (more likely to become addicted) or low responders (less likely to become addicted). The genetically modified rats were then studied prior to the introduction of cocaine. This was a first for scientists. While it was understood prior to the study that humans who were addicted to drugs had different chemical reactions in their brains, it was difficult to study this phenomenon prior to addiction setting in. With the ability to study the rats before an addiction began scientists could locate key indicators of the makeup in the brain, thus allowing for future screenings to be developed for humans.

“There’s a number of essays that could be created to look at these different molecules to identify if somebody has a history of addiction in their family. If they have certain low versus high levels of one of these molecules, then they can be a candidate for treatment to prevent addiction in the first place. Or, if we know that they’re an addict, to prevent relapse,” explained Shelly B. Flagel, Ph.D., the study’s lead author.

Results of the rat study show that rats who were more likely to become addicted to cocaine had a higher level of fibroblast growth factor, which remained high after the rats were addicted to cocaine. These rats also had lower than normal dopamine D2 receptors. More studies will need to be conducted, but researchers are pleased that they are able to now study addiction-prone brains before an addiction sets in.

Prince’s Death Tied to Pain Medication?

Pop singer Prince died suddenly on April 21, thrusting the world into shock and launching scores of tributes to the man and his music. It hasn’t taken long for speculation to start about what exactly led to Prince’s death at age 57. Some people close to the star have come forward to say they believe that his demise was related to drug abuse, and Prince’s manager is one of those who has said that drugs are to blame for his death. There have also been reports that his death was due to a severe case of the flu.

A week before Prince’s death, his private aircraft had to make an unscheduled stop in Illinois because he was “unresponsive.” The singer was taken to a local hospital for treatment. It is believed that the singer had taken Percocet, a prescription pain medication, made up of oxycodone (an opioid) and acetaminophen. He was treated for what has been reported to be a drug overdose.

Prince’s death may have been due to complications from the flu virus, which can be deadly.Between three and four thousand people in the US die each year due to the flu. In most instances, these deaths effect the young or the elderly, but even healthy people can succumb to the virus.

It’s also possible that medications he was taking made his flu symptoms worse. Codeine is a narcotic pain reliever as well as a cough suppressant. It is effective at stopping coughing, but for some people with the flu, it can lead to more serious complications.

Authorities are still conducting their investigation into Prince’s death and are looking at several possibilities, including one that his death could have been a result of a reaction to the pain medication he was taking. When someone is taking a medication regularly and then becomes acutely ill, they may not consider that something they take to provide symptom relief may react with their regular prescription. The combination of the two medications can have serious consequences.

Heavy Marijuana Use May Decrease Dopamine in the Brain

molecular psychiatry evidence of marijuana dependenceThe results of a recent study have found that heavy marijuana use may decrease the level of dopamine released in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical transmitter that sends signals to the brain and is involved in movement, as well as learning, memory, cognition and pleasure.

Dr. Anissa Abi-Dargham, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and a lead author of the research paper, said that it was important to look at the “addictive effects of cannabis on key portions of the brain.” The researchers found evidence of lower dopamine release in the striatum, which is the portion of the brain involved in attention, working memory and impulsive behavior.

The results of previous research studies have found a link between addiction to “harder drugs,” like heroin and cocaine, result in similar effects on dopamine release in the brain. Evidence of similar effects on dopamine release had not been found up to this point.

Study participants were 11 adults aged 21-40 who were described as being “severely dependent” on marijuana and 12 healthy control subjects who did not use cannabis. The group who were marijuana users started using the drug at an average age of 16, were dependent on it at about age 20, and were dependent on it for seven years. In the 30 days before the start of the study, almost all users in this group had smoked marijuana every day.

Positron emission tomography (PET) was used to track a radio-labelled molecule which binds to dopamine receptors in the brain. Researchers noted the level of dopamine released in the striatum, its subregions, and other regions outside of the striatum (thalamus, midbrain and globes pallidus).

To ensure that the marijuana group did not continue using the drug during the study, they stayed in the hospital for a week to ensure that they practiced abstinence. The participants were scanned before and after taking an oral amphetamine, which would cause the brain to release dopamine. The percent change in the binding of the radio tracer was used to indicate the participants’ capacity for dopamine release in their brain.

When compared with the control group, the cannabis users had much lower dopamine release in their striatum. Researchers also looked at the connection between dopamine release in a specific area of the striatum and cognitive performance on working memory and learning tasks. Lower dopamine release resulted in worse performance in both types of tasks, and this result was seen in all members of the marijuana group.

Dr. Abi-Dargham said that researchers were unable to determine whether the decreased dopamine was present before they started using marijuana or the result of their heavy drug use. She did say that long-term heavy marijuana use may impair a person’s dopaminergic system, resulting in a number of negative effects on both learning and behavior.