Any type of drug use is dangerous, but the use of drugs when your brain is still growing can have a lasting impact. College students and other 20 year olds are young adults but their brains are still developing so the risk of using drugs during these crucial years is high and although they may not experience immediate consequences for their use, they are at risk for long term side effects.

Xanax, generically known as alprazolam, is one of the most widely-abused prescription drugs in this country.  As prescriptions for this highly addictive drug rise, the rates of abuse and dependence increase as well.  As many have discovered, Xanax is highly addictive.

Xanax is a benzodiazepine in the sedative-hypnotic class of drugs.  It is generally prescribed to treat panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, some forms of generalized anxiety or social anxiety disorder and some phobias.  Like other sedative-hynotics, Xanax is also prescribed for difficulty falling asleep.  Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants, and like alcohol, work to slow down the brain’s activity as well as block the “alarm system”, which is responsible for excessive levels of anxiety.

Although Xanax may be prescribed legally by a physician, abuse and dependence can occur.  For many it is a highly addictive drug.

The crushing and snorting of Xanax has recently become more widespread, making the dangers of this drug even higher.  When snorting Xanax, the effects are felt faster.  Xanax abuse among teens is on the rise, as they have easy access to these drugs out of their home medicine cabinet if a family member is prescribed them as a PRN or “as needed”.xanax bar or xannie

Xanax bars (also known as zanies or planks) are 2mg elongated bars that can be split or quartered. People who are abusing Xanax may take multiple bars at a time or combine them with alcohol or other drugs.  One of the effects of a Xanax high is memory loss, causing the user to forget he/she has taken the drug or how much has been ingested.  This can lead to overdose.

Signs Of Xanax Abuse:

Indications of Xanax abuse are: 1) taking Xanax in dosages higher than prescribed, 2) taking Xanax without a prescription, and/or 3) taking Xanax for the sole purpose of getting “high”.  A person abusing Xanax may exhibit slurred speech, decreased motor coordination, impaired memory, sleepiness, lethargy and lightheadedness.  Xanax, especially in larger dosages or combined with alcohol (which can be extremely dangerous) can provide a crippling high that is similar to being drunk.  The high is achieved quickly, within 5-10 minutes of taking it.

Signs Of Xanax Dependence:

Physical dependence on Xanax can occur within just a few weeks of taking the drug regularly, even at prescribed dosages.  According to the DSM IV-TR, tolerance is one of the hallmarks of dependence.  Tolerance develops as the body adjusts to the presence of the substance and requires more of the drug to achieve the similar effects.  Once there is physical dependence, withdrawal effects can be felt when stopping the drug immediately. If you are taking a Benzodiazepine, you must consult a doctor before discontinuing the drug, as stopping the drug abruptly will lead to seizures and potentially death.

Xanax dependence tends to develop slowly over time and without the user or family members noticing.  However, once a dependence or addiction exists, one will begin to appear “checked out” or “zoned out” frequently.  He/she will not be able to be present emotionally for family members, and may have difficulty remembering conversations, etc. and will often deny there is a problem.

Xanax Detox:

Stopping Xanax or any other benzodiazepine once there is physical dependence can result in seizures, suicidal thoughts and even death, so should be done with medical involvement. Xanax addiction often requires a detoxification period which can last 5-10 days and is done in a medical setting under a physician’s care.  Following this, one may, depending on the severity of the addiction, opt to go into a residential treatment facility or intensive outpatient treatment program.  Abstinence from all mood and mind altering drugs will be necessary during this recovery process.  Ideally constructive coping skills will be learned that will aid in handling anxiety so that addictive drugs are no longer needed. 

If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction to or is abusing prescription drugs, seek help immediately.  Prescription drug abuse is dangerous.  New Hope Recovery Center offers individualized treatment for prescription drugs and for many other addictions.  You can reach us at 888-707-HOPE (4673) or info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Ambien addictionAmbien, the brand name of the generic drug zolpidem, is a widely-prescribed, and also widely abused drug.  According to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health, about 30-40% of adults say they have some symptoms of insomnia within a given year. Another 10-15% of the adult US population report chronic insomnia, which is defined as the inability to fall and/or stay asleep more nights than not, for at least 3 weeks.  Ambien is generally prescribed for insomnia and sleep issues, but unlike many other sleep aids classified as barbituates, it falls into a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics.

As many of us know, insomnia and difficulty sleeping contribute to increased stress levels, depression, irritability and trouble functioning at work.  Making lifestyle changes takes time, and creating better sleep hygiene, exercising more and decreasing stress are often not easy to do.  Rather than wait weeks for results, many turn to the prescription drug Ambien for fast and effective relief.

The Dangers of Ambien/Zolpidem

One of the dangers of Ambien is its amnestic effect, in which someone under the influence of the drug can go into a blackout state and have no memory of his/her activities after taking Ambien.  This effect tends to be heightened when the drug is taken on an empty stomach.  Ambien’s warning label includes side effects of: sleep driving, sleep eating and sleep sex.  Once under the influence of Ambien, a user can easily forget that he/she has taken the drug and may take more.  It is also not uncommon for people to attempt to do regular activities after taking Ambien, such as making phone calls, writing emails, driving cars, completing things for work, etc. and then have no recollection of it the following day.  There have been numerous car accidents allegedly caused by the sleep driving effects of Ambien. The National Sleep Foundation has been an advocate about the dangers of drowsy driving and the dangers that are associated with it. They claim that drowsy driving is just as fatal as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as drowsiness will effect your reaction time, the awareness of one's surroundings, and impairs your judgement.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports the number of emergency department visits involving adverse reactions to the sleep medication zolpidem rose nearly 220% from 6,111 visits in 2005 to 19,487 visits in 2010.  SAMHSA also finds that in 2010 patients aged 45 or older represented about three-quarters (74 %) of all emergency department visits involving adverse reactions to zolpidem.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently required that the zolpidem dosage for females be cut in half, because zolpidem affects females differently from males.  It was found that the drug tended to be processed much slower in females.  Ellis Unger, MD, director of the FDA's Office of Drug Evaluation I reported it was unusual for the dosing recommendations to be different based on gender.

Ambien Addiction or Dependence

Many people do not know or do not fully understand that Ambien can be extremely habit forming.  Originally, it was thought that zolpidem was not very addictive, in comparison to barbiturates.  However, more studies are showing that dependence on Zolpidem can develop.  A Study indicates that the use of zolpidem among adolescents has become a dangerous concern.  Taking the drug on a regular basis almost always results in tolerance, meaning that more and more of the drug will be required to achieve the desired effect.

Ambien is prescribed to be taken immediately before bedtime because effects of the drug can be felt within minutes.  However, many people abuse the intense sedative and hypnotic effects of the drug and stay up in order to “overcome” the effects of the Ambien.  When purposely staying awake after taking Ambien, intense highs can be felt, leaving the user feeling euphoric and calm.

Like any other drug with abuse potential, it is very possible to become addicted and dependent upon Ambien, to the point that one cannot cut down or stop the use, becomes obsessed with obtaining and using the Ambien, and continuing to use Ambien despite negative consequences.  If you or someone you know may be addicted to Ambien, it is important to consider getting a chemical dependency evaluation to see if treatment may be necessary.  Once Ambien dependence is present, it can be very dangerous to stop the drug without the use of trained medical professionals. Remember, even if a drug is prescribed by a doctor, clients can abuse it or become dependent.

For more information about finding a treatment center right for you, contact New Hope Recovery Center. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to call and go in for an assessment with a professional.  All assessments at New Hope Recovery Center are confidential with no obligation for further treatment. Recovery is possible, let us help. Call us at 888-707-4673 or email us at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about prescription drugs? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 

Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction Prescription drug abuse and addiction is something frequently over looked. Stigma is guided by perception and in the field of addiction there is a hierarchy of stigma.  A common stigma easily identified is the public perception surrounding licit and illicit drugs.  Alcohol is perceived as a lesser evil because it is a legal substance, whereas heroin for instance is perceived as one of the most dangerous and hardcore drugs because it is illegal. Alcohol is in fact one of the most dangerous and toxic substances that people abuse and yet it continues to carry less of a social stigma. Prescription pills are perceived as more socially acceptable because they are legal substances that are prescribed by doctors.  However, prescription pills often get acquired illicitly and subsequently abused.

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Prescription Drug Abuse Parents of Emerging Adults (ages 18-late 20′s) are important partners in the prevention of drug abuse. In New Hope Recovery Center’s continuing efforts to assist parents, we want to pay special attention to a serious problem impacting Emerging Adults: prescription drug abuse which is the intentional use of medication without a prescription.  Parents may not be unaware of how serious this problem has become, so we want to share 5 must-know facts for parents of Emerging Adults.

Prescription Drug Rehab: 5 Important Questions to Ask Looking for Prescription Drug Rehab?  You are not alone.  Prescription drugs have become a serious concern.  In 2013, nearly 60% of all drug overdose deaths resulted from prescription drugs. Approximately two thirds of prescription drug abusers get them from family and/or friends.  If you believe someone you know is abusing or addicted to prescription drugs, look for these prescription drug warning signs.

Most Abused Prescription Drugs The abuse of prescription drugs has been on an increase for many years.  Prescription drug abuse is the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem, and the Center’s Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic.  The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug non-medically.

Warning Signs for Prescription Drug Abuse Prescription drugs are often abused or misused. Like all types of abuse and addiction there is usually a component of secrecy or denial surrounding the problem. According toFoundation for a Drug-Free World here are some warning signs that someone is abusing prescription drugs.

Looking into addiction treatment programs (rehab) for yourself or a loved one can seem overwhelming.  Generally life is already stressful and unmanageable.  Trying to understand what options are available within the treatment world and what would work best is not an easy task.  To give you a starting point, here are 5 frequently asked questions about rehab and addiction treatment that will lead you in the right direction.

1.  How Much Does Addiction Treatment Cost?

The cost of treatment varies greatly based on the provider. It could be free or it could cost over $50,000.00. Many addiction treatment services are covered by insurance.  However, insurance coverage varies greatly by the carrier and the client's specific policy. Some treatment centers don't accept insurance, which means you may need to pay out of pocket at admission, and the provider will "Super Bill" you meaning you pay cash and they give you a bill to submit to insurance yourself. Insurance does not reimburse this amount at 100% or sometimes at all, which can be financially draining on the client and their family members. To avoid this, call your insurance carrier and ask them who is in network, your insurance company should be able to give you a list of facilities to choose from.

New Hope Recovery Center takes most major insurance and can check your benefits for you to determine what coverage you or your loved one has for addiction treatment.  Its important for treatment centers to review your insurance benefits with you and let you know if there are any costs you will need to pay prior to admission. Unexpected financial burdens can just cause more heartache during the recovery process, so if you ask the right questions up front, you should be able to alleviate unexpected bills later on down the road. Some questions that will be helpful when finding out about your insurance  coverage are: (1) Is there is a deductible and if so, how much has been met?  Are there any co-pays? (2) Is pre-certification required? (3) Do you need a PCP (primary care physician) referral (HMO policies only)? (4) If there is a maximum out of pocket cost and if so, how much has been met? (5) Is there a maximum number of sessions available? 

If you do not have insurance and cannot afford out of pocket expenses, state funded programs may be available in your area. Unfortunately, many state funded programs have wait lists and it can be difficult to qualify for treatment. The sooner you call, the sooner you can get in treatment. Always leave your name on the wait-list, they occasionally go quicker than than expected. Not all treatment centers participate in state funded options, but some may have scholarship opportunities or sliding scales. The important thing is to ask the questions about cost before your loved one gets admitted. It is important to remember, some people need to go to treatment more than once to obtain long term recovery, so find a place that fits your needs and is within your budget, paying tens of thousands of dollars on a treatment center will not guarantee your loved one will stay sober. 

2.  How Long Does Treatment Last?

Treatment will depend on the severity and/or type of addiction(s) a person suffers from. Treatment may range from:

  • Hospital based detoxification – Generally 3 to 7 days
  • Residential treatment program – 30 to 60 days
  • Partial Hospital Program (Day Program) – 1 to 4 weeks
  • Intensive Outpatient Program – 4 to 6 weeks
  • Aftercare Program - 6 to 24 months 

Providers offer different levels of treatment, you may need to go to a hospital for detoxification, and then transfer to a residential facility for treatment depending on the provider's continuum of care. Many treatment programs works with each other to ensure a smooth transition from one treatment center to another. 

3.  How Do I Know What Treatment Program Will Work For Me?

Treatment will only really work for you if you work it. Most addicts exhibit impulsive, compulsive, and obsessive thoughts and behaviors which will need to be overcome in order to succeed in rehab.  Also other areas of life can directly affect the chances of a successful treatment outcome. Having supportive friends and family, living in a safe environment, devoting time to your recovery can all  increase the chances of a successful recovery.  It is essential to be open, honest and willing to do whatever is necessary to begin living a sober life. What you put into it will be what you get out of it. It is important to put recovery first.

When looking into a treatment program, ask what the program consists of, visit the location, meet with counselors and staff. Most treatment centers will offer a free assessment to determine what level of care is most appropriate. The best treatment facility for you is one where you feel comfortable, where you feel welcomed and where you will want to stay.

4.  What Kind Of Family Involvement Is Needed?

For the best possible treatment results, family involvement is crucial. Addiction is a family disease, which means treating one member of the family will not ensure long term recovery for the family.  It affects everyone in the family and so the family must work toward wellness.  Even if there have been previous treatment episodes, family involvement is one of the most effective ways to heal the family and its members. Some providers have extended family programs which include support groups, such as, Al-anon and Family Anonymous.

5.  What Is The Process For Getting Into Rehab For Addiction?

The process begins by calling and speaking with an intake person and/or a certified alcohol and drug counselor who can answer any questions you may have. If you and the treatment center feel there is a good fit based on your situation, there will usually be an assessment to establish the severity of the addiction and other problem(s) and to determine what level of treatment is necessary. Information about the process at New Hope Recovery Center: Admissions Process.

Addiction is a progressive and fatal disease.  The longer an addicted person remains in treatment, the better the outcome.

For more information about finding a treatment center right for you, contact New Hope Recovery Center. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to call and go in for an assessment with a professional.  All assessments at New Hope Recovery Center are confidential with no obligation for further treatment. Recovery is possible, let us help. Call us at 888-707-4673 or email us at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

If you are considering addiction treatment, you may find these articles helpful as well:

Prescription Drug Rehab: 5 Important Questions to Ask

Overcoming the Fears of Going to Addiction Treatment

Intensive Outpatient Treatment: The New Standard?

Drug or Alcohol Addiction Rehab in Chicago

How to Find the Best Treatment Center in Chicago

 

Looking for Prescription Drug Rehab?  You are not alone.  Prescription drugs have become a serious concern.  In 2013, nearly 60% of all drug overdose deaths resulted from prescription drugs. Approximately two thirds of prescription drug abusers get them from family and/or friends.  If you believe someone you know is abusing or addicted to prescription drugs, look for these prescription drug warning signs.

How do you find the best Prescription Drug Rehab for you or your loved one?

There are a number of factors to consider in selecting the prescription drug treatment that will work best.

 1. Are you or your loved one abusing prescriptions that they are prescribed by your doctor?  If so, be sure to have the prescribing doctor involved in the addiction treatment.  The need for your prescription will be considered in order to find possible solutions.  You will want the addiction treatment provider to work closely with your doctor.  Your doctor may replace your prescriptions with non-addictive drugs, or may reduce your dosage, or may offer other alternatives to the drug that is the concern.  The important thing is to be honest about your prescription drug use with both the doctor and the rehab staff.

2. Are you or your loved one addicted to opiate-based drugs? If so, your treatment may include medications to aid in your recovery.  More addiction treatment rehab centers work with clients who are prescribed medications for recovery from opiate addiction, such as Suboxone and Vivitrol.  Consider finding an addiction treatment facility that will work with clients on Vivitrol and/or Suboxone if you are addicted to opiate prescriptions such as vicodin, oxycontin and codeine.

3. What are you or your loved one’s unique characteristics? You will want an addiction rehab choice that works extensively with people having characteristics similar to yours or your loved ones.  What is your age?  Find addiction treatment options that treat people in your age range.  The elderly, young adults and working parents have different treatment needs. What is your gender?  Some treatment centers specialize in serving only one gender, some have individualized groups devoted to a specific gender.  Both of these alternatives allow you to receive more personalized treatment. What is your sexuality?  If you are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender, consider finding an addiction facility that caters to the unique needs and circumstances of LGBT clients. What is your race, culture, religion and nationality?  Look for addiction rehab centers that understand your race, culture and nationality.  This will help you feel comfortable, which is very important for your treatment.  It also will allow your treatment to be customized to your situation.

4. What is your past treatment experience?  If you have received treatment for your addiction in the past, consider what led to your relapse.  Would you benefit from treatment that is different  in some way from what you experienced in the past?  A different location?  More involvement from family and friends? One specializing in your unique circumstances?    Longer period of treatment?  Smaller size?  

5. Do you feel comfortable at the facility and with the staff?  Seeking treatment is stressful and anxiety provoking.  However, even with these feelings, can you imagine feeling comfortable at the treatment location?  You will be spending your time at the facility and with the staff.  Do you feel welcomed, appreciated and understood?  Do you feel like you will be treated with dignity and respect? This is important for your recovery.

If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction to or is abusing prescription drugs, seek help immediately.  Prescription drug abuse is dangerous, as shown by the high number of prescription drug overdose deaths mentioned above.  New Hope Recovery Center offers individualized treatment for prescription drugs and for many other addictions.  You can reach us at 888-707-HOPE (4673) or info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

From all the research that has been done in the field of addiction over the past 30-40 years, we know several factors are involved in the development and continuance of addictive behavior.   Within the disease model of addiction, we understand the development of an addiction stems from the genes we have inherited.  Once these particular genes are activated, the disease progresses, from the point of onset to chronic and often fatal stages, unless it is treated.

Through this medical model, we learn that addiction is a biopsychosocial disease, with many factors contributing to the development of an addiction including our biology or genetics (bio); our thoughts, feelings and emotions (psycho); and our personal histories: the way we were raised, the environmental and cultural cues and messages we are exposed to (social).

Traditional learning theory (specifically operant conditioning) states that we tend to repeat behaviors that are pleasurable, thereby setting up a pattern of action, reward, repeated action.  Our brains are hard-wired to be able to learn this way, as it is critical for our survival.  For example, when we eat, dopamine is released in the brain, sending the message to repeat the behavior.  The concept of making associations is key to learning theory as are the concepts of reinforcement and punishment.   Getting a pleasurable response to a behavior (i.e. feeling satisfied after eating a tasty meal) increases the chance that we will seek opportunities to repeat the behavior.  On the contrary, being punished after doing a behavior (i.e. getting burned from touching a hot stove) drastically reduces the likelihood we will repeat the behavior.

When looked at against the backdrop of addictive behavior, it is easy to understand how one can get caught up in the cycle of repeating certain behaviors.  Although in time, addictive behaviors come with negative consequences (punishments), they are initially paired with the experience of pleasure.  In the case of certain drugs and routes of administration (for example shooting heroin), the behavior is paired with extreme pleasure.  In learning theory, the stronger the experience of pleasure, the stronger the association will be and therefore, the more likely one will want to repeat the behavior.

Classical conditioning, another subset of learning theory, can explain why formerly neutral stimuli become paired with the anticipation of pleasure as they become cues for the target behavior.  Environmental cueing and classical conditioning are theories that account specifically for relapse.  For example, a previously neutral or even negative stimulus such as a needle can in and of itself set off the phenomenon known as craving in an individual who is addicted to heroin or crystal methamphetamine.  In this case, one may experience intense psychological cravings without even coming into contact with the actual drug, only with the stimuli that have become paired associations with the drug.  These intense cravings can easily lead to relapse, if not addressed and dealt with properly.

Further, social learning theory, first explained by Albert Bandura in 1961, also explains addiction in terms of the biopsychosocial model.  Social learning theory posits that we can learn and make associations in a social context, simply by observing and imitating the behaviors of others.  The behavior(s) being observed are most likely to be repeated if reward is part of the observation.  For example, a person watching his/her peers drink, laugh and have fun will pair that association and increase the likelihood that he/she will attempt the behavior as well.  This is known as vicarious reinforcement.

With a pattern of addiction, social learning is often responsible for the initiation of drug/alcohol related behavior.  Once the addictive process has taken over, social factors fade out and become largely irrelevant to the maintenance of the addiction.  As the addiction progresses, opportunities to learn from healthy individuals engaged in healthy or adaptive ways of coping with stress become scarce, as healthy people begin to disengage from the addict and as the addict associates almost exclusively with other addicts or users.

Learning theory, including operant and classical conditioning and social learning can be applied to recovery as well.  In recovery, we re-learn the associations made in the brain during our addiction.  We pair craving and/or stress with picking up the phone and reaching out to our sober network.  We learn to avoid things, people or situations that will lead us back to using.  We make daily associations such as waking up in the morning and praying or meditating.  And finally, we learn socially acceptable behavior from our sober mentors, family and friends.

New Hope Recovery Center is an alcohol and drug rehab treatment center located in Chicago, IL. We provide Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient, and Aftercare. We also have a LGBTQI specific addiction treatment program entitled "New Hope With Pride.” We offer personalized, holistic treatment by examining the whole person: mind, body and spirit.  Our small intimate setting caters to your specific needs and we provide place of support, nurture and safety leading to hope and healing. If you are interested in a confidential assessment, or you know someone who is, call 888-707-4673 to talk to a staff member.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

The abuse of prescription drugs has been on an increase for many years.  Prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest-growing drug problem, and the Center's Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic.  The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug non-medically.

The number of emergency room visits and the number of deaths from prescription drugs has increased greatly over the past 15 years.  CDC’s analysis shows that 38,329 people died from a drug overdose in the United States in 2010, up from 37,004 deaths in 2009 and 16,849 in 1999. In 2010, nearly 60 percent of the US drug overdose deaths (22,134) involved pharmaceutical drugs.

It should not be a surprise that the most addictive drugs are also the most abused.

Which Prescription Drugs Are Abused The Most?

The most abused prescription drugs tend to fall into three main categories:  opioids, sedatives/depressants and stimulants.

Opioids

Let’s start with the most abused prescription drugs: opioids.  These drugs are in the same family as heroin.  They are typically prescribed for pain relief and sometimes cough suppression.   According to the same CDC report, US overdose deaths involving opioid analgesics have increased from 4,030 deaths in 1999 to 15,597 in 2009 and 16,651 in 2010.  So prescription opioid deaths have increased by more than 400% in the past 11 years.

Over two-thirds of Americans abusing prescription drugs are abusing opioids.  Opioids are particularly dangerous because they slow the heart and breathing.  Opiate addiction frequently begins with a prescription due to an injury or other pain.  For some people, opiates are incredibly addictive and your body can become physically dependent on them, which then requires people to take more for the same pain relief or high.

The most commonly abused opioids are:

Generic Name                    Brand Name

  • Fentanyl                                  Duragesic, Actiq
  • Hydrocodone                          Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet
  • Hydromorphone                      Dilaudid
  • Oxycodone                             OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan
  • Codeine                                   Robitussin A-C, Tylenol with Codeine
  • Propoxyphene                         Darvon, Darvocet-N
  • Meperidine                              Demerol

 

Depressants

Depressants are the second most abused prescription drug.  The most abused prescription depressants fall into three categories: barbiturates, benzodiazepines and sleep medications.  Depressants slow brain activity and general body functions, they are generally prescribed for anxiety or as relaxants and sleep aids.  In addition to slowing brain activity, they lower blood pressure and slow breathing.

The most commonly abused depressants are:

Generic Name                                    Brand Name

  • Barbiturates                                         Amytal, Seconal, Phenobarbital
  • Benzodiazepines                                 Ativan, Halcion, Valium, Xanax
  • Sleep Medications:
  • Zolpidem                                               Ambien
  • Zaleplon                                                Sonata
  • Eszopiclone                                          Lunestra

 

Stimulants

Stimulants are most often prescribed for ADHD (attention deficient hyperactivity disorder), ADD (attention deficient disorder) and narcolepsy (sleeping disorder).  Stimulants are often abused in order to stay up for longer periods of time.  Some feel they aid in concentration or focus, and can be an appetite suppressant.

These are the most abused stimulants

 Generic Name                               Brand Name

  • Amphetamines                                    Adderall, Dexedrine
  • Methylphenidate                                 Ritalin, Concerta

 

Wondering if someone you know is abusing prescription drugs?  You can find out the warning signs.

Looking for more information about Prescription Drug abuse?

Want to know the difference between Vivitrol and Suboxone?

There is hope for those affected by prescription drug abuse.  There are a number of support meetings available across the country.  You can also contact New Hope Recovery Center for information about our programs or referrals to programs near you.  Info@new-hope-recovery.com, 888-707-HOPE(4673), or www.new-hope-recovery.com.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Methamphetamine (meth or crystal meth) is considered one of the world’s most addictive drugs. Why is it so addictive?  To really understand the addictive power of crystal meth, it is helpful to understand the drug and how it works on the human brain and body.

What does Crystal Meth do?

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that creates incredibly positive, euphoric, pleasurable, alert feelings over a prolonged period of time (several hours). The user often feels that everything around them is interesting, exciting and wonderful (including the user). Users often feel overly self confident and less self-conscious than when they are in a sober state.

Crystal Meth creates a stimulant action by acting on nerves that secrete biogenic amines.  The main effects of crystal meth involve these amines:

  • Histamine is a neurotransmitter (neurotransmitters are chemicals that pass information from one brain cell to another) that mediates arousal and attention
  • Serotonin is a central nervous system (brain and spinal chord) neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood, sleep, appetite, and sexuality
  • Norepinephrine (noradrenaline) is a neurotransmitter involved in sleep and wakefulness and attention; it is also a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands
  • Epinephrine (adrenaline) is another adrenal stress hormone and a neurotransmitter that stimulates the “fight or flight” response
  • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in motivation, reward, addiction, reinforcement

When used, meth causes the body and brain to be flooded with these amines.  Because methamphetamine blocks the body’s ability to take in these biogenic amines, the amines stay in the body.  Normally, these amines are only used as an immediate trigger and then they are either stored or broken down.  This is the reason that meth lasts so long in the body.

In the heart, noradrenaline stimulates the heart to beat faster and stronger, increasing pulse and blood pressure. Body temperature and metabolism increases.  In the brain, the amines increase alertness, concentration, and energy.  They decrease appetite for food and increase sex drive.  They can also increase paranoia, cause hallucinations and lead to a fascination or compulsion with repetitively performing a specific task.

Meth Mouth is the commonly used name for the deterioration of the teeth and gums from meth use.  The chemicals in meth are very caustic and acidic.  In addition, methamphetamine causes the mouth to become very dry.  Normally, saliva protects teeth and gums from acids, but with decreased salvia, the acid attacks tooth enamel.  Furthermore, users often grind or clench their teeth, which weakens or wears down the teeth.

Crystal meth increases impulsiveness and impairs judgment.  It also heightens the user's desire for sex. For many users compulsive sexual behaviors occur. With the mixture of euphoric/pleasurable feelings and a false sense of self-confidence, this usually leads users to believe that  sex is better on meth. This creates a big problem when users try to stop using because they believe they won’t ever be able to enjoy sex again.

Meth Use

The stages of meth use are often stated to be:

  • The Rush – The initial surge of adrenaline and other amines into the body.  This tends to last about 20-30 minutes.
  • The High – The user feels aggressive, capable, wonderful.  This lasts for several hours.
  • Tweaking – The user may have gone on a binge and used meth for several days, but eventually the drug no longer produces any high because your body's natural supply has run out.  At this point users are said to be tweaking.  The user feels very empty and craves the drug.  They feel a loss of identity.  Intense itching is common:  the user feels as if there are bugs crawling under the skin. The user is often unable to sleep and yet feels exhausted.  Hallucinations are vivid.  The person may be hostile to self or others.
  • The Crash – The user may sleep for several days as the body shuts down to recover.
  • Withdrawal can happen slowly over several months.  (In addition to the more immediate withdrawals during tweaking and crashing, longer term withdrawal also occurs.)  The user becomes depressed, lacks energy and is unable to feel pleasure. The user craves meth and believes (incorrectly) that the only way to experience anything positive or even normal is by using meth.

Effects of Meth Abuse

It is often stated that the lows from a drug are in proportion to its highs.  Meth is no exception.  Meth users may feel wonderful for a time, but there is a price to be paid as the body tries to get back to a reasonable “normal”.

Because the body has been flooded with the amines, it believes it no longer needs to create them.  So it drastically decreases or even ceases to produce the amines naturally. The decrease in amine production lasts much longer than the time meth stays in the body. The longer and more intensely someone has used meth, the more the body’s ability to create the natural amines is affected.

Meth causes the body to release more than 10 times the normal levels of dopamine.  So users feel an incredible euphoria.  But the body believes that far too much dopamine exists, so it cuts production.  Because the body no longer produces its typical levels of dopamine, the lower levels of dopamine lead to feelings of sadness, unhappiness, and depression.    Epinephrine and norepinephrine cause the blood vessels to constrict.  Over time, blood ceases to flow to certain areas of the body.  This leads to lower levels of healing and skin tightening or pulling back (such as the gums pulling away from the teeth).

Meth also affects memory and coordination.  Studies have shown that meth may continue to affect the brain for over a year after last use.  Damage to blood vessels in the brain can lead to strokes.

Heart damage can occur after repeated meth use. Meth artificially stimulates and stresses the heart, permanent damage can result.  In addition, high blood pressure is common among former meth users.

So Why Is Meth So Addictive?

Methamphetamine produces a prolonged sense of well-being and energy.  Many meth users want to feel the initial high they first felt using meth and so reuse meth again, and again.  Also, in contrast to the high it produces, it also produces incredible lows, involving severe depression, fatigue, paranoia and irritability. Finally, because of its impact on the brain, meth causes intense craving for using more meth.  Many early meth users begin to use meth more often as they “chase” the first high they felt using meth.  (This is not attainable because the body adjusts to this initial high, and so it is very unlikely a user approaches the initial feelings attained on first use.)  After repeated uses, many users continue to use meth to avoid the psychological and physical pain caused during meth withdrawal, in effect fighting off the lows.  Finally, the cravings caused by meth use often pull former users back into using even after months or years of sobriety.  These three factors cause meth to be incredibly addictive.

Help for Crystal Meth Addiction

Recovery from crystal methamphetamine is possible. It is hard to do on your own.  There are Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings in many cities which are free of charge. In addition, many treatment centers have developed expertise in treating meth addiction.  New Hope Recovery Center has helped a large number of individuals who were addicted to crystal meth.  You can reach us at 888-707-4673 or info@new-hope-recovery.com.  Read more at www.new-hope-recovery.com.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about Crystal Meth? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below:

Crystal Meth Abuse and Addiction Symptoms How can you tell someone is abusing or addicted to crystal methamphetamine?  Crystal Meth (also called crystal, ice, tina, glass, quartz, tweak, crank) is an extremely addictive stimulant.  It is made from extremely caustic chemicals, which cause damage to any users beyond its simulative effects.

Warning Signs for Crystal Meth Abuse Methamphetamine, also called crystal meth, is highly addictive.  It can be used by snorting, smoking or injecting.  The components of Meth are highly toxic and include: sodium hydroxide (lye), brake fluid, lithium from battery acid, lighter fluid, rubbing alcohol, drain cleaner, paint thinner, anhydrous ammonia, hydrochloric acid, red phosphorus lye, ether, iodine and ephedrine.

Crystal Meth and Gay Men – What You Need To Know Crystal methamphetamine has a long and storied history.  From its discovery in 1893 to World War II where it was used by Hitler to energize the German troops  to the 1960’s where it became commonly used among motorcycle gangs, crystal meth is highly addictive and wreaks havoc on whoever uses it. More recently, it has become problematic, in the rural areas of the United States as well as in the LGBT community, most notably with gay men.  Chicago has been hard hit by the crystal meth epidemic.

 

Prescription drugs are often abused or misused. Like all types of abuse and addiction there is usually a component of secrecy or denial surrounding the problem. According to Foundation for a Drug-Free World here are 10 warning signs that someone is abusing prescription drugs:

1.  Usage increase – increased tolerance, taking a higher dosage to feel the same effect

2.  Change in personality – a relatively stable shift in mood, energy, and focus

3.  Social withdrawal – less time with people they normally spent time with in the past

4.  Ongoing use – filling the prescription even after the problem has subsided

5.  Time spent on obtaining prescriptions – visiting multiple doctors or spending time researching where and how to get pills

6.  Change in daily habits and appearance – decline in daily living habits and self care

7.  Neglects responsibilities – calling into work sick and not doing normal tasks adequately

8.  Increased sensitivity – sights, sounds, emotions may be more acute

9.  Blackouts and forgetfulness – gaps in memory and forgetting things

10.  Defensiveness – on edge because they may feel attacked even with simple questions

They may also demand more privacy, stay up at odd hours, hide prescriptions, sell possessions, steal from family members, visit multiple pharmacies and/or doctors, or even fake an illness of a child or animal in order to obtain more prescriptions. Not all warning signs means there is a drug addiction, but all warning signs are reason for concern of some kind. Take the next step and address your concerns with your loved one, and at the very least, ask them to get assessed by a professional. If there isn't a problem, then an assessment will be harmless.

Foundation of a Drug Free World: "According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, teens who abuse prescription drugs are twice as likely to use alcohol, five times more likely to use marijuana, and twelve to twenty times more likely to use illegal street drugs such as heroin, Ecstasy and cocaine than teens who do not abuse prescription drugs."  Although this report is extremely concerning, adolescents and teens that abuse prescription drugs benefit greatly from early interventions.

For more information about prescription drug abuse contact New Hope Recovery Center. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to call and go in for an assessment with a professional.  All assessments at New Hope Recovery Center are confidential with no obligation for further treatment. Recovery is possible, let us help. Call us at 888-707-4673 or email us at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about prescription drugs? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 

Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction Prescription drug abuse and addiction is something frequently over looked. Stigma is guided by perception and in the field of addiction there is a hierarchy of stigma.  A common stigma easily identified is the public perception surrounding licit and illicit drugs.  Alcohol is perceived as a lesser evil because it is a legal substance, whereas heroin for instance is perceived as one of the most dangerous and hardcore drugs because it is illegal. Alcohol is in fact one of the most dangerous and toxic substances that people abuse and yet it continues to carry less of a social stigma. Prescription pills are perceived as more socially acceptable because they are legal substances that are prescribed by doctors.  However, prescription pills often get acquired illicitly and subsequently abused.

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Prescription Drug Abuse Parents of Emerging Adults (ages 18-late 20′s) are important partners in the prevention of drug abuse. In New Hope Recovery Center’s continuing efforts to assist parents, we want to pay special attention to a serious problem impacting Emerging Adults: prescription drug abuse which is the intentional use of medication without a prescription.  Parents may not be unaware of how serious this problem has become, so we want to share 5 must-know facts for parents of Emerging Adults.

More Pain Pills Prescribed In Suburbs Than Chicago People living in Chicago’s suburbs are prescribed up to four times as many pain pills per person as those who live in the city, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis shows. In the southern tip of Illinois, it’s up to seven times as much, according to the analysis of federal Drug Enforcement Administration records of the numbers of prescriptions written for the two most popular prescription pain drugs — Oxycodone and hydrocodone. Oxycodone, the more powerful of the two, is the key ingredient in the brand-name prescription painkillers OxyContin, Percocet and Percodan. Hydrocodone, which like oxycodone is an opiate-based drug, is the main ingredient in Vicodin, Norco and Lortab.

 

Prescription drug abuse and addiction is something frequently over looked. Stigma is guided by perception and in the field of addiction there is a hierarchy of stigma.  A common stigma easily identified is the public perception surrounding licit and illicit drugs.  Alcohol is perceived as a lesser evil because it is a legal substance, whereas heroin for instance is perceived as one of the most dangerous and hardcore drugs because it is illegal. Alcohol is in fact one of the most dangerous and toxic substances that people abuse and yet it continues to carry less of a social stigma. Prescription pills are perceived as more socially acceptable because they are legal substances that are prescribed by doctors.  However, prescription pills often get acquired illicitly and subsequently abused.

Prescription drug abuse is defined as taking a prescribed drug for non-medical use or not as prescribed.  Prescription pills come in almost every class of drug with the most commonly abused being pain killers (Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin), Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin, Valium), and amphetamines (Adderall & Ritalin).  Women and teenagers are two populations significantly affected by the prescription pill epidemic.  The CDC reports that the rate of deaths cause by prescription pill overdoses has more than tripled from 1999-2008.  There is a public notion that since prescription pills are legal, and people get them from a doctor, that they are in fact safer than illegal drugs.  This is not true. Many first time users and careless consumers will take a higher dosage than prescribed or mix combinations of drugs and/or alcohol which can lead to overdosing. In some cases overdose can occur without the presence of an addiction.

It is estimated by National Survey of Drug Use and Health that around 60-70% of prescription drug abusers get the pills from family members or friends, about 17% have a prescription of their own, and about 5-10% get them from dealers or the internet.  The accessibility of prescription pills being around the house of family members and friends entices a lot of curious first time users to experimentation, especially adolescents.  The public’s perception may blur the lines on the acceptability of using prescription pills recreationally or for self-medication but in actuality the line is clearly drawn.  Using prescription pills for nonmedical use or using someone else’s prescription for one’s own use is in fact drug abuse and needs to be addressed.

If you or a loved one needs help for prescription drug abuse, New Hope Recovery Center is here to help. If you would like information about our programs, contact us at 888-707-4636 (HOPE), info@new-hope-recovery.com or visit us in person.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about prescription drugs? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Prescription Drug Abuse Parents of Emerging Adults (ages 18-late 20′s) are important partners in the prevention of drug abuse. In New Hope Recovery Center’s continuing efforts to assist parents, we want to pay special attention to a serious problem impacting Emerging Adults: prescription drug abuse which is the intentional use of medication without a prescription.  Parents may not be unaware of how serious this problem has become, so we want to share 5 must-know facts for parents of Emerging Adults.

More Pain Pills Prescribed In Suburbs Than Chicago People living in Chicago’s suburbs are prescribed up to four times as many pain pills per person as those who live in the city, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis shows. In the southern tip of Illinois, it’s up to seven times as much, according to the analysis of federal Drug Enforcement Administration records of the numbers of prescriptions written for the two most popular prescription pain drugs — Oxycodone and hydrocodone. Oxycodone, the more powerful of the two, is the key ingredient in the brand-name prescription painkillers OxyContin, Percocet and Percodan. Hydrocodone, which like oxycodone is an opiate-based drug, is the main ingredient in Vicodin, Norco and Lortab.

 

 

Heavy teenage marijuana use could damage brain structures critical to memory and reasoning and the effects may be long lasting. Heavy pot use during teenage years is also connected with lower IQ.  It is well known that the human brain is not fully developed until 25-28 years of age.  Chronic or heavy pot use by teenagers may affect the brain as it develops, perhaps permanently.  A number of interesting recent studies look at marijuana use by teens and the possible effects it has on brain development.

Marijuana and Memory

According to new research by Northwestern Medicine, the brains of heavy marijuana teen users were altered in regions that involve memory and reasoning. Young people with such alterations performed worse on memory tests than the non-using control subjects, despite the fact that the heavy users had not used marijuana for more than two years, on average, before the testing.

The study looked at MRI brain scans of several areas of the brain.  Heavy pot users showed greater brain abnormalities than those who had not used marijuana. The researchers found that memory-related brain structures appeared to shrink and collapse inward. These findings could indicate long-term detriments to chronic marijuana use during the teen years.

Although this study doesn't prove causation, it does provide evidence of a need for caution.  It also showed that the earlier or younger the pot use began, the greater the brain’s abnormalities.

Mental Illness and Marijuana Connection

In June 2013, an Australian study showed that prolonged use of cannabis or marijuana by young adults was linked to a higher risk of developing psychosis.  The highest risk was for those who started using the substance in their teens, and continued using it for 6 years or more into adulthood. For this group, the risk of developing psychosis was more than double that of those who never used marijuana.

Marijuana and Dopamine

A recent study by Imperial College London revealed that long-term use of cannabis depletes dopamine, the feel-good chemical in the brain that inspires a spirit of get-up-and-go.  The study found greater dopamine depletion if marijuana use was heavier and if the first initial use was at an earlier age.

Marijuana and IQ

A long term study in New Zealand indicates that early and long term marijuana use may cause IQ to decrease.  The study measured IQ prior to age 13 and then surveyed over 1000 participants from a single city born in the same year over a period of decades.  According to the study, IQ decreased an average of 7-8 points by age 38 for those who used marijuana heavily at some point in the 25 years between ages 13 and 38, with greater decreases in IQ for those with longer periods of heavy marijuana use.

Conclusions

All of the studies show correlations and not actual direct cause.  However, we are seeing that heavy marijuana use in teens could be creating possible lasting changes in the brain.  The earlier heavy use begins, the greater the changes to the brain.

New Hope Recovery Center is Chicago’s premier addiction treatment facility.  If you would like information about our programs, including our New Hope with Pride program, contact us at 888-707-4636 (HOPE), info@new-hope-recovery.com or visit us in person or online.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about marijuana or young adults and addiction? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 

Marijuana Warning Signs: Is Your Teen Smoking Weed? Are you concerned your teenager or young adult is using marijuana? Below you will find the warning signs and symptoms for marijuana use. Marijuana use is very controversial across the nation, but something that cannot be denied, is the detrimental effect it has on young adults. It has been proven that young adults/teenagers who use marijuana have more problems with memory, attention and learning. They also struggle with their school performance, have an increased risk of problematic behaviors, and are more likely to suffer from depression and or anxiety.

Marijuana and Addiction Treatment All too often people enter treatment for addiction from a variety of substances with the belief that marijuana is not a drug.  “Alcohol is my problem, not marijuana” or “Marijuana is not addictive” – the list of justifications people use could fill an entire page.  We have all heard the term “gateway drug” in reference to marijuana but often the thought process is that this occurs early in the stages of addiction. However, we have seen that marijuana can be a gateway drug at any point in addiction or recovery.

Fighting Peer Pressure: 3 Ways To Limit Addiction Risk in Young Adults Do you remember growing up and wanting to be liked and included in your peer group?  One of the hardest parts of growing up is feeling excluded from peer groups and while this can be challenging, it is also a normal part of the development of an Emerging Adult.  If it did not come naturally, you might remember changing your attitudes, values or behaviors to belong a certain peer group, which is exactly where your Emerging Adult may be developmentally.  Something that young adults may do to fit into a certain peer group is use drugs and alcohol as a means to fit in.  You can help them avoid drug or alcohol abuse and the risk of addiction by teaching useful skills for handling peer pressure and maneuvering this critical period of life.

Student Drug Abuse Warning Signs Young adults face many temptations and opportunities to use and abuse drugs and alcohol.  As a parent, it is important to allow for appropriate independence and growth for your student or young adult, but also to keep a watchful eye looking for warning signs or symptoms of drug or alcohol use/addiction. Part of growing up involves making mistakes and hopefully learning from them.  These teachable moments allow students and emerging adults to learn how to respond better in the future.  Students and emerging adults may not always be able to quickly identify and correct mistakes or difficulties they face. They also are more susceptible to peer pressure or having their viewpoints shaped by outside influences. For this reason, parents need to be closely aware of what is happening in their young adult’s life.

Long Term Impact of Alcohol and Drug Use on Emerging Adults Emerging Adulthood, the period of life from approximately age 18 to the late 20s, is not only a critical time for psychological and social development, but also for physical brain development. Contrary to a popular assumption that the brain is mature by the age of 18, recent studies have shown that profound brain growth and change still occur during Emerging Adulthood. [Studies]  The heavy use of drugs and alcohol during this time frame can inhibit a person’s brain development and have long term consequences.