LGBTQ Month: Methamphetamine Use in the Gay Community

Meth Use in the Gay Community


Crystal Meth use in the gay community has been a concern since the 1990’s but in recent years, use has skyrocketed. Meth is a stimulant which makes users feel euphoric, energized, and invincible. Because of these feelings the meth’s popularity has grown significantly in the club and circuit scenes as a party drug. 

A recent study found that gay men are four times more likely to try meth than straight men. What’s troubling is that meth is so addictive that users often get hooked on their very first try. 

The euphoric state helps users escape negative feelings around the social stigmas and internalized homophobia which can affect many in the gay community. Furthermore, meth’s effect on self-esteem, lowered inhibitions, and increased sexual drive, endurance and pleasure all feed into a growth in use in the pick-up scene. 


Meth Dangers

Methamphetamine use is associated with a myriad of health concerns, both short and long-term. 

Acute Health Concerns
  • Erratic, dangerous, sometimes violent behaviors
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
  • Nausea
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Impotence
  • Convulsions or seizures when used in high doses which can lead to overdose and death
Long-Term Effects of Meth Use 
  • Increased heart disease risk at a young age 
  • Higher risk of contracting HIV, STDs, Hepatitis, and MRSA
  • Permanent blood vessel damage in the brain
  • Higher risk for developing neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Epilepsy
  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Malnutrition
  • Severe tooth decay and/or loss, also known as “Meth mouth”
  • Premature skin ageing


Combining Meth with Other Drugs

The gay community is considered to be the largest consumer of “party” drugs. While crystal meth is known to be the most popular but it is often combined with other drugs (polydrug use) such as Ketamine, Poppers, and Ecstasy when in a party environment. Each of these drugs on their own carry health and safety concerns but any combination creates additional risks. For instance, speedballing, mixing sedatives with uppers like meth, can wreak havoc on the body’s systems. Polydrug use is associated with numerous health concerns and consequently it is a common cause of emergency room visits, carries high risk of overdoses, and greatly increases heart attack risk. 


Meth & STDs among MSM

Meth use in the gay community is increasing STD risks in the party scene. Among men who have sex with men (MSM), apps like Grindr and Tinder are increasing the prevalence of anonymous sex parties, in which crystal meth use is commonplace. Because meth lowers sexual inhibitions and impairs judgement, users are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors such as unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners. Both of these behaviors increase the risk of contracting STDs and HIV. In fact, studies have found a strong association between methamphetamine use and HIV infection. Another study found that methamphetamine users had two times as many partners in the prior four weeks, were 1.7 more likely to have gonorrhea, twice as likely to have Chlamydia, and five times as likely to have syphilis then the general population. 

Further risk for disease comes when methamphetamine is injected using shared needles which increases the risk of contracting HIV, Hepatitis and MRSA. 


Getting Help 

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug. Therefore, detoxing in a clinical treatment environment can help immensely with commitment, withdrawals, and support. Treating addiction as a medical condition offers the best chance for long-term recovery and a healthy sober life. 

However you identify, if you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, help is available. Call us today to find out how we can support you through this difficult time. We’re here to listen. 



Colfax G. Crystal meth and the epidemic of HIV/STD among MSM in the United States. Panel session 10.

Jones TS. Methamphetamine use and infectious diseases. Panel session 10.

Rebuilding Foster Care Families in the Aftermath of Addiction

Foster Care and Addiction

It’s no secret that addiction tears families apart, this is especially true in the case of foster care. Studies have shown one in three children in the program were admitted due to parental substance abuse. But what happens when parents are in recovery and their children are able to come home. How do you heal the trauma that tore the family apart? 



Talk about what has happened, apologize, listen to their feelings. Depending on their age, this may be the time to have an open discussion with them and communicate honestly. Make sure they know that their feelings are valid, that you hear them, and of course, that you love them. 


Create a “New Normal” 

Children and families thrive on consistency. Try to create routines in your everyday life, maybe every night you have dinner at 6pm together. Or every morning you listen to the radio. Small things can make a difference in creating a feeling of consistency. Consider creating new traditions. Maybe every Saturday morning you take a walk together as a family or every Sunday you make pancakes. Making traditions make ordinary days feel special and make memories that last. 


Be Patient and Don’t Play the Guilt Game

Just because you’re in a different place now doesn’t mean you can expect things to change overnight. You may feel closed out or be frustrated by how your relationship building is going, but remember to be patient. This process takes time, particularly with older children. Don’t guilt them for holding a grudge or not responding the way you want them to. With time and consistency you can rebuild, but don’t put your expectations onto them. 


Keep Showing Up

It might be hard to face the circumstances, and new requirements such as supervised visitation however no matter what, continue to be there for them. It might take weeks, months, or even years for them to recover, feel safe, and accept the “new normal.” Regardless of how distant they may be, even when they act out or misbehave, stay with them. They need you and are likely testing your limits to see if you are here to stay. Be truly there for them. Show up, every day, in whatever way you can. 


Every scenario looks different. The ultimate goal is to heal, and let go of resentments and the shame. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and their children have been placed in foster care our case managers might be able to help. Contact us below or click here.

What Is the Ketamine Drug?

What Is the Ketamine Drug? | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Ketamine (referred to on the street as Special K) is an anesthetic prescription drug that also has psychedelic properties. It alters sensory perception and can induce feelings of detachment from oneself and the world. For these reasons, it is a common drug of abuse. Ketamine exists in the form of a white powder or clear liquid.

Ketamine Abuse

When used for non-medical purposes, ketamine is frequently injected, although the powdered form can also be snorted or ingested orally. Ketamine is sometimes combined with other drugs or alcohol to intensify effects.

There is little evidence that suggests that ketamine has the potential to lead to chemical dependence. However, some long-term abusers can develop an emotional dependence and experience cravings for the drug when they attempt to discontinue use. Tolerance will also increase, which will require them to need increasing amounts to achieve the desired effect.

The development of tolerance can drive many individuals to engage in drug-seeking behavior and binge-like patterns of abuse. When binging, a user will use the drug repeatedly and excessively in a relatively short period.

Psychologically, ketamine withdrawal is similar to withdrawal from other drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, and can induce intense cravings. Adverse psychological effects, such as depression and anxiety, are common with ketamine, but physical symptoms are minimal or non-existent.

Short-Term Effects of Ketamine Abuse

Ketamine will typically produce a sudden high that lasts for around an hour. Unlike other dissociatives, such as phencyclidine (PCP), ketamine is short-acting. An injection can induce a high in less than a minute, and snorting or smoking can result in a high in under five minutes.

Anecdotally, users report feeling an overpowering sense of relaxation as if they are floating or having an out-of-body experience. Hallucinations can also occur and last beyond the initial relaxation phase.

As with any intoxicating substance, high doses will likely result in more intense effects, which users often cite as being comparable to a near-death experience. This overall effect is called a “K-hole” and can create unpleasant hallucinations and feelings of detachment from reality.

Other side effects of ketamine may include the following:

  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Drowsiness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure

Also, because ketamine reduces a person’s perception of pain, a user can unintentionally injure him or herself. These injuries can be especially problematic if the user fails to seek medical treatment promptly due to intoxication and can result in additional complications.

What Is the Ketamine Drug? | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Long-Term Effects of Ketamine Abuse

The long-term effects of ketamine abuse are not entirely understood, especially since ketamine is often abused in conjunction with other substances. However, there is some evidence that suggests that prolonged use can result in a thickening of the urinary tract and bladder, and long-term users may need to have their bladders removed when they encounter difficulty with urination. As with many drugs and alcohol, ketamine abuse has also been associated with kidney problems.


If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing a ketamine overdose on ketamine, medical attention should be sought immediately. Overdoses are often treated with symptomatic and supportive care in a clinical environment, and adverse effects will likely resolve in less than three hours.

Respiratory support is seldom needed, but additional ventilation or oxygen may be required. Profound respiratory depression is more likely to occur if ketamine was used in combination with other sedatives.

Managing Withdrawal Symptoms

Psychological withdrawal symptoms that onset as a result of chronic or repeated ketamine use can often be managed using a progressive tapering of the drug dosage over a few weeks, as directed by a health provider. When this method is used, the person’s system can gradually adapt to receiving smaller and smaller amounts of the drug, and psycho-emotional withdrawal symptoms will be minimized in comparison to quitting abruptly.

Treatment for Ketamine Abuse

Detox, therapy, counseling, and group support are very helpful for recovery from ketamine abuse. Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers these treatments in both partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient formats. Most ketamine users also suffer from polysubstance abuse or a co-occurring mental health disorder, and treatment is designed to address these problems simultaneously with the abuse of ketamine itself.

Ketamine is an intoxicating and potentially psychologically addictive drug that can result in severe mental distress and intense cravings upon abrupt discontinuation. If you or someone you love is abusing ketamine, other drugs, or alcohol, we urge you to contact us today to discuss treatment options. You don’t have to do this alone—we can help!

Undergoing a Weed Detox

Undergoing a Weed Detox | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Marijuana is a drug from the cannabis plant. The mind-altering effects come from THC, a compound present naturally in the plant. Although marijuana is not believed to be nearly as addictive or destructive as many other substances of abuse, there is increasing evidence that frequent use can result in some level of dependence. For this reason, professional intervention is sometimes required to help individuals get clean and remain in recovery over the long-term.

Effects of Marijuana

Smoking, vaping, or oral consumption all yield similar effects, though they are not the same for everyone. Depending on the method of administration, effects usually onset after 30 minutes to one hour of use and can last for several hours.

Effects commonly include the following:

  • Increased senses
  • Altered sense of time
  • Feeling humorous
  • Relaxation
  • Mood changes
  • Decreased body movement
  • Impaired thinking
  • Poor memory

Ingesting too much marijuana can cause people to experience hallucinations, delusions, and even psychosis. These symptoms may also occur in individuals who are predisposed to them, including those who have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

According to NIDA, long-term term adverse effects related to chronic marijuana use are of concern. Especially when used by adolescents, weed can impair thinking, memory, and essential learning functions that establish connections in the brain. Researchers are still trying to determine if any long-term damage comes from marijuana use. However, examples of lowered IQ in adults have been observed who started using weed when they were young.

Marijuana Dependence

Previously, researchers did not think marijuana was addictive. However, in recent years, that view has changed a bit. Levels of THC in weed have steadily risen, thereby making dependence and other adverse effects more likely. According to NIDA, as much as 30% of marijuana users may develop some level of dependency, and people who begin using it before age 18 are up to seven times more likely to develop an addiction than those who first use it as adults.

Although dependence does not necessarily equal addiction, it is possible that it will lead to it. When a person is dependent, their body is accustomed to the substance’s presence. He or she is more likely to engage in compulsive drug-seeking and using, which is the hallmark sign of addiction.

There are both physical and psycho-emotional side effects associated with using marijuana. Physical symptoms can include breathing issues, elevated heart rate, nausea, and vomiting. People who use marijuana for a prolonged period may be at a heightened risk for depression, anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, disorganized thinking, and suicidal ideations.

While no known amount of marijuana will result in a lethal overdose, it is certainly possible to experience severe and disturbing symptoms, such as anxiety and paranoia. Also, people do occasionally end up going to the ER after having a psychotic reaction to marijuana. Likewise, dizziness that leads to nausea and vomiting can facilitate the need for medical treatment.

Undergoing a Weed Detox | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Weed Detox

Withdrawing from weed comes with a handful of withdrawal symptoms that can make it difficult to quit. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Sleep problems, especially insomnia
  • Negative mood, possibly anger
  • Decreased appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cravings to use the drug
  • Headaches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Stomach pains
  • Shakiness
  • Fever
  • Dehydration

There are currently no approved medical approaches to treat a person withdrawing from marijuana, but many detox programs can treat individual symptoms and provide emotional support. Behavioral therapies have been successful in helping people to achieve sobriety and stay clean. And in a detox program, medical professionals can prescribe medications that relieve specific withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches or nausea, to aid in the detox process.

Risks of Detoxing Without Help

Perhaps the most significant risk of undergoing a weed detox on your own is relapse. When you choose to detox with the support of health professionals in a safe and secure environment, you are much less likely to relapse, and getting through this early stage is sometimes all it takes to help people avoid reverting to using.

Also, detoxing at home may not provide you with the emotional support you need to help you navigate potentially adverse thoughts and feelings that may develop during withdrawal. Addiction specialists, therapists, and counselors can help during this process, and medication may be prescribed to reduce symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Getting Treatment for Marijuana Dependence

As noted, withdrawal symptoms associated with discontinuing marijuana are usually relatively mild. However, without professional treatment, relapse rates during this period are high. If you have attempted to quit weed multiple times and have returned to using, undergoing weed detox and a rehab program may be the right approach to try.

If you are ready to take the next step toward long-lasting sobriety and wellness, contact us today and find out how we can help!

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System? | Harmony Stuart

Ativan is a prescription benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and a variety of other health conditions. The average half-life of Ativan is around 12 hours. Half-life refers to the time it takes for half of a dose of a drug to eliminate from a person’s system. Moreover, after ingesting the last dose, it can take approximately 2.75 days for the drug to be fully cleared from the body.

An active metabolite of lorazepam, known as glucuronide, has a longer half-life of 18 hours. For this reason, the full elimination of this metabolite will take longer than the Ativan itself. Glucuronide can remain in a person’s system and be detected in urine for as long as four days after the last use of Ativan.

Drug Screening for Ativan

Several types of tests can detect the presence of Ativan, such as:

Urine Tests

Urine tests will show Ativan for up to six days after the last dose, or one week in frequent users. If a urinalysis test detects glucuronide, it may be identified for up to nine days.

Blood tests

Blood tests can find Ativan in the bloodstream within six hours of ingestion and up to 72 hours after. For frequent users, however, it may take a bit longer than this to fully clear Ativan and its metabolites from the bloodstream.

Hair Tests

Hair tests are able to detect Ativan over a prolonged period. A correctly performed hair test can determine if a person has used Ativan for up to one month after exposure. However, this is not commonly performed due to expense.

Saliva Tests

The detection for Ativan in the saliva is only about eight hours.


Factors that Affect How Long Ativan Stays in the System

Individual factors can influence how long Ativan remains in a person’s system and how rapidly it is eliminated. These include:


Older adults, on average, may exhibit a 22% slower clearance rate of Ativan when compared to younger individuals. Theories as to why younger people eliminate Ativan more efficiently than older people include co-existing health conditions, blood flow, metabolic rate, and organ functionality.

Body Height and Weight

A person’s height and weight relative to the dosage of Ativan may impact how long it remains in the system. There is some evidence that being overweight can actually accelerate Ativan clearance, while a shorter or lighter person may take longer to eliminate the drug than a taller or heavier person who has used the same amount.


Genetic factors such as the presence of liver enzymes and kidney function can both play a role in how the body breaks down Ativan. People who do not metabolize Ativan well may take longer to expel it from their system.

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System? | Harmony Stuart

Kidney Function

Studies have shown that, while liver impairment does not appear to have a significant effect on the body’s ability to eliminate Ativan, kidney function could, in fact, impact how rapidly the drug is cleared. What’s more, renal issues could impede the excretion of Ativan from the body.

Metabolic Rate

As with all substances, people with a relatively rapid metabolic rate will likely process and eliminate Ativan faster than those with slower rates.

Frequency and Duration of Use

A person who takes several doses of Ativan each day will take longer to eliminate the drug than say, others who only use it once per day. Frequent and/or long-term users of Ativan are more likely to develop a tolerance to the drug’s effects and, as a result, continue to increase their dosage.

Use of Other Substances

The use of other medications, illicit drugs, or alcohol, in combination with Ativan, can influence its absorption, metabolism, and rate of clearance from a person’s system. For example, consuming alcohol can reduce clearance speed by 18%.


How Ativan Affects the Body

The majority of CNS depressants act on the brain by increasing activity at GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors. GABA is an inhibitory neurochemical and decreases activity in the brain and body, thereby inducing relaxation and calm. In doing this, Ativan helps relieve symptoms of anxiety, such as tension, irrational thoughts, fears, and nervousness.

Ativan does not impact the liver as much as most other benzodiazepines, which may be an important consideration for those who are taking birth control pills, anti-abuse drugs, ulcer medications, and other substances that affect the liver.

Side effects of Ativan use may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in libido
  • Changes in appetite
  • Constipation

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System? | Harmony Stuart

Dependence, Tolerance, and Addiction

When Ativan is abused or used for a prolonged period, both tolerance and dependence can occur. People with a high tolerance of Ativan, or other such substances, may be at a higher risk for addiction and overdose.

Dependence develops over time. The body and brain become accustomed to the substance’s presence, adapt accordingly, and become unable to function with it. As a result, attempts to discontinue use are met with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and often rebound effects (e.g., anxiety or insomnia). This reaction often encourages people to re-engage in use to feel better.

Getting Help for Drug Dependence

At Harmony Treatment and Wellness, we urge you to take dependence on Ativan very seriously. If you or a loved one are suffering, please seek help as soon as possible. We offer comprehensive treatment programs intended to address all aspects of a person’s physical and emotional well-being. In doing so, we evaluate and treat co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

If you want to become drug-free and experience the life you deserve, contact us today. We are here to help!

Narcotics Drug List

Narcotics Drug List | Harmony Treatment and Wellness



The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) defines a narcotic as a drug that relieves pain and produces drowsiness, stupor, or insensibility. The use of this word is most often associated with either prescription or illicit opioids and opiates.

Opioids work to diminish the perception of pain signaling in the central nervous system (CNS) but also induce pleasant and rewarding effects, and therefore, have a high potential for abuse and addiction.

Commonly Abused Narcotics

The following is a list of some of the more commonly-known narcotics:


Before opiates were synthesized for medical use, opium was the go-to drug as it can be used with only minimal processing. Three alkaloids in opium (morphine, codeine, and thebaine) have served as the main constituents for the synthesis of many contemporary opioids. Opium itself is not a common drug of abuse in the U.S.


Heroin is an illicit semi-synthetic opiate derived from morphine that is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S. Potent opioids such as heroin dull pain sensations but can also impair cognition and cause profound sedation. In extreme cases, heroin can slow automatic functions like respiration and heart rate to dangerously low levels. Due to the ongoing opioid epidemic, heroin use in the U.S. is at an all-time high. It has resulted in thousands of overdose deaths each year.

Heroin exists in many forms, from a whitish to brownish powder or as a less pure sticky, black substance, known as Black Tar Heroin. Heroin can be used by smoking, injecting, or snorting. It induces intense and rapid feelings of pleasure and euphoria. People who use it may cycle between an alert and unconscious state, known as being “on the nod.”

Oxycodone (OxyContin, Roxicodone, and Percocet)

Oxycodone is among the most popular and controversial drugs in recent history. It can be an effective treatment for moderate to severe pain, especially when combined with acetaminophen. However, long-term use of oxycodone can lead to the development of physical dependence and addiction. It may also lead to the abuse of less expensive, illicit drugs, such as heroin, when a person is unable to obtain or afford their drug of choice.

Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco, Lortab)

Hydrocodone is the most prescribed and commonly diverted and abused drug in the U.S. In fact, Americans consume around 99% of the world’s supply of this drug. Hydrocodone and its many combination products (e.g., Norco, Vicodin) are Schedule II controlled substances. Although hydrocodone products are only intended for oral administration, some may abuse them by crushing and snorting, smoking, or injecting them.

Morphine (MS Contin and Kadian)

Narcotics Drug List | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

As noted, morphine is a natural opiate alkaloid derived from opium. Pharmaceutical morphine is used as an analgesic for the management of pain and to induce sedation before surgical procedures. Morphine is one of the most widely used pain medications in hospital settings and often comes as a liquid solution. For this reason, those dependent on morphine may prefer to inject the drug as it offers a more rapid and intense onset of effects than when consumed orally.

Hydromorphone (Dilaudid and Exalgo)

Hydromorphone is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from morphine that is commonly used in hospitals for pain control. However, it is also found on the streets as a product of drug diversion. Like other opioids, when abused, people may attempt to smoke, snort, or inject it. Hydromorphone is very potent, considered to be highly addictive, and has a high potential to result in overdose when abused.

Fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Subsys, Abstral)

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful opioid found in prescription and illicit forms. 1oo times more potent than mophine, its use in illicit drugs has led to thousands of deaths in the past few years. By prescription, it is often found in the form of a lozenge or patch. These methods that allow for slow delivery into the bloodstream for a prolonged period.

However, fentanyl is often manufactured illegally and in powder form. It is often laced into heroin (as effects are very similar) or other drugs to extend the supply and maximize dealer profits. Furthermore, people who are seeking heroin are often unaware of fentanyl’s presence in the drug, making the potential for overdose extremely high. In fact, even a tiny amount may be enough to cause an overdose, especially for someone who has not built a tolerance to it.


Codeine is used to manufacture prescription medications, particularly cough syrups such as Tylenol 3/4. It is a relatively mild opioid analgesic and a less potent pain reliever than morphine. However, people abuse the drug by consuming it in quantities higher than those prescribed.

However, the drug may be misused by consuming tablets or oral solution in quantities that exceed prescribed doses. It’s also commonly abused as “Lean” or “Purple Drank,” where it’s mixed with soda and candy. It can also be combining it with other psychoactive substances, such as alcohol, for more significant intoxicating effects. Still, this practice, is of course, hazardous and could lead to life-threatening complications and overdose.

Methadone (Dolophine and Methadose)

Methadone is a synthetic opioid that also has analgesic properties but is most commonly used for opioid replacement therapy for those who are addicted to more potent opioids, such as heroin. It is dispensed in pill, liquid, or wafter forms to be administered once per day through federally regulated clinics.

Methadone is a long-acting opioid that remains active in the bloodstream long after effects wear off. This means it can be taken in lower doses, less frequently to keep opioid withdrawal symptoms at a minimum. However, methadone is occasionally diverted and still has the potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction.

Meperidine (Demerol)

Meperidine is used to treat moderate to severe acute pain, sometimes for before or after surgery. Long-term use is not recommended as it can result in toxicity. Meperidine may be prescribed as a syrup or tablet, and like all opioids, it has the potential for abuse and addiction.

Tramadol (Ultram, Ultracet)

Narcotics Drug List | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Tramadol is somewhat unique in that it not only has opioid agonist effects but also blocks the reuptake of adrenaline and serotonin. It is thought to have a low potential for abuse and dependence but is still considered a controlled substance by the DEA.

Tramadol is most often abused by those who are already opioid-dependent and those who suffer from chronic pain. Although tramadol may be less addictive than other opioid drugs, it can still lead to physical dependence and addiction, especially when abused.


Carfentanil is an incredibly powerful opioid used as a general anesthetic for large animals. It is believed to be roughly 10,000 times more potent than morphine. It is rarely found in the drug supply. However, in the second half of 2016 hundreds of people in Ohio overdosed on heroin laced with Carfentanil.


Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist commonly used for opioid dependence. In combination with the opioid antagonist naloxone, buprenorphine is widely available as Suboxone. It is widely used in Medication Assisted Treatment.

Getting Treatment for Opioid Addiction

If you suspect that you or someone you love is abusing opioids, we urge you to seek help today! Harmony Treatment and Wellness center offers comprehensive, state-of-the-art programs facilitated by caring addiction professionals committed to ensuring that every patient receives the tools and support they need to experience long-lasting sobriety and wellness.

If you are ready to take the first step, contact us to discuss treatment options. We are here to help!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Signs Of Opiate Abuse

Gabapentin Withdrawal

Gabapentin Withdrawal | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Gabapentin (brand name Neurontin) is a prescription medication commonly used to treat neuropathic pain and seizures. Although gabapentin is thought to have a significantly lower potential for abuse and dependence than many other drugs that treat pain, both do occasionally occur. Those who use Neurontin in excessive amounts or for recreational purposes are more likely to develop a dependence that those who use it as directed with a prescription.

Gabapentin misuse is believed to be relatively rare but increasing, and some research as reported statistics on its abuse. Gabapentin abuse often occurs in conjunction with other psychoactive substances, such as opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol.

A person who develops a physical dependence on gabapentin will experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to discontinue use. These symptoms may manifest between 12 hours to 7 days after stopping the medication and can persist for several weeks. Symptoms of gabapentin withdrawal may include headaches, nausea, dizziness, insomnia, and anxiety.

Detox from gabapentin is, by no means, considered to be risky or life-threatening. However, adverse emotional effects can be highly unpleasant and compel an individual to return to the misuse of this drug or other substances. For this reason, the safest way to discontinue gabapentin is by using a tapering schedule under the supervision of a physician or undergoing medical detox.

Gabapentin Withdrawal Symptoms

Unfortunately, even patients who use gabapentin as directed may develop some level of physical dependence. Using the medication in excessive doses or for an extended period can lead to the onset of withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of use.

Because gabapentin has depressant properties, withdrawal symptoms may be comparable to those of alcohol and benzodiazepines, although much less severe. This similarity is believed to be because gabapentin and these other substances all have an effect on GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), an inhibitory neurochemical in the brain.

Withdrawal symptoms associated with long-term gabapentin use include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Light sensitivity
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea

Also, people who are using gabapentin to treat seizures and suddenly stop taking it may encounter an uptick in seizure activity, including prolonged, uncontrollable seizures. In this instance, withdrawal from gabapentin could, in fact, be hazardous and is not recommended without medical supervision.

Factors for Gabapentin Withdrawal

Gabapentin Withdrawal | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Factors that can influence the severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Age
  • Height and weight
  • Average dose
  • Length of use or misuse
  • Presence of other disorders
  • Use of other substances

Rarely, individuals who are at risk of or already experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms may require intensive medical monitoring and intervention if complications occur.

Health professionals generally advise that a patient receive increasingly lower doses of gabapentin to wean them off the drug gradually and comfortably. Tapering schedules that are employed for medications like gabapentin have the potential to reduce adverse withdrawal effects when the medication is eventually stopped altogether.

Gabapentin use can often be tapered down to cessation over one week, but in some instances, slower tapers may be used to address safety concerns. Experts recommend reducing the daily dose by a maximum of 300mg every four days.

Why Gabapentin Withdrawal Symptoms Occur

It is not wholly understood why withdrawal symptoms manifest when some individuals abruptly stop using gabapentin, but they do occur nonetheless. This fact suggests that gabapentin use does indeed have the potential to result in physical dependence.

When dependence occurs, a person’s body has adjusted to the consistent presence of a substance and has begun to rely on it to function normally. Then, when a dependent individual suddenly stops using the drug or significantly cuts back, they will soon start to encounter the onset of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are the result of the person’s brain and body trying to re-stabilize without the drug’s presence.

Dependence often develops in combination with tolerance, a condition in which the person’s system no longer responds to the substance to the extent it once did. As a result, the person will need to take increasingly larger doses if they are to achieve the effects they desire.

Chemical dependence is often confused with full-blown addiction, but there are some key differences, and they are not the same. While dependence is a required component for addiction, the converse is not true. A person can become dependent on a substance even if they use it properly, as directed by a doctor. Addiction is further hallmarked by substance abuse and compulsive drug-seeking behavior despite the adverse consequences that a person experiences as a result.

Moreover, an individual who is addicted to gabapentin will not only abuse it, but will become obsessed with obtaining and using it, and they will continue to do so regardless of the problems this causes.

Getting Help for Drug Dependence

Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers multi-faceted, state-of-the-art programs designed to treat drug abuse, dependence, and addiction, as well as all aspects of an individual’s health and well-being. Our programs feature therapeutic services clinically proven to be integral for the process of recovery, such as behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, counseling, group support, and aftercare planning.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a dependence on drugs or alcohol, contact us today and find out how we can help you get started on the road to recovery, one step at a time!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Dangers of Snorting Gabapentin

Is Lean Liquid Heroin?

“Lean” is a slang term for a drug-laden drink that consists of the medications codeine and promethazine. Codeine is an opium alkaloid like morphine, the drug from which heroin is derived. Although morphine and heroin are both much more powerful than codeine, excessive consumption of this substance has the potential to cause death as well as a wide array of mental and physical health problems.

Lean is also commonly referred to as “purple drank” or “sizzurp”. Promethazine is an anti-allergy medication that is relatively benign but can cause drowsiness. It is sometimes found in combination with codeine, a painkiller that also helps with cough suppression in prescription cough syrup formulas. The Lean concoction includes cough syrup such as this in addition to soda and flavored candies, often Jolly Ranchers.

When consumed, especially in high amounts, Lean can induce euphoria, not unlike heroin and intense feelings of relaxation and drowsiness. Unfortunately, it is very possible to overdose on Lean, and a number of celebrities have succumbed to this. Because codeine is a central nervous system depressant, it can decrease breathing, heart rate, and body temperature down to perilously low levels. Without emergency medical intervention, death can occur.

Who Uses Lean?

Over the last few years, promethazine-codeine cough syrup has rapidly become a popular recreational drug among teens and young people in certain regions of the United States. According to government statistics, in 2017, more than 3% of high school seniors misused prescription or over-the-counter cough or cold medication.

Lean has been largely popularized by rap/hip-hop musicians and cases involving NFL players. African-American men are perceived as those who use Lean most often, but research from 2013 suggested that it is used by young persons from a range of demographics. The study reported Lean use among more than 2,300 students enrolled at a large public university in the U.S. Southeastern region.

The results were as follows:

  • Males were more likely to consume Lean than females
  • Hispanics had the highest rate of Lean, followed by whites and then blacks
  • Many students who consumed the concoction struggled academically
  • LGBT students used Lean at a higher rate than their heterosexual counterparts
  • More than 10% of marijuana users drank Lean

Perhaps the main reason why people believe that black males are the most likely to use Lean is that many rap/hip-hop artists, including Lil Wayne, have glorified Lean use in music, and a number them have died of complications associated with its use.

How to Identify Lean Use

Signs of lean use include the following:

  • Empty foam cups or bottles of cough syrup containing promethazine and codeine
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of interest in hobbies once enjoyed
  • Adverse changes in appearance
  • Frequent and sudden trips to the bathroom
  • In students, poor academic performance

What Does Lean Do?

Is Lean Liquid Heroin?

Many young people erroneously believe that prescription drugs, including those containing codeine, are relatively safe. But, as noted, excessive amounts of codeine can slow heart rate and respiration. When combined with promethazine or other substances such as alcohol, it can significantly increase the risk of health problems, including death.

Side effects of codeine include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Slowed pulse
  • Brain damage

Promethazine is an antihistamine that can also cause several adverse reactions. Side effects of promethazine may include the following:

  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Breathing problems
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures

Codeine Overdose

Codeine is less potent than morphine and heroin, but it is still a powerful substance, and using it in any other way than as prescribed can cause an overdose.

Symptoms of codeine overdose include the following:

  • Bluish lips or skin (cyanosis)
  • Chest pain
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Decreased alertness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma and death

Several mental health problems are closely associated with codeine use. A study from 2015 found that individuals who codeine chronically have a 30% higher risk for depression than those who use hydrocodone, another prescription opioid that is derived from another opium alkaloid, thebaine.

Getting Help for Lean Abuse and Addiction

Regular consumption of lean can lead to addiction, a chronic brain condition that adversely affects a person’s emotional and physical health and social life. People who have an addiction to codeine will be chemically dependent on the substance and compulsively seek the drug despite the incurrence of negative consequences.

Professional long-term treatment is often necessary to help people overcome codeine addiction. Harmony Treatment and Wellness employs highly-trained medical professionals experienced in assisting clients to overcome substance use disorders, including those related to opioids.

Our programs are comprehensive and customized to each individual’s needs and goals, and feature services required to achieve the best outcomes, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and more.

If you or a loved one is abusing Lean, we urge you to seek help right away, before it’s too late. Contact us today and discover how we help people break the vicious cycle of addiction for life!

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Trazodone Withdrawal and Detox

Trazodone Withdrawal and Detox | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Trazodone is a prescription medication that is intended to treat depression. It accomplishes this by preventing serotonin, a feel-good chemical in the brain, from being reabsorbed by neurons. In doing this, the amount of serotonin is increased, thus improving a person’s mood and mitigating feelings of depression.

Like other such medications, Trazodone can be also be prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia in addition to depression. Since depression is a prevalent mental health disorder, Trazodone is a relatively common medication that is prescribed often.

Relying on trazodone can and often does lead to a chemical and psychological dependence, which can become problematic, especially if the person wants to quit using it or cannot obtain it for some reason. Because the use of this drug is closely associated with a mental health condition, treatment for both the mental illness and drug dependence is usually required for persons who are trying to stop using or abusing this medication.

Trazodone Withdrawal

Drug withdrawal is the adjustment process that the body undergoes when a substance is no longer present after having been used for a prolonged period. After a period amount of time using Trazodone consistently, the body adapts to the drug and becomes used to its effects on serotonin. When the drug is no longer in a person’s system, the brain must re-learn how to produce serotonin without the assistance of Trazodone, which takes time.

There are both unpleasant mental and physical withdrawal symptoms that individuals often encounter after discontinuing the regular use of Trazodone. These effects frequently thwart attempts to people who are attempting to stop using Trazadone.

It is critical that patients do not use Trazadone in any manner other than that prescribed by a doctor. Failure to do so can lead to a higher level of drug dependence if it is taken too often or for too long, as well “rebound effects” or withdrawal symptoms that are more severe than those a person began using the drug to treat.

In any case, it is not advised that people who are dependent on Trazodone attempting to manage withdrawal symptoms without medical supervision. A person who is determined to get off Trazodone should be in a position of safety and comfort to prevent relapse and severe depression or anxiety. During a medical detox, health providers can monitor a patient for complications while mitigating some of the most uncomfortable symptoms that are associated with Trazodone withdrawal.

Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person goes through withdrawal, he or she can experience significant discomfort and intense cravings for the drug they stopped using. Knowing the symptoms of trazodone withdrawal is essential as a person attempts to clear the substance from their system. Similar to many antidepressants, physical symptoms related to trazodone withdrawal include the following:

  • Agitation and irritability
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

Some people may encounter additional symptoms depending on the severity of their dependence. As noted, because Trazodone is prescribed to address certain mental health conditions, there are adverse effects that can occur when the dosage is stopped abruptly. People who experience depression, anxiety, or insomnia and use Trazodone to treat these conditions may re-experience these disorders with increased intensity upon cessation of its use.

Trazodone Withdrawal and Detox | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Trazodone Withdrawal Timeline

There is no exact timeline for withdrawal, and in some cases, some symptoms may persist for weeks or months. Relatively mild dependence may result in physical symptoms that could subside in just days. For others with more severe problems, symptoms can last for much longer.

Trazodone has a half-life of 5-9 hours, with an average of around seven hours. “Half-life” is a term that describes the amount of time it takes for half of the amount of the drug to be cleared from a person’s system. Unfortunately, the process of withdrawal does not end when the substance is completely out of the system. The physical effects of the drugs subside, but people may continue experiencing some symptoms, as well as intense cravings for Trazodone to manage their depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts.

When people experience withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants like Trazodone, there are a number of factors that impact the duration and severity of these symptoms, including the following:

  • How long a person has been using Trazodone
  • Average dosage amount before starting withdrawal
  • Presence of other substances
  • Individual characteristics, such as genetics and metabolism

Another factor includes the method of detox. Some people choose the abrupt “cold turkey” approach, which could lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms but also requires a shorter amount of time. Using the tapering off approach usually results in less severe withdrawal symptoms, but also the timeline is much longer and can take weeks. If you decide that weaning off of the drug is right for you, you should consult a medical professional to help you in this process.

Getting Treatment for Addiction

Trazodone addiction is relatively uncommon, but it does occur. People who end up abusing this medication often do so in conjunction with other drugs, however. As such, undergoing comprehensive treatment may be vital for the process of recovery.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers integrated outpatient, intensive outpatient, and partial hospitalization programs comprised of services that are clinically-proven to help people achieve a full recovery and sustain long-term happiness and wellness. These services include psychotherapy, medication-assisted treatment, aftercare planning, and more.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, please contact us today and find out how we can help!

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Is Heroin an Opioid?

Is Heroin an Opioid? | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Heroin is a semi-synthetic opiate derived from the opiate morphine. It is a commonly abused illicit drug found in the U.S. and elsewhere. Heroin addiction is a devastating disease that claims the lives of thousands of people each year, and due mainly to the opioid epidemic, in recent years, it’s been spiralizing out of control.

Many people abuse heroin in a last-ditch effort to feed their painkiller addiction. Government statistics have found that nearly 80% of those who use heroin did after becoming addicted to prescription opioids, such as oxycodone. To make matters worse, illicit fentanyl has made its way into the heroin drug supply and has effects that are even more potent and likely to result in an overdose. In fact, government statistics show that as many as 50% of all opioid overdoses are related to fentanyl.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin, also known as dope, smack, horse, or junk, can be found as a white or brown powder or a tacky substance (black tar heroin). As noted, heroin is an opiate, a natural derivative of the morphine from the opium poppy plant. It can induce feelings of happiness and pleasure, a mental state in which people can become addicted. However, the adverse effects of its abuse are too severe and harmful to ignore.

When heroin enters the brain, it changes back into morphine and binds to receptors responsible for pleasure, reward, and mood. It also affects areas in the brain stem, responsible for regulating bodily functions such as breathing and blood pressure. Heroin is commonly administered by snorting, smoking, or injecting.

Heroin is a very potent drug and the aforementioned ways in which it is used to facilitate a high that is experienced quickly and intensely. Because of the increase of supply and ease in obtaining it, people from many backgrounds use heroin. Prescription painkillers have become a gateway drug to heroin, so any person who has been prescribed a narcotic medication can become vulnerable to heroin abuse and addiction.

The opioid epidemic has nearly overtaken the U.S., and many people die from overdoses every single day. Due to the addictive potential of prescription opiates and opioids, people who are not able to finance their addiction may turn to heroin use because it produces an intense high for less money than prescription painkillers, and is also easily accessible.

Heroin’s Appearance

Heroin is available most commonly found in powder form and a color that ranges from white to tan to brown. The variation in colors is related to the drug’s purity. The whiter it is, the purer and more potent it is in comparison with darker colors. 

Conversely, some heroin is found as a solid, sticky, black substance known as black tar heroin. The purest forms of heroin are odor-free while the darker, less pure forms of heroin may have a smell similar to that of vinegar. If black tar and other impure forms of heroin are smoked, the smell will increase, and the scent of vinegar will be even stronger.

While pure heroin can be found on the black market, more often than not, it’s laced with adulterants and other drugs. Moreover, dealers add these substances to heroin so they can make a bigger profit. And although this process can diminish the amount of heroin used, it can also make consuming the product more dangerous, especially if it contains other drugs, such as fentanyl.

Some substances that heroin is commonly laced with include the following:

  • Rat poison
  • Baking soda
  • Laundry detergent
  • Talcum powder
  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Fentanyl

While some of these adulterants are downright dangerous, such as rat poison, other “safer” ingredients may also threaten the health of the person using it. For example, caffeine combined with heroin can mask signs of an overdose, and prompt people who use it to believe it’s okay to use more. However, this can lead to permanent brain damage or death.

Heroin Addiction

Is Heroin an Opioid? | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Now that many who become addicted to prescription painkillers are aware that heroin is less expensive, demand is high, and Mexican cartels have responded accordingly. And the risk of addiction, overdose, and death are also at an all-time high as dealers attempt to meet the demand by mixing heroin with other substances.

Heroin is believed by many experts to be among the most addictive drugs in the world. Overcoming addiction is not easy, but it is possible, especially when professional treatment is involved. That said, many people have struggled multiple times and relapsed after a period of abstinence. So why is overcoming heroin addiction, in particular, so challenging?

Heroin hijacks the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, essentially “rewiring” it to believe that heroin is an essential chemical and that it is needed to function normally. The addicted brain becomes singularly focused on getting high, no matter the cost—so much so that people go to extreme measures to experience this high.

Heroin works similarly to other opioids, in that it causes a flood of the feel-good chemical dopamine to release in the brain. However, the method of administration used to ingest heroin is a big reason why it has the potential to be more addictive. Moreover, unlike prescription painkillers, heroin is rarely swallowed. Drugs that are consumed orally are processed through the stomach and liver and are released into the bloodstream much more slowly than if they are snorted, smoked, or injected.

Following this experience, many people report feeling a compulsion to use the drug repeatedly, and this behavior progresses into heroin dependence rapidly. This condition, in addition to tolerance, are what drives and perpetuates further heroin abuse, and ultimately, addiction.

Heroin Detox and Withdrawal

Although rarely life-threatening, detoxing from heroin can be highly unpleasant and compel a person to use again to quell symptoms such as anxiety, depression, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and body aches and pains. Heroin also alters regions of the brain responsible for judgment and motivation, ensuring that the person who is addicted is highly-motivated to use, and their ability to make sound decisions regarding use is very impaired.

For this reason, people seeking recovery from heroin addiction are urged to undergo a medical detox in which they can be supervised to prevent relapse. Detox should be immediately followed by an intensive addiction treatment program that includes a variety of approaches clinically-proven to be beneficial for those who are in the process of recovery.

Getting Help for Heroin Addiction

Heroin abuse and addiction can be devastating, life-threatening problems that destroy a person’s health, well-being, and relationships. Fortunately, however, professional treatment is available for those seeking to recover once and for all.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness features comprehensive programs that include evidence-based services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and much, much more. Our caring, highly-trained staff are dedicated to providing individualized support and treatment to each client and provide them with the tools they need to recover fully and sustain long-lasting health and well-being.

If you or someone you love is battle heroin addiction, contact us today! Find out how we can help you achieve abstinence and experience the healthy, happy life you deserve!

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