How Do Opioids Affect the Brain?

Ever Wondered How Opioids Affect The Brain?

Perhaps you’ve wondered, “how do opioids affect the brain?” It seems like every time you turn around, you see news about opioids. You hear words like “opioid epidemic” and “opioid crisis.” The news talks a lot about addictions. They frequently mention the deaths. But how does a person get real information about opioid effects on the brain?

 

In this blog, Harmony Treatment & Wellness assesses the following:

 

  • What are opioids?
  • How do opioids affect the brain?
  • What is opioid use disorder?
  • Do treatments exist for opioid use disorder?
  • What if I want more information about opioids and the brain?

What Are Opioids?

Opioids occur naturally in your body. Your brain makes them. Researchers call these endogenous opioids. When we hurt, our brains release these opioids to make us feel better. Opioids have the function of easing pain.

 

What’s The Difference Between Opioids And Opiates?

We can also find opioids in nature. They come from the poppy flower (papaver somniferum). 3 natural opioids we get from the poppy plant include:

 

  • Opium
  • Morphine
  • Codeine

 

You may see the terms “opioid” and “opiate” used like synonyms. But they don’t mean the same thing. The word “opioid” refers to both natural and artificial substances. We apply the word “opiate” to natural substances.

 

Opioids have legitimate medical uses. But when news reports refer to an “opioid crisis,” it makes opioids sound terrible. You may hear the word “synthetic” used in this context. It means that a human being created it. Find a few examples of synthetic opioids below:

 

  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone

 

How Do Opioids Impact The Brain?

We learned that our brains manufacture opioids. So, what happens if we consume an opioid? Our brain rewards us. It releases chemicals that make us feel good. Imagine the feeling when you spend time with a loved one. Or when you eat a good meal. Now, imagine that you could amplify that feeling. That represents a glimpse of what opioids can do in the brain.

 

Our brain becomes accustomed to this feeling. It views this heightened sense of pleasure as its new normal. Over time, the brain begins to require opioids. Without them, it will not function properly. We use the term dependence to describe this state. If a person dependent on opioids stops using them, withdrawal may result.

 

What About The Body?

We know that opioids help ease pain. They also slow down the brain’s processes. This can make our bodies feel heavy and sluggish. Opioids cause us to get sleepy. We might experience a sense of calm. Therein lies much of the problem with opioids. They slow things down too much.

 

Opioid overdose can lead to a condition known as ”hypoxia.” It happens when the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen. Opioids slow down the brain and the body. Therefore, they reduce our breathing. If we don’t breathe enough, our brains don’t get enough oxygen. This condition of hypoxia can prove fatal.

 

What Is Opioid Use Disorder?

Humans like to feel good. And opioids give us good feelings. We should not feel surprised by the fact that people become addicted to opioids. They make pain go away. They provide relief. And they do it well.

 

But, abusing opioids can lead to opioid use disorder (OUD). The CDC has published a wealth of literature on the exact definition of OUD. For your purpose, you need only keep one thing in mind. Someone struggling with OUD keeps using opioids. And they cannot quit. They keep consuming opioids despite the presence of negative consequences.

 

Do Treatments Exist For Opioid Use Disorder?

If you struggle with OUD, do not respond with fear. If you love someone with OUD, hold fast. One must not OUD as a life sentence. Harmony Treatment & Wellness knows that people can (and do) recover from OUD. So, inhale. Below, you will find some examples of treatments for OUD.

 

MOUD/MAT

Treatment providers might treat OUD with a method called medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD). You could hear it called medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MOUD/MAT offers someone with OUD an opioid prescription to help them recovery. Treatment centers have used methadone for such purposes. More recent innovations in MOUD include buprenorphine and naltrexone.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Humans don’t inherently know how to think about our own thoughts. We just assume that we have thoughts. We (quite erroneously) believe we cannot change them. Enter cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT teaches people to evaluate their own thoughts. It helps them to question their thoughts. With CBT, we learn not to take our thoughts at face value. Particularly when used with MOUD, CBT has proven effective in treating opioid use disorder.

 

What If I Want More Information About Opioids And The Brain?

Thank you for reading this far. Help exists at Harmony Treatment & Wellness. If you’d like more information about how opioids effect the brain, reach out to us. We believe information empowers people. Contact us today to learn more.

 

Telehealth for Addiction

Benefits of Telehealth for Addiction

Telehealth is one form of treatment that has resulted in promising results in addiction recovery management. There are many benefits that can be reaped from the different forms of telehealth for addiction. In this article, learn more about telehealth and how it can benefit the addiction treatment industry from a Florida recovery center.

What is Telehealth for Addiction?

Telehealth is the practice of using telecommunication, such as phone calls and video conferencing software, to provide care services. By using the internet, patients can access a variety of services without having to travel anywhere. This can include possible treatment options for their addiction or mental health disorder.

Benefits of Telehealth for Addiction

The use of technology has allowed doctors to treat patients that are not available to make it to the office for a face-to-face appointment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth became extremely useful because it allowed patients to remain isolated in their homes while still getting the care they needed. These are a few of the many benefits that telehealth has to offer patients dealing with addiction.

1. Quick Screening and Intervention

One of the more prominent benefits of telehealth is that it can be used to screen and help patients quickly. Patients can have an online assessment done, and the results are given quickly. This quick screening can then be followed up with a full treatment plan. Interventions can be done at any time or location that is best for the family.

2. Reduces Stigma

Studies have shown that the stigma associated with addiction has had some effect on whether people seek out treatment for it or not. Telehealth allows individuals to seek treatment in a less stigmatized environment, which can reduce the likelihood of them not seeking treatment.

3. Increased Accessibility

Telehealth has allowed for decreased costs for patients seeking treatment. With the expansion of telehealth treatment options, people can have a more accessible addiction recovery plan. This is especially beneficial to impoverished patients who may not have the financial means to afford an in-person care option or for those that cannot take time away from work or family commitments for a full-time, residential program.

4. Treatment from Anywhere

One of the most significant advantages of telehealth is that there is no need to be at a certain location in order to obtain treatment. Patients can become instantly connected with services that are thousands of miles away from them, allowing them to get help when they need it most. This is especially beneficial for those who have moved away or otherwise become geographically isolated.

5. Help Outside Office Hours

An age-old problem with addiction treatment is the inability to receive help at times when it is most needed. With telehealth, patients can have access to a doctor or therapist after hours in order to work through issues that are often present during those late evening hours. This is an especially beneficial option for those who have unsupportive families or live in unsafe environments.

6. No Travel Costs

One of the largest costs of receiving treatment is the amount of time and money patients must dedicate to travel for appointments or treatment centers. Telehealth has allowed patients to remain in the comfort of their homes, and with the assistance of telehealth providers, treatment can be accessed wherever they are. While many people travel out of state for residential care, telehealth is a great option for those that are not able to afford traveling.

7. It’s Less Expensive Overall

A general misconception is that all forms of treatment are expensive, which is not always the case. Telehealth can be used to provide patients with the care they need at a significantly lower cost than other treatment methods. This is great for those who may have a hard time affording even one in-person appointment, but can still benefit from the care available through telehealth.

8. Part of a Holistic Approach to Complement In-Person Treatment

Telehealth can be a part of an addiction recovery program. It does not have to be all in-person or all telehealth. This combination of treatment options allows for a more holistic approach to addiction recovery that can be tailored to the needs of the patient.

9. Beneficial to Aftercare Programs

Telehealth can be used to better facilitate aftercare programs. Patients can have an ongoing care plan with follow-up sessions that are monitored through a video conferencing program to provide ongoing care after treatment. Aftercare programs can make it easier for patients to maintain sobriety in the early stages of recovery.
As technology continues to develop, telehealth is expected to become more prevalent in the addiction recovery industry. As more people begin using telehealth and become aware of its usefulness, more clinics and treatment centers are likely to adopt these services in order to provide a greater range of options for their patients. As more people seek out treatment, there will be a greater need for these services.
Because of the nature of telehealth and the benefits it provides, it has created a new environment for addiction recovery. By using technology to connect patients with care options that are local and global, there is more access to treatment that much more convenient for individuals who need it most.
Telehealth for addiction can also help more people to access recovery from a Florida addiction and recovery center even if they live far away. If you have more questions about telehealth or about addiction recovery, contact Harmony Stuart to speak with one of our representatives today. We can help you to start the treatment process and to avoid the traps of early sobriety.

Are Opioids Inherently Dangerous?

white opioid pills on a blue surface

Humans have been using opioids for thousands of years. The oldest evidence of opium production discovered dates back to 3,400 BC in lower Mesopotamia. (1) A multitude of wars have been fought over access to opioids in all their forms. It’s also safe to assume that the phenomenon of opioid dependence is just as ancient. Overdose deaths were a bit less common with opium in its raw natural form, but this is not the way most modern people encounter opioids today. The majority of opioid use begins with prescription medications.

These synthetic and semi-synthetic compounds are a far cry from the opium of the ancient world. Their purity, increased bioavailability and route of administration make overdose and abuse much easier. These risks are exponentially greater when we look at street drugs like heroin (diacetylmorphine). Not only is the potency of street heroin unpredictable, but there has been an explosion in the amount of heroin adulterated with fentanyl or carfentanil in recent years. The move by organized crime to increase profits by folding fentanyl compounds into heroin has caused overdose death in the U.S. to skyrocket. Fentanyl in its purest form is so powerful that a fatal dose will fit on the head of a pin and it sometimes even proves resistant to the Narcan (naloxone) doses traditionally given to try and reverse a fatal overdose.

Dangers of Opioids

So, what is it exactly that makes opioids inherently dangerous? There is a combination of factors that in combination, make opioids one of, if not the most dangerous category of drugs of abuse in the world.

Analgesic Effects – Up until recently, opioids have been the only truly effective pharmaceutical treatment for moderate to severe pain. This has led many pain patients to inadvertently become dependent on opioids. Over time they build a tolerance requiring more of the drug to get the same effects or become psychologically dependent upon them too.

Euphoric Effects – Opioids act on the brain’s pleasure centers directly. The same part of the brain that reinforces positive behaviors with ‘reward chemicals’ is short-circuited by opioids in a sense. They cause these chemicals to be released without the usual stimuli. Eventually the drug can come to take precedence over even basic necessities like food, water, self-care.

Respiratory Depression – Opioids slow the body down. They slow breathing and this is one of the most dangerous qualities they have. Overdose deaths are most often caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. People literally stop breathing. What’s worse is, it is impossible to predict the dose which will be fatal and the respiratory depression effect is compounded exponentially when other depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines are used in conjunction with an opioid.

The very nature of opioids makes them dangerous. The potential for physical dependence and addiction spares no one. If you use an opioid regularly for any significant amount of time, you will become physically dependent upon it. Period. You will experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings when you stop unless you do so in a medical treatment environment where these can be alleviated. Not only is physical dependence a risk, but psychological dependence is incredibly common.

In addition to these risks there is the risk of overdose, which is far easier to encounter by accident than most people realize and prescription opiates do not protect you from that risk. The key points to remember here are that opioids are in fact inherently dangerous. This does not mean that they don’t have a legitimate medical use. What it does mean is that anyone who chooses to put an opioid in their body, whether prescribed or otherwise, owes it to themselves to understand the facts and the risk involved.

If you’d like to learn more about treatment options for opiate addiction, feel free to call us at Harmony Treatment and Wellness.

Sources

(1) https://www.deamuseum.org/ccp/opium/history.html

Treatment Options for Opiate Addiction

man sitting in chair suffering from opiate addiction

The United States has been in the midst of an opioid addiction epidemic for over a decade. Heroin addiction was once limited primarily to cities and narrow segments of society. Today, addiction to a myriad of opioid substances has impacted communities from coast-to-coast. If you aren’t addicted to opiates, chances are you know someone who is or who has been impacted by opiate addiction. Fortunately, the medical field has risen to the challenge and there is a broad array of treatment options for opiate addiction now. Here is a breakdown of the choices for addiction care:

Medical Detoxification

Most patients will begin treatment for opiate addiction with medical detox in an inpatient facility. It takes only five days to become addicted to opiates, so the demand for detox is great. (1)

The medical detox phase of care is designed to get a person through physical withdrawal symptoms as comfortably as possible. The opiate detox process has become both more sophisticated and more effective with time. The latest protocols involve a combination of medications. Short-term treatment with Buprenorphine is designed to directly target the most severe opiate withdrawal systems, including body aches, chills, nausea, and cravings. An array of other medications can complement it to address tertiary symptoms like anxiety and depression. During this period a patient will be assessed to develop a treatment plan. Clinicians will want a full picture of what they are dependent on, how much has been used, and for how long. It is also important to assess the patient’s overall health at this time. Any other serious health concerns must be identified and addressed. Ideally, a psychological evaluation will also be conducted during this time. Co-occurring mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety will be diagnosed if present. All of this information goes towards building the most effective treatment plan possible, even if secondary issues aren’t tackled until after the detox phase.

Inpatient Treatment

Following the detox phase, many patients will opt to either remain at the same facility to undergo other levels of care or transfer to a facility that offers further treatment. Studies have shown markedly better outcomes and longer sobriety for people who undergo at least 28-30 days of treatment or more. (2) Depending on a person’s diagnosis, they may remain at the inpatient level for a week or more. Commonly, patients will move on to the Partial Hospitalization (PHP) phase relatively soon and may move to Intensive Outpatient (IOP) a couple of weeks after that. The length of time and levels of care varies from patient to patient. Many programs now offer a hybridized form of care where patients can receive PHP, IOP, or even Outpatient-style care while living in a sober living environment. This model provides more structure and security than attending an outpatient program while living at home possibly can. It can also be a more affordable option for many people with or without insurance.

Sober Living Environments.

Sober living homes, sometimes called ‘halfway houses’ aren’t usually thought of as a treatment option by themselves. They are, however, often an integral part of a solid treatment plan that follows medical detox and inpatient care at a medical facility. Certified and vetted sober living homes act as a bridge between treatment and a return to ordinary life. They provide a safe place to live and grow new relationships with people in recovery. More importantly, they are a safe space within which one can put new behaviors into practice. Many recovering people will choose to live in a sober living home for the duration of their PHP, IOP, and OP treatment. It’s often recommended that a recovering person lives this way for as long as a year, if possible. They can return to work or school and much of their daily life can be as it was before opiate addiction, only they have the safety of a place to live where they have accountability and structure.

If you’d like to learn more about treatment options for opiate addiction, feel free to call us at Harmony Treatment and Wellness.

 

(1) https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/substance-use/opioid-dependence-can-happen-after-just-5-days
(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1852519/

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. 

 

Sources

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.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070827101123.htm

https://www.jwatch.org/ac200704130000004/2007/04/13/drugs-sex-and-hiv-infection-among-msm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3375784/

https://www.jwatch.org/ac200712030000001/2007/12/03/crystal-meth-and-hiv-aids-perfect-storm

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/03/000328084630.htm

https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/08/21/meth-and-heart-disease-a-deadly-crisis-we-dont-fully-fathom-report-says

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? 

 

Communicate 

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.

Overdose

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:

Age

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.

Genetics

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:

Opium

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

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

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

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

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!

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