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.



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.


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.



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.



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!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Codeine Addiction

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!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Signs Of Opiate Abuse

The Dangers of Snorting Tramadol

Snorting Tramadol Dangers | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Tramadol is a prescription opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain. Although tramadol is thought to have a relatively low potential for addiction when compared to other opioids, it can easily be abused. Misuse of tramadol occurs when a person uses it in amounts or a frequency above the prescribed dose. 

Abuse can also include administering tramadol in a way that is not intended, such as snorting. Doing so is potentially dangerous and can result in dependence and addiction at a faster rate than when used as directed. According to a Time article, snorting any kind of powder is a bad idea and can cause damage to nasal tissues. 

Snorting Tramadol Risks

Snorting tramadol can increase the risk of all of the following:

  • Side effects
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Profound nervous system depression
  • Coma

  • Overdose
  • Tolerance
  • Dependence
  • Seizures

Increased Risk of Overdose

Among the most serious dangers of snorting tramadol is an increased risk of overdose. When snorting tramadol, users must first grind up the tablets into a fine powder. Doing this may increase the chance of overdose because once snorted, it will bypass the digestive system and go directly into the blood. If not properly metabolized by the liver, the potency of tramadol and its effects is more likely to result in overdose, especially when snorted in excessive amounts or in combination with alcohol.

Symptoms of a tramadol overdose may include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Perilously slow pulse
  • Extreme drowsiness

  • Unresponsiveness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bluish lips, fingers, and toes
  • Cold, clammy skin

Increased Risk of Seizure

The possibility of suffering a seizure is also increased when a person snorts tramadol. There is a potential for seizures to occur even when tramadol is taken in recommended doses, but are more likely to happen if a person abuses the drug or has an overdose.

Increased Risk of Breathing Difficulties

Snorting tramadol can cause a person to lose consciousness due to the excessive amounts of the drug entering the body and bloodstream abruptly. Repeatedly Snorting tramadol can also impair the nose’s filtering capacity and cause small amounts of tramadol powder to enter the lungs. If this occurs, it can result in additional breathing problems.

Increased Risk of Tolerance and Dependence

As noted, snorting tramadol allows for higher amounts of the drug to enter into the body at once. This effect can increase the risk of a user developing tolerance to the drug’s effects. As a result, he or she will need to use larger and more frequent doses of tramadol to experience the desired effects.

Dependence is a condition that hallmarks addiction. Chronic use of tramadol by any method can result in the body adapting to the presence of the drug. When this occurs, the person is no longer able to function normally without it.

People who have developed a dependence on tramadol will encounter uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly stop using the drug. Possible tramadol withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Nervousness, anxiety, or panic
  • Excessive sweating
  • Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia
  • Runny nose

  • Chills
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Body aches and pains
  • Hallucinations

Increased Risk of Side Effects

Snorting tramadol, instead of consuming it by swallowing, can also increase the risk of encountering side effects. These effects may also be increased in severity and duration.

Snorting Tramadol Dangers | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Why People Snort Tramadol

Snorting tramadol increases the intensity of its effects and can lead to feelings of euphoria. This “high” feeling is the primary reason why people abuse the drug in this way. Some people, however, start out using tramadol for a legitimate medical purpose and steadily begin to increase their dose as tolerance to the drug’s effects increases.

Eventually, a person may reach a ceiling effect in which they no longer feel the effects they seek from oral consumption. Therefore, they may progress to snorting tramadol instead.

Side Effects of Snorting Tramadol

Tramadol has become increasingly popular as a substance of abuse, possibly because other, more potent opioid medications are becoming harder to obtain. Side effects caused by snorting tramadol will depend on how efficiently their body processes the drug and how much damage they have incurred both mentally and physically.

Common side effects of snorting tramadol may include the following:

  • Damage to the nasal passageways
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain

  • Skin rash, extreme itchiness
  • Muscle and joint aches and pain
  • Feelings of depression or extreme sadness
  • Anxiety

Less commonly, tramadol abuse may also cause:

  • Swollen joints
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Severe headaches

  • Impaired coordination
  • Confusion
  • Severe cough

Getting Treatment for Addiction

Harmony Treatment and Wellness is a nationally accredited treatment center that offers comprehensive programs intended to address all aspects of addiction and mental health. We aim to provide our clients with the tools and support they need to be successful in recovery.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to tramadol, other drugs, or alcohol, contact us today! We are committed to helping people break free from the chains of addiction and transform their lives!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Dangers of Snorting Gabapentin

How Long Does Lortab Stay in Your System?

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

Lortab is an opioid medication commonly used to treat pain and severe cough. It contains both acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Lortab is similar to the more familiar-sounding painkiller combination drugs Norco and Vicodin.

Opioid medications like hydrocodone can cause adverse side effects and lead to abuse and addiction. By understanding how Lortab is processed in a person’s system can help patients use it safely, with less risk to their health.

Lortab Facts

Duration of Effects

Much research has been conducted to determine how long Lortab stays in a person’s system. Lortab starts being processed rapidly, and it can be detected in the person’s saliva and blood within 15–30 minutes of use. Lortab levels are their highest in the blood at around 1.3 hours. If an individual has become dependent on Lortab, they would likely start encountering withdrawal symptoms within 6–12 hours after the last dose.

Half-Life of Lortab

Half-life refers to the amount of time needed for 50% of a substance to be cleared from a person’s system. Lortab’s half-life can be measured by the half-life of hydrocodone, which is, on average, about 3.8 hours. It then takes 5-6 half-lives to expel most of the drug from the system. The half-life of Lortab could also be measured by the half-life of acetaminophen, which is between 1.25–3 hours.

A person’s unique genetic profile and history of Lortab use or misuse may affect Lortab’s concentration in the body at any given time. A drug’s half-life may also be influenced by the method used to measure, such as using urine, blood, or saliva tests.

How Long Can Lortab Be Identified in a Drug Test?

How long Lortab is detectable depends on the bodily fluid (or sometimes hair follicle) used to measure it. Moreover, Lortab is cleared from plasma within just a couple of days. For this reason, drug tests that use bodily fluids are not able to detect Lortab if the person hasn’t recently used it. Lortab use is detectable in the hair follicles for much longer periods, however.

Urine—Research has found that while the majority of hydrocodone has been eliminated from urine was within 24 hours, though it may be detectable in urine for 2–4 days following the last dose.

Blood—As noted, hydrocodone doesn’t remain in the blood for very long, and for this reason, drug screens can only detect it within around 24 hours of using it.

Saliva—Lortab can be detected in a person’s saliva for up to 48 hours. In fact, it may be easier to identify hydrocodone in saliva than in the blood.

Hair—Drugs can remain in hair follicles for a prolonged period. Drug tests can detect many drugs, including hydrocodone, for up to 90 days after a person has discontinued using them.

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

Factors that Influence How Long Lortab Stays In the System

It is crucial to note individuals process substances at different rates. Factors that may affect Lortab’s half-life include the following:

Frequency and Amount Used—The bodies of persons who have used Lortab for a prolonged period or typically take a high dose will take longer to eliminate the drug from their system.

Age—Older persons are often not able to metabolize opioids as efficiently as younger individuals.

Polysubstance Use or Abuse—Some substances can cause adverse reactions when used in conjunction. A person who has more than one substance in his or her body may not be able to metabolize each drug as fast or effectively. Other substances may include other prescription medication, illegal drugs, alcohol, and even some over-the-counter medications.

Overall Health—A person who suffers from certain co-occurring mental health or physical conditions may have a reduced ability to eliminate Lortab from their system.

How the Body Metabolizes Lortab

Metabolization is a term used to describe the process of substances being broken down in the body. Opioid metabolism begins when liver enzymes start to break it down into simpler components. The drug then is circulated throughout the body, where it reaches a variety of organs and tissues. Over time, it is eventually excreted through urine.

Getting Help for Addiction

If you or someone you love is misusing Lortab, professional help is available. Lortab has a high potential for abuse and addiction, and it’s not difficult to become dependent upon it.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers comprehensive programs in both partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. Our programs include evidence-based services proven to be indispensable for recovery, including behavioral therapy. Individuals that choose our center will receive the very best care available and will be supported by our compassionate staff throughout their journey to long-lasting sobriety.

If you are struggling to quit using Lortab, contact us today! Discover more about how we can help you forge your path out of addiction for life!

Smoking Oxycodone

Smoking Oxycodone | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Oxycodone (OxyContin) is a prescription opioid approved to treat moderate-severe pain. It also acts as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Like all opioids, oxycodone has a very high potential for both abuse and addiction.

Oxycodone is addictive because it acts on the brain’s reward center by using certain neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, are chemical messengers in the CNS that contribute to intense feelings of well-being or euphoria.

How Is Oxycodone Used?

Oxycodone is usually prescribed in tablet form, and oral delivery is by far the most common means of abuse. It can also be crushed into a powder, however, and the resulting product can be inhaled into the nasal passage, or put into a pipe or vaporizer and smoked. Both of these other methods of administration result in faster transit of the substance to the brain and will result in the drug acting rapidly on the body, which can ultimately lead to severe side effects.

When oxycodone is smoked, rapid absorption of the drug induces a massive release of dopamine, which then initiates the euphoric “high” and enforces the drug’s potential for addiction. Some studies suggest that oxycodone users may be more likely to use other substances, such as stimulants, which can increase the likelihood of overdose when used simultaneously.

Tolerance and Dependence

Over time, dependence and tolerance can develop from routine oxycodone use. When a user becomes dependent on oxycodone, very unpleasant withdrawal effects will onset if he or she tries to cut back or quit “cold turkey.”

The manifestation of withdrawal symptoms is a telltale sign that the person’s body has become unable to function normally without the drug’s presence. These symptoms are both emotional and physical and can persist for many days after the last dose has been ingested.

Along with dependence, over time, tolerance is likely to occur. As the person’s system becomes less sensitive to oxycodone, he or she will be compelled to take increasing amounts of the drug to reach the desired effects. This cycle of cause-and-effect behavior can rapidly result in a worsening of the addiction, and, ultimately, overdose.

Side effects from consuming large doses of oxycodone, regardless of administration, include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Respiratory depression
  • Headaches

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Low blood pressure

  • Heart failure
  • Overdose
  • Coma
  • Death

Smoking Oxycodone | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Effects of Smoking Oxycodone

One of the fastest methods of becoming intoxicated by a drug is by smoking it. When oxycodone is consumed in this way, the person rapidly becomes intoxicated. Effects may include the following:

  • Confusion
  • Altered mental status
  • Delirium
  • Slow breathing

  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of alertness
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Stomach discomfort

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stumbling
  • Impaired coordination

The euphoric effects of the drug will subside more rapidly when opioids are smoked. Because of this fact, persons who smoke oxycodone are more likely to ingest it in a binge-like fashion. Unfortunately, this cycle can result in overdose and death.

Overdose is potentially the most severe side effect caused by excessive doses of oxycodone. When the drug is tampered with and delivered rapidly, the person may be more likely to consume too much. His or her brain may begin to shut down as a result of oxygen deprivation and profound respiratory depression.

Long-term smoking of any substance, including oxycodone, can result in lung infections due to tissue damage, emphysema, or lung cancer. Overdose death is the most severe potential side effect caused by excessive doses of oxycodone.

Effects of Snorting Oxycodone

The manifestation of symptoms of intoxication is slower by way of snorting oxycodone versus smoking. Crushing the drug into a fine powder and ingesting it through the nose still allows the person to avoid the time-release element of the drug and experience the effects more intensely and rapidly than if it were consumed orally as a tablet.

One of the primary side effects that occur due to snorting oxycodone is tissue damage to the nose, sinuses, and throat. This damage can result in chronic nosebleeds, loss of sense of smell or taste, and recurrent bacterial infections in the nose and upper respiratory system.

When oxycodone is snorted, it is absorbed into the bloodstream via mucous membranes that line the nose and throat. This action allows the opioid to reach the brain more rapidly, meaning that its effects can onset within as little as two minutes after intranasal ingestion.

How to Overcome Oxycodone Addiction

Those who tamper with the method of administration, such as moving from oral ingestion to smoking or snorting oxycodone, put themselves at a higher risk of overdose, dependence, addiction, and death.

Rehab programs that specialize in helping people overcome narcotics addiction, such as those offered by Harmony Treatment and Wellness, can help manage withdrawal symptoms and also provide therapy to facilitate long-term recovery.

Our treatment center offers integrated treatment that includes services vital to long-term recovery, such as behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, medication-assisted treatment, aftercare planning, and more.

If you are struggling with an addiction to oxycodone or another substance, call us today to discuss treatment options and learn how we can help!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: How Long Does Oxycodone Last?

Signs Of Opiate Abuse

How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last | Harmony Treatment and Wellness Center

Signs of Opiate Abuse – Opiates are a sub-class in the opioid drug class. Opioids are prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. When taken as directed by a physician, opioids are a remarkably useful and indispensable facet of modern medicine. Nonetheless, because opioids also alter the effects of dopamine in the brain, they have proven to be exceptionally addictive and have a very high likelihood of being abused.

The term “opiates” technically refers to natural or only slightly modified opioids, as opposed to other fully synthetic substances in the drug class. For the purposes of this article, the distinction is unimportant, so both “opiates” and “opioids” will be used interchangeably to refer to all drugs in the opioid class.

Examples of opioid drugs include the following:

  • Opium
  • Codeine
  • Methadone (Methadose)
  • Buprenorphine (Subutex)
  • Hydrocodone (Hycodan, Vicodin, Norco)
  • Morphine (Kadian, MS Contin)
  • Oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Heroin (diamorphine)
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic, Fentora)

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse occurs when the substance is used in any way other than as directed by the prescribing physician, such as taking it more often or in higher doses than prescribed, taking drugs without a prescription, or combining multiple drugs.

Most substances that people regularly abuse are incredibly potent, which is why they require a prescription and oversight by a medical professional. When abused, otherwise beneficial drugs can lead one into a life-altering addiction that proves nearly unconquerable without outside intervention.

Oftentimes, the longer an addiction goes unbridled, the harder it is to surmount. If you suspect that a loved one is struggling with an addiction, it’s crucial to act swiftly, before they suffer irreversible damage. However, it is impossible to help your loved one without being able to recognize the warning signs of opiate abuse, and early detection is vital.

Common signs of opiate abuse include the following:

  • Needle punctures, known as “track marks,” on their arms and legs from intravenous injections
  • Very small, “pinpoint” pupils
  • Extreme sleepiness or trouble staying awake, often at inappropriate times
  • Flushed and itchy skin
  • Withdrawal from social situations or activities once enjoyed
  • Emotional volatility or out of character mood swings
  • Impulsivity and poor decision-making
  • Risky behavior, such as driving while high
  • Visiting multiple different physicians to acquire more opiates
  • Theft, even from loved ones, to purchase more opiates

Once it becomes evident that an individual is struggling with an out of control cycle of opiate abuse or addiction, it’s critical to seek out help as soon as possible. Sometimes a person can escape cycles of abuse just by speaking with their doctor and adjusting their prescription. Others might want to consider attending a substance abuse treatment program or seeing a substance abuse counselor.

Unfortunately, because the effects of opioids are so powerful, most people struggling with a full-blown opiate addiction will need intensive, monitored support at an inpatient rehab center.

Short-Term Side Effects of Opiates

Short-term side effects of opiates depend on the specific drug, how much of it was consumed, and the route of administration. Most of these drugs have effects that occur within 15 minutes to a half hour and can last a couple of hours or even a day.

Immediate or short-term side effects of opiate use include the following:

  • Slowed and shallow breathing
  • Flushed, itchy skin
  • Euphoria
  • Lightheadedness
  • Impaired judgment
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea and vomiting

Long-Term Side Effects of Opiates

Schedule II Drugs | Harmony Treatment and Wellness Center

Among the most damaging long-term side effects of opioid abuse is the harm it does to the body’s vital organs. People may also suffer from psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety and depression.

Other long-term side effects of these drugs include the following:

  • Vein damage from intravenous drug use
  • Emotional instability and moodiness
  • Severe constipation
  • Lack of concentration
  • Insomnia and other sleep disturbances
  • Liver damage

The Dangers of Opioids

Opioids are found in several different forms and can be administered in a number of ways. Frequently these drugs are prescribed as oral capsules or tablets. While most people obtain a legitimate prescription from their doctor, some pilfer drugs from family members or friends. Using a narcotic that is not prescribed to you is considered abuse, however, and is illegal.

Still, others use street drugs such as heroin and illicit fentanyl, which are often less expensive and easier to procure. Heroin is unregulated and is usually cut with other substances that increase its potential for harm. Fentanyl, a far more potent opioid is one of these substances and is currently involved in thousands of deaths in the U.S. each year.

A person suffering from an addiction to painkillers may experiment with various methods of delivery to achieve the high with the greatest intensity possible. Tablets can be crushed into a powder and then snorted, or powder can be dissolved in liquid and used intravenously.

Snorting or injecting opiates results in a near-instantaneous “rush” that is much more intense than taking a pill orally. However, this means of administration also increases the risk of life-threatening CNS depression and overdose.

These drugs are even more dangerous when combined with other central nervous system depressants, such as benzodiazepines or alcohol, and can exponentially increase the risk of serious complications that can lead to death.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is another serious health risk and may occur when someone who is pregnant suffers from a substance abuse disorder involving opiates.

These drugs can pass through the placenta, and cause the baby to develop a dependence on the drug while in utero. After birth, the infant may need to remain in the hospital for several weeks while the drug slowly clears from their system.

Identifying an Opiate Addiction

Recognizing an opiate addiction can be challenging due to the confusion that exists between what is considered misuse, abuse, and addiction. Most people who use painkillers in the short-term and as directed will not become addicted. However, a person who misuses drugs in large amounts or over prolonged periods is more likely to develop an addiction.

The defining characteristic of addiction is an intense urge to obtain and use the substance despite adverse consequences that will likely occur. A person in the throes of addiction is not capable of controlling their substance use – and while they may desperately want to quit, they feel helpless to do so on their own.

In addition to dangerous health risks, opiate abuse can also interfere with one’s personal life and close relationships with family and friends.

The consequences of opiate abuse/misuse may include the following:

  • Job loss due to prioritizing substance use over work duties and responsibilities
  • Financial problems caused by excessive spending on new prescriptions or illicit drugs
  • Criminal charges for the illegal possession of painkillers
  • Strained relationships with family members, friends, and significant others

Staging an Intervention

When a person is suffering from a substance use disorder, those close to them may consider staging an intervention. Interventions are pre-planned conversations between the person experiencing addiction and their loved ones.

They are often held after the issue has been addressed with the person, who then subsequently denied having a problem or refused to seek help. The objective of an intervention is to convince and help the person to seek and receive treatment.

Because addiction subjugates the brain’s sense of awareness and judgment, the person often does not realize the extent to which their actions have impacted their loved ones.

Some families choose to stage an intervention when their loved one shows early signs of abusive behavior toward substances. Others may only feel it is necessary when a person’s addiction has scaled beyond control, and many negative consequences have already occurred.

Regardless of when an intervention takes place, most experts advise seeking guidance from an intervention specialist who will be able to oversee the intervention and ensure the conversation remains healthy and productive and free of shame and blame.

Signs of Opiate Abuse: Opiate Withdrawal Help

Beating an addiction to painkillers may be challenging, but is entirely possible. Participation in a detox program is often the first step in the recovery process, as this helps minimize withdrawal symptoms and ensures patients are safe, comfortable, and unable to relapse. Moreover, detox programs produce a solid foundation for people to pursue further therapeutic services in an inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment program.

You CAN reclaim your life, free from drugs and the feelings of hopelessness that addiction promotes. If you or a loved one is struggling with the decision to seek help, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your options and begin your journey to a happier and healthier life!

Dangers of Mixing Tramadol and Alcohol

Tramadol and Alcohol Dangers | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Whether you are an occasional drinker or one who regularly imbibes and has “one too many,” it is critical to understand that certain medications can adversely interact with alcohol. If you have been prescribed tramadol (Ultram), you were likely already informed by medical personnel that drinking while using this medication is risky and ill-advised.

So, what precisely are the potential risks of combining tramadol and alcohol? What should you do if you’re struggling with an addiction to tramadol or alcoholism?

Whether it’s prescription drugs or alcohol, it’s essential to use these substances responsibly and only as directed. Engaging in actions others than those prescribed by a physician can lead to chronic abuse, addiction, health complications, and overdose.

What Is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a synthetic opioid agonist that is prescribed to treat various degrees of pain. This function is due to its action on the body that induces pain-relieving effects by altering pain perception. Some people use tramadol mostly on an as-needed basis for pain, while others may be prescribed to use it on a regular basis for chronic conditions.

Although tramadol is believed to have a lower potential for addiction than many other opioids, it can be habit-forming and result in a variety of adverse side effects. For this reason, it is currently classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a schedule IV substance.

Side Effects of Mixing Tramadol and Alcohol

Most prescription medications come with the potential for certain side effects, especially if abused. Both tramadol and alcohol act on the central nervous system (CNS) to reduce activity and, therefore, have sedating effects.

When used at the same time, the effects of these drugs can be compounded, meaning that each substance amplifies the effects of the other. Their combined impact can result in profound CNS depression, overdose, and even death. Please note that the effects of combining tramadol and alcohol are far greater than each substance’s individual effects.

Side effects of tramadol abuse include the following:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed pulse

  • Heart palpitations
  • Seizures

  • Hallucinations
  • Impaired cognition

Side effects of alcohol abuse include the following:

  • Impaired memory
  • Anxiety

  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia

  • Blacking out
  • High blood pressure

Tramadol and Alcohol Dangers | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

There are many reasons why a person would decide to mix drugs and alcohol. One of the most obvious reasons is to induce feelings of being “high” or euphoria. Another would be for self-medication purposes. That is, someone with chronic pain or mental illness may turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to relieve physical or emotional pain or both.

When a person becomes addicted to one substance, that person may be more likely to use other substances at the risk of also becoming dependent on it, as well. The following are some of the hazards combining tramadol and alcohol:

  • Combining tramadol and alcohol can increase the chances of experiencing an overdose on either substance.
  • Both substances are CNS depressants, which means they work to slow brain function, either when used alone or when combined.
  • Mixing tramadol and alcohol can cause or exacerbate depression, which may, in turn, result in suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Other Side Effects of Mixing Tramadol and Alcohol

Most people encounter the following side effects as a result of using tramadol in combination with alcohol:

  • Vertigo
  • Seizures
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Intracranial pressure

  • Liver disease
  • Impaired kidney function
  • Eccentric behavior
  • Impaired memory

  • Lethargy
  • Impaired coordination
  • Shallow/irregular breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

After using tramadol, many patients observe that the effect of alcohol is amplified, even after consuming just a small amount. This compounded effect is why tramadol comes with a warning label indicating that those who are under the influence of alcohol should not use it until their body is clear of alcohol.

It is crucial to understand that both tramadol and alcohol can cause profound respiratory depression. This condition is life-threatening, and it is hallmarked by difficult, slow, and shallow breathing. In short, the combination of tramadol and alcohol can cause various health problems, some of which can be fatal.

Tramadol Overdose Symptoms

Drinking alcohol while on tramadol has been found to potentially be detrimental to one’s health, and even life-threatening. An overdose of tramadol is considered to be a medical emergency. If you or someone you know is experiencing the following symptoms, please call 911 immediately:

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Cold, clammy or bluish skin
  • Dizziness when standing

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Heart palpitations
  • Slow pulse
  • Nausea

  • Vomiting
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Respiratory depression
  • Unconsciousness or coma

Recognizing tramadol overdose symptoms is vital in life-threatening situations. Any overdose in which respiration is impaired has the potential to cause death or produce irreversible brain damage. Brain damage may occur if oxygenated blood is unavailable for too long.

Alcohol Overdose Symptoms

Tramadol and Alcohol Dangers | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

An alcohol overdose, which is otherwise referred to as alcohol poisoning, may cause many of the same symptoms of an opioid overdose. These symptoms may include the following:

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

  • Slow breathing
  • Irregular breathing
  • Bluish or pale skin

  • Low body temperature
  • Passing out
  • Unresponsiveness

As with an opioid overdose, alcohol poisoning is usually life-threatening, and 911 should be contacted as soon as possible to avoid the worst complications. Keep in mind that if a person has used tramadol and alcohol, he or she could be overdosing on one or the other, or both. It is critical to know what substances he or she has used because opioid overdose treatment is different for that of alcohol poisoning.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person becomes physically dependent on a substance, they will inevitably encounter withdrawal symptoms when they abruptly stop using it. In severe cases of alcoholism, withdrawal can be extremely dangerous, and the person will experience seizures and psychosis—a condition known as delirium tremens. For this reason, a professional clinical detox is strongly recommended by most medical providers.

Although withdrawal from opioids such as tramadol is not typically life-threatening, it can be highly unpleasant and painful. Nausea, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms may onset and compel the person to relapse in order to avoid this process. Whether a person is addicted to alcohol, tramadol, or both, they should be supervised by medical personnel to ensure their safety and comfort during the detox phase.

Treatment for Tramadol and Alcohol

You may be reading this as a person who has been misusing tramadol and alcohol and is hoping to find help. Or, you may be a loved one who is concerned for the health and well-being of a friend or family member and are trying to determine what options are available for treatment.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers help and hope for those who are motivated to break free from the cycle of addiction and reclaim their lives. We accomplish this through the use of a comprehensive approach that includes evidence-based services that are clinically proven to increase the likelihood of a successful recovery, such as the following:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Individual/group counseling
  • Peer group support

  • Health and wellness programs
  • Substance abuse education
  • Art and music therapy

  • Adventure therapy
  • Bio-feedback therapy
  • Aftercare planning

Contact us today to speak with a treatment specialist who can discuss your options with you or your loved one. We are dedicated to providing our clients with all the tools they need to succeed at recovery and enjoy the healthy, satisfying lives they deserve!