Author Archives: Reflections Recovery Center

Gabapentin High

According to GoodRX, gabapentin is the fourth most prescribed drug in the United States. Due to its prevalence and popularity, it has slowly made its way into the realm of drug abuse and addiction.

What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is a prescription drug used to prevent seizures. An anticonvulsant or antiepileptic drug, it is commonly administered orally via capsule. Along with its seizure preventative properties, it can also help dull nerve pain caused from shingles. Different brand names of gabapentin can have different primary uses. For example, the brand Gralise treats shingles pain, whereas Neurontin primarily targets adult seizure activity. Both medications contain gabapentin; however, they also contain a mixture of other drugs to treat the specific ailment.

Gabapentin for Anxiety

Gabapentin has been proven to be effective against anxiety disorders while being potentially a safer alternative to traditional benzodiazepines such as Xanax. It is considered to be a low risk drug that likely will not cause addiction or promote abuse and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) does not consider it to be a controlled substance. 

Gabapentin Warnings

Gabapentin comes with a long list of medical warnings intended to promote cautious and informed use amongst users. One of these warnings is to not suddenly stop taking the drug. The immediate cessation of gabapentin use, when prescribed for epilepsy and seizures, can cause a condition which is known as status epilepticus. Status epilepticus, a seizure lasting longer than 30 minutes, has a high mortality rate.

Other warnings include avoiding the combined use of the drug with other substances, drowsiness warnings and a depression warning. 

Is Gabapentin Addictive?

Most people don’t consider gabapentin to be an addictive drug. However, most anything can cause an addiction or dependency if abused for a long enough period of time. Many individuals who are currently using stronger opioids may also take it. Furthermore, individuals who are attempting to taper off an opioid addiction may turn to it as an alternative as it does not show up in drug tests.

Gabapentin Abuse

Gabapentin can cause a euphoric high if taken in high enough doses and some users have likened its experience to marijuana. Typically, users will have to take more than 800mg in order to feel the euphoric effects. People who abuse it are also more likely to combine the drug with other substances. With polysubstance abuse, the risk of experiencing an overdose is much greater as your body experiences different effects from multiple drugs which can overwhelm the system. Most of the time, people abuse gabapentin along with opioids or alcohol. 

Gabapentin High

Overdose

Gabapentin overdoses are rare but still well documented. While it is very much possible to overdose, the mortality rate from this is relatively low. In other words, a significantly low number of overdoses are fatal. However, an overdose can still cause permanent damage to your body as it can prevent adequate oxygen from reaching your brain. Unfortunately, unlike opioid overdoses, gabapentin does not have a quick remedy in the case of an overdose. Most patients can be injected with Narcan to end a narcotic overdose. There is no such cure for gabapentin.  Therefore, it is important that suspected overdose patients call emergency services immediately. Some signs of an overdose include:

  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Labored breathing
  • Unresponsiveness

Gabapentin Interactions

Gabapentin can interact with other medications such as morphine and stomach acid drugs (aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide). Further, according to drugs.com, there are a total of 219 drugs known to interact with this medication, 24 of which are major interactions such as methadone, oxycodone, percocet, suboxone, tramadol and alcohol.

Gabapentin High

Gabapentin and Alcohol

Gabapentin can increase the effects of alcohol on the body and can seriously affect cognitive ability. It may cause you to experience enhanced side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness and difficulty concentrating. Further, the decrease in cognitive ability can cause poor decision making, such as making the decision to drink and drive. 

Side Effects

Gabapentin can cause moderate to severe side effects when taken orally as prescribed. Some of the more serious side effects include:

  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Depression (presence of suicidal thoughts)
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increase in aggressiveness 
  • Allergic reactions
  • Muscle pain
  • Swollen skin
  • Rashes
  • Panic attacks

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it may help to call your medical provider and ask for further guidance.

Withdrawal

Gabapentin is known to cause withdrawal symptoms in long-term users. According to one study, those who frequently take between 400mg to 800mg may be at higher risk of experiencing withdrawals. Gabapentin withdrawals will likely cause similar symptoms experienced by alcohol and benzodiazepine users, as all three drugs target the same GABA receptors in the brain. Withdrawal symptoms typically begin immediately after quitting and can continue for up to a week. Withdrawal severity is dependent on a variety of factors ranging from age to the regular dosage taken by the patient. 

However, quitting is not impossible. Experts recommend that tapering be done in increments of no more than 300mg every 4 days. While a taper may be a safe way to slowly come off a gabapentin dependency, it does not address possible mental health issues which may have created a co-occuring disorder in the patient. Therefore, we always recommend that individuals seek professional help before beginning their journey to recovery.

Gabapentin High

Treatment

Gabapentin addiction may go hand in hand with other drugs, such as opioids or alcohol. It may also result from a co-occurring mental disorder. Whatever the reason, treatment and recovery is possible. If you or a loved one is dealing with addiction, please contact us today so that we may begin the journey to life-time sobriety, together. To find out more about drug abuse and treatment, read our blog.

Existential Loneliness

Loneliness is defined as the feeling of being socially and emotionally isolated. You may not have to physically be separated from friends and family in order to feel lonely. However, the impact of feeling empty, alone or unwanted can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. 

What is an existential crisis?

Existential loneliness and having an existential crisis are very similar. Any matter which evolves into an existential one usually involves questions of your existence. In other words, you are often finding yourself wondering what the purpose behind your life is. Your loneliness and feelings of separation can cause you to question your purpose in life. Many times this issue becomes a self-created problem. Most people are familiar with feelings of sadness and loneliness, which seem to worsen other problems. It can begin to snowball from “I feel lonely” to “I don’t have a job because x, y and z” and develop into “everything is bad.”

These feelings sometimes result in nihilistic thinking where you eventually believe that nothing means anything and life is meaningless. In essence, this captures what an existential crisis is. So why would this be important to someone who deals with substance abuse? Well, these feelings of existentialism, loneliness and questioning life can lead to depression. Further, there is proof to show that depression and substance abuse have a bi-directional relationship. Meaning individuals dealing with depression are more likely to suffer from substance abuse and vice-versa.

Existential questions

Pondering existential questions is potentially a healthy activity when the mindset and purpose is to find growth and meaning. However, for some, questions such as “what is the meaning of life” are oftentimes met with no real answers. Having no answer does not mean that there is not one. However, it can seem that way and cause people to believe that if they cannot think of an answer, then surely life is meaningless. Individuals who cannot seem to find meaning to life, may lack tangible long-term goals and settle for short-term satisfaction. This is not to say that people who struggle with these questions will start doing drugs. Nevertheless, it is possible it is harder for someone already struggling with addiction to find help or stop. 

existential loneliness

Existential Crises and Substance Abuse

Individuals who suffer from depression are at a higher risk of experiencing addiction and vice versa. When combined, it is referred to as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder. Someone struggling with questions about life might feel an increase in existential loneliness. People suffering from various mental health condition may turn to substances to manage their emotions or symptoms. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2018), 9.2 million American adults experienced both a mental health disorder and substance use disorders at the same time.

existential loneliness

How to treat a co-occuring disorder

Treating a co-occuring disorder requires attention to both issues and their respective causes. You cannot treat just the depression and expect the addiction to stop. Even if the depression may have caused the addiction in the first place. However, drug treatment has proven to significantly reduce drug use and criminal activity. It can make a major impact in someone’s life. Treating a co-occuring disorder usually involves four to six steps depending on the program. Every program will also be tailored and specific to the needs and symptoms of the patient. Though, there are some general steps all patients will need to take.

Detox

For many patients, detox is an important process to help heal the body. This process sometimes involves small doses of medication to safely manage withdrawal symptoms. This process can take about a week or longer depending on how well the patient responds to treatment.

Rehabilitation

 Inpatient rehab will help provide 24/7 support and care for individuals suffering from mental illness and substance abuse. Providing supervision in a dedicated space can help prevent the continued use of illicit drugs.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is a major component to treating co-occurring disorders. It focuses on the mental aspect of what may have caused the disorder. One form of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps determine the underlying causes behind the mental illness, rather than just trying to manage its symptoms. It helps patients avoid negative thinking traps such as feelings of existential loneliness.

Support Groups

Support groups allow patients to feel as if they are a part of a larger, collective effort. They do so by engaging in conversation and activities with fellow patients. It helps them realize that they are not alone and that success is possible. 

It is important to realize that addiction is considered to be a chronic illness. Further, it falls under the same category as other chronic illnesses in terms of relapse rates. Diabetes, hypertension and asthma all share similar relapse rates as addiction. While relapse is common, it is also not a guarantee. However, recovery is a life-long process.

existential loneliness

Treatment

Dealing with addiction is never easy, especially in combination with mental health issues. Again, not every person dealing with existential loneliness turns to substances to cope. However, it is a possibility that many will deal with those questions and deal with substance use and abuse. It can be a complicated matter which may require professional help in order to successfully diagnose and treat. We always recommend getting professional help in order to increase your chances of life-long recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today to start the journey to recovery.

Meth Overdose

In late 2019, methamphetamine became the largest contributor of overdose deaths in the United States, slowly passing fentanyl as the center of America’s drug epidemic. In 2017 alone, an estimated 1.6 million people in the United States had reported using meth in the past year and a further 964,000 people had a methamphetamine use disorder. The risk of meth overdose, which can have lasting health effects or even potentially result in death, is serious. Any meth use should be taken seriously as soon as possible.

meth overdose

What is meth?

Methamphetamine is a white crystal-like substance which can be snorted, smoked or injected into the users bloodstream. When taken, the user will experience a powerful euphoric high which can also bring about feelings of confidence, pleasure and make the user feel energized. It’s euphoric properties is one of its more enticing effects which many users begin to crave. Some describe it to be emotionally numbing, therefore allowing them to escape painful emotions and past experiences.

meth overdose

However, meth is also incredibly dangerous due to its high potential for abuse and apparent risk of overdosing. The Drug Enforcement Agency classifies meth as a Schedule II drug which “are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Meth users will find that their bodies begin to develop a tolerance to the drug as soon as after their first use. For most, the first use is the most powerful and impactful experience. Subsequent uses of the drug at the same dose begins to feel weaker and weaker over time. Therefore, meth users will continuously increase their dosage in attempts to recreate their first high. However, this often leads to overdoses, as at a certain point your body can no longer handle the high doses.

What causes a meth overdose?

An overdose is the body’s negative reaction to a drug or outside substance. In most cases, this is caused by taking too much of a drug, either on accident or purposefully. Not all overdoses will be fatal, however, all overdoses can become fatal. According to the University of Arizona’s Methamphetamine and other illicit drug education (MethOIDE) journal, the most common cause of death during a meth overdose is multiple organ failure similar to heat stroke. In rare cases, death can also occur from metal poisoning or contamination from illicitly produced, impure meth. Some signs of a meth overdose include:

  • Chest pain
  • Arrhythmias
  • Hypertension or Hypotension
  • Difficult or labored breathing (Dyspnea)
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Rapid or slow heartbeat (tachycardia or bradycardia)
  • Hyperthermia
  • Sweating

While these symptoms are not unique to meth overdoses, sweating profusely is. It is possible to recover from a meth overdose, however, the likelihood of surviving is highly dependent on how soon the individual receives medical attention. If you, someone you know or a stranger is exhibiting the above symptoms, call emergency services immediately. However, even with the proper medical attention, an overdose can cause lifelong health problems.

How long does meth stay in your system?

Meth is mostly unaffected by your body’s metabolism, unlike cocaine. Therefore, its effects can last from 8 to even 24 hours in extreme cases. This does depend on other factors such as how the drug was taken (orally, injected, snorted etc), the overall health of the individual and dosage. Meth has a half-life of around 10-12 hours, which means it takes approximately 10 hours for the initially ingested drug dose to reduce to half its size (i.e. if you took 100mg, 10 hours later, that would effectively be 50mg in your body). However, its detection rates vary depending on the type of test administered and amphetamine, a metabolite of meth may be detectable even longer past the ingestion period.

meth overdose

Meth Withdrawal

Meth withdrawals begin immediately after someone stops using meth and is highly uncomfortable and with the potential to last weeks. The duration and intensity of the withdrawal period does depend on how long the individual has been using the drug. Generally, those with a longer history of meth abuse will experience more intense withdrawals. Avoiding withdrawals is one of the primary reasons individuals will continue to use meth.

There are two distinct phases of meth withdrawal. The first phase occurs during the first 24 hours after last taking the drug and will include symptoms such as fatigue, increased appetite, anxiety and depression. The second phase will usually last 2 to 3 weeks and usually cause intense cravings for the drug and severe depression. In extreme cases, individuals who have an extensive history of abusing the drug may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) which can essentially extend the withdrawal symptoms up to 6 months or more.

Treatment

Meth is a highly addictive drug. Even just one use can create an immediate desire for more and spiral out of control. It is one of the most dangerous drugs Americans have ever been faced with. However, recovery is absolutely possible. Given the complex nature of the recovery process and withdrawal symptoms, we recommend that you have a plan in place and work with a professional who can guide you during your path to recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with meth abuse, please contact us today so that we can begin your road to lifetime recovery, together.

Trazodone High


Trazodone is a common antidepressant. It isn’t popular as a recreational drug, and drug tests don’t often check for it. Nevertheless, like any substance the potential for abuse exists. Furthermore, abusing it can still lead to serious dependence and addiction.

What is Trazodone?

Trazodone AddictionTrazodone is a prescription medication which helps treat patients with depression. Designed to boost the brain’s Serotonin levels and change a person’s mood, the drug prevents serotonin from absorbing back into the brain’s neurons. This creates an abundance of the chemical. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain. Commonly referred to as the “happy chemical,” it promotes feelings of well-being and happiness.  Trazodone has proven as an effective antidepressant, as well as a mood and anxiety regulator. 

However, the idea of a drug giving you the “happy chemical” in order to make you feel happy is misleading. Trazodone does not make you feel naturally happy, as you would when seeing a loved one or doing something you enjoy. Instead, it creates a sedative effect to provide relief. Rather than making you feel happy, it works to calm you down. This is not necessarily the same as a euphoric high one might experience with other drugs, such as Marijuana or opioids. Rather, a Trazodone high is similar to a benzodiazepine high, though the effect is not as strong. Even though it is not a commonly abused drug, its calming and sedative effects can still be addictive. 

Addiction

Trazodone is not usually sold illegally. Nor is it considered to be a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Typically, Trazodone abuse begins when someone takes too much of their prescription – or takes it for too long. Regular Trazodone use will cause the body to develop a tolerance. Therefore, in order to feel the same calming effects, individuals sometimes take progressively higher doses. An individual who can no longer feel the effects may also move on to stronger and more deadly drugs – such as Xanax or opioids – in order to achieve a high.

Some people enjoy  the Trazodone high because it makes them forget their current situation and detach from life. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that substance use disorders and mental disorders are co-related and usually go hand in hand. This can be especially important to consider when looking at the kinds of patients who take Trazodone. 

Trazodone High

Trazodone Side Effects

Even when taken for the appropriate reasons and at the prescribed dosage, Trazodone can have negative side effects. These include:

  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Digestive problems
  • Muscle aches
  • Dry mouth or eyes
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Constipation
  • Nervousness or confusion
  • Weakness or fatigue

More severe side effects can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures 
  • Labored breathing
  • Fainting

How Long Does Trazodone Stay In Your System?

Trazodone’s half-life is between five and nine hours. This means that it takes approximately this amount of time for the original ingested dosage to reduce to half of its size. Therefore, it takes approximately 42 hours before the drug completely leaves your system. This does not mean the effects will last 42 hours.  Nor does it mean that all traces of the drug will be gone. However, Trazodone drug testing is very uncommon.

Trazodone High

Overdose

Trazodone overdose, while not common, is still very possible. Most overdoses occur when individuals simply take too much, thinking that a higher dose will help alleviate their depressed thoughts or anxiety. It can also be dangerous in combination with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol. CNS depressants can enhance the drug’s effects and lead to overdose by slowing critical brain and organ functions, such as breathing. 

A lethal dose is unlikely, but not impossible. One medical case study found that fatal arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) can occur during a Trazodone overdose. Therefore, always call emergency medical services if you or someone you know shows overdose symptoms.

Treatment for Trazodone Addiction

Substance use disorders and mental health problems often go hand in hand. This is especially true for Trazodone, since it is prescribed to individuals with depression or anxiety. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, seek professional treatment. A professional will be able to help diagnose the root cause rather than just treating the symptoms. Contact us today for help on your path to recovery.

ETOH Abuse

ETOH is the chemical abbreviation for ethyl alcohol, and is usually synonymous with alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is the most abused drug in the world. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 86.3% of Americans over the age of 18 have reported consuming alcohol at some point in their life. A further 26.45% of Americans engaged in binge drinking in the past month. Given the popularity of alcohol, it is not surprising how prevalent ETOH abuse is.

What is ETOH?

ETOH, or ethanol, is the main substance found in alcohol. ETOH is responsible for any alcoholic beverage’s intoxicating effects. Ethanol is able to move through your body quickly. It passes through your bloodstream and heart, eventually reaching the brain where it begins to depress the central nervous system. Here, the feel-good chemical dopamine is released and begins to attach to nerve receptors. This is one of the reasons that alcohol can be so addictive. Your body craves things that make you feel good in order to get you to repeat certain behaviors. Dopamine is released during activities such as eating, sex, or taking certain drugs.

The brain slows down when ethanol binds to glutamate, a neurotransmitter responsible for exciting neurons. By binding to the glutamate, it can no longer become active and therefore slows brain function down. Ethanol also activates the gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), which in turn makes you feel sleepy and calm. 

Some of the most common types of alcoholic beverages include beer, wine, and spirits. The “proof” is the standard for measuring a drink’s strenth. The United States’ preferred measuring system, the proof is double the alcohol by volume (ABV) in a drink. Whiskey, for example, is 50% alcohol by volume, and therefore 100 proof. Some beverages have such a high alcohol content (such as Everclear, which is 95% ABV, or 190 proof) that certain states restrict them.

ETOH Abuse

Why does alcohol make you drunk?

Your liver is primarily responsible for breaking down the ethanol alcohol as it enters the body. However, most livers can only process so much alcohol at a time (around one ounce of liquor per hour). Once it reaches a certain point, the liver cannot process any more alcohol. The alcohol then proceeds into the bloodstream, where it creates an intoxicating effect.

While proof or ABV plays a big role intoxication levels, many other factors can make a difference. These include age, gender, body composition, and drinking history. For example, a person with a low body fat percentage will feel alcohol’s effects more quickly than someone with more body fat. Additionally, an individual with a longer history of drinking can develop a “tolerance.” This means they will feel less than someone who has never had a drink before.

ETOH Abuse

 ETOH abuse

Long-term ETOH abuse can cause severe damage to your organs and take a toll on the body and mind. Some long-term effects of ETOH abuse include:

  • Depression
  • Brain damage
  • Liver failure/disease 
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Hypertension
  • Increased risk for cancer

Another component of alcohol abuse is the increased likelihood of engaging in dangerous or reckless behavior. In the U.S. alone, drunk drivers cause approximately 1 in 3 car accidents in the United States. (These collisions kill 30 people every day.) While moderate drinking is usually safe, binge drinking or long-term dependent drinking can increase your chances of death.

How long does alcohol stay in your system?

ETOH Abuse

Age, gender and body composition all help determine how long alcohol’s effects will last. It can usually be detected in the body for some time after the effects wear off.

Treatment

Another component of alcohol abuse is mental health. Most alcohol treatment groups and centers spend a great deal of time treating mental health issues. Mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety are often a major reason why people start drinking. While the problem is difficult, it is not impossible to overcome. As with many addictions, seeking professional help gives you the best chance of reaching lifetime recovery. Instead of just managing substance abuse symptoms, an addiction specialist will try to diagnose and treat the root cause. It is also important to have close circles of support, such as AA groups, to encourage sobriety. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, please contact us today.

Synthetic Cocaine


Synthetic Cocaine

In 2014, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported 1.5 million American cocaine users above the age of 12. As alarming as this number is, it only accounts for individuals using pure cocaine or “coke”. In fact, there has been a rise in of individuals using what is known as “synthetic cocaine,” or fake cocaine, in order to achieve cocaine’s effects for cheaper and longer.

What is Synthetic Cocaine?

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant much like any other amphetamine. Derived from the coca leaf, cocaine was originally produced in its pure hydrochloride form. It is rare to find 100% pure cocaine on the market. Instead, cocaine is mostly sold as “crack” or impure coke. Crack cocaine is a mixture of pure cocaine and cutting agents like baking soda. Crack’s immediate effect makes it popular. This effect is short-lived, and users often binge in order to extend the high – a primary reason why cocaine is so addictive.

The term “synthetic cocaine” is essentially a misnomer, since it does not actually contain any cocaine. “Fake cocaine” is a more accurate title, since it is designed to replicate cocaine’s effects. Most of the time, synthetic cocaine refers to synthetic cathinones.

What are synthetic cathinones?

Why do people take synthetic cathinones instead of cocaine? First, it is important to understand what a cathinone is. Benzoylethanamine, ß-keto-amphetamine (cathinone) is a monoamine alkaloid found in the khat plant which can mimic an emphetamine or cocaine high.

Amphetamines are a very powerful group of drugs which include meth and adderall. Some amphetamine effects include:

  • Very high energy
  • Lack of sleep
  • Decreased mental performance
  • Fast talking

Many people take amphetamines and cocaine for the same reason – an intense rush of energy and focus. Some claim that cocaine also increases alertness, strength, and speed, though this has not been medically proven.

Synthetic cathinones contain one or more laboratory-made (synthetic) chemicals that behave like cathinones. These substances can cause a long-lasting cocaine-like rush.

Why is Synthetic Cocaine So Popular?

The biggest factors are price and availability. A common misconception is that crack cocaine is cheaper than pure coke. This is not necessarily true. Crack’s absorption rate is generally the real reason for its popularity. Inhaling it creates an intense, nearly instant high.

However, compared to the synthetic cathinone ‘flakka,’ price can be a factor. Flakka can cost around $5 for one hit and the effects can last nearly 5 hours, whereas cocaine can cost more than $80 for a hit lasting only around 10 minutes.

Synthetic cathinones are also usually more accessible, which increases their popularity. The U.S. explicitly prohibits synthetic cathinone production and sale. However, some manufacturers find shortcuts around this by slightly changing certain ingredients, effectively making their cathinone products more or less legal. This drug type is classified as a “new psychoactive substance” (NPS) which is unregulated by the government, making it much easier to purchase. It can even show up in some convenience stores.

Types of Synthetic Cathinones

There are various types of cathinones, some more notorious than others. All of them are dangerous. The two most popular cathinones are flakka and bath salts.

Flakka

Flakka (also known as the ‘zombie drug’) became famous in Florida for allegedly causing cannibalistic behavior.  In one notorious case, an individual under the influence bit another person’s face. Claims like this are unconfirmed; however, media coverage popularized the drug’s infamous nickname. Flakka is also known to cause hallucinations in some rare cases.

Bath salts

Bath salts are one of the more popular forms of cathinones and very similar to flakkas. They are also called bloom, cloud nine, ivory wave and scarface. Generally sold in brown or white crystalline powders, they visually resemble real bath epsom salts. Generally swallowed or snorted through the nose, bath salts are a cheaper alternative to MDMA and cocaine.

Dangers of Synthetic Cocaine

There is little medical research on cathinones and their addictive potential. Any substance that causes a powerful euphoric high comes with the risk of addiction for certain people – especially those with preexisting mental health issues. Synthetic cathinone side effects can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Confusion
  • In some rare cases, excited delirium and hallucinations
  • Risky behavior

Thankfully, synthetic cathinones are not a very popular drug in the U.S. Poison control calls peaked in 2012 at 2,697 and continue on a downward trend – likely due to negative media coverage. Overdose and death from synthetic cathinones are possible. However, risky behavior under the influence is the most common reason for injury and death.

Treatment for Synthetic Cocaine Abuse

Synthetic cathinone treatment is rare. This is not to say that people who abuse it don’t need help. People with substance abuse problems often have other mental health issues. Rather than just managing the symptoms, it’s important to get help from trained professionals to treat an addiction’s root cause. 

If you or someone you care about is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, contact us today. 

Zombie Drug

The term ‘zombie drug’ is not one which strikes much familiarity with most people. In fact, even Google has very little to offer in terms of answers and the ones you do find online may be very conflicting. However, this so-called ‘zombie drug’ refers to an extremely potent and dangerous drug.

What is the Zombie Drug?

The internet has some conflicting views of what zombie drug refers to. So in order to clear the water, here is what we found:

Zombie drug refers to two different things; Desomorphine, a much more potent version of the opioid morphine or alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone

Desomorphine is eight to ten times more potent than regular morphine. It was used in the 1980’s to treat severe pain. However over time it was phased out due to the negative side effects such as severe respiratory depression and urinary retention, outweighing any of the potential benefits it had. Its illicit production, commonly referred to as ‘krokodil’ is where it got its ‘zombie drug’ moniker from. The impurities found in krokodil often contained deadly substances such as battery acid and gasoline. They often rot the skin around the injection point, thus making it known as the zombie drug.

However, when referring to the zombie drug, it is more commonly associated with alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone, also known as a-PVP or ‘Flakka.’ a-PVP is a synthetic stimulant of cathinone, a drug similar to other amphetamines such as methamphetamine, and can be synthesized into what is commonly known as ‘bath salts.’ 

zombie drug

What is Flakka?

Flakka is the street name for a-PVP and has some dangerous and frightening effects when consumed. It is one of the many ingredients in bath salts and given its close association with amphetamines, it has many of the same effects. There is very little research around its effects, toxicology or physiological impacts adding to its danger. 

When examining case studies or examples of expected behavior, you will encounter some very strange stories. According to Don Maines, a drug treatment counsellor, Flakka “[rewires] the brain chemistry” and those who take it “have no control over their thoughts.” The drug is oddly connected with cannibalistic rages where individuals would run around with no apparent control over their actions, chewing the faces off of random bystanders. Even the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) considers the drug as “meth on steroids” and has it categorized as a Schedule I drug.

zombie drug

The drug is very cheap and usually manufactured and shipped from regions in China, however there have been cases of homemade flakka entering the market in the U.S. The drug’s popularity is rising as it is very cheap and it has similar effects to meth when taken at the appropriate dose. Now, taking flakka does not turn you into a cannibal, even though there have been isolated cases where aggressive cannibalistic behavior has been reported. It does, however, cause very erratic behavior and is very addictive.

What are the effects of Flakka?

Aside from the slight chance you will have cannibalistic tendencies, flakka has similar effects to other amphetamines such as methamphetamine. Some effects of flakka include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusional behavior
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Paranoia 
  • Elevation in heart rate (it is a central nervous system stimulant, just like meth which can help explain the erratic behavior associated with its use)
  • Extreme agitation
  • Jerky muscle movements
  • Hyperstimulation

Flakka can cause overdoses and even death. Even if an individual does not take a lethal dose of flakka, the subsequent behavioral changes can cause them to do things they would not normally do or engage in extremely dangerous behavior. 

Given that there is a lack of scientific evidence of the effects of flakka, it may help to look at amphetamines or even bath salts to provide an insight into the dangers of the zombie drug.

What are amphetamines?

An amphetamine is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant which causes an increase in brain and nerve activity. When taken at the right dose, it can cause powerful feelings of euphoria. People commonly abuse amphetamines drugs and this includes adderall and methamphetamine. The effects of amphetamines includes:

  • Paranoia and anxiety 
  • Visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia 
  • Low appetite
  • Depression and fatigue 
  • Sleep depression
  • High body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure 
  • Involuntary muscle control
zombie drug

The effects one will experience while taking amphetamines can have very similar effects to taking flakkas. However, there still needs to be more research done on the effects it has on the body- one point of consensus is that flakkas is a highly addictive, very dangerous drug. 

Treatment

Given the dangerous nature of flakka, it can be hard to understand why anyone would choose to use the drug. Unfortunately, flakkas are one of the cheapest highs available, with the average ‘hit’ cost at $3-$5, whereas a gram of cocaine is often $80 or more. The duration of the high also lasts longer than most drugs lasting around 5 hours. There are currently no medications to treat flakka addiction, however, mental health approaches are helpful to reduce dependency. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today.

Klonopin and Alcohol

Recreational drug users will often mix a substance with alcohol to enhance the effects of the drugs for an overall better high. Whether or not the mixing was intentional, combining any drug with alcohol can have dire consequences. Klonopin and alcohol are substances where there is frequent misuse and abuse. Many fail to realize the dangers in the combination.

What is Klonopin?

Klonopin is the brand name for Clonazepam. It is a benzodiazepine primarily in use to treat certain seizure and panic disorders in adults and children. It can also help relieve anxiety, relieve muscle spasms and help with sleep which are attributes of its benzodiazepine properties. Klonopin works by increasing the effects of the Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter which essentially slows brain and nerve function. 

What is a benzodiazepine?

Benzodiazepines or “benzos” are one of the most prescribed medications in the United States and help treat anxiety, insomnia, seizures and panic attacks in patients. It can be broadly described as a central nervous system depressant. Given that nearly 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety, it is no wonder why the drug is so popular. Unfortunately, as with any popular drug, comes the issue of abuse and increase in illicit availability. Some popular benzos include Xanax and Valium which are known to be addictive drugs especially when some users take benzos in order to achieve a recreational, euphoric high.

klonopin and alcohol

Benzos have a variety of side effects such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Impaired coordination
  • Vision problems
  • Grogginess
  • Feelings of depression
  • Headache

In addition, Klonopin has other side effects such as:

  • Depression
  • Loss of orientation
  • Sleep issues
  • Problems with thinking 
  • Memory problems
  • Dry mouth
  • Slurred speech
  • Diarrhea and constipation

How long does Klonopin stay in your system?

Clonazepam has a uniquely long half-life when compared with that of other drugs at around 20-50 hours. The half-life of a drug refers to the amount of time it takes for the drug to reduce to half of its originally taken dose. In other words, If you take 10mg of Clonazepam, it will take 20-50 hours for that 10mg to effectively become 5mg once ingested. Keep in mind that just because a drug has a certain half-life and elimination period, does not mean that it cannot be discovered via drug testing. Some Clonazepam metabolites such as 7-aminoclonazepam can be detected in urine upto 3 weeks after ingestion and others can be detected up to 30 days after.

Is Klonopin addictive?

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) schedules or categorizes thousands of drugs based on their potential for abuse and medical utility. Klonopin and by extension, Clonazepam, is in the category of being a schedule IV drug. According to the DEA, a schedule IV drug has “a low potential for abuse relative to substances in Schedule III.” 

However, the DEA still considers it to be somewhat addictive and dangerous. In 2016, the American Association of Poison Control Centers indicated that there were 74,050 cases involving some type of benzodiazepine along with 14 deaths reported. Klonopin may not be as addictive as other drugs such as opioids, however, it is still very much possible to develop a dependency in as little as two weeks.

klonopin and alcohol

Like most benzos, Klonopin users will develop a tolerance over time which can be dangerous as it promotes the use of higher doses. A tolerance is your body’s way of getting adjusting to an outside stimulus. The more you experience something, the more your body becomes normal or indifferent to it. For drug users, that means the euphoric high they first experienced may never occur at that intensity ever again. However, in order to get close to it, users will continuously increase their dosage potentially until overdose. 

Mixing Klonopin and Alcohol

Klonopin and alcohol are both central nervous system depressants which help calm people down by slowing critical brain function. However, these CNS depressants also slow breathing and other nerve function, making it dangerous to combine the two. Many people will however mix alcohol and some form of benzo, as the DEA states, “Benzodiazepines are also used to augment alcohol’s effects and modulate withdrawal states.”

Mixing any two drugs will usually result in an enhanced effect from both drugs. However, mixing two CNS depressants can lower critical organ function such as breathing until it stops, causing an overdose. Mixing the two drugs can also cause serious impairment and promote dangerous behavior which otherwise would have been avoided such as driving or operating machinery.

Some signs of an overdose include slowed and shallow breathing, confusion, unresponsiveness and slow reflexes. In extreme cases, overdoses can cause death and therefore require immediate assistance from medical professionals. 

Treatment

klonopin and alcohol

Treatment for addiction can be challenging. Addiction is considered to be a chronic illness which means it has similar relapse rates as other illnesses such as type II diabetes. Addiction to multiple substances, like Klonopin and alcohol, does further complicate treatment. However, this is not to say it is impossible. Plenty of people have recovered and moved on to living a life of sobriety. We recommend that you seek the help of a trained professional who can help diagnose the causes rather than just manage the symptoms. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today so we can begin your journey to lifelong recovery, together.

Recovery for Life

Addiction is one of those words that is often not taken seriously as kids. Most schools had some anti-drug programs with the aim to prevent youth from trying drugs. Further, a lot of us as kids would always say, “not me, I’d never do drugs” – let alone become addicted. Youth drug intervention programs focus on avoiding peer pressure and bad influences. Rarely do they touch on the underlying issues people face which may pave the way for drug use. For some people, it was never as easy as saying “no”- and we understand that. Recovery for life is the goal, even with the possibility and likelihood of relapse.

What are the stages of addiction?

Addiction to drugs is a complicated beast. Drug use is oftentimes voluntary at first. It is the subsequent uses and desires caused by the drug which can lead to addiction. 

Drugs make us feel good. A lot of drugs make us feel good by providing an euphoric high (such as marijuana and opioids). Alternatively, other drugs make us hallucinate which can cause a dissociative feeling of detachment from one’s mind. That is, unfortunately, the harsh truth about them. If they didn’t, substance use disorders would be less of a problem. So why is something that makes us feel good, so bad for us?

Drug use follows a pretty basic progression which can be applied in a very general sense to most drugs. Upon first use, the user will feel an immense rush of chemically induced emotions. This is something they perceive as either good or bad. Good responses will elicit further use, as your mind essentially says “I want more of whatever made me feel like that.” This also applies to other addictions such as food or sex. Our minds and bodies develop a mental connection to feeling good and whatever the catalyst may be. The challenge with preventing the first use happening is when it is through legal means such as an opioid prescription after surgery. Just because it was legally obtained and used to treat a medical issue, does not diminish its effects on the mind.

Different Stages of Addiction

Regular use begins when the user decides to make his or her drug use more predictable. For some, it may be a weekend/party vice that they partake in. For others, it may be drinking after getting home from work. As it begins to settle into a more predictable pattern, the drug becomes more important in their lives. 

Risky use is the stage where people become comfortable enough with the drug that they are willing to take risks that they otherwise wouldn’t, had they been sober. This includes drinking while driving or high. At this point, the user’s behavior is likely affecting their work and family life as they begin to feel more dependent on the drug. Dependence will eventually lead to developing a tolerance.

Another way of looking at it is that your body begins to adapt to the drug in order to lessen its effects because to our immune system, a drug is still a foreign object and your body would much rather be in its natural state of homeostasis. A tolerance will diminish the effect of the drug on the body, which in turn will cause you to take more the drug in order to actually feel the effects. Not only does this increase your dependence on the drug, but it can also cause an overdose if the dose reaches an unsafe level.

recovery for life

How does Reflections approach recovery?

Reflections Recovery Center uses a holistic approach to treatment. While we could simply treat the symptoms, it would do no good in the long run. Recovery is a lifetime goal with no expiration date. Therefore, our approach focuses on the mind, body, and soul, in addition to treating the withdrawal symptoms. Hopefully, with enough guidance, our patients will be able to take their lifetime recovery and sobriety into their own hands and resume living a healthy, independent life. 

Some of the tools we use to develop the mind and body include adventure therapy, yoga, Reiki, team sports and even help our clients develop life skills such as cooking, interview prep, and communication skills. 

substance use disorder

What is recovery for life?

Addiction is classified as a chronic disease. This places it in the same category as other chronic illnesses such as type II diabetes and cancer. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “drug addiction shares many features with other chronic illnesses, including a tendency to run in families (heritability), an onset and course that is influenced by environmental conditions and behavior, and the ability to respond to appropriate treatment, which may include long-term lifestyle modification.”

recovery for life

Addiction also has similar relapse rates as cancer and type II diabetes. No one chooses to become an addict. Just like no one chooses to have cancer which is why it is important to look at recovery for life as the only goal. Simply managing the symptoms will open the door for relapse. This is why Reflections places such a heavy emphasis on holistic treatment and developing a relapse prevention plan. Going to rehab takes time and money, therefore, it makes no sense to try and simply manage the symptoms every time they arise or if you relapse. 

Treatment

Addiction is a complex issue. Reaching a lifetime of recovery and sobriety requires hard work, dedication and the attention of a trained professional. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today.

Ketamine and Alcohol

Many people have seen ketamine on the news as a rising drug of concern. While many think of it as a ‘horse tranquilizer’, though it acts as an anesthetic, there are other uses. Additionally, a lot of research is still necessary to fully understand it. A lot of people use ketamine recreationally and frequently in a party setting. Subsequently, ketamine and alcohol is an increasingly common combination with many not realizing the dangers.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a common dissociative drug with use as an anesthetic for medical purposes. However, as is the case with many medical drugs, it is possible to find and buy on the street. Dissociative drugs distort the users perception of sound and sight. Many users report feeling expressions of dissociation from their body and mind and find it rather calming. It is possible for an out of mind experience to produce powerful effects and leave the user craving more. This often occurs given its blissful and calming effects. However, these effects are also addictive and can cause a user to abuse ketamine in order to feel happy or high. Some clinical trials show the possibility of using ketamine as an antidepressant. However, there is not yet approval due to the lack of understanding on how ketamine affects the brain chemically.

ketamine and alcohol

Ketamine was developed as a replacement for phencyclidine (PCP) but was discovered to have a high potential for abuse and was later categorized as a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Specifically, ketamine is a Schedule III which according to the DEA indicates that it has “ a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.” Ketamine affects many neurotransmitters in the brain, but its full chemical mechanism is not yet understood. So far, scientists believe that it blocks the release of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA), which is an excitatory neurotransmitter. NMDA is part of the glutamate class of neurotransmitters which represent one of the largest groups of transmitters in the brain. When released, NMDA speeds up brain function and the firing of neurons in the brain and spinal cord; therefore, when ketamine blocks the release of NMDA, the anesthetic and dissociative functions begin.

ketamine and alcohol

Side Effects

Like any drugs, even if someone perceives there are positive effects, there are negative side effects as well. There are plenty of side effects from taking ketamine which often worsen in combination with other drugs. Some side effects include:

  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Bluish lips or skin
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting
  • Vertigo
  • Skin rash
  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate

Ketamine’s design is to slow brain function in order to help patients feel no pain during surgeries. Given that it slows brain function, it has the ability to affect respiratory performance by slowing your breathing down. 

Mixing Ketamine and Alcohol

Alcohol, when taken in smaller doses, can have stimulant-like effects on the body and brain; however, it is classified as a depressant. A central nervous system depressant slows down critical CNS functions such as breathing and coordination. When mixing two or more drugs (also known as polysubstance abuse), the effects of one will enhance the effects of the other. In other words, the depressive effects of alcohol will enhance the depressive effects of ketamine and vice-versa. While ketamine overdoses are rare on their own, mixing it with alcohol can greatly increase the chances of a fatal overdose. 

ketamine and alcohol

What is an OD?

An overdose, or commonly referred to as an OD, is your body’s negative biological response to having taken too much of a substance or mix of substances. Someone overdosing from a depressant (such as alcohol) will experience a severe drop in blood pressure, body temperature and breathing. A fatal overdose can occur if the effects of the overdose are so powerful, that breathing completely stops. Again, while ketamine overdoses are quite rare, mixing it with alcohol (or any other powerful depressant such as opioids or benzodiazepines) will exacerbate the overall response and can cause an overdose.

Treatment

substance use disorder

Addiction is considered to be a chronic disease which means that the genetic disposition to have addictive behaviors can be passed down from family members- similar to how other diseases such as Type II Diabetes can be inherited. That also means that addiction has similar relapse rates as some chronic diseases which is why seeking professional treatment and guidance is important in achieving a sober life. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), In 2017, 19.7 million Americans battled with a substance use disorder- and that number is on the rise. With more and more people dealing with the difficulties of addiction, many are finding that professional treatment and support groups offer the best chance at rehabilitation. If you or a loved one is suffering with addiction, please contact us today so we can work together to achieve a sober life.