Tag Archives: drug abuse

Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine is a stimulant that people often abuse as a recreational “party” drug. While most people incorrectly think it is safer than its close relative, crack cocaine, pure cocaine is just as dangerous and addictive and can cause a fatal overdose.

What is cocaine?

Cocaine is derived from the coca plant, which has been used as a stimulant by South American natives for thousands of years. Processed “pure” cocaine, cocaine hydrochloride, is much more powerful and addictive. Sold illicitly under the names Coke, C, Snow, Powder, or Blow, pure cocaine is usually a white powder. 

Cocaine Overdose

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) categorizes various drugs on a scale based on how addictive and dangerous they are. Cocaine is a Schedule II drug, meaning that while it has highly addictive qualities and a high potential for abuse, it does have potential medicinal uses. Doctors can administer it a local anesthetic in some situations. Other Schedule II drugs include Adderall, Fentanyl and OxyContin. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), cocaine was most popular during the 1990’s. However, it is still quite common today and many users see it as a risk-free, fun party drug. In 2014, there were an estimated 1.5 million active cocaine users over the age of 12 in the United States.

Cocaine Overdose

What are Cocaine’s Effects?

Cocaine’s stimulant properties cause a heightened sense of energy and awareness, among other symptoms. While some may find the experience to be pleasurable, it is highly addictive and the side effects can be painful. Other cocaine effects include:

  • Increased energy
  • Euphoric feelings (euphoric high)
  • Elevated mood
  • Elevated self-esteem 

Some of Cocaine’s negative side effects include:

  • Restlessness
  • Headaches
  • Panic
  • Paranoia 
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability 
  • Tremors 
  • Vertigo
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature 
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fatal overdose

What Does a Cocaine Overdose Look Like?

In order to understand how cocaine can kill, it’s helpful to understand what an overdose is. Overdose occurs when someone consumes a  substance in a dose high enough to keep vital organs from functioning.  In some cases, depending on the severity, it leads to death or long-term internal damage.  An overdose is possible with almost any drug but is most prevalent with opioids, such as fentanyl. Given that cocaine is a stimulant, it does not cause an overdose the same way an opioid would. While opioids slow down organ function, cocaine can cause cardiac arrest, stroke, respiratory arrest, and sudden death if the drug’s toxicity is too high. In 2015, more than 5,500 people died from cocaine overdose.

Many people wrongly think that powder cocaine is safe because it is not crack cocaine and therefore “purer”. However, this isn’t necessarily true. It is hard to determine purity levels outside of a lab, and pure cocaine still kills in high doses. Further, many dealers lace cocaine products with other drugs. Some dealers mix fentanyl or other dangerous substances into cocaine. This increases the chances of addiction, which is good for a drug dealer’s business. Fentanyl is deadly in small doses, and users often don’t know when it is in the cocaine they buy. In Flint, Michigan, 2 individuals were found dead in 2020 by overdose from fentanyl laced cocaine with another in critical condition. Sadly, this kind of scenario is not uncommon.

Cocaine Overdose

How long does cocaine stay in your system?

It’s difficult to hard to predict how exactly how long cocaine’s effects will last. This changes from person to person, and usually depends on how someone ingests the drug. If snorted, cocaine can take longer to kick in, but its effects will persist for longer. Smoking cocaine creates a nearly instantaneous high that may last only a few minutes. Regardless of how long the effects last, cocaine can still be detected in the system for several days to weeks after ingestion.

Side Effects

Cocaine’s half-life is about an hour. This is the time it takes for the ingested cocaine to enter the bloodstream. In other words, an hour after someone ingests 10mg of cocaine, the amount left over is about 5mg. Even so, cocaine can be detected via saliva from 12-48 hours after last use and in hair for years after ingestion. Further, urine tests can detect cocaine 2-4 days after last use. 

Cocaine Overdose and Addiction: Getting Help

It’s difficult – but very possible –  to recover from cocaine dependence. The drug is highly addictive and its withdrawal symptoms are often painful. This can encourage people to keep abusing the drug – just to avoid the pain. Getting professional help is the best bet for lifetime sobriety. Without it, going “cold-turkey” – stopping suddenly – is dangerous, since the relapse risk is much higher.  Co-occurring mental health concerns can make quitting even harder. When you seek professional help, you increase your likelihood of staying clean. Trained physicians and counselors are  equipped to help you deal with addiction’s the root causes instead of just managing its symptoms.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today to start the journey to health and sobriety together.

Most Dangerous Drugs

When looking at a list of the most dangerous drugs in the US, it is important to specify what “dangerous” means. A danger ranking that is is simply taken from death and hospitalization statistics will look very different from one based on lethal dosage or even the likelihood of an overdose.

What are the Most Dangerous Drugs?

It’s a good idea to understand as many different danger factors as possible when it comes to drugs. This list considers substances which have a high potency as well as a high likelihood of causing (or contributing to) death. 

#1 Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is around 50 to 100 times more potent than Morphine. It is a prescription drug for patients dealing with severe pain, such as cancer or post-surgery pain.  Given its high potency, it does not take much fentanyl to trigger an overdose. Illicitly-produced fentanyl poses a serious public health risk, as it’s common to find fentanyl laced with other drugs. Drug dealers and producers will combine fentanyl with substances like cocaine in an effort to boost profit – as it takes less product to create an intense high.

Another form of fentanyl making an appearance in North America is carfentanil.  Typically used as an Elephant tranquilizer, carfentanil is likely one of the most dangerous opioids known to man. 10,000 times as potent as morphine and 100 times stronger than regular fentanyl, it has no approved medical uses or human applications. It is oftentimes too powerful to risk lacing in other drugs and therefore is less common than fentanyl. The lethal dose of carfentanil is unknown; however, fentanyl can be lethal at the 2 milligram range.

Most Dangerous Drugs

Opioids in general have passed automobile accidents in the U.S. as the single largest cause of death. 

#2 Alcohol

When looking at death count alone, alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs in the world. However, it is not alcohol’s potency which presents the biggest risk factor. Most people can enjoy alcoholic beverages in moderation without experiencing any serious negative side effects. Rather, it is the increase in likelihood to engage in dangerous activities, and the difficulty in understanding the body’s physical limit that makes it so dangerous. In the United States alone, drunk driving claims around 10,000 lives every year and that figure has fallen by a third in the past few decades. As a whole, an estimated 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes every year – making it one of the most dangerous drugs in the United States, and potentially the world.

Most Dangerous Drugs

#3 Heroin

Heroin is also a form of opioid similar to fentanyl, but much more prevalent in the United States and Canada. It is one of the driving forces behind the opioid crisis in the U.S. Heroin is an incredibly addictive substance which can be injected, inhaled or even mixed with crack cocaine to form a speedball. It is also one of the hardest drugs to quit, as it can cause painful withdrawals. Heroin is the only substance on this list which is listed as a schedule 1 substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). A schedule 1 drug is one which has a very high potential for abuse and has no known medical uses. 

#4 Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine, or meth, is an amphetamine type originally used as a nasal decongestant. Some doctors still prescribe it to their patients, though at a dose much too low to create a euphoric high. However, it is more potent than other amphetamines and therefore poses a higher risk to anyone who uses it. It is listed as a Schedule II drug by the DEA because it is given to patients who suffer from severe ADHD, but still has a high potential for abuse. 

#5 Cigarette Smoking

Smoking causes long term health effects which can lead to a whole host of other health problems. Cigarettes rank lower than other drugs since nicotine and other cigarette ingredients do not cause reckless behavior and aren’t inherently dangerous on their own. However, from a deaths-per-year perspective, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that cigarettes cause more than 480,000 deaths in the U.S every year. Smoking can cause long-term health effects such as cancer and other diseases, and it does harm to essentially every organ in the body. It also causes premature death in most regular smokers.

Most Dangerous Drugs

Smoking can cause:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Lung diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Erectile dysfunction

Most Dangerous Drugs: What to Do During an Overdose

Being able to understand the signs of an overdose can help save lives. Any drug can be dangerous, and overdoses are always a possibility. Some individuals may accidentally take more than their prescribed dose of a medication, which in turn can cause an overdose.

Some signs of an overdose include:

  • Slowed breathing 
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Cessation of breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Dilated pupils
  • Airway obstruction (gurgling sounds)
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

What to Do During an Overdose

If you have opioids in your household, or suspect someone to be experiencing an opioid overdose, using Naloxone (brand name Narcan) can help stop the overdose dead in its tracks. However, keep in mind that this will only stop overdoses caused by opioids. The first step should always be to contact emergency services, even if you are not entirely sure someone is experiencing an overdose. Seconds count when someone is unconscious or struggling to breathe. 

Getting Help for the Most Dangerous Drugs

Addiction can be a very difficult thing to beat. Every substance listed above has a high potential for abuse and addiction. However, sobriety is very much possible and there is always hope. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction or abuse, please contact us today so that we we can help begin the journey to a sober life, 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 Addiction

Trazodone 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.

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. 

Dissociative Drugs

Dissociative drugs are a classification of hallucinogenic drugs which distort a user’s perceptions of sight and sound. The effect of these drugs causes the user to feel detached or a ‘dissociation’ from their mind and body. While for some, this experience can sound like an exciting way to view their world in a different lens, it does not come without its risks.

dissociative drugs

How do dissociative drugs work? 

Some dissociative drugs started off as general anesthetics such as PCP (phencyclidine) and Ketamine to be used during surgery but are now commonly used as party drugs. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), these drugs “ cause their effects by disrupting the actions of the brain chemical glutamate at certain types of receptors—called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors—on nerve cells throughout the brain.” Glutamate is a critical chemical which is responsible for cognition (such as learning and memory), emotion, and perceptions of pain (which explains its use as a surgical anesthetic).

What are the effects of dissociative drugs

Dissociative drugs can have varying effects on people and everyone’s experience seems to be different. However, generally, users can expect to experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired motor function
  • Body tremors
  • Numbness 

In addition, individuals who take lower doses may experience:

  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Changes in sensory perceptions (sight, sound, shapes)
  • Hallucinations
  • Feelings of detachment 
  • Increase in blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and body temperature

Those who take high doses of dissociative drugs may further experience:

  • Hallucinations
  • Physical distress
  • Extreme paranoia, panic, fear, anxiety, aggression
  • Overdose when mixed with other depressants such as alcohol

dissociative drugs

Dissociative drugs FAQ

What will I feel when taking a dissociative drug?

It is extremely difficult to accurately determine how individuals will react to dissociatives because everyone’s experience is different. While most people will feel a general sense of detachment, some will experience a more intense hallucinogenic effect whereas others may only feel a euphoric high.

What are the long-term effects of dissociative drugs?

Some long term effects of dissociative drugs such as PCP can be speech difficulties, memory loss, depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and social withdrawal. 

What is a ‘k hole’?

A k-hole is the name given to the dissociative and hallucinogenic effects felt when taking high doses of Ketamine. People have described a k-hole as being an immensely powerful out of body experience and as if they felt physically separated from their body. This feeling can be desirable for some but carries a lot of the negative effects as discussed above.

Are dissociative drugs illegal?

The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has a classification system it uses to ‘schedule’ certain drugs into tiers. If a substance falls under one of the DEA categories, it is a controlled substance. Most dissociative and hallucinogenic drugs are classified under this system. For example, DMT is a schedule I drug which means it has no accepted medical uses and a high risk for abuse. Its categorization makes DMT illegal. Likewise PCP falls under the schedule 2 drug category.

What is Mescaline?

Mescaline is a naturally occuring hallucinogenic drug which is known to have similar effects to that of LSD and psilocybin. It is  the main psychoactive ingredient found in the peyote cactus which is another popular hallucinogenic drug.

What is the difference between dissociative and hallucinogenic drugs?

Essentially, hallucinogens are also known as psychedelics and only cause visual, auditory and sensory hallucinations. Popular hallucinogenic drugs include LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and peyote. Dissociative drugs will cause a sense of detachment from your body along with hallucinations. PCP, Ketamine, and DXM are the most popular dissociative drugs.

dissociative drugs

What is HPPD?

Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD) is essentially a never ending ‘trip.’ Medical science still has not come to a conclusion about why this occurs and what the mechanics of this is. However, some people report using a hallucinogenic drug once and never fully recovering from its effects.

Getting treatment

Dealing with dissociative drug addiction can be a major issue. This category of drugs provides an easy escape from reality and some people may begin to rely on it just to get through their day. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today.