Does Alcohol & Drug Use Make COVID Symptoms Worse?

Drug addiction is a serious medical condition that can profoundly impact every aspect of an individual's life. It can damage relationships, cause financial problems, and lead to various health care problems. Left untreated, addiction can be deadly. Amid the unprecedented global pandemic, drug addiction presents an even greater danger to public health as it can make COVID symptoms much worse than they already are.

People who use drugs are more likely to contract the virus and experience severe symptoms if they become infected. Additionally, those who are addicted to drugs are more likely to engage in risky behaviors that can spread the virus to others. For example, they may share injection needles or fail to observe the safety measures like wearing masks, washing hands, avoiding crowded areas, or coughing to the elbow, thereby increasing the risk of transmission.

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The Relationship between Addiction and Severe COVID-19 Symptoms

Recent studies suggest that alcohol and drug abuse may make COVID symptoms worse. This is a significant discovery, as it could mean that people already struggling with addiction may be at an increased risk of developing more severe symptoms if they contract the virus.

One cross-sectional study compared the hospitalization rate for COVID in 2020 in those diagnosed with substance use disorders vs. those without these disorders. The findings were that those with alcohol or drug use disorders had a greater chance of being hospitalized for COVID-19 infection than the general population. This suggests that they suffer worse conditions or physical symptoms than the non-using population. The study also noticed higher mortality rates among hospitalized SUD patients than in the general population.

The Centers for Disease Control also notes that people with underlying conditions like substance use disorders, chronic heart, liver or lung disease, etc., are likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 can also increase the sense of hopelessness that makes it so difficult for suicide prevention strategies. 

These studies underscore the importance of seeking addiction treatment. If you are worried about how COVID might impact your addiction, please consult your doctor or therapist for guidance.

Why Do Drugs Make COVID Symptoms Worse?

Drugs make COVID-19 worse by weakening your immune system, making you more likely to get other infections, interfering with treatment, and increasing risk factors where you are more likely to spread the disease to others.

·      Weakened immune system: Some drugs, such as steroids, can weaken your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight the virus. 

·      Making you more likely to get other infections: Drugs that suppress your immune system can also make you more likely to get infections and autoimmune diseases like HIV/AIDS. These infections can be serious and even life-threatening. 

·      Interfering with treatment: Some drugs can interfere with how your body responds to treatment for COVID-19. This can make the disease worse and increase the chances of death. 

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Besides, drugs also affect the body in a range of other ways. For example:

·      Opioids cause slow breathing, reduce oxygen in the blood, and result in brain damage or death. 

·      Stimulants like cocaine, meth, and amphetamine increase heart rate and blood pressure, making it harder for the heart to pump blood and can lead to a heart attack or stroke. These drugs can also cause acute respiratory failure.

·      Smoking or vaping crack cocaine, heroin, or marijuana can increase lung damage risk and make breathing harder. It can also worsen COPD, asthma, and other lung conditions.

·      The effects of alcohol on the immune system are also well-documented. Alcohol abuse can increase the risk of developing various infectious diseases, including pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Should I Get a COVID-19 Vaccine if I'm on Drugs?

Yes, you should get a COVID-19 vaccine if you're on drugs. The CDC recommends that everyone vaccinate against COVID-19, regardless of their drug use status. You don't even need to have health insurance to get the vaccine. When considering the adverse effects that COVID-19 has on addiction patients, vaccination can be your best line of defense. It might even save your life.

On the bright side, 12.46 billion doses have been administered globally today, and there haven't been any documented cases of a person having adverse health effects due to drug use.

However, people with certain medical conditions should talk to their doctor before getting the vaccine. These conditions include:

·      A history of severe allergic reaction to a vaccine or ingredient in the vaccine

·      A weakened immune system due to cancer, HIV/AIDS, steroid use, or other conditions

·      If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, you should also talk to your doctor before getting the vaccine.

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Do Addictive Drugs Affect the COVID-19 Vaccine?

There is currently no evidence that alcohol or drugs affect the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are taking medications to treat an addiction, it is important to speak to your doctor about whether or not the vaccine is right for you. You might also want to err on the side of caution and abstain from use before and after receiving the vaccine.

Harm Reduction Strategies for Those Unable to Stop Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

Among the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, those who struggle with substance abuse face unique risks. In addition to the dangers posed by the virus itself, the COVID restrictions made it difficult for many to access treatment and support services. As a result, harm reduction strategies have become even more important for those unable to stop using drugs or alcohol. These strategies include:

·      Create a safe space for drug use. This can be done by ensuring that all surfaces are clean and disinfected and that ventilation is adequate. Not sharing drug-use equipment like needles, vapes, cigars, bongs, etc. 

·      It is also important to have a supply of clean needles and other supplies on hand and a first-aid kit in case of accidental injuries.

·      Observe COVID-19 restrictions to curb the spread of the virus-like washing hands, avoiding crowded spaces, and social distancing. 

·      Additionally, it is crucial to know your limits and always use drugs under the supervision of someone who can assist if necessary.

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By following these harm reduction strategies, those unable to stop using drugs or alcohol can help protect themselves and others from the potentially deadly effects of COVID-19. In addition, these strategies can also help to reduce the spread of the virus among those who are most vulnerable.

Protect Your Health with Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, it's important to seek professional help. There are a variety of human resources and treatment options available, and the right one for you will depend on your individual needs.

If you're struggling with addiction, don't wait to get help. Treatment can help you to overcome addiction and achieve recovery. It can also provide vital support and resources during difficult times. Seek treatment today and begin your journey to a healthier, happier life.

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Dangerous Drugs That Mess With Your Temperature

Many drugs come with a long list of potential side effects, and some of these side effects can be pretty serious. One common side effect that is often overlooked is drugs' impact on temperature regulation.

Some drugs act as vasoconstrictors, which constrict the blood vessels and reduce blood flow. This can lead to an increase in body temperature. Other drugs cause the body to sweat more, which can also lead to an increase in temperature.

Part of the reason is that drugs affect the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that regulates body temperature. When the hypothalamus is affected, it can become difficult for the body to regulate its temperature properly, leading to hypothermia or hyperthermia. 

Effects of temperature deregulations

Temperature deregulations can cause several unpleasant effects. For instance, some abusing drugs may:

  1. Experience hyperthermia or an abnormally high body temperature, which can cause organs to overheat and break down. 
  2. Develop hypothermia or an abnormally low body temperature, which can cause the body's muscles and organs to shut down. Left untreated, hypothermia can lead to heart failure and even death. 
  3. Experience dehydration or overhydration, as the body cannot regulate its water levels properly. In extreme cases, this can lead to organ failure.
  4. Display erratic behavior and mood swings, as the body cannot maintain stable levels of neurotransmitters.
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Temperature fluctuations can sometimes manifest as a general feeling of overheating or as a distorted perception of temperature. For example, someone high on methamphetamine may feel irresistibly compelled to strip off all their clothes, even in freezing weather. Similarly, someone intoxicated on alcohol may feel alternately hot and cold and may be unable to stop shivering or sweating.

Drugs that affect body temperature

While many drugs can increase body temperature, MDMA, cocaine, and opiates are some of the most popular illicit drugs on the club scene today. These drugs can produce powerful feelings of euphoria and energy, making them attractive options for people looking to party all night long. However, cocaine and MDMA can also cause potentially dangerous side effects, including overheating and dehydration.

Cocaine - hyperthermia

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that can have several effects on the body, including increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and body temperature. In some cases, cocaine use can lead to hyperthermia or abnormally high body temperature. 

MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly) - hyperthermia

Like cocaine, MDMA increases body temperature. The hypothalamus regulates the body's internal temperature, which is responsible for maintaining a balanced state between heating and cooling. When MDMA is taken, it causes the release of hormones that can interfere with the normal functioning of the hypothalamus. This can lead to overheating, as well as dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. 

Ecstasy abusers are at high risk for hyperthermia, especially since they abuse the drug in active, hot settings like concerts and parties. Hyperthermia can lead to many health problems, including liver, heart, kidney failure, or death. However, drug overdose deaths involving MDMA are quite rare - unless they’re laced with opioids like heroin or fentanyl. Still, ecstasy overdose deaths have occurred.

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There are several mechanisms by which these drugs may produce hyperthermia

Increased heat production

First, cocaine use can cause psychomotor agitation or excess movement and restlessness. This increased activity can lead to excessive heat production and a corresponding rise in body temperature. It can cause neuromuscular hyperactivity or overstimulation of the nerves that control muscle movement. This can lead to muscle contractions that generate heat and raise body temperature. 

Cocaine and MDMA use can also cause seizures. Seizures are brief episodes of involuntary muscle activity that can generate a significant amount of heat and increase body temperature. 

Impaired heat dissipation 

Another reason for hyperthermia is that drugs like MDMA and cocaine impair the body’s mechanism that helps to dissipate heat. When we’re too hot, blood vessels in our skin open up to release heat and cool us down. This process is known as vasodilation.

Cocaine works by constricting blood vessels, which prevents vasodilation from occurring. As a result, heat cannot be released from the body, and the person's temperature continues to rise.

Hyperthermia can be extremely dangerous, and in some cases, it can lead to organ damage or even death. Studies show that many cases of drug overdose deaths involve cocaine. According to the NIH, 19,447 drug overdose deaths involved cocaine in 2020. In the same year, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that 68,630 overdose deaths involved opioids.

Opiates - hypothermia

Opiates are a class of drugs that includes legal pain medications like morphine and illegal drugs like heroin. These drugs work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, which helps to block pain signals. However, opiates also have other effects on the body, including preventing the sensation of heat or cold.

This can be beneficial for people in pain, as it can help to numb the area and make it feel less sensitive. However, it can also be dangerous, as it can make it difficult to know when you are overheating or getting too cold. This can lead to serious health problems, such as hypothermia or frostbite. 

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Mechanisms in which opiates and pain medications cause hypothermia

Hypothermia occurs because opioids slow down the body's metabolism, making it difficult for the body to generate heat. In addition, opioids can cause dilation of blood vessels, which leads to a decrease in body temperature. Hypothermia can be extremely dangerous, and it can even lead to death. 

There are also ways to stay safe when using these drugs, like drinking too much water, taking breaks often to cool down in a cooler or air-conditioned place and being aware of the signs of overheating, which include nausea, headache, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat. If you notice extreme signs of ecstasy or cocaine abuse, you should consider calling 911 for medical help immediately.

Addiction treatment is essential

Substance abuse can have dangerous consequences for the abuser and those around them. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please reach out for help. There are many resources available to get treatment for drug abuse, and it’s never too late to seek assistance. Don’t let substance abuse ruin your life or the lives of those you love. Get help today.

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Drugs & Food: When Do Addicts Overeat & Undereat?

When it comes to drugs and food, there are many different things that can happen. Some people may overeat when they are taking certain drugs, while others may undereat. It all depends on the drug and how it affects the person's hunger or food habits. In this article, we will discuss how drugs can affect someone's eating habits. We will also explore the reasons why people may overeat or undereat when they are taking drugs.

The Effect of Drugs on Hunger or Food Habits

One of the most widely held assumptions is that drugs only affect the mind. However, drugs can also have a profound effect on hunger and food habits. Many people who struggle with addiction find that their appetites change dramatically.

Some may lose their appetite altogether, while others may develop compulsive cravings for certain foods. These changes can lead to drastic weight loss or gain, further impacting physical and mental health. In addition, drugs can cause nutrient deficiencies that can weaken the immune system and contribute to other health problems.

For these reasons, it is essential to seek addiction treatment that includes nutrition counseling and care. By addressing both the mental and physical aspects of addiction, treatment providers can help you regain control of your life and body.

With that in mind, let's explore how different drugs affect hunger or food habits:

Marijuana Munchies

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Marijuana is well-known for increasing appetite, a phenomenon colloquially known as "the munchies." While the exact mechanisms are not yet fully understood, marijuana is known to increase the production of ghrelin, a hormone that signals the body to eat. Ghrelin levels are usually highest before meals, but they are also increased by stress and lack of sleep.

Marijuana also affects the brain's cannabinoid receptors, which play a role in regulating food intake. These receptors are located in the hypothalamus, a brain region that controls hunger and satiety.

When THC binds to these receptors, it mimics the effects of endocannabinoids, natural compounds that increase appetite. THC also increases orexigenic neurons' activity, which promotes hunger, and reduces the activity of anorexigenic neurons, which signal the body to stop eating.

As a result, eating or smoking weed can make one feel hungry and eat more than they would otherwise. In fact, medicinal marijuana has been prescribed as part of treatment for those who lose weight due to not eating or other health issues. But it's worth noting that not everyone experiences the munchies to the same degree. Some people may find that smoking weed decreases their appetite instead.

The Skinny on Cocaine

Cocaine addiction can lead to weight loss for a variety of reasons. For one, cocaine use leads to a decrease in appetite. This causes the body to release a hormone called cortisol, which suppresses hunger.

In addition, cocaine causes the body to burn more calories and decreases fat absorption from food. Its use can result in dehydration and gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea and nausea, contributing to weight loss. This explains why cocaine-dependent people lose a lot of weight.

Some people deliberately use cocaine to try to shed some weight. But it is not a healthy way to lose weight and can have serious consequences. Cocaine interferes with the brain's ability to process hunger signals. So those abusing the drug may not feel hungry - or they may binge eat and then purge. The changes in food habits can cause malnutrition and other health problems.

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The Skinny on Amphetamines

Amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants that increase alertness and produce feelings of well-being. They are also appetite suppressants, so some people use them for weight loss. However, long-term use of amphetamines can cause profound metabolic alterations, exposing one to serious health problems.

People who abuse amphetamines often experience a decrease in appetite, leading to weight loss, anorexia, malnourishment, or other eating disorders. Amphetamines can cause a dramatic metabolic increase, leading to excessive weight loss and muscle wasting. They can also interfere with the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels and put one at risk for diabetes.

Hallucinogens and the Senses

When someone takes a hallucinogen, they usually experience a change in their sense of taste. Foods they normally enjoy may taste strange or unpleasant, and they may lose their appetite altogether. There are several reasons for this.

First of all, hallucinogens alter how the brain processes information from the senses. This can cause people to see, hear, and smell things that aren't there, which can make eating seem unappealing.

Additionally, many hallucinogens produce feelings of nausea and vomiting, which can also discourage someone from eating. Besides, the intense emotions and sensations that are common on a trip can make it hard to focus on anything else, including food.

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Heroin and Your Appetite

Heroin use can have a significant impact on appetite and diet. Many users often have a decreased interest in food and sometimes even a complete loss of appetite. This can lead to weight loss and malnutrition. 

In addition, heroin can cause nausea and vomiting, making it difficult for addicts to keep food down. In fact, their bodies reject all kinds of foods, including fatty foods. As a result, many heroin addicts are significantly underweight and may suffer from health problems due to their poor diet. Heroin use can interfere with the body's ability to absorb nutrients, further exacerbating the problem of malnutrition.

However, some people struggling with heroin addiction also overeat compulsively. This is because the drug can increase levels of the hormone ghrelin, which is responsible for stimulating appetite. For these addicts, maintaining a healthy weight can be a constant struggle.

Addiction and Food Habits

Substance abuse is a complex disease that affects the brain in many ways. One of the most insidious effects is how it can alter the brain's circuitry for regulating mood and impulse control. This can lead to changes in eating habits that can be either overeating or undereating.

Unfortunately, these changes can further compound the problems associated with addiction, creating a vicious cycle that is difficult to break free from. Overeating can lead to obesity and associated health problems, while undereating can lead to malnutrition and extreme weight loss. In either case, these changes in eating habits can make it even harder for addicts to recover from their disease.

If you are struggling with addiction and its effects on your eating habits, it is important to seek professional help. Many addiction treatment centers exist to help you overcome addiction and establish healthy eating habits.

We can help. Give us a call today. We are open 24/7. You'll be glad you did.

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Tremors & DIMD (Drug-Induced Movement Disorders)

Drug use harms the health of drug users. One common symptom reported or seen in drug addicts is tremors, also called Drug-Induced Movement Disorders (DIMD). The tremors may or may not be apparent to the drug users. The severity generally depends on the extent of addiction.

Drug abuse is currently at an all-time high. According to National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 12.9 million Americans aged 12 years and above have abused illicit drugs at some point in their lives. A report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that in 2020, approximately 92,000 U.S citizens died from a drug-related overdose of both illegal drugs and prescription opioids.

There is a bidirectional relationship between substance abuse and movement disorders. Some movement disorders develop due to acute use of alcohol or drugs, while others result from withdrawal from drugs.

Common illegal drugs that cause Drug-Induced Movement Disorders (DIMD) are cocaine, opioids, amphetamine, and heroin.

Symptoms of drug-induced tremors interfere with the performance of day-to-day motor tasks, interpersonal communication, and social functioning. Additionally, Drug-Induced Movement Disorders will interfere with your quality of life.

 

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Movement Disorders

There are two broad categories of movement disorders:

Hyperkinetic disorders are characterized by excess movement. They include dystonia, tremor, myoclonus, akathisia, tics, and chorea. Hyperkinetic disorders interfere with your day-to-day activities, and you may find it challenging to perform easy tasks. In addition, drug use can result in hyperkinetic disorders.

On the other hand, hypokinetic disorders are characterized by lack or absence of movement due to weakness.

Most movement disorders will develop due to neurological disorders. Some instances of these can manifest in people addicted to drugs or those who are experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they stop using drugs. A drug-induced movement disorder is a substance use disorder.

 

Drugs That Cause Tremors Or DMID

As mentioned above, drugs can cause tremors or DIMD. The drugs that tend to cause tremors or Drug-Induced Movement Disorders (DIMD) after acute use or during withdrawal are:

Here is how the various drugs will affect you.

Cocaine

Cocaine abuse has numerous adverse side effects on the body, such as involuntary tremors.

Cocaine blocks the dopamine transporter. Consequently, it prevents the reuptake of dopamine, increasing extracellular dopamine levels.

Your body’s dopaminergic system affects various processes, including movement control and cognition. Therefore, when cocaine increases your extracellular dopamine levels, your dopamine levels significantly decrease, affecting your motor function.

The involuntary movements in cocaine addicts or recovering addicts are due to locomotor sensitization. This can occur when you repeatedly, or even intermittently abuse cocaine.

The most visually dramatic movement disorder caused by cocaine is transient chorea, also called crack dancing and buccolingual dyskinesias.

Crack dancing is characterized by involuntary limb movements that last for several days at a time. If you are an addict, the spontaneous movements may not seem apparent to you.

Cocaine abuse may also cause subtle parkinsonian symptoms like tremors at rest. The said symptoms may persist during withdrawal.

 

Opioids

Like most commonly abused drugs, opioids raise dopamine levels by blocking the inhibitory gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Dopamine abuse may result in restless leg syndrome (RLS) and tremors.

Opioid abuse may also cause quick, involuntary muscle jerks, also known as myoclonus. Again, it would be best to seek medical attention if you experience these symptoms.

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Alcohol

Alcohol abuse may result in alcohol shakes, also called jitters or tremors. Often, the tremors occur when a person dependent on alcohol stops taking alcohol.

Alcohol tremors primarily affect the hands, but they affect the legs and arms in some circumstances. The tremors manifest approximately 8 hours after you stop drinking and peak about 30 hours after your last drink.

When you abstain from alcohol, you may experience a tremor similar to an essential tremor. However, alcohol tremors have a higher frequency, mainly involving the hands. 

These tremors can effectively be treated with propranolol.

Alcohol abuse may also cause bilateral flapping tremors, characterized by arrhythmic interruptions of sustained voluntary muscle contraction.

Unfortunately, the tremors may also indicate a more serious underlying issue. Alcohol tremors are a symptom of  Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, a medical condition that can easily result in death.

Tremors may also result in other symptoms like depression and anxiety, which may have severe consequences.

There are different treatment options for alcohol tremors. It is crucial to seek professional help to settle for a treatment plan that best suits your needs. Common medications used to treat alcohol tremors are Thiamine, Benzodiazepines, and Propranolol.

 

 

Amphetamine

Amphetamines bind and reverse the dopamine transporter (DAT) function. Consequently, they inhibit reuptake, releasing dopamine at the mesocorticolimbic dopaminergic nerve terminals. This stimulation may cause tremors, ataxia, and agitation. In extreme cases, it may also induce intracranial hemorrhages, comas, or seizures.

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), better known as ecstasy, is also known to cause movement disorders in addicts.

 

Heroin

Heroin is an addictive opioid that causes severe withdrawal symptoms. One of the most common symptoms in heroin addicts is tremors.

Luckily, heroin addiction is treatable. Several treatment options are available for those struggling with heroin addiction, including pharmacological treatment and behavioral therapy. You may have to undergo both pharmacological treatment and behavioral therapy to make a full recovery. The treatments clear the tremors with time.

 

Get Your Life Back On Track

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Tremors or Drug-Induced Movement Disorders (DIMD) may harm your quality of life and general well-being. You may find it challenging to perform easy tasks, which may, in turn, affect your social functioning and interpersonal communication. You may also lose your independence as you’d need help performing easy tasks.

If you believe you or your loved one’s movement disorder results from drug use, it is best to seek professional help. A professional drug rehabilitation program will help by offering advice, diagnosis, or discussing treatment options.  

More Than Rehab offers high-quality, individualized treatment to anyone struggling with addiction. Additionally, we treat any co-occurring disorders to improve your quality of life.

We have both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, so you are free to select a program that suits you best.

Our experts will offer support and walk you through the challenging recovery process. Contact us anytime, during the day or night, to talk to us and start your recovery journey. Our friendly staff is always ready and willing to listen to you and answer any questions you may have.

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The Link Between Risky Sexual Behaviors & Drug Use

For ages, human beings have intentionally used different substances for sexual pleasure. For example, Egyptians used extracts from the blue lotus flower to facilitate and enhance sexual desire. 

Today is no different. People use alcohol and illicit drugs for sexual pleasure. The trend is prevalent among teenagers and young adults in the United States. While substance misuse happens at any age, young adult years are critical at-risk periods. 

Studies have identified strong associations between substance use disorders and risky sexual behaviors and experiences. A review published on JAMA Network suggests that illegal drug use, and alcohol, increases the chances of risky sexual behavior and STIs by interfering with rational decision-making and cognitive functioning. 

The review further indicates that sexual impulses may be linked to subsequent drug use by alienating the teen from a more conventional context. This promotes attachment to rogue peers, and fosters exposure to drugs or alcohol. It also suggests that sex & drugs may have a common aspect that underlies and precedes both manifestations like personality (rebelliousness) or family factor (like mother-child relationship) etc.

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People who meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual criteria for substance abuse disorders are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, including unsafe sex and having multiple partners. According to the national institute on drug abuse, the following are some of the risky sexual behaviors associated with alcohol and drug abuse 

Using the Global Drug Survey data, a 2019 study found the below as the most common drugs used with sex.

Let's discuss the sexual functioning associated with each drug in detail.

Alcohol

Alcohol is a popular drug that most people use to relax before engaging in sexual activity. In addition, it is used as an aphrodisiac to increase sexual desire and enhance performance. When taken in smaller doses, it enhances sexual arousal in men and increases subjective stimulation and pleasure in women.

However, when taken in higher quantities, alcohol impairs erectile function in men due to neuropathy or cardiovascular complications. In women, chronic users experience decreased vaginal lubrication and delayed orgasm.

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Alcohol abuse has been associated with risky sexual behavior due to impaired judgment. In addition, under the influence of alcohol, individuals are likely to be inconsistent with condoms and have multiple sexual partners whose health status is unknown. This results in increased cases of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy. 

Cocaine

Cocaine is known to stimulate the central nervous system. As a result, it increases sexual urges due to activating systems responsible for sexual behavior such as oxytocin, dopamine, and melanocortin. This leads to sexual arousal in women and erectile function in men. However, long-term use can cause reduced sexual desire and delayed ejaculation/orgasm.

Cocaine use with an intimate partner is more frequent as compared to heroin. This is because cocaine is known to improve sexual performance, intensify sensation and increase libido. On the other hand, heroin is believed to send blood away from sexual organs and reduce testosterone production. This diminishes sexual desire, difficulty maintaining an erection, and delayed ejaculation/orgasm.

In addition, cocaine use has been predominantly linked with the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases compared to alcohol and other illegal drugs. This is highly attributed to increased sexual urges, impaired judgment, and sharing needles amongst users when injecting the drug. Diagnostic criteria show chronic users of cocaine exhibit violent and erratic behavior leading to anxiety, depression, and loss of interest in sex.

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is recognized to be a potent aphrodisiac better known in the streets as "speed" or "crack." Like cocaine but at a higher degree, methamphetamine improves sexual performance by lowering inhibitors, increasing sex drive, and delaying ejaculation/orgasm. In addition, the sexual urges last longer in methamphetamine users than cocaine users making it more popular to people seeking extended and extremely stimulating sexual experiences.

However, chronic users of meth may experience difficulty in attaining a full erection. In this case, they experience a strong sexual drive coupled with inadequate penile erection. This condition is known as "crystal dick."

Methamphetamine has contributed to the high rates of sexually transmitted diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS. Increased sexual urges lead to unsafe and risky sexual behaviors such as vigorous unprotected anal or vaginal sex with strangers and casual sex partners. In addition, users who inject the drug share needles, putting them at a higher risk of contracting these diseases.  

Cannabis

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Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug. Consumption in small doses leads to subjective satisfaction and enhanced sexual pleasure in both men and women. Cannabis has resulted in teenage sex and increased cases of sexual addictions because the drug is cheap and easily accessible. 

However, chronic use of cannabis has been known to reduce testosterone, leading to erectile dysfunction in men. It is also associated with an increased risk of abuse and mental health conditions such as depression, extreme anxiety, and hallucination. 

Opioids

In the initial stages, opioids cause enhanced vaginismus in women and delayed ejaculation in men. This gives the user a false perception of improved sexual function. However, the use of opioids such as heroin and morphine for an extended period inhibits the release of luteinizing hormone.

This leads to erectile dysfunction, infertility, reduced sexual desire, and mental illness. The same effects are associated with opioid substitution therapy, such as buprenorphine and methadone.

Despite certain drugs showing a positive relationship to improved sexual performance and pleasure when used in small quantities, there is a need to create awareness of the potentially harmful health consequences that they can cause. In search of a few minutes of extreme pleasure, you can expose yourself to STDs, infertility, unplanned pregnancies, sexual addiction, and mental illnesses. 

If you or someone close to you relies on alcohol and drugs for sexual performance, or you notice more risky sexual behaviors, it is essential to seek immediate help. Healthcare providers, educators, and social workers will provide the counseling and professional treatment that is needed to help you/them gain control of your/their sexual life again.

Drugs are Getting More & More Potent

It is true that drugs are getting more and more potent these days. Unlike in the past, drug dealers are now selling stronger doses of drugs to attract consumers and also outshine the competition.

According to researchers, the increasing potency of drugs is a sign of an ever-growing recreational drug marketplace, fueled by the rising popularity of stronger drugs. It could also indicate that the drugs are widely available to consumers, forcing dealers to offer punchier products.

Competition in sectors like food or fuel is great for the end-user. It brings about better products and services, helping the consumer get the best of what the market has to offer. But when it comes to drugs, competition can be deadly. It can lead to drug overdoses and overdose deaths.

That’s because dealers do anything to make their drugs stronger and more appealing to end-users. For example, they’ll cut drugs like heroin with other highly potent drugs like fentanyl to spike effects, etc. Sadly, this can cause severe side effects, and in worse cases, overdose deaths. 

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The potency and purity of drugs in the market have reached new levels. It’s an alarming trend especially since the country is dealing with an opioid epidemic that has claimed tens of thousands of lives. At the moment, drug poisoning deaths are the number one cause of injury death in the US, exceeding guns, homicide, suicide, and car crashes.

Organizations like the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and the US Drug Enforcement Agency produce annual reports on drug testing and thorough evaluation of substances they encounter. They also list out drug pricing details, and surprisingly, cheaper substances are often more potent than expensive ones. That’s because the cheaper ones are inexpensively mass-produced or readily available to meet the demand.

In the US, the average purity of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana increased by 11, 60, and 160% respectively between 1990 and 2007, while their prices, adjusted for purity and inflation fell about 80%. With that in mind, let’s now look at specific drugs and how potent they’ve become.

Marijuana

Today’s marijuana is three times stronger than it was about 25 years ago. This is according to a study published by the National Library of Medicine. The THC level found in marijuana went from 4% to 12% since 1994, with some strains having a concentration rate of 15-25%.

The growing popularity of marijuana has seen the development of more potent products. Traditionally, the plant was mainly consumed through edible products or smoking. But today, people make extracts and concentrates which are more potent due to larger resin volumes. Resins, which are isolated active compounds of weed, have 3-5 times for THC than a marijuana plant.

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Meth

About a decade ago, the average gram of meth in the US was 39% pure. Today, the Mexican manufacturers produce and sell it in a near-pure state. According to the 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment by the DEA, the purity in 2016 was around 93-96%. Meth is smuggled alongside fentanyl and carfentanil, a very powerful derivative that’s often used as an elephant tranquilizer and can kill a person with one or two specks.

Fentanyl

Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, is a prescription drug that’s also made and used illegally. It’s mostly used after surgery to help patients with pain. But the Mexican cartels and Chinese cartels manufacture and smuggle the drug into the US.

And since it’s easier and cheaper to produce than heroin, many drug dealers make pills or cut them into other drugs and deceptively market them as oxycodone pills or heroin. According to the DEA, fentanyl seized on the US-Mexico border is about 4-6% pure. But the smaller quantities from China have a purity of 90% or even higher.

Heroin

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Heroin is highly addictive and many people find it hard to stop using it, even just after using it once or twice. Many constantly crave their next dose. If a heroin addict quits cold turkey or is unable to find another dose, he or she may develop withdrawal symptoms like sleeplessness, feelings of panic, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sweats or chills.

Availability is partly to blame for heroin addiction. Heroin and prescription opioids have the same chemical properties and psychological effects. It’s why many people transition from abuse of prescription medications to heroin. Most of them cite heroin as cheaper, more accessible, and offers a better high. Notably, heroin’s street price has been much lower in the last few years.

As mentioned earlier, drug dealers and distributors are now cutting heroin with fentanyl to increase their supply and make it even more potent. Fentanyl is man-made; so it’s cheaper and easier to obtain than plant-based drugs like cocaine and heroin. Fentanyl-laced heroin is very potent and potentially fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. That’s why the risk of fatal overdose is much higher with such drugs.

Cocaine

Like heroin, cocaine is also often mixed with the powerful opioid fentanyl. Fentanyl turns cocaine into a much bigger killer than the drug of the past. In the 70s, drug dealers and users mixed heroin with cocaine. This mix is famously known and speedball. Speedball creates an intense euphoric rush that’s known as push-pull. But fentanyl has made it much worse. It makes people addicted to a crisis.

And the situation seems to worsen with the increased supply. A federal survey revealed that about 2 million Americans used cocaine regularly in 2018. In 2011, there were 1.4 million users. The production in Colombia has widened the stimulant market and reduced prices.

Sadly these people who produce cocaine aren’t chemists and don’t always know what they’re doing. But drug users trust their suppliers. Most of them don’t carry naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug because they assume they won’t need it.

Seeking addiction treatment

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Substance abuse is dangerous as is. Alcohol abuse can cause liver damage, and smoking lung cancer. We also know that heroin and cocaine abuse cause adverse effects like heart disease, seizures, lung and liver damage, etc. When people use more potent drugs, the risk is even higher.

Since most of them aren’t aware of the potency, they may use the same dose of a drug, but end up with adverse effects, or even death.

Drug overdoses are fatal. Luckily, many people who have overdoses can be saved if they get immediate care. Usually, death happens due to respiratory failure. Overdose is a scary word, especially since most associate it with death. But these two aren’t always a connected.

A person can still lead a healthy life after an overdose, but only if they learn from it. If you’re wondering where to begin from here, then you’ll be pleased to learn that treatment options exist. Reach out today to get help.

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How Mexican Drug Cartels Affect Texas

According to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration reports, Mexican drug cartels are responsible for the majority of drugs smuggled into the country. The far-reaching influence of these well-organized crime groups that ascertain their dominance through fear and violence continues to be astounding.

While Mexican cartels have major influence across the country, the most affected state has been Texas.

Why is Texas a prime spot for drug trafficking?

Texas has for decades been a hot spot for most Mexican drug cartels as the state shares 1254 miles of border with Mexico. This has been made worse as most of the state, especially the South Texas HIDTA region, primarily consists of thousands of acres of unoccupied land.

The presence of the Gulf of Mexico further escalates the problem as the huge water body enables drug traffickers to use small boats, narco submarines, and pleasure crafts for their illegal trade.

What about the border fence and patrols?

Is it possible to have a United States-Mexico border that covers every inch between these countries?

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Well, that is a question that still demands a lot of research and billions of dollars in investment. Texas has particularly proven to be extremely challenging to fence as it has huge stretches of land that do not have physical barriers.

The flat desert areas and floodplains also present another challenge, making an end-to-end border fence an idea whose implementation depends on many geographical, economic, and legal aspects. However, recently in a bold move, Texas Governor Greg Abbott unveiled border wall plans as a part of his security action to keep Texans and Americans safer.

On a brighter side, part of the border fence built in strategic areas has helped Border Patrol and law enforcement increase surveillance and capture hundreds of cartel members. But, this has not deterred Mexican drug cartels from coming up with new ways of drug trafficking that allow them to move around, under, or through these barriers.

The growing impacts of drug trade on Texas

The Mexican drug cartel has proven to be the mythical hydra that replaces each head cut by two others. In 2014, after the capture of Joaquin Guzman, popularly known as El Chapo, who was a high-ranking leader of the Sinaloa cartel, it was expected that drug activities would sharply decline.

However, it seems that capturing drug lords is not a long-term solution to breaking down the empires worth hundreds of millions of dollars. With access to so much money, it is always a matter of time before new leaders emerge or new groups are formed.

For example, after El Chapo was extradited to the USA and his cartel operations were greatly affected by the arrests of many cartel members; breakaway members formed a new group. This group is the Jalisco New Generation Cartel that has rapidly grown and is currently attributed to more than 30% of the drugs in the United States.

Since Texas is the epicenter of drug trafficking to the USA, it has not been spared from the wrath of this illegal trade. Law enforcement is now paying more attention to the impacts of Mexican cartels operation in Texas as it is a problem that can no longer be ignored.

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The major and pressing problems linked to the influence and operations of Mexican cartels in Texas are:

One of the biggest concerns today is how Mexican drug cartel members use young people, especially teenagers, for drug trafficking. After crossing the Mexican border, these cartels need a way to ensure the passage of drugs discreetly. The perfect bait has been found, and these are young and innocent children who are given an opportunity to make easy money.

It is heartbreaking that teenagers as young as 12 have pleaded guilty to helping cartel members to smuggle drugs, like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine into the United States. This trend is expected to grow as cartels are now targeting young people using social media, making it harder to control the number of smugglers who could be recruited.

One of the long-term impacts of the drug trade is that it leads to a rise in human and sex trafficking. Texas has not been spared from these illegal activities as Mexican cartels are busy moving people and drugs into the country.

Border communities have been most affected by these activities as they often come face to face with the violent and daring gatekeepers facilitating cross-border smuggling.

There is never a peaceful drug trade as each cartel always aims for supremacy on valuable trade routes and markets. The drug war in Mexico is facilitated by the high number of weapons acquired from the United States and the many local gangs facilitating drug sales.

These local gangs have proven to be quite crafty as they now sell narcotics as prescription drugs or magic mushrooms. Unfortunately, this is a gaping hole that many young people have fallen into, leading to a severe public health pandemic. Yearly, the statistics worsen as more people overdose on these drugs and suffer from a heart attack while countless more become addicts.

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Every month millions of dollars are smuggled back into Mexico as proceeds from the drug trade. In turn, money launderers in Texas and across the nation have become an integral part of cartel operations as they ease money flow. This has become such a big concern as, on the one hand, it hurts the local economy, and on the other hand, it makes Mexican cartels stronger.

On a national level, this has necessitated the attorney general and U.S law enforcement agencies to collaborate with Mexico in the fight against drug cartels. However, despite the massive strides that have been made, especially in the seizure of laundered money and property, Mexican cartels still stick out like a sore thumb.

Stay safe in Texas

The overreaching impacts of the Mexican drug cartels in Texas call for great public awareness on the devastating impacts of drugs. At a personal level, it also mandates great self-control to avoid falling victim to the alluring lifestyle that cartels use to recruit more local members.

Luckily, you are not alone, as More Than Rehab is here to help you avoid becoming entrapped in substance abuse or aiding these cartels in drug smuggling or money laundering. In the end, the easy money and flashy lifestyle that cartels portray is short-lived and will cause more pain than good. If you are in immediate danger or need help, call 911. If you need a safe rehab to get clean, call us.

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What Drugs Cause Scabs or Lesions on the Skin?

Are you concerned that a loved one may be abusing drugs because you have seen what appear to be lesions or scabs on the skin? These types of skin sores just never really seem to go away, or sometimes they even seem to get worse. Unfortunately, with drug and alcohol abuse, scabs and lesions on the skin can be quite common.

Sometimes this is a telltale sign that they are in fact struggling with a substance abuse disorder, especially if it is combined with other out of the ordinary or uncharacteristic behaviors. Scabs or lesions on the skin related to drug use are often caused by a number of factors depending on the different drugs being abused. Several drugs can cause these skin lesions, sores, or scabs. Let’s look at the most common drugs that cause visible skin problems for the addict.

Methamphetamines

Meth, crystal meth, or methamphetamine is perhaps the most well-known drug on the list for causing some very serious issues with the skin. Also commonly referred to as meth sores, the open sores caused from regular meth use are often the result of a number of different psychological and physical side effects that come from regularly using this highly dangerous drug.

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Poor personal hygiene, sweating out toxins, a weakened immune system, and compulsive skin picking usually caused by “meth mites” (common hallucinations about insects or bugs that are either crawling on or in the skin) are all great examples of how using meth causes skin lesions or scabs. Using meth also constricts the blood vessels, which leads to the skin healing at a much slower pace. Meth sores can appear anywhere on the body, even inside of the mouth, a condition also known as meth mouth.

Cocaine

Cocaine is a highly addictive substance that has been known to cause lesions or scabs on the skin, typically depending on how the drug was ingested, like being snorted, injected, or smoked. Here are some of the most common skin related issues from regular cocaine or crack usage:

These are just a few of the most common skin reactions that can occur with cocaine use. Much like other drugs, cocaine is highly toxic and it is often cut, or combined with other dangerous and harmful chemicals.

Heroin

Other drugs that have been known to cause lesions, skin sores, or scabs are heroin, black tar heroin, or other types of opioid substances. All of these drugs are highly dangerous and addictive. Like many other dangerous and harmful substances, opiates cause health issues that are not just related to the skin. However, the most commonly seen effects of heroin on the skin are from users who inject the drug on a regular or somewhat regular basis.

The repeated penetration of the skin while seeking a vein can cause a condition known as venous sclerosis. Venous Sclerosis can lead to permanent scarring, something also known as “track marks”. It can also cause a range of other issues, such as skin infections, cellulitis (a potentially life threatening bacterial skin infection), and skin abscesses. Skin abscesses are commonly seen on people who inject heroin regularly, and, like cellulitis, it can become very serious if left untreated.

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Another cause for concern among heroin users is the process often referred to on the streets as “skin popping”. This is where the drug is directly injected under the skin, or subcutaneously, and sometimes even intramuscularly, instead of into the vein itself. Necrotizing skin lesions commonly occur with this popular practice as finding a vein becomes more difficult. Unfortunately, heroin users are also prone to obsessively picking at their skin, causing the chance of infection to become even greater. As with many others who suffer from addiction, heroin users often stop caring about their personal hygiene. All of these factors combined make the chance of having skin lesions and scabs much higher when using this drug.

Prescription Drugs

Additionally, some prescription medicines, especially when abused, are known to cause skin lesions or rashes. For example, prescription stimulants, like those commonly prescribed for ADD/ADHD, can cause hives, rashes, and hypersensitivity. In most cases, these reactions are considered to be allergic, so not everyone will experience these types of side effects. Other symptoms often associated with an allergic reaction to prescription stimulants are fluid filled pustules that can rupture and scab over, burning, blistering, and peeling. If you have recently taken any prescription stimulants and are experiencing any of these symptoms, please reach out to a medical health professional and get help as soon as possible before the condition worsens.

While these drugs can cause scabs or lesions on the skin, there are plenty of other health risks associated with addiction.

All of these symptoms are potentially very dangerous, so it is always suggested you seek medical care in order to get the help you need. No drug is worth the permanent damage that may be caused to your body or mind from prolonged and consistent drug use. Drug abuse is the cause of a number of other, very serious health risks.

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If you are wanting to get sober but are worried about the detox, then we are here to help. Here At More Than Rehab, we know just how difficult that getting sober can be, as many of us have been there before, and all we want to do is help to make that process easier.

We believe that everybody deserves the chance to have a healthy, sober, and fulfilling life, so we have many different types of treatment programs that are designed to fit your needs. We truly care about the health and well-being of both you and your family. Call us any time of day, 24/7, 365 days of the year and we will be here to answer your call. We would like nothing more than to give you the tools for recovery and put you on the right path!

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Hygiene and Drug Use: Why Does Use Cause a Lack of Care?

For many of us, maintaining our image is a matter of importance, at least to some degree. The power of first impressions have a huge impact in our modern world. Because of this, cleanliness and personal hygiene are often taught to us early on as children. The majority of people shower on a regular basis, brush their teeth every day, wear clean clothes, and keep a tidy house. Although it is true that hygiene habits may look somewhat different, especially depending on the person, in large part, many of us take some sort of pride in our appearance. Unfortunately, substance abuse has been known to change personal hygiene habits for people who have become addicted to drugs or alcohol.

A lack of care for personal hygiene and outward appearance can be a sign of drug use.

One of the most common physical signs or symptoms that someone may be struggling from a substance abuse problem is the deterioration in one's appearance. If you have ever struggled with an addiction, or have known someone that has, you may be aware that addiction is often defined as an inability to stop using drugs or alcohol, even despite harmful consequences, and that it is caused by chemical changes to the brain. If you know someone who has recently stopped caring about their appearance, along with other concerning behavioral or physical symptoms, it may be time to reach out for help. We have many experienced professionals ready to answer any questions you might have if you suspect a loved one of needing help.

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Call us today for help with your drug or alcohol addiction. We offer the best evidence-based treatment program in the Houston, Texas area.

Why does an addiction to drugs or alcohol have such an impact on personal hygiene?

Some may wonder why many addicts seem to be affected in such a way that they stop caring about their appearance and personal hygiene? If you stopped and asked an addict on the street, I’m sure that many of their answers would be the same. Many just stop caring, their addiction takes first priority, and is often their only priority. They spend most of their time too high to take care of themselves and the rest of the time they spend trying to get more drugs and resupplying their stash.

For others, they barely even notice that they haven’t showered or brushed their teeth for days, or that the clothes they are wearing smell of vomit, or they simply haven't changed their clothes in who knows how long. Some might even tell you that they are afraid that getting in the shower will ruin their high, so they avoid doing it for days on end.

One thing is for certain though, considering all the different reasons why many addicts either chose to neglect, or give up on, their personal appearance, it is no surprise that this can have significant consequences to an addict. Combine this with poor nutrition and an improper diet, along with the toxic chemicals often found in drugs, you have a deadly recipe for a lack of hygiene and poor outward appearance. The disease of addiction is very destructive and this has been shown time and time again.

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Drug or alcohol addiction can cause significant changes to things like your skin, your teeth, your weight, the way you smell, and even your hair.

Perhaps one of the first noticeable changes that occur when an addict stops caring about their appearance is what happens to the skin. Neglect, poor hygiene, poor nutrition, and dehydration are all associated with substance abuse and can have negative impacts on the skin. Common symptoms of substance-related skin issues include:

These common effects to the skin are why many addicts, or those in early recovery from addiction can appear to be much older than they actually are.

The negative effects of addiction on oral hygiene.

Another common consequence of poor hygiene, toxic chemicals from drug use, and poor nutrition is the tooth loss that many addicts experience. Although how heavily impacted your smile may be can differ greatly, depending on the drug of choice, all of these substances have a chance to steal it. For example:

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Substance abuse can also greatly affect your hair.

Improper hygiene and poor nutrition can lead to a lack of shine, brittle hair, and inadequate new hair growth. Certain drugs can also cause temporary hair loss. Throwing in a poor diet and bad hygiene practices only accelerates this process. For others, the lack of care for their hair appears as developing huge, dreadlocked knots, as they forget to, or are unwilling to brush it. Some recovering addicts report going so far as to shave their own head instead of dealing with chunks of hair falling out or having to brush it.

Sudden or extreme weight-loss can be a sign of a substance use disorder.

Along with changes to your hair, skin, and teeth is extreme weight loss. When your only concern is how you are going to get your next high, eating becomes way less important. Many addicts will also forgo buying food even if they are hungry in order to get more drugs. Certain drugs also reduce or eliminate hunger, acting as an appetite suppressant. Oftentimes, cocaine or methamphetamine users will go days, or sometimes even weeks without eating food.

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It can be very sad when we see a loved one who is putting off their appearance, or is not taking care of themselves, because of drug abuse or drug addiction. If you, or a loved one, need help getting back on the road to a healthy, sober life, then we are here to help! We can answer any questions you may have about the recovery process and would love to teach you the tools to get back on the road to loving yourself again!

If you, or a loved one is experiencing an addiction to drugs or alcohol and you need help, call us today! We are open 24/7.

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How Do Drug Cartels Affect Drug Flow Into The US?

Mexican transnational organized crime groups, often referred to as cartels, have spent several decades establishing intricate, complex routes and connections to smuggle illegal drugs across the United States and Mexico border. Border Patrol, and other governing agencies such as the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), have been waging war against these drug trafficking organizations for as long as these cartels have been in operation.

The problem with these cartels is that even when one drug smuggling avenue or connection is shut down, they quickly find a new way to continue bringing these illegal, harmful substances across the American-Mexican border. So much so that a new wall has been approved by the US government in hopes to decrease illegal immigration and drug smuggling efforts. While this is a major problem for many states such as New Mexico and California, Texas is another state that is primarily affected by the operation of these Mexican drug cartels.

The History of Drug Cartels Influence in the United States

The Mexican drug war began in 2007 and was led by the American government. Mexican officials made an effort to decrease drug-related violence in association with the drug flow into the United States. Although Mexican drug cartels have been around for a while, their influence only grew in size with the demise of Columbian Cali and Medellin cartels in the 1990’s. Since then, it has been estimated that these Mexican drug cartels are responsible for more than 90% of the cocaine that is currently being smuggled into the United States.

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How Texas is Affected by the Influence of Mexican Drug Cartels

Unfortunately, Texas has become a primary hotspot for Mexican cartels to smuggle these drugs across the border. South Texas has become the primary point of entry for cocaine that is being smuggled across the Mexican border into the United States. More cocaine and heroin have been seized in Texas than any other state along the Mexican border (Arizona, California, and New Mexico).

Significant amounts of methamphetamine have also been seized in the Texas area, consistently topping the charts in comparison to other border states. Texas has what is known as the South Texas HIDTA region, this stands for high intensity drug trafficking area. Texas and Mexico share 1254 miles of common border, and there are at least 28 different ways to cross the border between them; including bridges, border crossings, and other crossings that allow personal or commercial travel between them.

The border of South Texas begins in the Western portion of Val Verde County and extends to both Willacy and Cameron counties along the Gulf of Mexico. This area of Texas is largely populated in three areas; the Del Rio or Eagle Pass, Laredo, and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The rest of the South Texas HIDTA region remains largely unpopulated with big stretches of rural or uninhabited land. Drug cartels take advantage of this widespread and massive area to smuggle drugs across the Texas and Mexican border. Interestingly enough, Texas shares the title for the state with the highest rates of drug seizure, coming in alongside Arizona with a total of over 7 million pounds of illegal drugs being seized between a recent four year span.

It is not uncommon for these pieces of land to also serve as a sort of temporary storage facility for drug shipments before sending them to larger cities and towns within the border area. They use places like ranches, local residences, or warehouses and trailers to conceal these illegal substances before sending them off to different parts of the country.

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San Antonio, Texas serves as one of the largest Mexican cartel transnational shipment centers, shipping a wide variety of illicit drugs, such as; heroin, marijuana, and crystal meth. To transport these drugs, Mexican cartels often exploit the transportation infrastructure that is already in place for transporting legal goods across the border, as Texas has become Mexico's number one trading partner. Mexican drug cartels also use things like personal vehicles and tractor trailers as well as commercial vehicles.

Located in the South Texas HIDTA region is an area commonly referred to as the Nuevo Laredo Plaza. This has become the most lucrative drug smuggling corridor along the Mexican and Texas border. It is located directly across the Rio Grande River from Laredo at the Laredo Point of Entry. The Laredo Point of Entry has become the busiest commercial Point of Entry in North America; as a result, it has been the focal point for many violent conflicts between competing Mexican drug cartels. This has become a centralized location where they are able to take advantage of the existing transportation to smuggle drugs across the border.  Additionally, over 55% of all rail traffic from Mexico to the US enter the United States through Laredo.

Human Trafficking is Commonly Associated With Drug Smuggling

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Another way that these Mexican drug cartels are able to smuggle drugs across the border is through the horrendous act of human trafficking. It is estimated that out of all the foreigners being trafficked into the country, more than a quarter, or one fourth, of them enter the country through the Mexican border. Many of these people are forced, or coerced, into smuggling drugs into the United States by violent Mexican drug trafficking organizations. Sadly, nearly one third of all the calls received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline are made from inside the state of Texas.

The war on drugs has been occurring for decades and these Mexican cartels are constantly finding new ways to complete their illegal activities. Despite the efforts of law enforcement they have been able to thrive, but there may be a solution in sight. We hope that with continued efforts we will finally be able to get a better handle on the drug trade occurring in Texas along the Mexican border.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please do not hesitate to reach out to the proper authorities. There is always someone who will understand your situation and someone who will be willing to help! Help is only a phone call away.

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