Why Do I Keep Using Meth? Ways to Stay Clean

You’ve gone through recovery, and things are starting to fall back into place. But for one reason or the other, you slip and end up using meth. So, you start over again, only to find yourself in what feels like square one – using meth, yet again.

So, now, you can’t help but wonder why this is happening. Why you keep using meth despite your desire and effort to quit. Well, if it’s any consolation, you are not alone.

Many people who struggle with meth addiction end up relapsing even after rehabilitation. According to the National Institute of Drug Use, 40 to 60% of people in recovery end up relapsing.

After a relapse, you may experience feelings of regret or shame. You may also feel like throwing in the towel and giving into your addiction instead of fighting the desire to use. Depending on how long you’ve been using, you may suffer from meth mouth and this can also worsen your feelings of shame.

While it’s devastating, you should know that relapse doesn’t mean you are a failure. It doesn’t mean the rehab you underwent was unsuccessful or negate your previous efforts to stay clean. But it also doesn’t mean you should take advantage of the situation and continue using.

Why does relapse happen?

Your relapse has to do with neural pathways. A pathway forms when you do something right. A pathway also forms when you do something wrong, like use crystal meth.

Human beings build habits this way, both good and bad. So, the reason you keep using meth is that you’re likely going to slip back into existing neural pathways. Let’s break this down further.

Causes of relapse

Studies show that the initial target of highly addictive drugs like meth is the brain’s reward circuit. The reward circuit registers essential experiences and events and their adaptive value. Then it provides incentives for actions.

This reward process triggers the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, a feel-good hormone that tells the brain to do it again. When used habitually, meth depletes the supply of dopamine and interferes with the feedback between different brain parts that coordinate desires with expectations and priorities.

But these changes are not necessarily the problem. Quitting meth use temporarily can be easy. You can go for days, weeks, months, or even years without meth. What makes permanent recovery challenging is a drug-induced change that creates lasting memories.

Your brain already knows the rewarding experience that comes from drug use. After a period of use, your environment becomes marked with cues or reminders of the reward. This learning is referred to as behavioral conditioning. And since methamphetamine addiction weakens your self-control and ability to make the right decision, you’re likely to keep using even when you know that a reward isn’t coming.

As you’ve learned from support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholic Anonymous, it’s the first drink that gets you drunk. So, a small dose of crystal meth serves as an effective cue. But places, things, and people, too, can be cues associated with meth.

An animal struggling with substance abuse will slip back to using when it goes back to the cage where it first developed the addiction. For people, triggers could be environment, the sight of paraphernalia, mental health issues, peers and so on.

Withdrawal symptoms are also a common reason many methamphetamine users relapse. Symptoms like anxiety, fatigue, sleepiness, depression, psychosis, meth cravings, etc., may linger on for weeks or months, causing relapse.

Getting back on the road to recovery

Irrespective of how committed you are to lifelong sobriety or how diligently you pursue recovery, there’s a chance of relapse. The National Institutes of Health study notes that about 40-60% relapse within a month or more of treatment. Another 70 -90% will relapse at least once.

But the good news is that the risk diminishes with time. Extended abstinence does predict long-term recovery, according to an eight-year study on nearly 1200 addicts. In fact, if you can make it to five years of sobriety, then your chance of relapse is less than 15%.

Ways to stay clean

Get help from a reputable addiction treatment center

Recovery for meth addiction needs a holistic meth treatment plan that consists of detox, therapy, and counseling. Depending on the circumstances recovery may also include medical advice. Meth is one of the hardest drugs to overcome. But treatment facilities in central Texas exist to help people like you regain control over their lives.

Such facilities will also address underlying issues that cause the relapse. For instance, they may offer family therapy that helps your family members to understand that relapse is not a sign of weakness or lack of morals. They will also offer mental health services to address psychological issues that may cause relapse.

Know the triggers of relapse and avoid them

Understanding the triggers of relapse and having a plan for those triggers are the first steps toward prevention. Triggers include things like:

 

Create new habits

Old habits will most certainly lead you back to addiction. So, you want to come up with new ones that will help you grow into the person you want to become. You can try out a new hobby, take up a new class, exercise, etc. Trying a new activity gives you something to look forward to. It also reduces the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that may lead to relapse.

Like other chronic diseases such as asthma and heart disease, treatment for drug addiction isn’t a cure. It only allows you to counteract the disruptive effects of addiction on your brain and behavior and regain control of your life. But with these tips, you should be able to manage your addiction and relapse problems successfully.

Where Did Meth Come From? A History of Methamphetamine

Today, there are more than 1.6 million Americans who report having abused crystal meth sometime within the past year. Out of that number, roughly one million of them will also state that they suffered from a methamphetamine use disorder within that same year. A substance use disorder, also known as an addiction, is when someone uncontrollably seeks out and uses drugs despite suffering negative life consequences. In the United States alone, roughly 20 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder of some kind, and meth use takes up quite a big share of that number. Though it has been around for quite some time, the history of methamphetamine, how it was created and how it was first used is not very well-known.

The history of methamphetamine

In 1887, a Romanian chemist by the name of Lazar Edeleanu became the first to synthesize a substance known today as amphetamines. Amphetamines are a synthetic stimulant that is very similar to methamphetamine, in both structure and their associated side effects. However, amphetamines are still legally prescribed today for the treatment of conditions such as ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and narcolepsy. Though discovered in 1887, amphetamine was not clinically used until the 1920’s when Gordon A. Alles resynthesized the drug and used it for the treatment of things like asthma, hay fever, and the common cold.

While amphetamines were first discovered in 1887, the discovery of methamphetamines occurred shortly thereafter. Nagayoshi Nagai first synthesized methamphetamine, a variant of amphetamine, in 1893 in Japan from a chemical that is commonly known as ephedrine. Methamphetamine is much more potent than the previously discovered amphetamine and was used in Japan for the treatment of things like schizophrenia, depression, and Parkinson's disease. However, the widespread use of methamphetamines didn’t become popular until the 1940’s during the second World War.

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During WWII, Temmler, a German pharmaceutical company, marketed and sold unprescribed methamphetamine tablets under the name of Pervitin. It was during this time that German, Japanese, American, and English governments all began giving their military troops methamphetamines in order to help enhance performance and reduce fatigue. Aside from the military use of the drug, people like truck drivers, students, and stay-at-home moms all began using Pervitin for a variety of reasons. Some used the drug as a way to stay awake, lose weight, or simply to feel like they were operating at peak performance. It has also been long-rumored that the Japanese Kamikaze pilots were given high doses of Pervitin before crashing their plane.

The history of methamphetamine use in the post-World War 2 era

By the 1950’s there was still a relative lack of public awareness surrounding the usage of both methamphetamines and amphetamines, so the use of both continued to soar. Both substances were also still mostly legal for the use in over-the-counter drugs. Nasal sprays containing amphetamines were also widely popular among various populations and both substances were still prescribed often for the treatment of conditions like depression, obesity, and narcolepsy. It was during the late 1950’s that an injectable form of methamphetamines first became available.

Due to its increasing popularity and low regulation, outlaw biker gangs began “cooking” meth, which quickly led it to become part of the 1960’s drug culture. The term “crank'' derives from the fact that biker gangs used to hide their stash in their crankshaft. Perhaps also in part due to the creation of injectable IV bags full of methamphetamines, more and more people begin using it for its euphoric effects instead of for the intended medical purposes. The subculture of methamphetamine users grew even stronger because of this, with more and more erratic behavior becoming noticeable among its users. This behavior, known as “tweaking” began to cause some alarm from health experts and governments around the world.

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Around this time, authorities in the United States began to take notice as people began experiencing issues with meth abuse and addiction. It was also becoming increasingly difficult to deny some of the negative side effects associated with the use of these harmful substances. The often noticible side effects of meth abuse include paranoia, delusions, and even total heart failure. It was in 1959 when over-the-counter nasal sprays were first banned by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in America.

With increased Federal regulation came an increase in illegal and dangerous labs, where the illicit manufacturing of methamphetamines began to take place, primarily along the Southern border as ingredients were extremely easy to obtain in places like Mexico. Even though by the 1970's, amphetamine use had been highly regulated and methamphetamines all but outlawed, it was still highly popular among illicit drug users in America. That is why in the early 90’s Federal regulation cracked down tightly on the sale of over-the-counter medications containing chemicals such as ephedrine, a primary ingredient in the illegal manufacturing of meth.

Meth use skyrockets in the US during the 1990s and early 2000s

Despite the best efforts of government regulations, members of the illegal drug trade always find a way to fill the void eventually. Between 1994 and 2004, meth abuse in America soared from just under 2 percent of the adult population to approximately 5 percent – more than doubling in one decade. This prompted even tighter regulations, requiring the verification of a valid ID and that certain products be moved behind the counter. Though meth use has declined over the past decade, in part due to these efforts, it still remains a huge problem that many are facing in our country every day.

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Unfortunately, the war on drugs is a continuing effort that seems to be a vicious cycle with illegal labs continuing to pop up across the country, but that does not mean that there is no hope for those who struggle with an addiction or a substance abuse disorder. Both amphetamines and methamphetamines are highly dangerous and addictive substances that can often be very difficult to get away from, especially without professional help.

Here at More Than Rehab, we understand the power of addiction but we also know what it takes to overcome it. The journey to sobriety can be tough, so let us help guide you and start you on your path to recovery. If you, or a loved one are struggling with any kind of substance use problem, please give us a call any time of the day! You can also chat with us online. We are here to help you, 24/7, 365 days a year. We wish you the best and we hope to hear from you soon!

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Before You Use Meth, Read This First

Meth is a very dangerous and highly addictive drug. It is used by a wide range of different types of people in the United States. However, it is typically more common among old teens or young adults, with the average age of a meth user being around 30 years old, much younger than cocaine and heroin users. This fact may be due to habitual users tending to overdose, or wind up in jail, well before becoming a middle aged adult. Although, there are still many people who are not in their 20’s or 30’s that still abuse meth as well. According to a recent survey conducted in 2017, nearly 1.6 million people reported having used meth at least once within the last year, with around 53% of them stating that they were addicted and roughly around 22% said that they had progressed far enough into their substance abuse disorder or addiction that they began injecting the drug into their veins.

What is methamphetamine, or crystal meth?

Meth, also known by many other names such as crystal meth, methamphetamines, and ice, is usually seen in the form of a clear crystal or a white rock looking substance. Meth is an illegal drug that acts as a central nervous system stimulant. What makes this drug extremely dangerous is that there is no medicinal value so it is only made in illicit, unregulated labs by untrained people who are also highly likely to be drug users themselves. Many harmful chemicals, such as battery acid, drain cleaner, antifreeze, or lantern fuel, are used in this illegal manufacturing process. Overdose with this drug is also extremely likely as the safety and strength of the product go unmonitored and untested for safe human consumption.

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The truth around meth that it is highly toxic becomes even more apparent when you begin looking at some of the physical and mental side effects that are commonly seen among steady meth users. One of these side effects is that meth can cause the person's body temperature to become so high that they either pass out or die, causing what is usually considered an unintended overdose.

Common short term side effects of meth abuse include:

These are just a few of the alarming short term side effects that are common among meth users. The highly toxic effects of meth do not take long to cause negative consequences to the brain and the body. With repeated use, these side effects only begin to worsen.

Meth abuse causes changes to the overall structure and function of the brain.

For instance, prolonged meth use causes damage to the dopamine circuit in the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter most often related to pleasure and is responsible for those feel-good emotions associated with things like eating a piece of chocolate cake, or being intimate with a loved one. Dopamine is associated with reward driven behavior, it causes those feel-good sensations to increase the likelihood that a certain action will be completed again. Over time, with repeated release of the brain chemical known as dopamine, especially in unnatural situations, (such as meth abuse) the receptors become less sensitive. When receptors become less sensitive, this makes it much harder for a person to feel pleasure from natural situations.

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Not only can overuse of meth cause the dopamine receptors in the brain become less sensitive, it also decreases the natural supply of dopamine in the brain. Eventually, this may lead to a permanent dopamine deficiency and has been shown to have the same effects as a condition known as Parkinson’s disease.  Abusing methamphetamine can triple the chance of developing Parkinson’s for some people, it can even increase the chance of developing Parkinson’s up to 5 times for women. This condition affects the body's ability to control its muscle movements.

Unfortunately, these are not the only changes to the brain that occur from long-term meth abuse. Research has shown damage to the areas that affect both memory and emotion. It can also lead to changes in impulse control and the decision making process, diminishing the person's ability to stop certain behaviors. Some of these changes can even be permanent, usually depending on the severity of damage.

Some other physical side effects of meth use include:

There are many other long-term side effects someone may experience with prolonged substance abuse. However, not all of the side effects are related to someone's physical or mental health. An addiction to meth has also been known to cause damage to other areas of people's lives.

Meth abuse can destroy your life.

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Not only does meth destroy your appearance or your health, but it also destroys your life. When someone becomes addicted to meth, that is the only thing that starts to matter. Many people suffer job loss, homelessness, and problems with the law. Close relationships with family, friends, and children get ruined because of an addiction to meth. While meth abuse may destroy these aspects of your life, rehabilitation from a meth addiction is possible.

So, if you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please come get help from us today. You are not alone, many of us have been where you are before so we understand what it takes to get and stay on the road to recovery. We are here to help and we can show you the way! An addiction to meth is certainly not worth losing everything you have.

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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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Can I Get COVID-19 From Drug Use?

The coronavirus, also commonly known as COVID-19, has rapidly swept across the globe, ultimately causing worldwide economic shut downs in the hopes of flattening the curve to potentially save millions of lives that are at risk of death from this dangerous virus. The problem with COVID-19 is that the virus can last on surfaces for days and can survive in the air for a matter of hours, leading to high rates of infection. Not only does the coronavirus spread rapidly, but it can lie dormant in the host for up to two weeks without showing any signs or symptoms of infection. Long story short, the coronavirus is very dangerous and has the potential to kill a lot of our loved ones, regardless of where they are from.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic start?

The coronavirus is believed to have started in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei Province in the later part of 2019. It is thought to have jumped from another species (most likely bats) to another, infecting the first humans in the local surrounding area. Spreading like wildfire in China (as around 80,000 humans were infected), it slowly made its way around the globe, eventually reaching America and hitting places like New York and California very hard. All of this led to drastic measures being taken like closures of non-essential businesses and self-isolation or quarantine.

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The full medical name for COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2, meaning Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, and it is closely related to the virus responsible for the SARS outbreak in 2003. While a lot of research still needs to be conducted in order to fully understand how this deadly virus operates, researchers have discovered a wide array of important information, even in the short time period that it has been around. Primarily, coronavirus attacks the lungs. While the exact fatality rate is still unclear, it has a higher chance of death than the flu, and even a higher fatality rate in those with a co-occurring disorder such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), asthma and people with compromised immune systems, as they are unable to properly fight the virus off.

So, what does the coronavirus pandemic mean for people who use drugs and alcohol?

Well, for starters, unfortunately, people who use drugs or alcohol are usually in a higher risk category for a variety of physical and mental health issues. Additionally, they have a higher chance of contracting the virus for several different reasons, including things like high rates of homelessness and incarceration.

Not to mention, as we previously stated, Covid-19 attacks the lungs, this is said to worsen with certain patients who have some form of substance use disorder. For people with alcohol use disorder, or people who smoke any substance, including cigarettes, vapes, crystal meth, heroin or other opioids, are all at higher risk of mortality if they happen to contract this deadly virus. Especially, for those who smoke or vape, because these activities weaken the respiratory system at an alarming rate.

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Interestingly enough, alcohol sales have reported to spike, increasing over 55% following orders of quarantine, social-distancing and isolation. What people do not know is that this poses a serious risk, as alcohol consumption can greatly compromise the human immunoresponse system.

People who frequently abuse alcohol are also at a higher risk of infection and mortality because of their compromised immune systems, making people more vulnerable to respiratory diseases like the coronavirus. It is even more important to refrain from drinking this time if you are a person in the high-risk categories, generally meaning people over the age of 65, or those with other serious health conditions.

The dangers of smoking and vaping during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Although it may seem like people who use cigarettes or vape are not serious drug users, these substances still pose a serious danger to one’s health, especially during this time. Cigarettes have been known to cause things like cancer, diabetes and many other major health issues. Smoking causes serious impairment to lung function making it difficult to fight off deadly viruses like COVID-19. A recent study released by WHO (World Health Organization) found that smokers are more likely to develop serious complications when infected with the coronavirus. The same can be said for someone who uses vapes, or electronic cigarettes; they are inhaling dangerous chemicals that strongly affect the functionality of their lungs.

Heroin itself is a very dangerous and deadly drug. It is normally seen as black, sticky substance and commonly referred to as “black tar”. Heroin has been known to be highly addictive, and has recently risen in popularity. One of the main problems with heroin is the illegal manufacturing process, as it has been known to be “cut” with other substances, helping to increase the risk of overdose. People who use heroin are in a high-risk category for COVID-19 because of the pulmonary effects the drug has on the body. Heroin acts on the brain stem, slowing bodily systems down and decreasing oxygen supply to the blood supply as it slows a person's breathing. This can cause major complications, even more so when a person contracts the deadly coronavirus.

People who use methamphetamine are also at higher risk when it comes to Covid-19. Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is another very dangerous and addictive drug. Like heroin, it can be used in a number of different ways, such as being smoked, snorted, or injected. Aside from high rates of overdose and health issues, people with a history of methamphetamine use are at a higher risk of pulmonary damage and pulmonary disease. This is because meth restricts the blood flow causing hypertension.

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Alcohol and drug abuse greatly increases your chances of contracting COVID-19.

It is never too safe to be sorry, and all research suggests that excessive drug and alcohol use put you at a higher risk of contracting the virus. The added health complications of people who struggle with substance abuse, along with a lack of basic personal hygiene can increase the likelihood of fatality and develop the serious symptoms of Covid-19. If you, or a loved one, are suffering from an addiction then do not hesitate to ask for help. We are still offering a wide selection of treatment options to best suit your needs. Take control of your health and begin leading a better life today, you do not have to go through this alone!

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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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Nootropics: A Dangerous New Addiction

Alcohol and addictive substances, such as heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine, have long been a problem here in the United States. A new class of drug, termed: nootropics is adding to those problems. Today, it is estimated that nearly 21 million Americans struggle with a substance abuse problem of some kind. A person struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs was once considered to lack moral fortitude, but now, with a deeper understanding of addiction, doctors and scientists alike now profile addiction as a disease of the brain. Addiction literally causes changes to the functioning of an addicts brain, and sometimes these changes are even permanent.

An addiction to drugs or alcohol means when a person is unable to stop using these mind altering substances even though they usually have experienced some extreme, and often negative, consequences because of their substance abuse problem. This could be anything like going to jail, losing a job, spending all their time and money drinking alcohol or using drugs, not seeing their family, living on the streets, etc. The problem with addiction is that oftentimes it is really hard to stop abusing these substances without the help of a professional or some other type of interference, such as an overdose or a rock bottom experience.

While the use of alcohol and illegal illicit drugs, like marijuana or crack cocaine, have all been around for some time now, there is now a newer category of drugs that have been slowly sweeping across the nation. Unfortunately, not all commonly abused substances are illegal. Like alcohol, things like prescription drugs and over the counter medications are also commonly abused by members of the population. This new class of drugs are referred to as “nootropics”, which can literally be translated from the Greek words meaning mind and bending.

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"Smart drugs" or "cognitive enhancers" are substances that people take to improve an area of brain function.

Nootropics can be illegal substances, prescription drugs, and even over the counter medications. Nootropics are drugs used to improve cognitive brain functions, such as:

The first nootropic was discovered by Romanian scientist Corneliu Giurgea in the 1960s. Named Piracetam, the drug was first intended to lull patients into a gentle slumber, but they quickly realized it had the opposite effects. Patients also reported that it let to substantial improvement to their memories. While the drug is not approved by the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration), it is a prescription drug available in the UK and it is still widely used by students and young professionals alike, despite there being any scientific evidence to support their claims of cognitive improvement.

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According to a study that was recently conducted, there is evidence to suggest that nearly 30% of people living in the United States have used a nootropic at least once in the past year. If you have ever seen the movie “Limitless”, a movie that was produced in 2011 where the main character was introduced to a nootropic drug called NZT-48, then you may be familiar with the phenomena of this newly spreading craze. During the movie, NZT-48 allows him to access and fully utilize all areas of his brain, leading to substantial improvement in his life and career, but by the end of the movie it is clear that the drug also has very harmful side-effects, including dependence and addiction.

Nootropics can be very addictive.

It is true that not all nootropic drugs are considered to be dangerous, but there are still those who have very serious side effects. Part of what makes these drugs so compelling is that they are usually medically prescribed or available for purchase over the counter, so people associate them with having less risk. Another component that increases the danger level of these drugs is what is known as increased tolerance, sometimes the user needs more and more to achieve the desired effect, this can cause them to use more of the same drug, or turn to other more harmful drugs instead. Some of the most dangerous and addictive nootropic drugs are listed as follows;

It is important to note that none of these drugs have ever been shown to increase cognitive abilities, and they have had the most positive impact on someone who already had cognitive impairment problems to begin with.

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However, as I mentioned earlier there are some natural substances known to have nootropic effects with little to no side effects. So, if you must, and you are feeling like you may need a little cognitive enhancement, try drinking the age old cup of coffee for that natural boost. Caffeine has been shown to have a positive effect with a low risk of dependence. Other over the counter substances like L-theanine or ginkgo biloba have also had positive effects reported by users, and they also carry a low risk of dependency. As always, speak with a medical professional before trying any of these safer alternatives as they may react with other medications. As always, if you believe that you or a loved one have developed a dependence on any type of substance, do not worry! We are here to help, do not hesitate to ask!

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What are Tiny Spoons Used for in the Drug World?

Tiny spoons often prove to be a curious find for parents, friends or family members who stumble upon their loved one’s “secret stash” of drug paraphernalia. The internet is littered with questions like: what are these tiny spoons with a bunch of white powder? Or why are the bottoms of all of my spoons black? The simple answer here is drug culture in the United States.

The short answer to these questions is that very small spoons can be placed under the nose for easy, sometimes discreet snorting of drugs through the nasal cavity. Typically, larger, bent metal spoons with burn marks on the bottom is clear evidence that someone has used the spoon to inject drugs via intravenous (IV) needles. We’ll go into more depth on the different types of drug paraphernalia that are commonly used in the culture of the drug world.

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Tiny spoons can be used for snorting a variety of drugs.

Tiny spoons can be used for drugs that can be snorted, like cocaine, meth, ecstasy or even heroin. Come to think of it, even prescription drugs like Xanax, opioids like oxycontin or Adderall can be crushed up and then snorted through the sinuses. People who use drugs often like snorting these substances because the psychoactive effects will begin much faster than when these drugs are ingested in pill form.

While the high might come on quicker from snorting drugs, this usually means the effects will also wear-off sooner. In the case of highly addictive drugs like methamphetamine or cocaine, this could compel the user to immediately seek out more of the substance, creating a vicious cycle which can effectively jump-start a mental or physical addiction to the chemical.

The history of an unlikely piece of drug paraphernalia: The McSpoon

If you really want to find out how old your coke dealer is, ask them if they know what a “McSpoon” is. This item was a staple of McDonald’s restaurants throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s. The long plastic stick with a small scoop on one end and the infamous golden arches on the top was used to stir cream and sugar into your coffee. But quickly people in the drug culture figured out this small plastic spoon was a good way to snort cocaine. It was an easy way to measure cocaine as well. It reportedly held exactly 100 milligrams of cocaine. Throughout the 70’s and 80’s the term “McSpoon” was used by dealers as a slang term for 100mg of cocaine.

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In the 1970’s, it is estimated that a whopping 11 percent of the adult population in the United States was using cocaine regularly. In 1971 President Richard M. Nixon began the war on drugs with his declaration that drug use was “public enemy number one”. In 1979, the DEA unveiled its Model Drug Paraphernalia Act to help end the sale of common drug utensils, like pipes, rolling papers and coke spoons. Many critics thought these drug paraphernalia definitions were vague and could include just about anything, given the right circumstances.

Smoke shops and various other vendors in the US were opposed to these laws and one member mocked the vague, broad overreach of the law. As a mockery he said: “This is the best cocaine spoon in town and it’s free with every cup of coffee at McDonald’s”.  One person took this joke completely the wrong way. The president for the National Federation of Parent’s for Drug-Free Youth actually got the president of McDonald’s to agree to remove the spoon from all of their over 4,500 restaurants.

Spoons of all sizes can be used for injecting drugs with needles.

Another baffling find for someone who is unaware are their spoons being burnt black on the bottom, or simply their spoons will begin disappearing from the kitchen utensil drawer. Where did they go? If you happen to find black, burnt marks on your metal spoons, they have likely been used to mix a concoction of heroin, meth or other types of illicit or prescription drugs that can be injected with a hypodermic needle.

Once the crystal form of the drug is mixed with water and heated up, the liquid will be injected directly into the bloodstream with an IV needle. You may happen to find cotton balls, or Q-Tips, which are used to filter the concoction before injecting. Often a belt, or rubber hosing could be found along with needles and spoons.

Injecting drugs is incredibly detrimental to a person’s health and safety. Using needles to do drugs is arguably the most dangerous method of using drugs. Hypodermic needles can also lead to a full-fledged addiction at a rapid pace. Since the drug is injected directly into the bloodstream, the effects of the drug kick-in nearly instantaneously. This instant high could lead to a physical dependence and a psychological addiction to the substance before the user even realizes it. Often they won’t notice the addiction until they stop or try to quit using.

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Withdrawal symptoms for all of the drugs people use with tiny spoons are extreme and could be dangerous. Meth, cocaine, heroin and all of the other drugs discussed in this article are highly addictive and in many cases they can be deadly.

If you suspect a loved one is using drugs and ultimately risking their lives for a substance you might want to seek help, before you confront them on the issue. If you feel that the time to confront them about their drug use is right away, please help them understand that help is available.

Addiction does not automatically mean that someone is a bad person.

For many family members, co-workers or close friends, it may difficult to fully understand what they are going through. Attaching a negative stigma or personal judgement on someone who is struggling with substance abuse can ultimately discourage their willingness to change. Many addicts do not seek help for their substance use because they fear the negative judgement from their family, friends or the authorities.

Please call us today if you, or someone you love needs help. We are available 24/7 to take your private, confidential call.

We’re here for you:

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What Drugs Produce the Worst Withdrawal Symptoms?

Addiction is a disease of the brain marked by the inability to stop using drugs or alcohol despite the user having experienced severe negative consequences throughout their lives. Many addicts who are still struggling with an active addiction will stop at nothing to continue getting high and consequences like losing their job, problems with relationships, homelessness or extreme poverty are directly related to their substance abuse disorders. There are many reasons why addiction is considered a disease, one of them being that the habitual use of drugs and alcohol chemically alters the structure of the brain. Drugs and alcohol can change the way people handle stressful situations and it can impact the decision making process of a person suffering from this affliction.

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Drugs and alcohol work on the same part of the brain known as the reward center, causing an increase in the release of chemicals like dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for pleasurable feelings that can occur after naturally rewarding experiences like eating a good meal or having sex. Drugs and alcohol can induce these same pleasurable feelings but without the use of a natural reward. The repeated use of drugs and alcohol begins to create new pathways in the brain, causing the user to associate the response as a pleasurable experience, making the brain depend on the extra release of these chemicals. Once the addiction has taken hold, the users tolerance starts to increase as the body forms a chemical dependency, needing more and more of the same substance in order to achieve the same feeling.

When an addict is unable to maintain the same level of usage or tries to quit using drugs or alcohol altogether, they may begin to suffer from what are known as withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms occur when a person who routinely abuses drugs or alcohol suddenly stops. Since drugs and alcohol suppress some of the chemicals naturally produced in the brain while increasing the release of others, there is often a surge of emotions and physical symptoms when the body is no longer receiving the chemical that has now altered its structure. The first stage of withdrawal is known as the acute stage where most of the physical symptoms occur, usually lasting around a few weeks. The second stage of withdrawal is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), since the brain's structure is slowly returning to normal, this is where most of the emotional and psychological dependence symptoms occur.

Due to the dependency on these chemicals, withdrawal symptoms can become very severe, and a medical detox is often required. Most drugs have some withdrawal symptoms associated with them once the user has become addicted but some are more dangerous than others.

Alcohol

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Alcohol can cause severe withdrawal symptoms for both men and women.

Alcohol has a depressive effect on the system, slowing down brain function and changing the way nerves send messages back and forth. When a body becomes adjusted to having alcohol in its system, it has to fight even harder in order to maintain a wakened state. When the user stops drinking alcohol,  the body remains in this heightened state, therefore creating the withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include;

Delirium tremens (DT) are more severe withdrawal symptoms that will affect about 5% of people when withdrawing from alcohol, these include delusions and hallucinations. The worst of these symptoms will occur around 12 hours after taking the last drink while seizures can last for around 2 days. Some of these medical conditions can even cause death while attempting to detox from alcohol.

Heroin

Heroin is a highly addictive opiod that is converted to morphine in the body when used. Heroin, or other opioids like fentanyl or oxycodone, are difficult drugs to quit as the withdrawal symptoms often cause the user to become violently ill, most addicts continue getting high in order to avoid getting sick. Some of the symptoms associated with heroin withdrawal include;

Symptoms from heroin withdrawal can begin anywhere from 6-12 hours of quitting and can last for about a week. Death has been known to occur during detox from heroin or other opioids when other medical issues are present.

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Methamphetamines

Methamphetamines, meth, or crystal meth is a drug with powerful stimulating effects. The effects of meth wear off quickly, causing the user to need more in order to stay high. With increased tolerance, comes withdrawal symptoms, as the body begins to depend on these substances. Symptoms of withdrawal from meth can include;

When a person stops using meth, there is often a “crash” associated with coming down. This can begin around 1-2 days after the person has stopped using and typically reaches its peak around 5 days. Depression is also a trademark of methamphetamine withdrawal.

Quitting “cold turkey” (quitting drugs or alcohol suddenly with no medical or professional help) can be very dangerous. The addiction to drugs or alcohol has chemically altered the way the brain operates and can have very serious side effects when a person suddenly stops using them. Since addiction is a disease with many symptoms, affecting each person in a unique way, it is always suggested that anyone who has formed a chemical dependency to drugs or alcohol seek professional help in order to determine whether a medical detox is necessary.

An addiction treatment center with a medical detox program will allow the user to safely manage and alleviate the heavy detox symptoms that may be experienced when first quitting drugs or alcohol. Many who have tried quitting “cold turkey” on their own have had little to no success as they are improperly managing their symptoms. The purpose of a medical detox is to get the person safely through the acute withdrawal stage, where most of the physical symptoms occur. Maintaining sobriety long term in the post-acute withdrawal stage will require ongoing effort as the psychological symptoms, like depression and learning how to cope without the use of drugs or alcohol, begin to surface. Many inpatient and outpatient drug rehabilitation programs offer the essential tools and education needed in order to lead a life of sobriety.

If you or someone you know are struggling with managing their drug cravings and the withdrawal symptoms associated with the addiction, we are here for you. Even if  you or your loved one are just looking for a place to start, then we are here to help steer you down the right path! Give us a call anytime. We are here for you 24/7:

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