Fighting Fentanyl: The Crisis in Texas Border Communities

The opioid crisis has become an increasingly pressing issue in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 91 people die every day in the country from opioid overdose. Heroin, prescription painkillers, and fentanyl are among the most commonly used drugs in this deadly epidemic. Combining opioids with other drugs, like benzodiazepines, alcohol, cocaine, etc., can significantly increase the risk of overdose and death.

According to the CDC, the states that were hardest hit by the drug overdose epidemic in 2015 were West Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware, Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Louisiana. But the epidemic is now spreading to Texas as well. The latest provisional data from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) shows that there were 883 opioid-related overdoses in Texas in 2020. In 2021 the number increased to 1,672. 

Synthetic opioids (largely illicitly made fentanyl) are the major contributors to these rising opioid-related overdoses. Fentanyl is an opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin, and even a small amount can cause an overdose or death. It is commonly mixed with other illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, meth, and counterfeit pills, which makes them even more powerful. As a result, it has become one of the most dangerous substances on the streets today.

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Fentanyl Flow to the United States

Mexico has replaced China as the dominant source of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs flowing into the US. According to a report from Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking, most pure fentanyl that was seized by the authorities between 2014 and 2019 came from China. But since then, the leading source of fentanyl has shifted from China to Mexico. The report also noted that Mexican drug cartels had established manufacturing capabilities in Mexico, allowing them to produce the drug in large quantities.

The cartels use the US-Mexico border to smuggle fentanyl through ports of entry and illegal border crossings. However, reports by CBP, ICE, and DHS intelligence indicate that fentanyl is primarily smuggled through legal ports of entry and not illegal entry routes. Surprisingly, 91% of drug seizures at checkpoints are from US citizens. Fentanyl producers mostly hire US citizens because it is easier for them to cross the border than noncitizens.

According to the DEA, the drug cartels use major highway routes to transport illicit drugs. They use passenger cars with hidden compartments or intermingled with legitimate goods on tractor-trailers. 

Reports show that more than 90% of fentanyl border seizures happen at legal border crossings and interior vehicle checkpoints. Drug trafficking organizations use official crossing points because it's easier to hide drugs on legal goods than it is to hide a person crossing the border illegally. 

Fentanyl is an incredibly potent drug. This makes it hard to interdict, considering that even a small physical amount can satisfy US demand. Even more troubling is the fact that Mexican drug cartels produce fentanyl in counterfeit tablets with pain management drugs like Xanax and Adderall. This means that some people may unknowingly take fentanyl without realizing it.

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The Impacts of Drug Trafficking on Texas Border Communities

The influx of illicit drugs has put immense pressure on the border communities in San Diego, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. These drugs are affecting public health by increasing overdose deaths and hospitalizations, spreading infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, increasing crime rates in these areas, and fueling substance abuse among youth.

Furthermore, drug trafficking organizations like the famous Sinaloa cartel use violence to maintain control of their smuggling routes and to counter law enforcement. This has increased homicides and other violent crimes in border towns.

The proliferation of illicit drugs has also led to increased corruption as drug traffickers offer bribes to law enforcement and public officials. This has eroded trust in law enforcement officers, undermining their ability to protect the public. Other impacts include strain on healthcare resources, economic losses due to drug-related crimes, and increased addiction.

Texas Department of Health and Human Services Efforts to Fight the Fentanyl Epidemic

The Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC) have recently launched a campaign to help fight the fentanyl crisis in Texas, particularly on its southern border. The campaign, Texas Targeted Opioid Response  (TTOR), uses many forms of traditional media and social media to reach as many people as possible. The campaign focuses on educating people about preventing drug overdose and promoting treatment options for those battling addiction.

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TTOR is a public health initiative operated by HHSC through federal funding from SAMHSA. It aims to reduce overdose deaths, improve access to treatment, and prevent the misuse of opioids. The program also:

Fentanyl is one of the most dangerous drugs on the streets today, and it is smuggled into the US through Mexico's border with Texas. This drug influx negatively affects public health, increases crime rates, and fuels substance abuse. The more the general public can learn about the dangers of fentanyl and how fentanyl is smuggled into the country, the more we can help law enforcement battle this problem. 

Those struggling with addiction should seek help from professional providers like More Than Rehab. More Than Rehab offers comprehensive treatment plans and access to medication-assisted therapy and counseling, which can help individuals overcome their addiction and recover. With the right help and support, those struggling with addiction can have a chance at leading a life of sobriety.

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Why Are Opiates Like Heroin So Addictive? 

Opiates are a class of drugs that include both illegal drugs such as heroin and prescription medications such as morphine and codeine. Made from the poppy plant, these powerful substances work by binding to receptors in the brain, triggering feelings of euphoria and reducing pain.

While opiates have long been used for their therapeutic properties, they are also widely abused for recreational use. In fact, opiates are some of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States, with heroin addiction rates skyrocketing in recent years.

According to the National Survey in Drug Use and Health 2019 report, 10.1 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids. 9.7 million misused prescription pain relievers, and 745,000 people used heroin. Sadly, overdose deaths involving opioids increased from about 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021.

Most of these overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which is now often added to street heroin to increase its potency. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, making it extremely dangerous and highly addictive.

Chasing the Heroin High

The powerful effects of heroin are impossible to resist for many people. Once someone takes the drug for the first time, they quickly become hooked on its potent high and find themselves chasing that feeling over and over again. This process is fueled by different aspects of addiction, like withdrawal symptoms, tolerance, and cravings.

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Withdrawal symptoms set in when a person stops using heroin or reduces their dosage. These symptoms can be both mental and physical and vary in intensity. They can include everything from anxiety and irritability to nausea and diarrhea. In some cases, heroin withdrawal symptoms can be so severe that they lead people back to drug use to get rid of the uncomfortable feelings.

Tolerance occurs when a person needs increasingly larger doses of heroin to get the same effects. As tolerance builds, people start to experience withdrawal symptoms more often, even if they're still using the drug. This can create a never-ending cycle of addiction in which people are constantly chasing that initial high while also trying to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Cravings are another major factor in heroin addiction. These strong desires for the drug can be triggered by anything from seeing drug paraphernalia to hearing someone mention heroin use. Cravings are often so intense that they lead people to use heroin, even when trying to quit.

Ultimately, these factors leave little room for choice or willpower on the part of the person abusing heroin. Instead, they become driven by a compulsion to abuse this dangerous drug in an attempt to recreate that initial euphoric rush again and again.

Understanding Heroin Addiction and How it Happens

At the chemical level, heroin is very similar to opioids like morphine and codeine. Like these drugs, it works by activating opioid receptors in the brain and triggering the release of large amounts of dopamine. This flood of dopamine produces a potent sense of euphoria, which is why so many people are drawn to heroin in the first place.

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However, this intense pleasure also causes addiction to develop and flourish. In the long term, repeated heroin use causes changes in the brain that make it difficult to experience normal feelings of happiness or pleasure without using the drug. This drives people to continue abusing heroin even when they are fully aware of its harmful effects.

In addition, repeated exposure to heroin can lead to tolerance and dependence, both physical and psychological factors that severely complicate the recovery process. Heroin withdrawal issues are persistent and difficult to overcome.

Eventually, one develops an addiction and cannot live without the drug. This is when people start doing things they would never have done before to get their hands on heroin. They may steal from family or friends, lie, cheat, or engage in other illegal activities to get money to buy more drugs. Heroin addiction can happen in less than a week, depending on the frequency of use and purity.

Risk Factors for Heroin Addiction

When most people start abusing opioids like heroin, they assume they're in control and can handle it without getting addicted. But like other mental health issues, substance use disorder can take over a person's life without warning. Some people are more vulnerable to addiction than others, and certain risk factors can make someone more likely to develop a problem with heroin. These include: 

1.    Family history of addiction or mental illness

2.    Childhood trauma or abuse

3.    Previous substance abuse

4.    Mental health disorders like depression or anxiety

5.    A difficult or abusive home life

6.    Peer pressure or a desire to fit in

7.    Access to drugs

8.    Curiosity about drugs

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Treatment is essential if you or someone you love is addicted to opioids like heroin. Opioid addiction is a serious condition that can lead to overdose and death, but there is hope. With the right treatment plan, people can recover from drug addiction and go on to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives.

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Heroin addiction treatment often consists of detox, followed by rehabilitation and therapy. Detox is the first step in treatment and involves getting rid of all traces of the drug from the body. This can be a difficult and uncomfortable process, but it is necessary on the road to recovery and long-term sobriety.

After detox, people usually enter a rehabilitation program. Rehabilitation programs can last for 30 days or more, and they typically involve group and individual therapy, support groups, and other activities designed to help people recover from addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common approach used in heroin addiction treatment, as it can help people change the thoughts and behaviors that lead to drug abuse. 

Patients with dual diagnosis, meaning they suffer from both addiction and another mental health disorder, may need to receive treatment for both conditions at the same time. This is because treating one condition without the other can often make relapse prevention difficult.

Heroin is an extremely addictive drug. If you or someone close is struggling with a heroin addiction, More Than Rehab is always there to help. Give us a call. We are available 24/7, 365 days a year.

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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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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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East Texas Has an Opioid Problem, From Prescription

If you think that the drug abuse trend in the great state of Texas has anything to do with its closeness to the Mexican border, you are right. Texas shares a 1,254-mile border with Mexico, which is a big factor in the state's drug problem, especially with the illegal drug heroin.

According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, Texas Drug Threat Assessment, this border area is widely used by the cartels to smuggle illicit substances to the United States. That’s because most of is open, including state parks and this makes it difficult to constantly be monitored by enforcement agencies.

Large quantities of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and meth are trafficked to the country through the border. Federal-wide Drug Seizure System (FDSS) research shows that the amount of drugs seized by officers in the state – most confiscated near or at the US-Mexico border – consistently surpasses that of any other region in the United States

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But despite the law enforcement effort, cartels still find creative ways of ferrying the drugs across the border, whether it’s through roads, air, rail, water, or underground tunnels. And while smuggling happens anywhere across the border, commercial smuggling is prevalent in the Gulf of Mexico and the Rio Grande River.

Prescription opioids in East Texas

Illicit substances aren’t the only drug problem in Texas. The seemingly safe prescription medicines are also frequently abused and can cause serious issues, like overdose and death. In 2018, there were 14,975 deaths involving prescription opioids in Texas, according to the National Institute on Drug Use. Although the national prescription opioid-involved death rates decreased by nearly 7% from 2018 to 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that more than 70% of the 70,630 deaths in 2019 involved opioids.

Prescription drugs produce feelings of calmness and euphoria when taken in large doses. And while they aren’t meant to be taken this way, people may become tolerant over time and begin taking larger doses to feel the effect. This is part of the reason Texas law limits opioid prescriptions for acute pain to 10 days – with no refills allowed. A separate law also mandates physicians to check a state database to track whether patients with moderate to severe pain have already gotten the drugs elsewhere.

The regional needs assessment showed that the lifetime use rates for codeine syrup, Adderall, and benzodiazepines in the south- and northeast Texas were 15.5%, 4.4%, and 4.1%, respectively. Additionally, there were 7 prescriptions per 10 people in northeast Texas compared to 5.2 per 10 people statewide, according to the assessment.

Examples of commonly abused prescription drugs in East Texas include:

Misuse of prescription medicines is widespread, especially among adults and teens. Xanax misuse is particularly prevalent for teens. Houston, which lies in Southeast Texas, near the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston, is a source city for bulk quantities of pain medicines. Most of the supply comes from diverse activities at Houston’s many illegal pill mills, organized pharmacy theft, and prescription fraud.

Counterfeit pill production

The rise of counterfeit pill production makes the prescription drug situation even worse. Fake Xanax and hydrocodone pills containing fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are increasingly being seized. These impure drugs can have severe side effects and lead to overdose and death in worse cases. In fact, reports show that misused opioids accounted for more deaths than any other drugs save for cocaine.

According to the DEA, fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills remain a leading cause of overdose deaths in East Texas and across the country. As cheap, potent fentanyl infiltrates the heroin markets, the drug will augment and supplant white powder heroin in different markets.

Texas is in the top five states for a total number of opioid-related deaths. It also has the second-highest opioid abuse-related health care costs, amounting to over $1.9 billion, according to the City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s overview. Hundreds of people die of overdose every day, and deaths involving schedule II drugs have outpaced those of heroin and cocaine combined since 2002. The crisis has led several East Texas counties, like Upshur, Titus, and Bowie, to hold drug manufacturers like Pfizer Inc., Purdue Pharma, and Johnson & Johnson responsible for the economic burden of opioid addiction.

Opioid addiction

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Opioids such as fentanyl, heroin, and pain medications are highly addictive because they activate powerful reward centers in the brain. These drugs activate opioid receptors on cells situated in many areas of the spinal cord, brain, and other body organs, particularly those involved in feelings of pleasure and pain. When they attach to these receptors, they block pain signals and flood the body with dopamine. This effect can reinforce the act of using the drug, making one want to repeat the experience.

Long-term use of opioids can cause some people to develop tolerance. In this case, they’ll need higher and more frequent doses to achieve the desired effect. But this causes neurons to adapt so that they only work normally when the drug is present. The absence of the drug causes withdrawal symptoms, some of which are life-threatening. At this point, one is likely to rely on the drug to keep these symptoms at bay.

Treating opioid addiction

Chronic pain patients who develop opioid addiction need medical support to quit using the drugs. There are many inpatient and outpatient facilities in Trinity, Newton, Polk, Port Arthur, Tyler, Texas, etc., dedicated to treating people with addiction. Other programs, like the Deep East Texas Opioid Response Program, can also help with addiction care. Many of these programs use medications like buprenorphine or methadone to help individuals get off of opioids. In cases of opioid overdose, patients are given Naltrexone to flush out receptors to reverse the overdose.

Take advantage of the many resources available in the region to ensure you or your loved one is free from opioid addiction. The East Texas Council on Addiction and Drug Abuse is one such resource that acts as the first step for those seeking help. But you can also contact us today to learn how we can help you get off drugs and lead a clean, healthy life.

What is the 27 Club?

The 27 Club is a term that was coined after it became apparent that many famous people were dying at the young age of 27. These untimely deaths have, over the years, become a cultural phenomenon. In turn, there are lots of theories and cult-related stories thrown around as people try to find a link between these occurrences.

But is the famous 27 Club nothing but stories about high-ranking superstars who mysteriously died at 27, an age when so much was ahead of them?

Well, it cannot be a coincidence that some of the biggest names in art and music die at 27, or is it?

We look at the famous superstars who are members of the 27 Club and find the defining link of what has led to these early deaths.

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Famous Members of the 27 Club

While the 27 Club is an unofficial club as members do not have a common plan or register at an early date, it has brought together a remarkable team of superstars. Every member of this club is a legend, as they managed to attract so much attention and following while still alive. Even in death, they have continued to influence the masses as they were remarkable in their artistry and music.

Still, they all died in remarkably tragic coincidences that can no longer be ignored. Here are some of the top names in the 27 Club and an overview of what resulted in their deaths:

1.       Kurt Cobain

Rock n’ Roll has had its fair share of superstars who commanded a movement, and Kurt Cobain ranks with the greatest. Born on 20th February 1967, Kurt Cobain was the leader of the rock band Nirvana. He was responsible for writing the songs that made them a huge success. However, this success seemed to be the fading star that led Cobain to become more involved with drugs, a behavior he had picked up as a teenager.

A highlight that things were getting out of hand was when he was investigated alongside his wife, Courtney Love, for heroin abuse. Unfortunately, this was not the last of it, as Kurt Cobain was also struggling with depression. When he could no longer take it, he attempted suicide on March 4th, 1994 but survived. A month later, on April 5th, 1994, at the age of 27, Kurt Cobain successfully committed suicide after getting high on heroin.

It is after the death of Kurt Cobain that officially the term 27 Club came to be with his mother reportedly saying, “Now he’s gone and joined that stupid club. I told him not to join that stupid club.”

2.       Kristen Pfaff

The death of Kurt Cobain was supposed to mark a turning point for artists and musicians who died early from drugs, but this was never to be. Just two months after the death of Kurt Cobain, Kristen Pfaff, a member of Hole (Courtney Love’s band), died of a heroin overdose. She was only 27 and was among the mourners at Kurt Cobain’s Seattle memorial.

3.       Brian Jones

The official cause of death for Brian Jones at the age of 27 was reported as drowning in a swimming pool. Nevertheless, this does not sum up what contributed to such a young and talented leader of the Rolling Stones to such a tragic death. A behind-the-scenes evaluation reveals that Brian Jones had used a mix of alcohol and drugs before diving into his swimming pool.

4.       Jim Morrison

Born on July 3rd, 1971, Jim Morrison was a true talent who will forever be remembered as the frontman of the rock band, The Doors. While there was no question about how talented Morrison was, he had a serious alcohol and drug abuse problem.

It became such a big problem that he would show up for shows late, and his onstage performance became raucous. All this led to another tragedy for the Rock n’ Roll fraternity as in July 1971, Jim Morrison died of a drug-induced heart failure caused by a heroin overdose.

5.       Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin got famous by taking over the San Francisco music scene with her bluesy vocals during the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Sadly, even as her career rocketed and she blessed the music world with one hit after another, she needed some love. For Janis Joplin, her place of solace was in heroin and alcohol, a behavior that led to her addiction problem.

One lonely night while in her hotel room, she decided to inject herself with some heroin before going to the lobby for a pack of cigarettes. Janis Joplin would not live to use her packet as she hit her face on the table and fell to the floor.

This was another case of a heroin overdose to break down such great talent at the age of 27. For Janis, her failure to show up for a recording session is what led to questions on her whereabouts, only to be found dead on a hotel floor.

6.       Jimi Hendrix

Tragedy always seems to follow tragedy, and just three weeks before the death of Janis Joplin, the Rock n’ Roll world lost Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was rightfully described as one of the greatest instrumentalists in rock music, and he defied odds to become a superstar. Since he was left-handed, he learned to play the guitar upside down and, because of his outstanding talent, was the highest-paid musician at Woodstock.

Tragically, Jimi Hendrix, like many others before him, died early from drugs. As a superstar who had gotten used to taking drugs indiscriminately, it was only a matter of time before he messed up. On the 18th of September 1970, while at his girlfriend’s place, he took nine Vesparax sleeping pills. This was 18 times the recommended dose, and while his girlfriend found him unconscious, the paramedic could not save him.

7.       Rudy Lewis

Another sad day for the music fraternity was on May 20, 1964, when the world lost Rudy Lewis, the R&B singer for the drifters. At the peak of 27, Rudy Lewis, known for his mellow voice, was found dead in his Harlem hotel room. The cause of death was a suspected drug overdose leaving his fans “On Broadway,” just like his hit title.

8.       Ronald McKernan

Ronald McKernan, popularly known as ‘Pigpen,’ was among the founders of the Grateful Dead. Just like his bandmates, Ron did not escape from the allure of drugs and alcohol. While his mates preferred psychedelic drugs, he was a heavy drinker who first picked a bottle at the age of 12.

By 1970, Ronald McKernan was battling liver cirrhosis, and this escalated to a point he could no longer tour by 1972. In March 1973, he died of an internal hemorrhage and was found two days later by his landlady.

9.       Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat is popular as a graphic artist who defied the rules to create his own and thrive. The self-taught had a way of creating colorful art often juxtaposed with words. As a neo-expressionist artist, Basquiat attracted quite a following and became a celebrity whose every move was closely monitored.

Unfortunately, this bright star shining was cut short by being a temperamental artist and the excessive use of drugs. At one time he even claimed that he could use up to 100 bags of heroin in a day. The end was tragic for Jean-Michel as he died of a heroin overdose in August 1988 at his Manhattan studio.

10.  Amy Winehouse

Finally, a list of members of the 27 Club would be incomplete without the mention of Amy Winehouse. The British singer was a darling to many, thanks to her powerful voice and unique style of singing. The only hurdle to this extraordinary story was that the more she became popular, the more she got deeper into drug and alcohol addiction.

In July 2011, Amy Winehouse was found dead at her apartment, and the cause of death was alcohol poisoning. This was the closing curtain for the singer who had even had short stints at rehabs trying to quit alcohol and drugs. A total of three empty bottles were found at her apartment, and this marked yet another entry into the 27 Club.

Why so young?

Fame has always been known to overwhelm people. The sudden shift from a regular lifestyle into one where your actions are of interest to hundreds of thousands can easily become burdening. This has been the reason why many young people who get famous tend to pick up reckless behavior. The worst of these behaviors, alcohol and drug abuse among celebrities, has led to the tragic 27 Club.

A study released by the British Medical Journal in 2011 sought to understand whether 27 is a dangerous age for celebrities/musicians. This was in the hindsight of so much talk about the 27 Club, with many people concluding that it is the high-risk age when superstars give in to the negative aspects of their fame.

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But, the study did not prove this theory, as it found out that there was no peak in the risk of death for musicians at the age of 27. This means that the musicians who died were only affected by attributes affecting their lifestyle, in this case, alcohol and drug abuse.

The 27 Club is not a coincidence or a conspiracy.

For most superstars who are in the 27 Club, it is always evident that they died early from drugs and alcohol. These are not just numbers that affect those who are in art and music, but a concern of public health that needs instant attention. Overly, as more teenagers and young people get more access to drugs and become addicted, living past 27 becomes too challenging as opioid-involved overdose deaths become a reality.

Luckily, all these tragic stories can be made to stop by taking the right action today. Whether you are a celebrity or a young person still working on becoming a superstar, you can live a drug-free life. More Than Rehab is here to help you have a purposeful life, regardless of the form of addiction you are battling. Give us a call and let us help you walk a path free from the bondage of drugs and alcohol addiction.

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How Chronic Pain Can Lead to Drug Abuse

Pain is a normal part of life. It is our body’s reaction to illness or injury – a warning that something is wrong. Usually, pain lessens as soon as the body recovers. The hurting stops and things go back to normal. But this doesn’t happen all the time. Not when it’s chronic pain.

Chronic pain is a persistent pain that’s ongoing and lasts longer than three months. It lingers on even after the illness or injury has gone away. Chronic pain can limit mobility and reduce strength, endurance, and flexibility. This may make it hard to get through daily activities and tasks.

Chronic pain may last for months or even years. It may feel dull or sharp, causing an aching or burning sensation in affected areas. The pain may be intermittent, steady, or on and off. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 20.4% of adults in the US had chronic pain in 2019.

Currently, it’s the leading cause of long-term disability in the country, affecting about 100 million Americans. Studies show 1 in 4 people with chronic pain will develop chronic pain syndrome (CPS). This occurs when they experience mental health issues like anxiety and depression, on top of the pain.

Chronic pain symptoms

Chronic pain, like other long-term health issues, leads to complications beyond the physical symptoms. It causes depression, feelings of guilt, poor sleep, loss of interest in sex, suicidal thoughts, exhaustion, stress, and anxiety. The consistent pain makes it hard for one to manage tasks, keep up with work or attend a social gathering. This leads to problems with relationships and work. Some studies suggest that the severity of these issues is directly proportional to the pain.

How chronic pain leads to addiction:

Chronic pain intensifies mental health issues that cause addiction

Many studies show a strong link between chronic pain and mental health issues. In one of these studies 10-87% of chronic patients had depressive and anxiety symptoms. Personality disorders are also common among these types of patients. Chronic pain and mental health disorders are linked because they both share neural pathways, making it hard for the brain to distinguish them.

In addition, chronic pain has some profound social and behavioral effects that feed into a mental health condition. Prolonged chronic pain causes social isolation that intensifies issues like anxiety and depression. That’s where addiction comes in.

Experts are learning more and more about the strong link between mental health issues and addiction. According to NIDA, people who develop mental disorders are also diagnosed with substance use disorders. Another report by the National Bureau of Economic Research says that mental issues are responsible for the consumption of the following: 40% of cigarettes, 44% of cocaine, and 38% of alcohol.

Self-medication is by far the most common culprit behind most dual diagnoses. For example, a chronic pain patient with low energy takes crystal meth to increase their drive to get things done. Meth addiction can happen the first time it’s used. To make things worse, the drug can cause horrible side effects on the body. Meth mouth is one of the most common physical side effects of meth use.

Treatment involves prescription opioids that can be highly addictive

Prescription opioids are one of the common drugs that doctors prescribe for chronic pain issues. Since the early 1990s, doctors have been prescribing opioid painkillers like morphine, hydrocodone, codeine, and oxycodone for pain problems. These medicines manage pain well and can improve quality of life when used correctly. But unfortunately, anyone who uses opioids is at risk of developing an addiction.

Short-term use of opioid pain relievers rarely causes addiction. However, when a patient takes them for a long time (or incorrectly), they are likely to abuse the drug, develop tolerance and end up with addiction.

Opioids are highly addictive. They make the body and brain believe that the drug is necessary for survival. So the chronic pain patient will want to keep taking the medication. But as they develop a tolerance to the prescribed dose, they may find that they need even more medication to relieve the pain. This may lead to dependence.

This is why patients have to adhere to their doctor’s recommendations at all times. Opioids are not only addictive but also potentially life-threatening. On average, opioid overdoses account for 90 deaths in America every day.  According to WHO, 70% of drug use deaths are opioid-related – with over 30% of these deaths arising from an overdose.

Withdrawal symptoms cause patients to continue using drugs

Many chronic pain patients become dependent on prescription opioids to avoid pain. But when one takes the medication for a long time, they become tolerant. Over time, the body needs more drugs to achieve the same effect. Extended use alters the way neural pathways work in the brain. And these neurons start depending on the drug to function.

As a result, the patient becomes physically sick when they stop using opioid medication. So, they use more drugs to avoid pain and withdrawal symptoms.

Patients try out alternative drugs to relieve pain

Prescription opioids are hard to obtain. Some patients may opt for alternative drugs that are cheaper and easily accessible – like morphine and heroin. Research suggests that misuse of opioid pain medicines like Vicodin and OxyContin may open the door for heroin use.

According to NIH, about 4-6% of those who misuse opioid medicines switch to heroin. But a staggering 80% of those who use heroin, begin by misusing prescription opioids.

Managing chronic pain

Prescription opioids are often the last resort for chronic pain management among non-cancer patients. Most patients benefit from psychological treatments, exercises, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and NSAIDs. But in cases where opioid medications have to be prescribed, it is crucial that they work closely with their doctor to prevent it leading to drug abuse.

Patients who end up with drug use issues will benefit from addiction treatment. Treatment centers have qualified health care professionals who help address behavioral addictions.  The best ones adhere to the guidance of the American Society of Addiction Medicine when treating co-occurring addiction and chronic pain issues.