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 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.

Texas is Dealing with Even More Fentanyl Problems

Fentanyl is the newest drug to blame for the growing opioid epidemic in Texas. This might sound odd, considering the drug is medically approved and is often prescribed by doctors. However, statistics show deaths involve fentanyl abuse more now than ever before in the state of Texas

The misuse of opioids, including fentanyl, heroin, and prescription opioids, has reached epidemic proportions in the US, leading to over 69,710 overdose deaths in 2020. This is according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Texas, in particular, has experienced an upsurge in overdose deaths, accounting for over 3,000 deaths in 2020. Moreover, trends in opioid abuse in the state point to worsening problems in the coming years.

What is fentanyl?

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Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid used to treat chronic severe pain or severe pain following surgery. It is a Schedule II drug like morphine, only about 50-100 times more potent. When used under doctor’s supervision, fentanyl has legitimate medical use. However, some people use fentanyl at unprescribed levels, exposing themselves to many issues, like tolerance and addiction.

Fentanyl is highly addictive due to its potency. It’s therefore common for those taking prescription fentanyl to experience dependence that’s characterized by withdrawal symptoms upon stopping. Symptoms like sleep issues, muscle and bone pain, cold flashes, vomiting, diarrhea, and severe cravings are uncomfortable and make it hard for people to stop taking fentanyl.

When these people can no longer access prescription fentanyl, they may turn to the streets for options. Unless they enroll in a treatment programthey might not be able to pull themselves out of the hole. Alcohol or drug addictions are best treated by professionals.

On the streets, fentanyl has nicknames like:

Illegal fentanyl is available in different forms, including nasal sprays, powder, pressed pill, eyedroppers, and dropped onto blotter paper. The risks of drug overdose on fentanyl than other opioids are extremely high due to its potency.

In fact, it is now the number one cause of drug overdose deaths. And to worsen the situation, illegal manufacturers often cut fentanyl into other opioids making it even more potent. Examples of these drugs include heroin and cocaine. The lack of quality control on illegal drug production adds another layer of danger.

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Fentanyl epidemic in Texas

Many drugs are sold on the streets of Texas, but none is doing as much damage as fentanyl. According to statistics, the drug has led to a significant increase in opioid overdoses in recent years. In 2020, drug overdose deaths rose to 93,000 and were mostly fueled by the rise of fentanyl.

The scary part is that this year, the Texas Department of Public Safety seized enough fentanyl to kill everyone in California and Texas combined– a 950% rise compared to last year. Most fentanyl enters Texas through the southern border.

Gov. Greg Abbott believes that President Biden’s border policies are the reason behind Texas’s fentanyl problem that begun in 2020 but drastically increased in the first four months of 2021. According to Abbott, people crossing the border come with things that are not visible to the public yet carry deadly danger.

“2mg of Fentanyl has the power to take a life,” read Gov. Abbott’s tweet. “This year, @TxDPS has seized 95lbs of Fentanyl. That’s 21.5M lethal doses. Biden’s deadly border policies are being felt in communities throughout TX and the country. DPS & @TexasGuard are working on getting these drugs off the streets.”

Organizations that traffic fentanyl typically distribute by kilogram. A Kg of fentanyl can kill up to 500,000 people. Sadly, most people who take street drugs have no idea they contain fentanyl. And even those who know they’re taking fentanyl still have no idea that it has a lethal dose.

According to the Center for Disease Control, synthetic opioids are the main culprits behind overdose deaths in Texas and the country at large, rising 38.4% during 12 month period that ends May 2020. In this period, the DEA reports:

Pandemic and fentanyl overdose deaths

The proximity to the border is not the only factor that fuels fentanyl use in Texas. Different sources say there has been evidence of increased fentanyl use during the pandemic. The disruption of the supply chain forced people to turn to drugs they weren’t familiar with. And the stay-at-home measures meant more people were taking drugs in isolation. Other risk factors for fentanyl addiction include:

Where is the fentanyl coming from?

Most of the illegal drugs that come into the US are cultivated in poppy fields in Mexico. They are then distributed by cartels the DEA describes as the greatest drug traffic threat to the US. These cartels smuggle fentanyl and other drugs in passenger and commercial vehicles and through underground tunnels.

Socioeconomic consequences of fentanyl use

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The fentanyl epidemic is having devastating effects on other aspects of public health. It has led to high rates of HIV, hepatitis C, and other illnesses, mostly because of shared syringes. There are also more cases of pregnant mothers passing opioid dependency on their unborn children.

study performed by HHS researchers revealed that cases of neonatal withdrawal symptoms experienced by newborns exposed to opioids while in the womb skyrocketed to over 80% between 2010 and 2017. Not only that. There’s a good chance that the opioid crisis caused an upsurge in the number of children in foster care.

Besides, those struggling with addiction may suffer a job loss or even end up with legal troubles. Addiction is expensive and often puts a strain on family and friends. After all, only those who care about the patient will provide resources to see one through treatment. In some cases, it’s also the close relations that take the most financial heat – like when the person struggling with addiction spends lots of money or they max out the credit in their pursuit to use.

Treating fentanyl addiction

Fentanyl is one of the strongest opioids and can quickly lead to addiction. It is therefore, crucial to know the risk factors and warning signs of fentanyl addiction. Awareness can help prevent overdose and related deaths and encourage one to get help.

Facilities offering treatment for drug addiction exist to help those who end up with addiction regain control of their lives. There are also support groups to help one stay on the path to long-term recovery.

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.

How To Spot A Possible Heroin User

Heroin is an extremely dangerous and addictive illicit drug. It can come in many forms and goes by many different names but it often comes in a fine white, brown, or black powder. Another popular form of heroin is black tar heroin, and as the name implies, it looks like black tar and is sticky and gooey. Heroin is an opioid that was originally derived from the seeds of the poppy plant. It has been used by millions across the globe for some time now but it has recently grown in popularity in America, particularly in the last decade. According to data collected by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 170,000 began using heroin for the first time in 2016, a number that had doubled since 2006. Even worse, data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2018 shows that 128 people die in the United States every day from an overdose on opioids.

A possible heroin user will likely have an addiction that is difficult to treat

An addiction to heroin can be particularly difficult to overcome, especially considering it often leads to death via unwanted overdoses. A lot of times heroin on the street is cut with harmful chemicals, including substances like fentanyl. Unfortunately, fentanyl has become a favorite among dealers as it is particularly powerful, around 100 times stronger than morphine, and it’s also cheap. This is part of the reason as to why there are so many overdoses associated with heroin and the use of other opioids. That is why it is extremely important to get help for your loved one if you believe they might be suffering from a heroin addiction or other type of substance use disorder. If you are unsure whether or not they are a possible heroin user, then here are some tell-tale signs that they are using heroin.

How to spot a possible heroin user:

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Of course, these are just a few of the signs that someone you know may be a potential heroin user. They may also display things like slurred speech, memory problems and a reduced sense of pain. Their pupils may appear constricted and they may also have a constant runny nose or nose sores if they are prone to snorting the substance. If you are still unsure, then please reach out to us for help! We have many trained professionals with years of experience on treating, managing, and helping people cope with heroin use and other addictions. We have the tools necessary to help begin a successful road to a lifetime of healthy sobriety. We hope that your loved one gets the help that they need and we hope to hear from you soon!

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Do Drug Implants Like Naltrexone Really Work?

Drug and alcohol addiction has been around for centuries and it has increasingly become a major issue in the United States. At first, people who suffered from substance abuse problems were considered degenerates and were often blamed for not having enough self-control to get sober and stop abusing drugs or alcohol. Today, thanks to medical science and research, our understanding of substance abuse problems and drug addiction is much farther advanced. We have developed evidence based treatments for addiction such as drug implants, like Naltrexone and others that greatly increase the chances of a successful recovery.

The majority of respected health professionals agree that addiction is a disease that is often characterized by the inability to stop using drugs or alcohol despite having suffered negative consequences in the past. To those who do not know, there is more to addiction than originally meets the eye.

Addiction is a treatable disease

For decades, there are those who have understood that addiction is a disease. Eventually, this understanding is what led to the creation of 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). As more and more people gained knowledge about the disease of addiction, other more intense forms of treatment such as inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs began to develop.

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While drug addiction and substance abuse problems have been around for quite some time now, there is a growing concern for the treatment of the current opioid epidemic in our country. For many diseases, there is no one-size fits all treatment, the same can be said with drug and alcohol addiction. What works for some, may not work for others. That is why they continue to develop new methods of treatment for this life-changing disease.

How drug implants like Naltrexone help people recover from addiction

It is estimated that nearly 128 people die each day from an opioid addiction and nearly 15 million adults suffer from alcoholism in the United States alone. For many, the chance to recover is slim. One example of how researchers and medical professionals are trying to provide more effective treatment for the addiction to opioid drugs such as morphine and heroin, as well as for the use of alcohol, are drug implants like the commonly used Naltrexone implant. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids and alcohol at the receptor level, which helps to prevent abuse, curb relapse, and sustain recovery from an opioid addiction and alcoholism.

Over time, repeated use of addictive substances will change the structure and function of the brain. Most drugs target an area of the brain known as the reward center, releasing chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters that illicit a feel-good response. This is to help ensure that desired actions, usually necessary for survival, get repeated again, such as eating good food or having sex. After each use, the brain adapts. Eventually, the brain needs more and more of the substance in order to feel the same effects. Not only will they begin to need more and more of the same drug, but the excess release of these chemical messengers will essentially trick the brain into believing that it needs this substance in order to survive. It will also associate people, places, or things with this action that it believes is necessary for survival, which can trigger cravings for the drug, even months or years after they have gotten sober. All of these reasons combined is why it is extremely difficult for some people to get and stay sober.

For opioid related drugs specifically, they target and bind to pain receptors, blocking any sensation someone might feel from pain. Opioid antagonists, as mentioned earlier, block the effects of opioids at the receptor level. The effects of alcohol are also blocked at the opioid receptor sites, helping to reduce the liking and craving of both substances. There are several other treatment methods that are predecessors to Naltrexone implants. Those are drugs such as oral Naltrexone, or methadone, both of which are effective for the treatment of opioid addiction and alcoholism. However, part of the problem with oral opioid antagonists is maintaining consistency among users who need to take it every day, or as prescribed.

In 1984, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs like Naltrexone for the treatment of opioid addiction and later in 1994 for alcoholism. While proven to be extremely effective, for patients who are recovering from opioid addiction or alcoholism, taking their daily medication, medication adherence or compliance, is a real struggle and can be a huge setback to recovery. To help solve this problem, scientists and medical professionals have begun using and developing drug implants. For instance, there are several widely regarded studies that show the effectiveness of Naltrexone implants and thousands of treatment facilities have begun utilizing it as a treatment method.

What are Naltrexone implants? How do they work?

Naltrexone implants are typically small medication pellets that get planted beneath the skin, slowly releasing medication usually lasting anywhere between 2-6 months. Thus, eliminating the need to take a daily medication. This has significantly increased the effectiveness of daily medication treatment methods for opioid addiction and

alcoholism.  For instance, one study found that Naltrexone implants reduced the risk of opioid related death by nearly 50%. Additionally, when Naltrexone implant treatment is combined with other modes of treatment such as psychotherapy, it has been shown to be far more effective than just one mode of treatment alone.

The Naltrexone implant may be right for you if you have struggled with cravings, have had relapses in the past, or have had any difficulty with taking medication every day. Naltrexone has been proven to be an effective treatment for opioid addiction and alcoholism for many years, and the implant helps eliminate the need to take medication daily. This has saved many patients from having to remember to take their medication every day, or from having to find the time to get to the clinic every day in order to receive treatment.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to opioids or alcohol, let our family of staff at More Than Rehab help you get treatment today! We understand what it’s like to suffer from an addiction and we wish nothing more than to help show you the tools to lead a healthy and sober life! Please, reach out to us today.

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What is the Difference Between Norco, Heroin, and Fentanyl?

Drug and alcohol addiction is a very serious problem in our country today, even more so with the current pandemic that has struck the world. It is estimated that nearly 21 million Americans struggle with a substance abuse problem of some kind. The current Covid-19 pandemic has recently caused a lot of issues with substance use, including devastating impacts to sobriety and recovery for many people. However, what many may not know is that there is an epidemic that has been hitting our country pretty hard for several years and that is the opioid crisis. The opioid crisis, also known as the opioid epidemic, is in part to the overprescribing of addictive painkillers, like Norco that eventually lead to people buying drugs on the street, such as heroin, fentanyl, or even other prescription drugs. This is especially true if they are no longer able to obtain them through legal channels, like a prescription from their doctor.

Opioids are a class of drugs that are naturally found in the opium poppy plant and target the opioid receptors in the brain to produce effects very similar to morphine. Many opioid medications work by blocking pain signals to the brain. Even though there are many different opioids, Norcos, heroin, and fentanyl are some of the most popular substances that are commonly abused by people who suffer from an addiction or substance abuse problem. With so many different opioid drugs on the market, it is easy to be confused about the differences between them, so here is a brief explanation of Norcos, heroin, and fentanyl.

Norco prescription painkillers are very addictive

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Norco is a prescription painkiller used to treat moderate to severe pain but can also become very addictive. Norcos are made with a combination of acetaminophen (over the counter pain reliever) and hydrocodone (a synthetic opioid). Like many opioid painkillers, this drug works by altering the perception of pain by targeting certain opioid receptors in the brain. Norcos are also very similar to another prescription painkiller known as Vicodin, the only difference between them is the ratio of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Both of these prescription painkillers are regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and are considered a Schedule II drug.

The danger with Norco or Vicodin is the potential to become addictive if there is chronic or persistent pain involved. Over time, people are likely to develop a tolerance and physical dependence to the drug, needing to take more and more each time to feel the same effects. A lot of time this leads people to trying “harder” drugs in order to achieve the desired effects, or even to avoid the painful withdrawal symptoms. Some common side effects of Norco are:

Heroin addiction can result from a dependence on prescription painkillers

Heroin is a highly dangerous and illicit substance. It is derived from morphine, which is made from the naturally occurring opioid poppy plant. Heroin can come in many different forms, the most common are in the form of white powder, brown powder, or a sticky black substance known as black tar heroin. The danger with heroin is that it is made illegally with no real way to test the strength of the product, unlike Norcos which come highly regulated. This has the potential to cause a lot more overdoses and a higher chance of addiction as most of the time the substance is a lot stronger than prescription painkillers.

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Some people eventually turn to abusing heroin after their dependence to painkillers has grown strong enough to the point where they need something else in order to feel the desired effect. Heroin is also classified as a schedule I drug, meaning that there is no valid medical purpose for the substance. A lot of times this drug is cut or mixed with other dangerous and cheaper chemicals in order to maximize profits and cut costs for the dealer. Some common side effects of heroin include:

The dangers of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a powerful, dangerous, and highly addictive opioid painkiller. It is very similar to morphine but is estimated to be anywhere around 50-100 times stronger, making this one of the most powerful opioid substances on the market. The effects of fentanyl are activated at a much lower level than other opioids, making this an extreme danger to those who are not aware of its strength. When people use this drug nonmedically, they are at a very high risk of overdose because it can be anywhere from 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Unfortunately, many dealers dilute their heroin with fentanyl in order to increase their drug’s potency and their own profits. This is because it takes very little to produce the same effects as other drugs. The problem with that is unsuspecting users may ingest more fentanyl than intended because they are not expecting to ingest this dangerous chemical. Dealers have even been known to use fentanyl in MDMA, cocaine, and methamphetamine, causing a lot of unfortunate and unintended overdoses that would not have happened if it weren't for fentanyl unknowingly being there. Some common side effects of this dangerous chemical are:

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All of these drugs listed above are very dangerous and addictive. They can all destroy your life if you let it. We know that there are times when you need to take painkillers, but that doesn't mean you have to end up addicted to the high for the rest of your life.

If you or a loved one are struggling with any sort of opioid addiction, or an addiction to any other drugs or alcohol, then we are here to help! We know how difficult that getting off of drugs can be, but your comfort is our main concern. We are medically-equipped to take care of all of your needs during and after detox. We want to help show you the way to a happy, healthy life without drugs or alcohol.

Call us today at More Than Rehab so we can start a personalized plan just for you:

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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!

888-249-2191

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!

(888) 249-2191

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:

(888) 249-2191

Crystal Meth is Making a Worrisome Comeback in Texas

While the news headlines are dominated by the opioid epidemic ravaging the United States, crystal meth is making a relatively silent, but deadly return. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of overdose deaths for methamphetamine more than tripled from 2011 to 2016 and that number keeps growing to this day. This is partly due to the increase of cheap, highly potent methamphetamine coming over the US/Mexico border. With the national attention and focus on opioids by public health officials, politicians and government agencies, meth has quietly made a comeback in the US. This likely will not change course, without the proper resources and greater public awareness of the nation’s problems associated with crystal meth.

When drug overdoses began to take more American lives each year than gun violence or car accidents, the attention (and funding) from federal, state and local governments was largely focused on prescription and illicit opioids. The good news is that these efforts may actually be working.

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New provisional CDC data shows that drug overdose deaths fell significantly in 2018. This is the first decrease in decades. From the data, it appears that government efforts to prevent doctors from over-prescribing, while making it easier for first-responders to carry naloxone (a life-saving opioid-antagonist) undoubtedly have helped make a real difference in the fight to curb drug overdose deaths.

With prescription painkiller abuse on the decline, drug overdose deaths from crystal meth and fentanyl are the new problem in the United States.

Unlike illicit and prescription opiates, methamphetamine addiction does not have any FDA-approved medications to assist in treatment and rehabilitation efforts. Drugs like buprenorphine, or Suboxone are available to help ease the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. These evidence-based, medication-assisted treatments (MAT) can also help reduce the likelihood for relapse later in recovery. By blocking opioid receptors in the brain, MATs are valuable tools for addiction treatment programs. These medications have shown a verifiable success rate in patients who are struggling with an addiction to opiates.

Meth on the other hand, can cause equally painful and severe withdrawal symptoms. Currently there are no medications available to ease the withdrawal symptoms associated with a physical or psychological chemical dependency to methamphetamine. Detox and treatment for an addiction to methamphetamine can therefore be quite difficult for most patients.

Another problem with the relative lack of effective treatment options for people who become addicted to meth, the ease of access to meth is currently at an all time high. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s we witnessed a major crackdown on illegal meth labs operating within the United States. Meth labs were quite prevalent in Texas, especially in the Houston and San Antonio areas. These ranged from very small operations in an RV in the desert or in someone’s garage, to giant meth super labs in warehouses. Once the Federal Government began imposing stricter regulations on the sale and availability of pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), meth manufacturing labs pretty much became extinct in the US.

These days, the major Mexican drug cartels supply most of the crystal meth that is found in American cities and rural areas. This meth is much cheaper and more potent than ever before. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports that the current price of meth is the lowest they’ve seen in years. The Mexican drug cartels, with new manufacturing techniques are also producing meth that’s more than 90 percent pure. This highly-potent crystal meth is creating an entirely new generation of addicts across the nation, at a level of epidemic proportions.

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For comparison, in 2017, 813 people died from an overdose on crystal meth, while 591 died from a heroin overdose in Texas.

One of the major complications with a substance use disorder is that the patient can be using multiple substances at any given time. Emergency responders have a difficult time with drug overdoses, because while the patient may be unconscious they have no idea how to treat the overdose. Many people who use crystal meth, are also using other substances as well. Some end up using methamphetamine in the morning and opioids at night, while trying to balance a ‘normal’ lifestyle through the use of various different drugs.

Many of the fatal overdose deaths involving methamphetamine can also be partially blamed on opioids. The extremely dangerous synthetic opiate, fentanyl has been frequently found in different batches of methamphetamine all over the country. This contamination may be intentional, or it may be the result of drug labs that produce and package different substances, where cross-contamination of different drugs may be entirely by accident.

What are the different drug rehab options for someone who is addicted to crystal meth?

The addiction treatment specialists at More Than Rehab have helped people all types of people, many of whom are struggling with an addiction to multiple substances. Our comprehensive drug rehabilitation program can help people with any type of addiction, while we can even address the underlying causes of substance abuse. We see the addiction is often just a symptom of another deeply-rooted mental health issue. This is called a dual-diagnosis and our staff is well-equipped to help people who exhibit both a substance use disorder, along with an underlying mental health issue.

Our approach to meth addiction treatment focuses on making the whole person healthy, mentally, physically and spiritually. Often an addiction is merely a symptom of unresolved trauma that has led the patient to self-medicate, while they attempt to drown-out their sorrows. Since no medication assisted treatment exists specifically to treat a meth addiction, our facility uses a robust combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), group therapy, contingency management and relapse prevention. A variety of other treatment techniques could be used in conjunction with these, depending on the patient’s own unique, individual needs.

If you, a family member, friend or loved one are struggling with any type of drug addiction, please give us a call as soon as possible. The longer you wait to get substance abuse treatment, the harder it can be to quit. Most people who die as a result of complications from meth abuse are from a brain hemorrhage, seizure, or a heart attack. This is especially true for older addicts, as their bodies are no longer equipped to handle a long-term episode of substance abuse.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been using, or how much you have used in the past. More Than Rehab can help addiction at any level of severity. If this has been a wake-up call for either yourself, or your family, or friends, please talk to someone about the problem as soon as possible. Addiction won’t go away by itself. When you’re ready to change your life for the better, give us a call. We are available 24/7 to help you when you need it.

888-249-2191