Is the Fentanyl Vaccine Real? How Do I Get One?

At a time when drug overdose is quickly becoming an epidemic in the United States, researchers at the University of Houston are hard at work on a solution that could save countless lives. They're developing a vaccine for fentanyl, an opioid linked to numerous fatal overdoses. This fentanyl vaccine could be a major game changer in the deadly drug overdose epidemic that has been sweeping the nation.

This groundbreaking research seeks to create antibodies that will bind to the drug and block its ability to produce feelings of euphoria and cause an overdose. If this vaccine is successful, it will offer a powerful solution for people suffering from addiction and those at risk of accidental overdose.

But is this vaccine real, and how does one get it? In this article, we'll explore the progress of the research at the University of Houston and answer those questions. We'll also discuss how this new approach to overdose prevention differs from treatments such as Naloxone or Buprenorphine and why a publicly available vaccine may not be available for many years.

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Understanding the Fentanyl Vaccine

The University of Houston is leading the way in research on a fentanyl vaccine that could potentially save lives. The vaccine would work by creating antibodies that will bind to the dangerous synthetic drug and prevent it from entering the brain, drastically reducing its ability to produce feelings of euphoria.

The research published on Pharmaceutics found that the vaccine was effective in lab rats and didn't cause adverse side effects. In the study, both male and female rats that got immunized produced high levels of anti-fentanyl antibodies that neutralized fentanyl-induced effects. The vaccine also reduced the levels of fentanyl in the brain after drug administration and prevented the drop in measures like heart rate and oxygen saturation. 

According to one researcher, these findings could have a significant impact on the opioid crisis that has been crippling the country for years. The vaccine could provide an effective, sustainable and long-lasting solution to the opioid epidemic.

It prevents the most desired effects of the drug (getting high) and allows the drug to be eliminated from the body through the kidneys. And seeing there were no adverse side effects in the immunized rats in the studies, the research team plans on producing a clinical-grade vaccine in the future, with clinical trials on humans ensuing after. 

A Timely Help for the Fentanyl Crisis in the US

The potential for a fentanyl vaccine to save lives is immense. As the opioid crisis continues to widen, more and more people are becoming addicted to this powerful synthetic drug. A vaccine would offer an effective solution for people suffering from substance use disorders, those at risk of accidental overdose, and those in recovery.

In 2021, the Centers for Diseases Control reported 107,622 overdose deaths in the United States, with opioids accounting for over 75% of these fatalities. According to the CDC, opioid overdose cases increased from 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021.

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Synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, were responsible for most of these fatalities. Fentanyl is a potent painkiller similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more powerful. It has been linked to numerous overdose deaths and is increasingly becoming one of the most dangerous drugs in the country.

How is the Fentanyl Vaccine Different from Naloxone or Buprenorphine?

The fentanyl vaccine is different from maintenance treatments like naloxone or buprenorphine because it works by creating antibodies in the body that will bind to the dangerous synthetic drug, blocking its ability to produce feelings of euphoria and cause an overdose. Naloxone and buprenorphine, on the other hand, work by blocking or partially blocking opioid receptors. As a result, they are often used to reduce cravings and withdrawals in patients in recovery.

How Buprenorphine Works

Buprenorphine is an opioid agonist that stimulates the same receptors as opioids, such as heroin or fentanyl. This medication binds to the same receptors as opioids, producing similar effects but with much lower potency. This means that buprenorphine can block or partially block the feelings of intense euphoria caused by opioids while also reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

How Naloxone Works

Naloxone is an opioid receptor antagonist that binds to the same receptors as opioids but with much higher potency. This means that it can completely block the effects of opioids, making it an essential medication for reversing opioid overdose. When administered on time, naloxone can rapidly reverse the effects of opioids, restoring normal respiration.

Unlike naloxone and buprenorphine, the fentanyl vaccine does not work by blocking the opioid receptors in the body. Instead, it stimulates the body's immune response to produce antibodies that bind to fentanyl molecules and block their effects. This means that those who get the vaccine won't feel high while using fentanyl and might therefore stop using the drug altogether.

It's important to note that the vaccine is still in its early stages of development and will take years before it's available on the market. Addiction treatment is currently the best way to prevent an overdose. Besides, some experts have pointed out that while the scientific breakthrough discovery is incredible and innovative, it is not a silver bullet to address the drug addiction crisis. That is to say, the vaccine mainly focuses on fentanyl's impact on the brain, yet environmental and social pressures also contribute to addiction.

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Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment is the best way to prevent an overdose, manage withdrawal symptoms and treat substance abuse. It typically involves a combination of medications, behavioral therapies, and support groups. In many cases, family members are also included in addiction treatment plans and may help provide support and accountability.

At More Than Rehab, we understand that addiction is a complex issue and requires comprehensive treatment. We offer a range of treatments, including individual and group counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy relapse prevention, medication-assisted treatment, and 12-step programs. We also provide comprehensive aftercare services to ensure a successful recovery.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please contact us today to learn more about our services. We are here to help.

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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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The Importance of Proper Disposal of Unused Medication 

Prescription medications are a vital part of our society. They save lives, improve quality of life, and make us more productive. But like all powerful tools, they can be dangerous in the wrong hands. They can also be hazardous to the environment. That's why it's important to ensure that unused or expired prescription drugs are disposed of properly.

Storing unused or expired medication can be dangerous if you have kids, veterans, and people with underlying mental health issues at home. Kids may accidentally take them, or veterans may deliberately misuse them to self-medicate.

The Dangers of Not Disposing of Unused Medication

Every year, millions of Americans find themselves in need of medication. Medication can be an important part of maintaining our health, whether for a short-term illness or a chronic condition. However, once we no longer need a particular medication, it is important to dispose of it properly. Unused medication can seriously risk our safety, well-being, and environment.

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  1. One of the most significant dangers of unused medication is the risk of accidental poisoning. Medication cabinets often contain pills and potions, which can be easily mistaken for something else. Even a small amount of medication can have serious consequences if ingested accidentally or intentionally. By properly disposing of unused medication, we can help reduce this risk.
  2. In addition to the danger of accidental poisoning, unused medication can also be abused or diverted for illegal purposes. Drug addicts often raid medicine cabinets in search of pills to get high on. By disposing of our unused medication, we can help to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
  3. Finally, not disposing of unused drugs can lead to drug abuse, dependence, and overdose deaths. Every year, thousands of people die from drug overdoses, many of which involve prescription opioids like Vicodin and OxyContin. According to the CDC, about 44 people died each day from overdoses involving prescription opioids in 2020. The NIH also points out that prescription opioids are a gateway drug, with many users turning to illicit opioids like heroin. 

How to Dispose of Unused Medication

Disposing of unused or expired medication can be tricky. You want to ensure that the medication is properly disposed of so that it doesn't end up in the wrong person's hands or the environment. Here are some proper ways to safely dispose of unused medications:

Use the Drug Take-Back Programs

One option for disposing of unused medication is to take advantage of the national prescription drug take-back day or programs. These programs are typically run by state and local law enforcement agencies, hospitals, DEA, or pharmacies and provide a safe and convenient way to dispose of unwanted medication.

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Before you hand over your medication, check with the take-back program to find out the types of drugs they accept and their specific policies. Walgreens, for example, accepts prescription medications, ointments & patches, pet medications, vitamins, OTC medications, ointments, lotions & liquids, inhalers, and aerosol cans. However, they don't accept illegal drugs, hydrogen peroxide Needles & thermometers.

Dispose of the Medications at Home

If the drug take back is not an option, you can dispose of the drugs at home using one of the following ways. Always check your local community information services to see if they allow for medicines dropped off at local collection sites. Note that the mode of drug disposal varies depending on the type of drugs.

Flush the Medication Down the Toilet

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends flushing certain medicines down the sink or toilet when they are no longer needed and cannot be disposed of through other means. Flushing is the best way to dispose of medication that is a controlled substance or has the potential to be harmful if taken by someone other than the person for whom it was prescribed. According to the FDA, drugs on the flush list are those: 

If you have veterans, children, or people with mental health in your home that can intentionally or accidentally touch, ingest, abuse, or misuse a medicine on the flush list, they can suffer serious consequences, including death. Some examples of these drugs include those that contain the following words on them: 

You can find this information on the label or leaflet that came with your medicine. If unsure, contact your pharmacist or doctor for advice on how to dispose of your particular medication.

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Dispose of the Medicines in Household Trash

Another option for disposing of medication is to mix it with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and place it in a container with a lid. The container should then be placed in the trash. Before throwing it away, remove all personal information from the prescription label. This will help to protect your identity and keep your confidential medical information private.

Always check your local community information services to see if they allow for medicines dropped off at local collection sites.

Flushing Drugs and the Water Supply

Some people are concerned about flushing drugs down the toilet because they worry that the drugs will end up in the drinking water supply. However, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there is no evidence that pharmaceuticals in the environment harm humans or wildlife. In fact, the EPA states that the concentrations of pharmaceuticals in the environment are so low that they pose no known risk to human health or the environment.

Never Share Your Drugs

Never share prescription drugs with anyone else, even if they seem to need them. Sharing drugs is not only illegal, but it can also be dangerous. The person taking the drug may have an allergy to it, or they may not be able to metabolize the drug properly, which could lead to serious health consequences.

Don’t leave unused or expired medication in your home, even if it is in a child-resistant container. Unused or expired medication can be dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands, and it can also be tempting for someone to take if they are struggling with addiction. If you have unused or expired medication, take it to a drug take-back location or dispose of it at home according to the FDA's guidelines.

What Drugs Are Tranquilizers? How Are They Abused?

If you don’t mind the risk of having a panic attack, the new Netflix show "Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story" is a chilling account of the Milwaukee cannibal's crimes. It outlines his horrific behavior while revisiting the heinous crimes. Dahmer would lure his unsuspecting victims back to his home or hotel and drug them using tranquilizer drugs like Triazolam and temazepam. These drugs were an unusual but regular part of his killing routine. 

Dahmer would drug his victims first and kill them while they lay unconscious. He would then perform sexual acts with the corpse, eat some of their body parts and preserve others, like genitalia, head, skull, skeleton, etc. In total, Jeffrey Dahmer killed 17 victims between 1978 and 1991. A majority of them were young, gay men.

He Used Tranquilizers Like Triazolam to Drug His Victims

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In the first episode of the 10-episode Netflix series, Jeff takes Tracy Edwards home and hands him the spiked drink. He uses Halcion (Triazolam), a prescription drug that his doctor had prescribed to help with his sleeping issues, to sedate Tracy. A few moments later, Tracy gets groggy and compliant, making it easier for Dahmer to commit his gruesome crimes. But luckily, Tracy Edwards managed to escape and notify the authorities.

How do Sedatives and Tranquilizers Work?

Tranquilizers are a class of drugs that are typically used to treat a range of mental health issues like anxiety disorders, insomnia, etc. They are classified as:

Tranquilizers work by affecting the central nervous system, which helps to slow down the body's response to stress. When used properly, these drugs are generally safe and effective. However, they can cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired coordination.

Tranquilizers should only be used under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional. They should also never be combined with alcohol or other drugs, as this can create a dangerous reaction.

But like millions of other Americans, Dahmer misused his prescription sedatives - not on himself but on his victims. This ultimately led to the horrific murders for which he is now infamous. Larger doses of tranquilizers can lead to unconsciousness and even death.

Dahmer was later arrested and convicted of the 16 murders he committed. He was sentenced to 16 terms of life imprisonment but died on Nov 28, 1994, after being beaten to death by a fellow inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin.

Prescription Sedatives and Tranquilizers

In addition to Triazolam, other types of sedatives and tranquilizers used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders include:

Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed type of tranquilizer. They work by binding to GABA receptors in the brain, which helps to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Examples of benzodiazepines include:

Barbiturates are sleep-inducing sedative drugs made from barbituric acid. They include drugs like:

Hypnotic drugs or sleeping pills are often prescribed to patients with sleep issues. They work differently on the brain compared to other drugs listed above. Examples of hypnotic drugs include:

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Side Effects of Tranquilizers

The side effects of tranquilizers can include:

Tranquilizer Abuse

According to SAMHSA, about 6.1 million people misused prescription tranquilizers in the past year, constituting 2.3% of the population aged 12+.

People abuse tranquilizers for a variety of reasons. For some, the sedative effects of the medication can provide a sense of relaxation or euphoria. Others may use tranquilizers to self-medicate underlying mental health conditions such as depression or PTSD.

Some people may also abuse tranquilizers in combination with other drugs or alcohol to magnify the effects. Xylazine is a good example of how people abuse tranquilizers.

People are adding a drug called Xylazine to street drugs, making them more deadly.

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Another recent news story has highlighted the dangers of mixing Xylazine with street drugs. According to reports, the tranquilizer drug is increasingly added to street drugs like cocaine and meth, making them more deadly.

Xylazine, or "Tranq" is a veterinary anesthetic that is also used as a sedative in humans. Like other tranquilizers, it slows down the central nervous system, causing drowsiness, dizziness, and loss of coordination. When combined with street drugs, the effects of Xylazine can be even more dangerous. The drug can cause respiratory depression, seizures, and even death.

The spike in Xylazine use was first reported in some parts of Puerto Rico, followed by Philadelphia, where it was found in 91% of opioid samples in 2021. Massachusetts Drug Supply Data Stream (MADDS) found the drug in 28% of tested drug samples. But some areas of Massachusetts had Xylazine in 50%-75% of samples.

Sadly, as the rate of Xylazine surge, so does overdose rates. A 2015 study of 10 states and cities only found Xylazine in 1% of overdose deaths. However, the percentage increased to 6.7% in 2020 when the country hit a new record for overdose deaths. A year later, in 2021, the record was broken with over 107,000 deaths.

Addiction Treatment at More Than Rehab

If you are struggling with addiction to tranquilizers, it is best to seek addiction treatment. Treatment centers like More Than Rehab offer comprehensive addiction treatment programs to help you recover from addiction and live a sober life.

At More Than Rehab, we offer a variety of treatment options, including inpatient, outpatient, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) programs. This makes it easy to find something that works for you. We also have a detox program to help you safely and comfortably detox from tranquilizers. Don't wait to get help, contact us today. We are available 24/7 to take your call.

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Can You Get Treatment For A Xanax Addiction?

Xanax is a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. These drugs are some of the most commonly abused substances in the world. They're also responsible for a high number of emergency rooms visit across the United States. Benzodiazepines slow down the nervous system and have a calming effect on the user. Xanax is typically prescribed to treat medical conditions like anxiety and panic disorders, but it is also commonly abused for its calming and relaxation effects.

Warning Signs of Xanax Abuse

Many people use Xanax as directed by their doctor to treat anxiety or panic disorders. However, some people misuse or abuse Xanax, which can lead to serious consequences. Warning signs of Xanax addiction:

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People who abuse prescription drugs like Xanax may crush and snort the pills or mix them with alcohol or other drugs. Mixing Xanax with other drugs can be dangerous as it increases the risk of overdose and other serious side effects.

Side Effects of Xanax Abuse

Xanax abuse can lead to physical, mental, and behavioral health problems. Some of the most common side effects of Xanax abuse include:

Xanax can also cause severe or rare side effects like:

 

How Addiction to Xanax Happens

People who abuse Xanax may start taking the drug as prescribed by their doctor. However, over time they may begin to take more of the drug than prescribed, or take it more often. They may continue to use the drug even when it is no longer needed. This can lead to addiction.

Xanax binds to the brain's GABA receptors and increases the level of the neurotransmitter GABA. This results in feelings of calm and relaxation. However, when people take Xanax regularly, they build up a tolerance for the drug. This means they need to take larger and larger doses to achieve the same effect.

As their tolerance builds, so does their dependence on the drug. And as their dependence grows, so does their risk of developing an addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can occur when someone dependent on Xanax stops taking the medication cold turkey.

These symptoms can include anxiety, irritability, insomnia, sweating, shaking, and seizures. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to Xanax, help is available.

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Xanax Addiction Treatment Options

For those seeking treatment there are different Xanax addiction treatment options available. These treatments can be tailored to the individual's needs. Some of the most common options include:

Therapy and Group Support

Therapy provides a safe space for people to process their feelings and work through any underlying mental health issues contributing to their addiction. There are different types of therapies available, such as:

Other Medications

Many other medications can be used for the treatment of Xanax addiction. These include antipsychotics, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers. Each of these medications can help to ease the symptoms of Xanax addiction and allow the person to better cope with withdrawal.

Antipsychotics can help to reduce paranoia and delusions, while antidepressants can help to ease depression and anxiety. Mood stabilizers can help to even out mood swings and reduce irritability. These medications can be used with therapy and counseling to provide the most effective treatment for Xanax addiction.

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Medication Tapering

Medication tapering is a process whereby the dosage of a medication is slowly reduced over time, helping to minimize withdrawal symptoms. This approach can be used for Xanax addiction and has been shown to be effective in helping people overcome their dependence on the drug. The first step is to work with a doctor or other professional to create a tapering schedule.

This schedule will start with a high dose of Xanax and gradually reduce the amount over time. The goal is to eventually reach a point where the person is no longer taking any Xanax at all. The process can be difficult, but it is often successful in helping people break free from their addiction.

Get Help for your Xanax Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to Xanax, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Many treatment options are available, and the sooner you seek help, the better. Don't wait to get help. Start your journey to recovery from addiction today.

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Do Harm Reduction Efforts Actually Lower Addiction Rates?

In recent years, there has been a growing movement in the United States to adopt harm reduction strategies when it comes to drug addiction and overdose. Harm reduction is a public health approach that focuses on reducing the negative consequences of risky behaviors rather than on eliminating the behaviors themselves. Proponents of harm reduction argue that this approach is more realistic and effective than traditional approaches that focus on abstinence.

There is some evidence to support this claim. For example, a study of needle exchange programs in the United States found that these programs were associated with lower rates of HIV/HSV infections among injection drug users. Another study by SAMHSA notes that these programs save lives by being accessible and available in a way that underlines the need for compassion and humility toward people who use drugs. 

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SAMHSA adds that harm reduction programs provide access to treatment, social services, and health care. They reduce chronic diseases such as HIV/HCV, overdose deaths, and acute life-threatening infections related to unsterile drug injection.

However, it is important to note that harm reduction efforts alone are not enough to address the underlying causes of addiction; they must be part of a comprehensive strategy that includes prevention, treatment, and recovery services. Nevertheless, harm reduction programs can play an important role in saving lives and reducing the harms associated with drug use.

What is Harm Reduction, and what are its Goals?

Harm reduction is a public health approach that seeks to minimize the harms associated with harmful behaviors. It is rooted in the belief that people have the right to make their own choices about their health and well-being and that everyone has the potential to reduce the harms they experience.

Harm reduction approaches provide a non-judgmental way to connect people with services and support. By focusing on reducing harm rather than on eliminating risk, harm reduction provides a more realistic and achievable goal for many people. As a result, it has the potential to improve individual and population health outcomes. The principles of harm reduction include:

·       Respect for autonomy: People should be free to choose their health and well-being without coercion or judgment.

·       Meeting people where they are: Services and support should be tailored to meet the needs of each individual, based on their unique circumstances.

·       Harm reduction is not abstinence: The focus is on reducing harm, not eliminating all risk.

·       Harm reduction is pragmatic: It recognizes that people will engage in risky behaviors and seeks to minimize the associated harm.

·       Harm reduction is evidence-based: It is based on the best available evidence rather than ideology. Harm Reduction Programs and Services A variety of harm reduction strategies can be employed to achieve the goals.

Some common harm reduction strategies include:

Needle Exchange Programs

Needle exchange programs provide clean needles and syringes to people who inject drugs to reduce the risk of HIV, AIDS and other blood-borne diseases. These programs also provide other services such as counseling, referrals to addiction treatment and recovery services, and access to naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose.

Nearly three-decade of research has shown that these programs were associated with lower rates of HIV, hepatitis, and other infections. The research also found that SSP users are 5x more likely to enter drug treatment and about 3x more likely to stop using drugs than those who don't use the programs.

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The Use of Federal Funding to Purchase Fentanyl Strips

Fentanyl strips test for the presence of fentanyl in drugs. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more potent than heroin. It is often mixed with other drugs without the user's knowledge, which can lead to accidental overdoses.

Drug checking with fentanyl strips can reduce this. The US government has funded states and localities to purchase fentanyl strips as a harm reduction measure. The strips can be used to test drugs for the presence of fentanyl, which can help users make informed decisions about whether or not to use them.

Providing Safer Consumption Spaces

Safer consumption spaces are places where people can consume drugs under the supervision of trained staff. These spaces can provide various services, including access to clean needles and syringes, naloxone, counseling, and referrals to addiction treatment and recovery services. They also educate individuals on how to reduce substance use and drug-related harm and curb the spread of infectious diseases. Today, over 66 safe consumption spaces are operating with the approval of law enforcement worldwide, including in Europe, Canada, and Australia. 

Increasing Access to Opioid Overdose Reversal Treatments

Opioid overdose reversal treatments, such as Narcan® or naloxone, can save lives by reversing the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone is a medication that can be administered by injection or nasal spray, and it is available without a prescription in many states. Many states have implemented standing orders programs, which allow health care providers to prescribe naloxone to people who may be at risk of overdosing. The drugs can also be issued to friends and family members of people who use opioids.

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Naloxone used to block the effects of opioids medication Oxycodone Morphine to save life in emergency case

Know Your Source

Know Your Source is a harm reduction program in Vancouver, Canada, that provides information about the purity and potency of drugs to users. The program also encourages users to inject slowly, use in the presence of a sober friend and be aware of the early signs of overdose and how to use naloxone. 

Medication Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a harm reduction approach that combines behavioral therapy with medications to treat substance use disorders. MAT is used to treat opioid addiction and effectively reduces the risk of overdose and death.

These are just a few examples of harm reduction programs and services that can be employed to reduce the risks associated with substance use. Many other harm reduction strategies can be used, and the best approach will vary depending on the community's needs. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, resources are available to help. Treatment and recovery services can provide the support you need to overcome addiction and build a healthier, happier life.

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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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What Are the Most Popular Drugs Used at Music Festivals?

Drug use is rampant at music festivals due to the carefree atmosphere and the availability of drugs. Many people view drug use as a part of the festival experience and feel that it enhances the music and the overall atmosphere. The overall atmosphere of festivals can make it difficult to “dance safe.”

However, drug use can also lead to negative consequences, such as bad trips, overdoses, and arrests. According to the National Institute on Drug Use, drug use can also trigger or worsen mental health disorders. As a result, individuals need to be aware of the risks associated with drug use before they choose to use drugs at a music festival. Health care is not and should not be top-of-mind when attending a music festival but drug use makes future health care issues a problem.

Popular Drugs Used At Festivals

According to a Drugabuse.com study of 976 people in the United States, 53% of those attending live music events admitted to using illicit drugs or alcohol, with more than 93% consuming alcoholic beverages. Additionally, about 40% of festival goers used marijuana at live music events, followed by 8% who each used hallucinogens or MDMA.

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Here are some of the most popular drugs used at music festivals:

Each of these drugs produces different effects, depending on the individual's physiology, the dose taken, and the person's state of mind. While some people may enjoy the effects of these drugs, others may find them uncomfortable or frightening. Keep in mind that each person reacts differently to drugs, so it is important to be cautious when taking any substance.

Most Intoxicated Live Music Event Genres

The study by drugabuse.com also found that festival goers abused drugs or alcohol more in some music event genres than in others.

In the study, EDM, heavy metal, and alternative music events had the highest percentage of people who drank alcohol or used drugs, with 67.5%, 52.2%, and 60.6%, respectively. Indie rock and reggae were also found to be relatively high on the list, with 60.2% and 60.0% of respondents saying they had used alcohol or drugs in the events. Classical and Rock music events had the lowest, with 39.8% and 39.6%.

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Consumption at Concerts

Here is a quick look at consumption at concerts per substance, according to Drugabuse.com

Popular Substance at EventsPrevalence in Music EventsPercentage
AlcoholAlternateHeavy MetalEDM  57.6%56.2%54.9%
MarijuanaReggaeHip-Hop/RapEDM33.3%29.6%29.3%
MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly)EDMReggaeIndie Rock25.6%4.8%3.0%
HallucinogensEDMIndie RockHeavy Metal9.8%4.8%3.8%
CocaineEDMHip-Hop/RapBlues8.5%3.3%2.9%
OpioidsHip-Hop/RapEDMReggae2.6%2.4%2.4%

Why Do People Use Drugs at Festivals?

While the use of drugs is certainly not limited to festivals, several factors can contribute to drug use at these events.

Anonymity

The anonymous and often crowded nature of festivals can make it easier for people to buy and use drugs without being detected.

Availability of Drugs

The availability of drugs at festivals is usually higher than at other events, as dealers know that there will be a demand for their products. Besides, things like alcohol are often heavily promoted in such events since manufacturers usually sponsor.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is often a factor, as people feel pressured to conform to the behaviors of those around them.

Just for Fun

Many people use drugs as a way to let loose and have fun. The relaxed atmosphere of a festival can make it seem like an ideal time to try new things. Others use drugs to try to stay awake and not miss out.

Enhance the Experience

For some people, taking drugs is also a way to enhance their music experience. Certain substances can cause colors and sounds to seem more intense, leading to a more immersive and enjoyable experience.

Makes Sharing Space Easier

Drug use can make sharing space with large groups of people easier. In crowded environments, drugs can help to reduce anxiety and promote feelings of social connectedness.

Some people also use drugs to self-medicate, relieving anxiety or boredom. However, it is important to remember that drug use comes with risks. Overdosing or mixing drugs can lead to serious health problems and even death.

Dangers of Using Drugs at Music Festivals

Drug use is common at these events and can lead to serious side effects. Ecstasy, for example, can cause dehydration, overheating, and heart problems. Club drugs like ketamine and GHB can cause vomiting, hallucinations, and blackouts. And marijuana use can impair your judgment and coordination.

There's also a risk of combining drugs in dangerous ways. For example, one might drink alcohol to quench the thirst from ecstasy use. According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, such mixing masks the impact of ecstasy and can lead to accidental overdose and death.

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There are also increasing cases of drugs being cut with other substances, which can make them more potent and dangerous. For example, cocaine may be cut with fentanyl, a powerful opioid that can be deadly even in small amounts. MDMA may be cut with n-ethylpentylone, a psychoactive drug linked to adverse effects such as anxiety and paranoia.

In addition, drugs like MDMA can cause dehydration and overheating, which can be dangerous in a crowded and chaotic environment like a music festival. Because of the drug-related harm involved, it is important to be aware of the dangers of using drugs at music festivals and ensure that you stay safe if you attend one of these events.

Ways to Stay Safe At Music Festivals

If you choose to use drugs at a music festival, you can utilize some harm reduction approaches to reduce the risks.

How to Attend a Music Concert Without Participating in the Substance Use Culture

Just because substance abuse is common at music festivals doesn't mean you have to participate. There are plenty of ways to enjoy these events without using drugs or alcohol. You can choose to attend smaller, local events that may be less likely to involve drug use. Alternatively, you can look for festivals that focus on specific genres of music, such as jazz or folk, which tend to attract a more mature crowd.

You can also take steps to create a drug-free environment at a festival. If you're camping, for example, you can choose to stay in a designated sober camping area. And if you see someone who looks like they're struggling, don't be afraid to reach out and offer help.

Music festivals can be a great way to enjoy your favorite artists and explore new genres of music. But it's important to be aware of the risks of drug use at these events. By being informed and taking precautions, you can stay safe and have a great time without putting yourself, and public health at risk.

Understanding the Risks & Dangers of Ketamine Abuse

Ketamine is a powerful dissociative drug that has been used for medical and recreational purposes for decades. While it is not as well-known as other drugs like cocaine or heroin, Ketamine's availability has increased in the recent past.

Ketamine abuse is most common among young adults, who are often drawn to the drug's ability to produce an out-of-body experience. Because Ketamine is legal in the United States and can easily be accessed in local veterinary clinics, it has become a popular drug of choice at clubs and parties.

It is also one of the most common date rape drugs. When used in this way, it can cause memory loss and make it difficult for a person to resist sexual assault. Ketamine is also sometimes used to spike drinks.

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What Does Ketamine Do?

Ketamine is a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it has an accepted medical use but also a high potential for abuse and dependence. Ketamine is most commonly used as an anesthetic in veterinary medicine but has some limited uses in human medicine.

Ketamine is a safe and effective medication with few side effects when used as directed. However, Ketamine can be abused for its hallucinogenic and dissociative effects. Ketamine can cause serious health problems, including respiratory depression, cardiovascular collapse, and kidney damage when misused.

Ketamine abuse can also lead to addiction and mental health problems such as anxiety and paranoia. Because of the risks associated with ketamine abuse, the drug should only be used as directed by a medical professional.

Ketamine Use

There are a variety of ways that Ketamine can be administered. It can be insufflated, injected, consumed orally, or smoked.

Ketamine is also frequently abused with other substances, such as cocaine, MDMA, or amphetamines. This can lead to addiction to these other substances and, worst cases, overdose deaths.

Ketamine Abuse and Addiction

People abuse Ketamine for its dissociative anesthetic effect. Dissociative drugs distort sounds, self, colors, sights, and environment, making people feel out of touch with reality. That's why Ketamine is used as a party or club drug.

Abusing Ketamine for long periods of time can cause addiction. Ketamine addiction happens because the drug binds to the NMDA receptor in the brain and creates changes that lead to compulsive drug-seeking behavior. NMDA receptor helps to regulate pain perception, emotions, and memory.

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People addicted to Ketamine may feel like they need the drug to function normally. They may keep using Ketamine even though it is causing problems in their lives.

Symptoms of ketamine addiction include:

The Dangers of Ketamine Abuse

Ketamine is a powerful anesthetic that is often abused for its hallucinogenic effects. However, ketamine abuse comes with a range of short- and long-term dangers.

Short-term dangers include:

Long-term dangers of ketamine abuse include:

In addition, chronic ketamine abuse can lead to "K-holes," a dissociative state in which users feel detached from their bodies and reality. K-holes can be extremely dangerous and have been known to lead to suicide.

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Here's a quick look at the side effects of Ketamine abuse:

Body systemHigh doseLow- to-moderate dose
Cardiovasculardangerous changes in blood pressure, heart rate, chest painHigh blood pressure, depressed or elevated heart rate,chest pain and low blood pressure (rare)
RespiratoryRespiratory depression (when taken rapidly or with CNS depressants or alcohol)An increase in breathing rate
RenalKidney toxicity (with chronic abuse).Kidney toxicity (with chronic abuse).
GastrointestinalNausea and vomitingNausea and vomiting
Central Nervous System (CNS)Amnesia, delirium, panic, coma, elevated body temperature, fear, violent behavior, hallucinations or terrors (k-hole effect), seizures.Agitation, time, shape, body image and sound alterations, confusion, numbness, dizziness, lethargy,  detached feelings, drowsiness, flashbacks, hallucinations, loss of coordination, sedation.
Others Exaggerated strength, severe anxiety, panic, fear, anxiety, respiratory depression, and aggression, muscle rigidity, death from overdose (especially if combined with alcohol, other CNS depressants).Rapid eye movement, salivation (IV use), dilated pupils, tears, spasm of the larynx (rare).

Treatment for Ketamine Abuse

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that is abused for its hallucinogenic effects. It can cause dissociation, hallucinations, impaired motor function, and addiction when used recreationally. While there is no specific treatment for ketamine abuse, several effective approaches can be used to address the problem.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, for example, can help people change their drug use patterns and develop healthy coping mechanisms. In addition, medication can be used to manage the symptoms of ketamine withdrawal and help prevent relapse. With proper treatment, it is possible to overcome ketamine abuse and lead a healthy and productive life.

Get Help Today

Ketamine abuse is a serious problem that can have devastating consequences. If you or someone you know is struggling with Ketamine or other substance abuse, please seek help immediately. Many resources are available to help you get started, and we urge you to take advantage of them.

888-249-2191

Texas Overdose Trend Remains At All-Time High For 2022

Substance abuse harms individuals’ physical, mental, and behavioral health. It also affects their families and communities at large. In some instances, it may result in overdose deaths.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that over 4,000 people in Texas died due to drug overdose in 2020 alone. The same report revealed that overdoses claimed a total of 93,000 lives in the United States in 2020.

Experts connected the rise in drug addiction deaths with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Robert Redfield, the CDC director, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected individuals with substance use disorders. The need to isolate left them bored and lonely, thus they used drugs and alcohol for solace.

report by DSHS revealed that opioid use is one of the leading causes of overdose deaths in Texas. Other drugs reported causing overdose deaths are cocaine and methamphetamine.

Director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Deb Houry, said that the significant increase in overdose deaths is worrying.

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How to prevent drug overdose deaths

Until recently, there was no state-wide system to collect overdose data. Researchers at the University of Texas have created a digital reporting and surveillance system to track this data. The system, commonly known as Project CONNECT. Its purpose is to give stakeholders a clear picture of the Texas overdose crisis and influence future interventions.

The CDC also made the following recommendations in a bid to reduce the number of overdose deaths:

What you can do

Everyone has a role to play in preventing overdose deaths. There is a high chance that someone you know or someone from your community may overdose at some point, but not all overdoses should end in death.

To prevent overdose deaths in your community, you can:

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Ways to talk loved ones into getting treatment

When a loved one is struggling with an addiction, you may be at a loss on what to do to help them. You wouldn’t want to risk losing anyone due to a drug overdose.

Addiction treatment is a personal choice, so you can’t force your loved one to get treatment. The best you can do is be there for them every step of the way. However, you can do a few things to convince your loved one to get substance abuse treatment. Here are some of the most important ones.

Be non-judgemental

If your loved one admits that they are struggling with drug addiction, try to react as calmly as possible. Talk to them in a non-judgemental manner and offer to help them. If your loved one doesn’t confide in you, but you notice they are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may have to approach them with the issue. Try to be as non-judgemental as possible.

Research the effects of the drug

When your loved one is an addict, it would be best to research the short-term and long-term effects of the drug they are addicted to. When you are well informed, it is unlikely that they will misinform you on the seriousness of the problem. Additionally, they will more likely listen to you when you sound like an expert.

You can get information on various drugs on our website.

Seek professional help

Drug addiction is a chronic illness. Therefore, it needs professional intervention. Reach out to rehab facilities, doctors, or counselors to get relevant information.

Choose a convenient place and time to talk to them

When you decide to approach your loved one to air your concerns, choose a place and time when you would both be comfortable. Do not exhibit aggressive behavior as they may be defensive as a result. Instead, remain calm, maintain an even tone, and focus on the issue at hand.

It would be best to try talking to them when they are as sober as possible. This way, it will be easier to reason with them.

Listen to them

If your loved one is willing to talk about their addiction, listen to them. Give them a chance to air their side of the story, but don’t let them sway you into believing their problem is not serious. Additionally, it would be best to be mindful of how you react or respond.

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Bring up treatment options

From your initial research, you will notice several treatment options available depending on the drug your loved one is addicted to. Some treatment facilities offer both inpatient and outpatient programs. Let your loved ones know their options and help them select the one that suits them best.

Be supportive    

Your loved one will need a lot of your support throughout the treatment and recovery process.

Most treatment programs have medical detox as the first step of treatment. It is arguably the most challenging part of treatment, and most patients feel like they want  to give up. Be there for your loved one and offer emotional support to better their chances of recovery.

You may also have to accompany them to support groups which play a significant role in ensuring recovering addicts maintain sobriety.

What if they don’t want to get treatment?

Sometimes, addicts may refuse to voluntarily get treatment, posing a danger to themselves and those around them. When this happens, you may have to opt for interventionist court-ordered Rehab. You can petition the court for the order if you can prove your loved one’s addiction endangers them and others.

Get help today

If you are searching for trusted and proven drug treatment, Texas has one of the finest. More Than Rehab provides high-quality addiction treatment for Texas residents. We offer unique, individualized treatment programs based on successful national models.

Our experts will take care of your loved one throughout the recovery process, including medical detox, inpatient rehabilitation, and our comprehensive outpatient program. We also provide additional support for Texas overdose victims through sober living arrangements.