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.

What is the 27 Club?

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

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

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

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

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Famous Members of the 27 Club

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

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

1.       Kurt Cobain

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

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

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

2.       Kristen Pfaff

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

3.       Brian Jones

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

4.       Jim Morrison

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

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

5.       Janis Joplin

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

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

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

6.       Jimi Hendrix

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

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

7.       Rudy Lewis

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

8.       Ronald McKernan

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

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

9.       Jean-Michel Basquiat

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

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

10.  Amy Winehouse

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

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

Why so young?

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

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

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

The 27 Club is not a coincidence or a conspiracy.

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

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

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How Chronic Pain Can Lead to Drug Abuse

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

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

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

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

Chronic pain symptoms

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

How chronic pain leads to addiction:

Chronic pain intensifies mental health issues that cause addiction

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

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

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

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

Treatment involves prescription opioids that can be highly addictive

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

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

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

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

Withdrawal symptoms cause patients to continue using drugs

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

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

Patients try out alternative drugs to relieve pain

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

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

Managing chronic pain

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

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

What are Quaaludes and Why Were They Popular?

Quaaludes--perhaps you’ve heard of them or maybe you have even tried them yourself? Quaaludes are often talked about with a sense of nostalgia, usually being referenced in movies by someone’s grandma who has a secret stash of them left over from the 70’s when the drug was at its height in popularity. More recently however, the drug has hit media headlines, as accusations of alleged sexual assault against Bill Cosby resurfaced. The disgraced, former TV star later admitted to giving Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with. It comes as no surprise that the drug was eventually outlawed in 1983 when authorities caught on to the large amount of people who were either abusing the drug recreationally or using it as a date rape drug. So exactly are Quaaludes and why were they popular?

The brief history of Quaaludes

Before the drug was marketed under the brand name of Quaaludes (as well as Sopor) by pharmaceutical companies, the generic name for it was methaqualone. Quaaludes were first synthesized in India during 1951 by Indra Kishore Kacker and Syed Husain Zaheer. Originally, methaqualone was synthesized as a new treatment for malaria when they found that it also had some highly sedative properties aside from what they had created it for. The first two markets it hit were Germany and Japan, where it racked up quite the extensive record of addiction and recreational abuse. Eventually, by 1955 it was being prescribed in Britain under the name of Mandrax, a name still used to this day.

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The drug slowly made its way over to the United States in the 1960’s, where it became widely popular in the “hippie” era. In the United States, methaqualone was mainly manufactured by a pharmaceutical company in Pennsylvania who gave the drug its iconic name. The word Quaalude combines the word “quiet” with “interlude”.  During this time, doctors were essentially giving Quaaludes out like candy. People could buy “Ludes” in semi-legal stress clinics without ever having to visit with an actual doctor. By 1972, it was the sixth best-selling sedative in America. They were also widely prescribed for the treatment of insomnia and anxiety.

However, it did not take very long for the recreational abuse and addiction to follow methaqualone overseas where it was now sold in America under the brand name of Quaaludes.

How Quaaludes became so popular in the drug culture of the United States

In part due to the easy access of obtaining Quaaludes, it became very popular in night clubs and disco scenes. This earned the drug yet another popular pop culture name known as “disco-biscuits”. Due to its popularity in night clubs and disco scenes, non-alcoholic clubs known as “juice bars” were established. These clubs catered to people who wanted to dance while high on Quaaludes, or for short, “Ludes”. Moreover, in 1981 the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) declared Quaaludes the second most abused drug in America. So, by 1983 Quaaludes were outlawed in the United States for reasons including: widespread rates of addiction, recreational abuse and because it could potentially be used as a “date rape drug”.

With the popularity of the drug during the time it was legal in the United States, one has to wonder why so many people abused the drug. Considering how long it has remained in pop culture references during the 1960’s, up until it was banned in 1983, “Ludes” remained somewhat of an urban legend. One of the main reasons for its popularity is that Quaaludes are a very powerful barbiturate. These types of drugs act as a central nervous system depressant. Quaaludes are also highly addictive.

Some of the more noticeable side effects of Quaaludes include:

These are just a few of the side effects that come with taking Quaaludes or methaqualone. Part of the increased risk of abusing Quaaludes is that it was often consumed with other substances such as alcohol, which severely increased the risk of these negative side effects occurring.

The real danger of Quaaludes

At its peak, it was also associated with a large number of suicides, overdoses, injuries, and other dangerous incidents, like car accidents. In prescribed doses, methaqualone was known to produce relaxation, sleepiness, and a slight feeling of euphoria. But the often deadly trio of easy access, peer popularity, and consumption of alcohol lead to many overdoses and comas. The reason being that a lethal dosage of methaqualone is much smaller when combined with other substances, such as alcohol, crystal meth, or other drugs with a potential for abuse. Many people also reported using the substance because of its euphoric high and sleepy drunk effect.

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Addictive drugs often become popular in the United States

Part of the popularity of the drug was also due to its highly addictive properties. When people begin using drugs, it chemically and physically alters the functioning of the brain and its production of dopamine. Much like any other substance, with repeated use people eventually will develop tolerance to the drug. This leads them to consume more and more of the drug, in order to achieve the same desired effects. Over time, the chemicals that get released in the brain will eventually trick your brain into believing that it needs that certain substance in order to survive. This makes quitting the drug much more difficult, as the brain begins to associate different places, people, or things with the drug use.

Thankfully, psychological and medical research on addiction has come a very long way since Quaaludes were outlawed in 1983. Since then, they are nearly impossible to come by on the street, but that doesn't mean they have completely vanished. If you or a loved one may be struggling with an addiction to Quaaludes, or any other substance, then please allow our wonderfully trained staff here at More Than Rehab to help. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help when you need it! You do not have to go through your addiction alone. We understand what it takes to lead a healthy and fulfilling life without the use of drugs or alcohol, so give us a call today:

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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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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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Is it Easy to Buy Drugs on the Dark Web?

Most of us are aware of the illicit drug market that usually consists of players, like your local street dealers, their suppliers, and then their suppliers, eventually working all the way up, ending at whoever manufactured the product. When most people think of the drug trade, they associate it with organizations like the Mexican drug cartels or the sketchy guy people meet on the street corner downtown or in a dark alley somewhere in the bowels of a large city. What many may not know is that there is an even more illicit, and hidden way to purchase these highly dangerous and illegal drugs or substances. Something that is known as the deep net, or dark web. So, is it easy to buy drugs on the dark web?

What is the dark web, or deep net?

The dark web is a secret not known to many, especially to those who never go looking, and to those who are aware of its existence, know it to be extremely hidden. It is actually designed to be intentionally difficult to access and navigate. Essentially, the dark web is a part of the internet that is not indexed by search engines. Its anonymous nature, means that it cannot be found by searching in places like Google, or by stumbling upon it accidentally.

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It is estimated that nearly 96% of the internet is inaccessible by search engines and the general public. To access the deep net, certain types of software are usually required. A major component in being able to access the dark web is by having a specific web browser that allows you to do so. With the exception of computer hackers or cybersecurity experts, it’s pretty safe to say that most people have never even heard of the browser. (Hint: it’s not Firefox, Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge).

Why is buying drugs on the dark web so dangerous?

Some people might assume that buying drugs on the dark web is safer because of its perceived anonymity, but that isn't necessarily true. The mere fact that most people are unable to access the dark web, especially without some sort of insider knowledge, shows just how difficult it could be for the average joe to purchase illicit drugs using it. However, many tech-savvy people, say, college students for instance, are seeking out a variety of substances on the dark web, from ecstasy, heroin, cocaine, date rape drugs like GHB or Quaaludes, to bootlegged prescription painkillers, and even nootropics like Adderall or Modafinil.

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There are many reasons why the deep net marketplace makes it more difficult to purchase drugs. Typically, the dark net is more expensive than your local street-corner drug dealer. It can also be riskier to the buyer, you may get ripped off, or you may get a drug laced with another drug that could kill you. You may have ordered Adderall, but what you get could be methamphetamine or something entirely different. Many of the substances on the dark web have been laced with fentanyl, whether intentional, or not.

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However, experts have seen a recent uptick in people using the dark web, as the Coronavirus has swept across the globe. COVID-19 has certainly made it more difficult for some regular users to obtain the drugs they are addicted to. Manufacturing, supply chains and local dealer’s supplies have all been disrupted to some extent, due to the pandemic.

Buying drugs on the dark web is expensive, complicated and inherently risky.

While it is more difficult to access, the dark web is a haven for some drug dealers as the prices for their drugs are also more expensive. Considering the dealers seem to be assuming less risk, it is a surprise that they are able to charge more for their illegal, and oftentimes harmful, products. Not to mention, having to pay for shipping and handling. Though this may not be a problem for the addict with tons of cash flow, that is not ordinarily the case. For the majority of users, the dark web is often highly unaffordable. So, even if they were to somehow gain access in order to buy them, they most likely would be deterred because it typically costs much more than just meeting your dealer on the street.

Another reason why getting drugs on the dark web is more difficult, or less appealing to the buyer, is having to wait for the product to come in the mail. Although some users may have to wait a couple hours for their normal dealer to answer the phone, or show up at the meeting spot, waiting for drugs purchased on the dark web could take weeks, that is, if they ever come. This could be a major problem for someone looking to get a quick fix, while avoiding withdrawal symptoms.

Many people who use drugs regularly do not think that far ahead, especially in terms of how long their stash is going to last. The majority of people who are actively using drugs need to resupply daily and do not want to go through the hassle of having to wait for a package in the mail.

Buying illegal drugs on the internet can get you arrested.

Additionally, when a person buys drugs off of the dark web, they are also assuming all of the risks of federal drug trafficking charges. For many unsuspecting buyers, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) has been known to show up at their door instead of the package they were waiting for. The majority, if not all, of law enforcement agencies are aware of the illegal drug trade conducted on the deep net. For any suspicious packages being shipped overseas or across state borders, there is a high probability that they will be inspected. Drugs purchased from the dark web are often discovered during the transportation process. Getting caught shipping drugs is a federal crime and you could easily be charged with a felony.

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You never know what you’ll get when buying drugs on the dark web.

On top of being riskier and more expensive, buying drugs on the darkweb also increases the unpredictability of the product, making it more dangerous to one's health. When someone buys drugs off of the internet there is no way to guarantee on the strength of the actual product, or the ingredients used to manufacture it. People who sell drugs over the internet have a much broader market and do not have to meet face-to-face. The anonymity of the dark net causes dealers to care less about their reputation and the quality of their products. A local dealer has an image they need to maintain if they want to continue having clients. If word ever got out on the street that they were selling “wack” product, the majority of their business would be lost.

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As you can see, there are a number of reasons why buying drugs on the dark web is not a good idea for your personal, financial and legal safety. The best route possible would be not buying drugs at all and getting help for your addiction, if you need it. If you, or a loved one, are having difficulties staying sober, or you suspect there is a substance abuse problem, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our addiction specialists today. Instead of trying to find a new way to buy drugs, we urge you to consider taking back control over your life.

Here at More Than Rehab, we understand what it takes to lead a happy and successful life of sobriety, through an evidence-based approach to addiction treatment. We are always here to help, 24/7. Give us a call!

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What is the Difference Between Cocaine and Crack Cocaine?

While cocaine first became popular in pop culture around the 1970’s, it is one of the oldest drugs in the world, as the leaves from the coca plant have been chewed for thousands of years. Originating in South America, the Erythroxylon coca plant was used as a stimulating medicinal product; elevating mood, aiding in digestion and suppressing appetite. The production of these plants were restricted mainly to areas where it was naturally grown, places like Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia, until the mid 19th century when American pharmaceutical companies began exploring the region. At first considered safe, the destructive and addictive qualities of the coca plant became apparent within 30 years of its introduction as a pharmaceutical product.

Cocaine is a central nervous system drug that is extremely addictive. Today, It is considered to be one of the top five most addictive drugs in the United States. According to a survey conducted in 2014 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were an estimated 1.5 million Americans who had used cocaine within the last month. Furthermore, roughly around 913,000 people in the United States had met enough criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders for dependence or abuse of cocaine in any form.

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When talking about cocaine, there are a couple of terms that may be thrown around regarding the drug, such as cocaine and crack cocaine. While it is easy to lump the two together since they are almost molecularly identical, there are still a few differences that keep them from being the same.

Molecular Differences Between Crack and Cocaine

In its natural form, when it is extracted from the coca plant, cocaine is a hydrochloride salt. At first, the substance is refined into a paste and eventually pressed into a white powder. This substance is the powdered form of cocaine and is often snorted, mixed with a liquid then injected, or smoked. Crack cocaine, otherwise known as crack, is essentially the same substance but in a different form. The process of making crack cocaine involves mixing the white powder with a base, usually baking soda, and then boiling it with water. The baking soda is removed, along with the hydrochloride, during this process making the substance more concentrated as the psychoactive chemical of cocaine is the only thing left behind. Crack gets its name from the crackling noise it makes while being smoked. Cocaine and crack cocaine are both extremely dangerous as often times pure cocaine can be cut with other harmful substances, like laundry detergent or laxatives, in order to increase profits or to create the substance known as crack.

Other Differences Between Cocaine and Crack Cocaine

Aside from the slight change in their molecular structures, there are still a few key differences between cocaine and crack cocaine.

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Both cocaine and crack cocaine increase the amount of dopamine released in the brain, causing a rush of euphoria when abused. However, since crack is more potent, their side effects can differ from one another.

Side effects of Cocaine Can Include

Side Effects of Crack Cocaine Can Include

Since crack cocaine is more potent, there is an increased risk of overdose but both drugs can kill you when taking too much. Long term use of both substances can lead to life threatening conditions such as respiratory failure, infectious disease, fatal overdose, strokes, hallucinations, and addiction.

Anyone can become addicted to either of these substances, even after just one use. Cocaine use has long been glorified in movies and sold as the “rich man's drug”, making it appealing to any age, race, or demographic. Withdrawal symptoms can become severe when discontinuing use of any of these substances. If you, a loved one, or someone you know is a cocaine user and is unsure about whether or not they are addicted, or are becoming dependent, that is usually a good sign that some level of help is necessary. There is always a chance for recovery and you do not have to struggle alone. Reach out to us for help today to begin your journey on the road to a healthier and happier life.

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How Much Does Crystal Meth Cost in Texas?

When looking at the average price of crystal meth, the street value can vary from city to city, state to state, region to region. Due to our close proximity to the source of 90 percent of the meth available in the United States, the price of meth is typically lower in Texas, than in many other parts of the country. Most of the methamphetamine available in the United States comes across the southern border with Mexico. Due to government crackdowns in the early and mid 2000’s, much of the domestic manufacturing of meth dried-up. This brought a booming business opportunity to Mexican drug cartels and now they are flooding communities in Texas and the US with cheap, highly potent crystal meth.

But how much does meth cost? An addiction to crystal meth will cost as much as you are willing to give. Your home, your family, your job, your friends, your car, your health, even your life. Crystal meth addiction can be very expensive, not just for your pocket book, but a long-term addiction to meth can literally cost you your livelihood and your life.

According to the RAND Corporation, methamphetamine and amphetamine abuse costs the United States roughly $23.4 billion dollars per year. This data was compiled to develop consistent analysis of the many casual associations for the multitude of different harms associated with this deadly drug. Due to the nature of the data available (the most recent year being 2005) researchers created a range of estimates for the total societal cost of methamphetamine abuse in the United States:

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Taking all of these factors into account, crystal meth addiction costs much more than would be readily imaginable. Accidental drug overdose death, lost productivity in the workforce, meth addiction rehabilitation services, criminal justice system costs, child endangerment and production hazards from meth labs (chemical poisoning, explosions, property damage, etcetera) all create enormous costs associated with this devastating drug.

Crystal meth is not only highly addictive, it is also the leading cause of drug overdose death in Texas.

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An addiction to crystal meth can overtake your entire life. While rehab can be difficult, it is worth it.

Methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant that has been shown to release up to four times as much dopamine in the brain as cocaine. Because it is much cheaper than even crack cocaine, meth has become a very popular drug throughout many different segments of the population. It’s not just in the big cities, like Houston, Dallas or San Antonio. Meth is also a major problem for rural communities across Texas and the nation as a whole.

Due to the relative costs of meth, compared with other stimulants like cocaine, or even Adderall, meth is growing in popularity, regardless of the multiple dangers associated with its use. Even many street drug users have switched from crack cocaine to crystal meth, because it is much cheaper and the high typically lasts much longer. Even though the addict may think they are saving money by switching to methamphetamine, yet a typical meth addict can spend anywhere from $10,000, up to $40,000 per year on acquiring the drug according to conservative estimates. Some estimates state that a person who has developed a long-term addiction can spend up to $74,000 a year on their meth habit.

It’s not just financial costs that make methamphetamine a major problem for many Texas residents. Stimulants, like crystal meth kill more Texans every year than any other type of drug. Meth kills even more people than prescription and illicit opioids do. One of the major reasons for this is that there aren’t any life-saving medications for a meth overdose, like there are for other drugs. For instance, in the case of an opioid overdose, first responders and emergency personnel have the drug Narcan (naloxone) at their disposal. This is an opioid antagonist, that can block the brain’s opioid receptors and essentially reverse the affects of an opioid overdose.

For stimulants like methamphetamine, there is no overdose-reversing drug available. First responders often have trouble with meth overdoses, because many times the subject may be unconscious. This makes it hard for the emergency technicians to determine what is happening to the person. Often with a meth overdose, the person had been using multiple substances so it makes it difficult to determine the best approach to emergency medical care. All of these factors contribute to the increase of meth-related overdose deaths in Texas.

Treatment for meth addiction is available. Recovery is possible.

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Treating an addiction to methamphetamine is never an easy task. While a lot of focus has been on the opioid epidemic, meth use is silently roaring back into popularity all across American communities. Where federal funding has been pouring out into these communities to help fight the ongoing opioid crisis, little resources are made available to fight the scourge of methamphetamine abuse that is sweeping the nation.

This is unfortunate as the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says that methamphetamine is currently the number one threat to Houston and the rest of the state. The number of overdose deaths, emergency room visits, treatment admissions and law enforcement seizures are all much higher than they are for heroin, which is the number two threat to Texas residents.

This crisis is compounded by the fact that there is no FDA-approved medication currently available to treat a methamphetamine addiction. Researchers at the University of Texas are currently working on a clinical trial for a two-medication treatment that is designed to block the euphoric affects of crystal meth and to reduce the painful symptoms associated with meth withdrawal.

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It's never easy to quit using drugs, especially crystal meth. Addiction Recovery is possible however, with the right help.

The withdrawal symptoms are a major reason many who struggle with an addiction to meth are afraid to seek treatment. The crash that comes with stopping the use of the drug can be seemingly unbearable. Lethargy, massive mood swings and depression are all very extreme in the case of a meth withdrawal. Sometimes the patient can become violently ill. The fear of the crash is why many people continue their use, even when they really, really want to quit.

If you or a loved one is experiencing an addiction to methamphetamine, you should know that the best time to quit is right now. The longer a meth addiction goes untreated, the more likely severe medical issues can take place. These dangers include accidental overdose death. 715 people in Texas died from an overdose on methamphetamine in 2017 and 320 sought emergency medical attention. There’s no reason this could be yourself or your loved one someday if the addiction continues.

Please give us a call today. At More Than Rehab, we offer a full-spectrum of services to not only help you overcome your addiction, but to help you rebuild your life. Our social model of addiction recovery was designed to help you prepare yourself to live a lifetime of sobriety, long after you leave our drug rehabilitation program. We know how much damage can be done with a long-term binge on crystal meth. Our experienced, compassionate staff is here to help you in every way possible, beginning with a full medical detox. Don’t wait another day, call us right away. We are available 24/7 to help you when you’re ready.

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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.

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