Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

group of MAT patients outside

Medication-Assisted Treatment or MAT is a blend of counseling and medication designed to improve outcomes. MAT has been used for opioid addiction since the 1960s and 70s, beginning first with methadone programs focused primarily on heroin addicts. However, the MAT method has evolved far beyond its humble roots. Today, MAT has gained newfound acceptance in a broader portion of the treatment spectrum than ever before. The main reasons for this are simple. MAT has grown more effective with time as new medications have become available and there have been more results to study and learn from.

The biggest reason for the growth in the popularity of MAT though is that it delivers results. As the U.S. has undergone an explosive opioid abuse epidemic over the past 20 years, the demand for effective treatment has grown alongside it. The potential lethality of opioid addiction makes getting it right all that more important. Many may only get one shot at recovery, so they need absolutely every advantage available. When lives are at stake, there is no time for pious condescension or judgment. The fact is that MAT works and it saves lives.

Efficacy of Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioids

Research shows MAT is effective. It substantially improves a patients’ chances of staying in treatment and continuing recovery. (1). MAT programs help in early recovery. They can subdue cravings and lower the chance of relapse, especially when opioid blockers are included. Perhaps most importantly, they buy the patient time and breathing room to grow in their recovery.

The most common medications used in MAT for opioid addiction today are buprenorphine and naloxone, usually in combination, sometimes known by the brand name, Suboxone. Buprenorphine is a long-acting synthetic opioid that lacks the powerful euphoric effect of opioids which are often abused. It is this component that helps abate withdrawal symptoms in detox and control cravings when used in an MAT setting. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that helps prevent buprenorphine from being used in ways other than prescribed. Naloxone is also the active agent in the lifesaving medication Narcan, which is used to arrest opioid overdose.

Is MAT Enough?

MAT for opioid addiction does not begin and end with buprenorphine though. Promising results for lasting recovery have been seen with patients who are also prescribed antidepressants and/or non-narcotic medications for anxiety. The combination of medications, if any, which is used will depend on each patient’s profile. Opioid addicted people who have a co-occurring mood disorder like depression are more likely to be prescribed a psychiatric medication as well. However, benefits have been seen with psychiatric medications prescribed for a limited period in early recovery with other patients.

Opioid addicted people tend to have more successful early recovery with MAT programs than without. This does not mean recovery without MAT isn’t possible. But there is research supporting the use of MAT. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are currently conducting a study of over 1,000 patients at more than 60 sites across the U.S. to research MAT outcomes for opioid addiction. (1) This will be the largest study of its’ kind. Final results will be published in Summer 2021. Whether or not MAT is right for you or your loved one is a decision that should be made with medical and professional advice.

If you have more questions about Medication-Assisted Treatment for opioid addiction, please contact us.



What We Can Learn about Addiction and Depression from Kurt Cobain’s Suicide

What We Can Learn about Addiction and Depression from Kurt Cobain’s Substance Abuse and Suicide

On April 5th, 1994, one of the most talented artists of a generation, Kurt Cobain, took his own life. He was at the height of his fame and had reached levels of success most could never dream of, so why did he end it all? The answer has roots in both addiction and depression. 

Suicide, depression, and addiction have a closely connected relationship.

Over 90% of people who complete suicide suffer from depression, have a substance abuse disorder, or both. The two create a vicious cycle that can lead to suicide. Kurt Cobain’s final days are a saddening insight into the mental health issues that surround addiction.

People suffering from severe depression, caused by ailments such as Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder (which Cobain was diagnosed with), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and other conditions, often turn to substance abuse to numb their pain. 

For Cobain, his depression started young, he claimed his parent’s divorce when he was nine had a strong effect on him.

He spent his teenage years taking drugs and living out acts of teenage rebellion. In his youth his personal phrase, “I hate myself and want to die” was written in his journals and carried into his music career where he said it to journalists and even planned to use it as an album title. Later, in his adult years, his depression would become diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder.

Cobain’s depression and chronic pain from an undiagnosed stomach condition led him to start using prescription pills and ultimately pick up heroin in 1986, from which he struggled with addiction for years before finally getting help in 1992. Unfortunately, his sobriety did not last long and he relapsed just a few months after leaving rehab. The following year he survived a heroin overdose that nearly took his life. 

On March 3rd, 1994, he overdosed again.

This time from taking large amounts of Rohypnol. He was in Rome and was rushed to the hospital, where he spent five days in a coma. Friends believed it was a failed suicide attempt but his management insisted it was an accident. 

Later that month, his wife along with Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, and several friends staged an intervention at his home in Seattle. Cobain agreed to go to rehab and checked into a center in Los Angeles five days later. But he only spent two days there before he told staff members he was stepping outside to smoke a cigarette, scaled a six foot high brick wall and disappeared. 

He was not seen again until his body was found on April 8th, 1994 at his home in Seattle, having committed suicide three days earlier. The coroner found large amounts of heroin and valium in his system. 

Remembering Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain’s tragic death shows us how addiction, depression, and suicide can affect anyone. It does not discriminate by class, race, or creed and no amount of success, fame, acclaim, or wealth can make these challenges disappear. For Cobain, the addiction/depression cycle became too much to bear. 

Stopping that vicious cycle can start with breaking out of active addiction. Getting the help you need can stop the common feelings of shame, guilt, sadness, and frustration that typically come with active addiction and help you on the path to healing.

If you or a loved one are struggling with active addiction, please do not hesitate to contact one of our representatives at Harmony Recovery Center. Our kind and supportive staff are here to help. Call us at (704) 970-4106


 Kessler RC, Borges G, Walters EE. Prevalence of and risk factors for lifetime suicide attempts in the National Comorbidity Survey. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1999;56:617-626.

Harris EC, Barraclough B. Suicide as an outcome for mental disorders. A meta-analysis. Br J Psychiatry. 1997;170:205-228.

Cavanagh JT, Carson AJ, Sharpe M, Lawrie SM. Psychological autopsy studies of suicide: a systematic review [published correction appears in Psychol Med. 2003;33:947]. Psychol Med. 2003;33:395-405.

Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment: June 2019 – Volume 18 – Issue 2 – p 99-104 doi: 10.1097/ADT.0000000000000155 

Signs of an Opioid Overdose

Signs of an Opioid Overdose | Harmony Recovery Center

Opioid abuse and addiction has been rising steadily since the early 2000s, and as a result, the overdose rate in the United States has also been increasing to epic proportions. For this reason, It’s vital to be able to recognize the signs of an opioid overdose to save a loved one who is using heroin or abusing prescription painkillers from irreversible brain damage or death.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that more than 69,000 people globally die from opioid-related overdoses each year. However, through prevention, education, and effective treatment, we may begin to reverse this trend. Being able to recognize an overdose in progress may help prevent those who abuse these drugs from succumbing to the severest of fates.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a category of drugs that include illicit substances, such as heroin and fentanyl, as well as painkillers available legally only by prescription, such as codeine, morphine, oxycodone hydrocodone, and many others.

Due to a high potential for addiction, it’s relatively easy to become dependent on these drugs, especially when an individual is not taking them as directed under medical supervision. Regarding heroin and other illegal opioids, this is never the case. When prescribed, these drugs are given to those who have suffered a severe injury, undergone surgery, or, in some instances, experience chronic pain related to cancer or palliative care.

How Do Opioids Impact the Brain?

Opioids bind to certain receptors in the brain that help block pain signals and produce feelings of relaxation and well-being. Opioids have become a staple of modern medicine and are often indispensable for managing acute pain or help people who suffer from severe conditions to be more comfortable.

Problems can occur, however, when a person uses a drug too much, too often, or for too long. In the very worst-case scenario, a person may begin to use the drug recreationally or for non-medical purposes.

Opioids have depressant properties, and these are what cause an overdose to occur. Opioids can dramatically slow down heart rate and respiration and cause blood pressure and body temperature to drop to a perilously low level.

Signs of an Opioid Overdose | Harmony Recovery Center

Understanding Opioid Abuse and Addiction

The abuse of opioids is not needed for addiction to develop, but it is one major risk factor. A person can become dependent on opioids after using them for a prolonged period, and this can occur even when prescribed correctly by a doctor.

Dependence is chemical condition caused by the repeated use of a substance such that the person’s body begins to rely on the presence of a substance to function normally. Dependence does not equal addiction, but addiction always includes dependence.

Addiction is also characterized by tolerance, a condition in which the body responds to repeated use of a substance by diminishing it’s effect. This results in the person needing increasing amounts of the substance to achieve the desired results, be it pain relief or to induce a high.

Addiction is also further hallmarked by the compulsive need to seek and use drugs or alcohol to the detriment of oneself or others. A person who has become dependent on opioids will likely stop at nothing to obtain them, and this may include stealing from others or even prostituting themselves in order to get their next fix.

Finally, opioid addiction results in withdrawal symptoms when the person tries to quit or can no longer obtain their drug of choice. These symptoms are often severe and painful and flu-like, causing nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and body aches and pains.

Although not generally life-threatening, these effects are often enough to compel the person to start using again, and for this reason, it is highly advisable that a person attempting to quit undergo a medical detox. During this process, the patient can be administered medications to minimize symptoms and reduce cravings, and be monitored for complications, should any arise.

How to Identify an Opioid Overdose

There are several hallmark signs that a person is having an opioid overdose, including the following:

  • Slowed, difficult, or stopped breathing
  • Bluish fingernails or lips (cyanosis)
  • Vomiting
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Very slow or irregular heartbeat
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Uncharacteristic paleness
  • Confusion or drunken-like behavior

If you witness a person experiencing these symptoms, call 911 immediately or visit the nearest emergency room because this person’s life is in imminent danger. An opioid overdose can rapidly result in death and every second counts.

How to Help a Person Who Is Having an Overdose

Signs of an Opioid Overdose | Harmony Recovery Center

After calling 911, there are several steps you can take to help the person stay safe until emergency services arrive. If the individual is unconscious and cannot be wakened, roll him or her on to one side. By doing this, you can prevent the person from inhaling and choking on their own vomit while he or she is unconscious.

If the person is conscious, try to keep him or her responsive. Because these drugs impair breathing functions, allowing a person who is experiencing an overdose to fall asleep can result in the life-threatening central nervous system (CNS) depression.

Also, never leave the person alone if at all possible. A conscious person having an overdose will be incoherent and likely to place themselves in danger, and an unconscious person may stop breathing altogether. Moreover, if you leave the person alone, you won’t be able to administer rescue breathing if they need it.

Fortunately, there is a medication known as naloxone (Narcan) that can very effectively reverse an opioid overdose. This has been used for years by first responders. Due to the prevalence of overdoses in the United States, this drug has become available over-the-counter without a prescription for about $20 in most major pharmacy chains.

Naloxone can be found in the form of a nasal spray or injectable liquid. It can offer a person an hour’s reprieve from opioid overdose symptoms, which usually buys him or her enough time to be taken to the ER. This action does not entirely stop the overdose permanently, so despite having administered it, it is vital to contact emergency personnel who can apply additional life-saving medical treatment to the person.

In the aftermath of an overdose, the person will likely benefit from professional addiction treatment to help prevent further abuse of heroin or other opioids.

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction is an incredibly destructive disorder that harms a person’s health and mental well-being, and profoundly affects those close to him or her. Fortunately, opioid addiction is very treatable, and long-term, comprehensive approaches are considered to be the most effective according to clinical research.

Harmony Recovery Center offers evidence-based therapy that includes services essential for recovery, such as behavioral therapy, counseling, psychoeducation, and group support. These services are facilitated by caring staff who specialize in drug abuse and addiction and provide clients with all the tools and support they need to remain sober and enjoy long-lasting happiness and wellness.

Let us help you reclaim your life, free from the use of drugs and alcohol, so you can begin to experience the harmony and happiness you deserve! Contact us now to find out how we can help!

How Long Does Suboxone Block Opiates?

How Long Does Suboxone Block Opiates? | Harmony Recovery Center

A single, effective dose of buprenorphine, as found in Suboxone, can last between 24-60 hours, with an average of around three days. Most doctors and addiction specialists direct patients to take the drug once daily. A person’s individual factors, such as weight and metabolism, can prolong or shorten the action of Suboxone. 

Suboxone includes buprenorphine and naloxone, which are both opioid drugs. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning that it attaches to receptors in the brain that opioids do, only it does not activate them to the full extent of say, heroin. Naloxone is a full agonist and is included as an abuse-deterrent measure because it works by actively reversing the effects of other opioids.

Treatment for opioid addiction often includes the use of medications like Suboxone, as it can reduce symptoms of withdrawal and promote abstinence from opioid use. While Suboxone mimics some opioid-like effects, it simultaneously diminishes the brain’s need for a true opioid drug.

About Opioid Abuse and Addiction

Opiates and opioids are medications intended to block pain signals sent to the brain. These drugs include codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone, and many other similar substances. While these medications are frequently prescribed for pain, they are sometimes used illicitly as a product of drug diversion. Other opioids that are commonly found in illegal forms are heroin, fentanyl, and U-47700.

In addition to pain relief, opioids can induce drowsiness, impair thinking, and depress the central nervous system (CNS), lowering heart and respiratory rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. Due to their effect on regions of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, they also can produce feelings of euphoria. This effect can encourage people to repeatedly abuse the drugs or use them in ways not prescribed.

Some people will develop dependence or addiction to opioid drugs. Dependent occurs when the body adapts to a drug’s presence and then begins to require it in order to function normally. This condition results in highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when the person quits using or dramatically cuts back on use.

Addiction may include physical dependence and also tolerance. Tolerance builds because our brains have a propensity to reduce the effects of certain substances through repeated use. Addiction is also hallmarked by compulsive drug-seeking behavior despite the incurrence of adverse consequences.

Abuse of opioids can have detrimental effects on brain structure and function. It can lead to respiratory arrest and cerebral hypoxia, or an inadequate amount of oxygen reaching the brain that may result in brain damage, coma, or death.

Opioid Withdrawal

How Long Does Suboxone Block Opiates? | Harmony Recovery Center

As noted, because opiate use can lead to dependence, when the amount of the drug in the body diminishes, symptoms of withdrawal will start to manifest. The amount of time needed for a person to develop a dependence varies between individuals. When discontinuing or reducing the use of opioids, the body requires time to recover and revert to a state in which it is no longer reliant on the drug’s presence. Because opioid withdrawal tends to be very uncomfortable, medical detox may be vital for many people to prevent relapse.

The following are common withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid dependence:

  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny nose
  • Teary eyes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dilated pupils

Although the symptoms of withdrawal can be extremely unpleasant, they are not usually life-threatening. The symptoms will eventually decrease as the body reacclimates and returns to normal functioning without the addictive substance.

How Suboxone Works

As previously noted, Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Suboxone helps to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings by inducing a manageable amount of opioid effects in the brain. Although buprenorphine can cause effects such as mild euphoria, the effects are much more limited than those related to full opioid agonists, such as heroin. Buprenorphine has a high affinity for opioid receptors, and, once attached, it prevents other opioids from latching on. 

Suboxone treatment generally occurs in three phases: induction, stabilization, and maintenance

The induction phase starts between 12-24 hours after a person has used their last dose of an opioid. Treatment should begin during this early stage of withdrawal—if it is started during later stages, this can result in a worsening of symptoms.

The stabilization phase starts when the person is experiencing few symptoms or cravings. During this phase, the frequency of use and the dosage of Suboxone use will be adjusted (probably lowered) to meet the person’s individual needs.

The maintenance phase consists of a steady dose of Suboxone over time, eventually tapering off to a very low dose until it is no longer required. 

Common side effects of Suboxone may include the following:

  • Headache
  • Stomach pain and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Blurred vision
  • Itchiness

More severe side effects may occur, including difficulty breathing, hives, swelling of the face or extremities, or profound tiredness. If you experience any of these side effects, contact a doctor or addiction specialist right away.

Effectiveness of Suboxone

How Long Does Suboxone Block Opiates? | Harmony Recovery Center

Buprenorphine, one of the main ingredients in Suboxone, was approved for medical use in 2002 by the Food and Drug Administration. The medication is different than methadone in that it can be prescribed in a doctor’s office, while methadone is only available through specially licensed facilities. For this reason, a greater number of people can receive medication-assisted treatment to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. 

Of note, despite Suboxone’s increased safety and reduced potential for abuse, methadone is still often used for the treatment of particularly severe opioid addictions. A 2004 study by the Taylor and Francis Group found that Suboxone could be administered safely and in unsupervised settings, was well-tolerated by most patients, and was effective at promoting abstinence from opioids. The administration of Suboxone in non-inpatient treatment settings makes this medication highly beneficial because it is one of the few addiction treatment remedies that can be self-administered without much concern.

According to the Journal of Addiction Medicine, in a study that evaluated the effectiveness of Suboxone, compliance with treatment was outstanding. An overwhelming majority of study participants were successful in abstaining from opioid use during treatment. No safety issues or abuse of Suboxone was identified during the course of the study. A variety of benefits over other similar medications have been reported, which has made Suboxone an increasingly attractive choice for treatment centers and healthcare providers. In fact, its use has steadily increased since it was first introduced.

While Suboxone may be more easily obtained and administered than methadone, it is still highly regulated and somewhat challenging to acquire. Because Suboxone mimics some of the effects of opiate drugs, the medication is sometimes sold illicitly as a product of drug diversion. Concerns such as this have led to strict regulations for the attainment and use of the medication.

Getting Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Harmony Recovery Center offers medication-assisted therapy for opioid addiction in the form of Suboxone and naltrexone. Suboxone can begin to be administered in our outpatient detox program and throughout the treatment process, which can include partial-hospitalization and outpatient treatment programs.

If you are suffering from an addiction to opioids, other drugs, or alcohol, call us today! We are ready to help you reclaim your life so you can experience the long-lasting health and well-being you deserve!

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Should I Use Kratom for Opiate Withdrawal?

Should I Use Kratom for Opiate Withdrawal? | Harmony Recovery Center

Kratom (mitragyna speciosa), a tropical plant from Southeast Asia, is becoming well-known as a potential treatment for opioid dependence. In low doses, it acts as a stimulant, and in higher doses, a sedative. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, its effectiveness and safety regarding addiction treatment lacks concrete evidence and has been associated with some serious risks. 

Kratom has been used by people for centuries as a stimulant and pain reliever. The leaves of kratom, which are from the same family as the coffee plant, can be chewed, dried and smoked, or brewed into tea or placed into capsules. Kratom is structurally different than opioids, but it acts on the same receptors, thereby inducing some opioid-like effects. For this reason, it has found useful by some to reduce the cravings and withdrawal symptoms commonly associated with cessation of heroin use and other opioids.

Can Kratom Assist in Drug Addiction Treatment?

There is anecdotal evidence that kratom can help in the treatment of opioid addiction by relieving withdrawal symptoms. Kratom’s effects include mild euphoria, sedation, reduced anxiety, and pain relief. These effects make it a potentially helpful tool for opioid dependence. Because kratom works on the same brain receptors as opioids, it can alleviate withdrawal symptoms that result from discontinuation of opioid use. 

However, kratom activates a different class of opioid receptors than heroin or prescription painkillers do. Therefore, it does not induce the same high as many of these other drugs do. Although there is significant anecdotal evidence that suggests that kratom may be an effective tool in treating opioid use disorders, research addressing the scientific validity of kratom’s use in opioid addiction treatment is scarce or nonexistent.

Are There Risks?

Despite the many proponents for kratom’s ability to help with opioid withdrawal, there is still some concern regarding its own addictive properties. While some could argue that this is harm reduction par excellence, experts now believe that kratom does, in fact, have the potential for abuse and addiction following a prolonged period of use. What’s more, because kratom is not regulated by the government or administered by medical professionals, people who choose to use kratom for this purpose are more or less left to their own devices (except for anecdotal information) in figuring out how much to use and how long to use it.

Without regulation, the risks of kratom use may also include the consumption of unintended adulterants. Furthermore, there appear to be some serious side effects associated with kratom use, including paranoia, hallucinations, nausea and vomiting, muscle pain, and in some cases, liver damage. 

There is also the risk of legal repercussions of importing or buying kratom. While it’s legal on a federal level and throughout most of the U.S., it is currently illegal in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., Vermont, and Wisconsin. In 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced it was planning on banning kratom but later withdraw this action, saying that more research and time to consider public comments was needed. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved kratom for any legitimate medical use and has warned people to avoid its use.

Should I Use Kratom for Opiate Withdrawal? | Harmony Recovery Center

Is Kratom Overdose Possible?

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kratom was found to be a cause of death in 91 overdoses from July of 2016 to December of 2017. In seven of those deaths, kratom was the only substance identified in a toxicology test, although the CDC stated that they couldn’t emphatically rule out the presence of other substances.

Getting Treatment for Addiction

As the U.S. confronts a devastating opioid epidemic, Harmony Recovery Centers stays current on all of the possibilities that may make opioid addiction treatment a more successful and comfortable experience. Although anecdotal evidence shows some promise for kratom’s ability to be beneficial in opioid addiction treatment, there is little scientific evidence to support up these claims. As such, we do not suggest using kratom for this purpose. Instead, we encourage individuals to undergo long-term, intensive treatment, and different forms of medication-assisted treatment, such as Suboxone and naltrexone therapy.

We offer comprehensive programs in both partial hospitalization and outpatient formats that consist of evidence-based services that are essential for the process of recovery. These services include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Peer group support
  • Health and wellness education
  • Substance abuse education
  • Treatment for co-occurring conditions
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Art and music therapy
  • Adventure therapy
  • Aftercare planning

If you or someone you love is battling an addiction to opioids, we urge you to contact us today! We ensure that our clients receive all the tools and support they need to reclaim their lives once and for all, free from the use of drugs and alcohol!

Vicodin Addiction

Vicodin Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

Vicodin Addiction – Vicodin is an opioid medication commonly prescribed for the treatment of pain. Unfortunately, it also has a high potential for abuse and dependence. Harmony Recovery is a specialized treatment center that offers support for those seeking to overcome Vicodin addiction. Although recovery may be challenging, with the right resources and professional help, it is entirely possible.

What Is Vicodin?

Vicodin is an opioid medication that consists of a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Together, these substances can be very effective at relieving pain. When used as directed and for a brief period, Vicodin can improve a person’s comfort and quality of life.

If you are dependent on Vicodin, you are not alone. Millions of people in the U.S. suffer from an addiction Vicodin and other opioids. Vicodin may be abused for a few different reasons. Often, people with a legitimate prescription for Vicodin experience an increase in tolerance over time. This effect means that they need to use larger amounts to achieve pain relief.

However, some people also misuse the drug for its ability to induce feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Others buy Vicodin illicitly from dealers because they suffer from chronic pain, but are unable to obtain their own prescription.

But any short-term effects that a person feels are positive will ultimately be overshadowed by the adverse effects of abuse. Even in the short term, Vicodin can result in slowed breathing, constipation, impaired judgment, and loss of consciousness.

Using it in an excessive amount can lead to an overdose, which can be life-threatening. Also, chronic use can result in addiction, an increase in the overall perception of pain, and a myriad of other health complications.

Vicodin Addiction: Recovery Timeline

Once you’ve developed an addiction to Vicodin, recovery will take time. There’s no miracle cure or instant fix for this problem. The recovery timeline starts with withdrawal. A medically-supervised environment is advised as it allows people to withdraw safely. It also prevents relapse and represents a person’s willingness to commit to a positive change.

Detox can last for several days. Following this process, patients enter long-term treatment for drug addiction. This treatment consists of several therapeutic modalities, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Group support

During rehab, a patient is encouraged to uncover the underlying reasons why they began abusing Vicodin in the first. In addition to medical reasons, many people have mental illness and use substances as a means to self-medicate.

Following rehab, recovery is still ongoing. Patients will likely need continual support in the form of counseling and peer groups. Long-term sobriety occurs on a day to day basis and is not something that can be achieved and then neglected. Those in recovery need to take care of themselves and be mindful of their sobriety for the rest of their lives.

Preparing for Vicodin Withdrawal

Vicodin Addiction | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

Many people avoid addiction treatment because they are dreading withdrawal. Vicodin withdrawal can be very unpleasant, and unaddressed symptoms can become severe. Fortunately, medical supervision can increase the safety of detox and reduce pain and discomfort.

During the withdrawal process, patients can expect a variety of side effects. These effects can include the following:

  • Runny nose
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Under medical supervision, many of these symptoms can be relieved using medication-assisted treatment.

It’s also possible to temporarily experience rebound pain. Because Vicodin alters the way the body responds to and feels pain, withdrawal can be extraordinarily uncomfortable. Fortunately, this renewed sensitivity to pain is temporary, and there are many healthier ways to address pain management moving forward.

The Full Spectrum of Care for Recovery

Recovery is about so much more than just achieving abstinence. It’s also about learning how to maintain a sober lifestyle for years to come—and, hopefully, the rest of your life. The full spectrum of care begins with detox and continues with comprehensive treatment, relapse prevention, and improved approaches to pain management.

Moreover, relapse happens to more than half of all patients who receive treatment. Relapse prevention is a primary focus, as all patients learn coping mechanisms and techniques to reduce cravings.

Patients are also taught that relapse should not be considered the ultimate failure. On the contrary, relapse is often a part of the recovery process. Relapse presents the opportunity for a learning experience that teaches people how to avoid making the same mistakes again and again.

For some, pain management programs may also be a vital part of recovery. This fact is especially important for those who initially began using Vicodin for the treatment of chronic pain.

Overcoming Vicodin Addiction

Whether you opt for partial-hospitalization or outpatient programs, Harmony Recovery Center can help you through the recovery process.

Vicodin addiction can be debilitating, but it’s not irreversible. People who receive professional help are better equipped to overcome addiction for life! Contact us today to find out how we can help!

Is Norco an Opiate?

Is Norco an Opiate? | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

Is Norco an Opiate? – For all intents and purposes, yes, Norco is an opiate. Norco contains hydrocodone, which is a semi-synthetic opioid synthesized from codeine. Codeine is an opiate, a term used to describe naturally occurring chemical compounds culled from opium. The term “semi-synthetic opioid” is used to describe drugs that are derived from opiates but are also partially synthesized (human-made).

What Is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is a prescription painkiller, commonly prescribed to treat moderate-severe pain. Doctors may prescribe hydrocodone to treat acute pain following surgery or for an injury. When used for a short period as directed, hydrocodone can be very effective at relieving pain and temporarily improving the quality of a person’s life.

However, opiates and opioids have a high potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction. In just a few days of prescribed use, hydrocodone can start to become problematic.

Norco Facts

Norco most commonly presents as the following:

  • Yellow capsule-shaped tablets with “NORCO 539” embossed on one side and bisected on the other. It contains 10 mg of hydrocodone and 325 mg of acetaminophen.
  • Light orange capsule-shaped tablets with “NORCO 729” on one side and bisected on the other. It contains 7.5 mg of hydrocodone and 325 mg of acetaminophen.

Before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reduced acceptable levels of acetaminophen in medication, Norco had the least amount of acetaminophen. For this reason, some addicts chose Norco over other prescription opioids to avoid the increased risk of overdosing on acetaminophen. Currently, however, it has the same or higher percentage of acetaminophen of the hydrocodone medications.

Is Norco an Opiate?: Norco Abuse

Abuse of Norco is most often characterized by using the drug too often or in doses higher than prescribed by a physician. The use of hydrocodone without a prescription is also considered abuse. Hydrocodone is usually taken orally, but some who abuse the drug crush the pills and snort or inject the residual powder.

However, most people with a hydrocodone addiction begin by misusing a prescription they received from a doctor. For this reason, it can be challenging to see the outward signs of addiction.

Side effects of Hydrocodone abuse include the following:

  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Itchiness
  • Warm, flushed skin
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Slow breathing and pulse
  • Seizures
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech

Long-term abuse of Norco inherently changes the way the brain functions and can, therefore, have lasting effects on mood and thought patterns. People who chronically abuse hydrocodone are prone to experiencing insomnia, liver or kidney disease, anxiety, and depression.

Most emotional disorders can be treated using therapy and medication, such as antidepressants. However, damage incurred by the liver and kidneys may be challenging to treat and be permanent.

Signs of hydrocodone abuse also include using more than intended and prioritizing drug use over important responsibilities. Persons who abuse opioids often grow increasingly secretive and isolated as their condition progresses.

Is Norco an Opiate? | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

Is Norco an Opiate?: Norco Addiction

Norco, like other opioids, works on the brain by attaching to opioid receptors. Once it is bound to these receptors, pain signals are minimized or blocked. Opioid receptors are also responsible for positive reinforcement related to drug-using. Feelings of euphoria are also produced here and can cause people to want to use the drug repeatedly.

Over time, regular use or abuse of hydrocodone can result in a condition known as dependence. When dependence develops, the brain is no longer able to function normally without the drug’s presence. When a person tries to quit or reduce the amount of Norco they are using, they will encounter unpleasant withdrawal symptoms as a result.

Norco withdrawal symptoms may include the following:

  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Drug cravings

As a person’s tolerance to the effects of hydrocodone grows, he or she will need to use higher doses to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. Tolerance occurs as a result of the body’s propensity to diminish the effects of certain substances following repeated use.

Abuse, tolerance, and dependence do not necessarily equal addiction, but they are vital components. Addiction is further hallmarked by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and the inability to control drug use despite the adverse consequences that result.

Is Norco an Opiate?: Overdose

Using too much hydrocodone can lead to an overdose. When the body is unable to process all of the opioids in the system, breathing and heart rates can be dramatically impaired. In just minutes, a person overdosing on hydrocodone can stop breathing, and the brain will be deprived of oxygen. This effect can result in death at worst, and permanent brain damage at best if left untreated for too long.

The recommended dosage of Norco is no higher than 60 mg in 24 hours. The scientifically and accepted amount to produce a lethal overdose of hydrocodone is 90 mg. Therefore, as little as nine hydrocodone tablets at 10mg taken in too brief of a period can result in death.

Using this amount already places a person far above the liver’s tolerance of acetaminophen at 5,400 mg. Moreover, a person would experience two separate overdoses if they decided to consume this many pills. Crushing, snorting, or injecting Norco also increases the risk of overdose.

Of course, a person’s tolerance and individual factors play a role in how much hydrocodone it would take to induce overdose symptoms, fatal or otherwise. A person who also uses other central nervous system (CNS) depressants, such as benzodiazepines or alcohol, is at a much higher risk for overdose. A smaller amount of hydrocodone used in combination with other drugs could rapidly result in life-threatening CNS depression.

An overdose of Norco can be reversed using an antagonist drug known as naloxone (Narcan). It blocks the key opioid receptors found within the CNS that lead to an overdose.

Hydrocodone Overdose Symptoms

Is Norco an Opiate? | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

Hydrocodone overdose symptoms may include the following:

  • Digestive issues
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Profound drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Incoherent speech
  • Shortness of breath
  • Perilous slow breathing
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Blue or purple skin
  • Unconsciousness

If you witness someone who appears to be overdosing on Norco or any other drug, this is a medical emergency. Please call 911 or seek medical help immediately.

Hydrocodone is often perceived as being a relatively benign drug compared to its more potent relatives, like heroin. However, this is a false and very dangerous assumption. Make no mistake, the abuse of hydrocodone, especially with other drugs or alcohol, can be just as deadly as any other opioid.

Treatment for Norco Addiction

If you or someone you know is abusing or addicted to hydrocodone, help is available! Harmony Recovery Centers offers comprehensive programs that specialize in the treatment of addiction to drugs and alcohol. Our programs feature evidence-based services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, medication-assisted treatment, and more.

Our team of addiction professionals is committed to providing people with the vital tools and support they need to recover from addiction. We believe that every person, regardless of their past, has the right to receive treatment and deserves to have a chance at a better, healthier life.

If you are ready to end your suffering, contact us today and discover how we help people liberate themselves from the shackles of addiction for life!

Is Vicodin an Opiate?

Is Vicodin an Opiate? | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

Is Vicodin an Opiate? – Vicodin, an opioid, is among the most abused drugs in the United States. Its active ingredients include the painkiller hydrocodone and acetaminophen, a much milder non-steroidal pain reliever. Because hydrocodone is an opioid, technically Vicodin is not an opiate, although there might be some confusion since these two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

Opiates vs. Opioids


The term “opiate” generally refers to natural compounds derived from the opium poppy, such as morphine and codeine. These compounds are extracted for use in popular prescription drugs.


Opioids are either synthetic (entirely human-made) or semi-synthetic (partially derived from opiates). Moreover, semi-synthetic opioids are a hybrid substance that results from chemical modifications of natural opiates that are then combined with synthetic opioids.

The active painkiller in Vicodin, hydrocodone, is derived from codeine and is, therefore, a semi-synthetic opioid, while other drugs, such as methadone and fentanyl, are fully synthetic.

How Opiates and Opioids Work

Both opiates and opioids work by modifying a person’s perception of pain. Both bind to opioid receptors, which are specialized nerve cells in the brain. When the drugs are bound, the nerve cells send altered messages to the brain that result in reduced levels of pain severity.

Pain is relieved when hydrocodone acts on the central nervous system (CNS) as noted, while acetaminophen further reduces pain and fever. Vicodin is most commonly prescribed for pain relief following injury or surgery.

Vicodin can be found in the following formulas:

  • 5 mg of hydrocodone with 300 mg of acetaminophen
  • 7.5 mg of hydrocodone with 300 mg of acetaminophen
  • 10 mg of hydrocodone with 300 mg of acetaminophen

Vicodin dependence, tolerance, and addiction can occur after it has been used to manage pain over a prolonged period. Also, some people abuse Vicodin in an attempt to induce effects like those felt when taking other opioids, like codeine, morphine, or heroin.

Signs and Symptoms of Vicodin Abuse

Is Vicodin an Opiate? | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

The signs and symptoms of Vicodin misuse or abuse are similar to those of other opioids, and include the following:

  • Slow heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Fear
  • Seizures
  • Convulsions
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Constricted pupils
  • Tinnitus (ringing ears)
  • Constipation

If a person uses too much Vicodin, he or she risks inducing CNS depression to the point of death. If this condition transpires, their skin will be clammy, cold, and may appear bluish, and the person may become unresponsive and slip into a coma. This is considered to be a life-threatening emergency, and medical help should be sought immediately.

Addicted individuals may resort to criminal activity to obtain drugs if they run out of the money they need to buy them. Pharmacy theft is one of these crimes. Some areas are targeted so often by these thefts that some drugstore chains only allow the distribution of these drugs at a few select locations.

In other cases, items of value, such as electronics, may be missing out of a home or business or the homes of other friends or family members. It may be very difficult for a family to understand that a person they have known and loved for years has suddenly changed so much in such a destructive way—indeed, that is the very nature of addiction.

Is Vicodin an Opiate?: Addiction and Abuse

People who use prescription drugs often get started on their way to addiction purely by accident. They may experience some kind of pain due to an injury and have the drug prescribed by a doctor. As their tolerance develops, they need more and more of the drug to keep the pain at bay. They may then exceed the dosages of the drug the doctor is willing to prescribe and progress to obtaining it illicitly.

Others start abusing the drug from the first dose by snorting, injecting, or consuming more than recommended. Once a person is addicted, their intentions at the beginning may not matter much anymore. Eventually, drug use takes priority over everything else in life, including their health and critical responsibilities such as work and family.

Treatment for Vicodin or Opioid Addiction

Harmony Recovery Center is a specialized treatment facility dedicated to helping people surmount addictions to drugs or alcohol. We are committed to proving our clients with the tools and support they need to experience a full recovery and enjoy long-lasting sobriety and wellness.

Recovery from Vicodin addiction is definitely achievable. For the individual in recovery, the process of withdrawal can seem dreadful, but this can be addressed through outpatient detox and medical supervision during the withdrawal period.

Following detox, patients can benefit from partial-hospitalization or outpatient programs that include behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, aftercare planning, health and wellness programs, and much more.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to Vicodin, other drugs, or alcohol, contact us today and discover how we can help you overcome addiction for life!

Synthetic Heroin

Synthetic Heroin | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

Synthetic Heroin – Generally speaking, “synthetic heroin” is a term that can refer to any number of human-made prescription or illegal opioids. Fentanyl, a fully synthetic opioid much more powerful than heroin, is another drug that is commonly referred to as synthetic heroin.

Opioids are a class of drugs that includes both natural opiates derived from the poppy plant, such as opium, as well as those that are semi-synthetic, such as oxycodone.

Opioids are lawfully available in the U.S. by prescription only and are primarily used to treat pain. There are only a few natural opiates currently used in medical settings, including morphine. Opium was once employed for medical purposes but is no longer used in clinical environments. Morphine and codeine are both controlled substances in the U.S., meaning that they can only be obtained by a licensed physician.

Heroin, which is illegal and not approved for any medical purpose, is among the most commonly abused opioids. Heroin is produced from morphine and synthesized. Once administered, it is converted back to morphine in the brain, where it attaches to opioid receptors.

Fentanyl and Carfentanil

As noted, one example of synthetic heroin is fentanyl, and another is it’s even more potent cousin, carfentanil. Fentanyl is an opioid painkiller believed to be up to 50 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl was first introduced as a treatment for pain for palliative care, but it’s since become one of the most commonly used and abused synthetic opioids.

Although people may use fentanyl intentionally for the potent and rapid effects it can deliver, they may also use it accidentally. For example, it is often combined with heroin or sometimes marketed as an entirely different drug. This trend has resulted in many overdose deaths in recent years, and even a small amount of fentanyl can result in life-threatening effects.

Carfentanil is also sometimes referred to as synthetic heroin, though it is 100 times more powerful than even fentanyl. It has no approved use for humans and is primarily used to sedate large animals such as elephants.

Even among those with a high tolerance for opioids, a minuscule amount of carfentanil can rapidly lead to overdose and death. Fortunately, carfentanil use is not widespread, but it has devastated communities such as those in Ohio, causing hundreds of overdoses and fatalities.

Other Uses for “Synthetic Heroin”

In some cases, the term synthetic heroin may even be used to refer to methadone, a drug that acts like an opioid but was developed to help people stop using heroin. There is also a drug called China White that refers to derivatives of fentanyl. It’s comparable to heroin and morphine but much more powerful. China White often includes a variety of substances besides fentanyl, such as heroin or even cocaine in some cases.

What Does Synthetic Heroin Look Like?

Because the term synthetic heroin can refer to many types of opioid products, both prescription and illicit, this is a difficult question to answer. These drugs could be in powder, liquid, or tablet form, and they can be snorted, smoked, injected, or consumed orally. If you suspect someone you know is using synthetic heroin, you may have noticed white powder, pills, needles, or other drug paraphernalia.

Other signs of synthetic heroin use include the following:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Use of street slang for heroin
  • Missing valuables or money
  • “Track marks” or sores
  • Legal and financial troubles
  • Deception and secretiveness

Effects of Synthetic Heroin

Synthetic Heroin | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

  • An initial euphoric rush
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Severe itching
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Drowsiness for hours
  • Heaviness of limbs
  • Clouded thinking
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Signs of Overdose

An overdose on synthetic heroin is life-threatening and will need immediate medical attention. The following are common signs associated with an overdose:

  • Bluish lips and/or nails
  • Disorientation
  • Shallow/slowed breathing
  • Delirium
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Weak pulse
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

An addiction to heroin or other opioids is a very serious, even life-threatening condition that requires professional treatment. Harmony Recovery Center offers comprehensive programs in both partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats. Services include behavioral therapy, counseling, peer support groups, aftercare planning, and much more.

We employ caring addiction specialists who render services to our clients with compassion and expertise. We are dedicated to ensuring that each client receives the resources and support they need to break free from the cycle of addiction. We help our clients develop improved coping skills, prevent relapse, and learn how to enjoy long-lasting wellness and sobriety.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to heroin, other drugs, or alcohol, contact us today! We can provide you with the help and support you need to experience a full recovery and long-term happiness!

What Does Lean Do to You?

What Does Lean Do to You? | Harmony Recovery Center

Lean is a drug “cocktail” in liquid form that consists of prescription cough and cold medication, hard candy (often Jolly Ranchers), and a soft drink such as Sprite. It’s also referred to as “purple lean,” “purple drank,” and “sizzurp.”

The prescription cough medications in lean contain codeine, an opiate used as a cough suppressant that can also produce pain relieving and sedating effects. The antihistamine promethazine is another possible ingredient, and can also contribute to sedation and impairment of motor skills.

When codeine is consumed in excessive amounts, it can lead to extremely harmful effects. Because the drug is administered in the form of a drinkable liquid, users can quickly lose track of how much of the intoxicating ingredients they have consumed. This mishap is mostly due to the cough syrup’s flavor being masked by soda and candy, and this is where much of the danger lies.

Side Effects

Side effects will gradually become more severe as a person drinks increasing amounts of lean. First-time users may also encounter unpleasant side effects, including dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, and impaired memory. Repeated, long-term use can also result in extensive health problems.

People who drink lean on a frequent basis report developing tooth decay and other dental problems, as well as unwanted weight gain, constipation, and urinary tract infections. People who engage in extended lean abuse or use the drug in a sufficiently large amount may also encounter life-threatening complications such as an overdose. This danger is much more likely to occur when the drug is used in combination with other depressants, such as alcohol.


Codeine is an opiate and is also the psychoactive ingredient in lean that is behind both its desirable dangerous effects. Opiates and opioids are in a class of drugs associated with an extremely high rate of abuse, dependence, and addiction. The remarkably addictive nature of opioid drugs is due, in part, to the pleasurable and rewarding effects that they produce, including euphoria and relief from anxiety and stress.

Because codeine is legal when prescribed by a doctor and used legitimately by many people to manage cough or pain, it’s somewhat difficult to track rates of abuse and addiction. Long-term opioid abuse can lead to the development of drug tolerance and dependence. As tolerance grows, people often find themselves needing to use more and more of the drug to feel the coveted effects.

This increase in drug-taking behavior can be a catalyst for the development of physiological dependence. Opioid-dependent people will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if they try to discontinue drug use. In the early stages of withdrawal, the person may experience the following:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Teary eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Excessive sweating

If a person has used lean for an extended period or in very high doses, they may encounter more intense withdrawal effects, including nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. To avoid or postpone withdrawal symptoms, people dependent upon lean will frequently relapse, or return to consuming the drink or other opioid drugs. This behavior only serves to perpetuate an endless cycle of abuse that can ravage their mental and physical health.

Lean in the Media

What Does Lean Do to You? | Harmony Recovery Center

The drug combination known as lean or purple drank has been promoted as a desirable high by several high-profile celebrities, most notably musicians such as Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber.

Although lean’s “cool” media presence may encourage some young people to use, the reality is, even those who have been credited with making the mixture famous have suffered from health complications. For example, Lil Wayne reportedly began experiencing seizures several years ago after a long history of engaging in lean abuse.

There have also been a few celebrity deaths associated with lean. In November 2000, DJ Screw, who popularized the consumption of the drink, died of an overdose related to codeine, promethazine, and alcohol. Then in October 2007, Big Moe, a protégé of DJ Screw who frequently rapped about use of the drug died at age 33, after suffering a heart attack. It was believed that lean might have played a key role in his death.

Treatment for Codeine Addiction

Because the withdrawal symptoms that result from codeine addiction can be highly unpleasant, many patients opt for medical detox and then immediately transfer to an intensive addiction treatment program. Harmony Recovery Center offers comprehensive programs in partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats. These programs include evidence-based approaches to substance abuse treatment, such as psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, and peer support.

During treatment, compassionate, highly-skilled addiction professionals care for patients and provide them with the resources and support they need to navigate sober life after treatment has been completed.

We are dedicated to helping our clients reclaim their lives, free from addiction to drugs and alcohol. Please call us as soon as possible to find out how!