Alkyl Nitrites Abuse

Alkyl Nitrites Abuse | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

Alkyl Nitrites Abuse – It is a well-known fact that inhaling solvents or propellants to get high can result in serious health complications. Although this is not a new trend, by any means, certain products are being sold as “poppers.” These are chemicals known as alkyl nitrites, which generate a vapor that can be inhaled.

Alkyl nitrites are chemical compounds that have been classified together based on their molecular structure. Formally, they are alkyl esters of nitrous acid. Alkyl nitrites were originally intended for some medical applications, such as relief from chest pain and other symptoms related to heart disease.

Although not commonly used for heart problems today, amyl nitrite is still used for the treatment of cyanide poisoning. However, when referred to as “poppers,” alkyl nitrites are considered to be recreational drugs only.

What Are Poppers?

Poppers are sold in small bottles and include brand names such as “Ram” and “Thrust.” Popper chemicals dilate blood vessels, resulting in a drop in blood pressure accompanied by a rush of warm feelings and dizziness. At the same time, however, a heart that is exposed to poppers will accelerate.

Poppers are typically sniffed from the bottle. However, some prefer to dip a cigarette into the bottle and then inhale the chemicals instead. Effects are nearly immediate, but don’t last for very long and subside after just a few minutes.

Today, poppers are most often used to enhance sex. The vasodilatory properties of alkyl nitrites open blood vessels, causing blood pressure to decrease and producing feelings of relaxation. Another reason people use these drugs during sex is to increase sensation and intensify climax.

Why Are Poppers Used?

Although some reasons for using poppers make sense, they do not explain why a person would use such a harmful substance to increase sexual gratification. One answer may be related to this: several studies have examined this topic and found a strong association between having sex during drug intoxication and sex addiction. Of note, this correlation is more significant among gay men, who tend to experience sex addiction at higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts.

Moreover, a person may be using poppers in part because they have a sex addiction. Fortunately, like other process addictions, sex addiction can be treated and managed for those who seek help.

Sex addiction may not be the only reason why someone abuses poppers, however. They could be using them to self-medicate or deal with one of the following mental health problems:

  • Mood disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Anxiety disorders such as social phobia
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

It’s also not uncommon for the above disorders to co-exist with sex addiction. Regardless of the reason, help is available.

Alkyl Nitrites Abuse | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

Are Alkyl Nitrites Addictive?

Poppers are not considered to be chemically addictive in the same way that some other drugs are. Nonetheless, because these chemicals have intoxicating effects and are often used to intensify sexual pleasure, they can become habit-forming.

Those who use them due to a mental health condition may be more inclined to abuse them more often. This behavior can increase the risk of harmful effects can psychological addiction.

Harmful Chemicals in Poppers

Poppers can include different forms of alkyl nitrites. Amyl nitrite, a compound originally used to treat angina, was the first to receive widespread recreational use in the 1960s. Other types of alkyl nitrites later appeared following the introduction of more restrictions regarding the use of amyl nitrite.

Among these newer chemicals are butyl nitrite, isopropyl nitrite, isobutyl nitrite. Each of these chemicals can be extremely harmful and even lethal. They each also have their own collection of frightening potential risks.

Amyl nitrate has been linked to memory loss, delirium, hallucinations, paranoid delusions, and death. If used long-term, amyl nitrate can result in the following:

  • Brain damage
  • Heart disease
  • Liver and kidney failure
  • Irreversible hearing loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors

Amyl nitrite (not to be confused with amyl nitrate) use can lead to fatal asphyxiation in the short-term. It can also cause heart and blood vessel problems when used long-term.

Butyl nitrite, when used for a prolonged period, can also result in severe damage to several parts of the body. These include the brain, heart, blood vessels, liver, kidneys, and muscles. Its immediate effects can cause sudden death.

Isobutyl nitrite was found in a 2016 study to induce neurotoxicity in mice, causing impaired motor coordination and memory and learning functions.

Isopropyl nitrite has been found to induce visual disturbances, blurry vision, blind spots, and retinal damage, results that could possibly be permanent.

Side Effects of Alkyl Nitrites

Poppers can produce a range of effects that may be desirable, harmful, or both. These effects include the following:

  • A brief, rush-like “high”
  • Enhanced sexual experiences
  • Chemical burns
  • Rash on nose and mouth
  • Nose and throat irritation
  • Feelings of sickness
  • Faintness and weakness
  • Impaired coordination
  • Death (if swallowed)

The chemicals in poppers can burn the mouth and throat, cause nausea and vomiting and lethal poisoning. Any person who consumes poppers orally should seek emergency medical help immediately. Using poppers is particularly dangerous for people with heart problems, as death has been known to occur.

The Hazards of Alkyl Nitrites

Alkyl Nitrites Abuse | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

The use of alkyl nitrites is very dangerous and can result in the following:

  • Perilously low blood pressure
  • Damage to red blood cells
  • Oxygen deprivation to organs
  • Cerebral hypoxia
  • Loss of conscious
  • Inhalation of vomit
  • Risky sexual behavior and STDs
  • Skin burns
  • Extreme disorientation
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Temporary/permanent vision loss
  • Death from oral consumption

Combining poppers with alcohol can increase the risk of reduced oxygen supply to vital organs and result in unconsciousness and death. Also, poppers are highly flammable, and there have been many reports of people who accidentally burned themselves or others.

Brain Damage

One of the most terrifying potential results of using poppers is brain damage. Research has found that inhalants like poppers can damage at least two vital regions of the brain—the cerebellum and cerebral cortex. The result of this damage may include personality changes, memory loss, hallucinations, impaired coordination, and slurred speech.

Getting Treatment for Addiction

If you or a loved one is abusing poppers for any reason, you are urged to seek help as soon as possible. Regardless of whether this abuse occurs due to sex addiction or other mental illness, we can help! Through dual diagnosis treatment, we can address the symptoms of both drug abuse and mental illness simultaneously, allowing people to heal emotionally as well as physically.

Harmony Recovery Center offers integrated treatment for drug addiction and mental health conditions. Our services include, but are not limited to, psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, group support, and aftercare planning.

We are dedicated to ensuring that our clients receive all the tools and support they need to be successful. We help those who need it most break free from the cycle of drug abuse and begin to foster healthy, fulfilling lives.

Contact us as soon as possible if you or someone you love is abusing drugs or alcohol. Our caring, highly-skilled addiction specialists are waiting for your call to discuss treatment options and get you enrolled in a comprehensive addiction program today!

⟹⟹⟹READ THIS NEXT: What Does Meth Look Like?

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!

What Are Nootropics?

What Are Nootropics? | Harmony Recovery Center

What Are Nootropics? – Nootropics are sometimes referred to as “Limitless” pills. They are nicknamed after the movie Limitless (2011), in which a character takes a pill that dramatically increases his intelligence, motivation, and general cognitive ability. While the film is over-the-top fiction, there are substances that do appear to exert effects on a person’s cognition.

Certain drugs and supplements may have a positive impact on motivation, focus, memory, and cognition. The following is a list of several different nootropic substances, their effectiveness, and their potential for abuse or addiction.

What Are Some Common Nootropics?

Nootropics are a broad category of substances reported to have a positive effect on cognitive functioning. They are also sometimes referred to as cognitive enhancers, and “smart” or “study” drugs. The nootropic category includes substances such as caffeine, amphetamines, and a variety of others.


Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants are among the most accessible nootropic substances. Stimulants work in the body to excite the CNS by interacting with feel-good neurochemicals such as dopamine. These chemicals are associated with feelings of reward and motivation. When they are released, people feel more alert, energized and motivated.

Stimulants are often used in both prescription and illicit drugs due to their powerful effects. Those who abuse stimulants often do so by obtaining them from family and friends. Others get them from dealers or buy them on the Internet.


This class includes drugs such as Adderall often used to treat ADHD, narcolepsy, and obesity. These drugs have been studied for potential cognitive enhancement in those who do and those who do not have ADHD.

A 2015 study revealed that low doses of amphetamines were able to boost cognitive functions such as memory, impulse inhibition, and attention. A 2014 review suggested that amphetamines also helped non-ADHD youth remember more information.

Amphetamines are known to cause dependence and addiction when they are abused. They can also cause a variety of health problems, especially in those who use them for non-medical purposes.

Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Methylphenidate is another prescription drug often used to treat ADHD. It has been found to improve cognitive functioning and may also increase a person’s ability to complete ordinary tasks. Methylphenidate is moderately addictive and has a relatively high capacity for psychological dependence.


Eugeroics is a class of drugs that includes prescription medication such as modafinil and adrafinil. These drugs are used to treat sleep disorders like narcolepsy. It has been shown to increase alertness, reasoning, and problem-solving skills.

While these are not considered to be true stimulants, they do have stimulant-like effects. And like stimulants, it has the potential for abuse and addiction, although this potential is generally lower.

Caffeine and Nicotine

What Are Nootropics? | Harmony Recovery Center

Caffeine from tea, coffee, soda, or supplements can increase alertness, wakefulness, focus, and attention. Both caffeine and nicotine are some of the most frequently used recreational drugs in the U.S. and among the most common stimulants worldwide.

Despite the adverse health impact, nicotine has been found to have an effect on cognitive functioning. Unfortunately, nicotine, both from cigarettes and vape pens, is extremely addictive, and smoking has proven to cause severe health problems, such as emphysema, lung cancer, and heart disease.


Racetams are a poorly understood category of drugs, especially with regard to their effects on the brain. They may have some affinity to attach to receptors in the CNS, but they are also said to work on specific neurotransmitters in the brain. Some racetams appear to have a significant effect on cognition, and include the following:


Piracetam is sold in the U.K. as a treatment for muscle twitching, but it’s not approved in the U.S. as a medication. It’s marketed as a nootropic, but investigations into the drug’s potential cognitive benefits have not been conclusive. At most, piracetam appears to have a mild effect.


Oxiracetam is a mild stimulant that is marketed as a nootropic drug. Research suggests that it is safe to use, but it has yet to be approved for any medical purposes in the United States.


Phenylpiracetam, an analog of piracetam, was developed in 1983 by researching in the Soviet Union. They designed this drug with the express purpose of helping cosmonauts manage extended periods of stress. Animal research has also suggested that the medication may be useful for improving memory, as well as treating anxiety, depression, and amnesia.


Aniracetam is sold as a prescription drug in Europe, but it is currently unregulated in the U.S. It is used in alternative medicine to improve memory, concentration, and mental alertness. It is also sometimes used for the treatment of ADHD, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions.

Dietary Supplements and Other Chemicals

Dietary supplements are often are legal, over-the-counter herbs or pills that may do nothing or seem to have some mild effects. Common supplements include ginseng, ginkgo, and sage.

Many other unrelated chemicals have been researched for their potential cognitive effects. In some cases, chemicals can be combined in formulas called nootropic “stacks” that are touted to amplify benefits.

Some users even mix and match various chemicals in self-experimentation. This activity can be dangerous, however, and it’s generally not a good idea to combine chemicals if it is uncertain how they will react together.

Study Drugs

What Are Nootropics? | Harmony Recovery Center

Many students abuse prescription drugs for reasons that aren’t related to medical or recreational use. Instead, they are using specific drugs to help them study and possibly increase their academic performance.

ADHD drugs, such as Adderall and Ritalin, are designed to increase focus and attention. Even people who don’t have attention problems, however, can experience some sought-after effects. These may include an increase in focus, alertness, and the ability to recall more information.

Students sometimes use these drugs for all-night cramming sessions before an exam. They often report positive results, including improved test scores and grades.

Unfortunately, stimulant abuse can result in negative effects and undesirable outcomes related to health and long-term academic performance. Stimulants can cause insomnia, which can impair overall cognitive functioning. Also, sleep deprivation can result in problems such as weight loss and depression.

Like methamphetamine, ultra high doses of prescription amphetamines have sometimes been known to induce psychotic symptoms comparable to schizophrenia. Stimulant-induced psychosis is a severe psychological problem that often requires medical assistance. Using prescription drugs in this way is considered abuse and may be more likely to lead to dependence and addiction.

Getting Help For Nootropics Addiction or Abuse

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder that’s related to nootropic substances, other drugs, or alcohol, help is available! Addiction is a potentially life-long disease that often requires comprehensive treatment to overcome.

Harmony Recovery Center specializes in the treatment of addiction and co-occurring mental illnesses such as depression. We offer integrated programs in both partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. Programs include clinically-proven services found to be beneficial for the process of recovery. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Music and art therapy
  • Individual/family counseling
  • Trauma recovery
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Education workshops
  • Health and wellness education

Clients at Harmony Recovery Center often have many of these therapies incorporated into their treatment plans to address their many different mental and emotional requirements.

You don’t have to suffer any longer! Contact us today and discover how we help people free themselves from the shackles of addiction for life!

READ THIS NEXT: What Does Meth Look Like?

Meth Effects: Immediate and Long-Term

Meth Effects: Immediate and Long-Term | Harmony Recovery NC

Meth Effects: Immediate and Long-Term – Meth (methamphetamine) is a stimulant and a potent, highly concentrated drug currently categorized as a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States. Meth acts on the brain, causing a flood of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of euphoria and energy.

About Meth Abuse

Meth is often created in labs using over-the-counter cold medications containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. Meth typically also includes several toxic chemicals such as fertilizer, red phosphorus, anhydrous ammonia or drain cleaner.

Users frequently suffer from a myriad of adverse mental, emotional, and physical meth effects, including the following:

  • Permanent brain damage
  • Heart disease
  • Memory problems
  • Impaired thinking
  • Violence and rage
  • Psychosis

Immediate Meth Effects

Smoking or injecting meth initiates an immediate, highly pleasurable rush. Snorting the drug leads to feelings of euphoria within 3-5 minutes, but oral use of meth takes effect in 15-20 minutes. Although the rush doesn’t last longer than 30 minutes, other effects, including an exaggerated sense of confidence and an increased sex drive, can last up to 12 hours.

Abusers may also encounter less pleasant meth effects such as stomach cramps, constipation, eye twitching, and severe mood swings.

Long-Term Meth Effects

“Meth Mouth”

Significant dental problems, including stained, rotting and broken teeth, are common long-term meth effects. This condition, known as “meth mouth,” is the result of decreased saliva production, poor hygiene, poor diet and compulsive teeth clenching and grinding.

“Crank Bugs”

Meth users can also experience the sensation of bugs crawling under the skin. As a result, the itching and picking at the skin caused by these imaginary bugs produces inflamed open sores.

Dramatic Weight Loss

Because meth use suppresses appetite, then can lead to severe weight loss, sometimes to the point of malnutrition that causes users to appear sick, haggard, and older than they are. It’s not uncommon for meth users to become isolated, remaining at home so that friends and family won’t see the radical changes in their appearance.


Because meth is so potent, use of the drug brings on chemical changes, causing the brain to require more of the drug to feel normal (this is known as tolerance, see below). Even ruminating about the pleasant feelings and emotions induced by meth use can release dopamine and instigate powerful cravings. Many former users experience cravings for months after drug use has stopped.


According to DSM-IV Substance Dependence Criteria, tolerance is characterized by a need for increasing amounts of a drug to feel the desired effect, or a gradually diminished effect that results from consistent use of the same amount.

Also, the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that some long-term meth users may lose the ability to feel pleasure without using meth, which results in increased drug use and higher tolerance.


The American Psychiatric Association describes dependence as “a pattern of substance abuse that leads to significant impairment or distress.” Chemical dependence occurs along with prolonged drug use that results in the body growing accustomed to the drug’s presence and becoming less able to function properly without it.

The time it takes to develop a meth dependency can vary, although frequent meth abusers and intravenous drug users become dependent much sooner. Most users exhibit symptoms of dependence within 4-6 weeks, and some report developing a powerful dependence after just a single use.


Meth Effects: Immediate and Long-Term | Harmony Recovery NC

As dependence increases and the body continues to require more meth, users encounter severe withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. The earliest symptoms often include strong cravings and feelings of hopelessness, apathy, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Withdrawal symptoms also include:

  • Impaired memory and concentration
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Aches and pains
  • Sleeping problems
  • Increased appetite
  • Hallucinations
  • Diminished sex drive
  • Lack of energy
  • Distorted thinking and paranoia

How Meth Addiction Destroys Lives

Meth addiction can lead to many legal issues for the user. The problems originate from obtaining and using the drug and may also result from the paranoia, violence, and rage that are often associated with meth use.

Meth users often find themselves in legal trouble for theft, sales and distribution of a controlled substance, assault and battery, manufacture of meth and allowing a child to be present in a location where meth is being made. Most are felonies punishable by jail or prison time and steep fines.

However, legal issues are only one cause of life-changing financial problems for meth users. While meth is a relatively inexpensive, frequent drug, users often spend a great deal of money to maintain the habit. Many meth addicts will lose their jobs and are much less likely to find further employment if convicted of a meth-related crime.

A loved one’s meth use often burdens family members and partners, and this puts a great deal of stress on familial and social ties. Children can be negatively and permanently affected by a parent’s meth use. Friendships are strained or destroyed when meth users ignore old friends in favor of new, meth-using companions.

Treatment for Meth Addiction

Meth addiction is an astonishingly destructive disease that can cause extensive damage to the body and mind, resulting in serious health problems, mental illness, and even death.

Those persons addicted to meth are urged to participate in a long-term addiction treatment program on an inpatient, partial hospitalization, or outpatient basis. Our center offers integrated, evidence-based services that include behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, individual and family counseling, group support, and more.

We employ compassionate medical professionals with expertise in addiction who provide clients with the support and tools they need to succeed at recovery and experience longstanding wellness and sobriety.

We can help you restore sanity to your world and reclaim the fulfilling life you deserve! Contact us now to find out how!

Related: How to Identify Drug Overdose Symptoms

Slamming Meth

Slamming Meth - Methamphetamine (meth) is a dangerous and addictive drug that stimulates the central nervous system (CNS).

Slamming Meth – Methamphetamine (meth) is a dangerous and addictive drug that stimulates the central nervous system (CNS), resulting in a boost in brain activity, breathing, body temperature, and heart rate. Meth is most often used for its euphoric effects and ability to increase energy and alertness and decrease appetite, but it can also have a severe and debilitating impact on a person’s physical and mental health, as well as on the lives and emotional well-being of those close to them.

Meth can be administered using several methods – it can be consumed orally, or by smoking, snorting, or injecting it. Injecting meth is also known as “slamming” or “shooting.” No means of administration is ever safe, but injecting poses risks that may be more severe than others. For one, slamming meth accelerates the development of addiction because of the intensity in which the effects are experienced.

“High” Effects and Side Effects of Slamming Meth

Shooting or injecting causes meth to reach the brain rapidly, and produces an intense “rush” or feeling of euphoria. This feeling only lasts for a few moments, however, so the user needs to inject more of the drug to continue experiencing pleasure. This is precisely why meth is frequently used in a binge pattern, as the user repeatedly shoots up over a brief period in an attempt to sustain the high.

Binging, which is eventually following by a phase called “tweaking” and a “crash,” could last for several days. During this time, individuals may neglect necessary functions (e.g., personal hygiene) in favor of meth use.

The euphoria felt by a meth user is the result of a rapid release of dopamine, a brain neurotransmitter involved with feelings related to pleasure and reward that positively reinforces drug-using behaviors due to the intense rush it provides.

In the early stages of a high, the user experiences the hallmark, sought-after effects including elation and energy, as well as a flurry of thoughts followed by rapid speech. The person may also exhibit increase impulsivity and a hyperactive sex drive.

In the later stages of the high, the user may suffer from restlessness, nervousness, psychosis, and paranoia. Cravings for more meth are likely to appear in the later phase, as well as a depressive mood, fatigue, and itching.

Dangers of Slamming Meth

Slamming meth can result in a number of serious health problems. These are related to both the use of the drug and the method of administration. Below are some complications caused by injecting meth:

  • Track lines
  • Puncture marks
  • Collapsed veins
  • Abscesses and skin infections

Users who slam meth also have an increased risk of contracting HIV, tuberculosis, and hepatitis B and C. The risk of contracting HIV is heightened due to both the sharing of needles and engaging in risky sexual activity, which is common for those who use meth due to increased libido. The following are additional damaging effects caused by meth abuse, regardless of the means of delivery:

  • Violent behavior
  • Mood disturbances
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Memory/cognitive impairments
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Impaired motor functioning
  • Seizures
  • Arrhythmias and palpitations
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Malnutrition and weight loss

Chemical Imbalances in the Brain and Brain Damage

Over time, slamming meth alters the user’s brain chemistry dramatically, and chronic use produces a tolerance, which is characterized by the need to use increasing amounts of the drug to feel the desired effects. The brain adapts to the continued presence of meth, and when the individual discontinues meth use, he or she will encounter withdrawal symptoms, such as extreme cravings, depression, and sleep disturbances.

Meth also has a significant impact on the dopaminergic system in the brain. As previously noted, using meth results in a surge of dopamine in the brain, which is responsible for the euphoric feelings associated with its use. Repeated meth use can have neurotoxic (brain-damaging) effects because the drug kills dopaminergic neurons, which then leads to depleted levels of the neurotransmitter in the brain.

Slamming Meth: Addiction and Treatment

Meth addiction is a devastating disease that gradually destroys the mind and body of those who use it and profoundly impacts those who love him or her. Individuals who are addicted to meth are urged to seek help as soon as possible before circumstances deteriorate further and lead to permanent impairments or death.

Our center offers integrated, evidence-based treatment in both partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient formats. All of our programs include services critical to the recovery process, such as psychotherapy, psychoeducation, individual and family counseling, and group support.

Our knowledgeable medical professionals administer care to our clients with compassion and expertise and provide them with the tools and assistance they need to recover and enjoy longstanding wellness and sobriety.

Please contact us immediately if you are ready to regain your life free of drugs or alcohol! We can help!

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

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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

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  • 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!

Meth Sores

Meth Sores | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

Meth Sores – Methamphetamine abuse can lead to disastrous effects on a person’s physical and mental health and overall well-being. Much of the damage caused by meth happens on the inside, but the most noticeable harm can be seen right on a person’s skin in the form of meth sores. These are primarily caused by the presence of “meth mites,” or non-existent bugs that the person is hallucinating.

People who use meth are notorious for exhibiting scratches, sores, scabs, and scars. These self-injuries are often associated with hallucinations that make the user believe they have insects crawling under their skin. Meth users often scratch at their skin to try to remove the imaginary bugs. However, several other factors can also contribute to meth sores, including injection track marks, malnutrition, and poor hygiene.

Meth Mites and Crank Bugs

“Meth mites” and “crank bugs” are street terms for the same type of hallucination. People who abuse meth tend to stay awake for several days at a time, and sleep deprivation itself can cause hallucinations in otherwise mentally healthy individuals. Researchers have not found an exact cause of these hallucinations, but there are many possible suggestions, including the following:

Cause 1: Meth use can produce itchiness, anxiety, and paranoia. After many days of sleep deprivation, those who abuse meth may start to perceive the itching as caused by something moving around beneath their skin.

Cause 2: People who abuse meth may have delicate skin due to malnutrition, bad hygiene, or the toxic ingredients used to produce meth. When high, users may compulsively pick or scratch at their already delicate skin, causing rawness, irritation, and sores.

Cause 3: Sleep deprivation and/or the psychotic features of “tweaking” may prompt a user to begin hallucinating and falsely believe that bugs are creating their skin problems.

Meth sores and scabs are characteristic signs of meth abuse. In general, those who abuse meth more often or for a more extended period are likely to display more sores than others. In addition to being unattractive to look at, meth sores can lead to health problems if they become infected. Some of these sores can be treated with disinfectants, but those that become infected will probably require medical assistance.

What Do Meth Sores Look Like?

Meth sores can differ in appearance depending on the cause, level of infection, and how long they’ve been present on a person’s skin. Meth sores on the body, however, tend to present as red dots, cuts, and rashes. On the face, meth sores can resemble pimples or acne.

Sores can also form around the lips or inside the mouths of those who smoke crystal meth. These sores can look similar to canker or cold sores, and they are one of the potential symptoms of what is also popularly referred to as “meth mouth.”

On other areas of the body, sores can sometimes appear similar to chickenpox blisters that the person has scratched. When a sore becomes infected, it may look like a bad blister with a brown or black center, and the blister may also be enlarged and pus-filled.

Without treatment, an infection can spread. If a user with these sores treats the sores properly and stops abusing meth, the wounds will ultimately heal and scar, and some will eventually fade away.

Meth Sores | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

Health Effects of Meth Sores

If a meth sore isn’t thoroughly cleaned and protected, bacteria can enter the person’s body. Minor infections can cause pain and discomfort, and if the infection expands and becomes severe, it can result in fever, fatigue, and diarrhea. Such infections that go unaddressed by medical professionals can be life-threatening. Signs of a burgeoning infection include redness and soreness around the affected area, as well as swelling and the presence of pus, blood, or both in the wound.

How to Treat Meth Sores

The most effective way to treat meth sores is to live a healthy lifestyle, allow time for them to heal on their own and, in the meantime, protect them from infection. The wounds should be cleaned with disinfectants or antiseptics such as hydrogen peroxide, and then bandaged. Avoid scratching, picking, or in any way interfering with the sore’s healing process.

And, of course, you should stop abusing meth immediately. Quitting any intoxicating substance is often easier said than done, and, therefore, people who are addicted to meth are urged to seek professional treatment.

Treatment for Meth Addiction

Harmony Recovery Center offers outpatient detox and integrated programs in both partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats. These programs employ services clinically-proven to be beneficial to the recovery process and include psychotherapy, counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and more.

If you are suffering from an addiction to meth, other drugs, or alcohol, contact us today. Discover how we can help you break free from the abuse of substances and foster the healthy and satisfying life you deserve!

Related: Slamming Meth

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!

Intravenous Drug Use Infections

Intravenous Drug Use Infections | Harmony Recovery Center

Intravenous Drug Use Infections – Intravenous drug use has been associated with many serious health risks. Injecting drugs places the user at an increased risk of contracting various infections and bloodborne diseases.

The most commonly injected drugs are opioids, such as heroin, fentanyl, and oxycodone. However, cocaine, meth, and anabolic steroids are also sometimes injected. Any drug that can be broken down into a powder form and mixed with water and/or liquified can be used intravenously.

How Intravenous Drug Use Causes Infection

Bacterial infections may develop when germs that live on the surface of the skin or contaminated needle are pushed deeper into the skin and the body during intravenous (IV) drug use. When this occurs, these germs are able to bypass the normal barriers and skin defenses that are there to protect us from these invaders.

Should the infection-causing bacteria reach the blood vessels, this may lead to extensive deep-tissue or vein infection. The contraction of bloodborne diseases, such as HIV and Hepatitis C, is also common among users who share unsterilized needles and other paraphernalia used for injection purposes.

For IV drug users living in poor conditions, such as on the streets or in unkempt drug den-like environments, a lack of hygiene can also contribute to the risk of acquiring other infections. The risk of infection is even higher when these factors are combined with malnutrition and impaired immunity, two conditions that are frequently associated with severe drug use.

Common Drugs for Intravenous Drug Use

As noted, the most common type of injected drugs are opioids, the most popular of which is heroin. Other opioid drugs frequently abused, either intentionally or unknowingly, are fentanyl and its analogs. Also, prescription painkillers can be crushed into a powder and then dissolved into a solution for injection.

Opioid use is associated with several physical effects, including the following:

  • A rush of euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced attentiveness
  • Memory problems
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impulsive behavior

Symptoms of an opioid overdose include:

  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Death

Other central nervous system (CNS) depressants, such as benzodiazepines, are sometimes abused by dissolving them and then injecting them, either alone or in conjunction with opioids or other drugs.

Stimulants are also popular with IV drug users because they quickly deliver a strong rush of euphoria, as well as increased energy, appetite suppression, and a reduced need for sleep. Cocaine, meth, and prescription stimulants such as Adderall are the most commonly injected.

Intravenous Drug Use Infections | Harmony Recovery Center

Infections from Intravenous Drug Use

Infections related to intravenous drug use include the following:

Staph Infections

Staphylococcus (staph) infections are among the most common types of infections related to intravenous drug use. It can manifest as a bump or boil that resembles a pimple or a spider bite, and the area may be red, swollen, and sore to the touch.

If a staph infection spreads to the lungs, it can induce symptoms of pneumonia, such as chills, fever, cough with yellowish or greenish sputum, and chest pain when breathing or coughing. The most common treatment for a staph infection involves a course of IV antibiotics and wound drainage.


Abscesses are tender masses of flesh surrounded by inflamed tissue. The center of the abscess is often filled with pus, bacteria, and other debris. If the infection spreads, fever and nausea may develop. If the infection is severe, antibiotics may be prescribed.

While some abscesses drain on their own, many need to be opened and drained by a doctor and then packed with gauze to prevent bleeding. Especially large abscesses that go unaddressed for an extended period are often slow to respond or resistant to antibiotics.


Symptoms of this skin infection include pain, fever, red streaking of the skin, swelling, tenderness, swollen lymph nodes, and leakage of yellow fluid from blisters. Treatments for cellulitis include oral antibiotics and elevation of the afflicted areas. Severe cellulitis may require hospital admission for IV antibiotics.

Necrotizing Fasciitis

Necrotizing fasciitis is a very serious condition. This infection, which is also commonly known as flesh-eating disease, can erupt suddenly and with little warning. Bacteria enters and propagates throughout the tissue beneath the skin, which in turn becomes red, swollen, and hot to the touch. Patients may also experience fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

When the bacteria in this condition spreads, the skin becomes black as gangrene begins to develop. If an infection is allowed to continue spreading, it may affect vital organs and can result in death. Treatments include surgery, antibiotics, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. In extreme cases, amputation of the infected limb may be required.


When spores from the Clostridium tetani bacteria invade the bloodstream via an open wound caused by an IV injection, tetanus can develop. Symptoms include spasms and tension in the jaw, neck, chest, and back. Generalized muscle spasms may lead to arching of the back known as opisthotonos.

Spasms associated with tetanus can affect breathing, and muscle contractions can become very intense and painful. Drooling, difficulty swallowing, fever, and irritability are also possible symptoms of tetanus. Treatments include tetanus immunoglobulin, antibiotics, sedative, and muscle relaxers.


Botulism is a condition that develops after exposure to certain bacterial toxins. It has the potential to be lethal when left unaddressed and is hallmarked by flaccid paralysis of muscles.

Other botulism symptoms can include blurry vision, dry mouth, muscle weakness, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, drooping eyelids, and constipation. Severe cases of botulism can lead to respiratory failure. It is treated using antitoxins to neutralize the neurotoxins in the blood.

Bacterial Endocarditis

Bacterial endocarditis is an infection of the heart valve that occurs when certain bacteria circulate through the bloodstream and begin to invade the heart muscle. Symptoms may include unintentional weight loss, fatigue, chills, fever, night sweats, back and abdominal pain, muscle aches and weakness, and stiff neck. Treatment for this condition typically includes IV antibiotics and possibly, heart surgery to repair or replace the affected heart valves.

Septic Thrombophlebitis

Septic thrombophlebitis is a subcutaneous vascular bacterial infection hallmarked by tender and swollen arms and legs. Symptoms include skin redness around a vein, localized swelling in an arm or leg, chills, fever, and fatigue.

If the condition worsens, symptoms may include breathing difficulties, hypotension, rapid pulse, impaired urination, confusion, and coma. Treatments for this condition include antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anticoagulants, and sometimes surgery to remove the infected vein.

Intravenous Drug Use Infections | Harmony Recovery Center

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that is easily spread via sexual intercourse and intravenous drug use. Telltale signs of this disease include abdominal pain, extreme fatigue, itchy skin, sore muscles, and dark urine.

An afflicted individual may also exhibit bleeding, redness on the palms and feet, and jaundice. Hepatitis C infection is treated with antiviral drugs that eliminate the virus from the body.


HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection can lead to the development of chronic autoimmune disease. Symptoms of HIV infection are often first falsely diagnosed as the flu and may include chills, fever, body aches, diarrhea, sore throat, nausea, and vomiting.

As the disease advances, the person may develop chronic itchy and flaky skin, oral thrush, extreme malaise, shingles, short-term memory impairment, and unintentional weight loss. Although there is no cure, many people with HIV live normal, active lives with appropriate treatment, which includes a variety of antiretroviral drugs used daily to suppress the virus and reduce its ability to spread.

Getting Treatment for IV Drug Use and Addiction

The misuse or abuse of any illicit drugs can be incredibly dangerous, but those risks are even higher when drug use is facilitated by IV injection. If you or someone you love is engaging in this type of drug abuse, or any substance abuse, please contact us immediately to discuss treatment options.

Harmony Recovery is a specialized addiction treatment center that offers multiple evidence-based therapies proven to be vital to the recovery process, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, medication-assisted treatment, and more.

Our team of highly-skilled, caring addiction specialists is dedicated to providing each client with the resources, tools, and support they need to achieve a full recovery and maintain long-lasting sobriety and wellness. Contact us today to find out how we can help!