Opiate Withdrawal

Opiate withdrawal

The length of time required for an opiate withdrawal to subside depends on several variables such as the person’s age, overall body chemistry, the dosage regularly consumed, and how long the abuse was underway.

Customarily, those who have been consuming higher doses for extended periods have more intense and longer-lasting withdrawals. Long-term opiate abusers usually must withstand at least five days of very uncomfortable withdrawals symptoms before they subside, though underlying physiological and psychological issues may exacerbate these symptoms.

Opioids are a class of drugs comprised of prescription medications such as morphine, OxyContin, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, as well as some illicit substances such as heroin. The term ‘opiates’ normally refers to substances which are directly derived from the opium poppy (e.g., morphine and codeine) while the rest of the drugs in the opioid class are purely synthetic. For the purposes of this article, ‘opioid’ and ‘opiate’ may be used interchangeably to refer to both types of drugs.

How Do Opiates Work?

Opioids stimulate the production of beta-endorphins which bind to and affect opioid receptors in the body, mitigating pain. Beta-endorphins also indirectly boost neural concentrations of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of happiness, reward, and euphoria. These dopamine-induced, recreational effects are the reason why people abuse opioids so regularly.

Opioids are remarkably useful in modern medicine. Yet, because they produce such profound alterations in brain chemistry, regular abuse of them almost always leads to an addiction that may be intractable without outside intervention.

Indeed, opioids are beguiling, and when under their spell, people report that use makes everything feel warm and pleasant and stress-free. Thus, without sufficient motivation to avoid the addiction outright, people may end up at their mercy – hopeless, unless someone rescues us.

Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last | Harmony Recovery Center

When a person takes a drug, over time their body becomes accustomed to the dose and requires more and more to achieve the desired effect – this is tolerance. As the body grows more tolerant, it begins to need the drug to function adequately – this is dependence. When a person’s body becomes chemically dependent on a substance, it enters a temporary state of dysfunction when that substance is absent – this is opioid withdrawal syndrome.

The worst aspects of opioid withdrawals occur within the first week, though some symptoms persist even longer. In all, withdrawal symptoms will last around one month, but depending on the person, it could take several months for all symptoms to abate. Long-lasting withdrawal symptoms typically include anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

Given that each person’s body is unique, a perfectly precise timeline for opiate withdrawals is impossible to establish. That said, we can construct a general timeline with which most cases of opiate withdrawal follow.

Days 1-2

These first days are usually the most grueling, and because consuming more opioids resolves the withdrawals immediately, relapse becomes an intense temptation. In the earliest phases after the last dose, the soothing effect of the opiate will wear off, replaced by cravings for more opiates, restlessness, and anxiety. These symptoms will steadily become more powerful as the drug exits the system and leaves behind a chemical void in its wake.

Opioids with shorter half-lives, such as heroin, can produce withdrawals as soon as six to twelve hours following the last dose. Opioids with longer half-lives, such as buprenorphine or methadone, only begin producing symptoms after one or two days, once they finally wear off. For shorter-acting opioids, withdrawal symptoms peak between one to three days after the last dose and slowly fade throughout the first week.

At this time, the most conspicuous symptoms are muscle aches and pains. Opioids numb the nerves in our muscles, and once this numbness abates, the rebounding, over-excited nerves can’t regulate pain properly, causing pain and discomfort all over, but especially in the back and legs. The intensity of these pains can range from inconvenient to excruciating.

Symptoms arising in the first two days may include:

  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Lacrimation (teary eyes)
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • A runny nose
  • Profuse sweating
  • Severe Anxiety
  • Panic attacks

Days 3 – 5

The worst of the pain should now be over, but it may not be entirely gone. At this point, it may become difficult to keep food down due to nausea and vomiting. Diarrhea tends to lessen at this point, but mostly due to the loss of appetite.

Overall, the withdrawal symptoms of short-acting opioids should be subsiding. However, abusers of long-acting opioids may be suffering the peak of their withdrawals, experiencing excessive sweating, appetite loss, digestive issues, and trouble sleeping.

Symptoms experienced between the third and fifth days may include:

  • Goosebumps
  • Shivering
  • Stomach aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety

After Day 5

On the sixth or seventh day, the most harrowing symptoms have tapered off, but the battle is not over, however.

Eating may still be challenging, nausea and anxiety may persist. During this time, the body is recalibrating its ability to create and distribute endorphins adequately.

After about a week, natural endorphin-regulating faculties are returning, allowing the individual some normalcy regarding what they feel. Nevertheless, the full return of chemical stability may take over a month.

Treatment for Opiate/Opioid Addiction

Opiate addiction is life-threatening conditions and should be treated with a medical detox followed by inpatient or intensive outpatient therapy. Our programs offer comprehensive, evidence-based treatment including behavior therapy, counseling, and group support.

Our medical and mental staff employ expertise in substance abuse and addiction and provide clients with the tools they require to attain sobriety and enjoy long-lasting happiness and wellness during recovery.

What Are the Effects of Oxycodone Withdrawal?

List of Opioids Strongest to Weakest | Harmony Recovery NC

What Are the Effects of Oxycodone Withdrawal? – Oxycodone and other opioid painkillers are among the most commonly abused prescription drugs. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, about 75% of those who misuse opioids do so with either hydrocodone or oxycodone, and nearly 45% of that group favors oxycodone.

Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms can persist for up to one week and may include the following:

  • Irritability and agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression and thoughts of suicide
  • Impaired concentration
  • Headaches and body aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose
  • High blood pressure
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)

What is Oxycodone Dependence?

Oxycodone is the active ingredient in OxyContin, a brand name prescription opioid. Oxycodone works by activating opioid receptors and altering levels of dopamine in the brain, thereby modifying pain perception and inducing euphoric feelings – this action makes opioids some of the most addictive drugs. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and chemical messenger critical to brain processes that regulate pleasure and reward.

Withdrawal symptoms are a product of dependence. Dependence occurs when the brain becomes accustomed to the consistent presence of oxycodone, and, after a prolonged period of opioid receptor activation and altered chemical messaging, becomes unable to function correctly without it.

As a result, when someone discontinues oxycodone, the brain will try to regain balance, and withdrawal symptoms occur. Abruptly stopping oxycodone use can disrupt vital signs and lead to multiple withdrawal effects, both physical and psychological. It is not recommended to stop taking oxycodone “cold turkey,” without the help of a qualified addiction specialist.

Potential Symptoms of Oxycodone Withdrawal

Physical Symptoms

Physically, withdrawal from opioids is usually similar to the experience of having the flu. As such, a person undergoing an oxycodone withdrawal may experience the following flu-like symptoms:

  • Body aches
  • Chills and sweats
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Runny nose
  • Headaches
  • Excessive yawning and tearing

High blood pressure, irregular heart rate, and difficulty breathing are more serious side effects that may also manifest once someone has become deeply dependent on oxycodone and stops using it. Side effects of withdrawal are not usually life-threatening, but dangerous complications can occur, so opioid withdrawal should be monitored closely.

Psychological Symptoms

Oxycodone Withdrawal | Harmony Recovery NC

The psychological symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal may also be very unpleasant because the chemicals in the brain associated with positive emotions and motivation may take time to recover to previous levels.

Emotional and psychological symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal may include:

  • Irritability and agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mental “fog”
  • General discomfort

A person undergoing oxycodone withdrawal may also experience intense drug cravings and the desire to revert to using the drug as a means to alleviate the side effects of withdrawal.

Detox and Oxycodone Withdrawal Duration

Note that withdrawal is the multitude of side effects that manifest when a person who is dependent on a drug discontinues using it, while detox refers only to the process of eliminating the substance from the system.

Oxycodone withdrawal usually onsets within 8-12 hours of the last use, and peaks in the first 72 hours. Symptoms generally abate in about one week, although some of the psychological effects and drug cravings may continue for much longer.

The time frame within which withdrawal symptoms begin depends upon the average dose of oxycodone used and the method in which it has been administered. Immediate-release formulas have a half-life of 3-4 hours, for instance, while extended-release oxycodone has a longer half-life of around 12 hours.

Also, as opposed to swallowing a pill orally, injecting, snorting, or smoking oxycodone transports the drug more rapidly into the bloodstream, suggesting that it will result in a more rapid onset of effects but will be active for a shorter period. In some cases, a medical detox program may begin even before withdrawal symptoms start and the drug is still active in the body. The drug can be safely removed using this method.

During a medical detox, individuals are monitored around the clock for several days and medications may be administered to manage the more difficult withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox ensures that an individual is stable before moving on with a comprehensive substance abuse treatment program.

Treatment for Oxycodone Addiction

While medications such as Suboxone and naltrexone are available to help patients endure oxycodone withdrawals and recover from addiction, most addiction professionals recognize that medications alone are not the complete answer for preventing relapse and maintaining long-lasting abstinence. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects many aspects of a person’s mental and physical health, and a comprehensive approach is needed to treat it adequately.

Moreover, evidence-based behavioral therapies, individual and group counseling sessions, and support groups should also be included in an integrated treatment program. Our center offers these services, expertly managed by addiction professionals who provide clients with the tools they so desperately need to recover.

You don’t have to wait another day to start reclaiming your life and forging a path to long-lasting sobriety and wellness. Call us as soon as possible to find out how we can help!

Related: How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last?

What Does Meth Look Like?

What Does Meth Look Like? | Harmony Recovery NC

What Does Meth Look Like? – Meth (methamphetamine) can be found in two common forms – as a crystalline powder and as glass-like rocks known as crystal meth. Less commonly, the drug is also sold in pills or as a waxy, gooey oil known as meth base.

Regardless of its form, meth delivers an intense and energetic high. It can also produce dangerous side effects, including a rapid and irregular heartbeat, elevated body temperature, convulsions, and even death.

People who routinely use meth can easily develop an addiction. Long-term meth use is well-known for its devastating health effects.

Meth is usually whitish or translucent, but it also can appear in a variety of colors depending on how it is prepared and what other drugs or substances are combined with it. Meth makers have been known to add food coloring or dye to batches of meth to help sell their product.

For example, they have reportedly added blue coloring to the drug in an attempt to mimic the purportedly pure blue meth produced by the fictional character Walter White in the popular AMC television series “Breaking Bad.” Pure meth, however, isn’t blue – it’s colorless.

What Does Meth Look Like?

Powdered Meth

Crystalline powder is a popular form of meth that is often snorted. Because meth dissolves in water and alcohol, it can also be administered by injection. Also, some people prefer to mix meth with a liquid and swallow it. Powdered meth may resemble cocaine or chalk dust depending on its coarseness. As noted, while the powder is usually white to off-white, it can also appear yellow, pink, or a variety of other shades.

The processes and materials used to manufacture the drug affect its color. For example, cooking meth using red pseudoephedrine tablets can give the powder a pink or reddish color. Meth produced with gun scrubber, a gun cleaning product sold in sporting goods stores, can have a green color. Solvents such as camping stove fuel can result in a bluish tint.

Crystal Meth

Powdered meth can be transformed into crystal meth, a more potent form that looks like shiny fragments of glass, quartz or rock salt. Crystal meth is produced by dissolving meth powder in a solvent, such as acetone or denatured alcohol.

As the concoction evaporates, clear, chunky translucent, white, or bluish-white crystals form around the edge of the mixing container. This form of meth is typically smoked or injected. It induces a longer-lasting high than powdered meth and more intense physical effects.

Small doses of crystal meth will increase a person’s energy levels and suppress their appetite. But using large amounts, especially on a routine basis, can lead to severe psychological issues, such as paranoia, hallucinations, and violent rage. Other signs of meth use include marked weight loss, tooth decay, sores, and frequent scratching.

Meth Tablets

What Does Meth Look Like? | Harmony Recovery NC

Desoxyn (methamphetamine hydrochloride) is a prescription-only stimulant indicated to treat particularly stubborn attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or as a treatment for obesity. Although it has a very limited medical use and is not as popular as other better-known medications like Adderall or Ritalin, it is still used often enough to be of significance. Moreover, Desoxyn pills may be diverted from legitimate prescription holders and used illicitly.

Meth is sometimes sold as a small, green or reddish-orange colored pill known as yaba that contains a mix of caffeine and approximately 30% methamphetamine. Similar to ecstasy and other club drugs, yaba is often stamped with logos, most commonly the letters R or WY.

Although people usually swallow yaba, some melt the pills and inhale the vapor or crush and snort it. It can also be combined with solvents and injected into a vein.

The pills primarily originate from Burma and are sold in Thailand, but they have also been trafficked into the U.S. through the mail. Yaba is most common in East and Southeast Asia, but meth pills have been found in the U.S. rave scene, as well.

Liquid Meth

Drug smugglers frequently dissolve meth in water and traffic the drug in liquid form. Liquid meth is a syrup-like, dark yellow fluid that is usually stored in liquor bottles and other common containers.

However, meth is rarely sold on the streets as a liquid. After it is trafficked, it is usually boiled back into a powder for consumption or sale.

Treatment for Meth Addiction

Meth addiction is a devastating condition that gradually destroys the mind and body of those who suffer from it. Individuals who are dependent on meth are encouraged to seek help as soon as possible before circumstances worsen further and result in permanent impairments or death.

Our center offers comprehensive, 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.

We employ caring, knowledgeable medical professionals who administer services to our clients with compassion and expertise and also provide them with the resources they so desperately 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!

Related: What are Schedule II Drugs?

Opioid vs Opiate

Opiates vs Opioids: Is There a Difference? | Harmony Recovery NC

Opioid vs Opiate: Is There a Difference? – Opiates are natural, psychoactive compounds found in the opium poppy. These include morphine, codeine, and thebaine, and are commonly used for the treatment of pain and other health conditions. The term “opiate” may also sometimes refer to semi-synthetic substances derived from these natural substances, such as heroin.

Opioids, comparatively, are any substances that act on opioid receptors in the body. The term “opioids” is often used to describe both prescription and illicit drugs, including those that are partially derived from opiates, such as oxycodone, and those that are fully synthetic, such as fentanyl.

Because of the confusion involving the two terms and their non-standardized use, the term “opiate” is rapidly becoming obsolete, in favor of using “opioid” to describe all of these drugs. With little reason to differentiate between natural, semi-synthetic, and synthetic opioids, the term “opioid” is most often used, even by health providers, in reference to the complete range of similar-acting substances.

Moreover, there is a difference between the two, chemically, but it is okay to say “opioid” whether it is natural or not. Substances that are derived from opium alkaloids and are very chemically similar (e.g., heroin) are often considered to be both opioids and opiates. Conversely, other substances that are chemically different from opium alkaloids, but which still act on the opioid receptors (e.g., fentanyl) are considered to be opioids but not opiates.

Opiate Defined

Opiates are chemicals culled from the poppy plant, Papaver somniferum. Humans have cultivated these plants for thousands of years to produce opium, which has medicinal properties, including as a treatment for pain, as a cough suppressant, an anti-diarrheal, and to induce sleep. In addition to these effects, opium can also generate intense feelings of well-being, which is the primary reason why opiates and opioids are so addictive.

Opium alkaloids, the chemicals that are responsible for these medicinal and recreational effects, are often referred to as “opiates.” Opium alkaloids can be used as stand-alone drugs or in the synthesis of other compounds and include the following:


Morphine is the most abundant alkaloid found in opium and is also the compound that has been used most often for medical purposes. Morphine is frequently administered to manage pain but is also a critical component in deriving a number of semi-synthetic medications, such as hydromorphone. Heroin also comes from morphine but is much more potent.


Codeine is another important opium alkaloid that is used as a medicinal compound and to derive semi-synthetic substances. In addition to the treatment of pain, codeine is also found in some prescription cough syrups.


Thebaine is the most virulent of the opium alkaloids, but it is used in the manufacture of popular semi-synthetic painkilling medications, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Opioid Defined

Opiates vs Opioids: Is There a Difference? | Harmony Recovery NC

An opioid is any substance that can be consumed, snorted, inhaled, or injected that acts on opioid receptors in the body. Opioid receptors are proteins that can be found in the brain, spinal cord, and digestive tract, and also interact with compounds the body makes naturally, known as endogenous opioids.

In addition to heroin, semi-synthetic opioids include prescription medications such as the following:

  • Oxymorphone (Opana)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Oxecta, Roxicodone)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)

Fully synthetic opioids include prescription medications such as the following:

  • Fentanyl (Abstral, Actiq, Fentora, Duragesic, Lazanda, Subsys)
  • Methadone (Methadose, Dolophine)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Tramadol (ConZip, Ryzolt, Ultram)

Drugs classified as opioids also include medications that work on opioid receptors but in an antagonistic way. Opioid agonists, such as the aforementioned, activate the receptors to produce therapeutic and euphoric effects. Opioid antagonists, on the other hand, bind to the receptors but do not activate them, thereby blocking the action of agonist opioids.

Such opioids are used to treat opioid overdoses (e.g., naloxone) and to help recovering addicts resist the urge to relapse. They include naltrexone (Vivitrol), naloxone (Narcan) and buprenorphine (Butrans, Buprenex, Probuphine). Suboxone is a combination drug frequently prescribed to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms and includes a combination of naloxone and buprenorphine.

Narcotics Defined

The term “narcotic” has historically been used in reference to a number of psychoactive substances. Today, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) more explicitly defines narcotic drugs as those that alleviate pain and dull the senses, characteristics most commonly associated with opiate and opioid drugs.

Naturally occurring opiates, semi-synthetic, and synthetic and opioids are considered to be narcotics, which include both legally prescribed and illicit variations.

Below is a list of the most commonly used narcotics and opioids drugs:

  • Opium
  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Tramadol
  • Morphine
  • Hydromorphone
  • Fentanyl
  • Carfentanil

Opioid vs Opiate vs Narcotics

What is important is that regardless of the distinction or word usage, any opioid or opiate has the potential to treat pain and other medical conditions, but are also frequently abused and can cause dependence. And although some people use the term “narcotic” more broadly, it most accurately refers to opioids and not other types of drugs.

Opioid Dependence and Withdrawal

All opioids and opiates carry some potential for tolerance and dependence. Generally speaking, stronger opioids, especially if they are snorted, smoked, or injected, are more dangerous in this regard than weaker ones, but all can become habit-forming.

Over time, repeated exposure to these drugs can produce tolerance, a condition in which the user needs to administer increasing amounts of the drug to achieve the desired effect. Closely related is dependence, a condition that occurs when a person is forced to the drug to prevent unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and mitigate cravings.

The length of time it takes to become physically dependent on these substances varies with each person, and also depends on the drug itself, the usual method of administration, and the average amount and frequency it is being used.

Moreover, when the person discontinues using the drugs, the body needs time to recover and reestablish a balance. During this time, withdrawal symptoms manifest, usually within a few hours, and can last several days. Withdrawal from opioids can occur any time prolonged use is stopped or significantly reduced.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Opioid withdrawal symptoms are very uncomfortable but are usually not life-threatening.

Opiates vs Opioids: Is There a Difference? | Harmony Recovery NC

Early symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

Late symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea and vomiting

Opioid Overdose

Taking excessive amounts of an opioid or combining it with other drugs or alcohol can result in a life-threatening overdose. If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately.

Symptoms of an opioid overdose include the following:

  • Confusion, delirium, or acting drunk
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Breathing problems, such as slowed or labored breathing
  • Excessive sleepiness, or the inability to wake up
  • Periodic loss of consciousness
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Cold, clammy skin, or bluish skin (cyanosis) around the lips or under the fingernails

Depressed breathing is the most dangerous effect of opioid overdose. Lack of oxygen to the brain can not only lead to irreversible neurological damage but may also be accompanied by the failure of other organ systems, such as the heart and kidneys.

Treatment for Opiate or Opioid Addiction

Addiction to opioids or opiates can be successfully treated managed as a chronic illness through the use of residential or outpatient treatment, ongoing therapy, group and family support, lifestyle changes, and for some people, medication.

Our center offers these evidence-based services, delivered by caring medical professionals with compassion and expertise. We provide clients with the support and resources they so desperately need to achieve abstinence and sustain long-lasting sobriety and wellness.

You can once again be happy and experience life to its fullest, free of drug and alcohol! Call us today to find out how!

Related: Why Is Heroin So Addictive?

Drug and Alcohol Relapse: Three Stages

Alcohol Relapse | Harmony Recovery NC

Drug and Alcohol Relapse: Three Stages – For many people in recovery, relapse is part of the process. In fact, according to DrugAbuse.gov, about half of addicts relapse at least once after choosing to abstain from drugs or alcohol.

If a person relapses, this doesn’t necessarily indicate a failed recovery. Many consider relapse as a learning experience and are better able to identify triggers and know what to avoid the next time around. Although relapse is frequently unintentional and impulsive, there are definite warning signs that foretell when a relapse is imminent.

Three Stages of Relapse

Relapse is believed to consist of three distinct stages – emotional, mental and physical.

Emotional Relapse

During this stage, the person is not actively thinking about using drugs or drinking alcohol. Their behavior and actions, however, may be setting them up to travel down that path.

Emotional relapse can be identified by symptoms such as anxiety, anger, defensiveness, moodiness, isolation, failure to attend arranged meetings, and poor eating and sleeping habits.

It is thought that this stage of relapse is a precursor to post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), a phase during which an addict encounters emotional and psychological withdrawals rather than merely physical ones.

Moreover, physical withdrawals only continue for a couple of weeks, whereas PAWS can persist up to two years after an addict stops using.

Mental Relapse

During this stage, the brain is vacillating between using and not using substances. Part of the addict wants to use, while the other part wants to continue with their recovery.

Signs of mental drug or alcohol relapse often include reminiscing about people and places associated with a past life, romanticizing prior use, being deceptive, hanging out with people who use, thinking about relapse and even preparing for one.

Often, the person in recovery is the only one who can identify these symptoms of mental relapse as internal struggles are much more difficult for others to recognize.

Methods to Prevent Mental Relapse

When the process of mental drug or alcohol relapse starts, there are some ways in which an addict can regain control of their thoughts and feelings and make the choice to avoid relapse.

1. Call someone – a sponsor, friend, or family member.

Communicating the presence of urges to another person can help to identify reasons for the desire to use and why one ought not. Talking feelings through with another person can make them less daunting, as well as help one be rational and analyze reasons for wanting to use. Being able to talk to someone about urges can promote clarity as to why using will not solve problems and only produce more.

2. Wait 30 minutes.

Before hastily acting on an urge to use, one should wait half an hour and reevaluate the urges and the reasoning behind them. Cravings usually don’t last longer than this, and sometimes the passing of time can help clear things up.

3. Consider what would happen to have one drink or use once.

It is unlikely that it would stop there, and an addict who takes this step will eventually find him or herself at the same rock-bottom as before. Thinking about actions and consequences can reduce the desire to use.

4. Don’t think about every day – think about today.

Even those who have been in recovery for decades manage their sobriety one day at a time. Thinking about abstinence regarding years or indefinitely is usually too intimidating for anyone, and will likely result in feeling overwhelmed and awaken the desire to use.

Instead of thinking about forever, concentrate on making it through each day without using. Then, focus on that again the following day, and repeat. The days eventually begin to add up.

Physical Relapse

Alcohol Relapse | Harmony Recovery NC

Unfortunately, the techniques in stage two are not useful for everyone, and some people resort to acting on their urges to use. This stage of relapse includes the actual decision to use.

When an addict enters this stage of relapse, some will continue to use for weeks or months, but others recognize the gravity of what they’ve done and once again begin to focus on recovery.

After relapse, there are specific steps that one can take to get back on the right track.

What to Do in Case of Physical Relapse

1. Spend time with appropriate people who do not use and support your sobriety.

Rather than continuing to hang out with friends who use, call a sponsor or sober friend and make plans. If you feel comfortable, discuss the reasons for your relapse and figure out what you can do differently in the future to prevent the same thing from happening again.

2. Let yourself experience your emotions and identify where they are originating.

Relapse is often the product of emotions such as guilt, shame, and frustration, which are not enjoyable but sometimes need to be felt and processed.

Continuing to ignore your feelings will likely result in using again, so it is essential to allow yourself to feel and to validate those feelings. Crying or asking for help is not a sign of weakness – it’s a bold move if you care about your sobriety.

3. Don’t isolate yourself.

Although engaging with people who don’t always understand what you’re going through may be the last thing you want, make plans anyway. Spending too much time alone can result in feelings of isolation, which may further lead to another relapse.

Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

If you have experienced a drug or alcohol relapse during recovery, it’s never too late to try again. Our center offers evidence-based therapeutic services that are delivered by caring addiction professionals.

We provide clients with the tools they need to attain abstinence, avoid relapse, and enjoy long-lasting sobriety and wellness.

We can help you reclaim the life and happiness you deserve! Call us today to find out how!

How to Identify Drug Overdose Symptoms

Drug Overdose Symptoms | Harmony Recovery Center

How to Identify Drug Overdose Symptoms – Drug or alcohol abuse comes with the risk of severe side effects, including overdose. Drug overdoses are usually accidental, meaning that a person takes more of a prescription drug than directed by a doctor or uses an illicit drug such as heroin in a potentially life-threatening amount.

Intentional overdoses typically occur when a person is actively trying to commit suicide – or at least someone experiencing feelings of apathy about life. These are less common, but tragically, they do happen. Regardless of intent, a drug overdose, if survived, can have long-lasting effects on a person’s physical and mental health.

Drug Overdose Symptoms

Drug overdose symptoms and signs can vary depending on the substance used, and whether it was taken in combination with additional drugs or alcohol.

Common drug overdose symptoms and signs may include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Unsteady gait
  • Chest pain
  • Severe respiratory depression or respiratory arrest
  • Gurgling sounds (death rattle)
  • Bluing of the lips or fingertips (cyanosis)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abnormally high body temperature (hyperthermia)
  • Agitated, aggressive, or violent behavior
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Convulsions, tremors, or seizures
  • Unresponsiveness, unconsciousness, or coma
  • Death

A person may not display all or even most of these drug overdose symptoms, but just a few of these signs may indicate a person is suffering from an overdose.

Overdose Risk Factors

The abuse of any substance always carries a risk of overdose. However, some behaviors and conditions may further increase that risk, including the following:

  • Having a physiological dependency on the substance
  • Prior overdose(s)
  • Abusing multiple substances, including alcohol
  • Using a large amount of the substance during one episode
  • Dropping out of addiction treatment or rehab
  • Steadily increasing the dose of the substance over time
  • Hesitation to seek emergency help when needed
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Being recently released from incarceration
  • Past suicide attempts
  • Resuming drug use after a prolonged period of sobriety
  • Low level of physical tolerance

Tolerance refers to a condition that occurs when the body has grown accustomed to the presence of the drug, and the user requires increasing amounts or more frequent doses of the drug to achieve the desired effect. If a person continues to increase a dose or take the drug more frequently, he or she may have a significantly higher risk of experiencing an overdose.

Tolerance may also impact a person’s overdose risk in another way. For example, people with a history of heavy drug or alcohol abuse may develop a considerable tolerance to the effects of a substance, allowing them to use more than someone who has less exposure to the substance in question.

Following attempts to quit drug use or any period of abstinence, tolerance can diminish in the drug-free interval. If that person suddenly returns to using the drug, especially in amounts to which they may have once been accustomed, overdose may be more likely.

What to Do in Case of a Drug Overdose

What to Do in Case of a Drug Overdose

If you notice that a loved one is displaying these drug overdose symptoms and you suspect that they may be overdosing on drugs or alcohol, seek emergency medical attention by calling 911 immediately. If you are calling on behalf of a loved one, it might also be necessary for you to perform some of the following procedures while waiting for medical help to arrive.

Do not put your own safety at risk, however, because certain drugs can prompt violent or unpredictable behavior in the person under their influence.

  • Check to see if the person is breathing and try to determine their heart rate.
  • If the person is unresponsive, ask the person questions to evaluate their level of alertness and to keep them engaged, if at all possible.
  • If the person is not breathing, turn him or her onto their side.
  • If you are qualified to do so, provide CPR if needed and administer first aid as directed by the 911 operator.
  • Do not allow the person to use any more of the substance.
  • Gather as much information as possible, including the dose and the last time the person used the substance.
  • If prescription drugs or other labeled substances have been used, take the bottle or bag with you to the ER, even if it’s empty.
  • Make a note of any paraphernalia that may identify the drug that was used.
  • Do not try to reason or argue with the person overdosing or voice opinions about the situation.
  • Stay calm while waiting for first responders to arrive.
  • Reassure the person that help is on the way.

Preventing Drug Overdose

Naturally, not using drugs is the most effective way to prevent an overdose. But if you or someone you know is already experiencing addiction or exhibiting problematic substance use behavior, taking specific steps can help reduce the risk of an overdose, including the following:

Increase awareness of drug overdose symptoms and dangers.
Know the drug and dose of the drug you are taking.
Avoid using multiple substances in combination.
Start with a low dose if you haven’t used in a while.
Use in the presence of another person, if you must use.
Seek addiction treatment if you think you have a dependency.

Detox and Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Treatment for substance abuse and addiction problems can help prevent an overdose. Some treatment options to consider may include the following:

Medical Detox

The first stage in recovery is medical detox, in which a client will receive assistance managing withdrawal symptoms while their body rids itself of a substance and restabilizes. Following this, most clients generally switch gears and enter into a more formal recovery program to maximize their chances of a successful recovery.

Inpatient or Residential Treatment

Clients can select from many inpatient programs that can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Inpatient treatment programs offer a highly-structured environment with 24/7 mental health and medical care and support. Clients participate in a wide range of treatments, including group therapy, individual counseling, psychoeducational groups, and relapse prevention education classes.

Partial Hospitalization

Many patients transition from inpatient treatment to partial hospitalization, a highly-structured and therapeutically intensive outpatient program. Clients live at home but attend treatment sessions most days of the week for several hours per day.

Intensive Outpatient

During intensive outpatient treatment, clients reside outside the center at a private residence or sober living facility and undergo treatment sessions several hours per week. Services are usually available throughout the day or evenings, allowing clients the flexibility to attend to school, work, or family responsibilities.

Standard Outpatient

In outpatient treatment, clients attend regularly scheduled group therapy and individual counseling sessions one or two days or evenings each week. This form of treatment may be helpful for the long-term preservation of abstinence following completion of more intensive treatment and may continue for months or years if required.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that concentrates on identifying and altering dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors that have contributed to or perpetuated a substance abuse problem.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

In some cases, clients may receive specific medications to help them wean off the drug. Additional pharmaceutical intervention may be beneficial to address co-occurring mental or physical ailments.

Individual and Group Counseling

In individual counseling, clients interact one-on-one with a counselor to address psychological and social issues that may underpin addiction. In group counseling, a counselor leads a group of others in recovery, and clients receive peer support and learn from others who have experienced similar issues.

Our center offers these evidence-based, therapeutic services, delivered with compassion and expertise by caring addiction treatment professionals. We provide clients with the education, tools, and support they need to achieve abstinence and enjoy a long-lasting recovery.

We can help you restore balance and wellness to your life! Call us today to find out how!

Long-Term Effects of Meth

long-term effects of meth | harmony recovery center

Long-Term Effects of Meth – Meth (methamphetamine) is a powerful and usually illicit stimulant drug that can be administered in a variety of ways and cause widespread damage to one’s health and well-being. Some of the long-term effects of meth use can be more serious than those of other illicit drugs, and some may be irreversible.

Among the many adverse consequences of long-term meth use is the development of an addiction. Those addicted to meth will begin to engage in compulsive drug-seeking behavior and drug use despite adverse outcomes – an effect caused by meth’s ability to produce vast changes in the brain’s reward system.

Tolerance, Dependence, and Withdrawal

As with most long-term drug consumption, users tend to develop a tolerance to the meth, requiring higher and higher dosages to experience the desired effects. This condition occurs because of the brain’s tendency to reduce the impact of a psychoactive substance in response to repeated exposure. Tolerance increases the risk of overdose and further intensifies an addiction.

Also, over time, users can become dependent on meth, meaning that the brain has become so accustomed to the drug’s presence that it can no longer function properly without it. This condition results in highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when the user attempts to quit or cut back, including depression, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, and intense cravings.

long-term effects of meth | harmony recovery center

Research has revealed that long-term meth users’ brains are altered to the point that they find it difficult to experience pleasure other than that produced by the drug, which encourages further drug abuse. Chronic methamphetamine abusers may also experience symptoms such as the following:

  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Violent outbursts

Psychotic Effects

Excessive meth use can also produce psychotic features that include paranoia and delusions, as well as visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations. For example, some chronic meth abusers report the feeling of insects crawling under their skin.

Unfortunately, some of these psychotic features can continue for months or years after the user stops taking meth. In fact, recurrence of these symptoms can be triggered by stressful situations long after the person has discontinued use.

Emotion and Memory

Neuroimaging research has found that meth abuse significantly interferes with dopaminergic activity, leading to reduced motor function and impaired verbal learning. Others studies have shown that meth users exhibit severe damage in the region of the brain linked to memory and emotion.

Meth abuse can also adversely impact brain cells known as microglia, which support the brain by eliminating damaged neurons and defending against infections. However, excessive microglial activity in the brain can damage healthy neurons.

Imaging studies have revealed that the brains of former meth abusers have double the quantity of microglial cells compared to people who were never exposed to meth.

long-term effects of meth | harmony recovery center

Some Long-Term Effects of Meth are Irreversible

Studies have also shown that some of the brain damage induced by chronic meth abuse is partly reversible. Motor and verbal memory have shown some improvement after prolonged abstinence from meth – but this reversal may take more than a year.

One study, however, revealed that other brain functions damaged by meth use did not recover even after 14 months, and other research has found that meth use increases the risk of stroke and leads a higher incidence of Parkinson’s disease – conditions that are irreversible.

There are other physical effects that meth users can encounter including severe weight loss, skin sores and rampant tooth decay, tooth loss, and gum disease, a condition also known as “meth mouth.”

Other Damage

Chronic users can also experience an overall increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and arrhythmia – an irregular heartbeat that can result in cardiovascular collapse or death, as well as liver, kidney and lung damage.

Other irreversible long-term effects of meth include the following:

  • Irreparable damage to blood vessels in the brain and heart
  • Deterioration of tissues in the nasal cavity if snorted
  • Respiratory problems if smoked
  • Infections and abscesses if injected
  • Damage to the brain similar to Alzheimer’s disease

Treatment for Meth Addiction

Meth abuse and addiction are incredibly dangerous conditions that wreak havoc on the lives of those suffering and those around them. Treatment usually begins with a medical detox – a process in which the patient is monitored around the clock for several days while their body clears itself of harmful toxins.

After detox, patients are highly encouraged to enroll in an inpatient or intensive outpatient addiction treatment program. Our center offers comprehensive, integrated programs that include behavioral therapy, counseling, education, group counseling, and more.

Our center employs professional medical staff who deliver these services to our clients with compassion and expertise in addiction. We can provide clients with the skills, knowledge, and support they need to achieve abstinence and experience long-lasting sobriety and wellness.

You can regain your life free from drugs and alcohol! Call us now to find out how we can help!

What is Precipitated Withdrawal?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the years between 2000-2015, more than half a million people died from an opioid overdose. Since 2015, an estimated 91 people die each day as a result of the abuse or overuse of opioids, including prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, heroin, and fentanyl.

It is critical that individuals suffering from a narcotics addiction seek and receive help to defeat this condition. Suboxone, a prescription withdrawal medication that contains the partial opioid-agonist buprenorphine and the overdose-reversing drug naloxone is currently among the safest and most commonly used treatments.

These drugs have assisted many former addicts to end narcotic dependence, which is typically the first step to recovering from addiction. However, no one should ever use Suboxone or other withdrawal medications without the direction of a doctor or addiction specialist – misuse of these drugs can result in a condition known as precipitated withdrawal, which is very unpleasant and could contribute to relapse.

Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal

People who have relied on opioids for a prolonged period, even as prescribed, are likely to suffer from withdrawal symptoms upon cessation. This problem can be mitigated, however, using opioid replacement therapy such as buprenorphine to relieve withdrawal symptoms, or by weaning the patient from the original opioid until the body is no longer chemically dependent on it.

Moreover, if the person stops taking the drug abruptly, they are more likely to face uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Early stage opioid withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Moodiness, irritability, and agitation
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Insomnia
  • Flu-like muscle aches
  • Watery eyes and runny nose
  • Excessive yawning
  • Sweating

Later-stage opioid withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chills and goosebumps

Depending on the half-life of the opioid, withdrawal can begin within just a few hours, and symptoms typically subside after 1-2 weeks. Precipitated withdrawal symptoms are more severe, however, characterized by rapid onset versions of the aforementioned symptoms.

How Is Precipitated Withdrawal Unique?

Precipitated withdrawal occurs when a person with an addiction to full agonist opioids, such as heroin, switches to using a partial opioid agonist, such as buprenorphine. Although the partial opioid agonist attaches to the same mu receptors as full agonists, it does not produce the same effects because it does not exhibit the same amount of intrinsic activity at the mu receptor.

A partial agonist, however, can displace/replace the full agonist from the receptors, so the effects of the full agonist opioid stop abruptly. Because the receptor is not activated to an equivalent degree, there is a net decrease in agonist effects that causes precipitated withdrawal syndrome.

Precipitated Withdrawal | Harmony Recovery NC

In other words, when a person still has full agonist opioid chemicals in their body because they have not started withdrawing, introducing a partial agonist like buprenorphine can induce a rapid-onset withdrawal.

Withdrawal can happen quickly when someone doesn’t take their next dose of an opioid. But by comparison, precipitated withdrawal is typically much more intense, and the person suffering from it can become very ill and require hospitalization.

Drugs Involved in Precipitated Withdrawal Syndrome

As noted, Suboxone contains both buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist and anti-overdose medication that essentially kicks full and partial opioid agonists off mu receptors and attaches to them for a brief period. Although Naloxone does not completely prevent withdrawal symptoms, it will stop them for a few hours.

Naloxone, however, will only activate in Suboxone when the prescription drug is tampered with – this is designed to discourage a person taking Suboxone from abusing it to get high off the buprenorphine. When it is taken as directed, buprenorphine reaches opioid receptors and relieves withdrawal symptoms.

Naloxone itself, as found in Suboxone, does not produce precipitated withdrawal in people who use it – this condition is the result of the buprenorphine replacing a full opioid agonist when the chemical substance is still present in the person’s body.

Precipitated Withdrawal | Harmony Recovery NC

But Naloxone alone CAN precipitate withdrawal by eliminating full opioid agonists from the brain. This is an approach employed in rapid detox to remove opioids from the body and require the person to quickly end their chemical dependence on drugs. While withdrawal from opioids is not usually physically risky, this experience can be dreadfully painful and unlike long-term therapy and counseling does not address the person’s habits or rituals surrounding drug use.

Unfortunately, because there is no counseling addressed behavioral changes involved during this type of withdrawal, the individual it at a heightened risk to return to prior habits of taking drugs, and without physical tolerance, the dose they are accustomed to receiving could cause a life-threatening overdose. For this reason, rapid detox methods are not often recommended by professionals.

Another medication that can produce precipitated withdrawal is naltrexone. This drug is sometimes prescribed to people after they have fully detoxed from a alcohol or an opioid such as heroin. It partially blocks the high effects that these drugs cause, so if a person relapses, they do not experience the pleasure they normally expect.

However, if naltrexone is taken before the person has sufficiently detoxed from an opioid, the medication will precipitate withdrawal. There can be NO full or partial opioid agonists in the body, or else naltrexone will abruptly undermine the drug’s action on the brain.

Dosing Buprenorphine for Prevention of Precipitated Withdrawal

If a person doesn’t have a substantial tolerance to opioids, a large dose of buprenorphine can serve as a full opioid agonist and produce a high. Conversely, if an individual has a high tolerance for full opioid agonists such as heroin, the larger the dose of buprenorphine, the more severe the precipitated withdrawal will be if they have any amount of the full agonist still active in their body.

To avoid this, small doses of buprenorphine should be administered safely without the person noticing adverse effects.

Precipitated Withdrawal | Harmony Recovery NC

When starting on Suboxone or another buprenorphine therapy, however, the original drug of abuse should be stopped and the new medication withheld until the person begins to experience withdrawal symptoms. The onset of these indicates that the brain cannot access the amount of opioids expected, and this, as a result, impacts the behavior of neurotransmitters.

Ideally, an overseeing medical professional should use the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS) to evaluate the patient’s withdrawal – mild symptoms range from 5 -12 on COWS, which is the suitable point to begin buprenorphine therapy. Anything below 5 means that the person is not in full withdrawal yet, and anything above 12 can indicate severe suffering for the person.

Rehab and Medical Detox to Overcome Addiction

Collaborating with medical professionals to safely detox from opioids will prevent precipitated withdrawal or lessen the impact of the condition if it accidentally occurs.

Critically, however, detox is only the first step in overcoming addiction, and while important, ending the body’s dependence does not address the chronic illness of addiction. After detox, persons should undergo comprehensive therapy provided by a rehab program that can help the person change their behavior and attitudes surrounding drugs or alcohol, achieve sobriety, and enjoy a long-term, sustainable recovery.

You CAN regain your life and experience the happiness and wellness you deserve. Please contact us as soon as possible – we can help!

Fentanyl Withdrawal

Fentanyl Withdrawal | Harmony Recovery Center

When opioids such as fentanyl are used regularly for a prolonged period or in very high doses, the body can develop a physical dependence as it becomes used to the drug’s presence and unable to function without it. There is a high risk of dependence associated with powerful opioids such as fentanyl, and dependence will almost always lead to withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of the drug.

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that can be found in prescription form to manage severe pain but is also illegally manufactured and sold on the black market. It is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and has been involved in thousands of deaths in the U.S. alone. In fact, illicit fentanyl and other synthetic opioids became the main cause of overdose deaths in 2016.

Regardless of its origin, fentanyl use can quickly result in dependence and addiction and cause extremely unpleasant withdrawal effects if discontinued abruptly.

About Fentanyl Withdrawal

Potent opioids can cause dependence in just a few weeks, and as such, these drugs are typically only indicated for use for a short period of time. Fentanyl, however, is often used in cases where other painkillers aren’t effective or the person needs long-term pain relief, such as for cancer.

Plus, people often use illegal forms recreationally, sometimes unwittingly when the drug is laced with heroin or other illicit drugs. Using a drug as powerful as fentanyl regularly for any length of time is highly likely to result in dependence, addiction, and overdose.

While the experience of withdrawal symptoms is challenging, the consequences of continuing fentanyl use and abuse reflect an even greater potential for danger, such as respiratory depression or deadly overdose.

Symptoms of Fentanyl Withdrawal

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms, although often difficult to manage are usually not life-threatening. Symptoms vary depending on certain factors such as the average frequency and amount of drug use.

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle pain
  • Fevers and sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Hallucinations and confusion
  • Insomnia or drowsiness
  • Tremors

Signs of a Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl Withdrawal | Harmony Recovery Center

Fentanyl use affects the central nervous system to a large degree, causing excessive amounts of dopamine to flood the system and chemically change the brain over time. Due to these neurological changes, a person prescribed fentanyl may become dependent on the drug and resort to illegal methods of obtaining when they can longer receive a prescription.

Besides dependence and withdrawal, another strong sign of addiction is the development of tolerance. Tolerance is a condition that develops over time due to the body’s propensity to reduce the effects of a given substance in response to repeated exposure. Tolerance compels the user to take more of the drug in an effort to achieve the desired effect, and ever-increasing amounts can easily result in a life-threatening overdose.

Other prominent signs may include the following:

  • A lack of control over the use of fentanyl – using it in larger amounts or for longer than originally intended.
  • A desire to limit use and wanting to cut back or quit fentanyl and finding oneself unable to do so.
  • Spending a considerable amount of time acquiring, using, and recovering for fentanyl.
  • Having an intense desire to use their drug.
  • Lack of responsibility – fentanyl use takes priority over work, school or family obligations.
  • Problems with interpersonal relationships that are constantly strained due to drug use and related behaviors.
  • Loss of interest and engagement in important social or recreational activities in favor of drug use.
  • Continuous use despite dangerous circumstances or adverse consequences, including physical and psychological problems.

Treatment for Fentanyl Withdrawal and Addiction

A medical detox program can significantly reduce and manage symptoms of withdrawal from fentanyl. This type of treatment includes medical monitoring to ensure safety as well as medication to moderate symptoms.

Certain FDA-approved medications can relieve symptoms during the fentanyl withdrawal process. These include:

  • Methadone – A weaker opioid that can help control drug cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms.
  • Buprenorphine – This is another opioid option that helps mitigate withdrawal symptoms and reduce the length of the withdrawal period.
  • Naltrexone – A drug that can assist in relapse prevention.
  • Clonidine – A medication that can alleviate some of fentanyl’s withdrawal symptoms.

Critically, addiction treatment shouldn’t end with detox. A detox program helps a person overcome physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms, but it does not treat addictive behaviors or identify the reasons why the addiction occurred in the first place. Ideally, a detox program should transition into a long-term rehab treatment program.

Rehab consists of individual therapy, counseling, and other methods that treat addictive behaviors and address factors that led to the addiction. It can also offer strategies and resources for adherence to recovery after the treatment program has been completed.

Symptoms of Cocaine Use

Symptoms of Cocaine Use | Harmony Recovery Center

It takes vigilance to identify a cocaine habit in a family member or friend so that they can get the help they require. Moreover, knowing what signs to look for is critical to recognize cocaine addiction – the symptoms and side effects of cocaine abuse will become more apparent and severe over time as the person sinks further and further into addiction.

Signs of Cocaine Abuse

The initial signs of cocaine abuse are subtle in comparison to full-fledged addictive behavior – indeed, the physical and psychological symptoms of cocaine use worsen in proportion to the behavioral consequences of addiction. Thus, it’s much easier to overcome a cocaine habit in the early stage, because once a strong addiction sets in, the process of recovery may take months or years.

There are numerous signs that indicate the presence of a problem with cocaine, including the following:

  • Strange or abnormal behavior
  • Constant secretiveness or providing suspicious or whitewashed answers to questions
  • Departing early from, showing up late to, or missing gatherings or obligations entirely
  • Increased impulsivity
  • New or exacerbated financial troubles
  • White powder or stains on clothing, belongings, or skin, particularly around the nostrils

Compared to most drugs, cocaine is rather expensive. Thus, a cocaine habit may require the user to engage in extreme measures and risky behaviors to afford it, including the following:

  • Repeatedly asking to borrow money
  • Stealing from friends and family
  • Selling possessions
  • Taking extra jobs
  • Taking out loans
  • Emptying out their savings account or retirement fund
  • Selling drugs

A cocaine habit often single-tracks the user’s mind into engaging in constant drug-seeking behavior, producing life-altering consequences. These behaviors should be considered red flags, and include the following:

  • Being expelled or dropped out of school
  • Quitting or getting fired from their job
  • Extreme debt or bankruptcy
  • Failed friendships or relationships
  • Legal trouble or incarceration

Cocaine abuse can also cause physiological, mental, or emotional distress that requires emergency room visits, hospital stays or psychiatric intervention to rectify. Some of the most frequently encountered of these symptoms include:

  • Alternating bouts of insomnia and hypersomnia
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Shortened attention span
  • Introversion and lethargy
  • Increased irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Hyperstimulation and energy levels
  • Bursts of euphoria and elevated mood
  • Paranoia and hypervigilance
  • Hallucinations

Physical Symptoms of Cocaine Use

Symptoms of Cocaine Use | Harmony Recovery Center

Physical symptoms induced by cocaine abuse may range from mild to very dangerous. Since everyone’s body is unique, cocaine doesn’t affect everyone in an identical manner. Nevertheless, whether these symptoms are severe or not doesn’t make the underlying cocaine problem less worrisome.

Common physical symptoms caused by cocaine abuse include the following:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Sniffling
  • Runny or bloody nose
  • Hoarseness
  • Twitchiness or shakiness
  • Dark circles around or under eyes
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Stomach aches
  • Nausea
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Impotence

Once a person is physically dependent on cocaine, withdrawal side effects occur if the dosage is reduced or eliminated. Withdrawal side effects from cocaine may include the following:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Long periods of deep and interrupted sleep
  • Intense cravings for more cocaine
  • Heart issues
  • Seizures

Cocaine is an extremely potent substance whose side effects may vary wildly depending on how much was taken, the body chemistry of the user, or other chemicals present in the system alongside it. It may also be cut with harmful additives that can precipitate overdose or sudden death, even after a single use.

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use

Symptoms of Cocaine Use | Harmony Recovery Center

The longer a cocaine habit endures, the greater the risk of serious adverse effects on brain function and physiological health. A formidable addiction is but one of the long-term detriments associated with cocaine abuse.

Treatment specialists often must combat a litany of other problems experience by new arrivals to rehab. Sometimes, outside help from physicians, other specialists, and therapists is required to adequately treat long-term cocaine abusers. And, unfortunately, some of the adverse consequences caused by cocaine are irreversible.

Long-term health effects may include the following:

  • Sexual dysfunction or chronic impotence
  • Infertility and other reproductive complications
  • Difficulty swallowing and breathing
  • Lung damage
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Damage to septum, nose, and nasal passages
  • Reduced or absent sense of smell
  • Problematic weight loss and malnourishment
  • Chronic, frequent nosebleeds
  • Gastrointestinal problems and bowel decay
  • Movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease

In general, the more a cocaine problem becomes established, the more risky one’s lifestyle becomes. As such, cocaine abuse may lead to ancillary health risks, including the following:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Cocaine exposure in unborn children
  • Blood-borne illness from sharing unsterile needles (HIV and hepatitis B and C)

Each year in the United States, there are roughly 750,000 cocaine-exposed pregnancies. Cocaine abuse throughout a pregnancy can result in spontaneous miscarriage, a difficult delivery, or a litany of other complications before and during delivery.

Long-term cocaine abuse may also result in profound psychological distress, such as paranoia or auditory hallucinations. Some studies indicate that cognitive functions such as memory and motor control may be negatively impacted by protracted abuse. Cocaine abuse has been known to end in heart failure and death.

Signs of cocaine abuse can be difficult to spot at first but will eventually become too obvious to disregard. Cocaine tolerance initially develops during the early stages of use and gets stronger over time. Abusers of cocaine will require higher and higher doses to maintain the same desired effect.

Although cocaine can be dangerous at any dose, the danger posed thereby dramatically increases at very high doses. The nature of cocaine makes it easy to overlook the exorbitant amounts one is consuming to maintain a high. Once the stimulation becomes too much for the body, an often-deadly overdose can strike.

Signs of a Cocaine Overdose

The amount of cocaine required to overdose varies based on several factors, including physiology and other substances that are involved. An overdose is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.

Symptoms of cocaine overdose may include:

  • Convulsions and seizures
  • Shock
  • Panic
  • Delirium and delusions
  • Hyperthermia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Heart failure
  • Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke
  • Coma

If not treated immediately, the risk of heart failure and/or death significantly increases. Statistics also reveal a strong correlation between cocaine overdoses and interactions with other substances. For example, in 2015, more than half of the identified overdoses related to cocaine in the U.S. also involved opioids. In fact, more than one-third (37%) of these deaths involved heroin.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction is most effectively treated through participation in a residential rehab program for a period of at least 30 days. During this time, the patient receives customized, evidence-based treatment that includes psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, and group support.

Following inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient is recommended for longer-term therapy and support while the client transitions back to the outside world.

Addiction recovery is a challenging lifelong endeavor, but you don’t have to do it alone. We can help you regain your life and the wellness and happiness you deserve!