Psychiatric Medication Abuse

Psychiatric Medication Abuse:  The Little-Known Epidemic

More than one in six Americans adults are using psychiatric medications today.  That number is shocking, but not surprising. Prescription drugs have become part of our culture, just as alcohol, cigarettes, and fast-food did.  The drugging of our society is one of those subjects no one wants to talk about because so many of us are part of the problem. Although we hear about the opioid epidemic, little is said about the fact that psychiatric medication abuse is at staggering levels nationwide.

What is Psychiatric Medication Abuse?

What are psychiatric medications and why are so many people abusing them?  Medical researchers have spent the last eight years studying these medications and their effects. Psychiatric medications include antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety drugs. Here’s a breakdown on how these drugs work, and the dangers of psychiatric medication abuse.


Antidepressants are prescribed to relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders, social anxiety disorder, and seasonal affective disorder, among others.  According to a government study on the side effects of antidepressants, about 73.5 percent of participants reported withdrawal effects when discontinuing antidepressants.  The adverse effects ranged from sexual difficulties, weight gain, feeling emotionally numb, reduced positive feelings, and lack of concern for others. Almost 36% of participants reported suicidal thoughts. Some of the minor effects reported include dry mouth, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, insomnia, restlessness, and muscle spasms.

The above study also reveals that about 54% of the participants continued to experience depressive symptoms while taking the medication.  What’s even more alarming is the risks of suicide in children, and young adults are two times greater while on antidepressants.

Examples of antidepressants:

  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)

More than likely, you know someone who is taking one of these drugs daily, as they are some of the most widely prescribed medications on the market today.


Antipsychotics are prescribed to reduce psychosis. The NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) defines psychosis as “a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.

Unfortunately, according to the FDA, less than one-quarter of people with chronic psychosis see even 50% reduction in depression symptoms with antipsychotic use.  In fact, evidence suggests that these drugs may do more harm than good. For instance, antipsychotics speed up brain atrophy (shrinkage). Also, their research shows that 77% of people with chronic psychosis don’t respond positively to antipsychotics.  Antipsychotic users are also two-to-four-times less likely to recover after long-term use. The study also shows that about 60% or participants reported ongoing functional impairment while taking the drug.

Some people are dependent on antipsychotics to be able to function daily, but this does not imply that they are addicts.  In most cases, a person will not choose an antipsychotic if they are planning to get high. However, even a person who uses the drug for medical reasons may experience some withdrawal symptoms if the drug is withheld.

Examples of antipsychotics:

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • Risperidone (Risperdal)

It’s not unusual to see a commercial for Abilify each night as you watch your favorite programs on television.  They want you to know that if your antidepressant isn’t working well, you need to add Abilify to your daily routine to help combat the depression.  This type of advertising has helped pharmaceutical companies rake in billions of dollars in profits yearly.


Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are prescribed to reduce anxiety.  They are a fast-acting drug, and their use should be restricted to short periods.  According to the DEA, benzo dependence can develop in as little as a few weeks, even if taken as prescribed.

Long-term use of benzos is not advised because they can cause a significant decline in cognitive abilities, and withdrawals can become life-threatening.  Studies show that after six months of benzo use, a person is at 84% greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, a person taking benzos is at two-times greater risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Examples of benzodiazepines:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)

It’s interesting to note that female patients over the age of 65 are prescribed benzos at nearly twice the rate of male patients of the same age.  Maybe some of the “symptoms of old age” are simply the side effects of these drugs. Patients using benzos are more prone to falls, decreased cognitive function, and automobile accidents, according to the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH).

If you know someone who needs help overcoming psychiatric medication abuse, contact us at our toll-free number today.


medicalnewstoday.comDo Antidepressants Work?

ncbi.nlm.nih.govLong-Term Antidepressant Use

nimh.nih.govWhat is Psychosis?

ajph.aphapublications.orgIncreasing Benzodiazepine Prescriptions and Overdose Mortality

Combining Opioids with Benzos

Combining Opioids With Benzos?  Here’s Why You Shouldn’t

The opioid epidemic is bad enough, but recent studies show a sharp increase in the number of people who use sedatives in addition to their opioids. In fact, researchers report that overdose death rates are ten times higher among people who are using this dangerous combination. Whether your physician prescribed both medications, or you decided on your own to try combining opioids with benzos, here are some reasons why you should stop.

Why People are Combining Opioids with Benzos

According to NIH, about 4.3 million people are combining opioids with benzos, also known as polydrug use, and the FDA strongly advises against doing so.  Recreational drug users often use this combination to enhance the euphoric effects.

Opioids and benzodiazepines are two of the most frequently abused drugs in the world. They are also the most widely prescribed drugs for treating pain and anxiety.  It’s not uncommon for a person to be given an anti-anxiety prescription for Xanax while also receiving oxycodone to treat chronic pain.

Dangers of Polydrug Use

Many legitimate users of opioids often take benzodiazepines to enhance the painkilling properties of their opioid.  Regardless of the reasons for polydrug use, the dangers are significant.

The danger of mixing these drugs lies in the sedative effects produced by both drugs. Breathing slows dramatically. As a result, respiratory failure causes a lack of oxygen to the brain, eventually shutting down vital organs and this is one of the main causes of death when a person combines these drugs.

To further highlight the dangers of combining opioids with benzos, in one year, 30 percent of people who died of an opioid overdose also tested positive for benzos.

Many physicians prescribe non-benzodiazepine drugs known as Z-drugs such as Ambien (Zolpidem), Lunesta (Eszopiclone), and Sonata (Zaleplon).  Although these drugs are less habit-forming than benzos, they are dangerous when combined with opioids.

Shocking Statistics Reveal a Deadly Trend

It’s hard to imagine, but more than 115 people die from opioid overdoses each day.  Studies reveal a few more surprising facts that will help you understand the scope of the problem.

  • More than 30 percent of opioid overdoses also involve benzos.
  • Research shows that patients receiving opioid prescriptions are four times more likely to receive a benzodiazepine prescription as well.
  • Between 1996 and 2013, benzodiazepine prescriptions increased by 67%.
  • In that same time frame, the quantity obtained increased for 1.1 kg to 3.6 kg per 100,00 adults.
  • From 2001 to 2013, concurrent opioid and benzo prescriptions increased by 80 percent.
  • Studies show that between 2001 and 2013, the percentage of persons receiving benzo prescriptions rose to 17 percent, an increase from 9 percent.
  • The overdose death rate among people using both drugs concurrently was 10 times higher than in those receiving only opioids.
  • More than 50 million benzodiazepine prescriptions are written yearly.
  • Benzo tolerance and dependence can develop in as little as two days.

According to Eric Sun, MD, Ph.D., a lead anesthesiologist in the above study:

“It’s probably pretty well known that prescribing an opioid and a benzodiazepine is a potentially risky combination. One of the goals of our paper was to see the extent to which this still occurred despite this knowledge. Overall, we found that it happens, but more importantly, it’s been increasing over time.”

Treating Anxiety Without Benzos

It’s not uncommon for someone who is suffering from chronic pain or illness to experience anxiety from time to time.  However, many of these individuals are using some form of painkiller and other medications. Adding benzos to the mix can put these persons at risk of overdose.

If someone has a history of substance abuse or is using prescribed painkillers, their anxiety can be addressed in a number of ways.  For instance, the physician can suggest cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational therapy, interpersonal therapy, or group support, among others.

If you would like more information about combining opioids and benzos, please contact us at our toll-free number.


drugabuse.govBenzodiazepines and Opioids


scopeblog.stanford.eduTaking Painkillers with Sleeping Pills is an Increasingly Risky Business

Street Drugs in the US

Where Are Street Drugs in the US Coming From?

Many individuals in the United States have used cocaine or at least tried it. The majority of the cocaine comes from Colombia. The largest portion of street drugs in the US that come from other countries is manufactured in Central and South America. These drugs usually come into the US by way of Mexico.

Street Drugs in the US Manufactured in Colombia

Almost all of the cocaine consumed in the world comes from Colombia, Peru, and smaller amounts in Bolivia. In these countries, the crop used for cocaine, coca, is consumed legally. Individuals either chew the leaves or make tea with them. This practice has been carried on for centuries in these countries.

There is a lack of state control in Colombia. Therefore, much of the coca is grown in remote parts of the country. According to the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), in 2016, an estimated 106,000 families lived off of farming coca in Colombia. In 2016, Colombia’s coca cultivation reached record levels.

Heroin Being Manufactured in Mexico

Due to the fact that so many states in the US are legalizing marijuana now, Mexican farmers are growing opium poppies. The gum produced from these plants is used to manufacture heroin. The opium poppies bring a higher price to the small farmers than marijuana which was grown earlier.

Where marijuana seizures at the border have fallen by more than half, methamphetamine and heroin seizures are holding steady or increasing. Authorities seize most of these drugs at legal ports of entry. However, authorities have found many underground tunnels from Mexico to the United States also.

Street Drugs in the US from Other Countries

Fentanyl is a controlled substance in the United States. However, fentanyl has become linked to many overdose deaths in this country today. It is now one of the major street drugs in the US. Fentanyl mixed with cocaine and heroin caused many fatal overdose cases in the US. Much of this fentanyl is coming into the country illegally from China. About 80% of the pure fentanyl seized by US authorities last year came from China. And many times it arrived in the mail. That’s right; dealers in China mail this drug to the purchaser in the United States.

Fentanyl is much more profitable than heroin for dealers. It is so strong that traffickers and dealers can cut a kilo into more single sales than heroin. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid so a person is never sure what dosage they are taking.

Afghanistan leads the world in the production of opium and heroin. However, a small portion contributes to the street drugs in the US. Although opioids are killing our citizens in the US at alarming rates, Afghanistan is not responsible for our addiction or death tolls from heroin.

Overdose Deaths in the United States

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “In 2016, the drugs most frequently mentioned in unintentional drug overdose deaths were fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine,”  This statement is in the National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 67. The drug overdose death rate is steadily climbing in the US every year. The largest portion of fatal overdoses involves fentanyl.

Dealers are cutting heroin and cocaine with fentanyl which is oftentimes unknown to the individuals purchasing the drugs. The person buying these drugs from a dealer may think they are getting straight heroin or cocaine. However, it has been cut with fentanyl without their knowledge.

Dealers are adding fentanyl to heroin and cocaine because it is much cheaper. Dealers are also selling what they claim to be OxyContin pills. In fact, these pills are in actuality, fentanyl. Same as heroin and cocaine, these drugs cause overdoses.

The dealers make a larger profit when cutting these drugs with fentanyl. Manufacturing of fentanyl takes place in labs so it is easier for the dealers to obtain than the heroin and cocaine. Drug users should think twice before buying these illegal drugs on the streets.

Seek Help for Drug Addiction

Today, more than ever, street drugs in the US are more dangerous and can be more fatal. Don’t risk your life by buying and ingesting these drugs. If you are struggling with addiction to street drugs or any type of substance, seek help from a licensed addiction treatment facility.

Behavioral Rehabilitation Services can help you select a treatment plan that will suit your individual needs and preferences. You too, can overcome addiction and regain a life of good health and productivity. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Don’t take these chances with your life.

To learn more about the different treatment programs we offer at BRS, contact one of our representatives today. They can answer any questions you may have about the many programs available at our inpatient addiction treatment facility. Make that call today!

  • unodc.orgDrug Trafficking
  • colombiareports.comColumbia’s Drug Trade
  • usatoday.comMexican Cartels Pushing More Heroin After U.S. States Relax Marijuana Laws
  • cdc.govNational Vital Statistics Reports – Deaths:  Final Data for 2016
  • brookings.eduAfghanistan’s Opium Production is Through the Roof – Why Washington Should Not Overreact
Benzo Addiction Crisis

Benzo Addiction: Are We Facing a New Epidemic?

Benzodiazepines are prescription sedatives that are usually associated with the 1960s.  Back then, these drugs were commonly referred to as “mother’s little helpers.” But, according to Scientific American, benzo prescriptions increased by 67 percent since 1996 to 13.5 million.  Today, physicians write more than 37.6 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan. With these numbers in mind, it should not come as a surprise that we are facing a benzo addiction crisis in the US today.

Benzos and Opioids:  A Deadly Combination

Currently, about 30 percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzos.  Combining the two drugs is dangerous because they each work to sedate a person, with suppressed breathing as one of the side effects.  Surprisingly, many people are prescribed both drugs simultaneously by their physician.

In a study of over 300,000 people who are prescribed opioids, 17 percent of them also received prescriptions for benzodiazepines.  Another study shows that the overdose death rates were 10 times higher among people who were using both drugs. Each of these drugs now contains the FDAblack box” warnings on the label.

Symptoms and Dangers of Benzo and Opioid Combinations

Many opioid addicts use benzos to enhance the effects of their opioid.  They crush the pills or chew them to disable the time-release mechanism.  When this is done, it delivers a 24-hour dose into their system all at once, which can be deadly.

Some individuals use benzos and opioids along with alcohol.  This is another combination that can prove to be deadly. Alcohol is also a depressant and can contribute to respiratory failure.

If you suspect someone is abusing opioids and benzos, here are a few warning signs to look for:

  • Confusion
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Slow, shallow, irregular breathing

While we are busy fighting the opioid epidemic, the benzo addiction crisis has rapidly created a national health concern.  Many of these addictions come as a result of the pharmaceutical industry spending $278 million lobbying Congress. Since 1999, the number of benzo overdose deaths increased from 1,135 to 8,791.  That is a sevenfold increase that will only continue to grow.

It’s important to note that both benzos and opioids are central nervous system depressants.  This means that when the drugs are taken concurrently, the effects are dangerously increased and can lead to over-sedation.  The individual will be unable to awaken or respond to stimuli. In many cases, the person slips into a coma.

What Can be Done About the Benzo Addiction Crisis?

Thousands of advocates for drug education and prevention are working daily to spread awareness about the dangers of combining prescription drugs.  Federal guidelines have become stricter when it comes to the prescribing practices of physicians. When those efforts fail, another statistic is added to the benzo addiction crisis as one more life is lost.

At Behavioral Rehabilitation Services, we strive to save lives by providing the most effective addiction treatment programs available today.  Our evidence-based, individualized curriculum has helped hundreds of people leave addiction behind and live extraordinary lives.

If you or a loved one is struggling with the powerful grip of benzo and opioid addiction, contact us today.  Don’t continue being just another statistic in the benzo addiction crisis. We will show you how you can live without those substances.

College Students Getting High

Not Getting a Higher Education, but College Students Getting High

For most college students, this is the first time they have been away from home for any length of time. It’s the first time they are not seeing and getting direction from their parents daily. As they enjoy this newfound freedom though, are they getting a higher education or are college students getting high? Many parents wonder if college administrators just look the other way when they know that students are drinking and using marijuana. After all, isn’t that what all college students do?

Why are College Students Getting High?

There can be different reasons for college students getting high on alcohol, drugs, or both. The primary reason for college students getting high is more than likely to fit in with the rest of the crowd. After all, this is the reason for many individuals drinking from high school students to adults. Then there are those students who drink alcohol or do drugs to relieve stress or relax. Some of the college students getting high are simply doing it to party and have fun while others may do it to boost their confidence, reduce anxiety and depression, or to lower inhibitions.

College Students Getting High on Alcohol

You may wonder how college students get alcohol when the legal drinking age for alcohol is 21 in the United States? The usual college students’ ages are from 18 to 22. The older students can legally purchase alcohol; hence, they buy it for the younger students. Then you always have those individuals who have no concern for the law and will sell it illegally to under-age buyers, especially in college towns. Most college students have limited impulse control and no thoughts of the consequences they can face from drinking alcohol. Other than the dangers to their bodies, they can face fines for driving under the influence as well as under-age drinking.

Some of the more dangerous of the consequences of drinking alcohol are becoming victims of sexual assault or other assault. Binge drinking among college students is the cause of many deaths from alcohol poisoning or fatal injuries from falling or operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Numerous individuals who struggle with alcoholism today started drinking in college. College students getting high on alcohol can end up living with the consequences or other health issues for many years to come, if not for the rest of their lives.

College Students Getting High on Marijuana

Marijuana is another substance that is commonly found among college campuses. It is inexpensive and easily accessible most everywhere today. Many students use marijuana for the same reasons as they do alcohol and many of them use alcohol and marijuana together. Marijuana is normally smoked; however, it can be used in edibles such as brownies, cookies, or even added to tea.

Marijuana can be harmful to the respiratory system and the immune system as well. Some college students getting high on marijuana experience the following side effects:

  • Poor memory function
  • Lack of motivation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Increased chance of risky behavior
  • Chance of traffic accidents while impaired

Marijuana has been a controversial substance for many years now. Some states have legalized it for medical use while others have legalized it for recreational purposes in the past few years. Even though some individuals say it is not addictive, others say that it is addictive. The debates go on and on and will not likely stop any time soon.

Stimulants and Other Drugs on College Campuses

Although alcohol and marijuana are the most-used substances on college campuses, there are other drugs abused also. Some of these drugs are club drugs which are used by students when partying. Another very big issue on college campuses is the use of stimulants. Those individuals who have prescriptions for ADHD medication (which is a stimulant) are more than happy to share with kids who do not have these prescriptions. Not only are college students getting high on substances to feel good, but they are also taking prescription drugs to stay awake all night and study. Then, in turn, they will take tranquilizers or sleep aids to get the rest they need. All of these experiences can be very dangerous for someone who does not have a prescription from a reliable physician for the medication.

Seek Help for Substance Abuse

If you are a college student who is abusing any of these substances and you need help to stop this practice, get professional help right away. Don’t end up as a statistic or with a life-long addiction. There are inpatient addiction treatment facilities who can design a treatment program for your individual needs and preferences. Call one of our representatives today to learn more about a program that can help you or a friend. Call now!

Commonly Abused Rx Drugs

What are Some of the Most Commonly Abused Rx Drugs?

Prescription drug abuse is far more common than many people realize. It is estimated that two out of 10 people in America abuse prescription drugs. We hear a lot on the news about the opioid epidemic in the US today, but many other drugs are causing ruined lives and deaths with each passing day.  Below is a list of some of the most commonly abused Rx drugs.

Commonly Abused Rx Drugs:


Hydrocodone is an opioid painkiller. It is used to alleviate mild to moderate pain. If Hydrocodone is abused, it can slow down the breathing rate. It can also lead to death.


Valium is a medication that is used to treat anxiety disorders. It may also be recommended for the short-term relief of anxiety symptoms. In some cases, it is recommended to alleviate alcohol withdrawal symptoms. One of the reasons that Valium abuse is so common is because the body can quickly build up a tolerance to it.


Ativan is a medication that is prescribed to alleviate anxiety symptoms. It may also be used to reduce the symptoms of depression. It is from a class of medications known as benzodiazepines. An Ativan overdose can potentially be fatal.


Ritalin is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that is often prescribed to treat attention deficit disorder, or ADHD, in children. However, it is often used by college students who want to study harder and stay up later. Ritalin is typically taken orally, but it can also be injected. Ritalin abuse can be extremely dangerous. It can lead to tissue death.


Ambien is in a class of drugs known as hypnotics.  It is used to treat insomnia because it slows down brain activity.  Insomnia is a condition where a person has difficulty staying and falling asleep. A person who uses Ambien can quickly develop a tolerance to it. That is why they may need help to stop using it.  Ambien is one of the most commonly abused Rx drugs today.


OxyContin is prescribed to people who suffer from moderate to severe pain. This drug is also an opioid. Like many other opioids, oxycontin can lead to death if it is abused.


Xanax is an anti-anxiety medication. If a person drinks alcohol and takes Xanax at the same time, then the effects of alcohol will be increased. Xanax is a habit-forming drug. That is why doctors are urged not to prescribe it to people who have a history of drug abuse or addiction.

People are more likely to engage in risky behavior while they are under the influence of Xanax. They are also likely to suffer jaundice, seizures, lightheadedness, and depression.

Why Professional Treatment is Needed for Commonly Abused Rx Drugs

Prescription drug addiction can be just as dangerous as an illicit drug. It can also be challenging to break a prescription drug addiction. That is why inpatient rehab is necessary.  With most of the above drugs, withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, and in some cases, they can be life-threatening.  Many addicts will seek more of the drug when these symptoms appear.  However, in an inpatient facility, they are unable to obtain their drug of choice.  Also, the staff monitors patients 24/7 to offer support and encouragement during this time.

A professional treatment program is needed for other reasons as well.  For instance, patients participate in daily activities that help restore self-esteem.  They also attend life skills training, cognitive behavioral therapy, nutritional guidance, exercise and fitness activities, and counseling sessions in groups or individually.

If you would like to know more about treatment for the most commonly abused Rx drugs, please contact us at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today.

Cocaine Affects the Heart

How Cocaine Use Affects the Heart

Many illegal drugs have severe effects on the cardiovascular system. This may include heart attacks or abnormal heart rates. Cocaine can affect many parts of the body especially the heart. The American Heart Association has reported that over 15,000 American’s die each year from cocaine use.  Cocaine affects the heart more than people realize.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is one of the oldest psychoactive drugs known to man. It is derived from coca leaves and has been used in medicine, elixirs, and for recreational use for years. Water-soluble cocaine can be snorted, injected, or smoked.

Like other forms of amphetamine, cocaine affects the central nervous system and can cause serious side effects including:

  • Heart attack
  • Changes in body temperature
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Respiratory distress
  • Abdominal pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Impaired Judgement

Cocaine is an amphetamine which is a class of drug that also includes methamphetamines that is extremely habit-forming. These types of drugs have been used to treat narcolepsy, Parkinson’s disease, obesity, and ADHD. However, cocaine is illegal, and abuse of the drug is growing among older adults.

How Cocaine Works

Cocaine attaches to dopamine receptors in the brain and preventing dopamine from being recycled. When this happens, a significant amount of dopamine trigger’s the brain’s reward centers and pleasure. Cocaine also prevents norepinephrine and serotonin from being reused. Serotonin impacts every part of the body and can reduce depression, anxiety, and maintain bone health.

Cocaine is a stimulant that pumps adrenaline throughout the body. An increase in adrenaline can cause a rise in heart rate and blood pressure, and this is one of the ways cocaine affects the heart. These changed can cause chest pain which is common among cocaine users. Studies have shown that chest pain from cocaine use is responsible for over 40% of emergency room visits. Cocaine produces a short-lived high that is immediately followed by edginess, or intense depression making it easily addictive. It can cause excessive weight loss and insomnia when used regularly.

Short-term effects of cocaine include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Erratic behavior
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Contracted blood vessels

How Cocaine Affects the Heart

Cocaine causes adverse effects on the cardiovascular system. It increases the risk of paranoia, hallucinations, tachycardia, and pruritis. Excessive amounts can cause abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, tremors, and dangerously high blood pressures. Cocaine narrows the blood vessels throughout the body including the ones that supply blood to your heart. This is what creates increased blood pressure and heart rate. Narrowed arteries can lead to the death of cells of the heart and heart attacks. Cocaine also stimulates your beta and alpha receptors which force the heart to pump and contract vigorously.

Cocaine can cause heart issues for anyone who abuses the drug. However, according to the American Heart Association, some people may be more susceptible to them including:

  • Those who smoke crack cocaine
  • First-time users
  • Pregnant women
  • Older people who have clogged arteries

Those who inject cocaine intravenously run the risk of bacterial infections of the blood vessels and collapsed veins. Even individuals who use cocaine sporadically may have thicker heart muscle walls, higher blood pressure, and stiffer arteries compared to non-users.

The National Institute of Health is reporting that the number of illegal drug users age 40 and older is skyrocketing. The amount has more than tripled in ten years from 800,000 to over 3 million. Visits to hospitals and emergency rooms have increased upwards of 150% since 2004. Heart issues and overdose are the most significant problems Americans face with cocaine abuse.

Research shows that cocaine affects the heart and can cause permanent damage.  If you or a loved one need help for cocaine abuse or addiction, contact us today.

Cocaine and Cancer

Cocaine and Cancer: The Deadly Connection You Don’t Know About

The threat of cancer is hardly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the dangers and negative consequences of drug abuse, but it is a huge risk when it comes to many different substances of abuse. Like with the link between cocaine and cancer.

Can Cocaine Give You Cancer?

Cocaine is the illicit substance that is currently being found to link directly to cancer and is a very powerful and addictive stimulant drug that is made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. One reason for this is that it is a common practice among cocaine dealers to mix in or add other substances to the drug in order to increase the amount of product being made and distributed while increasing their own profits. Sometimes the substance that is being added to cut the cocaine is in fact carcinogenic. Carcinogens are substances capable of causing cancer in the living tissues of the body.

Phenacetin, a carcinogenic substance, was found in a certain line of cocaine being sold in the United Kingdom. Being exposed to that particular substance has shown to increase the risk of kidney problems and cancer.

You may also be wondering “Does crack cause cancer?” Whether you are snorting coke or smoking crack, both can be laced with cancer-causing carcinogens. Smoking crack can have serious long-term side effects such as cancer of the lungs, throat, or mouth and cause respiratory diseases that are most commonly related to the inhaling of smoke. Smoking crack pipes can also cause blisters and burns on the user’s mouth, lips, and fingers which can lead to permanent damage like dermal marks and scarring. It also leads to permanent lung damage by restricting the movement of oxygen to the lungs which can cause scarring, a chronic cough, trouble breathing, and pain.

Cocaine and Cancer Study

Recently, a study was done at the University of Southern California (USC) School of Medicine. The researchers who were conducting the study found that men who use cocaine are twice as likely to develop intermediate- or high-grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), than that of individuals who abstain from using the drug. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is cancer that starts in the white blood cells called lymphocyte, which is part of the body’s immune system.

Rebecca Nelson, a doctoral student at USC School of Medicine, recently said in an article published by the British Journal of Cancer, that for those individuals who use cocaine more frequently, which means they have used it on at least nine or more occasions, the risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma more than triples that of nonusers.

Nelson worked on the study with co-authors, who are USC School of Medicine faculty members, Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine; Alexandra Levine, MD, professor and chief of hematology; and Gary Marks, MD, associated professor of preventive medicine.

The researchers examined 378 Los Angeles citizens who were diagnosed with NHL. The patients, who were between the ages of 18 and 75, were paired with healthy controls of the same age, ethnicity, sex and social background. Researchers questioned the controls and patients about their use of alcohol, tobacco, and 10 recreational drugs which included cocaine, marijuana, heroin, amphetamines, magic mushrooms, barbiturates, quaaludes, LSD, PCP and “poppers” such as amyl nitrate and butyl nitrate.

Professor of preventative medicine Leslie Bernstein said, “In general, the patients used more drugs than controls, but less alcohol.” Researchers also discovered that men reported using drugs on a much more frequent basis than the women did. After considering other factors, such as medical history, the researchers were able to find a link between cocaine and cancer.

About cocaine and cancer, Nelson went on to say, “We saw a similar increased risk for the cancer in women using cocaine, but there were so few female drug-takers in the study that it’s impossible to draw any conclusions.

For the first time in medical history, a direct link has been found between cocaine and cancer, said Bernstein. The authors of the study theorize that cocaine may trigger white blood cell activity and growth, as a result speeding up the propagation of possible genetic errors that can lead to cancer. Bernstein notes that the cocaine and cancer study will need to be repeated before any scientists can say with certainty if it is cocaine itself that is prompting the disease or if some other factors, still unknown, are also playing a role.

Cocaine damages many physical and mental aspects of the user such as damage to the inside of the nose, runny nose, nosebleeds, increased heartbeat, constricted blood vessels, heart attacks, and can cause behavioral changes like:

  • Unusual excitement
  • Aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Poor judgment
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Depression and/ or apathy
  • Unusual sleep patterns
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Exhaustion
  • Lack of concentration and/or focus

Cocaine can cause dental damage from users grinding their teeth and clenching their jaws. Their teeth can also become so weak that they chip and break and may even fall out. Permanent sores and scars are also a potential as addicts tend to pick and scratch at their skin, whether from a hallucination or general itchiness as a side effect of taking the drug.

Other Common Cancer Rates

Despite cancer death rates declining over the last couple of decades, the wide group of diseases continues to be among the leading causes of death worldwide. 14 million new cases of cancer were discovered in 2012 and there were 8.2 million cancer-related deaths that same year. The number of new cancer cases that will arise in the next 20 years will increase to 22 million.

The most common cancers of 2016 were breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, prostate, colon, and rectal cancers, bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, melanoma of the skin, thyroid cancer, endometrial cancer, kidney and renal pelvis cancer, leukemia, and pancreatic cancer.

Cancer mortality is higher among men than women with 207.9 per 100,000 men and 145.4 per 100,000 women.
Roughly 39.6 percent of men and women, at some point during their lifetimes, will be diagnosed with cancer (based on data from 2010-2012).

In the United States, national spending for cancer care totaled almost $125 billion in 2010 and has the potential of reaching $156 billion by 2020.

There are many contributing factors that increase one’s chances of developing cancer. Things like diet and nutrition, hormonal changes, sun exposure and genetic history are all risk factors. Many don’t realize that substance abuse is also a major contributor to cancer and one that is preventable.

Prolonged Cocaine Abuse

Prolonged use of cocaine also causes a significant amount of damage to the brain over time as cocaine triggers a large release of dopamine in the brains neuro-receptors that control pleasure and movement. Normally the brain controls the release of dopamine in response to something that may be a potential reward or pleasure, such as the smell of good food. And if it were operating normally, it would then recycle back into the cell that originally released it, shutting off the signal in the central nervous system. Cocaine inhibits dopamine from recycling which causes an immoderate amount to build up between nerve cells. This overabundance of dopamine disturbs the brains communication signals and causes what is most commonly referred to as a “high”.

Cocaine Abuse

Behavior and Addiction: The Relationship Between Cocaine Abuse and Impulsivity

One of the most commonly-abused illicit stimulant drugs, cocaine is highly addictive and abusing it in any form can have devastating effects on the body and brain, possibly causing long-term physical complications and unexpected behavioral changes. Cocaine abuse is a serious issue that at the very least can lead to serious health problems, and at the worst can lead to addiction, overdose or death.

If you recognize the signs of cocaine abuse in a loved one, such as irritability, fatigue, dilated pupils or unusual impulsive behavior, contact the substance abuse recovery counselors at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today by calling our toll-free number. With the experts at BRS on your side, you can help your loved one achieve lasting recovery from cocaine abuse or addiction.

Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine is a powerful illicit drug derived from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine is a highly addictive drug that disrupts normal brain communication and causes a euphoric high that keeps users coming back for more. There are a variety of ways people can use cocaine, the most common being snorting cocaine powder through the nose or rubbing it into their gums, dissolving the powder in water and injecting it into the bloodstream, and smoking cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal. Regardless of the route of administration though, cocaine rapidly increases the supply of a neurotransmitter called dopamine in the brain, and people who use the drug often take it repeatedly within a short time period, at increasingly higher doses, to maintain their high. The result is a host of behavioral effects.

These effects can include:

  • Extreme happiness
  • Increased energy
  • Mental alertness
  • Hypersensitivity to sight, touch, and sound
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness and increased movement

What to Know About Cocaine

The reason cocaine is so addictive is because the drug acts on the pleasure center of the brain, and with repeated use, cocaine can actually cause lasting changes to the brain’s normal functioning. Cocaine acts as a central nervous system stimulant, and the way the drug alters the brain’s functioning is by increasing levels of a natural chemical messenger called dopamine. Dopamine plays a key role in a portion of the brain called the limbic system, which produces pleasurable sensations in response to certain behaviors and actions, such as sex and food consumption.

While these types of activities produce relatively modest boosts in dopamine levels, cocaine abuse triggers extreme pleasure boosts by preventing dopamine from being recycled back into the cell that released it, which causes excessive amounts of the chemical to build up between nerve cells. When dopamine levels are significantly increased in this way, the associated feelings of pleasure and euphoria also increase dramatically, and this rewarding feedback loop only reinforces the likelihood of future cocaine use.

Cocaine Dependence and Withdrawal

Over time, the brain’s reward system becomes accustomed to the surplus dopamine triggered by cocaine use and no longer produces the same amount of pleasure as it did when the drug use first began. In turn, users may begin taking more and more cocaine over time to achieve the same pleasurable effects as before, which only further affects the brain’s production of dopamine. When dopamine levels fall below this “new normal,” i.e. when the individual stops using cocaine or uses it less frequently or at lower doses, withdrawal symptoms kick in.

Some common withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine abuse include:

  • Depression
  • Slowed thinking
  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Unpleasant dreams and insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Restlessness
  • A general feeling of discomfort

Unfortunately, the severity of cocaine withdrawal symptoms only gives the user a stronger incentive for continued use, and it’s when this incentive becomes compulsive, meaning cocaine use becomes the focal point of the individual’s daily existence, that the risk of cocaine dependence and addiction is highest. Cocaine-dependent users face a higher risk for other substance use disorders, as well as personality disorders, depressive disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder, which gives you an idea of the scope of the adverse effect cocaine abuse has on the brain and body.

The Role of Impulsivity in Cocaine Abuse

The very nature of drug addiction is the inability or diminished ability to control impulses to use, and cocaine addiction is often characterized by risk-taking or sensation-seeking behavior, as well as poor decision-making. Among the adverse effects associated with cocaine abuse is an unusually high level of the trait known as impulsivity, or a tendency to act quickly and without adequate thought or planning in response to internal or external stimuli. High levels of impulsivity result in addicts preferring smaller, short-term benefits over larger, delayed gratification.

According to one 2012 study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, cocaine use can increase an individual’s tendency towards impulsivity by altering the brain’s normal functioning, thereby decreasing their ability to delay reward. There is also research suggesting that people who already have unusually strong tendencies towards impulsivity may be predisposed to cocaine use and addiction.

Cocaine Abuse Facts

In 2014, an estimated 1.5 million Americans aged 12 and older were reported to be current (past-month) cocaine users, and that same year, more than 5,400 people died from a cocaine overdose. Sadly, because cocaine triggers feelings of euphoria and pleasure during use, many people continue taking the drug despite serious negative consequences, such as financial problems, difficulties with personal relationships, adverse physical side effects, or trouble at work. Cocaine is so powerfully addictive and has such as a strong effect on the body and brain, that even former users can suffer the effects of cocaine abuse. For instance, research shows that during periods of abstinence, when cocaine is not being used, the memory of using cocaine or exposure to certain cues associated with past drug use can trigger strong cravings, which increases the risk of a cocaine relapse.

Cocaine’s powerful and short-lived stimulant effects are the main reasons the drug has such a high potential for abuse. The effects of cocaine typically appear almost immediately and dissipate within a few minutes to an hour. However, taking large amounts of cocaine at once or using the drug over a long period of time can intensify its effects, possibly resulting in bizarre, unpredictable and even violent behavior, coupled with an increased risk of adverse psychological or physiological effects.

Some possible long-term effects of cocaine abuse include:

  • Heart failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Stroke
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Seizures
  • Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Auditory and tactile hallucinations
  • Delirium or psychosis
  • Organ damage
  • Significant weight loss
  • Movement disorders
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Brain damage
  • Severe depression

Due to the stimulant effects of cocaine, use of the drug triggers a number of sensations and physiologic changes in the body, which can spiral out of control when a person uses too much of the drug, possibly leading to an overdose. A cocaine overdose can be intentional or unintentional and occurs when an individual’s drug use causes a toxic reaction that can lead to serious adverse effects or death, even for first-time users.

Contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services Today

Cocaine is such a powerful drug that tolerance and addiction can occur after just one use, and the changes in the brain brought on by cocaine abuse can be long-lasting. Fortunately, there are treatment options for cocaine addiction that can help addicts understand and change their compulsive drug-seeking behaviors and achieve long-term recovery. At Behavioral Rehabilitation Services, cocaine addiction treatment centers around the recovery needs of the client, with personalized programs designed to treat not just the addiction itself, but the underlying causes of the addiction as well. If you or a loved one is struggling with the effects of cocaine drug abuse, get professional help at BRS by calling today.

Cocaine Drug Abuse

Are Executives Choosing Cocaine Over Their Careers

Drugs, alcohol and cocaine drug abuse are all problem factors in our country. Make no mistake, one of which is considered to be our most difficult health problems at this time. At this point, drug and alcohol addiction and substance abuse, in general, is a brutal and harsh issue of the very worst kind, and it is getting worse with each passing year to the point where it borders on being a national emergency.

As addiction has gotten so concerning and so serious, we as a nation have begun to study this problem far more seriously in an effort to really get a handle on it and to get a good idea of where exactly this problem is going in our country.

Cocaine Drug Abuse Studies

Research has been done on cocaine drug abuse and the findings are as follows:

  • Studies show that, in a big way, cocaine is making a huge comeback in our country, in spite of our efforts to do something about it and to take it down a notch. As it stands though, and after what seemed like years of becoming less and less of an issue, cocaine is now back and with a vengeance.
  • Studies show that about thirty-five percent of Americans of the age of eighteen or older have tried cocaine at some point in their lives. This is the sad truth of it. There are a lot of people who have had a run in with this drug at some point.
  • As cocaine has become more common and popular, crack cocaine has also come on the market and has become a lot more common and popular too. Now, studies show that crack cocaine is almost more common and more regular than powdered cocaine is, which is upsetting and worrisome, to say the least.
  • Cocaine abuse and addiction is truly a hardship. Studies show that about half of those who try heroin at least once will become addicted to it. Sixty-five percent of those who try meth once will become addicted to it. But no less than seventy-five percent of those who try cocaine will end up becoming addicted to it, which just goes to show how terribly addicted this substance really is.
  • Studies show that there are currently well over ninety-five thousand American youths who are addicted to cocaine. This is just in the age group of 16 to 28. Nationwide, cocaine addiction statistics number in the high six figures.

What Happens When You Do Cocaine?

What does cocaine do to you? How does cocaine affect the body? What happens when you do cocaine? These are all questions that unfortunately people who take cocaine usually do not ask or find the answers to. In fact, more often than not such people will just consume and take part in cocaine abuse without a care in the world, not caring that they are consuming the single most addictive drug known to mankind, and not knowing that there is a good chance that cocaine drug abuse will also be the end of them.

Unfortunately, cocaine drug abuse and addiction are all too common among executives and people higher up. Cocaine has often been thought to be a gentlemen’s drug of sorts, and that is concerning and risky, to say the least. This is a substance that causes intensive and worrisome hardship for people, yet business executives and CEOs are becoming addicted to it left and right. When this happens, such people need to get off the habit as quickly as is possible. For more information on how executives can get help for a cocaine addiction, reach out to Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today.

Combining Painkillers and Alcohol

Managing Chronic Pain: The Dangers of Combining Painkillers and Alcohol

It may not be the smartest way to deal with pain, but the use of alcohol as a pain reliever has a long history in this country, the most likely reason being that while alcohol may be readily available, useful medication is often not. Even people who already take prescription medications to treat chronic pain sometimes use alcohol to intensify the pain-relieving effects of the medicines, a dangerous combination that can result in severe or even deadly consequences. If you are suffering from chronic pain and you have been combining painkillers and alcohol to relieve your symptoms, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to find a safer way to manage your pain.

Combining Painkillers and Alcohol

Many over-the-counter and prescription medications carry warnings about the risk of taking the drugs with alcohol, which can cause serious health problems. Combining painkiller drugs and alcohol, for example, can increase the risk of respiratory depression, particularly among older individuals, possibly causing them to lose consciousness, stop breathing and die. Despite this threat, alcohol abuse remains a serious public health concern in the United States, particularly among those experiencing chronic pain symptoms. In fact, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that approximately 28% of people with chronic pain use alcohol to alleviate their symptoms, whether it is an acute pain associated with a toothache or constant suffering from arthritis or a recurring injury.

The likely reasoning here is that many people see alcohol use as a means of dealing with stress, and chronic pain can be a significant stressor. And while alcohol doesn’t have any direct pain-relieving properties, laboratory studies have shown that alcohol can reduce pain in humans and animals. Alcohol is a depressant, after all, meaning it depresses the central nervous system and slows down vital functions, which explains the slurred speech, unsteady movement and slowed reaction time we typically associate with alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol to relieve chronic pain may affect the central nervous system in such a way that it results in a mild amount of pain reduction, but it ultimately increases the risk of other serious complications.

Prescription Drug Abuse

The danger here lies in the fact that alcohol doesn’t mix well with medications, and people who suffer from chronic pain may face more immediate problems associated with the use of alcohol, especially if they are taking a painkiller medication. What’s more, prolonged, excessive exposure to alcohol can increase pain sensitivity. The increase in sensitivity could be the reason some people continue drinking, to avoid withdrawal-related increases in chronic pain, and may even result in small fiber peripheral neuropathy, a painful type of nerve damage that can cause a tingling, “pins and needles” sensation in the extremities. Whatever short-term relief from pain alcohol use may offer, it is far outweighed by the risks associated with combining painkillers and alcohol for chronic pain relief.

Contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services Today

Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, and there appears to be a common theme of patients self-medicating with alcohol and painkiller drugs as a means of coping with pain. For those suffering from chronic pain, it’s important to understand that mixing prescription painkillers and alcohol can have potentially deadly consequences that outweigh any possible pain-relieving effects of the combination. If you are regularly combining painkillers and alcohol to relieve chronic pain, it may be time to speak to a professional about the benefits of substance abuse treatment for alcoholism or painkiller addiction. Contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to talk to a qualified addiction recovery counselor about your treatment options.

Effects of Cocaine

The Dangerous Effects of Cocaine Use

One of the most widely-used and abused illegal substances in the United States, cocaine is a potent, addictive substance. It enhances the activity of the central and peripheral nervous systems, resulting in increased energy and alertness in users. As a recreational drug, cocaine produces an intense feeling of euphoria that can last from a few minutes to a few hours. When a cocaine user becomes dependent on the pleasurable feelings and effects of cocaine, his or her body will experience an adverse reaction to periods without it. If you recognize signs of cocaine abuse or addiction in yourself or a loved one, call Behavioral Rehabilitation Services to learn about the benefits of participating in a cocaine addiction recovery program.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a highly addictive substance that you can find in many forms, including a white powder, paste, or a solidified, rock-like substance known as “crack cocaine.” Depending on the way you use the drug, snort, smoke or inject, cocaine can deliver a rapid-onset, rewarding high that accompanies some pleasurable effects, including an increase in energy, feelings of euphoria, elevation in mood, and an inflated sense of self-esteem. Since cocaine temporarily suppresses appetite and decreases the need for sleep, some people also use the drug to lose weight, remain alert, improve their concentration, or accomplish a demanding task.

Short-Term Effects of Cocaine Use

While this drug can deliver a range of pleasurable effects of cocaine use for users, the stimulant drug also renders a host of unwanted short-term consequences.

Some common adverse short-term effects of use include:

  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Adverse Long-Term Effects of Cocaine

Whether it’s occasionally used for a short duration, or for extended periods of time, any use of cocaine can have negative consequences on the health of users.

Some possible lasting health effects of cocaine include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Brain damage
  • Stroke
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Nosebleeds (from snorting cocaine)
  • Unrelenting headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Seizures
  • Addiction
  • Overdose
  • Death

Signs of Cocaine Abuse and Addiction

Regular cocaine users may develop a tolerance for the drug which means their body has built up a resistance to cocaine, and they will need increasingly larger amounts of the stimulant to get the same effect from it. Repeated cocaine use may result in dependence, which can lead to a cocaine addiction, occurring when the user feels compelled to keep using the drug, despite adverse personal and professional consequences associated with the substance abuse.

Unfortunately, cocaine is a highly addictive drug and users who become dependent on it may exhibit telltale signs of addiction, like:

  • Neglecting or abandoning what were once life priorities
  • Getting in trouble with the law
  • Exhibiting uncharacteristically risky behavior
  • Continuing to use cocaine despite significant negative consequences
  • Experiencing troubled personal, professional, and social relationships

How to Address a Cocaine Addiction

Recovering from an addiction to cocaine can be extremely difficult, and the cravings that accompany cocaine withdrawal can be intense, but with the proper care and support via an outpatient or residential rehab program, cocaine abusers can overcome their addiction and regain control of their lives. If you are a frequent cocaine user, and you think you may be addicted to the stimulant drug, contact the addiction recovery experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services to find out how one of the proven substance abuse programs can help with cocaine addiction and overcoming the effects of cocaine abuse.

MDMA Abuse

The Dangerous Effects of MDMA Abuse

One of the most popular drugs used at dance parties, raves, and nightclubs, MDMA, or ecstasy, is known as a “club drug.” MDMA is a psychoactive drug abused by teens and young adults seeking the pleasurable high for which ecstasy is known. Because of its widespread use among adolescents and young adults in the United States, many people don’t realize that MDMA causes a host of adverse health effects. Two dangerous effects of MDMA abuse are overheating and dehydration. These two conditions can lead to muscle tissue injury, kidney failure, high blood pressure, heart failure, and death. If you or someone you know are struggling with an addiction to MDMA, consult the substance abuse counselors at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today.

What is MDMA?

MDMA is a synthetic drug that acts as both a stimulant and a psychedelic, producing in users an energetic effect, as well as enhanced enjoyment from tactile experiences and distortions in time and perception. As a recreational drug, MDMA is typically taken orally as a tablet or capsule. Its effects can last between three and six hours. The effects depend on the individual taking it, the dose and purity, and their environment. Once taken, MDMA absorbs rapidly into the bloodstream, where it exerts its primary effects in the brain by increasing the activity of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that allow nerve cells to communicate with one another. By doing so, MDMA produces a “high,” or rewarding stimulant effects that keep users coming back for more.

Warning Signs of MDMA Abuse

MDMA has become a popular drug among adolescents and young adults in the nightclub scene. Some of its popularity is because it produces pleasurable feelings of emotional warmth, decreased anxiety, mental stimulation, and self-confidence. Other effects of MDMA abuse are empathy towards others and a general sense of well-being which can occur within an hour or so after taking a single dose. However, there are also adverse psychological effects associated with MDMA abuse and the use of ecstasy similar to those experienced by amphetamine and cocaine users.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Lack of appetite
  • Impulsiveness
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Muscle cramping
  • Restlessness
  • Involuntary teeth clenching
  • Sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Sadness
  • Significant reductions in mental abilities
  • Reduced interest in and pleasure from sex

Long-Term Consequences of MDMA Abuse

Because of its stimulant properties and the types of situations in which people take this drug, MDMA is associated with vigorous physical activity for extended periods of time. Such an amount of activity can lead to one of its most significant adverse effects, a noticeable rise in body temperature called hyperthermia. Hyperthermia can lead to muscle breakdown, kidney failure, and heart failure.

Some other adverse long-term MDMA effects may include:

  • Lasting brain damage affecting thought and memory
  • Psychosis
  • Convulsions
  • Damage to parts of the brain that regulate emotion, sleep, and learning
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Addiction
  • Death

Overall, the adverse effects of ecstasy are modest and are not associated with severe medical conditions in normal users. However, in some cases, the use of ecstasy can lead to an overdose. An overdose can happen, especially when a user combines it with alcohol or other drugs. Mixing substances is common considering much of the ecstasy and MDMA sold on the street contains a variety of additives, including methamphetamine, cocaine, ketamine, caffeine, ephedrine, and over-the-counter cough medicines and pain relievers. Symptoms of an ecstasy overdose may include seizures, panic attacks, loss of consciousness, high blood pressure, and faintness.

Contact the Substance Abuse Experts at BRS Rehab

MDMA is considered to be one of the most widely used club drugs in the world. While ecstasy is not as addictive as other illicit drugs, like methamphetamine and heroin, it still poses a significant health risk to those who take it illegally. Despite this risk, ecstasy use remains prevalent in the United States. In 2010, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that an estimated 695,000 Americans aged 12 or older were current MDMA users. Current means they had used an ecstasy-type drug during the previous month. If you believe a loved one is abusing MDMA, contact the addiction recovery experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to find out how you can help.

Ecstasy Abuse Effects

Ecstasy Abuse and its Effects

Ecstasy is a popular “club drug,” because it produces feelings of euphoria, emotional warmth, and other extremely pleasurable effects in users. However, many regular users are unaware of the serious risks ecstasy abuse effects poses to their health, especially when taken in combination with alcohol or other drugs. If you or a loved one is abusing ecstasy, and you think professional help is needed, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to speak to an experienced substance abuse counselor about the available treatment options.

What is Ecstasy?

Ecstasy, also known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), is a synthetic drug that alters users’ mood and perception, or awareness of surrounding conditions and objects. Chemically similar to hallucinogens and stimulant drugs, ecstasy produces feelings of increased energy, emotional warmth, pleasure, and distorted sensory and time perception, making it a popular drug in the nightclub scene, particularly at all-night dance parties, or “raves.” Ecstasy is most often taken as a tablet or capsule, though some people snort the powder or swallow the drug in liquid form, and the popular street name for ecstasy – Molly – refers to the pure crystalline powder form of the drug, which is typically sold as capsules. Much of the supposedly “pure” MDMA found on the street contains potentially dangerous additives like cocaine, over-the-counter cough medicine, ketamine, methamphetamine, or synthetic cathinones (“bath salts”), which can pose a risk of serious adverse health consequences, especially if the user doesn’t know what he or she is taking.

Risks of Ecstasy Abuse

There are some reasons why ecstasy abuse is dangerous, even for first-time users, the most notable being the effect the drug has on the brain’s essential chemical functions. Ecstasy abuse can damage the nerve cells that produce serotonin, a chemical in the brain that regulates emotions, mood, memory, sleep, and cognitive skills, and may even cause permanent brain damage. People who take ecstasy in combination with alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs, significantly increase their risk of adverse ecstasy abuse effects.

Which may include:

  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Muscle cramping
  • Involuntary teeth clenching

Long-Term Ecstasy Abuse Effects

Because ecstasy use produces feelings of emotional warmth and pleasure and promotes closeness and trust, people who use the drug may be more likely to take part in unsafe sexual behavior, increasing their risk of contracting or transmitting hepatitis or HIV/AIDS. There are other long-term side effects associated with ecstasy abuse, and even infrequent users may experience adverse effects in the days or weeks following use of the molly drug, including anxiety, sleep problems, depression, paranoia, irritability, impulsiveness, aggression, decreased appetite, and memory and attention problems. High doses of ecstasy can also affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature, which can result in a dangerous spike in body temperature possibly leading to liver failure, heart failure, kidney failure, and even death. There is also research suggesting that ecstasy may be addictive, and some users have reported experiencing symptoms of ecstasy withdrawal after they stopped taking the drug, including a loss of appetite, fatigue, depression, and difficulty concentrating.

Contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services for Help

With its combination of stimulant and hallucinogenic effects, ecstasy can temporarily relieve users’ anxieties and inhibitions, while giving them an enhanced sense of empathy and emotional closeness with others, which makes them want to continue taking the drug. Unfortunately, studies show that the ecstasy abuse effects on the brain and body can be long-lasting, and the number of ecstasy-related emergency room visits and deaths is on the rise in the United States. If you know someone who is abusing ecstasy, and you think they may benefit from treatment at a  rehab facility, call Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today at our toll-free number to get them the help they need.

Ritalin Addiction

The Signs and Symptoms of Ritalin Addiction

Ritalin addiction is a serious problem in the United States, and with the increasing diagnosis of behavior disorders like attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the drug is becoming more and more available to children and young adults, and its recreational use is on the rise. If you recognize signs of Ritalin abuse or Ritalin side effects in yourself or someone you love, it may be time to call for help. Contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to speak to a professional substance abuse counselor about how Ritalin addiction can be successfully treated.

Ritalin vs. Adderall

Ritalin is the trade name for a powerful prescription drug called methylphenidate, which is a stimulant commonly used in the treatment of ADD and ADHD. Another potent medication commonly prescribed to treat such behavior disorders is Adderall, which is made up of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine and acts upon the central nervous system in similar ways to Ritalin. Compared to Ritalin, Adderall is considered more addictive, due to the fact that it stays active in the body longer than Ritalin does, but Ritalin is associated with more adverse side effects, particularly with long-term use of the drug.

Ritalin Addiction Symptoms

When Ritalin is abused, users can experience a “high” that does not occur when the drug is taken as prescribed. For example, when Ritalin is snorted, the euphoric effects of the drug can mimic those associated with cocaine, and when it’s injected, these effects are significantly heightened, which can lead to a pattern of dependency and addiction.

Some common symptoms of a Ritalin addiction include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Impaired vision
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Agitation

Ritalin Abuse in the United States

Ritalin has been classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse possibly leading to several psychological or physical dependence, and people who take Ritalin without a prescription or in excess of the dosage prescribed by a doctor typically do so to stay awake for long periods of time, to improve their focus and alertness, to lose weight, or simply to get high. Ritalin is designed to increase levels of dopamine in the brain, which produces a feeling of euphoria, in addition to suppressing appetite and increasing energy and wakefulness, and this is what makes it a popular drug for teens to abuse.

Sometimes referred to as a “smart drug,” Ritalin is often used recreationally by high school or college students looking for ways to improve their performance in school. In fact, statistics show that roughly 20% of students at Ivy League schools report misusing prescription stimulants like Ritalin in an effort to boost their competitive edge. Unfortunately, frequent, sustained Ritalin abuse can have serious long-term consequences for users, possibly causing them to experience paranoia, auditory hallucinations, repetitive OCD-like behaviors, or a tendency towards violence. Other possible Ritalin side effects include heart rhythm problems, psychosis, slowed growth in children, and addiction.

Contact the Experts at BRS Rehab

In the United States, roughly 11% of children between the ages of three and 17 have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and are currently taking prescription stimulant drugs like Ritalin or Adderall to improve their concentration and control their impulsive behavior. Unfortunately, because these powerful medications are so readily available to treat conditions that many believe are over-diagnosed, Ritalin addiction has become a serious problem in the U.S. If you or someone you know is addicted to Ritalin, the substance abuse experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services can help. Call BRS rehab today to find out what treatment options are available for Ritalin addiction.

Cocaine Use

How Cocaine Use Affects Your Heart

There are a number of ways cocaine use can adversely affect your health, but the effect of cocaine on the heart, in particular, is something anyone using the drug should be concerned about. If you know someone who is addicted to cocaine, and you think they may be at risk of serious cardiovascular side effects, like a heart attack or heart disease, don’t hesitate to call for help. The addiction recovery experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services can help cocaine users overcome their addiction problem and avoid potentially life-threatening cardiovascular complications.

Cocaine’s Effect on the Heart

The powdered form of cocaine is either inhaled through the nose (snorted), or dissolved in water and injected into the bloodstream, and there is another form of the drug called crack cocaine, which has been processed to produce a rock-like crystal that can be smoked. Cocaine acts as a stimulant, pumping adrenaline through the body, which causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. These changes may result in a type of chest pain known as angina, which can signal the onset of a heart attack. Cocaine use can also cause damage to the heart muscle, possibly leading to cardiomyopathy, myocarditis, enlarged heart ventricles, weakened aorta walls, endocarditis, and other serious problems. Even infrequent cocaine use can result in higher blood pressure, thicker heart muscle walls, and stiffer arteries, all of which can increase the risk of heart attack. Other adverse cocaine effects involving the heart may include blood clots, vascular thrombosis, respiratory arrest, and heart disease.

Cocaine: The “Perfect Heart Attack Drug”

One of the most significant dangers associated with cocaine use is the fact that many people have no idea how using the drug can adversely affect their heart. In an Australian study presented at the 2012 American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, researchers documented the cardiovascular problems experienced by seemingly healthy cocaine users, which persisted long after the effects of cocaine had worn off. The researchers named cocaine the “perfect heart attack drug,” because it caused young, otherwise fit individuals to suffer massive heart attacks, and increased the risk of high blood pressure, aortic stiffening, thickening of the heart muscle walls, and other cardiovascular problems by as much as 30 to 35 percent, even among individuals with no prior history of heart problems. “Despite being well-educated professionals, they have no knowledge of the health consequences of regularly using cocaine,” said lead study author Dr. Gemma Figtree. “It’s the perfect heart attack drug.

Cocaine Use and the Risk Factors for Heart Problems

Cocaine is the illegal drug most often associated with trips to the emergency room, and in 2011, 40.3 perfect of illicit drug-related emergency room visits involved the use of cocaine, compared to marijuana (36.4 percent) and heroin (258,482 visits).

Cocaine can cause serious heart-related problems for anyone using the stimulant drug, but there are certain types of people who may be more vulnerable to cardiovascular complications from cocaine use, including the following:

  • First-time users
  • Pregnant women
  • Older users with clogged or abnormal arteries
  • People who smoke crack cocaine

Contact BRS Rehab for Help

Cocaine has a reputation for being a casual and fun party drug, but what many people don’t realize is that cocaine use can be deadly, and even when it’s not, the long-term cardiovascular consequences associated with the drug can change your life forever. According to the American Heart Association, cocaine use is responsible for 15,000 deaths every year in the United States, many of which are associated with the adverse effect of the drug on the heart. If you or someone you love is using cocaine, and you think they need help, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to speak to a professional substance abuse counselor about their options.

Snorting Cocaine

The Effects of Snorting Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerful, addictive drug that comes in many forms. The powder form can be snorted or dissolved in liquid for injection. “Crack” cocaine is a form of the drug that has been processed into a hard rock crystal.  Users heat the crystals to release vapors that are then smoked. All three methods release cocaine directly into the bloodstream, where it travels to the brain and causes euphoric effects. The danger of cocaine is that its stimulant effects can cause severe adverse reactions that may result in serious medical complications, hospitalization or even sudden death. If you know a friend or family member is addicted to, abusing, injecting or snorting cocaine, don’t hesitate to get him the help he needs. Call Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today at our toll-free number and speak to a qualified addiction recovery counselor.

Impact of Cocaine on the Body

Cocaine is known as a “party drug,” used as much on the street as it is in the boardroom, but there are important things to know about cocaine effects on the body. Cocaine has the greatest impact on the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord.  It acts as a stimulant and increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. It then causes the user to feel energetic, euphoric, mentally alert, and talkative. However, cocaine users may also experience feelings of anxiety, irritability, restlessness, paranoia, and panic.

Snorting cocaine can have dangerous side effects, as it causes significant amounts of the drug to instantly enter the bloodstream.  The result is potentially life-threatening damage to the lungs, heart, brain, kidneys and other organs. Snorting cocaine also causes damage to the nasal passages. This damage can result in frequent nosebleeds and a loss of sense of smell.  Snorting cocaine will lead to a serious addiction problem within days or weeks after repeated use.

Long-Term Effects of Snorting Cocaine

Pleasurable stimuli will cause the brain to release of dopamine, but cocaine prevents dopamine from being reabsorbed by the brain.  Thus, it causes a build-up of dopamine and triggers an intense feeling of euphoria. The euphoric effects of snorting cocaine typically only last between 15 and 30 minutes, but the adverse effects of cocaine use can be long-lasting, possibly causing irreversible harm to the brain and body. Snorting cocaine is especially dangerous if you don’t know the purity of the cocaine you are taking, and because of this, even frequent cocaine users can overdose on the drug.

Some of the most common long-term medical complications occurring with cocaine use include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Strokes
  • Neurological problems
  • Gastrointestinal complications
  • Heart attacks
  • Coma
  • Overdose

In severe cases, snorting cocaine may also result in sudden death, typically due to cardiac arrest or seizures, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that more than 5,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2014 were due to cocaine.

Contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services Today

Not everyone who snorts cocaine becomes an addict. However, permanent changes in the brain make it less sensitive to the effects of dopamine and therefore it is harder to get high.  Repeated cocaine use can result in a cocaine addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to cocaine, contact the substance abuse experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to discuss the best course of treatment for your situation. BRS has a number of treatment programs designed specifically for cocaine abusers and can help you or your loved one regain control of your life.

Adult Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine Abuse: Why Adults are Turning to the Party Drug

A popular drug in the 1980s, cocaine has re-emerged recently as the party drug of choice. Furthermore, it not just younger individuals experimenting with illegal drugs, but adults, particularly those over the age of 50. Although alcohol and prescription drug abuse are well documented in older adults, the use of illegal drugs is not. Now that the people who likely used cocaine in the 1960s are approaching retirement age, some are continuing to indulge in illicit drug use well into their 50s and 60s. If you or someone you know are struggling with cocaine abuse or addiction, or if you’re wondering what damage does cocaine do, call today to discuss the available treatment options for adult cocaine abuse with a certified addiction recovery counselor at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services.

The Glamorous Allure of Cocaine

Everyone assumes that the use of cocaine and other illegal drugs is a problem affecting only the young. However, recent research shows that older adults, particularly those above the age of 50, are also dealing with cocaine abuse. One study of an inner-city population above the age of 50 seen in the emergency department of a major hospital in Los Angeles shows them testing positive for illegal drugs. As the Journal of Addictive Diseases publishes, “cocaine with or without another illicit drug is the overwhelming drug of choice.” The reason why adult cocaine abuse is so prevalent is that individuals perceive it as a safe, recreational “dinner party” drug that is non-addictive. Furthermore, this is one drug that celebrity users are increasingly making appear glamorous.

Health Consequences of Adult Cocaine Abuse

The unfortunate truth about cocaine is that the intense addictiveness can result in individuals continuing their drug habit even when they know about the risks. There are serious health consequences to consider with cocaine use, after all. “Because of its cardiovascular toxicity,” the authors of the Journal of Addictive Diseases study note, “[cocaine] use may cause cardiac and central nervous system (CNS) events in older persons who may already have significant atherosclerosis.” In older adults who may have cardiovascular issues without any diagnosis, the side effects of using cocaine may be even more pronounced, possibly including heart attack, abnormal heart rate, hypertension, and cardiomyopathy.

Individuals can smoke, snort, or inject cocaine. The duration of the drug’s euphoric effects depends on the method of administration. Unfortunately, no matter how one administers cocaine, its side effects can be devastating. Injecting cocaine can cause severe health problems in users, resulting in collapsed veins and bacterial infections of the heart valves and blood vessels. In an equal manner, the symptoms of snorting coke may include damage to the nasal cavity, tissue erosion, nasal septal perforation, and other problems. Even attempting to discontinue the use of cocaine can result in serious side effects, causing withdrawal symptoms like paranoia, exhaustion, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and intense cravings for the drug.

Contact the Addiction Recovery Specialists at BRS Today

Much is unknown about how cocaine abuse and abuse of other illegal drugs may affect older adults. The side effects of these drugs often mimic, and may also exacerbate, conditions that accompany the natural aging process. If you know someone who is struggling with adult cocaine abuse, or just anybody with a cocaine addiction, you can help by putting them in touch with the substance abuse counselors at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services. Call to speak to the experts at BRS today. With the right addiction recovery program, your loved one can overcome his or her addiction to cocaine and live a happy, sober life free from illicit drugs.

Vaping Encouraging Drug Use

Is Vaping Encouraging Drug Use Among Young Professionals?

Is vaping encouraging drug use among young professionals?  The latest trend among smokers is “vaping,” or using a handheld electronic cigarette that vaporizes a flavored liquid, typically made of nicotine, glycerin, propylene glycol and flavorings, that is then inhaled by the user. Vaping is typically seen as safe, or at least as a safer alternative to smoking marijuana or traditional tobacco cigarettes, particularly among adolescents and young adults. However, there are serious misconceptions about the safety of e-cigarettes and vaping, and many believe that young professionals who vape may be more inclined to begin using drugs. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to speak to an experienced substance abuse counselor.

Vaping Encouraging Drug Use is a Valid Concern

E-cigarettes have been around for more than a decade, but their use has skyrocketed recently, due in large part to the fact that e-cigarettes and their accessories have become more easily accessible to the average person. Originally marketed to nicotine users as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, vaporizers, also known as vape pens, are now a popular accessory for young professionals who want to get high without drawing attention to themselves at work. And rather than having to risk shopping for pipes or bongs at a head shop, they can simply go to any one of the vape shops popping up in towns across the country to get themselves an e-cigarette.

Many smokers begin vaping as a means of quitting smoking or reducing their nicotine intake, but, when used by nonsmokers, vaping encouraging drug use is an issue because it may make users more likely to experiment with drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, more than a quarter-million youth who had never smoked before used e-cigarettes, and in a 2014 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers warn that “nicotine use is a gateway to the use of marijuana and cocaine,” and that this gateway model of drug abuse can be applied to the growing use of e-cigarettes.

Why Young Professionals Use Vape Pens

The main draw to e-cigarettes is that they are sleek and discreet, a much more sophisticated and subtle alternative to tobacco or marijuana cigarettes for young professionals attempting to cultivate a certain image in the workplace. And, because vaporizers are legal, these professionals can vape all day long, from the comfort of their office, rather than sneaking outside for a puff, or waiting until they get home at the end of the day to get high. Some people also find that vaping, when compared to smoking marijuana, doesn’t hinder their productivity or make them feel tired, making e-cigarettes a popular option for young professionals to use at work. And, because water-soluble synthetics can be easily converted into a liquid concentrate that can be vaped, just like nicotine, without producing that telltale marijuana scent, it’s nearly impossible to tell whether a vape pen contains nicotine or marijuana concentrate without actually testing it.

Contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services for Help

Despite the growing trend of e-cigarette use in the United States, the long-term effects of vaping remain unknown, and many believe that vaping encouraging drug use is a real threat. If you know someone at work who vapes, and you believe he or she may be struggling with a substance abuse disorder, don’t hesitate to get your coworker the help he or she needs. Call the addiction recovery experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today to discuss the available treatment options.

Cocaine the Party Drug

Cocaine: The Party Drug Executives Abuse at Work

Cocaine the party drug is abused among business executives and this remains a serious problem in the United States. Just last year, a top executive at Chipotle was caught in a police crackdown on a cocaine trafficking ring in New York, and a New Jersey surgeon had his medical license suspended indefinitely after he was accused of using cocaine. Cocaine abuse among business executives may seem like nothing more than a stereotype from the 1980s, where the drug was widely used for after-hours entertainment and as a sweetener for business deals, but research shows that abuse of cocaine and other drugs remains a widespread problem among high-powered execs even today.

The Allure of Cocaine the Party Drug in the Business World

Compared to other illicit substances that users typically associate with at least a little bit of shame or embarrassment, cocaine has a certain mystique associated with it that only adds to its appeal. Plus, cocaine is expensive, it’s somewhat glamorous, or at least glorified, and it’s related to a far more fast-paced, lucrative lifestyle than most other drugs. The use of cocaine is also widely accepted in today’s society, more so than the use of drugs that are associated with more adverse side effects, like heroin and methamphetamine, and the drug is favored by business executives, who are typically seen as high-powered individuals with the world at their fingertips.

Why Business Executives Abuse Cocaine at Work

It’s no wonder that cocaine has become the drug of choice among business executives. “They have the disposable income,” says Dr. Mark Gold, acting chairman of the department of psychiatry at the University of Florida College of Medicine. “They have lives which are often responding to the next crisis. They have access to drugs, drug-using friends, and associates, and they feel that drugs are part of the spectrum of entitlement.” In other words, they work hard, so they deserve it, they have the money to pay for it, and, that anthem of drug users everywhere, everyone else is doing it.

The real reason why some business executives are abusing cocaine the party drug in the workplace is a little more complicated, though. The top three reasons business executives abuse cocaine and other stimulant drugs at work are: to manage mental health issues, to cope with work-related stress, and to deal with the pressures of their job and the economy. Not only do business executives face the pressures of succeeding in a challenging business environment, but they also work long hours and do tedious work for demanding bosses. The ability to escape all of this with just one “hit” is what keeps cocaine users coming back for more.

Adverse Side Effects of Cocaine

Unfortunately, the health effects of cocaine the party drug are far-reaching, even for high-powered business executives who have all the money, power and influence they could ever want. While people who abuse cocaine typically do so in search of the drug’s short-term effects, which include extreme happiness and energy, and a greater ability to focus on a task, other side effects of cocaine include irritability, paranoia, and unpredictable behavior, and long-term cocaine abuse may result in frequent nosebleeds, loss of sense of smell, organ damage, mood swings, and possibly even full-blown psychosis.

Cocaine’s Staying Power in the United States

Even as experts warn about the serious health consequences associated with its use, cocaine, a hip designer drug in the 70s and 80s, remains the party drug of choice for business executives today, and recent reports have warned that cocaine’s staying power has to do with its ability to make users feel like they can accomplish anything. And this is a valuable effect for executives in challenging work environments. According to a 2015 analysis of employer-issued drug tests in the workplace, there have been “steady increases in workplace positivity for cocaine in the general US workforce during the past two years, reversing a prolonged period of decline.