Posts tagged "narcotics"

woman holding index finger over lips for deafening silence blog post on recovery blog

My Addicted Son – Deafening Silence Hits Home

March 23rd, 2019 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Opioid Epidemic, Treatment 0 comments on “My Addicted Son – Deafening Silence Hits Home”

Deafening Silence… I heard this two word expression so many times, but I did not put much thought into it. That is until the day my life changed in just a quick moment. Our son’s behavior started to change in subtle ways. He seemed to be secretive and sneaking around at times. We caught him in several lies, even telling different versions of the same story. Like when he needed to borrow money to make car payments, telling us many different lies, such as, “his commission did not come through yet.” We began to notice that his good friends were no longer coming around our home. He also started leaving the house at odd times and returning shortly after leaving. All the signs were there, but we did not pay attention, but our trust was wearing thin.

Delusions, Hallucinations, and Racing Thoughts

We suddenly noticed that Brad was having trouble processing his thoughts. He seemed to be repeating stories that he expressed deep concern over. Things on the TV seemed to disturb him. It was 2012, and Whitney Houston had just been found dead in her bathtub due to an alcohol and Xanax overdose. Each time the story came on the news, he reacted to it as if it were the first time he heard it.

“Did you see this? Dead! She’s gone. Drugs got her!” Brad seemed unable to string his sentences together at this point, piecing together broken sentences.

The weather forecast came on the TV, showing weather across the country. He kept blurting out these delusional statements that we now know are due to the extreme, short and long-term term, multiple drug addictions and from the withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepines he was prescribed (i.e. Xanax and klonopin). My husband and I looked at each other, scared and confused. We did not have a clue as to what was happening with our son. We had never seen him like this before. He was a bright, charismatic man who seemed totally out of it. He was very delusional and hallucinatory. He even seemed to be skittish at times. We were very frightened about trying to understand what was happening with our son.

Discovering My Addicted Son’s Opioid Habit

My husband decided go for a ride to get flowers for me on Valentine’s Day and took Brad along. We only had a moment to speak to one another in regards to what course of action we were going to take. He took Brad for a ride, while I went into his room to get some things together in a small bag in case he needed to check into a hospital.

He had been living with us after losing his job, unable to pay rent in the apartment he shared with his girlfriend. His room was a total mess, in a complete state of disarray. There were piles of clothing everywhere and his hamper was overflowing. I started taking things out of the hamper to wash, thinking he might need them. After going through a few things, I discovered an empty pill bottle. It was a prescription for oxycodone!

Deafening Silence Strikes Home

I felt like I had been stabbed in the heart. The TV was blaring from one room as well as from another TV on the first floor of the house. For some reason, all I could hear was… s-i-l-e-n-c-e. All of a sudden, I not only knew the meaning of DEAFENING SILENCE, but I was smack in the middle of experiencing it. My eyes and ears were functioning, but I could not see or hear anything. It was extremely loud!

After a small amount of time had elapsed, I continued on my mission. Tears were streaming uncontrollably down the sides of my face. As I picked up items from the hamper, I found more and more empty pill bottles, mostly for oxycodone (generic for Roxicodone or oxycodone hydrochloride), some read alzaprozalam (generic for Xanax) or Methadone. All officially prescribed to him, with his name printed on the bottle. One of those bottles had 240 round pills and 30 milligrams printed on the label. I discovered that these pills were supposed to be for extreme pain–the kind of pain that comes from cancer or lupus.

Prescription Pills and Empty Containers

Several years later, we found out from Brad that bottle was a one-week prescription, and he went there every Monday for a quantity of pain medication that most pharmacies refused to fill. The doctor had to write two, separate prescriptions for this amount to avoid visits from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

EDITOR’S NOTE: This occurred before the official opioid epidemic, when doctor shopping (having multiple doctors prescribe the same medication) was still going on. The quantity above comes to around 35 pills a day, which at $30 per pill comes out to $1050 a day (street value). These numbers are not inflated for the purpose of building a good story. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) brought the prescription narcotic epidemic to a halt.

This program was put in place in hopes of ending prescription drug abuse. They had some success in doing so, however it spawned an influx of heroin users, which everyone now knows as the opioid epidemic. This could no longer go unnoticed in America. There was, and is, more heroin in our streets than ever before. Unfortunately, there are overdoses and heroin or opioid related deaths, which have now become the leading cause of death in Americans under the age of 50, according to cdc.com.

My heart was pounding and my head was spinning… What do we do now? What is wrong with Brad? I found many other pill containers, all in his name. A bunch of these pills were for Xanax. Later on, I learned that the opioid and benzodiazepine combination that was nicknamed, cock-tailing, and has resulted in a large number of heart-stopping overdoses in America. But in this moment, I was in a state of shock. I called my husband in a frenzy, and told him that our son is a drug addict. I managed to blurt out fragments of sentences that read something like this,

“Oxycodone… many empty bottles, some in his pillow case, hidden in sneakers, etc.”

My poor husband was driving and trying to process this while trying to get our son back home. Brad came home and went to straight to bed. This really had us terrified and worried, there might have been more pills up there. We still had no idea where to go, who to turn to, what to do!! I went on the internet and entered, “son oxy and xanax addiction” into Google, and went with the first thing I saw. I was so desperate and did not want to ask anyone for help. I did not want to potentially expose what we wanted to keep a family secret.

The Search for an Addiction Treatment Center

I made a call to the number of a California rehab that looked very good. At the time, I was standing in my garage, which was freezing cold in the middle of winter. I spilled out my story through sobs and whimpers. A kind and caring man was on the other end and reassured me that help was available. He kept mentioning that we were not to blame for our son’s drug addiction.

We decided to make plans to send Brad to this program. They also sent an interventionist to walk Brad through the airport, who was in the midst of intense withdrawal symptoms from multiple medications. We had no time to think this through; we felt pressure as we fought for our son’s life.

I called for my husband and explained these things to him in our living room. We stood up and began crying in each other’s arms. The next day, the interventionist showed up for Brad. After the intervention process, Brad was very quick to say yes to a desperate attempt at saving his life. He threw some things into a duffel bag and we said our goodbyes, hugging and clinging to eachother. I watched the car drive away to the unknown. Again, that deafening silence took over my mind.

Moving Forward from Addiction in Recovery

I hate that I now understand the emotion and true meaning of this oxymoron, which is defined as,

“an expression for describes something related to shock, usually from an uncomfortable experience.”

I wish I could say that these two times were the only I had, but there have been quite a few more in dealing with Brad’s addiction. Unfortunately, those “deafening silences” can be a part of life. Just remember that right after the hearing returns, we must move forward and deal with whatever comes our way next!

bus crashes into tree after driver overdoses on heroin in Newark, NJ - Serenity Springs Recovery

2 Drugged Drivers → 3 Deaths and School Bus Crash in NJ

February 21st, 2019 Posted by Disease of Addiction, News, Opioid Epidemic 0 comments on “2 Drugged Drivers → 3 Deaths and School Bus Crash in NJ”

A substitute bus driver, Lisa Byrd drove a school bus and twelve children into a tree after overdosing on heroin. She lost consciousness and the bus from 14th Avenue School in Newark, NJ slowly rolled off the road. According to CNN, she was arrested by the Newark police on Wednesday after being revived by Narcan.

1. School Bus Driver Overdoses, Crashes in NJ
2. Fiery Crash Leaves Three Dead in Wayne, NJ

On Tuesday, Jason Vanderee, a 29-year-old male from Glenwood, NJ crashed his vehicle into a gas station in Wayne, NJ, killing three in a vicious head-on collision. According to northjersey.com, He was high and driving reckless while under the influence of heroin. Again, he was revived with Narcan by local police. Police found 9 bags of heroin in his vehicle, arrested Mr. Vanderee and charged him with 3 counts of death by auto, 3 counts of aggravated manslaughter, and driving while intoxicated.

Drug Overdoses are Dangerous for Everyone

The two stories out of New Jersey occurred over the past few days. This is very frightening to think that these types of drivers are out there and we might have to dodge an oncoming, overdosed driver at some point. However, no one can live there lives like this. Drunk drivers have been on the loose for quite some time now. Please stay alert on the road!!

man opening green beer bottle with bottle opener while driving his car - Serenity Springs Recovery

We are again asking the same question here. Where are we right now in this country in terms of stopping this opioid epidemic? It seems to be doing a bit of a roller coaster routine again and not showing any signs of slowing down. Just when we thought it was cooling off, New Jersey strikes again.

Will the opioid epidemic slow down?

Stories like the aforementioned will put knots in your stomach or fear in your hearts. We are in a scary place as Americans for a number of reasons, but we are not going to get into politics. In terms of addiction and the epidemic, there is no clear cut answer. Obviously, as citizens or human beings, we wish these stories and epidemic would disappear for good.

The truth is drugs are here to stay and we have to hope that scientists continue to improve methods for combating the disease of addiction like our amino acid therapy or the bridge device. All we can do is continue to live our lives, focusing on our goals one day at a time. Writing this actually brought on some déjà vu from this blog post below where we asked very similar questions, and the results have not changed much!

An excerpt from, “Fentanyl Epidemic: Week in Review,” posted 10/16/2017:

What can we do to stop this?

As of today, there is really no answer for why, when or how this epidemic is going to end. It seems that drugs will always be a problem in this country and throughout the world regardless of the efforts made by police, armed forces, government, citizens, etc. of any country. At Serenity Springs Recovery Center, we do not worry about the numbers or politics involved, even though these are hot topics in America. We are here to offer a solution for addiction and change the lives of suffering addicts and alcoholics. These changes come from the knowledge and spiritual principles that we instill into their daily lives. This can and will happen for all that thoroughly work our program of recovery.

stop sign with trees in background

Recovery from Addiction is Possible

Not good when we are coming to the same conclusion from 16 months ago. However, we will keep fighting this thing from our corner, here in Volusia County, FL. We have seen many recover and will continue to recover opioid addicts, alcoholics, meth addicts, benzo addicts, we have even seen a few internet/pornography addicts recover at Serenity Springs. It is on the individual, if they want it, the solution is waiting for them and will always be available to those that seek freedom from addiction!

Know an opioid addict?

Save a life... get professional help now!

Addicted to opioids?

Get help, avoid an overdose!

black background with blue skeleton head with x-ray pink brain and pointer to brain with pink wavy lines - for drugs affecting brain blog - Serenity Springs

How Drugs Affect the Brain: Stimulants & Depressants

October 17th, 2018 Posted by Blog 0 comments on “How Drugs Affect the Brain: Stimulants & Depressants”

The science of addiction spans across multiple areas of the body. When we explore how drugs affect the brain, we have to consider the various types of substances people abuse and how each of them impacts different areas of the brain and central nervous system. Understanding the effects of drugs on the brain and health can put addiction into perspective and encourage people to re-evaluate their choice to use.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 28 million Americans over the age of 12 used illicit drugs in 2016. Approximately one in 10 of those individuals had used illicit drugs in the past month.

With so many people around the country using drugs, it’s important to understand how they affect our health and ability to make the right choices for our own well-being. Just because a drug is legalized, for example, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

The Different Types of Drugs and Their Effects

No two drugs are the same. Before we cover the different ways drugs affect the brain, we must define the different types of drugs people use. Here is an overview:

Depressants

how drugs affect the brain

Often called “downers,” depressants suppress brain function, inhibit communication, and leave people feeling relaxed. Popular depressant drugs include alcohol, barbiturates like Amytal, and benzodiazepines like Xanax.

Depressants sedate and slow down the central nervous system, leading to feelings of drowsiness and tranquility. Many people who abuse depressants were originally prescribed a sleep aid, sedative, or antipsychotic drug but ended up developing substance use disorder (SUD). Although their medication was prescribed by a doctor, people with SUD develop a tolerance for a drug and require higher quantities to achieve the desired effects.

Over time, the dependence on the medication leads to issues at work or school and negatively impacts personal relationships. The calming sensation brought on by depressants alleviates many of the symptoms of anxiety and depression, so people become addicted to the sleepy, dream-like state. Many people who have been prescribed a depressant are shocked to find themselves requiring treatment for drug addiction later on.

Stimulants

ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin are often abused by people who want the hyper-focused concentration and attention levels that come from abusing stimulants. Other drugs like crack cocaine, methamphetamine (crystal meth), and MDMA trigger a “rush” of energy and euphoria that makes people feel more alert, attentive, and sensitive to their environment.

Many college students abuse stimulants to help them study and meet important deadlines. Non-prescriptive use of stimulants can lead to chemical imbalances that result in depression, insomnia, and even seizures and heart failure.

Psychoactive Drugs

Drugs that change a user’s perspective of reality are called hallucinogens. When people go on a “trip,” they are prone to seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there. Common types of hallucinogenic drugs are:

  • LSD
  • Mushrooms
  • Ecstasy
  • Marijuana (in high doses)
  • Mescaline

Hallucinogens are dangerous and unpredictable. The mood, setting, and emotions of a user will impact their experience, and it’s not uncommon for people to have a “bad trip” that leaves them feeling paranoid, panicked, anxious, or out of touch with reality. People on a trip are less likely to understand the consequences of an action and take risks that can endanger their lives and others.

Narcotics

The list of medicinal or prescription drugs that are often taken for non-health-related purposes includes narcotics. A few of the most frequently abused narcotics are heroin, opium, codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, and morphine.

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared opioid abuse a national health emergency. According to the HHS, 11.4 million people abuse prescription drugs, and an estimated 2.1 million have an opioid use disorder.

Prescription drug abuse is only second to marijuana use in the United States. The rise of addiction must be addressed by providing greater resources, information, and services to people who find themselves struggling with SUD.

Areas of the Brain Affected by Drugs

There are three areas of the brain most affected by substance use: the cerebral cortex, the brain stem, and the limbic system. The cerebral cortex is the main operating center of the brain. It is divided into areas that support unique functions and control our senses as well as our ability to think clearly and solve problems. The cerebrum is the part of the brain that houses the cerebral cortex and limbic system. It makes up 85 percent of the brain’s weight.

The brain stem controls our most innate functions, including our breathing and heart rate. The brain stem also regulates sleeping patterns. In addition, it connects our brain to other parts of the body. When people are high on drugs, many of the physical side-effects, such as a rapid or slowed heart rate, respiratory changes, and issues with balance and coordination, originate in the brain stem.

The limbic system houses the brain’s reward center. Multiple structures in the limbic system work together and help people experience pleasure. Positive and negative emotions are also regulated in the limbic system. A chemical imbalance brought on by drug use can result in unexpected and unpredictable mood swings and lead to worsening mental health issues.

Many drugs trigger the internal reward system and create feelings of overwhelming pleasure and euphoria. Over time, however, overuse causes the reward system to weaken. People develop drug dependencies and have to take higher doses of a drug to feel the same effects.

How Depressants Affect the Brain

Depressants affect people mentally and physically by repressing the central nervous system (CNS). When someone takes a depressant, they usually want to achieve a drowsy, relaxed effect. Depressants speed up the movement of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

GABA blocks certain impulses between nerve cells and the brain. People who have taken a depressant will experience reduced brain function, fatigue, lower blood pressure, slurred speech, slower pulse and breathing, and general sluggishness and lack of coordination.

In high doses, depressants can cause people to fall unconscious into a coma. A high enough dose can slow the breathing and stop the heart. Depressant abuse has also been linked to depression, chronic fatigue, and breathing problems.

How Stimulants Affect the Brain

While depressants slow the brain function down, stimulants speed it up. Enhanced attention, concentration, and greater focus are some of the reasons people begin using stimulants. Stimulants are also the drugs responsible for the rush of euphoria and happiness we think of when we envision a “high.”

As mentioned earlier, stimulants include ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin, which are often abused in an academic setting. These substances are also abused by professionals who work in high-stress environments that require ultimate focus.

Other common stimulants include crack cocaine, methamphetamines, and even everyday chemicals like nicotine and caffeine. While a cup of coffee a day won’t likely have negative effects on your health, abusing drugs that overstimulate the brain can ultimately lead to depression and put you in a dangerous position. Stimulants trigger the rewards center in the limbic system and cause the body to be flooded with a rush of dopamine.

Dopamine, often referred to as the “feel-good hormone,” is responsible for humans’ ability to feel pleasure and find enjoyment in things. Prolonged stimulant use results in a dopamine imbalance that leaves people chasing the energized high of being on drugs. Without elevated levels of dopamine in their system, stimulant users are more likely to feel depressed.

How the Brain Gets Addicted to Drugs

Drugs change the way our brains process information. Just like with anything in life, our brain develops certain associations with drugs in our system and learns to only produce certain effects and reactions when specific chemicals are present. Nerve cells no longer send and receive information the same way once drugs have been thrown into the mix. Over time, the natural balance of the brain’s chemistry is affected.

Our own natural needs are diminished as the brain becomes fixated on receiving pleasure. Dopamine levels surge and then plummet after we use drugs that promote this feeling of pleasure in our brains. Over a period of time, the brain adapts to the process and begins to crave the same feeling over and over again.

Some people become addicted to drugs after only a few times while others may use for weeks or months before they develop an addiction. When learning about how drugs affect the brain, it’s important to also understand how long the effects last.

The Brain’s Recovery from Drug Addiction

Drug addiction destroys brain cells. Memory loss, learning difficulties, and emotional problems are often reported by people who are in the midst of recovering from an addiction. Healing the brain after drug use takes a lot of time, but thankfully, it can be done. The brain is a powerful organ that is known for its plasticity.

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change and develop over time. Even when parts of the brain are damaged or neural pathways have been destroyed, the brain is capable of functioning on its own while simultaneously repairing the damage. Because so many of the brain’s functions are spread throughout different areas, brain damage from drug addiction can still occur even as other parts of the brain evolve and readapt to perform different jobs.

The first step toward healing the brain from drugs is eliminating them from your system. Drug withdrawal has many mental and physical side-effects that are best handled by a professional. Depending on the severity of an addiction, withdrawal can even be life-threatening, which is why we don’t advise anyone to quit on their own. Having the support and resources you need to deal with substance use disorder is vital in the recovery process.

Addiction isn’t cured overnight, but learning about the recovery process and various treatment options available is the first important step toward getting sober. During the initial detox period, the brain may struggle to regain proper functioning without the help of drugs. However, over time, the brain is able to become strong and healthy on its own, and you will be able to go on and live a life free from the burden of addiction.

Healing Your Brain After Drugs

Research has found that alcoholics who quit drinking were able to grow new brain cells for years. People once believed that brain cells are only developed early in life, but now we know that adults can also grow new brain cells. In fact, they can continue to develop throughout the course of a person’s life even if that person has been addicted to drugs.

Search Our Site

Enter Email for Updates

Enter your email to get future Addiction Recovery News & Events from Serenity Springs. Get all updates from our blog sent straight to your email!

Serenity Springs Recovery Center