What Is Gabapentin Used For?

Even if you’ve never used gabapentin personally, you likely know someone who has. Initially created as an anti-seizure medication, off-label use of this drug has exploded due to the versatile nature of its pharmacology. Considered to be a safer and less addictive alternative to opioid prescriptions, gabapentin has quickly become one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the country. Although gabapentin has many helpful uses, it also carries a risk that is still overlooked by pharmacists, doctors, and regulating agencies. 

 

What Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is both a painkiller and anticonvulsant belonging to a unique drug class of its own namesake called gabapentinoids. It features a chemical structure similar to that of the GABA neurotransmitter, a chemical that blocks certain brain signals that can disrupt communication between your brain and nervous system. This can induce a calming effect on the mind and body that can make it function somewhat similarly to the effect of benzos or barbiturates. However, this mechanism has proven to be useful for a number of seemingly unrelated ailments.  

 

What Is Gabapentin Used For?

First discovered in Japan in the 1970s, gabapentin was originally used as an antispasmodic and muscle relaxer to help relieve cramps and other pain in the GI tract. Soon afterward, it was realized that gabapentin had the potential to be an effective anticonvulsant, a medication that suppresses that rapid neuron firing that causes seizures. As of today, this prescription drug is currently FDA-approved for three uses:

  • Partial seizure therapy
  • Postherpetic neuralgia
  • Moderate to severe restless leg syndrome

Its number of off-label uses, however, are far more numerous. Gabapentin quickly became a popular drug that was used to treat a number of ailments and its use has been documented to treat all sorts of health issues from the mundane to the rare. In addition to treating physical conditions with neurological origins such as seizures, gabapentin has also proven useful in treating psychiatric conditions and even symptoms associated with addiction withdrawal. Here are the many off-label gabapentin uses:

  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Analgesic (postoperative)
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Essential tremors
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Generalized tonic-clonic seizures
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Insomnia
  • Itching (pruritus)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Migraine prophylaxis
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Postmenopausal hot flashes
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Refractory chronic cough
  • Resistant depressant and mood disorders
  • Shingles
  • Social phobias

 

Why Gabapentin Is Dangerous

Unfortunately, readily availability, lax regulation, and lack of public awareness have led this seemingly innocuous drug to become a widespread problem. In addition to the rise of abuse, incidences of gabapentin-related deaths have been occurring with increasing regularity; making headlines that it could be one of the most dangerous drugs in America

Gabapentin is not a controlled substance, and is thus, is relatively easy to come by. A 2016 study showed that the vast majority of gabapentin abusers are those with a prescription (only a nominal amount of the general popular seek to misuse it). These individuals are taking it in substantially higher doses, up to 5,000 mg which is well over the highest possible maximum of 3,600 mg per day (which varies depending on the condition being treated). 

Despite all this, gabapentin itself isn’t dangerous. Overdoses can happen–so can addiction–but it’s not common and even when it does, it’s rarely deadly. Instead, gabapentin’s dangerous potential lies with its function as an adjuvant, a drug that can enhance the effects of other drugs. This discovery is one that has eluded regulation agencies but was soon discovered by gabapentin abusers. People are intentionally mixing gabapentin with illicit substances such as opioids to get more intense and longer-lasting highs. The result of which puts an even greater physical strain on the body and can increase the likelihood of addiction or overdosing on the other substances.

 

Getting Help for Polydrug Abuse

What gabapentin is meant to be used for and how it’s actually used are two very different realities. While it has little potential to cause harm on its own, when combined with other drugs of both the legal or illegal variety, the resulting drug interactions can quickly become dangerous. If you or someone you know takes gabapentin and frequently does it in close correlation with drinking alcohol or doing other drugs, they are at an extremely high risk of rocketing themselves towards the most drastic consequences of drug use. Contact an addiction specialist today to learn more. 

 

Resources:

https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/gabapentin/

https://plushcare.com/get-neurontin-online/

https://www.dentistryiq.com/dental-assisting/patient-relations/article/16367636/gabapentin-the-most-dangerous-drug-in-america

https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/gabapentin/

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-14208-8217/gabapentin-oral/gabapentin-oral/details

 

Is Addiction A Disease?

Is addiction a disease? According to the definitions used by most medical associations, yes, and a chronic one at that. However, medical lexicon is surprisingly fluid–and remarkably biased–making addiction’s classification such a challenging endeavor. This article breaks down the terminology, how those terms have evolved, and how these concepts fit with one another in the disease model of addiction. 

 

What Is A Disease?

Disease is a broad term that can include disorders, syndromes, infections, and disabilities. According to the Oxford dictionary, it is defined as A disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.” 

The formal definition of which can and has changed many times before. In fact, even the current dictionary definition varies depending on which source you use. Why does this matter? These differences highlight a crucial flaw in trying to compartmentalize the multi-faceted beast that is addiction: that health, wellness, illness, and disease are all subjective. 

 

The Trouble with Defining Disease

Our ability to classify, categorize, and define anything is limited to the lens of human perception–not even the sciences are immune from it. Even medical terminology is influenced by societal norms, moral values, political ideologies, and the limitation on the knowledge available at the time. Whether we realize it or not, these biases color our perception, including those towards drug abuse and addiction. 

The concept of “disease,” and by extension, “health”, is just as susceptible to changes as tastes in fashion or food preferences are. Take for example osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease. Prior to 1994, the World Health Organization thought this to be an unavoidable part of growing older. Now, it’s considered a deviation from health, an abnormality, with distinct causes. As our understanding of our bodies and minds change, so will our definitions. 

 

Making A Case: The Disease Model of Addiction

However, technical definitions are not the only things that can determine whether addiction is a disease or not. Shifts in approach and thinking are regarded as case models and can influence how a condition is viewed by society, how it’s treated, and of course, how it’s labeled. In the case of drug abuse and addiction, several have been developed over the course of history. 

 

A Brief History of Models Towards Drug Use & Addiction

In the 18th and 19th centuries, there was the moral model. Addiction was seen as a sin, a moral weakness caused by faulty character. Instead of treatment, actions were punitive and individuals were met with a considerable social stigma. 

The psycho-dynamic model is a theory that originated with Sigmund Freud in the early 20th century. It attributed drug abuse to a lack of coping mechanisms and unconscious motivations. In this, addiction is an attempt to self-regulate and deal with stress. This model is still often incorporated in current addiction therapy and counseling. 

The social learning model introduced the concept that addiction had a behavioral component as much as a chemical one. It distinguished between dependence and compulsion and recognized that addiction can be a sliding scale of severity. 

 

What Is the Disease Model of Addiction?

The disease model of addiction argues that the cause or “origin” of addiction is internal to the individual and, being a disease, cannot be controlled. It likens addiction to that of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Like these debilitating and chronic conditions, addiction can cause a host of issues that prevent the body from functioning as normal. Additionally, genes can play a role and cause someone to be predisposed to developing the condition, even if it’s not present at birth. 

This model was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and was highly influential in how this organization approached alcoholism. The 12-Step model is widely known as countless other organizations modeled themselves after this approach. This is one of the main reasons why the disease model of addiction is still one of the main models used.

 

Shortcomings of the Disease Model

One of the main arguments against the disease model is that it removes the individual from having to take responsibility for their actions. Although research has shown that there can be a genetic, and even a hereditary, component to substance abuse and addiction, it still does not account for this condition in its entirety. One critic points out that most addicted individuals quit their addiction at some point, something that is not possible with that of heart disease, diabetes, or cancer. 

The lack of agency that the disease model purports doesn’t just lack scientific evidence, but this attitude can actually be harmful in itself. This view is comparatively fatalistic, implying that addiction cannot be controlled; it is inherent and can only be managed through complete abstinence (a key component of the AA approach).  

 

Addiction Is A Disease, Not An Excuse

Trying to pin down whether addiction is a disease is helpful in the scope of public health, where such labeling can positively influence legislation, healthcare benefits, and social acceptance. In terms of the individual, it can influence how someone might view their condition. Gene Heyman perhaps said it best, that addiction is a “disorder of choice.

It’s without question that addiction can be difficult to manage once it has onset. However, individuals do have a choice of how they face it. Even chronic diseases like diabetes can have actions taken to make them more manageable. Even if efforts don’t completely cure the disease, they can go a long way towards giving the individual a better quality of life. Remember, no matter how addiction is labeled, you always have a choice. 

If you’re ready to choose a better life that’s addiction-free, you can make the first step by contacting an addiction treatment facility today.

 

Sources: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1299105/ 

https://sk.sagepub.com/reference/substance/n324.xml

 

How to Heal Veins From IV Drug Use

Veins are a vast and intricate network of blood vessels located throughout every inch of the body. They are tasked with the crucial role of ensuring your organs and skin receive oxygenated blood. Despite how important they are to the cardiovascular system and overall health, veins are quite fragile and easily prone to damage and disease. Vein damage caused by needles can be reversed—but not always. Precisely how to heal veins from IV drug use will largely depend on the type and extent of the damage inflicted.

 

Can veins heal naturally? 

To a certain degree, yes: veins can somewhat repair themselves on their own. However, it’s not a guarantee that they will be able to do so. The numerous complications of IV drug use can render self-repair impossible. Even in the instances that veins are able to heal, the odds are that the damaged vein will never regain full functionality. 

 

How to heal veins from IV drug use

In most cases, your body will simply make new veins through a process called angiogenesis, rather than trying to heal the old damaged ones. There are certain actions one can take to speed up the recovery process and help damaged veins regain at least some functionality:

  • Wear compression socks or sleeves
  • Stay warm
  • Exercise (can improve overall circulation)
  • Squeeze soft objects (like a stress ball) which can help develop the surrounding muscles and the arteries themselves
  • Take vitamins such as folic acid and flavonoids which specifically aid the blood
  • Vein rotation; alternate which veins are used. This won’t heal the vein itself, but it’s one of the best ways to prevent further (and permanent) damage

 

Types of IV Drug Use Vein Damage

All types of IV drug use can be extremely damaging to veins and the skin around the injection site, however, some types of damage are worse than others. Prolonged intravenous drug use can quickly result in permanent vein damage with a host of deadly complications. The place where veins were injected (arms, legs, neck, groin, etc.) also plays a role in the severity of potential decay as does the type of drug as well (different drugs have different acidity levels).  

 

Blown Vein

Also known as a ruptured vein, blown veins are one of the most common injuries caused by intravenous injections. It is caused when a needle inures or irritates the lining of the vein and is not exclusive to IV drug use. When this occurs, blood leaks into the surrounding area and can result in discoloration and bruising near the injection site. Complications that can arise from a blown vein are infiltration and extravasation; the latter of which can be caused by the high acidity of illicit drugs and lead to tissue decay.   

 

Collapsed Vein

A collapsed vein is when the flow of blood is impeded, caused either by the vein lining collapsing or swelling. This can be caused by a needle being pulled out too quickly, the use of blunt needles, and injecting in non-optimal conditions (in addition to the usual culprits: poor technique and frequent injection use). This type of damage is usually temporary but can be permanent if that vein continues to be used before healing, which can take several weeks. 

 

Scarred Veins

A consequence of impaired blood flow caused by blown or collapsed veins is that blood clots can form. Aside from being a dangerous condition all on their own, these clots can turn into scar tissue which will result in long-term and potentially permanent blockage. This type of vein damage will not heal on its own and will most likely require a surgical procedure such as a stent or angioplasty in order to restore blood flow. 

 

How long does it take a vein to heal?

The cardiovascular system is the first organ system developed as an embryo and humans are born with all of the veins they need. Fortunately, the body is remarkably resilient and does have some ability to recover if veins are damaged. Minor vein damage such as a blown vein can usually repair itself in 10-12 days. Major vein regrowth, however, can take months up to several years. 

Unfortunately, IV drug use can cause a number of complications resulting in chronic venous disease which lowers the likelihood of repairability even further. Addiction is often both a cause and exacerbator of such vein issues. The typical IV drug user injects directly into their veins as many as four times a day and is more likely to resort to puncturing the same vein repeatedly until it can no longer be salvaged. While vein rotation is a practical harm reduction method that intravenous drug users can use, addiction can make such restraint impossible. 

The Dangers of Mixing Suboxone and Cocaine

The nature of how Suboxone works means that opioid abusers will find it increasingly difficult to get a high from their habitual substance of choice. This sometimes results in those individuals turning to other drugs which is always a bad idea–no matter the type. So, despite Suboxone being a legal pharmaceutical, many adverse drug interactions can arise when combined with other substances. This article will explore the dangers of simultaneous Suboxone and cocaine use, which is surprisingly interconnected. 

 

Suboxone and Cocaine: Why It’s Dangerous

Suboxone (or to be more precise, the buprenorphine portion of Suboxone), creates a “ceiling effect” that prevents opioid receptors from experiencing the full effect of an opioid. This limits the euphoric sensation those drugs can generate and is one reason why Suboxone can be so effective in breaking the cycle of addiction. 

This same functionality dampens the effects of cocaine as well. It may sound like a positive but this is precisely where the danger of mixing Suboxone and cocaine lies. The minimized effects often lead to individuals taking much higher doses of cocaine than they would have otherwise. This in turn, greatly increases the likelihood of overdosing and death.

 

How Often Are Suboxone & Cocaine Combined?

The instances of cocaine being used with Suboxone are surprisingly high. Studies found that cocaine use increased tremendously during treatment programs and over 50% of patients were using while receiving buprenorphine treatment. Patients that hadn’t used cocaine previously had now taken it up.

Another disturbing trend regarding Suboxone and cocaine use is that individuals with an opioid addiction who use cocaine during treatment face much lower odds of success. The reason is not a pharmacological one, however. Instead, this indicates a lack of motivation, which is one of the most powerful predictors of successful treatment more. Motivation actually plays an even greater role in recovery than socioeconomic status, demographics, the type of drugs used, family situation, etc. 

 

What causes patients in rehab to turn to other illicit drugs? 

There are several potential reasons. One is simply a lack of understanding of the nature of addiction. Patients feel that their drug abuse issue only extends to one particular substance; that it’s just one type of drug that they cannot control their compulsions to use. However, countless studies have shown that individuals who struggle with any form of drug addiction have a much higher likelihood of becoming addicted to other types of drugs. They mistakenly believe that they can safely trade one type of drug for another. 

Further, several studies have found that cocaine use, in particular, is strongly influenced by whether or not the individual is undergoing withdrawal. Individuals use a different drug to distract from the discomfort of the substance that’s currently in their system. This short-sighted behavior continues the cycle of debilitating behavior and in many cases, can worsen the withdrawal side effects. 

Another potential reason is that rehab causes them to lose their primary coping mechanism. Stressors can have them scrambling to find anything that can numb the negative emotions they are feeling at the time. This behavior could be linked to depression or some other underlying mental health issue. In such cases, dual diagnosis treatment would be ideal to help address both those and the behavioral issues related to addiction. 

 

How To Minimize The Temptation

One of the quickest ways to bring out potentially lethal aspects of a drug is to combine it with other drugs, legal or otherwise. Even though Suboxone is a prescription medication, taking it with narcotics like cocaine, physician-prescribed medications, or even legal drugs like alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine can be deadly. No matter the type, doing multiple drugs at once is always, always, a bad idea. It can seriously impede on the effectiveness of your addiction treatment, and in worst cases, it can put you in deadly situations.

In the lifelong journey that is recovery, the risk of relapsing or using other drugs will always be present. One way to minimize the temptation to do so is by enrolling in a residential treatment program (also known as intensive addiction treatment). This type of setting provides a controlled environment that would make it difficult to acquire or use other drugs while in rehab and allows you to focus solely on recovery. 

Is A Gabapentin Overdose Possible?

As is the case with virtually any type of drug, yes, a gabapentin overdose is possible. What makes this possibility so shocking, however, is that since its creation in the 1980s, gabapentin was widely believed to be relatively harmless with no danger of misuse. Now, this anti-seizure medication has begun to draw national attention as alarming new trends show rising instances of abuse and directly-related fatalities.

 

Gabapentin: Not So Harmless After All

Gabapentin is one of the most widely prescribed medications in the United States. Its versatile nature has led it to be used for everything from an antiepileptic to a painkiller. But how did the potential dangers of gabapentin fly under the radar for so long? The majority of which is due to its reputation for being a “safe” drug. Gabapentin is not a controlled substance, nor is it included in the DEA’s drug scheduling classification. Its mechanism of use leaves little likelihood of it being addictive and it does not produce any meaningful sort of high (much less any feelings of euphoria). 

This has caused its harm potential to be underestimated by the medical community for decades, which in turn, caused it to be underestimated by regulating agencies. That’s why up until recently, all indicators suggested that gabapentin was harmless. It’s not until the widespread proliferation of this medication that gabapentin’s darker side has come to light. 

Gabapentin is an adjuvant, a drug that boosts the effects of other drugs. So while yes, relatively harmless on its own, when taken in conjunction with other drugs it can increase the intensity and duration of those highs as well as the likelihood of a lethal overdose. This functionality has made gabapentin a popular target for abuse, but also significantly contributes to the risk that legitimate, prescribed users may experience an adverse reaction such as overdose when taking this medication.

 

How Much Gabapentin is Too Much?

Because gabapentin’s reputation is only recently being scrutinized, concrete guidelines as to how much gabapentin is too much, have yet to be determined. The maximum dosage is largely based on the nature of the medical condition it’s used to treat and a person’s age. The medical community has also failed to keep up with recreational gabapentin abuse to determine whether lack of a medical need increases or lowers the possibility of toxic buildup from this drug.

Dosage

Unlike highly-addictive opioid analgesics, gabapentin has little risk of resulting in adverse effects when taken as prescribed. The typical gabapentin dosage is 300 mg, with a daily maximum ranging from 100 mg to 3,600 mg (may vary depending on the condition it is treating). This medication performs best when it’s kept at a constant level in the body. For this reason, it’s very important to monitor the timing when it’s taken and is typically recommended to be done every 8 or 12 hours. 

 

Half-Life

Gabapentin has a moderate half-life ranging from 5-7 hours. Since it takes at least five half-lives to be eliminated from your system, it can take 2 days or longer to clear from your body. While this is fairly low compared to other drugs, the nature of how this medication is typically prescribed (to be taken multiple times a day) means that prescribed users will always have a certain amount of gabapentin in their body at all times. Taking other medications (or illicit drugs) significantly increases their likelihood of experiencing negative reactions.

 

Fatalities

The majority of gabapentin fatalities are caused by it being used in conjunction with another drug. However, that’s not to say this drug doesn’t have the potential to be dangerous on its own. In cases where gabapentin was the direct cause of death, blood concentrations of this medication ranged from 1.1 to 134 mg/L. The FDA has reported gabapentin overdoses of individuals who ingested 49 grams of the medication. Unfortunately, there have only been a handful of studies surrounding gabapentin toxicity so the exact amount of gabapentin it takes to overdose or cause a fatality has yet to be determined.

 

Symptoms of Gabapentin Overdose

Gabapentin overdoses are rarely fatal. However, the risk increases tremendously when taken with other central nervous system depressants which can slow bodily functions to dangerous levels. 

  • Double vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of coordination or collapsing
  • Lethargy
  • Seizure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coma

 

Overdose Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no known medication to reverse the effects of a gabapentin overdose. While some of the side effects can be mild, oxygen deprivation and seizures can be deadly and cause irreversible damage. The best way to prevent an overdose, however, is to curb abuse – of either this medication or of another drug – in the first place. To minimize the likelihood of experiencing withdrawal effects, consider seeking a detox facility to help monitor the elimination of this drug from your system. If gabapentin has been prescribed, be sure to consult with your doctor first. 

How Long Does Klonopin Stay In Your System

Klonopin is a powerful benzodiazepine used for the treatment of panic disorders and seizures. This classification includes the likes of Xanax and Valium, notorious for their potential to become habit-forming. While Klonopin may not be in the spotlight as often, these powerful benzos can result in addiction, overdose, and withdrawal effects. One major contributor to the development of such adverse effects is the buildup of Klonopin. This begs the question: How long does Klonopin stay in your system? A key component to understanding how long Klonopin stays in the body is understanding the concept of Klonopin’s half-life.

How Long Klonopin Stays In Your System: Klonopin Half-Life

Half-life is a pharmacology term used to describe the amount of time it takes for an amount of a substance in the body to be reduced by 50%. It plays an important role in toxicology and understanding how the effects of a drug might be amplified with continued use. When levels of a drug are too high the individual can develop a tolerance, which significantly increases the likelihood of the development of addiction or overdose.

Klonopin has a long half-life and remains in the system for a considerable amount of time: 30-40 hours. However, it takes about five half-lives before a substance is fully eliminated from the body, which means a single dose of Klonopin can stay in the system for up to a week. Why does this matter? Even if you’re not feeling its effects anymore, Klonopin is still in the body (Klonopin hits its peak between 1 and 4 hours) – and will be for quite some time. Taking this medication slightly more frequently than recommended, or taking larger doses than recommended, can quickly lead to toxic – and potentially dangerous – levels of build-up. 

Factors That Influence Half-Life

The exact amount of time it takes for Klonopin to leave the body can vary depending on a number of factors.

  • Age
  • Dosage
  • Duration of use
  • Frequency of use
  • Liver function
  • Presence of other drugs

Many of these are directly correlated to variables that affect metabolism, of which age is the most significant factor. The presence of other drugs can also play a significant role in metabolism. 

Klonopin Overdose

Klonopin is a benzodiazepine, a class of drugs whose rate of overdose deaths has risen over 500% in the past few decades. The abuse potential of these types of drugs is well-noted, however, Klonopin overdoses are not limited to individuals who intentionally misuse the medication. In many cases, it occurs amongst patients who are taking Klonopin exactly as prescribed – but how is this possible?

Potential Causes of Klonopin Overdose

Klonopin is slower acting but longer-lasting than other popular benzos. Since it takes longer to feel the effects, it can result in users taking more than their recommended Klonopin dosage. Paired with Klonopin’s staying power within the body, you’ve got the perfect storm for accidental overdose. 

Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms of a Klonopin overdose are typical to that of any other benzo overdose:

  • Ataxia (loss of control of body movements)
  • Clammy skin
  • Coma
  • Drowsiness
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Weak but fast pulse

The severity of these symptoms can vary, depending on many of the same factors that affect their metabolism. They are much more likely to be life-threatening if Klonopin was taken with alcohol, another medication, or an illicit drug. 

Treatment

Fortunately, there are medications that can be used to reverse the effects of a Klonopin overdose. Flumazenil is a benzodiazepine antagonist that can reverse the sedative effects, even that of a coma. Its effectiveness is primarily limited to use for benzo intoxication compared to other types of drug overdoses. 

Is Klonopin Dangerous?

Klonopin overdose is rarely fatal. However, the majority of fatal overdoses involved other drugs being taken at the same time. If you have a Klonopin addiction or are taking Klonopin while addicted to or abusing other substances, the risk of fatality is significantly higher. Quitting Klonopin cold turkey can be harmful and result in withdrawal effects just as other drugs would, and is never recommended. Instead, users should seek a benzo detox program that can help wean them off a medication (or multiple medications, if needed) to prevent seizures or other complications.  

3 Signs That Someone Is Using Crystal Meths

The descent into crystal meth addiction is swift, dangerous – and far from subtle. Meth is a synthetic drug and one of the most powerful central nervous stimulants out there. The most well-known crystal meth side effects are the severe deterioration of oral and skin health in a matter of only a few short years. These are far from the full extent of the adverse consequences as meth use is accompanied by distinct behavioral side effects as well – although they’re not always as easy to spot. Here are 3 of the most obvious signs that someone is using crystal meths: 

 

Drastic (Unintentional) Weight Loss

Drugs like methamphetamine interfere with the central nervous system, which plays a role in managing gastrointestinal function as well. This interference affects everything from metabolism to bowel function. Another consequence? Decreased appetite. As a result, meth users often lose a lot of weight very quickly without trying. Before it gets to this point, a glaring red flag is if they’re constantly skipping meals or if they never seem to eat. 

 

Scabbed, Pockmarked Skin

Constant scratching is a hallmark of meth use. While this behavior alone could serve as proof that someone uses crystal meth, the results of this scratching are also a telling sign. The initial scratching often results in open sores and eventually scabs on their face, arms, torso, and legs. With continued meth use, the user will continue to scratch those scabs, which can lead to permanent scarring and disfigured skin, along with oozing or infected scratch wounds.

Why does meth cause itching? The reason has to do with physiological reactions to the drug, rather than psychological ones. Meth increases both body temperature and blood flow (typical of central nervous center stimulants), which results in excess sweating. This perspiration removes the skin’s protective outer layer of sebaceous oil, the result of which is described as a sensation that bugs are crawling on under the skin known as formication.

 

Meth Mouth

Severe oral health neglect is another classific sign that someone is using crystal meth. This can look like missing, broken, stained, or blacked teeth. The cause of such a drastic deterioration on one’s smile is not simply because addiction might cause someone to put personal hygiene on the back burner (although that certainly does happen). 

Stimulants like meth interfere with saliva production, a substance that plays a vital role in maintaining oral health. Saliva helps remove leftover food from chewing, aids in digestion, and protects tooth enamel. A lack thereof can cause a chain of reactions that makes your mouth a breeding ground for rot and decay. A study conducted by the American Dental Association had shocking results where 96% of the participants (all meth users), had tooth decay, and over a third of them were missing 6 or more teeth.

There are other ways that meth can mess up your teeth too. Bruxism is the condition of grinding or clenching teeth. When paired with the repercussion of a lack of saliva, this makes teeth and gums even more perceptible to damage. Additionally, drugs like meth are extremely acidic. This is caused by their chemical makeup as well as the harmful additives meth is often laced with such as battery acid or antifreeze. Acid can make quick work of teeth’s protective enamel, stripping your pearly whites of their last line of defense.

 

Found Signs That Someone Is Using Crystal Meths? Now What?

Crystal meth is incredibly addictive. If someone displays any of the above signs, odds are they have been using it for an extended period of time. This is worrisome because not just because this spiral of drug use often comes at the cost of their education, jobs, or relationships. Using meth has very real consequences on mental and physical health, both of which could significantly shorten one’s lifespan. 

Unfortunately, simply confronting them about their drug use is likely to have little if any results. Crystal meth has a powerful hold on its users due to its high potency and the addiction can be virtually impossible to break without outside help. The first step is to undergo methamphetamine detox. Rehab facilities like ours can assist in this process, providing medical intervention and round-the-clock care to mitigate withdrawal effects. Next is to enroll in treatment. Trained staff can help sever the psychological addiction and help users get their lives back on track. 

Heroin & Teeth | How Drugs Affect Your Teeth

The dangerous effects of heroin are nothing to smile about—in fact, heroin might leave you without a smile at all. Meth is notorious for causing dental issues (commonly referred to as “meth mouth”), but most people don’t realize that there are other drugs that can also seriously affect oral health. Drugs such as heroin, cause bodily reactions that both, directly and indirectly, cause serious gum and tooth damage. Learn more about heroin & teeth and 

Reduces Saliva Production

Dry mouth is a common side effect of drug use that’s caused by a lack of saliva. This clear, viscous substance plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy mouth as well as proper digestion. Saliva enables us to taste, chew, and swallow; it provides protein and minerals to protect tooth enamel and gums; and it has important bacteria that break down food, preventing bad breath and cavities.

Having too little saliva makes individuals far more prone to tooth decay and gum disease. So while feeling a bit parched may seem fairly innocuous, the cause of this condition is quite alarming. It serves so many important functions that not only impact oral health but overall well-being. If left untreated, low saliva production can quickly go from an unpleasant sensation to something much more serious. 

Cause Clenching of the Jaw

Stimulants are prone to cause users to clench or grind their teeth, a condition called bruxism. This condition has been linked to the central nervous system, a body functionality that is heavily impacted by heroin use. 

Grinding or clenching of the jaw is uncomfortable at best and damaging at its worst. It can lead to weakened teeth or broken teeth, as well as lasting jaw and facial pain. The repeated stress on the teeth can also cause enamel to wear much more quickly, which can expedite tooth decay as well as unattractive physical damages such as chips, fractures, or even loose teeth.

Destroys Tooth Enamel

Heroin is acidic by its pharmacological nature, which can cause vomiting and acid reflux. Both of these physiological functions cause stomach acid to enter the mouth which can deteriorate teeth’s protective enamel. This thin, translucent coating is like a winter coat for each individual tooth. It protects teeth from daily use and insulates them from temperature changes and chemicals. 

Enamel is not regenerative and once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. Without this protective layer, our teeth become sensitive to hot and cold foods, easily stained, and more susceptible to bacteria and infection. 

Numbs Tooth Pain

Having painkiller properties, heroin and other opioids can contribute to an unhealthy smile by causing you to ignore tooth and gum pain. These are often the first warning signs of serious dental problems like a cavity, infection, abscess, or gum disease. The ramifications of ignoring such serious oral health concerns can quickly result in the discoloration and outright loss of teeth.

 

The health of your teeth may not be something you think of when you consider the consequences of using heroin, but you should. The extent of the damage can be severe, going much deeper than the mere roots of your teeth, and can be a very costly mistake. Drug use often impacts us in ways we don’t anticipate and waiting until an overdose has occurred to do something about it could put your smile in jeopardy.

What Are the Physical Signs of Heroin Addiction?

Heroin addiction isn’t pretty – and not just because of the shockingly high mortality rate (heroin accounted for 25% of all drug overdose fatalities in 2016). This illegal street drug takes a tremendous toll on the body, affecting everything from your ability to speak to the beating of your heart. In this article, we’ll explore the physical signs of heroin addiction that can alert others to the addict’s substance abuse problem.

Nodding Out

One of the most telling signs of heroin abuse. Heroin leaves users sedated hours after initial use and causes them to slip in and out of consciousness. It would appear that the heroin addict is constantly falling asleep. During their periods that they are awake, they will have difficulty focusing and are likely to be incoherent.

Track Marks

This slang term refers to the physical marks on the skin that are caused by heroin injection. These look like areas of discoloration, scars, or puncture wounds and are caused when the skin at the injection site doesn’t have time to heal. Their presence can also be caused by the use of dull or dirty needles, infection, or vein damage. Track marks are most commonly found on arms, legs, hands, and feet but can be anywhere on the body. 

Small Pupils (Miosis)

Also referred to as pinpoint pupils, heroin use can cause the pupils to constrict excessively, becoming two millimeters or smaller in diameter. On a normal person, this occurs when someone’s eye is exposed to bright light or if they’re trying to focus on an object that’s far away. In the case of a heroin user, heroin interferes with the function of the parasympathetic nervous system which regulates pupil size.

Tooth Pain/Bad Teeth

Dry mouth is a common side effect of narcotic drug use and is a result of impaired saliva production. However, the effects go far beyond oral discomfort. Saliva is an important part of maintaining oral health, the lack of which makes heroin users prone to developing gum disease. Other dental side effects can include rotten, discolored teeth, an increased number of cavities, and tooth decay.

Slow Breathing

Heroin is an opioid, a class of drugs that are also known to be central nervous system depressants. One of the bodily functions regulated by this system is that of breathing. Because heroin is so powerful, it can cause a notable decrease in breathing rate or in some cases, stopped altogether. The latter physical symptom is commonly associated with heroin overdoses and requires emergency medical attention.

Severe Itching

One physical side effect that most drug uses fail to anticipate is that of extreme itchiness. Heroin can cause the release of histamines, a compound that the body produces in the face of allergic reactions and irritates the skin. If you’ve ever experienced one, you know that they can leave you rashy and with an overwhelming sensation to scratch yourself. Additionally, heroin is known to result in dry skin which can also lead to an itchy sensation.

Nausea/Vomiting

The gastrointestinal tract is another bodily function that falls under the jurisdiction of the central nervous system. When under the depressing effects of an opioid, digestion can be drastically disrupted which can result in feelings of nausea and vomiting. 

Constipation

An extension of the effect of a disrupted gastrointestinal function is constipation. The effects of which are much more noticeable in chronic heroin users. Heroin not only interferes with how quickly food is broken down but also affects the speed at which food moves through the digestive system, namely through intestinal contractions. Once food has been processed and is ready to be excreted as waste, heroin’s depressant effects can prevent the sphincter from operating properly, making it difficult to eliminate waste as normal.

Persistent hacking cough

Heroin smokers are more prone to developing this side effect. Smoking (any substance) can cause or aggravate a number of respiratory problems. In the case of heroin, the dangers are amplified since opioids make it difficult to breathe or can prevent air from entering the lungs. 

Seeing the Signs of Heroin Addiction Can Be Tricky

The more moderate physical signs of heroin addiction aren’t difficult to detect but their ordinariness makes them deceptive. Individually, these symptoms can seem harmless, dismissed as a side effect of some other health condition. However, when these occur with the typical behaviors of an addict, heroin addiction can be much easier to detect. 

Heroin & The Senses: What Heroin Looks, Feels, Smells, and Tastes Like

Heroin is a notorious psychoactive drug known for bringing users to euphoric highs and miserable lows. It can be produced cheaply and quickly, which has led to heroin’s proliferation in cities, rural areas, and of people of all ages and socioeconomic standings resulting in the ongoing opioid epidemic. Having no medical use, heroin is an illicit opioid that has become a widespread issue of epidemic proportions. Learn more about how heroin affects the sense and how to recognize the harmful substance. 

What Does Heroin Look Like?

Heroin can appear in several forms: a fine powder, a tacky paste, and as a liquid. These variations in heroin’s physical state are caused by differences in production methods. 

Powdered heroin, the most commonly used form, can be found in various shades of whites, pinks, and browns. This color variation is indicative of the level of refinement: the lighter the color, the purer and more potent the drug. Its physical appearance can further be altered depending on the types of additives or fillers used to dilute it. 

Black tar heroin is the crudest form of heroin, it has the most chemical additives as well as the lowest potency. It resembles a small lump of coal that, despite the name, can be black or brown in color. Black tar is one of the most water-soluble forms of heroin and is most often used in liquid form. Once it’s melted down it is either injected with a needle or taken via inhalation in a method called foil smoking.   

What Does Heroin Smell Like?

In its purest form, heroin is rather odorless. By the time it hits the streets, however, heroin has often been diluted or otherwise manipulated which can cause heroin to acquire an odor. In most cases, heroin is reported to have a pungent, sharp acidic smell like that of vinegar. Lower grades of heroin that are less pure or have undergone greater chemical processing tend to smell the most strongly.

Black tar heroin, the least refined form of heroin that also has the most additives, is reported to have the strongest vinegar-like odor. It has also been described as having an acrid, burnt smell. Powdered heroin that has been cut with additives has been reported to smell like cat urine, cat litter, and a general odor of chemicals in addition to vinegar.

What Does Heroin Taste Like?

Heroin is described as having a general bitter taste. In most cases, any taste heroin might have is caused by the chemicals that were either the production process or as post-production additives to cut the substance. Powdered heroin has the greatest variance in taste due to the wide variety of substances that are used to cut it. Sometimes the substances are benign like sugar, baking soda, flour, or powdered milk. In some cases, heroin is cut with toxic chemicals like rat poison or powdered laundry detergent. For this reason, heroin can vary in taste to be sweet, bitter, or acidic. 

What Does Heroin Feel Like?

The feeling of a heroin high is often described as a sudden wave of pleasure or euphoria that washes over the body. The sensation is intense but fleeting and rarely lasts longer than a few minutes. Other side effects include feelings of artificial warmth as well as pain relief which make heroin particularly sought after by those in rough and unsafe living situations. After the initial onset of a heroin high, users are left in a semi-conscious state that can last for hours. 

But heroin use is not with its risks. Being an opioid, heroin can have a powerful depressant effect on the central nervous system making it difficult to breathe, inducing nausea and vomiting, and causing dizziness. 

A Little Heroin is a Big Risk

Heroin can have drastic and long-lasting effects. Using it just once could result in addiction, and lead to a dangerous spiral of impaired brain function that affects your ability to breathe, sleep, digest food properly, and control your emotions. Heroin withdrawal symptoms aren’t any prettier. Once physical dependence has been established, heroin users face the risk of experiencing seizures, difficulty breathing, and in the most severe instances, a coma.