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20 Signs That You Are Abusing Ativan

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The recent suicide of musician Chris Cornell and the speculation about the prominent role that Ativan seems to have played has people asking questions about this popular antianxiety medication.

  • Is Ativan REALLY safe?
  • How do you know when someone is abusing Ativan?
  • What do I do if I have an Ativan prescription?

These are valid concerns. After all, Cornell had a legitimate prescription. But he also had an extensive history of drug and alcohol abuse. This means that there was a fine line between treating his anxiety disorder and safely managing his substance abuse disorder.

Unfortunately, that line was crossed, with tragic results.

So, let’s examine these questions and more in an effort to prevent similar outcomes in the future.

01 what is ativan

First, the Basics – What Is Ativan?

Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam, a benzodiazepine-class medication that is prescribed for the treatment of a number of ailments, including:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Insomnia and other sleeping problems
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy
  • Memory formation during medical/surgical procedures
  • To sedate patients who are mechanically ventilated

Because it can be a beneficial treatment for so many conditions, Ativan is an extremely popular medication. In 2011, there were 28 million Ativan prescriptions filled, making it the second-most-prescribed “benzo” in the country.

02 ativan dependency

Is Ativan REALLY a Safe Medication to Use?

Ativan has been on sale in the United States for 40 years, and overall, it has an excellent reputation. The World Health Organization put Ativan on its List of Essential Medicine, signifying that it is one of the safest and most effective medicines that should be part of any society’s health care system.

However, there is a caveat.

Like all benzodiazepine lines, Ativan is only recommended for short-term use, no more than two to four weeks. The problem arises when it is taken for longer periods or when it is misused recreationally.

With long-term use, there is a significant risk of psychological and physical dependence, misuse, and ultimately, addiction.

Overdose is also possible, especially if Ativan is misused with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol, opioids, or other benzo drugs.

What Formulations of Ativan are Available?

There are several different formulations of Ativan, and the prescribed dosage will depend upon the condition being treated:

  • Anxiety
    • Adult dose –2-3 mg by mouth per day taken 2-3 times per day (initial) and 1-2 mg by mouth 2-3 times per day (maintenance)
    • Child dose – Same as adult dose (age 12 or older ONLY)
    • Geriatric – 1-2 mg by mouth per day, in divided doses
  • Insomnia
    • Adult dose – 2-4 mg by mouth, taken at bedtime
    • Child dose –  Same as adult dose (age 12 or older ONLY)
    • Geriatric – 1-2 mg by mouth per day, in divided doses

The medication comes in three dosages:

  • Ativan or Lorazepam .5 mg
  • Ativan or Lorazepam 1.0 mg
  • Ativan or Lorazepam 2.0 mg

Ativan vs Xanax – How Do They Compare?

How do the two most popular benzodiazepine medications compare to each other?

Because they are both benzodiazepines, Ativan and Xanax are very comparable medications, although Xanax (alprazolam) is prescribed far more often, 49 million to 27.6 million.

There are many similarities.  Both Ativan and Xanax:

  • Are prescribed to treat anxiety disorders
  • Have a high potential for misuse and addiction
  • Have similar half-lives – Xanax half-life 10.7-15.8 hours, Ativan half-life 9-16 hours
  • Have sedating effects – dizziness and drowsiness
  • Are not recommended for pregnant women

But there are also important differences, the biggest of which is the fact that while both medications are prescribed to treat anxiety, Xanax is also given for panic disorders.

Why Do So Many People Use Benzodiazepines?

In 2011, over 127 million benzodiazepine prescriptions were filled in the United States.

Benzodiazepine medications like Ativan are so popular in America because the need is so prevalent. Consider just two conditions that typically call for a benzo prescription—anxiety and insomnia.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million American adults struggle with an anxiety disorder – approximately 18% of the entire US population. This makes anxiety disorders the most common type of mental illness in the country.

The National Institutes of Health reports that roughly 30% of the general population in America struggles with sleep disruption. Interestingly, there are significant differences in how common insomnia is among the various age demographics:

  • 18-29: 68%
  • 30-64: 59%
  • 65 and older: 44%

The Use and Abuse of Benzodiazepines in the United States

With those kinds of numbers, it is no wonder that 1 out of every 20 American adults has filled a benzodiazepine prescription within the last year. Other relevant statistics:

  • In 1996, there were just over 8 million American adults with a benzodiazepine prescription.
  • By 2016, that number had risen to 13.5 million – an increase of 67%.
  • Use of benzos like Ativan and Xanax increases as people get older:
    • 18-35: 2.6%
    • 36-50: Use doubles, to 5.4%
    • 51-64: 7.4%
    • 65 and older: 8.7%, more than triple the youngest adult demographic
  • Likewise, long-term use among those with a prescription also rises sharply with age:
    • 18-35: 14.7%
    • 65-80: 31.4%
  • Significantly, the percentage of people who receive their benzodiazepine prescription from a psychiatrist DECREASES with age:
  • The highest rate of benzodiazepine use is among women, and it increases with age.
  • 10.8% of women age 65-80 use benzos, and among 80-year-old women, the rate is 11.9%.
  • Between 1996 and 2016, the amount of medicine contained in an average benzodiazepine prescription DOUBLED.
  • 1999-2013, the rate of benzodiazepine-related deaths more than QUINTUPLED.
  • Approximately one-third of all prescription overdose deaths involve benzodiazepines.
  • In 2016, that equated to over 8600 deaths.
  • In 2012, more than 17,000 people were admitted to substance-abuse treatment citing Ativan or another benzodiazepine as their primary drug of choice.
  • According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the use of benzodiazepines for more than 6 weeks results in dependency for 4 out of 10 patients.
  • This dovetails with a report in the Journal of Addictive Behaviors stating that 44% of chronic benzodiazepine users eventually become dependent.

Are YOU Addicted to Ativan?

Because benzodiazepine use is so widespread, and dependence is so likely, knowing how to identify the risk factors and recognize early warning signs of a growing benzo dependency or addiction in yourself or someone you care about can be critical to avoiding a tragedy.

Let’s take a look at some of those risk factors and warning signs.

Sign #1 – You Have Been Taking Your Medication for Months

Ativan and other benzodiazepines are only considered to be safe when they are taken short-term as a temporary solution, while other therapies are attempted. If you have used Ativan for more than one month, it is highly probable that you have become dependent.

Sign #2 – You Take More of Your Medication Sooner than Prescribed

If you take your Ativan because of “how it makes you feel”, rather than as prescribed, you are setting yourself up for dependency. When you base your medication regimen on how you “feel”, rather than your doctor’s orders, that is a definite red flag.

Sign #3 – You Have to Take More of Your Medication to Get the Same Effect

Needing ever-increasing dosages of your Ativan in order to achieve the same results is a sign that you have built a tolerance. This warning sign shows that the drug is beginning to change your brain.

This is what happened to Chris Cornell. When his wife noticed that he was slurring his words during their phone conversation the night he died, he admitted that he might have taken “an extra Ativan or two.”

Sign #4 – You Run Out of Your Medication Early

When you take more of your Ativan than prescribed, you will definitely run out before it’s time to fill your prescription.

03 inability to function

Sign #5 – You Are Unable to Function Without your Ativan

Your medication is supposed to make your life easier. But when it is the only thing that brings you any pleasure whatsoever or allows you to feel normal, that is evidence of drug dependence. Where once you took your medication to feel better, now you are taking the medication to keep from feeling bad.

Sign #6 – Your Life Revolves around Your Ativan

If you constantly obsess over when and where you can get more Ativan or when you can take your next dose, it may be because you are hooked on the drug’s pleasurable – rather than therapeutic – effects.

You may withdraw from family and friends and miss get-togethers because you have yet another “doctor’s appointment.” or another trip to the pharmacy.

If you are obtaining your Ativan illicitly, you are spending even more time on your habit, because the supply and the source aren’t as reliable as your local drugstore. Sometimes, your whole day will be spent driving around to see which of your contacts is holding.

And even when you have finally received your drug – legitimately or not – you still have to allow time to recover from its use. If you are taking high or excessive doses of any benzodiazepine medication, their sedating effects are going to put you out of commission for a while.

Sign #7 – You Hide Your Ativan Use

You don’t want your loved ones to know how much Ativan you are consuming, or how frequently, so you take your medication in secret.  And, because you also need to recover, you spend even more time away from them.

Sign #8 – You Experience Painful Symptoms When Your Medication Isn’t Available

If you ARE drug dependent, then within just a few hours of your last dose, you will go into withdrawal if you don’t take more Ativan.

Symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal include:

  • Extreme restlessness and agitation
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety to the point of panic
  • Severe depression
  • Headache
  • Difficulty concentrating/confusion
  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Fever and chills
  • Tremors
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea/Vomiting/Diarrhea
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, smell, and touch
  • Nightmares
  • Hallucinations

At its most severe, benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can cause your body temperature to rise drastically. You may even experience seizures or convulsions. These symptoms would qualify as a medical emergency because they are potentially fatal.

This is why you should NEVER attempt to cut back or quit Ativan or other benzodiazepines unless you are under the close supervision of a doctor.

04 compulsive behavior

Sign #9 – You Have Multiple Prescriptions for Ativan

Knowing that the recommended dose won’t last, you visit multiple doctors in order to have enough drugs.

Sign #10 – Your Original Condition Is No Longer the Problem

At some point on the timeline of your descent into addiction, you stopped taking Ativan for your anxiety or insomnia and started taking it because you craved its effects. While you may still have those conditions, they have stopped being the reason why you take Ativan.

Sign #11 – You Fake Symptoms

There is no one test to measure the level of someone’s anxiety. Therefore, doctors must largely rely on what they are told by their patients. When you are dependent or addicted, you will exaggerate or even outright lie about your symptoms so you can obtain another prescription.

Sign #12 – Your Ativan Habit Is Costing You Too Much Money

Even if you have insurance, multiple trips to the doctor and co-pays can add up. And, because most insurance companies won’t pay for you to go to multiple doctors for the same problem, your extra visits are coming out of your own pocket – cash pay.

While prescription Ativan or generic lorazepam is very affordable – 30-day supply of 1 mg pills can be as low as $10, the expenses mount when you have several prescriptions.

It is even worse when you have to buy your drugs illicitly – 2-milligram lorazepam tablets go for between $4 and $8 apiece. At that price, the habit can be harder to disguise.

05 ativan priority

Sign #13 – You Do without Other Things Just to Have Your Ativan

To afford your Ativan addiction, you ignore other financial obligations – your bills, your mortgage or rent, your car payment, special occasions with your family, etc. You may even start supporting your addiction with credit cards or loans.

Sign #14 – You Would Do ANYTHING to Obtain More Ativan

Because benzodiazepine withdrawal is so painful, your addiction will “hijack” your brain and cause you act in ways that you would never have imagined:

  • Lying to your family and friends
  • Stealing – from your loved ones or your job, writing hot checks, etc.
  • Dangerous behaviors – driving high, going to unsafe neighborhoods, risky sexual behavior
  • You ignore your appearance – lack of personal hygiene, dirty clothes, etc.

Sign #15 – You Abuse Other Substances

Polydrug abuse among people with a benzodiazepine dependency or addiction is very common. Alcohol and opioids such as prescription painkillers or heroin are often co-abused with Ativan and other benzos.

All substances of abuse affect the regions of the brain associated with pleasure, reward, and motivation – this is what drives addiction.  But this also makes a person who is dependent on or addicted to one substance vulnerable to cross-addiction.

In other words, when your primary drug of choice is not available, you may turn to other substances just to get some measure of relief.

How prevalent is polydrug abuse?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, between 2000 and 2010, the rate of substance abuse treatment admissions for benzodiazepine abuse in combination with other substances skyrocketed almost 570%.

06 ativan addiction

Sign #16 – It’s Affecting Your Personal Relationships

Try as you might, you cannot completely disguise your problematic Ativan use from the people closest to you. They are in an unfortunate position to see firsthand the consequences of your addiction – the lies, broken promises, manipulation, excuses, and denial.

What kind of problems might you be experiencing?

  • A friend, family member, or coworker expresses concern or repeatedly asks you “Are you all right?”
  • Increased arguments
  • Domestic violence
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • You stop getting invited to family or social gatherings
  • Friends are distancing themselves from you
  • Separation
  • Divorce or breakups
  • The codependent or enabling behaviors of others

Sign #17 – You’re Having Problems at Work

Although 75% of people with substance abuse disorders work, having an active addiction can make it hard to find, keep, or advance in a job. The abuse of Ativan or other benzo medications can cause you to:

  • Falsely call in sick (or have others do it for you)
  • Have excessive absences
  • Constantly get to work late or leave early
  • Miss deadlines
  • Have poor production or performance
  • Suffer a workplace accident or injury
  • Fail a mandatory or random drug test
  • Interfere with company morale
  • Rate poorly on reviews
  • Receive disciplinary warnings and actions
  • Get passed over for advancement and promotions
  • Get demoted
  • Receive a suspension
  • Be terminated with cause

Sign #18 – You Are Experiencing Health Issues

Long-term or heavy benzodiazepine use can result in serious physical and mental health problems – the most obvious of which are overdoses and other adverse reactions. According to the drug enforcement agency, in 2010, there were over 345,000 benzodiazepine-related emergency room visits.

But benzodiazepine misuse can cause other problems as well:

  • Cognitive decline
  • Mania
  • Psychosis
  • Delirium
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Mood disorders – depression, anxiety, PTSD
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased risk of suicide

Sign #19 – You’re Dealing with Legal Difficulties

The abuse of benzodiazepines can get you in trouble with the law in a number of ways:

  • Driving Under the Influence
  • Public Intoxication
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Assault
  • Vehicular Accidents
  • Fraud
  • Theft
  • Embezzlement
  • Possession
  • Identity Theft

Sign #20 – Your Life Has Become Unmanageable

At some point, even you will be unable to ignore the fact that your Ativan/lorazepam addiction is wrecking your life. You will look around and see the broken relationships, consequences at work, health issues, legal problems, and emotional pain and not like what you see.

In other words, you will be sick and tired of being tired and sick.

This is your rock bottom—the point at which you are ready for something better.

What to Do If You Are Addicted to Ativan

Once you have reached this point, there is good news – admitting that you have a problem is the very first step in getting help for that problem.

Problematic substance abuse in ANY form is usually too big a problem for you to deal with on your own, but this is especially true in the case of benzodiazepine addiction.

Since benzo withdrawal is so dangerous, you will first need to undergo a medically-supervised and medication assisted drug detoxification in order to assure your safety. This also helps your actual recovery and return to healthy sobriety get off to a proper start.

If you have reached the point where even YOU are concerned about your use of Ativan or other benzodiazepine medication, then your next step should be to contact a reputable rehab program  for a professional evaluation and to discuss your treatment options.

Sources:

https://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

https://sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/content/what-is-insomnia/page/0/1

https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/benzo.pdf

http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2019955

http://www.aafp.org/Afp/2000/0401/p2121.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21481543?dopt=Abstract

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/treatmentswellbeing/benzodiazepines.aspx

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Addiction Information

The Portland Oregon Drug Problem

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03 drugs in oregon

Information and Statistics on Specific Illicit Drugs in Oregon

Each drug of abuse presents its own unique challenge to public safety, health, and welfare in the state of Oregon. Information about specific drugs in the Portland Oregon drug problem breaks down this way:

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system and is primarily used for its stimulating/euphoric effects. It is often referred to as “crystal” and “ice”. Methamphetamine is referred to as meth or crystal meth as well. It is a stimulant drug that comes in a white powder, or as a pill. Crystal meth can look like fragments of glass or rocks.

Chemically, meth is similar to amphetamine, which is used to treat ADHD and other conditions. People use it by snorting it, smoking it, swallowing a pill, or injecting it.

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Methamphetamine

Meth use can have a devastating effect on the body, both in the short-term and in the long-term. In the short-term, it can cause:

  • A decrease in appetite
  • Increased wakefulness and activity
  • An irregular or rapid heart rate
  • Faster breathing rates
  • An increase in blood pressure
  • An increase in body temperature

The long-term effects of methamphetamine can be horrific. They include:

  • Experiencing anxiety
  • Violent behaviors
  • Becoming paranoid
  • Having hallucinations
  • Severe problems with the teeth

Methamphetamine Addiction

It doesn’t take long to form a methamphetamine or crystal meth addiction. In fact, there are some who say that meth addiction can form after the very first use of the drug. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that the Oregon meth problem has gotten so serious.

Once you’re addicted to meth, you feel like you need it all the time. You are reliant upon it every single day. Your methamphetamine addiction starts to affect everything else in your life. You may lose your job, lose important relationships, and have significant health problems.

Methamphetamine Statistics and Facts

  • A majority of law enforcement agencies – 62% – listed methamphetamines as the largest drug threat within their jurisdiction.
  • These agencies also report the overwhelming opinion – 88% – that methamphetamine is a drug that most contributes to violent crime, while 69% say that it is the drug responsible for most property crimes.
  • More than 60% of law enforcement agencies say that methamphetamines provide the majority of funding for major criminal activity in the area.
  • Because Mexican cartels have found new ways to smuggle methamphetamines into Oregon, 90% of law enforcement officers report that the drug is “highly available” within their jurisdiction.
  • Nearly 40% report that the availability of methamphetamines has increased.
  • The total volume of methamphetamines seized in Oregon has more than tripled since 2010. Along with Oregon’s highways, seizures have risen almost sixfold since 2008.
  • Methamphetamines showing up as a drug submitted by law enforcement for analysis has risen 70% since 2009.
  • More than one-third of all people admitted for drug treatment in Oregon – 36% – report using methamphetamines.
  • Drug treatment admissions in Oregon specifically for methamphetamine use has risen 12%within the past five years.
  • Deaths related to methamphetamine use are almost triple the number that occurred in 2001.
  • More people are arrested for methamphetamine-related charges than any other drug in Oregon, doubling between 2009-2015.

Most methamphetamines arriving in Oregon were manufactured in Mexico. Methamphetamine seizures at the border have skyrocketed more than 600% 2008-2014.

What is Heroin?

Heroin is synthesized from morphine, which is in turn derived from the opium poppy, heroin PC most powerful opiate drug. Availability has increased steadily since 2007, and heroin – also known as “horse” or “smack” – ranks as a close second to methamphetamines as Oregon’s most serious drug threat.

Because of loosening marijuana laws in the United States, drug cartels are now increasingly growing poppies, rather than cannabis, leading to a much greater supply and dramatically cheaper prices.

Heroin Short-Term and Long-Term Effects

Heroin is an opiate drug. This means that it binds to the opiate receptors in the brain after it converts to morphine. People who use heroin experience a euphoric rush or high. This is a pleasurable sensation that keeps them coming back for more.

Other short-term effects of heroin include:

  • Having flushed skin
  • Dry mouth
  • A heavy feeling in the arms and legs
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe itching
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Clouded mental function
  • Slowing of the heart functions
  • Slowed breathing rates

The long-term effects of heroin can be even more devastating. The longer a person continues to use, the more at risk they are. The long-term effects of heroin can include:

  • Long term chemical imbalances in the brain
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Problems with making decisions
  • Memory loss
  • Extreme mood swings

There is also the risk of experiencing seizures or going into a coma with long-term heroin use.

Heroin Addiction

People often don’t need to abuse heroin for very long before they become addicted to it. Heroin addiction is a scary situation because of the potency of this drug. It’s extremely hard to escape from, and should never be attempted alone.

If you have a heroin addiction, you’re likely to show some very clear signs. These can include:

  • Thinking about heroin all the time
  • Not spending as much time with your friends and family who don’t use heroin
  • Spending a lot of money on obtaining heroin
  • Track marks on your arms from injecting the drug
  • Letting go of activities that won’t allow you to use heroin

Heroin Statistics and Information

  • Approximately one-fourth – 24% – of law enforcement officials rank heroin as the greatest drug threat in their area.
  • Nearly three-fourths – 75% – report that heroin is “readily available” in their area, with more than half saying that availability has increased.
  • Portland is considered to be the main illicit distribution hub for heroin in the state.
  • There has been a dramatic rise in the seizures of heroin in Oregon – a more than ninefold increase since 2007.
  • Arrests related to heroin in Oregon have nearly quadrupled since 2009.
  • In 2013, heroin-related arrests in Oregon for the first time outnumbered those from marijuana.
  • Arrests for heroin possession in Oregon have risen more than 300% 2008-2014 and now account for approximately 75% of all heroin arrests.
  • From 2008 to 2014, the number of individuals entering the Oregon Corrections Systems admitting to regular heroin tripled.
  • The number of adult Oregonians beginning publicly-funded heroin treatment rose by 55% 2008-2014.
  • Within the Oregon HIDTA areas, admissions for heroin use accounted for the largest segment of treatment.
  • In 2013, admissions for heroin use in Oregon surpassed those from marijuana for the first time.
  • The largest demographic of heroin users in Oregon are males between the ages of 21 and 29 who live in urban areas.
  • The demographic is skewing younger because, in 2002, the typical heroin user in Oregon was between the ages of 35 and 49.
  • Between 2009 and 2013, admissions for heroin treatment in urban areas increased by about a third – 35%.
  • During that same period, admissions in rural areas rose by almost 200%.
  • In 2014, more than half of all heroin-related death in Oregon occurred in Multnomah County, in and around Portland.
  • Encouragingly, heroin deaths in Oregon have declined since 2012, primarily attributable to broader access to the anti-overdose drug, naloxone.
  • Conversely, heroin use is up because new legislation and tougher prescribing guidelines make opiate medications harder to get and more expensive.

What are Prescription Drugs?

One in five Americans over the age of 12 begin their drug abuse with prescription medication, primarily painkillers, which are easily obtainable through friends and family, “physician shopping”, online pharmacies, and illicit street purchases.

Only doctors can recommend prescription drugs to people. Unfortunately, they are recommending them far too often in our country. These medications are extremely dangerous and easily abused.

What Makes Prescription Drugs Unsafe?

There are several things that make prescription drugs unsafe. These are powerful medications that are only supposed to be used for a short time. Quite often, people take them for longer than they should.

When a drug is prescribed, so much is taken into account. Each individual person is prescribed the medication that is right for them. Dosages are exact, and the type of medication is chosen specifically. When these drugs are misused, they become even more dangerous.

Finally, all prescription drugs have side effects. These effects can kick in when you’re taking the prescribed dose. When you increase your dose, the side effects can also increase substantially.

Prescription drug misuse is so dangerous. These drugs are designed to be taken in specific ways. When you misuse them, it can cause serious problems, including addiction.

Addictive Medications

So many prescription medications are addictive, and many people don’t realize this. Among the most addictive prescription drugs are:

  • Vicodin
  • OxyContin
  • Demerol
  • Percocet
  • Ritalin
  • Amphetamines
  • Darvocet

In Portland, drugs on this list are prescribed frequently. Many of them are available right on the street or online, without a prescription.

Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics and Facts

  • In 2014, prescription painkillers hydrocodone/Vicodin and oxycodone/OxyContin made up over 43% of all prescribed drugs nationwide.
  • In 2014, there were approximately 7 million controlled-substance prescriptions written in Oregon. Approximately half were for opioid painkiller medications.
  • In 2012, Oregon ranked #4 in the US for the rate of extended-release opioid painkiller medications prescribed.
  • In 2012 and 2013, Oregon ranked #2 for the non-medical use of prescription painkillers.
  • Individuals who abuse prescription drugs have a heroin abuse rate that is 19 times greater than those who do not.
  • Almost half of the heroin abusers in the Portland area who participated in a syringe exchange program – 45% – self-reported that they were addicted to opioid pain medications prior to heroin.
  • In 2014, overdose deaths in Oregon that were due to prescription drugs declined by 28% from 2011.
  • There were still more prescription drug overdose deaths in Oregon than there were because of heroin.
  • In order, the prescription drugs that cause the most overdose fatalities in Oregon were oxycodone, methadone, and hydrocodone.
  • More than 60% of law enforcement officers in Oregon and Idaho report that illegal prescription drugs are available at a “high-level” in their county.
  • More than one-fourth of all law enforcement agencies in Oregon reported that painkillers were illegally smuggled into their areas.
  • In Oregon HIDTA areas, 74% of all controlled substances seized were for prescription opioid painkillers.
  • Between 2000-2011, the number of hospital admissions in Oregon due to opioid overdoses increased by a factor of five, before decreasing by 18% in 2012.

What is marijuana?

Marijuana goes by a number of different names on the street. It is often called:

  • Pot
  • Grass
  • Herb
  • Weed
  • Mary Jane
  • Ganja

It is a mixture of leaves and flowers from the cannabis plant. These materials have been shredded and dried for consumption. Marijuana can be smoked in a cigarette or in a pipe. It can also be added to food and consumed that way.

In November of 2014, the personal use and recreational use of marijuana was approved by Oregon voters. When the law went into effect October 1, 2015, Oregon residents bought $11 million worth the first week.

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects

People think that marijuana doesn’t really have any long-term, lasting effects. This just isn’t the case. It does, and these can include:

  • Experiencing time slower than normal
  • Having abrupt changes in your mood
  • Impairments in your body movements
  • Memory problems
  • Experiencing altered senses

The long-term effects of marijuana are very real, and they include:

  • Serious changes in brain function
  • Reduced ability to think clearly
  • Negative impact on learning

Marijuana Addiction

Many consider marijuana addiction to be a myth. The claim is that it’s impossible to form an addiction to marijuana. This just isn’t true. Marijuana addiction is very possible, and there are many who are addicted to it.

Someone who is addicted to marijuana has probably formed a psychological addiction. This can have physical withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped. Some of these include anxiety and headaches.

Marijuana Statistics and Information

The true effect of the law won’t be known for a while, but if the trends in Colorado and Washington are any indication, Oregon will see greater marijuana use, particularly among young people; an increase in its public use; higher rates of impaired driving; illegal grow operations and an increased flow of drug trafficking.

  • Even before the law went into effect, 97% of Oregon law enforcement officials said that that marijuana was “highly available”.
  • Concentrated “hash” is also “highly available” according to 77% of Oregon officers, and it appears to be rising in prevalence.
  • Marijuana use in Oregon is much higher than the national average – the state ranks #5 for people ages 12 and older.

What is Cocaine?

Derived from the coca plant, cocaine is a powerful stimulant that typically comes in a crystalline powder, which is usually snorted for its euphoric effects. Another smokable form, “crack”, is rarer in Oregon, and is probably found in the Portland area.

Cocaine appears as a white powder that is quite fine in consistency. It is usually cut with other substances to decrease its purity. Cocaine is frequently combined with other drugs, such as amphetamines and heroin. Cocaine is most definitely a part of the Oregon drug problem.

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use

Cocaine works by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. As it does, it prevents the dopamine from being recycled. Therefore, the levels of this chemical just keep building. Dopamine is responsible for helping people feel good.

The short-term effects of cocaine use are:

  • Becoming paranoid
  • Increased irritability
  • Becoming very sensitive to touch, light and sound
  • Becoming extremely mentally alert
  • Getting a burst of energy

The longer cocaine is used, the more dangerous it becomes. The long-term effects of cocaine are:

  • Loss of smell and frequent nosebleeds
  • Decay of the bowels
  • High risk for contracting a disease, such as HIV
  • Problems with swallowing
  • Risk of becoming malnourished
  • Risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease

Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction can happen quickly after someone starts using this drug. Some even say that it can happen after the first use of it.

Some common signs of cocaine addiction include:

  • Feelings of hyperactivity
  • Involuntary muscle movements
  • Changes in focus and concentration
  • Developing heart problems
  • Frequent bouts of agitation

Statistics for Cocaine Use

  • Since 2011, the volume of cocaine seizures in Oregon has decreased by more than 40%.
  • Cocaine availability in Portland/Multnomah County remains “moderate to high”.
  • Cocaine-related arrests in the state dropped almost 70% between 2007 and 2015.
  • From 2008 to 2015, admissions for cocaine treatment have fallen by 80%.

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Addiction Information

College Students Coming Home With Addictions

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When your child has gone off to college, they begin to navigate their own way through the world. Many kids will experiment with drugs and alcohol. This is fairly normal but it can also go too far. There are many different drugs of abuse in college that are highly addictive. Additionally, there’s a lot of stress in university and college. Kids might feel pressured to abuse drugs among their peers. They may use substances to let off steam from a heavy workload.

Some kids will come home from school holidays or breaks already forming an addiction. Once they’re back in the home, you can help them if you know what to look for. You also have to know how to address the situation so it can be an open conversation. You may have to get help to get them sober. You may have to suggest a rehab program where they get professional help. When your kids are home from college, this is a great opportunity to check in and make sure everything is going well for them.

The Opioid Epidemic Affecting Young Adults

The US is, unfortunately, the top consumer when it comes to opioids. Every year, thousands of people will die from opioid abuse. The figures show that the number of deaths has increased by 30% in the past year. The US gets 30 times more opioid pain relief medication that is actually needed. You have to wonder where the other pain medications are ending up. Many people that don’t have the pain to manage will abuse these drugs, this includes your kids.

Opioid addiction in the US has affected everyone, this includes young adults. Opioid painkillers are meant to help patients with pain. They are only meant to be used for a short period of time and should only be used when other painkillers don’t work. The prescriptions were largely mismanaged by doctors for years. This lead millions of people to become dependent. Teens and young adults will often take these drugs from you. They might sell them or abuse them. Abuse can quickly lead to addiction.

Why Would Young Adults Abuse Prescription Opioids?

They make you feel euphoric which can contribute to psychological dependence. If you take higher doses than suggested, it can slow down breathing and your heart rate. This can ultimately lead to death. Kids will often mix opioids with alcohol which is also a central nervous depressant. Teens and young adults throw caution to the wind when it comes to these prescription drugs. It is heavily used in campus settings which is causing universities and colleges to take action.

college library

Overdose Prevention On College Campuses

Colleges and universities have been equally affected by the opioid epidemic. Schools are concerned about keeping their students safe. Colleges have awareness and prevention programs. During freshman orientation, students will be told about the dangers of opioids and how to know if someone’s overdosing. They introduce students to Naloxone and explain to them how to use it in case of emergency.

Many schools across the US have made Naloxone available through both health services and the police on campus. There are some campuses that have Naloxone readily available in many areas around the college. They are marked with bright red stickers. There have been student fatalities from overdose both on campus and off.

Naloxone Training Necessary on School Campuses

Schools know that their students are taking prescription drugs from their parent’s cabinets. Many times though, kids don’t really even know what they’re taking. Previously, nurses would administer Naloxone which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Now, more of the staff is getting the training. It’s standard for a Naloxone kit to be in a school’s emergency kit. Staff will likely be doing drills, much like a shooting or earthquake drill.

Lifesaving Overdose Device at the University of Cincinnati

Some students at the University of Cincinnati have been working on a project to aid in the fight against opioids. With so many people overdosing, they created an emergency kit just for opioid overdose. It contains Naloxone, gloves, and a CPR mask. The group will distribute 100 boxes throughout 26 locations in Cincinnati. Naloxone is an emergency medication that quickly reversed the effects of opioids, even an overdose. It’s available all throughout the country.

Legally, Naloxone has to be tracked so the students are strategically placing them in places where they can be monitored. There is a wall mount that holds the box which has an LSD display attached. Once the box is triggered, it gives the user information about overdose and how to save someone quickly.

Teen Overdose Less Than Young Adults

Teen overdose has been declining, says a survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. They were mostly unintentional overdoses that could be attributed to opioids. Namely, oxycodone or illicit drugs (heroin, fentanyl.) The rate of overdose deaths that involved heroin for teens was one in every 100,000 in 2015. They are using illicit substances less as well as prescription drugs.

The experts that are keeping track of opioids and their place in our society have found it’s adults who are most affected. The opioid addiction epidemic is much more prevalent in adults from 20-80 years old.

A Father’s Story About Son’s Overdose

A broken-hearted father found his son dead in their family home from an overdose. Craig Holladay, from Wake County, North Carolina recently had a conversation with his son about the things he was missing out on in life by abusing substances. They had a wonderful family getaway where his son was laughing and enjoying life. Layton was just 17 and fought hard against his addiction.

There was a mixture of drugs that Layton took, causing him to die sometime in the night. He had had an addiction for a year in total. Many people will live with addiction for decades. Addiction can hit quickly and destroy your life as in the case of Layton. It started with vaping, then he began abusing marijuana and eventually Xanax. Layton was tested the day before he overdosed and was positive for opiates and marijuana.

California University Student Overdose

At a party, nine students all overdosed from opioids at the same time. They were all students of the University of California in Santa Barbara. An emergency call went out that a young man had been found unconscious in the back seat of a car. The students that knew him said he’d been drinking alcohol with Oxycontin. On the same scene, there was a second young man who had stopped breathing completely. He was showing signs of overdose so they revived him with a dose of Naloxone nasal spray.

After that, seven more students were showing symptoms of an overdose at the same house party. They all took a blue pill according to the Sheriff’s Office. They were all taken to the hospital and all survived the incident. If your kids are taking part in drug use while at university, there is the reality that something awful could happen. Not just addiction but more serious consequences. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that in 2016 over 19,000 people died from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. You may not be able to convince your college kid to stay completely sober throughout these years but maintaining communication is key. When they trust that you’re on their side, they’re more likely to open up about what’s happening in school. This gives you the opportunity to instill your wisdom on the matter.

college campus

Drugs of Choice on Campus

Frank Greenagel teaches at the School of Social Work at the Center for Alcohol Studies at Rutgers University. He knows all about the indicating behaviors for drug and alcohol problems in your kids. He says the current drugs of choice for college kids are not generally illicit drugs. Alcohol is number one and marijuana comes in at a close second. This is believed to be due to the legalization as well as reduced stigma. The third most abused substance is Adderall. The fourth is opiates and any derivative.

Adderall helps students focus and is a drug of abuse on campuses everywhere. Adderall is used for ADHD, designed to help someone concentrate more while sleeping and eating less. It fills the need for many college students. It can keep you skinny, awake, and fully focused when it’s crunch time. Adderall is a stimulant and is highly addictive. It also comes with long-term psychological and physiological issues. Students will have a hard time thinking without it once they’re hooked.

The epidemic of opioids is largely in part because they’re so easy to get. Getting your wisdom teeth out will get you a subscription of strong painkillers. Any surgery or injury can get you potent, addiction drugs from your doctor. These drugs will sit in the family medicine cabinet and kids won’t hesitate to take them. To them, they’re harmless because they’re legal and in your home. They abuse the pills or sell them to other kids on campus. They are a Schedule II drug which means sharing or selling just one pill can get your arrested. You would be considered a Schedule II drug dealer.

signs of drug problem

Signs of Drug Problems

Throughout the holidays, college students will have stories to share with you about their experience. They might tell you about their grades and the interesting things they’ve learned socially and academically. If they’re not telling you anything, this might be an indication that they’re hiding something from you they know you won’t like.

Signs might include physical and mental changes that are highly noticeable. Maybe their weight has changed dramatically. If they haven’t mentioned anything about what they’re studying or details about their professors, it could be a sign they don’t care about the education aspect of college. If they talk as though they’re a teenager again where the school is fine but they’re not interested in much, this could be a sign.

When they shut down on you, this indicates they have a secret they’re protecting about their time in college. You may have to gently pry to get the information you need. Taking time out to figure out what’s been happening with your adult child can be the lifeline they need.

While at home, they’ll still be looking to maintain their addiction. They can include:

  • Destructive behavior.
  • They may be secretive about where they’re going.
  • They are sleeping for long periods of time.
  • They are irritated, aggressive, depressed, or anxious.
  • If you address the issue, they become defensive.
  • They have poor grades.
  • They are withdrawn.
  • They may steal valuables from the home.

Physical Symptoms of Addiction in College Students

Appearance wise, they may not practice usual hygiene practices. Their hair may be constantly messy and they smell of body odour. They aren’t taking care of themselves. Here are some of the other physical symptoms that could mean addiction:

  • Bloodshot eyes.
  • Overly small or large pupils.
  • If they’re snorting drugs, they may get nosebleeds.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • They have bruises or scapes but won’t tell you what from.

Health-related signs of addiction:

  • Shaking.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Tremors or seizures.

Psychological Signs of Drug Addiction

Your kids are going to make some big changes when they go to college. This is normal and would happen even if they were sober throughout their time in college. It’s when the changes are all destructive and ruining your child’s life that it becomes a concern. This is a sign that something isn’t right.

Here are some of the psychological signs of addiction to look for:

  • Unexplained personality changes.
  • Mood swings. They might laugh one minute and get angry the next for no reason.
  • They may go through periods of hyperactivity.
  • They may become scared, paranoid, or withdrawn for no reason.

If your child is addicted to a drug, they may be high, coming down, or going through cravings. They are never really balanced. As their parent, you know them best so it would be easy to recognize this in them.

child addiction

What to Do If Your Child Has an Addiction

It’s important to approach your child in the right way if you suspect they have an addiction. They are an adult now so you can’t tell them what to do outright. Gaining their trust so they ask for help is important. Here are some of the steps you can take to get to that place.

Maintain Perspective

Understand that substance abuse is common for college-age students. They are going through an experimental phase in their life. Many of their peers at school are also drinking or taking drugs. It may be something they outgrow the party phase without losing out on their education. Some use of substances is going to be a very likely part of their college experience.

Try to Relate

If you can successfully relate to your child, things you say will come from an honest place that perhaps allow them to open up to you. Do you remember what it was like to be their age? Look back on this and determine how their behavior is similar to yours. When you were going through this phase, think of what you learned. Share that with your child. Think about who influenced you in a positive way back them. Then consider how you might influence your child in the same way. It’s important that you be the model for their healthy behaviors.

Safety Is the Standard

You likely know that your child is using substances. You might not be able to stop that once they go back to school. You can, however,  talk to them about how to experiment with substances in a safer way. You might think your child will stay sober throughout the college years. Even if you think that’s true, they may change once they’re out of the house. Ask questions to see what they already know about abusing substances. You want to make sure they avoid harm while seeing what’s out there in the world. For example, telling them that many of the street drugs have the potential to be laced with fentanyl may prevent them from trying. This could save their life as many college students have overdosed due to fentanyl.

Here are some words of wisdom you can instill in your kids:

  • Don’t leave your friends alone at a party. You’re safer in numbers. If you go to a party together, make it a pact to leave together.
  • Don’t leave a drink unattended.
  • Have a designated driver.
  • If you were to experiment with drugs and alcohol, start with a small dose.
  • Effects of drinking or doing drugs may be different depending on how you use it. Ingesting it will be different than smoking it.
  • Let them know the drugs that have a higher potential for addiction.
  • Let them know the signs of an overdose so they can help someone in need.
  • Tell them the steps of what to do during an emergency that’s related to drugs or alcohol.

Boundaries

Your family is unique so boundaries may be different for everyone. This could be anything from not letting them drink or do drugs in your house. If you know they have a problem, you may want to go to something like the SMART Recovery Family & Friends meeting. As a parent, you can get a lot out of these meetings. They help you to handle issues that you didn’t know how to deal with. It gets the lines of communication open which is important on their road to getting sober. You might want to speak with an addiction counselor in your area.

You’ll have to let your child know what the boundaries are. Any rules you’ve decided on will need to be established. You have to let them know there are consequences too. This can all be done in a kind way. However, it’s not always easy with family dynamics to get through to your children. If it’s established that they have an addiction and you’re trying to help them, you may want to have a professional intervention staged on your behalf.

Let Them Know You Love Them

Any kind of talk you have with your child about their addiction should come from a place of love. Let them know you’re worried and that you care. You are there to help and not judge. You want to have a healthy relationship with your child. This helps them to know that if anything happens to them, they have support at home. If your child is having problems with substance abuse, this is especially important for them to know. You can’t control what they do any longer but you can let them know you’re always going to be there.

clean out meds

Opioid Addiction, Clean Out Your Cupboards of Meds

There are organizations today that will take your unused medications. This is because so many people have started their abuse of drugs with prescriptions left over in your medicine cabinet. The situation has gotten so severe that the US surgeon general said anyone who is at risk of overdose should carry naloxone it. If you’re using prescription medications, leave them in a secured spot that your kids can’t get access to.

Getting Help for Your Child

It’s important you recognize the signs and help your child to see the signs within themselves. You may want to attend a few Al-Anon meetings. This is for family members and friends of an addict. It gives you a gauge of the challenges that may arise during their addiction. Also, urge your child to go to AA or NA meetings where you live. Stay in contact with your child about what’s going on with them.

You may decide that addiction rehab is necessary. They get the tools to manage their addictions. It will start with detox which is the process of getting the substance out of the body. Afterward, there will be the process of going through the psychological reasons for addiction. During this time, they will go through therapy. It’s likely that your child is still under your medical insurance if they’re going to college. You can verify your insurance to find out what kind of coverage is available. The rehab program usually lasts for 28 days. If they’re going back to college the next semester, there are AA and NA meetings in their area which will help maintain their sobriety.

At Northpoint Recovery, we care about the success of your child’s recovery. We have the most up to date methods to help them get past addiction. Our modern and welcoming facility is an inpatient clinic so your child will stay in a residential setting for the 28 days of the program. This is helpful because they’re not exposed to the outside world while getting treatment. We also help bring families together with therapy. We know this is an important part of the recovery process. Call us today with any questions you have.

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Addiction Information

Clonidine Addiction Explained

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Clonidine Addiction: How Does It Start?

Although clonidine is typically not as addictive as many narcotics, it is still possible to become addicted to this drug.

As mentioned above, clonidine is typically used in cases of hypertension, ADHD, anxiety, or insomnia. As with most other prescription drug addictions, the onset of the addictive behaviors can be traced back to an original prescription for the drug. It could be initially for a personal problem or it could be taken from a friend or family member.

In many cases though, a prescription pill abuser doesn’t typically fit the “druggy” stereotype. Part of this misconception is due to the fact that many abusers don’t actually feel like they are doing anything wrong. They do have a doctor-written prescription after all. In fact, CDC estimates put the percentage of illegally obtained prescription medication at only about 15% of total prescription drug misuse.

And that doesn’t come as much of a surprise either as many drug prescriptions are increasing at an alarming rate, especially when it comes to opioids. In 2012, for example, there were more than 259 million opioid pain medication prescriptions written. That’s more than a bottle of pills for every adult in the U.S.

To add to the easy availability of clonidine, it is also not currently a scheduled drug meaning it is not categorized as having a high potential for abuse by the United States government. As such, clonidine is not considered to be a controlled substance. As a result, there are much looser regulations for writing a prescription for clonidine. Punishments for possession are also less strict, making it less of a risky drug to take.

Clonidine Addiction Arising from Addiction Treatment

As mentioned earlier, clonidine is also used to help ease the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol and opiates. For many alcohol and opiate abusers, the withdrawal symptoms can be especially difficult to handle. Consequently, significant effort has been placed on finding ways to make the process easier and thus facilitate a greater degree of full rehabilitation success.

The supplemental use of clonidine to lessen the severity of these symptoms is one such way treatment centers are making detox less of a struggle. Its ability to partially block chemical signals from the sympathetic nervous system can cut down on many of the intolerable withdrawal symptoms of these drugs like nervousness, sweating, insomnia, and even depression.

The drawback of using clonidine in this way, however, is the possible trading of addictions. The idea of switching one addiction for another is somewhat controversial. Proponents will say that becoming addicted to something like cigarettes after recovery is a small price to pay for a life without, say, heroin. Others, however, claim that by simply latching on to another substance, an addict isn’t truly facing what’s causing the addiction in the first place.

Whatever side of the fence you land on, the truth is that many people would have never had access to clonidine had they not been given it as treatment for another addiction.

Beyond the simple issue of access to the drug is the additional problem that some people find mixing clonidine with other drugs such as opiates or alcohol can intensify the effects of the drugs. In the case of alcohol, for example, taking both drugs at the same time might make an individual feel even drowsier and might detach them from reality even further. In this way, both the alcohol and clonidine high are bolstered.

While not much research has been done on this relationship, such mixing of substances could become particularly troublesome for individuals looking to overcome their addictions. The possibility of experiencing an even greater high because of the drugs a detox clinic provided could make the notion of relapsing even more appealing than before.

Signs of Being Addicted to Clonidine

The following is a list of symptoms of drug addiction provided by the Mayo Clinic. If several of these behaviors sound familiar, you may be addicted to clonidine.

  • You feel that you have to use clonidine on a regular basis, ranging anywhere from daily to more than once a day
  • You experience intense urges for clonidine
  • You find yourself taking more clonidine to achieve the same affect
  • You always ensure you have a back supply of clonidine
  • You spend more on clonidine than you can afford
  • Your work, social, or recreational responsibilities suffer due to clonidine use
  • You compromise personal integrity or act differently in order to obtain clonidine, even committing illegal acts to get it
  • You engage in risky behaviors when you’re under clonidine’s influence
  • You spend increasing amounts of time and energy on both getting and using clonidine
  • You can’t ever seem to successfully quit using clonidine
  • You feel the effects of withdrawal when you try to stop taking clonidine

Noticing the signs of clonidine addiction in others can be the first step towards getting them the help they need. Some of these signs could include difficulties at work or at school, a degraded personal appearance or grooming, failing health, erratic and drastic changes in behavior, and money problems.

Symptoms of Clonidine Withdrawal

Though it is not as addictive as many drugs, some of the withdrawal symptoms are similar to that of other narcotics and the intensity of each will depend on the length and severity of abuse. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Dizziness – This is one of the most common symptoms of withdrawal with any psychiatric drug. This symptom occurs because your brain is trying to readjust itself once you stop taking it. As you get used to having it in your system, your brain becomes dependent upon it.
  • Shaking – This symptom is sometimes referred to as body tremors. This doesn’t have to be excessive. Sometimes it will only be mild, and you might be the only one who notices it. Other times, your hands may be visibly shaking. The good news is that the shaking shouldn’t persist. Eventually, as the drug leaves your system, this symptom should subside.
  • Nausea or vomiting – Not everyone experiences nausea or vomiting. However, when the drug is stopped abruptly, this can be a common symptom. Extreme nausea will probably lead to vomiting, which can be very uncomfortable. Sometimes nausea and vomiting can be avoided when the drug is tapered gradually.
  • Depression or anxiety – Clonidine is a drug that is frequently prescribed for anxiety off-label. It works very well at controlling it. It stands to reason, then, that when it is stopped, rebound anxiety could occur. For people whose anxiety also causes depression, they may also become depressed. Both anxiety and depression can be excessive; possibly even worse than before starting Clonidine.
  • Restlessness – When stopping this drug, you may feel both physically and mentally restless. It may be hard for you to sit still or lie down. You may find it hard to “turn your brain off,” and you could experience racing thoughts. These symptoms can be controlled, but they should eventually subside.
  • Headaches – Fortunately, withdrawal headaches with this medication usually don’t become severe. This is a very typical withdrawal symptom for many drugs. Researchers believe that it may be the brain’s way of adjusting to no longer having the drug.
  • Insomnia – This medication can have the effect of a depressant on the central nervous system. That means that taking it can make you sleepy. Once you stop, you might find it difficult to get to sleep. This is even truer if you have been using it at night as a way to help you sleep.

In addition to the greater likelihood of these symptoms presenting when higher doses of the drug were used, the simultaneous use of clonidine with beta-blockers can also make such symptoms more likely. As such, patients that are taken off of it should first be taken off of the beta-blocker several days prior.

Other symptoms caused by clonidine withdrawal can include cerebrovascular accidents, hypertensive encephalopathy, and even death, though such instances are rare. Given the potentially fatal consequences of withdrawal, however, the detoxification process is different than other drugs.

Clonidine Detoxification Process

Treating a clonidine addiction must be handled differently than other instances of substance abuse due to the potentially fatal nature of stopping its use all at once.

The risk of death comes from a condition known as “clonidine rebound” or “rebound hypertension”. Since this drug suppresses signals sent to the sympathetic nervous system, which results in low blood pressure, suddenly stopping the use of it can cause an overreaction in the system. The sympathetic nervous system then produces even higher levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline, causing a rapid increase in blood pressure that may end up being fatal.

Due to this possibly life-threatening side effect of withdrawal, clonidine detoxification procedures follow a tapering method rather than immediate cessation. After being admitted to a treatment facility, the patient will likely undergo a medical examination as well as a series of questions and interviews to determine their duration of use and their drug and medical history.

Determining an exact drug history as well as an accurate appraisal of the patient’s usage is incredibly important for a number of reasons. First, as noted earlier, the use of clonidine at the same time as beta-blockers has been shown to increase the likelihood of adverse side effects once its use has actually ended. As such, the use of these medications must be stopped several days prior.

Second, determining the proper tapering schedule is based in large part off of the length of clonidine use and the dosage. As the tapering is meant to be gradual weaning off of the medication, patients that enter addiction treatment having taken large amounts of the drug will likely have a longer detoxification process, possibly up to several weeks.

During this period, a medical professional will be closely monitoring the patient’s progress. If they exhibit any signs of withdrawal, the treatment facility personnel may determine it necessary to increase the dosage to former levels. As such, a specific timeframe of detoxification is usually quite difficult to determine.

Beyond that, many patients have vastly different physiologies. General health, nervous system peculiarities, and sensitivity to certain withdrawal symptoms all play a major role in determining how your body reacts to the treatment. It should be noted, then, that the recovery process is just that: a process. Patients should learn to trust the system, even in the face of setbacks.

Other Drugs That are Used to Treat Opioid Addiction

Fortunately, Clonidine isn’t the only option available to you for help with your opioid addiction. There are so many other drugs that will work in the same way.

Lofexidine

This medication is sold under the brain names Kai Er Ding and BritLofex. It has a few different uses, but treating opioid addiction is the main one. It is frequently used to treat heroin withdrawal. For those undergoing rapid detox, this medication may be combined with Naltrexone. Lofexidine helps by relieving many different withdrawal symptoms, keeping you comfortable during the process.

Guanfacine

Guanfacine may be sold as Tenex, Intuniv, and Estulic. At this point, if this drug is used to treat opioid dependence, it would need to be done off label. There has been significant research done on treating alcoholism with this medication. It has shown to be quite promising. Researchers have drawn the conclusion that it might be useful for opioid addicts as well. This is due to the fact that there are other drugs used for both types of addictions.

Tizanidine

This medication has not been approved for treating opioid addiction by the FDA. However, that doesn’t mean it cannot be used as an off label option. Many doctors do use it because it can help with some of the symptoms of withdrawal. Tizanidine can be purchased under the brand names, Zanaflex, Sirdalud, and Relentus. It is a medication that acts as a muscle relaxant. Typically, it is used to treat muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis, ALS, and other conditions. This drug might be more desirable because it’s easily tolerated than other medications.

The bottom line is that you do have additional options for your recovery. Clonidine might not be a drug that most doctors would consider to be addictive. However, it is possible to form an addiction to it. This is especially concerning for someone who is prone to addiction.

Getting treated for opioid addiction or alcoholism is so important. Still, don’t be afraid to ask for non-addictive medications to help your withdrawal symptoms. The last thing you want to do is to be stuck with a secondary addiction. If you are, you might have to detox all over again.

Further Treatment Notes

While one of the main concerns for facilities overseeing the detoxification of clonidine addicts is ensuring they are properly and safely tapered off of the drug, doing so is simply a medical detox and is only the first step towards true rehabilitation.

Overcoming physical addiction paves the way for truly investigating what it is that’s causing the addictive behaviors in the first place. Without the distractions of the physical dependence on the drug, patients are able to better tackle the mental and emotional hurdles in their lives without using a substance as a crutch.

Many treatment centers will feature counseling sessions, talk therapy, behavioral adjustment classes, stress management courses, and even art therapy and meditation. Supplementing the physical detoxification process with these additional programs can help patients reduce their risk of relapse, make meaningful changes in their lives, and give them an outlet to deal with any frustrations or concerns.

In that same vein, it’s worth noting that dealing with an addiction can be an especially difficult task. That’s why anyone addicted to clonidine or any other substance should seek out the help of a qualified medical professional before beginning on their path towards rehabilitation. There are a variety of addiction treatment options to choose from and you’re likely to find at least one that caters to your particular situation.

In addition to the various supplemental programs mentioned above, treatment centers also provide another extremely important quality when it comes to drug rehabilitation: safety. These facilities are manned by medical professionals that are trained to help make your rehabilitation as painless as possible.

This aspect is especially important for clonidine addicts as trying to manage this drug’s withdrawal symptoms not only might result in discomfort, they could even lead to death or other serious side effects like coma or heart problems. A treatment facility has access to both the knowledge and the equipment that might be necessary to keep you safe. They may even be able to offer you alternatives to medication detox altogether.

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