How to Stage an Intervention

Seeking Help for a Loved One

Someone you love struggles with an addiction—and their behavior is spinning out of control. Perhaps you avoided confronting your friend because their drug of choice drives them into irrational fits. Now, though, you know without a doubt that they are placing their life at risk. Now, you want to know how to stage an intervention.

You are making a smart move by seeking help for your loved one. If your gut instinct tells you that the time to step in is here, then listen to it! Drug addiction and alcoholism are deadly diseases.

Before beginning, we want to give you a glimpse at how pervasive addiction is in America today.

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The Toll of Addiction

Here are two eye-opening statistics from drugabuse.gov that highlight the importance of crisis intervention, as related to drug and alcohol abuse.

The cost of substance abuse is staggering. In the United States, it costs over $740 billion in combined health care, lost wages, and losses due to crime.

More importantly than the finances of addiction are the human losses due to overdoses. In 2018 alone, 67,367 Americans perished from a drug overdose.

These figures are frightening, but they should also motivate you to step in and advocate for your loved one. Remember, they are unable to help themselves right now. Even if your loved one just started using substances and has not spiraled out of control—yet—the time for early intervention is right now!

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What is Intervention

You probably know the term, but you now you ask yourself some questions. What is intervention? What does intervention mean, exactly?

Let us Define Intervention

So how do we define intervention? We describe the intervention defined as the intentional interference with someone’s behavior to alter their course and prevent them from harming themselves or others.

Here is an example that illustrates the genuine need for an intervention realistically.

Pretend your friend needs an alcohol intervention. You knew she drank socially, but it escalated recently. Now, you witness her passing out or drinking and driving. You fear that she will cause a crash and kill herself or another motorist. Worse yet, your friend seems to be deceiving herself, convinced that she still has control of herself.

Clearly, this person needs behavioral intervention to change the course of her actions.

As a responsible, sober person, you want to prevent that nightmarish outcome from becoming a reality. You find treatment for her at Pathfinders Recovery Center. But first, you need to convince her to attend a program. In short, you need an intervention.

Furthermore, there are two ways you can time interventions: early intervention and crisis intervention. Take a look at these intervention meanings.

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Early Intervention:

In early intervention, people who know and love your friend see them destroying their life by making poor decisions like abusing alcohol or drugs.

Perhaps they still hold down a job, attend school, and care for their kids. However, you see them unraveling one piece at a time. You predict it will be a matter of time before they unhinge entirely from reality.

The early intervention seeks to get this person the recovery program that they need before they slide any further into the rabbit hole of addiction.

Crisis Intervention:

On the other hand, your friend might already be exhibiting behaviors that are out of hand. They might have been fired from a job and went on a binge, been arrested for driving under the influence, or even lost custody of their children. And in the very worst cases, they might not care if they live or die.

They ease the pain of these events by diving even deeper into their addiction. These circumstances are dire and require crisis intervention asap.

How to Stage an Intervention

We know that you want to know how to stage an intervention out of care and concern for someone you love. However, let us be clear—you are targeting the behaviors of the person, you are not attacking them personally.

Thus, keep in mind this term: Behavioral Intervention Plan as you walk through the stages of planning to intervene. Alcoholics and drug addicts are emotionally-charged, unstable, and lack self-esteem. They often know that they are damaging their relationships.

The problem is, they do not know how to stop.

So if they feel that you are insulting them, you will lose them before you even start! This reason is why behavioral interventions are best handled by professional interventionists, not friends or family members.

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Behavior Intervention Plans

How to do an Intervention for a Drug Addict

Here are the main steps in coordinating a behavioral intervention for a drug addict.

1 – Identify the Need for an Intervention

Customarily, a close friend or family member puts the idea of staging an intervention on the table. They reach out to other people in their friend’s life to ask them to agree to attend the meeting and confront their special someone who is struggling.

2 – Retain a Certified Interventionist

A successful behavioral intervention requires a delicate balance of open, frank discussion about the impact of the person’s addiction on your relationship and an expression of your growing concern.

The interventionist is the mediator who can lead that discussion in a fair, impartial, compassionate, and non-judgmental way. This professional knows how to read body language, spotting the signs when someone is about to walk out of the intervention meeting, and conflict resolution.

In other words, this is the person who knows how to stage an intervention—this step is crucial.

3 – Set a Place, Date and Time for the Intervention

Find a host for the intervention. Try to schedule it for a timeframe when your loved one might be sober—when they first wake up in the morning, for example.

Make sure that all participants will arrive early and know what to do. This extra time allows you to decide who speaks first, where each person will sit, and even who greets your loved one at the door and guides them into the meeting.

Your interventionist will provide clearer insight and be able to help you plan for success.

4 – Have a Plan in Place

Before you confront your loved one, have a plan in place. They might never have considered treatment. In fact, they might be unaware that they even need help until you ask them to get help! If you are intervening on your spouse or child, check with the insurance provider and have treatment centers in mind ahead of time.

5 – Script the Intervention

You should carefully write out what you plan to say to your loved one during the behavioral intervention. This preparation prevents you from making any off-the-cuff remarks during the intervention; this is not the time to blow it!

    • You want to affirm, first, that you love them, and you are intervening out of love. Example: I need you to know that I love you, but I am afraid for your safety.
    • While you are confronting them, remember to focus on their poor behaviors. Give specific, relatable examples of how their behavior creates undesirable impacts on you. Example: The cost of your legal fees caused our family to file for bankruptcy.
    • Also, script one or two ways in which you will support them in their recovery.Example: I will seek treatment for my enabling actions by attending Nar-Anon meetings.
    • You should also set reasonable boundaries to let your loved one know you will neither enable their behaviors. Example: I will no longer bail you out of jail or pay for your attorney’s fees.

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How to do an Intervention for an Alcoholic

Next, we look into how to stage an intervention for an alcoholic. The steps involved are the same as those in how to stage an intervention for a drug addict. Of course, the main difference will be shifting focus to the negative behaviors of abusing alcohol instead of focusing on drugs.

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Final Thoughts on How to Stage an Intervention

Now that you know how to stage an intervention, it is up to you to help your friend or loved one get the help that they need so badly. Whether or not they recognize it right away, you are performing an incredible act of kindness.

How Addictive is Kratom? This is What You Should Understand

How Addictive is Kratom – It can Replace an Opiate Addiction.

Kratom is a hope-inspiring substance for many struggling addicts.

It can help life-long opiate addicts quit their painful addictions and save their lives. It’s safer, more natural, and above-all-else a smarter choice than most opiates.

But kratom is an addictive substance itself. Sometimes it merely replaces one addiction with another.

Like any other drug, it’s not without its drawbacks!

This begs the question: How addictive is kratom? And what do you do if you find yourself addicted? Keep reading to find the answer.

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Supplement kratom green capsules and powder on brown plate. Herbal product alt-medicine kratom is opioid.

Why Do People Use Kratom?

Kratom is meant to be used as an alternative to opiates. People suffering from opiate addiction sometimes turn to kratom to get off the more deadly opiate.

The drug provides similar effects and gives users relief from withdrawal symptoms in a safer way.

Kratom is more natural than a processed opiate like heroin. Its leaves can be eaten, brewed, or taken in pills. This makes it easy for anyone to take.

Some doctors are wary when it comes to recommending kratom, though.

Some patients get carried away with kratom and end up replacing their opiate addiction with it, rather than using it to ween themselves into sobriety.

While kratom is natural, it still gives a user the same effects as opiates, meaning it’s just as tempting for a seasoned addict to abuse.

How Addictive Is Kratom?

Taking any mind-altering drug, including kratom, changes the brain’s natural chemistry.

Kratom fills opioid receptors in the brain, giving users a rush or high similar to heroin.

Like other opiates, your body can become used to these highs and start to crave them. The brain adjusts to the opiate and comes to expect them.

Without giving the brain what it wants, a user can experience symptoms of withdrawal and adverse effects on their health.

Some symptoms of kratom withdrawal include:

  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • aggression
  • aching muscles
  • jerky movements

Measuring “how” addictive a substance is is difficult, and really depends on the person. Some people have more addictive personalities than others.

Although, no matter what your personality, addiction can happen to anyone.

Kratom addiction is on the rise. Kratom is openly sold in most states. This means curious teens can easily buy it for recreational use rather than for opiate recovery.

It should not be assumed that kratom is any less addictive than any other opiate. It’s simply better for you, and less likely to be tainted or end a user’s life.

With any drug comes the risk of addiction, whether it’s something common like caffeine, or more uncommon like kratom.

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What Makes Kratom Addictive?

Kratom is addictive for the same reason any opiate is. Opiates offer a user euphoria, relaxation, and psychoactive effects. They give the user a high that is hard to find in other drugs.

If a user suffers from depression they may become especially hooked on the feeling that opiates give. Opiates tend to mask pain both physical and mental, which is a desirable state for many.

Kratom is an interesting opiate. In lower doses, it offers stimulating and energizing effects. In higher doses it relaxes the body, making you sleepy, euphoric, and relaxed.

This means users can get addicted to kratom as either a stimulant or a relaxant. Other opiates are much harder to control on this level, giving kratom an interesting up-side for opiate lovers.

Many people start using kratom on a doctor’s recommendation. In this case, the doctor will usually tell the patient what dosage to take. But this isn’t always the case, and not everyone follows orders.

Some people will start using kratom on their own to deal with their addiction, or simply for recreational purposes. This is always more dangerous, as the user is given no solid guidelines.

There is no doctor to monitor how the user is adjusting to the drug or to recommend a safe dosage.

Like any other drug, kratom is addictive because it feels good to take. Plus, it’s cheaper than opiates, natural, widely legal, and more versatile.

Can You Overdose on Kratom?

There have been several reports of kratom overdoses. The majority of these overdoses involved mixing other drugs, such as cocaine, fentanyl, and alcohol.

Because of this, it’s uncertain how much of a factor kratom was.

However, a small number of kratom overdoses only involved the use of kratom. This could have been due to the user dosing too high, or buying a laced product.

Buying kratom for recreational use always runs the risk of ingesting unknown, harmful substances.

So, while you’re not likely to overdose on kratom, the official stance is unknown. More studies must be put into the subject, and more cases must be investigated.

Always be careful where you buy your kratom from, and only purchase from designated dealers with trusted backgrounds.

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How Many People Use Kratom?

Kratom use has risen in recent years. The drug remains legal in many states and countries and is fairly easy to get hold of.

Because of its abuse factor, some places have made it illegal, including Indiana, Wisconsin, and Vermont.

There has been a push to make kratom a schedule 1 drug. Schedule 1 is where the most addictive drugs are placed, including heroin and other opiates.

At the moment, kratom remains unscheduled. When it was announced that it might be scheduled there was a large outpouring of people who disagreed with the proposition.

Over 140,000 people signed a petition and got the proposition shot down.

To date, there are an estimated five million people who regularly use kratom. that’s a large portion of the population.

Many of these people use it to stay off worse opiates, and taking it away from them would risk throwing them back into their previous addictions.

The Signs of Kratom Addiction

Like any other addiction, the signs for kratom addiction can be subtle to the user but obvious to outsiders.

Signs and symptoms of addiction can vary greatly from person to person and be difficult to pinpoint. However, some of them show more than others.

How Addictive is Kratom - A man who looks tired and unkept looks into the camera. The 1st sign of kratom addiction is a change in appearance and reduction in hygiene.
A man who looks tired and unkept looks into the camera.

Dependency on kratom is the most obvious sign. If you feel the need to take kratom right once the effects have worn off, you could have a dependency.

If not getting the drug soon after its effects are gone causes irritation, mood swings, or discomfort, you could be addicted.

Spending more money than you can afford to on kratom is a sign, as well as a change in physical appearance. This means drastic weight loss or gain, or a reduction in personal hygiene.

One should also look out for irregular sleep patterns.

If you feel like you’re taking too much kratom, chances are you’re right. If your friends tell you they’re worried about your kratom use, that’s another reason to check yourself.

There’s a big difference between casual use and addiction, and it eventually shows itself.

How Is Kratom Addiction Treated?

There is no proven best way to deal with kratom addiction. But there are steps you can take to move away from addiction.

The first step is usually to decrease your use. If you’re used to taking large doses of kratom, start weaning yourself off.

Take smaller and smaller doses each time and your body will become less dependant on high doses.

The next step is to detox your body. Stop taking kratom and get all traces of the drug out of your body. Some medications can help accomplish this, as well as certain foods.

If the addiction is at an aggressive stage, rehab may be necessary. Rehabilitation centers don’t discriminate based on drugs.

Many will take kratom users just as readily as alcohol and heroin users, and help them find the environment they need to quit.

Behavioral therapy is also a big help in dealing with kratom addiction. Behavioral therapy targets a person’s triggers for addiction and looks to stop them.

It looks to rid a patient of their relapse triggers and let them know they don’t need the drug anymore.

If you suspect a loved one of being addicted to kratom talk to them about it. They may not see the signs or may be unwilling to accept them.

Intervention is an often necessary first step in squashing an addiction, even if it is an uncomfortable one.

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Addiction Happens

The simple answer to the question “How addictive is kratom?” is this: Just as addictive as any other opiate.

Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Kratom has its upsides, but it also has its downsides.

Like any other substance, it’s important to moderate your use and fight against dependance.

If you or someone you love may be addicted to kratom, get the help you need.

Talk to them, seek rehab, and get the drug out of your system. You’ll be happy you did it in the end.

If you’re looking for a trusted rehabilitation center, see what we can do for you. Contact us with any comments, questions, or concerns.

We’d be happy to help.

The Heroin Withdrawal Timeline: A Guide on What You Should Know

Know What Heroin Withdrawal Timeline Looks Like

If you use or are addicted to drugs, chances are you know it’s a good idea to stop.

But quitting is much easier said than done, not least of all because quitting means going through withdrawal.

And withdrawal can be a scary and painful process, especially if you’ve never gone through it before.

Knowing what the heroin withdrawal timeline looks like can help you know what to expect when you decide to quit.

You’ll know what’s coming, how long it will last, and when you’ll start to feel better.

Read on to learn more about this timeline and what to expect when you get ready to quit heroin.

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Detox word made with wooden blocks concept

What Is Heroin?

Before we dive into the heroin withdrawal timeline, let’s take a moment to discuss what heroin actually is.

You may have heard of it by the names horse, hell dust, big H, or smack. Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine that is derived from the seeds of poppy flowers.

Heroin can come in a few different forms, including a white or brown powder or a black sticky substance called black tar heroin. It can be injected, snorted, or smoked, depending on the form.

Some people mix heroin and crack cocaine in a practice called speedballing.

Effects of Heroin

Because heroin is related to morphine, a drug used to control pain, one of its primary effects is a vanishing of any pain you may have been feeling.

Many users describe a sort of rush or wave of euphoria that comes over them right after they take the drug.

Other short-term effects can include dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, severe itching, clouded mental function, and drifting in and out of consciousness, sometimes known as “going on the nod.”

Long-term heroin effects can be devastating, ranging from insomnia and cramps to collapsed veins and livery and kidney disease. People with penises may experience sexual dysfunction, and people who have periods may start to have irregular cycles.

You may see swollen tissue filled with pus, damage to your nose, pneumonia, and a number of mental illnesses crop up, too.

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Heroin Withdrawal Timeline – The First Day

Heroin users may experience the early symptoms of withdrawal many times over the course of their use. These symptoms start between six and twenty-four hours after you take the drug and can last for a day or two.

These early symptoms are usually mild, but they can be unpleasant enough to lead the user to take heroin again to get rid of them.

Within that first day, you’ll start to feel like you have a bad case of the flu. You’ll get muscle aches that will get worse over the next couple of days.

You may also get anxiety or even panic attacks. You might get diarrhea or start shaking, and you may find yourself more irritable than usual.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline – The Next Few Days

After the first day or two, symptoms of heroin withdrawal will start to peak. These few days are the worst of the heroin withdrawal cycle and are when you’ll need the most support around you.

You can expect these symptoms to start around the third day of no heroin use and will last two or three days.

During the peak of withdrawal, you’ll start to experience extreme stomach cramping and nausea or vomiting. You may start to sweat and get the shivers, and you might run a fever during this time.

You may have more diarrhea, and you might have trouble getting to sleep or settling down.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline -  A man holds his stomach in pain as he cramps up and is sick. According to the heroin withdrawal timeline the symptons will show usually in day 3.
A man holds his stomach in pain as he cramps up and is sick.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline – The End of the Week

About five days after you last use heroin, you’ll start to come into the end of the acute withdrawal phase. Your symptoms will start to improve across the board, and you’ll start to feel better.

There will be some lingering effects of withdrawal, but the worst will be over.

You may still have some trouble getting a full night’s rest during this stage, but you should be able to sleep a little more. Your muscle aches and nausea will start to wear off, and you’ll start to feel like you’re coming off a bad case of the flu.

You’ll feel very tired, and that fatigue can last for months, but your stomach and bowels will start to get back to normal, and your fever should subside.

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Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Even once you’re past the first week of acute withdrawal, you’re far from out of the woods. During that whole withdrawal process, you’ll be craving heroin to experience that high again, and that craving can last for months.

After the first week of acute withdrawal, you’ll enter post-acute withdrawal syndrome.

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome is the time when you’ll start to recover from the neurological damage that the heroin caused.

You may feel tired and irritable for months, and you may find you still have trouble sleeping. Anxiety and depression are common, and you may experience more cravings for heroin.

Factors That Affect Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

There are a number of factors that can affect how your withdrawal goes and how long it lasts. First among these is the amount of time you spent using heroin.

If you’ve only used heroin a couple of times, you’re going to have a much easier time in withdrawal than someone who’s been using heroin for years.

Which kind of heroin you use can also impact what your withdrawal experience is like. Things like speedballing or using black tar heroin can complicate your withdrawal, depending on the purity of the substances.

The amount of heroin you took each time can also affect how intense your symptoms are.

Medical Intervention

When you’re going through withdrawal, it can be a good idea to have a medical team around you monitoring you and keeping you comfortable.

Things like dehydration, fever, and seizures can present very real threats during the detox process. And if you’re quitting cold-turkey after years of using high amounts of heroin, especially mixed with other drugs, having medical help could save your life.

Doctors and nurses can provide you with IVs to help keep you hydrated and comfortable during withdrawal. They can take steps to ensure that something like a fever or a seizure doesn’t become life-threatening.

And they can make sure you get all the way through the withdrawal process without succumbing to the cravings and taking more heroin, starting the process all over again.

Helpful Medications

In addition to basic comforts, doctors may also be able to provide you with some medications that can help you during the heroin withdrawal timeline.

These medicines may be opioid-based, so they can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. But they aren’t as potent or as dangerous as heroin, so you get clean in a safer, easier way.

Methadone is a slow-acting, low-strength opiate that can help you taper off the effects of heroin and prevent withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine can reduce heroin cravings and symptoms like vomiting and muscle aches.

And naltrexone blocks receptors in the brain that respond to heroin, helping to reduce cravings in the long-term.

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Long-Term Treatment

Once you’re through the initial withdrawal stage, you still have a long road ahead of you to recovery. For one thing, you’ll need to get through post-acute withdrawal syndrome and past the point of craving heroin, which can take months or even years.

You’ll need to restructure your life to avoid triggers that make you tempted to start using again.

But oftentimes, there’s an underlying issue that led you to start taking heroin in the first place. This could be anything from chronic pain, mental illness, or some sort of emotional trauma.

Before you can get back to living a healthy, happy life free of heroin, you’ll need to deal with that underlying problem.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline at Home

Although it is not recommended, it is possible to go through heroin withdrawal at home. If you plan to do this, it’s a good idea to have a loved one around to help you through the process.

They can help keep you from giving in to the cravings and make sure you get medical attention if there are complications.

Ask for a week off work before you go through this process, and stock up on supplies. You’ll need lots of fluids, healthy food, and hygiene necessities like toilet paper.

And once you’re through the initial withdrawal process, be sure you join some sort of support group or rehab to keep from relapsing in the next several months.

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Learn More About the Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

Heroin withdrawal is a difficult process that you need help to get through. Knowing the heroin withdrawal timeline can help you know what to expect and how long things will last.

By the time you hit day four or five, knowing that these symptoms won’t last forever can help keep you motivated to push through.

If you’d like help detoxing from heroin, come see us at Pathfinders Recovery Center.

We have programs for heroin addiction, as well as methamphetamine addiction, prescription pill addiction, and alcoholism.

Contact us today to take the first step on your road to a happier, healthier life.

This is What You Need to Know About Quitting Cold Turkey

What is Better Quitting Cold Turkey or Slow Over Time?

Do you struggle with an addiction? Do you want to quit, but just can’t find a way? Do you wonder if it’s better to do it “cold turkey” or slower over time?

The most difficult addictions to overcome, in order of difficulty, are nicotine, opioids, benzodiazepines, alcohol, and cocaine.

The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health looked at how many individuals used tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs.

The report showed that about 164.8 million Americans over the age of 11 stated they had used in the past month.

You are not alone in your fight to become sober. Once you quit, you will still have to find the strength to remain sober. Continue reading to learn about “going cold turkey” to overcome an addiction.

Cold Turkey - Hello I Am ... Name Tag Words "Going Cold Turkey" in black marker.
Going Cold Turkey Hello Name Tag Words 3d Illustration

“Quit Cold Turkey” Meaning Defined

When did this phrase “quitting cold turkey” start? The earliest known use of this phrase was in The Daily Colonist newspaper in 1921. This phrase describes the abrupt stopping of an activity that’s considered harmful.

It may have originated from the phrase “talking cold turkey”. This described a time when a person was direct and blunt.

Another explanation is that cold turkey is a quick dish to serve. There’s no need to spend time cooking. Thus, it’s an abrupt meal to serve.

Today, when you quit cold turkey, it means you stop a harmful habit immediately. There’s no weaning down period.

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Benefits of Quitting Cold Turkey

A 2016 study comparing quitting smoking slowly vs. cold turkey. It was published in The Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study participants were divided into 2 groups. Group 1 quit abruptly and Group 2 decreased smoking by 75% over 2 weeks before they quit.

Both groups used nicotine supplements during and after quitting. At 4 weeks, 39.2% of Group 2 remained abstinent compared to 49.0% of Group 1. At 6 months, 15.5% of Group 2 were still abstinent while 22.0% of Group 1 remained smoke-free.

This study concluded that stopping cold turkey lead to longer success with quitting smoking.

The Difficulty with Going Cold Turkey?

The hardest part of stopping the use of an addictive substance is managing withdrawal symptoms.

The effects may last weeks, months, or even years. Each person has a different experience and coping mechanisms.

Withdrawal symptoms depend on the substance and length of addiction. It’s important to understand that this only describes the physical symptoms.

Other emotional and behavioral triggers accompany addictions.

Opioids or Opiates

Withdrawal symptoms often last 72 hours to about 5 days.

They include:

  • Aching muscles
  • Restlessness and anxiety
  • Teary eyes and runny nose
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trouble sleeping and frequent yawning
  • Diarrhea and stomach cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Goosebumps on the skin
  • Dilated pupils and blurry vision
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure

After about a week, these physical symptoms decrease.

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Benzodiazepines

When stopping benzodiazepines, many people experience “rebound” symptoms. This often begins between 1 and 4 days of stopping use.

Depending on how often and how much you used, symptoms can last up to 10 days.

Rebound symptoms include:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Increased anxiety and tension
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Excessive sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headache
  • Stiffness or pain in muscles
  • Cravings
  • Tremors in hands

Severe addicts may experience hallucinations, seizures, psychosis or psychotic responses, and/or suicidal ideation.

Cocaine

Withdrawing from cocaine can make you feel so weak that you don’t feel like doing normal activities. Symptoms can include:

  • Restlessness, irritability, and agitation
  • Generalized discomfort
  • Strong cravings to use cocaine
  • Mental and physical exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Anhedonia which means not being able to feel joy or pleasure
  • Upsetting, dramatic, vivid dreams
  • Increase in your appetite
  • Decrease in motivation
  • Feeling sleepy much of the time
  • Decreased libido or sexual desire
  • Difficulty concentrating

Some people also have headaches and other physical symptoms. Some severe cases experience suicidal thoughts, hostility, and paranoia.

Cocaine Withdrawal Occurs in Three Stages

“The Crash” occurs in the first several hours to days. People feel severe depression, exhaustion, restlessness, and irritability. They may even think about suicide.

The second stage of withdrawal lasts one to 10 weeks. The person’s mood and ability to function improves. Yet they feel bored and lack pleasure.

They often experience cocaine cravings, irritability, low energy, inability to concentrate, and sleep disturbance. At this point, there’s a high risk of relapse.

The last stage, extinction, includes extreme cocaine cravings the come and go. People also experience mood swings during this phase which can last up to six months.

The length and amount of cocaine use impact the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. For most people, withdrawal symptoms last between one and two weeks.

Alcohol

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Often, alcohol withdrawal symptoms manifest in the following timeline.

In the first 6 to 12 hours after stopping alcohol, the person may feel agitated, anxious, shaky, and nauseated. They may also have headaches and vomiting.

In the following 12 to 24 hours, they often experience disorientation, hand tremors, and seizures. The symptoms increase after 48 hours without alcohol.

Symptoms include seizures, insomnia, high blood pressure, and hallucinations. They may also have a high fever with excessive sweating and delirium tremens.

Withdrawal usually stops in 5 days but may continue longer for some people.

The severity of withdrawal depends on the frequency, amount, and length of time of a person’s addiction. Other medical problems can also increase symptoms.

Cold Turkey - A man is exercising in his home. He has stopped drinking cold turkey and uses exercise to get past the withdrawal.
A man is exercising in his home.

Strategies for Coping During Withdrawal

There are steps you can take to help overcome withdrawal symptoms. Each person is unique and responds differently to withdrawal and coping mechanisms.

Following is a list of strategies to try when undergoing withdrawal:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Ask your practitioner about medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms
  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people
  • Avoid being around people who are using your addictive substance
  • Stay away from places or situations that act as triggers for your addiction
  • Talk with your practitioner before you take any other medications
  • Plan a daily schedule that involves engrossing and distracting activities

The most important point is to have a support system when you quit. Don’t try to do it alone.

Support After Quitting Cold Turkey

Johan Hari, a British journalist said, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety; the opposite of addiction is connection.”

Addiction often drives a wedge in healthy relationships. This leads to increased isolation, anxiety, and depression.

The addicted individual spends more time with people engaged in the same destructive behavior. Soon, it feels like they have no other options.

Thus, one of the keys to addiction recovery is to reconnect with positive people. Engaging in groups of recovering addicts provides a bond with others facing the same struggle to stay sober.

These relationships provide the following.

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Accountability

One of the hardest steps in recovery is not taking that first drink or drug.

Once the individual leaves rehab, it’s important to stay in contact with counselors or peers. This provides support to help you stay sober.

Prevent Loneliness

Many recovering addicts may have lost their former community groups. Family and friends may not want them around anymore.

Sponsors and peers can relieve feelings of loneliness that could lead to a relapse.

Increased Hope

Participating in a rehabilitation program provides education to help you stay sober. They also teach coping mechanisms including how to avoid and cope with triggers.

They also celebrate successes and provide a sense of hope.

Maintain Positivity

Many former addicts have a poor self-image and lack self-confidence. Counselors and sponsors can help change those negative inner monologues.

They help individuals identify and redirect these thought processes.

Learn New Ways to Have Fun

For many addicts, their perception of having fun involved using the addictive substance.

Rehab programs develop new interests and skills that increase joy in people’s lives. When choosing to have fun, the addict must make choices that don’t act as triggers.

Increased Social Confidence

For many people who have experienced addiction, they don’t feel socially competent. In the past, they used the addictive substance as a buffer to manage social anxiety.

It’s important to work on improving social interaction skills without using a “crutch”.

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Are You Ready to Fight Your Addiction?

Are you or someone you know struggling with an addiction?

Are there conflicting opinions about whether going cold turkey or gradual withdrawal is better?

It may be time to talk with professionals at an addiction center.

Pathfinders Recovery Center provides effective, well-researched, cutting-edge addiction treatment.

For the past 25 years, we have focused on helping people recover from drug and alcohol addiction. We work with any other disorders you may have along with the addiction.

An important part of our care involves help transitioning back into society. There’s no instant cure.

We understand that ongoing support is imperative.

Our center believes that each person adapts, changes, and progresses in different ways and at different times.

You will experience a fun, safe, loving, and peaceful environment. All interactions are strictly confidential.

This atmosphere facilitates healing and develops connections.

Contact us today to ask questions about our program.

The Long Term Effects of Drug Use: How Cocaine Impacts the Body

Long Term Effects of Drug Use

In the United States today, there are more than 1.5 million cocaine users over the age of 12.

Most of us know cocaine is tremendously addictive and can have some nasty short-term side effects.

But what happens when you take this drug for years on end?

The long-term effects of drug use can be far worse than the short-term effects, as bad as those are.

Ranging from paranoia to psychosis to brain damage and death, people who use cocaine for years are facing a number of dangerous health conditions.

Read on to learn more about cocaine and the long term effects of drug use.

Long Term Effects of Drug Use - Set of different drugs - powder and pills and a syringe on a black background. Learn about the Substance Abuse treatment options at Pathfinders in Arizona.
Set of different drugs – powder and pills and a syringe on a black background

What Is Cocaine?

We’ve all heard of cocaine, but before we get too far into the long- and short-term effects, let’s talk about what cocaine actually is.

Cocaine is a stimulant that comes from the coca plant, a species that’s native to South America.

You may have heard of it by the names coke, snow, rock, blow, or crack.

Cocaine comes in a few different forms, though the one most of us are familiar with is the white powder.

It may also show up in a solid rock crystal form.

Some cocaine users may snort the powder form of the drug, while others dissolve it in water and inject it into their veins; still, others heat up the crystal form and inhale the smoke.

Immediate Effects

When you take cocaine, your body releases high levels of dopamine, a hormone that’s linked to the pleasure and reward centers in your brain.

This extreme euphoria is what we call a high. And because cocaine is a stimulant, you may also get a rush of energy from taking the drug.

Immediate side effects of cocaine can include intense emotions, including happiness, anger, or paranoia.

You may experience extreme sensitivity to sensory input, including touch, sound, and visual cues. And you may notice that you aren’t hungry on your usual schedule.

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Addictive Potential

Because of the massive dopamine release cocaine causes, it’s extremely addictive.

Our brains are hard-wired to do things that activate those pleasure centers in our brain; under normal circumstances, that may include exercise, interacting with loved ones, eating something sweet, or petting an animal.

But when you get that high from cocaine, your brain automatically wants more of that rush.

In addition to this intense pleasure, cocaine also makes the parts of your brain that handle stress extra-sensitive. So when you aren’t taking the drug, you feel even more miserable and stressed, making you crave that high even more.

You may start pursuing that high over even basic necessities like food, relationships, and other natural rewards.

Higher Tolerance

One of the major effects of long-term cocaine use is that you build up a tolerance to the drug.

The more of it you take, the more resistant your brain becomes to that rush of dopamine. This means that in order to get that same high, you have to take more and more cocaine.

Over time, the amount of cocaine you have to take to feel the same pleasure can become fatal.

Meanwhile, your stress pathways are becoming more and more sensitive, making you feel like you have to have the drug to live. And to a degree, this can be true; withdrawal from cocaine can be extremely dangerous and even toxic without medical intervention.

Temperament Changes

In addition to the short-term effects, long-term cocaine use can start to cause side effects of its own. One of the first noticeable signs can be a change in temperament.

As those stress pathways become more and more sensitized, you may notice a change in your temperament. As your cocaine use increases, you may notice that your temper is on more of a hair trigger than usual.

You may find yourself getting irritated at smaller and smaller things throughout your day. You may also have trouble settling to one particular task as you become more restless.

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Panic Attacks

This irritability can start to spill over into paranoia as time goes on. You may feel like everyone’s out to get you or you’re about to be attacked at any moment.

Your paranoia may even be related to your addiction, as you worry that people around you may know that you’re using cocaine. That paranoia can turn into full-blown panic attacks as time goes on.

In order for an episode to qualify as a panic attack, it must include at least four of the following symptoms:

  • Accelerated heart rate or palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling like you’re choking
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Chills
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Feelings of unreality
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of dying.

You may also experience limited-symptom panic attacks that include fewer than four of these symptoms.

Long Term Effects of Drug Use - He has been doing cocaine for so long the long term effects of drug use are getting worse every day.
A man sits on the couch after snorting some cocaine.

Psychosis

In some extreme cases, long-term cocaine use can lead to full-blown psychosis. Psychosis is an often-misused term, so let’s take a moment to look at what it means.

Psychosis is a mental disorder that’s characterized by a loss of touch with reality. This can be as limited as believing the world is hiding dangerous secrets and you’re the only one who sees them.

It can also be as extreme as having full-on auditory and/or visual hallucinations. Psychosis from cocaine use can be dangerous, as you may start to act on those false beliefs. You may harm yourself or others during these delusions.

Loss of Nasal Function

In addition to the mental and emotional side effects of cocaine, you’ll also experience some physical side effects. To some degree, this depends on how you use the cocaine.

For instance, if you mostly snort cocaine, you’ll start to notice a loss of nasal and sinus function. You may notice first that your sense of smell is diminishing or that you’re getting nosebleeds more frequently than usual.

Your septum may start to get irritated, and you may have a runny nose all the time. You may also start to have problems swallowing and experience some hoarseness.

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Lung Damage

If you smoke the rock crystal form of cocaine, your physical side effects will be less nose-based. Instead, you may start to see damage to your lungs. This can come in part from the damage that results from smoking any substance, but smoking cocaine can cause specific damage.

If you have asthma, smoking cocaine will make it worse. You may find that you’re short of breath, especially after something like jogging for a short distance or going up a flight of stairs.

You may develop a chronic cough, and you could even develop eosinophilic pneumonitis, a disease whose symptoms can include fever, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and even death.

Infectious Diseases

If you inject cocaine, you’re inviting a whole host of problems related to using dirty needles. One of the most notorious of these is human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, a disease that destroys your white blood cells.

HIV can also lead to auto-immune deficiency syndrome, a chronic condition that can be life-threatening if not treated correctly.

In addition to HIV and AIDS, you’re also putting yourself at risk of catching Hepatitis C. Hep C is the most dangerous form of hepatitis and can cause serious liver damage or failure.

The worst part is because Hep C doesn’t have many outward symptoms, you may not know you have it until it’s far too late and your liver is beyond hope.

Heart Damage

Cocaine use in any form can also cause serious damage to your heart and your cardiovascular systems. Your heart becomes inflamed with long-term use of the stimulant, which can make it harder for your heart to pump.

This can lead to tears in your aorta, as well as a host of other issues. Long-term cocaine use puts you at a much higher risk of stroke and seizures.

You may experience ulcers as your gastrointestinal tract struggles to get enough blood. And you might see bulging or bleeding in your brain, as well as several other forms of permanent brain damage.

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Learn More About the Long Term Effects of Drug Use

The long term effects of drug use, and cocaine use, in particular, are serious and can be deadly.

At best, you can expect a long road struggling to break free of the addictive power of the drug. At worst, you could experience a painful death or a lifetime of brain, heart, liver, and lung damage.

If you’re struggling with a cocaine addiction and you would like to break free, come see us at Pathfinders Recovery Center.

We can help you through the withdrawal process and get you started on a path to a healthier, addiction-free life.

Contact us today to take the first step to freedom.