Monthly Archives: February 2014

Oxycontin Abuse

OxyContin is the brand name for an opioid analgesic containing the active ingredient oxycodone (also found in Percocet and Percodan). OxyContin is a legal narcotic that is available by prescription to treat severe pain. OxyContin is a controlled-release medication that, when used correctly, provides extended relief of pain associated with cancer, back pain, or arthritis. However, often when the drug is abused, the tablets are crushed and snorted, chewed, or mixed with water and injected. This eliminates the time-release factor and allows for a quick and intense rush of the drug to the brain. This practice can lead to overdosing on OxyContin’s active ingredient, oxycodone, by releasing too much of the medication into the bloodstream too quickly. OxyContin is highly addictive which means that higher doses of the drug must be taken when a tolerance develops. Illicit use of the drug has risen drastically and steadily over the last few years.

OxyContin is also known as Oxy, OxyCotton, Oxy 80 (for the 80mg dose), or OC.

What Does OxyContin Look Like?


OxyContin most commonly exists in tablet form. These round pills come in 10mg, 20mg, 40mg, 80mg, and 160mg dosages. OxyContin also comes in capsule or liquid form.

Short-term Effects

The most serious risk associated with OxyContin is respiratory depression. Because of this, OxyContin should not be combined with other substances that slow down breathing such as alcohol, antihistamines (like some cold or allergy medication), barbiturates, or benzodiazepines. Other common side effects include constipation, nausea, sedation, dizziness, vomiting, headache, dry mouth, sweating, and weakness. Toxic overdose and/or death can occur by taking the tablet broken, chewed, or crushed. People who abuse the drug (by removing the time-release coating) will experience effects for up to 5 hours. The high that is felt is opiate-like and produces a sedate, euphoric feeling.

Long-term Effects

Using OxyContin chronically can result in increased tolerance to the drug in which higher doses of the medication must be taken to receive the initial effect. Over time, OxyContin will be come physically addictive, causing a person to experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not present in their system. Symptoms of withdrawal include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, and involuntary leg movements.

Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine AbuseCocaine is a stimulant, which means it speeds up the brain and nervous system. The effects that people get from cocaine are related to the amount they have, which can vary significantly. Cocaine has both a pain killing effect because it blocks the transmission of pain impulses from the nerves to the brain, and a “high” because it stimulates and energizes people to greater alertness, intensifying their mood. Cocaine looks like white powder and can be smoked, snorted and injected.

What is Cocaine?

The narcotic drug cocaine comes from the leaves of the Bolivian coca plant (Erythroxylumcoca) or the Peruvian coca plant (Erythroxylum novgranatense) which is processed to make the drug.

Street cocaine

Cocaine hydrochloride is the product (in various strengths and forms) known as street cocaine. The product is extracted from coca paste by the addition of hydrochloric acid, and produces a fine powder used for snorting or injecting. It is estimated that street cocaine can be “cut” anywhere from one to eight times. Cutting means adding chemicals such as glucose and lactose to make it go further and therefore make more profit. The great variability in strength of “street cocaine” adds to the risk of overdose, due to not knowing how much cocaine is in the powder.

Crack cocaine

Crack cocaine is cocaine made into a form that can be smoked. The process of making crack cocaine involves treating cocaine with various products and chemicals that free the cocaine base from the hydrochloride and lower the temperature at which the cocaine can be melted. It is then removed and allowed to dry and broken into “rocks”. Each rock usually ranging from one tenth to half a gram. Crack is white to light brown or beige in color, and is in the form of slivers or crystalline rocks. Cocaine treated in this way is known as free base and the process is called freebasing. Crack gets its name because when it is smoked, the baking powder residue left in it makes a crackling sound. Crack is extremely addictive because smoking causes its effects to be felt within 10 seconds after use.

Other names

Cocaine is also known as Bump, Coke, Snow, Toot, Lady, Flake, “C”, Candy, Charlie, Sherbert, Charles, Blow, Dust, Bernice, Dream, Nose Candy. Crack is also known as Rocks, Wash, Freebase.

Absorption by the body


Cocaine is usually smoked in a pipe and the vapor is inhaled into the lungs where it is then absorbed into the bloodstream. Cocaine users who smoke the drug achieve maximum physiological effects approximately two minutes after inhalation. When cocaine is administered as an inhalant (heated to allow vaporization) it is absorbed almost immediately into the bloodstream, taking around 20 seconds to reach the brain.


When cocaine is snorted, cocaine powder is inhaled through the nostrils and absorbed into the bloodstream. The effects are felt more slowly than when it is smoked.


Cocaine powder is sometimes dissolved in water and injected directly into the bloodstream. When the levels of cocaine in the body start to decrease, the user can start to feel “the crash” which involves feeling sad, frustrated, depressed, anxious and sometimes suicidal. Often people become dependent on cocaine because they take it again before these symptoms start to avoid the “crash”.

Effects on the body

Because cocaine is a stimulant, the effects after taking it can, possibly cause a person to:

  • feel good and confident
  • be excited or upset
  • take more risks than usual
  • feel aggressive
  • be less hungry
  • feel alert and energetic
  • want to have sex

Initially the effects of cocaine will lead to a high feeling for the user, but continued use will result in tolerance for the drug. Cocaine and crack are highly addictive drugs. Cocaine brings about strong feelings of ecstasy, creating a craving for the drug. Some of the effects of long term use include the following:

  • Aggressive and violent behavior
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Memory problems
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Snorting cocaine can cause a stuffy or runny nose and chronic snorting can cause a rupture of the membrane in the nose causing blood noses
  • Cocaine may also harm the health and development of infants born to women who use cocaine during pregnancy
  • Injecting cocaine puts the user at risk of contracting AIDS, bacterial infections, hepatitis and other diseases, particularly when injecting equipment is shared or not sterile

People using cocaine and crack put themselves at risk of death every time they use. Cocaine can kill a person in the following ways:

  • Heart attack – cocaine raises the heart rate and constricts the arteries. The heart has less oxygen than it needs to operate and this may cause a heart attack.
  • Stroke – cocaine increases blood pressure and may cause the blood vessels in the brain to burst. This is a stroke.
  • Cardiac arrest – Cocaine can disrupt the brain’s electrical message to the heart. The heart beats inconsistently and cannot be regulated, resulting in a possible cardiac arrest.
  • Overdose – drop in heart rate, slowing of breathing and circulation, unconsciousness. The amount needed for an overdose is unknown and is different for everyone.

Some research has shown that if a woman who is pregnant uses cocaine, her developing baby is more likely to have delayed development and learning problems, which continue during school. Other research has not shown a developmental problem.


Withdrawal from cocaine may produce similar symptoms to those of someone withdrawing from amphetamines, but for a shorter period. Withdrawal symptoms may include depressed mood, fatigue, disturbed sleep or dreaming, and suicidal thoughts. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms are gone after nearly 24 hours. However, the person may experience a few days of feeling depressed, guilt, and craving for the drug.

Because cocaine is so addictive, it will make giving up very difficult. If you want to stop, talk to someone you can trust (who is not using) about wanting to give up. If there is no one close to you that you can talk to, see a counselor and ask for advice on dealing with quitting. You do not have to give up alone. There may even be a support group or organization to help you through.

Marijuana Abuse

Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. It is a dry, shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The main active chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; THC for short.

How is Marijuana Abused?

Marijuana AbuseMarijuana is usually smoked as a cigarette (joint) or in a pipe. It is also smoked in blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with marijuana. Since the blunt retains the tobacco leaf used to wrap the cigar, this mode of delivery combines marijuana’s active ingredients with nicotine and other harmful chemicals. Marijuana can also be mixed in food or brewed as a tea. As a more concentrated, resinous form it is called hashish, and as a sticky black liquid, hash oil.* Marijuana smoke has a pungent and distinctive, usually sweet-and-sour odor.

How Does Marijuana Affect the Brain?

Scientists have learned a great deal about how THC acts in the brain to produce its many effects. When someone smokes marijuana, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body.

THC acts upon specific sites in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors, kicking off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the “high” that users experience when they smoke marijuana. Some brain areas have many cannabinoid receptors; others have few or none. The highest density of cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thoughts, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.

Not surprisingly, marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory. Research has shown that marijuana’s adverse impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off.2 As a result, someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time.

Research on the long-term effects of marijuana abuse indicates some changes in the brain similar to those seen after long-term abuse of other major drugs. For example, cannabinoid withdrawal in chronically exposed animals leads to an increase in the activation of the stress-response system and changes in the activity of nerve cells containing dopamine. Dopamine neurons are involved in the regulation of motivation and reward, and are directly or indirectly affected by all drugs of abuse.

Addictive Potential

Long-term marijuana abuse can lead to addiction; that is, compulsive drug seeking and abuse despite its known harmful effects upon social functioning in the context of family, school, work, and recreational activities. Long-term marijuana abusers trying to quit report irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, all of which make it difficult to quit. These withdrawal symptoms begin within about 1 day following abstinence, peak at 2–3 days, and subside within 1 or 2 weeks following drug cessation.

Marijuana and Mental Health

A number of studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and schizophrenia. Some of these studies have shown age at first use to be a factor, where early use is a marker of vulnerability to later problems. However, at this time, it not clear whether marijuana use causes mental problems, exacerbates them, or is used in attempt to self-medicate symptoms already in existence. Chronic marijuana use, especially in a very young person, may also be a marker of risk for mental illnesses, including addiction, stemming from genetic or environmental vulnerabilities, such as early exposure to stress or violence. At the present time, the strongest evidence links marijuana use and schizophrenia and/or related disorders6. High doses of marijuana can produce an acute psychotic reaction, and research suggests that in vulnerable individuals, marijuana use may be a factor that increases risk for the disease.

What Other Adverse Effect Does Marijuana Have on Health?

Effects on the Heart

One study found that an abuser’s risk of heart attack more than quadruples in the first hour after smoking marijuana. The researchers suggest that such an outcome might occur from marijuana’s effects on blood pressure and heart rate (it increases both) and reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of blood.

Effects on the Lungs

Numerous studies have shown marijuana smoke to contain carcinogens and to be an irritant to the lungs. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke. Marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, which further increases the lungs’ exposure to carcinogenic smoke. Marijuana smokers show dysregulated growth of epithelial cells in their lung tissue, which could lead to cancer; however, a recent case-controlled study found no positive associations between marijuana use and lung, upper respiratory, or upper digestive tract cancers. Thus, the link between marijuana smoking and these cancers remains unsubstantiated at this time.

Nonetheless, marijuana smokers can have many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness, a heightened risk of lung infections, and a greater tendency toward obstructed airways. A study of 450 individuals found that people who smoke marijuana frequently but do not smoke tobacco have more health problems and miss more days of work than nonsmokers. Many of the extra sick days among the marijuana smokers in the study were for respiratory illnesses.

Effects on Daily Life

Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person’s existing problems worse. In one study, heavy marijuana abusers reported that the drug impaired several important measures of life achievement including physical and mental health, cognitive abilities, social life, and career status.11 Several studies associate workers’ marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover.

Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol affects people differently depending on their size, sex, body build, and metabolism. General effects of alcohol are a feeling of warmth, flushed skin, impaired judgment, decreased inhibitions, lack of muscular in coordination, slurred speech, and memory and comprehension loss. In states of extreme intoxication, vomiting is likely to occur and may be accompanied by incontinence, poor respiration, and a fall in blood pressure. In cases of severe alcohol poisoning coma and death can occur.

Drinking heavily over a short period of time usually results in a “hangover” – headache, nausea, shakiness, and sometimes vomiting. These side effects begin from 8 to 12 hours later. A hangover is due partly to poisoning by alcohol and other components of the drink, and partly to the body’s reaction to withdrawal from alcohol.

Combining alcohol with other drugs can make the effects of these other drugs much stronger and more dangerous. Many accidental deaths have occurred after people have used alcohol combined with other drugs. Cannabis, tranquillizers, barbiturates, sleeping pills, or antihistamines (in cold, cough, and allergy remedies) should not be taken with alcohol. Even a small amount of alcohol with any of these drugs can seriously impair a person’s ability to drive a car or make sound decisions.

People who drink on a regular basis become tolerant to many of the unpleasant effects of alcohol, and thus are able to drink more before suffering these effects. Yet even with increased consumption, many such drinkers don’t appear intoxicated. Because they continue to work and socialize reasonably well, their deteriorating physical condition may go unrecognized by others until severe damage develops. It may take hospitalization for unrelated reasons for alcohol abuse to show up as they suddenly experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Psychological dependence on alcohol may occur with regular use of even relatively moderate daily amounts. It may also occur in people who consume alcohol only under certain conditions, such as before and during social occasions. This form of dependence refers to a craving for alcohol’s psychological effects, although not necessarily in amounts that produce serious intoxication. For psychologically dependent drinkers, the lack of alcohol tends to make them anxious and in some cases even panicky.

Physical dependence occurs in consistently heavy drinkers. Since their bodies have adapted to the presence of alcohol, they suffer withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop drinking. Withdrawal symptoms may include jumpiness, sleeplessness, sweating, and poor appetite, to tremors (the “shakes”), convulsions. hallucinations. and sometimes death.

Alcohol abuse can take a negative toll on people’s lives, fostering violence or a deterioration of personal relationships. Alcoholic behavior can interfere with school or career goals and lead to unemployment.

Long term alcohol abuse poses a variety of health risks, such as liver damage and an increased risk for heart disease. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome may result from a pregnant woman’s use of alcohol. This condition causes facial abnormalities in the child, as well as growth retardation and brain damage. Fetal Alcohol Syndrom is often manifested by intellectual difficulties or behavioral problems.

It is the concentration of alcohol in the blood that causes the effects. In the following table, the left-hand column lists the number of milligrams of alcohol in each deciliter of blood – that is, the blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. (For example, an average person may get a blood alcohol concentration of 50 mg/dL after two drinks consumed quickly.) The right-hand column describes the usual effects of these amounts on normal people – those who haven’t developed a tolerance to alcohol.


Meth, speed, Tina, dope, go, etc increases arousal in the central nervous system by pumping up levels of two neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and dopamine. When taken at low doses, it boosts alertness while blocking hunger and fatigue. At higher doses, it causes exhilaration and euphoria. At very high doses, meth can cause agitation, paranoia, and bizarre behavior. Physical effects include increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and elevated body temperature.

Widely available in the 1960’s, meth faded in the ’70s, as controls were tightened on legal production, which reduced its diversion onto the black market. But in the early ’90s, meth made a huge comeback. Since then its popularity has been rising and it is currently the most widely abused deadly drug used.

Risks of using meth are so extreme because the drug works so well at over-loading the central nervous system and zapping feelings of hunger and fatigue. Meth users take the drug for days and sometimes weeks on end without food or rest, putting impossible demands on their bodies and brains. For needle users, there are the added hazards that come with injecting any drug. And for meth smokers, multiply it all by the still largely-unknown risk factor of exposing lung tissue to vaporized meth crystals. Meth, more than any other drug pushes the mind and body faster and further than either was meant to go.

All across the United States meth addiction is running rampant. During 1999 4.3% (9.4 million people) of the U.S. population reported trying meth at least once in their lifetime. The highest rate of meth use was among adults ages 18-25. Although meth use is an epidemic across the United States, nowhere is it a bigger problem that in the Midwest. Meth accounts for nearly 90% of all drug cases in the Midwest, and is most prevalent in Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, meth is surpassing cocaine as the drug of choice. The state medical examiner’s office reports the number of death cases testing positive for meth have been higher than cocaine for the past three years. The office also reports meth is found in more and more cases of homicides, and motor vehicle accidents.

Psychological meth addiction is due to its tight hold on the individual’s pleasure center. As time goes by, meth begins to rule over the individual’s life, demanding attention at all times. This in turn leads them to resent circumstances when they are unable to use meth, such as with non-using friends, work, school, and family. As this resentment builds the individual will push others away who no longer “fit” into their desired lifestyle. No one wants to be a meth addict, but this doesn’t stop people from getting addicted.


Heroin has made a comeback. As if the current epidemic of prescription painkillers wasn’t enough, addicts are finding pure heroin cheaper and easier to get than ever before. As a result heroin is getting more and more media attention.

With pharmaceutical companies reformulating painkillers so they are more difficult to abuse, people are turning to the street drug heroin for a stronger, more affordable high. Here is what a former addict had to say about the influx of heroin in San Diego:

“I had been in a car accident in February (2012) and was put on Loritab and Roxicodone (Oxycodone) by my doctor. After a while it just got too expensive and too degrading to always go to the doctor and beg for refills. So I knew this guy. It seemed like more and more of my friends were doing this thing (heroin) and I could pay so much less for a big bag of tar. No doctors, no insurance to explain things to. Just meet a guy and get high all the time. Heroin is everywhere. I used to think it was this legendary thing of nightmares. Now, it’s more common than anything else. Even pot.”
-MD San Diego

Heroin in its pure form is a white powder with a bitter taste. However, most heroin varies in color from white to dark brown. “Black tar” heroin is sticky like roofing tar or hard like coal, and its color may vary from dark brown to black. Users administer heroin by injecting, smoking, or snorting it.

Heroin comes to America through foreign sources of opium. Production of this drug occurs in South America, Mexico, Southeast Asia, and Southwest Asia. Nationwide, in 2000, South American heroin ranged from $50,000 to $200,000 per kilogram. At that time, southeast and southwest Asian heroin ranged in price from $40,000 to $190,000 per kilogram. Wholesale-level prices for Mexican heroin were the lowest of any type, ranging from $13,200 to $175,000 per kilogram. Prices are different depending on who the buyer and seller are, how much is purchased, how often it is purchased, how pure it is and how much it costs to transport the drug.

Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is derived from morphine. Morphine comes from the opium poppy. Opiate drugs such as heroin slow down the activity of the central nervous system and messages going to and from the brain and parts of the body. This includes physical, mental and emotional responses. The side effects of heroin include: euphoria, drowsiness, apathy, nausea and vomiting, slurred speech, constricted pupils, decreased physical activity, convulsions, respiratory depression, and greater susceptibility to infection. The risks of taking heroin also include contracting hepatitis or AIDS from infected needles, entering a coma, and death.

Heroin addiction is a serious and life threatening problem. It can occur very quickly among abusers who use heroin on a regular basis. This is due to the fact that tolerance develops upon repeated use of the drug. Users suddenly find that they are using more and more heroin to achieve the same high that they originally felt. Heroin affects the user’s brain in regions that produce euphoric sensations as well as physical dependence. This drug is notorious for its ability to produce both psychological and physical addiction. Chronic heroin users will experience withdrawal symptoms when heroin use is discontinued. Heroin overdose is responsible for the majority of accidental drug related deaths in the U.S.

During 2000, there were approximately 146,000 new heroin users in the United States. The average age of those who first used heroin during the year was 22 years. According to the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, approximately 3.1 million (1.4 percent) Americans age 12 or older had tried heroin at least once in their lifetime, 456,000 (0.2 percent) used heroin in the past year, and 123,000 (0.1 percent) reported past month heroin use. Results from the 2002 Monitoring the Future Study show that 1.6% of 8th graders, 1.8% of 10th graders, and 1.7% of 12th graders surveyed reported using heroin at least once during their lifetimes.

The Mechanics of Addiction

In depth information on addiction by Gary W. Smith

Whether a person is genetically or bio-chemically predisposed to addiction or alcoholism is a controversy that has been debated for years within the scientific, medical and chemical dependency communities. One school of thought advocates the “disease concept”, which embraces the notion that addiction is an inherited disease, and that the individual is permanently ill at a genetic level, even for those experiencing long periods of sobriety.

Another philosophy argues that addiction is a dual problem consisting of a physical and mental dependency on chemicals, compounded by a pre-existing mental disorder (i.e. clinical depression, bipolar disorder, or some other mental illness), and that the mental disorder needs to be treated first as the primary cause of the addiction. A third philosophy subscribes to the idea that chemical dependency leads to “chemical imbalances” in the neurological system.

The fact remains that there is scientific research to support all of these concepts, but that none of these theories are absolute. Based on national averages we have a 16% to 20% recovery rate. The message is clear that we have a lot more to learn if we are to bring the national recovery rate to a more desirable level.

There is a 4th school of thought, which has proven to be more accurate. It has to do with the life cycle of addiction. This data is universally applicable to addiction, no matter which hypothesis is used to explain the phenomenon of chemical dependency.

The life cycle of addiction begins with a problem, discomfort or some form of emotional or physical pain a person is experiencing. The person finds this very difficult to deal with.

Here is an individual who, like most people in our society, is basically good. He has encountered a problem or discomfort that he does not have the ability to resolve. This could include problems such as difficulty “fitting in” as a child or teenager, anxiety due to peer pressure, identity problems or divorce as an adult. It could also include physical discomfort, such as a broken arm or a bad back.

The person experiencing the discomfort has a real problem. He feels this problem is a major situation that persists and he can see no immediate resolution or relief from it.

We have all experienced this in our lives to a greater or lesser degree. The difference between which one of us becomes an addict and which one does not depends on whether or not, at the time of this traumatic experience, we are subjected to pro-drug or alcohol influences via some sort of significant peer pressure when the problem is manifesting itself. The painkilling effects of drugs or alcohol become a solution to the discomfort because the person experiences relief from the negative feeling associated with the problem.

As soon as the addict experiences relief from the discomfort, he inadvertently attaches value to the drug or drink, because it helped him feel better. Even though the relief is only temporary, it is adopted as a solution to the problem and this assigned value is the only reason the person ever uses drugs or drinks a second, third or more times. At this point, it is just a matter of time before the person becomes fully addicted and loses the ability to control their drug use.

Part Two – The Barriers to Successful Recovery

Once an addict has been through treatment there are three main reasons for relapse: 1) mental and physical cravings; 2) depression; and 3) guilt associated with the moral degradation and dishonesty that becomes part of an addict’s life style. These manifestations can haunt someone for years after they have sobered up and more times than not, if left untreated, will trigger a relapse. These unresolved symptoms, whether physical or mental in origin, create an underlying, low-level type of stress, which cannot be completely ignored by the addict. The addict can “just say no” a thousand times, but it only takes him saying “yes” one time to start the cycle of addiction again.

The first barrier to successful recovery from substance abuse is overcoming the mental and physical cravings for the drug of choice. Drugs and alcohol are broken down and filtered in the liver. There is a byproduct from this detoxification process called a metabolite. These protein-based metabolites can and do find their way into the person’s body fat. Keep in mind that each time anyone has ever used a drug or alcohol, they have a complete recorded memory of that life experience. Whether good times or bad, happy or sad, all emotions, feelings and sensations that were present at the time the drug or alcohol was ingested is filed away in the person’s memory. Even if a person is in a blackout, the experience is still recorded in the mind. So each metabolite is connected to a memory of the life experience related in some way to the drugs or alcohol at the time they were consumed.

The body will metabolize and burn fat any time a person undergoes a life experience that causes the heart rate to speed up. Stress can do this, as can strenuous exercise or intense emotion. We all experience these things on a fairly regular basis.

When an addict experiences these life situations and their heart rate speeds up the body begins to mobilize and burn fat. The fat contains toxins or metabolites from past alcohol and drug use. As the fat cell burns, it releases the metabolite back into the person’s blood stream.

The metabolite is a byproduct of the drug. That metabolite is connected to the memory of the life experience in which the drug or alcohol was taken. The toxin finds its way back into the blood stream and acts as both a physical and mental reminder of the drug or alcohol consumption. It also acts as a reminder of the emotional effect the person experienced after consumption.

In short, the toxin re-enters the blood and triggers or stimulates a physical reminder of the drug or alcohol and the memory of feelings, thoughts, sensations and emotions connected to that experience. The person remembers feeling and thinking like they did in the past when they were under the influence and so are prone to relapse at these times.

The reactive compulsion to continue to use drugs or alcohol is, in part, caused by the drug’s interaction with the body’s natural chemistry. Some of the body’s natural chemicals act as a built-in reward system that encourages us to eat exercise and procreate. Other natural body chemicals act as natural painkillers that activate when we physically injure ourselves. In short the natural chemicals are directly related to our physical survival and or well-being.

As a person’s addiction develops the brain and body identify the drug as an aid that either enhance the release of or replace these natural chemicals. As the person starts to use chemicals on a regular basis, the body becomes depleted of key nutrients and amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks for natural chemicals called neurotransmitters. These nutritional deficiencies prevent the body from receiving the nutritional energy necessary to produce the natural chemicals. The brain gets fooled as it has identified the drug or drink as an aid to releasing or replacing the natural chemicals. This is what causes the uncontrolled compulsion an addict feels to continue to use. This compulsion is so strong within the individual that the desire to use more drugs or drink overrides the negative and often times life-threatening consequences an addict is faced with on a day to day basis. The drug or alcohol gets misidentified as an aide to the production and release of the natural chemicals when in fact it is suppressing the body’s ability to manufacture neurotransmitters.

Part Three – The Barriers to Successful Recovery

Guilt is another component in the life cycle of addiction. Most addicts are basically good people before they become addicts and have some sense of right and wrong with no intention of hurting others. As they become dependent on the chemical, they begin experiencing situations where they are doing and saying things they know deep down aren’t right. They begin to lose their ability to control themselves. They become trapped in a vicious circle of using drugs, lying about it, stealing to support more drug use and at each turn the addict is accumulating memories of each these negative incidents.

The addict commits a negative action; he records a memory of that moment, which includes whoever he was involved with at the time. The addict knows these negative actions are wrong and so feels bad about them after the fact.

These memories of guilt can then get triggered in the present or future when he sees the people and places that were involved when the transgressions were committed in and they feel bad about it. In time these transgressions are committed more and more often and the people in the addict’s life where these transgressions have occurred become “triggers” of the dishonest act or deed. The people, family members, loved ones and friend’s appearance to the addict triggers the guilt. Family or friends don’t necessarily have to say a word to the addict; just the sight of them can trigger the guilt. To avoid these unpleasant guilt feelings, the addict will use more drugs to insulate himself from the guilt.

The addict will also begin to withdraw more and more from friends and family as the transgressions committed by the addict increase in number. They will eventually pull away from the family, seclude themselves and/or become antagonistic towards those they love.

Part Four – Overcoming the Barriers to Recovery

Cravings, depression and guilt make up the harness that keeps an addict in the downward spiral of drug addiction. In almost all cases these symptoms are generated after a long term of substance abuse.

So then what is the best approach to tear down these barriers to successful recovery? Remember cravings are the first barrier to recovery. These are caused by drug or alcohol residues that store primarily in body fat in the form of metabolites. And as mentioned in an earlier article, metabolites are the byproduct of the body trying to digest and breakdown the toxin once ingested into the system. These metabolites are connected to memories the addict has of the time and experience associated with ingestion of the chemical. These metabolites will activate at times when the addict’s metabolism increases. Once the metabolite activates, an uncontrollable urge to use more drugs overcomes the addict. The active metabolite triggers or reminds the addict at a physical and mental level of drug use.

There are a number of methods that are being used today to address the fat storage aspect of drugs. Some include intravenous ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) treatments another is fasting. More and more we are seeing the emphasis being shifted to holistic treatments as a significant component of substance abuse treatment planning. One of the most effective means of ridding the body of drug metabolites has proven to be the use of aerobic exercise combined with a nutritional program that utilizes Vitamin B3 (niacin) and extended periods of sweating in a dry sauna. This detoxification method was researched and developed by L. Ron Hubbard in 1978 and has helped increase the rate of recovery by eliminating the physical triggers that create drug cravings. It is this process called The New Life Detoxification Program that is utilized at the Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program.

Depression is another one of the barriers to recovery. The depression an addict experiences is two fold. There is a chemical imbalance that drug and alcohol abuse creates in the body. Drug and alcohol abuse inhibits the production of natural body chemicals and in some cases replaces them. This impacts the natural reward system that encourages our physical well-being or eliminates pain after an injury. This biophysical aspect of the chemical imbalance present in drug abusers is driven by nutritional efficiencies that occur when someone uses drugs or alcohol on a regular basis. In most cases the emotional depression that an addict experiences follows after a person comes off drugs or alcohol not before. This is because of the declining quality of life an addict experiences and a decayed state of health. In most cases an addict has alienated themselves from family members and loved ones. There is often criminal behavior that comes about from the need for money to purchase drugs. Depending on the degree and type of drug abuse an addict frequently finds himself in trouble with the law. Addicts don’t want these situations to occur but cannot control the circumstances in their lives. As broken relationships or legal problems develop, the addict feels down or bad about these situations and will display characteristics of depression or lethargy.

Remember that all addicts are basically good people before the addiction begins. They start encountering problems brought on by their addiction. Then they get involved in the arduous task of trying to hide or cover up the deeds that led to these problems. At this point they begin to feel guilty. This guilt then causes the addict to withdraw from family, loved ones and friends or they will become antagonistic towards those close to them who do not abuse drugs or alcohol. This anti-social behavior is a direct result of his or her wrong doings and dishonest life style.

In order to remove these barriers to successfully recovery, addicts must experience a positive change in moral values. They must get honest-which is probably the toughest part of recovery. As a general rule people do not enjoy admitting their wrongs. This process is particularly difficult for the person who is addicted. However, the age-old basic premise of effective counseling still holds true – “confession is good for the soul.” This is certainly true in remedying drug or alcohol addiction. If an addicted person can confess honestly their sins and can make up the damage that was done by committing these sins, he will experience tremendous relief. They will not feel guilty any longer and will be able to better calculate how to improve their quality of life.

Part Five – Overcoming the Barriers to Recovery

There are different methods utilized in substance abuse counseling to bring about positive moral change in an addict. Probably one of the most commonly used is the 12 Step approach practiced by the Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous groups. In this method steps 4 and 5 and steps 8 and 9 deal with life inventory of the wrong deeds done and who was effected by them. In addition to this the addict then makes up the damage done as a result of these negative actions. This method is effective in recovery so long as the person’s addiction has not progressed to the point where the individual has lost his or her ability to confront and communicate or to identify and solve problems. If an addiction persists long enough, an addict will lose even the basic social skills needed to perform in group therapy and to admit their wrong doing. In cases where drug addiction began in the adolescent years, individuals have not had the opportunity to develop these life skills. As a result, they do not perform as well in a 12 step program or other traditional treatment settings. In these cases the addict needs to be educated or reeducated in these basic life skills before there can be any real hope of success in raising moral standards and permanent sobriety.

When conventional approaches are not working with a drug addicted person there are effective alternatives to pursue in recovery before one gives up. What has not proven effective is substitute drug treatment e.g. methadone, anti-depressants or other prescribed medications designed to mask the symptoms of addiction mentioned in this article. This in effect just trades one addiction for another. It does not aid the addicted person in developing the life skills necessary to raise their moral values or their quality of life. Nor does it provide them with the necessary tools to remain sober and so relapse becomes immanent.

One effective alternative method to recovery is the life skills training and moral inventory used by the Narconon program. This program provides a specific course of treatment which includes training in communication, a full body detoxification process, counseling in problem identification and solving, as well as counseling in personal values and integrity. These programs help individuals to accomplish heightened moral standards and sobriety with an improved quality of life.

Over 30 years ago author and researcher L. Ron Hubbard identified the basic barriers to successful recovery which have been discussed throughout this series of articles on addiction. Through his research he developed a means of treating them successfully. When Narconon was founded in 1969 by William Benitez it was based on Mr. Hubbard’s research and developments in the field of drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Benitez developed a working relationship with Hubbard and together they established the first Narconon program in Arizona.

Narconon has been using this treatment method successfully for over 30 years. It has only been within the last 5 or 6 years that the scientific and medical research have caught up with these methods of treating addiction. It is now acknowledged by the medical community that drugs do store in the body in the form of metabolites and that the chemical imbalances created by drug addiction are nutritionally driven. Further nutritional program components have been added to just about every type of treatment method and is recognized as a valid form of therapy in chemical dependency treatment.

If you now someone in need of help, I recommend that you research all of your treatment options. Take the time to thoroughly inspect the treatment program available. Determine how these programs address the mechanics of addiction. Find out what their long term recovery rate is. Drug rehabilitation does not have to be a revolving door if you take the time and effort to pick the right recovery program.


The Solution to Addiction

The Narconon Colorado success rate is so much higher than other programs simply because we use a time tested, unique 4-phase approach to fully rehabilitate the drug addiction and the desire to use drugs to escape in the first place:

Phase I: Our Sauna Based, Drug-Free Detox Program to rid the body of drug residuals.
Phase II: Special Educational Therapies designed to gently assist the addict to self-control.
Phase III: Additional Educational Therapies to rehab self-esteem and cure the need for drugs.
Phase IV: A Follow-Up Program to assist the former addict back into society.

The cornerstone of the Narconon Colorado approach is our Sauna Based Detox Program. Street drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol and other drugs can remain in the body for years. These residues can trigger a variety of symptoms, including drug cravings and depression. An exact program of medically supervised exercise, dry sauna sweating and vitamins, rid fatty tissues of these residues. The result is the person no longer experiences the adverse effects of the drugs they have taken in the past.

Following the Detox Program, Narconon Colorado uses effective Educational Therapies to restore the former addict’s ability to focus on real life goals and to return a level of self-control to the individual. This greatly improves the former addicts’ ability to face the realities of life and reduce the need for drugs to escape the difficulties of life.

In order to further improve the life skills of the former addict, Narconon Colorado incorperates additional Educational Therapies to rehabilitate their self-esteem. Often, an addict commits harmful acts, both to themselves and their loved ones, that traps them into further drug use. After completing this phase of the program, the student has a restored sense of self-worth and finds it much easier to confront life problems.

Narconon Colorado’s final phase is a comprehensive long-term Discharge Program designed to assist the student through the first year of recovery. This is accomplished through regular contact with the student and family members. This creates the ideal situation that facilitates the effective re-introduction of the individual back into society and leading a new drug free life. Narconon Colorado not only teaches people how to stay away from drugs, but how to live happy and successful lives so that there is no longer any desire to use drugs. Many of Narconon Colorado’s Graduates experience a re-birth into a new life of renewed hope after completing the program.

Most drug rehabs are designed to last for a specified period of time, usually 30 days. This obviously means that those designing and running these programs believe that they can predict, with certainty, when an addict will be “cured”. Narconon Colorado understands that each case is different. No-one can predict, with certainty, precisely how long it will take to fully handle any individual addict’s problem. Therefore, the Narconon Colorado program is designed to take as long as it takes, at a flat rate charge. In fact, the average duration of the Narconon Colorado program is between 3 and 5 months. However, each individual is different from each other one, and the Narconon Colorado program takes as long as necessary to insure that the addict gets the full benefit of the program.

Obviously, a successful drug rehab program which “takes as long as it takes” and whose results are unconditionally guaranteed must cost a tremendous amount. But, again, Narconon Colorado is different from virtually all of the “for profit” rehab centers. Narconon Colorado is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) public benefit organization. The cost of the Narconon Colorado program is extremely competitive. We offer our all-inclusive experience for one flat rate. This includes all in-facility living expenses, medical assistance costs, educational materials and drug detox expenses for whatever period of time is required for you or your loved one to fully complete our unique drug rehabilitation program. We can also bill insurance companies directly and offer easy financing options. Contact us for more details.