Category Archives: Addiction

Signs of Drug Use

Contrary to popular belief, addiction does not signify a flawed moral compass. It’s a brain disease that can affect anyone, whether they use drugs recreationally or with a doctor’s prescription. Knowing these warning signs can help you identify whether your loved one may be abusing drugs and risking harmful consequences.

1. Tolerance

A growing tolerance is one of the earliest warning signs of drug use. This condition occurs when someone becomes accustomed to having drugs in their system, and their brain’s reward circuits have rewired themselves to expect a baseline level of intoxication. At that point, the user will need to take more drugs to achieve their desired results. That’s why even prescription drugs can be addictive, especially when people start taking higher-than-intended doses or using them in off-label ways, like injecting or snorting them.

2. Withdrawal

When someone abuses drugs, they’ll gradually become physically and psychologically dependent on their substance of use. Then, they’ll eventually experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit, which are some of the most telltale signs of drug use. Your loved one’s withdrawal symptoms can be severe, and might include mood swings, body aches, nausea, insomnia and seizures.

3. Financial Issues

Maintaining a drug habit can be expensive. As his addiction worsens, your loved one might spend more than he can afford on drugs, going into debt or neglecting to pay bills, taxes or child support. He might also have problems keeping his job if he chronically shows up late or has multiple unexplained absences from work, further contributing to his financial difficulties.

4. Relationship Problems

The secrecy, deception and isolation required to maintain a worsening substance use disorder can all drive a wedge between a drug user and the people who care about him. Ultimately, someone with the disease of addiction will lose all interest in other hobbies, instead preferring to prioritize their substance of use. His friend group may dwindle until the only close relationships he has left are with his drug buddies, or he might prefer to use drugs alone and in private because he’s trying to hide how severe his habit has become.

5. Worsening Mental Health

People with addiction are more likely to develop mental health problems, and vice versa. If your loved one struggles with illnesses such as anxiety, depression, OCD or PTSD, using drugs could seem like a temporary escape from his symptoms. Sadly, this misguided coping mechanism will eventually make his mental health worse.

Help Is Here for You

If your loved one is showing any of these signs of drug use and you are seeking a solution, PACE Recovery Center can help. We designed our Orange County residential rehab program specifically to help men overcome a dual diagnosis of addiction and mental illness and live healthy, drug-free lives.

We offer a complete continuum of care for substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders, treating the whole client and setting your loved one up for a lifetime of success. Our accredited team is waiting to help someone you care about experience the freedom that comes with lifelong, purpose-focused sobriety. Take the next step by contacting us today.

Is Vyvanse Addictive?

Severe ADHD is frequently treated with prescription amphetamines, one such being Vyvanse (chemical name lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, also prescribed for narcolepsy and binge-eating disorder). The medication comes in pill form, formulated to improve concentration.

Prescription Drug Abuse

A problem common to most prescription drugs is that a number of patients become dissatisfied with the original prescription for not delivering everything they’d hoped for: not working “fast enough” or “thoroughly enough,” or losing some of its original effect over time. When that happens, people may decide (without their doctor’s permission or knowledge) to begin crushing pills and “snorting” the powder, or by dissolving the pills and injecting the solution.

These alternate channels do produce faster and more intense results. They also produce highly undesirable side effects:

  • “Snorting” can damage the nasal membranes and respiratory system.
  • Injecting scars the skin, bruises the veins, and (if the needle is not properly sterilized) spreads disease.
  • Either approach encourages stronger and more frequent doses, which is often a fast route to physical tolerance, dependence, and ultimately addiction.

How Does Vyvanse Work?

One advantage of Vyvanse is that it eliminates the option of snorting or injecting for stronger effect. Vyvanse is a “prodrug,” meaning that its active ingredients are released only in reaction with gastrointestinal enzymes, i.e., when the medication is taken orally and enters the digestive system.

Introduced into the body by any other channel, Vyvanse remains an inert substance with little or no perceptible effect. Hence it was the first medication to receive FDA approval for being labeled “abuse resistant.”

Vyvanse Misuse: Still a Concern

Unfortunately, while the prodrug design may prevent snorting or injection, it can’t block the channel most misusers start with: taking more pills than prescribed. A larger oral dose may not produce much of a “rush,” but it will have a stronger effect, which is good enough for someone whose main goal is to get extra amphetamine for working longer or losing weight. While individual doctors can deny prescriptions or refills in an effort to limit someone’s Vyvanse supply, many people just go to additional doctors, forge prescriptions, or even request prescriptions for nonexistent ADHD. Or they switch to other amphetamines that are amenable to snorting and injecting.

It’s also worth noting that some people do attempt to snort Vyvanse—if only to confirm that getting a “high” that way is impossible—and this in itself can hurt the nose and respiratory organs. Sometimes, especially if someone experiences a “placebo-effect” high and develops the habit of regular Vyvanse snorting, introducing a foreign substance into the body can trigger vertigo, motor tics, facial swelling, vision problems, or even heart trouble.

What to Do?

The common-sense way to avoid these dangers is to take Vyvanse (if you take it at all) strictly according to prescription—and, if dissatisfied with the results, to get advice from your doctor before doing anything else. However, don’t berate yourself if you’ve already slipped into misuse. These things happen, and getting down on yourself will only make it harder to find your footing again.

In addition to coming clean with your prescribing doctor about any Vyvanse misuse, see an addiction medicine specialist if:

  • You’ve even considered trying to snort or inject the drug, or obtain any Vyvanse through covert means
  • You’re tempted to try other amphetamines because Vyvanse isn’t “doing the job” anymore
  • You’ve tried to cut back on your Vyvanse use, but always seem to give in to temptation
  • You’ve ever had symptoms of amphetamine overdose or withdrawal.

Whether it starts with a Vyvanse prescription or something else, amphetamine addiction needn’t be a life sentence—but it’s rarely something anyone can beat alone, especially while simultaneously battling ADHD or another co-occurring disorder. Get professional help, and hold on to hope for the future. Recovery is always an option!

Find Help at PACE Recovery

If you’re a young man who’s used prescription medications outside of medical instructions, and is now struggling with compulsive dependence on those medications, PACE Recovery can help. We understand your unique needs, and we’ll show you how to take your life back.

Our motto is “Positive Attitude Changes Everything.” Contact us for more information or to request an appointment.

Fentanyl Interactions

A generation or two ago, heroin was the most dangerous of commonly abused opiates and opioids. Today, that dubious honor belongs to fentanyl—a synthetic opioid with 50 times the potency of heroin, developed in 1959 but first becoming a major concern in the 2010s. As a medicine, fentanyl is used in carefully measured doses for anesthesia and pain management. As a clandestinely distributed product, it is responsible for tens of thousands of overdose deaths every year. It’s not always fentanyl alone that causes such tragedies. Many dangerous effects are due to consuming this substance with other drugs. Learn the facts about fentanyl interactions.

Alcohol and Fentanyl: Interactions

Most medical prescriptions include warnings about not combining with certain other drugs, lest the medication’s effect be diminished or dangerously magnified. Many drugs are dangerous to take at all for the duration of certain prescription periods.

Fentanyl is no exception to the rule. If you receive it as a medical prescription, your doctor and pharmacist will likely warn against certain other drugs that could trigger potentially harmful interactions.

  • Consuming fentanyl with stimulants can trigger blurry vision, extreme drowsiness, mental confusion, paranoia, and/or dangerously intense euphoria.
  • Taking fentanyl with alcohol or other depressants can magnify the opioid’s relaxant effect, causing irregular body functions, dangerously slowed breathing, or coma.
  • Methadone, an opioid used in some medication-assisted treatments for heroin and fentanyl addiction, also interferes with the effects of medical fentanyl. Plus, mixing fentanyl with other opioids may risk triggering serotonin syndrome, a dangerous and sometimes lethal condition characterized by overstimulated body functions and by shivering, sweating, diarrhea, extreme restlessness, and/or mental confusion.
  • Serotonin syndrome is also associated with certain antidepressants as well as over-the-counter supplements. (Since most supplements are not required to include detailed warning labels covering every risk, it pays to do independent research and consult your doctor before taking a supplement, especially if you are on any form of medication.)

The Perils of Unknown Substances

Worse than potential fentanyl interactions in known drug combinations, is illegally purchased street “fentanyl” that may include any number of cheaper substances added to stretch a supply. Even if inert in themselves, these substances increase the risk of overdose for users, who are never sure how much fentanyl they’re actually taking.

A more common danger, however, is purchasing “heroin” or “cocaine” without knowing that the mixture actually contains substantial amounts of fentanyl. To illegal drug vendors, adding this filler is an easy way to increase supplies at less expense for more profit. For buyers, it’s a dangerous game with life-or-death stakes:

  • Fentanyl being 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin, it’s easy for users accustomed to heroin to get a lethal overdose from their “regular” amount.
  • Unknowingly taking fentanyl (a depressant) with cocaine (a stimulant) can wreak havoc on the body’s natural functions, perhaps triggering heart or respiratory failure. In addition, treatment for opioid overdose may be delayed if the presence of fentanyl is unsuspected.
  • Mixing fentanyl with methamphetamine—a stimulant that shares the characteristic of delivering considerable potency in small doses—combines two drugs with extremely high overdose potential, exponentially multiplying the risk.

How to Avoid Dangerous Fentanyl Interactions

For most people, avoiding illegal drugs, and taking any prescription drugs according to instructions, is adequate protection from the danger of fentanyl interactions. If someone is actually addicted to this substance or another drug, however, “just stopping” can be impossible or dangerous.

If you have any suspicion that the use of a drug—prescription or otherwise—is getting out of control, seek medical treatment sooner rather than later. The best time to stop addiction is as soon as possible, before it can do irreparable harm through its interactions with body, brain, and quality of life. 

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery, we provide individualized care and therapy to help our clients recover from addiction to fentanyl and other opiates. (We treat other substance use disorders and mental illnesses as well.) Our program is geared to the specific needs and pressures of the male perspective, making PACE an ideal recovery environment for men who struggle with opening up and facing their weaknesses.

Our motto is “Positive Attitudes Change Everything.” Contact us today to get started on changing your life for the better.

What is the Difference Between Hydrocodone and Oxycodone?

Prescription drugs can provide much-needed support for those recovering from surgery, but in the long term, these substances are incredibly dangerous. Hydrocodone and oxycodone are often prescribed for the treatment of pain, but to the one taking the medication, it can be difficult to know the difference between these drugs.

Knowing the difference between these medications can aid in conversations with doctors, treatment teams, and family members for those who are struggling with addiction. Let’s take a look at the potential effects taking these medications can have.

Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is the second most frequently encountered opioid in drug evidence, and this has been the case since 2009. Used as both a cough suppressant and to treat moderate to severe pain, this drug is the most frequently prescribed opioid in the United States. As this prescription became more accessible, its addictive qualities and side effects have become more evident.

Hydrocodone has been reported to have a euphoric effect. This can create an increased risk of dependence and addiction. Hydrocodone is often misused in combination with alcohol to elevate the effects of the drug, and illicit use affects all age groups, including school-age children. Restrictions on this drug have helped to lessen the number of individuals who take hydrocodone, but it is reported that 4.7 million people over the age of 12 misused the drug in 2020.

Hydrocodone is most commonly found in tablets in the illicit drug market, but it also appears in capsules and liquid form. Drugs that contain hydrocodone are tracked by the federal government to help prevent illicit use, and researchers credit the decrease in illicit hydrocodone use partially to this monitoring system. Hydrocodone is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has been identified as having a high potential for abuse. 

Oxycodone

Oxycodone is often known for its highly addictive qualities and the rapid escalation of abuse of this drug after it entered the market. OxyContin is the most common brand name of oxycodone that has appeared in street forms. Much like hydrocodone, oxycodone is prescribed to relieve moderate to moderately severe pain. Oxycodone is a controlled-release drug, meaning that it is designed to aid in pain management throughout the day and effects should be seen for longer periods of time.

Side effects of oxycodone, such as euphoria, sedation, and respiratory depression, make it a drug that is often misused. This abuse can lead to dependence on the drug and an increased tolerance. Since the 1960’s, the misuse of Oxycodone has been a continuing problem in the United States. It has often been used by heroin users as a way to address symptoms of withdrawal. While there has been a decrease in misuse in the last few years, illicit use of oxycodone is still a vast problem amongst those aged 12 or older, with 3.2 million people misusing the drug in 2020.

This drug is often obtained through forged prescriptions, professional diversion, “doctor shopping,” and robberies of nursing homes and pharmacies. Oxycodone is also a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has highly addictive qualities.

Differences Between Hydrocodone and Oxycodone

Hydrocodone and oxycodone have many similar qualities, but the side effects of each of these drugs is where the main differences lie. Hydrocodone more commonly elicits a side effect of tiredness, and oxycodone often produces constipation and some drowsiness. Depending on what type of release the tablet is (instant release or time release), the effects of the drug on a person will vary. It is more common for opioid users to use oxycodone to achieve a high because it has more easily abused forms of the medication, and it is one of the most common street drugs.

There Is Hope For Addiction

Whether you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to opioids, there is hope and healing available to you at PACE Recovery. Contact us today to discuss our treatment model designed specifically for men.

The Relationship Between College and Substance Use Disorder

Going to college is a major life transition, full of stresses and challenges. Unfortunately, not everyone rises successfully to the challenge—and the problems that arise can be worse than low grades or even dropping out.

  • Seventy-three percent of college students will experience some level of mental health crisis during their higher-education years—about two-thirds of them to the point of psychiatric disorder.
  • Forty-five percent of college students admit to struggling with feelings of hopelessness.
  • Almost one-third struggle with depression that hampers everyday functioning.
  • At least 20 percent use illicit drugs; over 33 percent engage in binge drinking; and nearly half have symptoms of substance use disorder.

And that’s just the students who get into college at all. While the high-school dropout rate in Orange County is low, it’s worth noting that youth who never achieve a diploma or GED are nearly twice as likely as others to develop drug-abuse problems.

Moving Forward

While education is well known for its advantages in building a successful future, college or university also comes with risks of messing up that future—most of these risks stemming from one of two primary causes:

  1. College brings new stresses and pressures to perform. Between large-scale health concerns and the search for balance between in-person and virtual learning, higher education in the early 2020s is proving uniquely stressful. But college has never been an easy transition, being performance- and expectation-based in a way that high school never was. A stressed, frustrated, and discouraged student is extra vulnerable to having a mood disorder surface—and more open to trying drugs as mood improvers or “study aids.”
  1. Many students are separated from familiar support networks, often for the first time ever. For new students at universities far from home, it’ll be months before most see their nuclear families or longtime mentors again in person—and the high school peer crowd has scattered far and wide. Not only is it natural to seek new connections wherever they can be found: the feeling that comes with being newly “on one’s own,” combined with the assumption that no one back home will really know what goes on, is a major trigger for reckless behavior. Small wonder that many university “traditions” involve considerable acting out (for instance, the fraternity-and-sorority population is at high risk for using alcohol and marijuana carelessly, and for developing long-term substance use disorders).

Orange County Higher-Education Options

Being separated from an at-home support network is also a common trigger for relapse in those who have pre-existing mental or behavioral health disorders. For that reason, any prospective college student recovering from struggles in those areas (or having family members with a history of related illnesses) is well advised to consider local colleges and universities for at least the first year or two.

Also recommended:

  • Advance therapy and coaching in preparation for the pressures of higher education
  • A solid action plan for avoiding relapse traps, managing academic pressures, and finding better recreation activities than “party culture”
  • A 12-Step group or other organized peer-support program including fellow students
  • An ongoing relationship with a therapist during college/university years.

If the Orange County/Newport Beach area is your home territory, one good option is Orange Coast College, a Costa Mesa campus in the community-college tradition of providing low-cost education with a focus on the practical aspects of life skills and career development. After completing an associate degree or certification at community-college level, students can continue their education by transferring to a university (now better equipped to manage their studies and resist toxic temptations) or otherwise pursue further education/experience.

Lists of other Orange County colleges and universities are on the PACE Academy/For College Students page, Orange County’s government website, and the Community College Review website. Research carefully, choose wisely, schedule advance tours before final selection—and go forward with a positive attitude and confidence in the future!

Starting Over in Orange County

If you’ve struggled with a drug problem or mental illness, you may fear that your chances of being accepted to any college are already ruined for good. Be assured this doesn’t have to be the case. With proper treatment and a solid plan for the future, anyone can make a fresh start.

PACE Recovery Center not only provides treatment and residential rehab for young men fighting substance abuse and mental disorders, we offer structured planning support for high-school and college-age students whose educational progress has been impaired by behavioral illness. Our higher-education preparation and support program has connections with multiple Orange County colleges and universities. Contact us today to get started on taking your life back. Positive Attitudes Change Everything!

Drugs That Cause Hallucinations

Ingesting certain drugs can cause hallucinations. Hallucinations change your brain’s awareness of its surroundings. In turn, your mind forms images, smells, and sounds that might seem real to you, but they are not. 

Doing them regularly could result in psychotic episodes and other long-term problems. This guide outlines drugs that cause hallucinations, how they affect the brain, symptoms of use, and treatments.

Which Drugs Lead to Hallucinations?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse classifies two types of drugs causing hallucinations: classic and dissociative drugs. Here is a look at some of the drugs that lead to altered mental states:

  • LSD: LSD, also known as D-lysergic acid diethylamide, comes in white or clear material. When someone takes LSD, they go on an acid trip, invoking images of vivid color, inanimate objects moving, and tasting sounds. 
  • Peyote: It is a cactus containing mescaline. People can also synthesize it. After taking it, you can feel like you’re in a dream. Your mind can form hallucinations even with your eyes closed. 
  • DMT: You can find DMT (N,-N-dimethyltryptamine) derived from Ayahuasca, a chemical found in Amazonian plants. People use the chemical to make tea or synthesize it into white powder to smoke. DMT has a reputation for giving its users an intense hallucination. 
  • Psilocybin: It comes from mushrooms found in the United States, Mexico, and South America. After eating them, hallucinations can form within 30 minutes. These include altered realities, feelings of paranoia and confusion, and distortions in sound. 

Meanwhile, there are dissociative drugs, such as PCP, Ketamine, Salvia, and DXM, which can also cause hallucinations.

Are There Side Effects to Taking Drugs Causing Hallucinations?

Yes, users can experience the following symptoms during or after hallucinating:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Paranoia (being afraid of others or surroundings)
  • Sweating
  • Panic
  • Fitful sleep
  • Changes in perception of time
  • Intense sensory experiences (tasting sounds, seeing vivid colors, etc.)

Meanwhile, taking hallucinating drugs could result in psychosis. When a person undergoes a psychotic episode, they might exhibit:

  • Paranoid thoughts
  • Rapid changes in mood or behavior
  • Disconnected thinking and speech

Users might also experience Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder. It is where you can relive drug experiences from your past–even if you do not use them anymore. Your mind can produce flashbacks of hallucinations you encountered. It can occur from a few days to a year or more after using the drug

How are Dissociative Drugs Different?

These drugs present different symptoms, such as numbness, raised blood pressure, memory loss, seizures, amnesia, the inability to move, problems breathing, and mood swings. Moreover, dissociative drugs tend to result in higher overdoses. A person overusing PCP could experience coma, seizures, and ultimately, death. 

Providing a Way Out

Hallucinogenic drugs carry severe side effects that can stay with a person for more than a year after use. If you or someone you know exhibits some of the symptoms outlined in this guide, know that help is here when you’re ready.

We tailor our treatment options to cater exclusively to men’s needs. It includes uncovering the source of why you use it. And helping you develop the coping skills necessary to live a drug-free future. Learn about all the treatment options available to you by contacting the Pace Recovery Center today. 

Drug Crime Statistics

Over 60 percent of people arrested for non-drug crimes test positive for at least one drug. That doesn’t necessarily mean that drug use causes criminal behavior, but there’s no question that many people behave differently under the influence. Or that many people with substance use disorder resort to stealing, forging prescriptions, or other illegal actions to obtain money for more drugs (drug money is the motive for over 15 percent of property crimes). Today, we’d like to discuss major drug crime statistics in the United States.

About Drug Crime

Many drug crime arrests involve someone who did nothing more criminal than carrying small amounts of a banned substance: over a million people are arrested in the U.S. each year for drug law violations, and over 86 percent of these arrests are for “possession of a controlled substance.” Many organizations advocate for the decriminalization of this particular offense, arguing exaggeration of its dangers, disproportionate prosecution of minorities, and—especially now that marijuana is legal in some states and not others—the unfairness of attaching “criminal” labels to what was obtained legally elsewhere, perhaps even through medical prescription.

There is, however, another issue to consider: many people commit possession offenses because they have substance use disorder. And, after being arrested, two major problems instead of one. Nearly two-thirds of people jailed in the U.S. (for any offense) also suffer from addiction.

Drug Courts

Thankfully, most jurisdictions now recognize that addiction is an illness, better treated than punished. Anyone who is arrested for drug possession, and suspects that he or she also has an addiction, should ask a lawyer to request medical evaluation plus referral to a “drug court”—a program designed to consider the addiction problem and set guidelines for treatment-based alternatives to criminal prosecution. Specifics vary, but most drug courts fit one of the following categories:

  • Pre-plea: court-supervised treatment in exchange for a full stay of prosecution
  • Post-plea: a guilty plea followed by court-supervised treatment, after which all criminal charges are dropped
  • Post-adjudication: court-supervised treatment after conviction, during which time additional sentences are suspended.

In every case, there will be conditions for completing treatment successfully, and violating those conditions will mean resumption of the criminal-law process.

Drug Crime and New Beginnings

Although it may feel like the end of the world to be arrested on drug crime charges, if you have a chemical dependency, it may be the best thing that can happen. An addiction denied is an addiction untreated, and an untreated addiction will likely get worse until it leads to financial and personal ruin, or death from overdose or illness. Being charged with a crime makes it impossible to ignore the problem any longer, and may well prove the factor that finally leads to treatment and recovery.

If you’re facing a day in drug court:

  • Follow your lawyer’s advice.
  • Respect the authorities and experts. Don’t demand anything of anybody, and don’t try to argue that the laws are unfair or there’s nothing wrong with you.
  • Understand the terms of your court-mandated treatment (which may include regular drug tests, a minimum number of weekly therapy appointments, and restrictions on driving or other privileges), and follow the rules. Any deviation could result in a return to court and perhaps a jail sentence.
  • Don’t expect treatment to be completed quickly or with initial detox. Effective recovery from drug addiction requires weeks or months of counseling, major life changes, and taking steps to prevent relapse.
  • Get a thorough physical checkup and a psychiatric evaluation, if they aren’t already required as part of your treatment. The drug use may have done undetected physical damage, and many people with substance use disorder also have other mental health disorders to address.
  • Get your family involved if at all possible. They likely will require help understanding your addiction problem and what you need.
  • Remember that, even after treatment is completed and your record clean, addiction recovery is a lifelong journey. You can’t go back to the old “business as usual,” but you can go forward into a better and more effective life. Practice expecting good things to happen.

A Place for Understanding and Healing

For men troubled by the pain and shame of drug addiction—with or without an arrest record—PACE Recovery offers a safe, nonjudgmental setting in which to recover and prepare for a better future.

We specialize in dual diagnosis treatment for those who have substance use disorder combined with other mental disorders such as depression.

PACE stands for “Positive Attitude Changes Everything,” which we emphasize in our commitment to treating the whole person and focusing on his future. Contact us today to begin your recovery.