LOSING TREY: A STORY OF ADDICTION – Flakka, Bath Salts, and Opioid pills

As they used to say on the TV police drama Dragnet, the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed. In this case, however, the pseudonyms are used to protect the survivors…and the memory of “Trey,” a young man in his mid-twenties who is no longer among the living.

“Trey,” a young man in his mid-twenties who is no longer among the living.
“Trey,” a young man in his mid-twenties who is no longer among the living.

We heard Trey’s story from his friend “Jonah,” who came to The Hope Center from his mid-western home state for help in recovering from a heroin addiction—the same addiction that had led to Trey’s death. It was the abrupt and unexpected end to Trey’s life that scared Jonah into seeking help.

Like Trey, Jonah was is in his mid-twenties. The two went to high school together. Their paths separated during their college years, but after graduation, they both returned to their hometown and their friendship with each other.

They also both started experimenting with drugs. Jonah says they dabbled in Flakka, Bath Salts, and Opioid pills before being introduced to, and seduced by, Heroin. The first taste of Heroin for both of them came at a party.

Trey had played football in high school and college, though he didn’t go on to the pros. Some of his old high school teammates invited him to a barbeque one Sunday afternoon, and he brought Jonah along. As the afternoon progressed, a pick-up football game got started: shirts vs skins. It was casual, just for fun, and even Jonah played, though he hadn’t been on the high school team. As dusk approached, and the game came to an end, three of the guys went on a beer run, and the party moved indoors.

Then one of the guys introduced a new “guest” to the party: Heroin.

Then one of the guys introduced a new “guest” to the party: Heroin.
Then one of the guys introduced a new “guest” to the party: Heroin.

Some of the guys indulged. Some didn’t. Neither Trey nor Jonah was a stranger to drugs, though neither had ever tried Heroin before. “There’s a first time for everything,” observed the party’s host as he passed the syringe over to Trey.

Both Trey and Jonah were immediately impressed with the effects of the drug. “Hey, where can I get more of this stuff?” Trey asked. And thus began a habit.

At first Trey and Jonah shot up only on weekends. Jonah had a sales job, while Trey was in management in an office, and both wanted to stay clean and straight during working hours, but heroin is seductive and addictive, and soon they both were using seven days a week.

Jonah didn’t like the effect heroin had on his abilities at work, but he was in the grips of something stronger than his willpower, and he gave in.

It was at another party that Trey met his end, and Jonah found the resolve to quit. Another of Trey’s old high school football teammates was hosting this one, and he also supplied the drugs. There was a smorgasbord of drugs to choose from, and Jonah decided to go for some Opioid pills, but Trey opted for Heroin.

The effects were quick—and deadly. At first, when Trey passed out, the host of the party recommended letting him “sleep it off.” But Jonah noticed that Trey’s breathing was shallow and at times seemed to stop altogether. He wanted to call the paramedics. The host, fearful of legal repercussions, leaned on Jonah to not make the call. By the time Jonah defied him and dialed 911, and the ambulance arrived, it was too late. Trey was gone. Dead from an overdose.

It had been an unusually strong batch of heroin…and Trey, who wanted nothing more than to feel good and enjoy his partying with his friends, lost his chance to ever feel good again…to ever feel anything again…to live.

As for Jonah, he was “scared straight” and, after checking out a number of treatment facilities intentionally far from home, decided on The Hope Center.

Hopefully he will never use again. But there are still plenty of people out there who are hooked on heroin. If you are, or someone you care about is, one of those people, get help now, before it’s too late…before you meet the same fate as Trey.

There is hope. That is why we are called The Hope Center. Reach out to us today. The time is always now.

This is my #drugofchoice

As addicts, drugs and alcohol take over our actions, as well as our thoughts. The “great obsession” of using liquefies any desire to pursue interests that we either used to love or might find enriching to our lives. Refreshed and renewed, many of us feel the overwhelming need to replenish our desires with healthy actions. And this is where the concept of a new #drugofchoice is formulated. Continue reading This is my #drugofchoice

Signs That Show You or a Loved One are Already Addicted

Signs That Show You Are Drug or Alcohol Dependent

1. Tolerance
Have you noticed needing to use more of the same substance to get the desired effect? Our bodies grow increasingly more tolerant of drugs and alcohol the more often we use them. Tolerance is a signal of abuse and your bodies way of handling the toxicity. In reality you are allowing your body the ability to absorb more toxins when you increase your tolerance.
2. Withdrawal
As drugs or alcohol leave the body, classic symptoms of withdrawal set it. These include anxiety, jumpiness, shakiness, trembling, sweating, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, depression, irritability, loss of appetite, fatigue and headaches. Severe withdrawal can include seizures, hallucinations, fever and even death, especially for alcoholics. Your body, which is getting used to having the drugs and alcohol in your system, is reacting to the void. To calm these symptoms, addicts and alcoholics drink or use to calm their symptoms, or to avoid symptoms at all. Many turn into morning drinkers or all-day drug abusers.
3. Loss of Control
Have you found yourself drinking or using more than you wanted to, and for a longer time than you intended? This is a classic sign that your using is getting out of control, because you are no longer in charge of when you choose to stop using. Many consider this the powerful “obsession” of using.
4. Desire to Stop But Can’t
You’ve identified that your drinking or drugging problem is causing negative consequences in your life. But despite changing up your routine, using in different ways or trying to abstain altogether, you find you cannot quit. This is also a classic signal that you or a loved one are in need of professional help to relieve you of your dependency.
5. Neglecting Other Activities
As drugs and alcohol become an everyday need, it requires more time to get and use them in daily life. Addicts find themselves doing less of the activities they used to enjoy in order to concentrate more on their drug of choice. In addition, it can become difficult to do some of the activities they once enjoyed while under the influence of powerfully mind and mood altering substances.
6. Continue To Use Despite Negative Consequences:
As drugs and alcohol become abused with greater frequency, it commonly interrupts daily life and leads to substantial issues with family, loved ones, the law, your career and ones health. What maybe used to seem unimaginable becomes reality like incarceration, loss of relationships, loss of jobs and a deterioration in health. Despite these radical consequences, the power of addiction usually overwhelms these dire circumstances and the user finds themselves relying more than ever on their drug of choice.
If you’re not sure if you or a loved one are exhibiting these symptoms, there are also other warning signs to be on the lookout for. Some include weight loss or gain, loss in appetite, seizures, unexplained accidents or injuries, shakes, tremors, slurred speech, drop in performance or attendance, unusual need for money (borrowing, stealing or missing valuables), frequent arguments, unexplained change in attitude and mood, frequent irritability, outbursts, unusual hyperactivity, lack of motivation and paranoia.
It’s important to remember that these are all normal reactions to drug and alcohol abuse. After a time, it becomes difficult even for the most determined people to kick their addiction without outside help and a dramatic lifestyle change. If you think you may have an addiction problem, or know someone who is showing these signals, call one of our specialists at 1-866-233-1869 and they’ll be happy to recommend a treatment plan to overcome the powerful obsession of addiction.

Drug Abuse Down Amongst Teenagers

The kids are alright! The most recently published Monitoring the Future survey released by The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that children and young adults have been engaging in far less harmful drug-related activity than in previous years. Kids are smoking fewer cigarettes, drinking less alcohol, and experimenting far less with synthetic drugs and prescription medications. Interestingly enough, however, the marijuana rates have remained stable despite increased legalization. When the survey was taken, 6.5% of 8th graders admitted to smoking within the past month, while 16.6% of 10th graders and 21.2% of 12th graders had smoked within the past month. Though since rates of abuse relating to synthetic marijuana, otherwise known as Spice, have been on the steady decline, authorities firmly believe this is overall a highly positive trend.

Continued Intervention is a Necessity

Of course, a decline in drug abuse amongst teenagers does not mean that parents and other authoritative figures should become complacent. The lessened prevalence of use may in fact be a direct result of increased intervention and preventative programs geared towards adolescents. An increase in educational campaigns over the course of the past several years in addition to increased awareness in the national health care system have undeniably contributed to the decrease in youth substance abuse. A continued pervasiveness of programs in elementary and high schools and throughout communities will undeniably help to wipe out teen drug abuse even further.

Heroin Abuse Still An Issue Amongst Teens

Despite these upward looking trends, teenagers still struggle with drug abuse to quite an alarming degree. While rates of smoking and prescription medication abuse are down, the rates of heroin abuse amongst teenagers and young adults have skyrocketed in recent years. In a unfortunate amount of instances, cases of heroin addiction that take place in unsuspecting suburban, middle-class homes go unnoticed until it is too late. It is important for parents to understand that street drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are now beginning to infiltrate upper and middle-class communities. If you believe that your child may be battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is important to get the proper information you need in order to get them the help they deserve. Contact one of our trained representatives to find out what actions you need to take and what specifically you can do to help.

When Getting High Stops Being Fun

The vast majority of addicts and alcoholics will agree that the progression of the disease of addiction is exceedingly similar regardless of which specific substance is being abused. Initially, getting high or drunk is nothing short of an awesome time. It is fun, it is pleasurable, and it is often even described as euphoric. If getting high was not a particularly enjoyable experience, one-time use would probably be far more prevalent. Unfortunately it is not, and a favorable physical feeling combined with the addictive nature of most chemical substances leads to continued use. After the excitement wears off, it is not unusual for the addict to begin physically needing a substance in order to function normally. This is when physical and mental dependency begins to settle in, and use is no longer recreational. If an individual ceases use at this stage, he or she will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. They may not be too severe at this stage, but still uncomfortable enough to deter an addict from abstaining.

The Stages of Chemical Dependency

During the early stages of physical dependency, an addict may still experience some sort of euphoric feeling when they initially get high – though this feeling will inevitably last for smaller and smaller increments of time. Soon an addict will feel little to absolutely no pleasure, and consuming his or her substance of choice will become a necessity rather than an option. At this point, drug or alcohol use loses all sense of enjoyment. It is a common misconception that those who struggle with addiction enjoy using. Even if they vehemently claim to, this is often only a defense mechanism. The body physically needs drugs in order to function or survive, thus an addict will desperately try to convince his or her loved ones that he or she has everything under control. In many instances, the loved ones of the afflicted individual will have extreme difficulty understanding why he or she cannot stop if they want to – the issue of self-will comes into play in a major way. It is a mental, physical, and emotional addiction that overwhelms all other priorities and significances.

What Can You Do To Help?

If someone you love is battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol, the first step to getting them help is being open to educating yourself on the subject. Open your mind to the fact that despite how hard they try, simply quitting is far from an option. And past a certain point, using is far more torturous than it is pleasurable. Feel free to call one of our trained representatives to find out what you can do to help.

Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Abuse

While the true addictive nature of marijuana has been a topic of controversy for years, there is little doubt that long-term use will eventually have a negative effect on the user. Short-term effects are relatively well known, seeing as many major motion pictures and feature a character known as the “stoner” or “pot head”. Common side effects of short-term use include lowered reaction time, anxiety, paranoia, increased heartbeat, and sleepiness. Most of these side effects are completely harmless, and dissipate within several hours. Because there are no immediate dangers involved in smoking marijuana, many users believe it to be totally harmless. This is not the case.

Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Abuse

Because cannabis is illegal in most states, it has been difficult to conduct any prolonged studies on lasting effects of long-term use. However, studies that have been held have investigated both the positive and negative effects of long-term use. In many cases, marijuana is the first illicit substance adolescents are exposed to. The most widely used illicit drug in the entire Western world, well over half of the general population has experimented with marijuana at some point in time. Long-term exposure poses the risk of irreversible impairment of cognitive function to children and pre-pubescent adolescents that are exposed to the drug at an early age. In adults, however, long-term central nervous system effects of cannabis are entirely indistinguishable from any psychiatric disorders that may have been pre-existing.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

It has been estimated that somewhere between 10 and 20% of those who use marijuana on a daily basis will become dependent. Marijuana addiction has been a topic of debate for years, though evidence pointing towards eventual dependency is solid. Marijuana abuse is defined in the DSM-5 as a condition requiring treatment, and the rates of those being admitted to treatment facilities for the primary reason of marijuana addiction have been skyrocketing in recent years. While cannabis has far less addictive potential than drugs like methamphetamine and heroin, it has proven to be more addictive than drugs like LSD and mescaline. While no exceedingly harmful long-term effects of prolonged marijuana abuse are clear, the drug is known to worsen manic symptoms of bipolar disorder, anxiety, and other forms of psychosis. If you or someone you love is battling an addiction to marijuana, one of our trained representatives would be more than happy to assist in answering any questions you may have.

Synthetic Drugs – A Deadly Trend

Over the course of the past several years, an increasing variety of synthetic drugs have become readily available to the general American public. The most common synthetic drugs on the market today are synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones (related to amphetamines). Both drugs can be purchased in legal retail outlets, frequently under guises such as “herbal incense” or “jewelry cleaner”. While only 2 varieties of synthetic cannabinoid were identified in 2009, that number jumped to a staggering 51 in 2012. In fact, synthetic drugs have rapidly become one of the biggest substance-related issues the nation as a whole currently faces. In 2012, 1 in 9 12th graders reported using synthetic marijuana in the past year, making it the 2nd most frequently abused drug amongst high school seniors after marijuana. Overall, synthetic drug use is far more prevalent amongst the younger portion of the population, and has proven to be a highly dangerous, often lethal trend.

Synthetic Marijuana

Known on the streets as “K2” or “Spice”, synthetic cannabinoids are marketed as a safe and legal alternative to marijuana. Chemical additives are combined with dried plant material, and said to produce a high similar to the high produced by THC (the main mind-altering chemical in marijuana). In fact, “Spice” is far more dangerous to consume, and has been linked to innumerable emergency room admittances and several deaths – while marijuana has been linked to no deaths and very few emergency room visits over the course of past decades. This drug is made with designer chemicals that are said to induce paranoia, anxiety, and hallucinations. Those who frequently use synthetic cannabinoids claim they are highly addicting, and the consequences of using DRASTICALLY outweigh the benefits (of which there truly seem to be none).

Bath Salts

The side effects of prolonged (and even short-term) bath salt use are typically very similar to the effects produced by synthetic marijuana. Bath salts are sold as “jewelry cleaner” or “plant food”, and usually marked with a label reading “not for human consumption”. The exact chemical ingredients of the drug remain unknown, thus it is hard for the DEA to illegalize its compounds. The most common symptoms linked to the drug are hallucinations, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts and tendencies. There have been several highly publicized suicides completed by individuals within days of using bath salts, proving that mental distress can last beyond the wearing off of the hallucinogenic effects of the drug. It is unknown whether or not bath salts are addictive, though it is speculated that they are.

Designer synthetic drugs pose a major threat to society based on their highly toxic nature and their ready availability. Synthetic drugs have quickly proven far more dangerous than their imitated alternatives. If you or someone you love is battling an addiction to spice, bath salts, or any other variety of designer drug, seek help as quickly as possible – soon, it may be too late.