What is a high functioning drug addict?

What is a high functioning drug addict?

The term “high functioning drug addict” is really a misnomer. Someone suffering with an addiction is not really functioning at all – they just seem to be functioning on the outside; but really, on the inside, they are falling apart.

I feel like I have the authority to speak about this topic because I consider myself to have been a high functioning drug addict before getting clean.

Just a year ago, I was in the tight grip of full-blown addiction. I was an IV user and I would shoot anything I could get my hands on. My first drug of choice was heroin but I also liked to speedball: shooting cocaine or crack and heroin. By the end of my run, I was taking suboxone to keep the heroin withdrawals at bay but, like a true blue addict, I was shooting or smoking copious amounts of crack and abusing sleeping pills, Xanax, and barbiturates. Right now, you are probably picturing the ‘typical’ image of a junkie: strung-out, half-naked, greasy hair, track-marked girl with dark circles under her eyes and passed out next to a dumpster or something. But that wasn’t the case. I was a high functioning drug addict.

Let me explain…

I was a college graduate with two degrees living in a nice neighborhood. I had my own car and a steady job with one of the top-five banking institutions in the country. Despite my tattoos and rapid weight loss,  physically I didn’t ‘look like a junkie.’ In fact, friends and acquaintances with which I shared that I used to shoot drugs (I was still using, I was just in so much denial that I would talk about my use in the past tense) would all respond in the same way: “you don’t look like a junkie.” To a sick girl like me, that was the ultimate compliment. And the green light to keep going, head-first into the turmoil of addiction.

Being a high functioning drug addict means living two lives: one that you reveal to others – your “perfect life” with the job, the house, the car, the family; and your secret life – the drugs, the stealing, the desperation. It is as if I was living a secret dual-life. One of productivity marked with high-achievement like job promotions, while my other life was one of escape through drugs. I was able to succeed in my life well enough to where the effects of my addiction had not impacted the life I projected to others.

Like me, other high functioning drug addicts may have been able to avoid serious trouble professionally or personally so far but it is only a matter of time before their addiction will lead to severe problems and consequences. Many of us in recovery call this “the big yet.” For example, I was lucky enough to avoid catching any legal charges, such as possession, in my addiction but, I am clear that, if I had continued to use, that I would eventually get into trouble with the law. I mean, come on, I worked at a major bank and was in charge of large sums of money on a daily basis. I was also feeding a very expensive drug habit. I never stole money from my job…yet. I’m clear that it would have happened eventually and that would mean a felony charge. I decided to get clean because I was not willing to let it get that bad.

I think, in some ways, being a high functioning drug addict is trickier than being the typical down-and-out junkie. A huge part of addiction is denial; it affects everyone who abuses drugs and is the major road-block to getting clean. It’s like this, if you don’t think you have a problem, then why get help? And if you’re a high functioning drug addict, it’s quite easy to fool yourself that things are fine and that what you are doing is normal. You have all the evidence you need to convince yourself of this.

 

 

Sources:

Personal experience

http://www.lifeskillsauthorities.com/

Can You Shoot Alcohol?

Can You Shoot Alcohol?

When you shoot alcohol, it bypasses the metabolic processes in the stomach and is therefore introduced quickly to the central nervous system. Keep in mind that this is a dangerous practice.

I can’t really remember the last time I drank alcohol. Not because my memory is fuzzy, which from all the drug and alcohol abuse it is but, simply because I haven’t drank alcohol in a very long time. But I do remember the time I tried to shoot alcohol. Well, I should say, I remember the moments leading up to trying to shoot alcohol.

My quest for a high was quelled by heroin and cocaine. Don’t get me wrong, I used to drink. In fact, that’s how it all started for me: binge drinking on the weekends in high school. But, by the time I got to college, alcohol wasn’t “working” for me anymore. What I mean by that is, I only wanted to drink to get drunk but it seemed like my system was getting more and more sensitive to alcohol. It wasn’t your typical hangover, either. It’s like I developed an allergy to it. I couldn’t seem to drink enough to get drunk because the allergic reaction (headache, stomach ache) was uncomfortable enough to stop me from drinking any more.

Fast forward through discovering Tramadol, Vicodin, and Percocet and then graduating to IV heroin use. At this point, I am in full-on active addiction. Shooting heroin, cocaine, and crack on pretty much a daily basis. Alcohol? Pffft…child’s play.  I wasn’t at all interested in drinking because I had found my drugs of choice.

With my addiction was in full-swing, I would seek more and more drugs and combinations of drugs to achieve an even more intense high. One day in particular when I was already high on heroin and Xanax, I was eager to alter my state even more. I was home alone at my mom’s house and remembered she had an old bottle of brandy in one of the kitchen cabinets – she wasn’t a drinker either. I still wasn’t interested in drinking alcohol but I had heard that you could shoot alcohol. Desperate for a bigger fix, I drew up some of that in a needle and gave it a shot – no pun intended.

I can’t really say what happened next. I have no recollection. So, I guess it worked. It’s ironic though. You want to shoot alcohol to get a bigger buzz and you do but, you don’t get to remember it or even enjoy it. Instant blackout.

So, Can You Shoot Alcohol?

There really isn’t any chemical difference between drinking alcohol and injecting it. In both cases you have ethanol molecules flowing in your bloodstream. But there is a big difference in the time it takes to “hit you.” And because of the time difference you would need to be extremely careful in the amount injected. A mistake could be fatal.

Someone who is prone to doing drugs though IV use is more likely to try to shoot alcohol. This is because they have an addiction to the needle, itself. This was also the case for me: I was obsessed with what was in the needle but I was also obsessed with using a needle to administer my drugs.

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.examiner.com/

www.thefix.com

http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/

 

 

Hallucinogens in Addiction Treatment

Hallucinogens in Addiction Treatment

Treating Drug Abuse with…Drugs?

An up-and-coming approach to treating drug abuse is the use of hallucinogens in addiction treatment. Specifically, researchers are looking to Ibogaine, a natural hallucinogen that has been used for centuries in other parts of the world for ritual ceremonies. Currently, Ibogaine is being used in some European countries and Mexico for the treatment of drug addiction.

What are Hallucinogens?

Hallucinogenic compounds found in some plants and mushrooms (or their extracts) have been used—mostly during religious rituals—for centuries. Almost all hallucinogens contain nitrogen and are classified as alkaloids. Many hallucinogens have chemical structures similar to those of natural neurotransmitters. While the exact mechanisms by which hallucinogens exert their effects remain unclear, research suggests that these drugs work, at least partially, by temporarily interfering with neurotransmitter action or by binding to their receptor sites.

Using Hallucinogens in Addiction Treatment

Ibogaine, is a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in plants. A hallucinogen with both psychedelic and dissociative properties, the substance is banned in some countries; in other countries it is being used to treat addiction to methadone, heroin, alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other drugs. Derivatives of ibogaine that lack the substance’s hallucinogenic properties are under development.

And scientists say Ibogaine might be the best way to break drug addicts of their habit.

Ibogaine has intrigued researchers since 1962, when Howard Lotsof, a student at New York University and an opiate addict, found that a single dose erased his drug cravings without causing any withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, the hallucinogen can increase the risk of cardiac arrest, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency lists it as a Schedule I substance, a classification for drugs like ecstasy and LSD with “no known medical value” and “high potential for abuse,” making it difficult to get federal funding to run clinical trials. That is, currently it is not legal to use hallucinogens in addiction treatment.

Animal tests have shown the drug’s medicinal promise. “Rats addicted to morphine will quit for weeks after receiving ibogaine,” says Stanley Glick, the director of the Center for Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience at Albany Medical College. And addicts have reported positive effects in Mexico and Europe, where ibogaine therapy is legal.

From the limited research, though, scientists have two theories about how the use of hallucinogens in addiction treatment works. Some say it’s purely biological—that ibogaine degrades into a compound that binds with opiate receptors in the brain to quiet cravings. Others believe that it is also psychological. Those who use hallucinogens report a change in perspective and outlook on life. Researchers believe that this aspect of the hallucination provides perspective on the negative aspects of drug use, and so the drug addict will strive to quit.

The Argument for the use of Hallucinogens in Addiction Treatment

Regardless of the mechanism, proving ibogaine works is essential to winning approval and funding for clinical trials of using hallucinogens in addiction treatment. And, in the U.S., the sooner the better: Nearly seven million Americans abuse illicit drugs, costing the nation an estimated $181 billion a year in health care, crime and lost productivity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.drugabuse.gov

http://www.popsci.com

www.wikipedia.org

The Truth About Heroin Withdrawals

The Truth About Heroin Withdrawals

The Truth About Heroin Withdrawals

I’m not going to beat around the bush, heroin withdrawal is no picnic. Anyone who has tried to stop using heroin or even cut down can attest to that. Many people keep using heroin even when they want to quit, just avoiding the withdrawal process. However, if you really want to get off heroin, you’ll have to go through it. Luckily there are also some medications that can help with heroin withdrawal and ease the symptoms.

The Truth about Heroin Withdrawals: What can I expect?

Heroin withdrawal occurs when your body becomes dependent on heroin. You build up a tolerance to heroin, and you need more to produce the same effect. Once your body is dependent, it expects heroin in order to keep functioning. If it doesn’t get it, you’ll have some unpleasant symptoms. Common heroin withdrawal symptoms include: extreme pain, tremors, muscle cramps, sweating, chills, rapid heartbeat, itching, restless leg syndrome, runny nose, sneezing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness.

The Truth about Heroin Withdrawals: How long will it last?

Acute heroin withdrawal can last ten to fourteen days (depending on level of use.) Post-acute withdrawal from heroin lasts an indefinite amount of time, usually proportional to how long you have been abusing heroin. However, post-acute heroin withdrawal is much less severe than acute Roxy withdrawal and generally includes symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, and mild anxiety.

The Truth about Heroin Withdrawals: Will I die?

Heroin withdrawal itself is not life-threatening. You may feel like you are going to die, but you won’t. However, if you have an underlying health problem or you are dependent on more than one substance, you should seek the care of a medical professional.

The Truth about Heroin Withdrawals: What can help?

In a medical setting, there are a number of medications used to treat the unpleasant symptoms of heroin withdrawal. One of the most common medications given to a person who wants to get off of heroin is buprenorphine (brand name: Suboxone or Subutex). Buprenorphine has replaced methadone as the medication of choice to treat symptoms of heroin withdrawal. This medication eliminates the worst of the heroin withdrawal symptoms. Potenzmittel ohne Rezept

Clonidine is another medication that is commonly used to treat heroin withdrawal symptoms. Clonidine mimics the hypotensive (blood pressure lowering) effects of heroin. It is helpful in treating common central nervous system heroin withdrawal symptoms like tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) and hypertension (high blood pressure). Clonidine also reduces sweating, hot and cold flushes, and general restlessness.

Benzodiazepines are another class of medications used to treat heroin withdrawal symptoms. Benzo’s are normally prescribed as anti-anxiety medications. These drugs can relieve symptoms of anxiety, restless leg syndrome, tremors, and insomnia.

If you are trying to get off of heroin at home, there are a few things that can make the process more comfortable. Warm baths can help with the chills and muscle aches. Make sure to clear your schedule when you go through heroin withdrawal, because you will feel very sick and will not have much energy. Sleep is essential when you are getting off heroin, so be sure to get plenty of rest. Buy food that will be easy to keep down when you feel nauseous. Make sure to drink plenty of water and try to get up and move around at least once a day.

Heroin Drug Abuse

Heroin falls into the opiate category of controlled substances although heroin itself is an illegal street drug. An opiate is more widely known as a painkiller. Heroin is an opiate, as it is a derivative of the more well-known medication morphine. Most of the heroin in the world is produced in Afghanistan. Heroin drug abuse is making a rise recently due to the recent painkiller epidemic. Because heroin is cheaper and easier to get in some instances, more people are moving from prescription drug abuse to heroin drug abuse.

How addictive is heroin?

Heroin is highly addictive as are all opiates. The reason for this is because of the way heroin and all opiates attach themselves to the receptors in the brain.  An opiod dependent person is defined accurately as someone who can’t stop using opiates. Having a heroin drug abuse problem can be very scary and often when mentioned portrays vividly dark images in our minds which is rightly so.

How is heroin used?

Heroin can be used multiple ways; either through injection, snorting or smoking. The effects can last from 30 minutes up to 8 hours. A tolerance during heroin drug abuse builds rapidly causing the user to have to shoot up, ingest, or inhale more and more to get the same desired effect. As with most substances this is one of the first signs of addiction.

Heroin drug abuse is extremely deadly and intensely euphoric. Some of the effects of heroin drug abuse are:

  • a lowering of heart rate
  • intense pleasure and euphoria
  • drowsiness
  • having “the nods” or entering a dreamlike state.

When heroin is injected it gives the feeling of a “rush” similar to an orgasm which some users will chase rather than the high off of heroin drug abuse itself which can cause a heroin drug abuser to have a lack in perspective when it comes to the amount needed to use.

What happens when I stop heroin drug abuse?

Once the user decides to stop their heroin drug abuse habit, after using for a certain period of time, they will start to experience what is known as heroin withdrawal symptoms which can be incredibly painful, uncomfortable and frightening. Because of the intensity of the heroin withdrawal symptoms after stopping their use; most heroin addicts will go to great lengths to get high again rather than deal with the withdrawal symptoms. These heroin withdrawal symptoms after an addiction has been formed are usually the main reason someone with an opiate addiction continues to use.

Heroin drug abuse Statistics

  • There are over 1.2 million “occasional” heroin drug abusers in the United States and over 200,000 people who could be classified as addicted to the drug.
  • During heroin drug abuse, the user ingests between 150mg and 250mg of the drug per day.
  • Florida and California by far have the most heroin seizures by law enforcement each year (due to their physical location and prevalence of the drug trade in their states).
  • There are believed to be at least 700,000 people in the United States who need heroin addiction treatment for heroin drug abuse but are not receiving it.