Many addicts make the mistake of believing they are addicted to one drug. Alcoholics think that if they just stop drinking, everything will be fine. Opiate addicts tend to think if they can just stop taking opiates, everything will be fine. But addiction is a tricky disease. When a person becomes addicted to any substance, they increase the likelihood that they will become addicted to other substances.

One reason for this is that addicts learn to cope with normal life problems by taking a substance. When an addict enters medication-assisted treatment (MAT) like Suboxone or methadone, they no longer have their drug of choice as a way to cope with normal life problems. Medication-assisted treatment on its own only treats the biological part of addiction. The addict no longer has withdrawal symptoms but they also don’t get high. Without high, they don’t have a way to cope with their problems.

MAT, Coping Skills and Cocaine

At this point, the addict needs to learn new coping skills to deal with their problems. Most medication-assisted treatment programs offer counseling to help the addict learn new ways to cope with their problems. However, an addict new to recovery may resist new ways of coping. Normal coping skills need to be practiced on a regular basis. They don’t work as fast as a substance would. They take work on the part of the addict and awareness of when they need to be applied.

Addicts who are new to recovery may not be willing to put in the work or are resistant to counseling. They want the easy fix that drugs afforded them. They may be overwhelmed by normal everyday problems because they are not accustomed to dealing with them. They may be in denial about the need for coping skills. Most addicts who are new to recovery believe addiction is a physical problem. They believe that once they stop using their drug of choice, life will get better on its own. When it doesn’t, they become frustrated and look for other ways to cope.

This is where other drugs come into the picture. An addict on medication-assisted treatment quickly learns their drug of choice no longer works. Suboxone and methadone block the euphoric effects of opiates. The addict looks for another drug to replace opiates. Often this is a subconscious process. They don’t even realize they are replacing one drug for another. They find that they can’t cope with life and they need something to make them feel better.

Since opiates no longer work, the addict may turn to drugs like cocaine to fill the void. For the opiate addict, drugs like cocaine are nothing new. Most addicts try a number of different drugs by the time they reach medication-assisted treatment. Addiction is a gradual process that takes years to develop. For someone who has never used drugs, cocaine seems like a dangerous drug. However, over time, addicts lose their fear of taking substances. They block the dangers of these drugs from their mind.

Side Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine has many side effects on its own and when combined with powerful opioids like Suboxone or methadone, it becomes even more dangerous. Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that increases the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a part of the brain’s natural reward system. When the brain releases dopamine, it makes us feel good. This is where the euphoric effects of cocaine come from. However, cocaine keeps the brain from recycling dopamine back into the cells. This excess of dopamine can cause some of the serious side effects of cocaine.

What are the physical side effects of Cocaine?

  • Constricts blood vessels
  • Dilates pupils
  • Increases body temperature
  • Increases blood pressure
  • Causes headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Decreased appetite (which can lead to malnutrition)

What are the psychological side effects of Cocaine use?

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations

What are the dangers of Cocaine use?

Some of the side effects of cocaine use can lead to serious health problems. The body is not designed to function with such high levels of dopamine.  Cocaine use can cause:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Death

In addition to the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death, cocaine users are at risk for other health problems depending on how they use the drug. Intravenous (IV) cocaine users are at increased risk of HIV and Hepatitis from sharing needles. Cocaine users who snort the drug can lose their sense of smell; have chronic runny noses, hoarseness, nosebleeds, and trouble swallowing.

Prescription Drug Addiction Program

What is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Some medications have psychoactive (mind-altering) properties and, because of that, are sometimes abused—that is, taken for reasons or in ways or amounts not intended by a doctor, or taken by someone other than the person for whom they are prescribed. In fact, prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are, after marijuana (and alcohol), the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older. This occurs when a doctor prescribes a potentially addictive drug and the patient grows dependent upon it. In some cases, patients find that the original dosage simply no longer works, and steadily up their dose, creating tolerance that ultimately leads to dependency.

Prescription drug abuse is at an all-time high in America. Here are certain signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for in order to recognize. These medications might be necessary for short or long term use in some cases. However, the sad truth “ANYONE” can go from taking a prescription as directed…but become an addict!

Here’s a list of side effects and possible danger to your health over an extended period of time:

  • Nausea
  • Feeling high
  • Slowed breathing rate
  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Increased pain with higher doses
  • Slurred speech
  • Unsteady walking
  • Agitation
  • Problems with memory
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High body temperature

How Are Prescription Drugs Abused?

Prescription and OTC drugs may be abused in one or more of the following ways:
Taking a medication that has been prescribed for somebody else. Unaware of the dangers of sharing medications, people often unknowingly contribute to this form of abuse by sharing their unused pain relievers with their family members.

These are some of the common signs when your prescription drug becomes an addiction:

  • Stealing, forging, or selling prescription drugs
  • Taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Excessive mood swings or hostility
  • Increase or decrease in sleep
  • Poor decision-making
  • Appearing to be high, usually energetic or revved up, or sedated
  • Continually losing all  prescriptions so more prescriptions must be written
  • Seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor/doctor shopping

What Are the Other Health Effects of Prescription and OTC Drugs?

Opioids can produce drowsiness, cause constipation, and—depending upon the amount taken—depress breathing. The latter effect makes opioids particularly dangerous, especially when they are snorted or injected or combined with other drugs or alcohol.

Abusing prescription medication can take an extreme toll on your body. You can severely damage your lungs since the opiates and similar drugs can suppress the body’s ability to breathe. A medical research found that opiate abuse is associated with a greater risk of pneumonia.

Your stomach and intestines can also be affected by prescription drug abuse. According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, a narcotics abuser can suffer from something called narcotic bowel syndrome. This is the result of the slowing down of the bowel function. The symptoms of this syndrome include nausea, bloating, vomiting, abdominal distention, and constipation.

COMMONLY MISUSED PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

DEPRESSANTS
Substances: Category & NamePharmaceutical Names
BARBITURATESAmytal, Nembutal, Seconal, Phenobarbital
BENZODIAZEPINESAtivan, Halcion, Librium, Valium, Xanax, Klonopin
SLEEP MEDICATIONSAmbien (zolpidem), Sonata (zaleplon), Lunesta (eszopiclone)

Acute Effects: Sedation/drowsiness, reduced anxiety, feelings of well-being, lowered inhibitions, slurred speech, poor concentration, confusion, dizziness, impaired coordination, and memory
For barbiturates – euphoria, unusual excitement, fever, irritability

Health Risks: Slowed pulse, lowered blood pressure, slowed breathing, tolerance, withdrawal, addiction; increased risk of respiratory distress and death when combined with alcohol
For barbiturates – life-threatening withdrawal in chronic users

OPIOIDS & MORPHINE DERIVATIVES
Substances: Category & NamePharmaceutical Names
CODEINEEmpirin with Codeine, Fiorinal with Codeine, Robitussin A-C, Tylenol with Codeine
MORPHINERoxanol, Duramorph
METHADONEMethadose, Dolophine
FENTANYL & ANALOGSActiq, Duragesic, Sublimaze
OTHER OPIOID PAIN RELIEVERS (OXYCODONE HCL, HYDROCODONE BITARTRATE, HYDROMORPHONE, OXYMORPHONE, MEPERIDINE, PROPOXYPHENE)Tylox, Oxycontin, Percodan, Percocet,   Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet,  Dilaudid, Numorphan, Numorphone, Darvon, Darvocet

Acute Effects: Pain relief, euphoria, drowsiness, sedation, weakness, dizziness, nausea, impaired coordination, confusion, dry mouth, itching, sweating, clammy skin, constipation
For fentanyl – 80–100 times more potent analgesic than morphine
For oxycodone – muscle relaxation, twice as potent analgesic as morphine
For codeine – less analgesia, sedation, and respiratory depression than morphine
For methadone – used to treat opioid addiction and pain; significant overdose risk when used improperly

Health Risks: Slowed or arrested breathing, lowered pulse and blood pressure, tolerance, addiction, unconsciousness, coma, death; risk of death increased when combined with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants
For oxycodone – high potential for misuse

STIMULANTS
Substances: Category & NameExamples of Commercial & Street Names
AMPHETAMINESBiphetamine, Dexedrine, Adderall
METHYLPHENIDATEConcerta, Ritalin

Acute Effects: Feelings of exhilaration, increased energy, mental alertness
For amphetamines – rapid breathing, tremor, loss of coordination, irritability, anxiousness, restlessness

Health Risks: Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism, reduced appetite, weight loss, nervousness, insomnia, seizures, heart attack, stroke
For amphetamines – delirium, panic, paranoia, hallucinations, impulsive behavior, aggressiveness, tolerance, addiction
For methylphenidate – increase or decrease in blood pressure, digestive problems, loss of appetite, weight loss