Drug Facts & Effects
At Promises Austin, we provide clinically sophisticated treatment for clients addicted to a wide range of substances. From medically supervised detox using the latest evidence-based medications to treatment programs tailored to each individual’s needs, clients receive the exceptional care needed for long-term recovery.
Our dedicated team of addiction specialists includes a psychiatrist, 24-hour nursing staff, master’s- and doctoral-level psychologists, nutritionist, clinically trained spiritual advisor and certified personal trainer. They have the specialized training needed to help clients address the biological, social and psychological reasons behind addiction.
Below are drug facts on commonly abused substances and potential treatment options:
Alcohol is created when grains, fruits, or vegetables are fermented, a process that uses yeast or bacteria to change the sugars in the food into alcohol. Alcohol has different forms and can be used as a cleaner or antiseptic; however the kind of alcohol that people drink is ethanol, which is a sedative. When alcohol is consumed, it’s absorbed into a person’s bloodstream. From there, it affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), which controls virtually all body functions. Alcohol actually blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain. This alters a person’s perceptions, emotions, movement, vision, and hearing.
In 2006, more than 19% of drivers ages 16 to 20 who died in motor vehicle crashes had been drinking alcohol. Of the 1,746 traffic fatalities among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2006, about one out of every six (17%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
The younger you are when you start drinking, the greater your chance of becoming addicted to alcohol at some point in your life. More than 4 in 10 people who begin drinking before age 15 eventually become alcoholics.
People who use both alcohol and drugs also are at risk for dangerous interactions between these substances. For example, a person who uses alcohol with depressants, whether these drugs are prescribed or taken illegally, is at increased risk of fatal poisoning. Mixing alcohol with certain medications can cause nausea and vomiting, headaches, drowsiness, fainting, loss of coordination. Some medications — including many painkillers and cough, cold, and allergy remedies — contain more than one ingredient that can react with alcohol. Depending on the type of medication, mixing with alcohol can cause: increased risk for overdose, fainting, changes in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, liver damage, stomach bleeding, blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, increased risk of seizures, death. Combining alcohol with anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications can cause: increased risk of overdose, increased feelings of depression or hopelessness, and suicide in adolescents.
Recoverying from alcohol abuse usually often begins with medical detox. After clients safely eliminate alcohol from their bodies under the care of our expertly trained, 24/7 medical staff, they undergo a thorough assessment to help determine which treatment program is best suited to the severity of their problem and their particular life situation.
Our approach to alcohol treatment provides a strong foothold in 12-Step recovery and ongoing care for the medical and psychological concerns that are often associated with early recovery. Individual and group therapy, nutrition counseling and experiential therapies are just some of the components of our program. Learn more about our alcohol treatment program options.
Amphetamines are highly addictive central nervous system stimulants that can be injected, snorted, smoked, or ingested orally. Amphetamines have limited medical uses for the treatment of narcolepsy, attention deficit disorders, and obesity. They are also used recreationally and for performance enhancement.
As a powerful stimulant, amphetamine, even in small doses, can increase wakefulness and physical activity and decrease appetite. A brief, intense sensation, or rush, is reported by those who smoke or inject amphetamines when the drug is initially taken. Oral ingestion or snorting produces a long-lasting high instead of a rush. Both the rush and the high are believed to result from the release of very high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine into areas of the brain that regulate feelings of pleasure. The effects of amphetamine can last from 20 minutes to 12 hours.
Short-term physiological effects include decreased appetite, increased stamina and physical energy, increased sexual drive, involuntary bodily movements, hyperhidrosis, hyperactivity, jitteriness, nausea, itchy, blotchy or greasy skin, irregular heart rate, hypertension, and headaches. Fatigue can often follow the dose’s period of effectiveness.
Psychological effects can include alertness, euphoria, increased concentration, rapid talking, increased confidence, increased social responsiveness, nystagmus (eye wiggles), hallucinations, and loss of REM sleep the night after use.
Our drug treatment programs help clients overcome the physical and psychological effects of amphetamine abuse through a variety of approaches including individual counseling sessions, small group sessions, and consultations with a psychiatrist, psychologist, nutritionist, spiritual adviser and personal trainer. Learn more about our amphetamine treatment program options.
The benzodiazepine family of depressants is used therapeutically to produce sedation, induce sleep, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, and to prevent seizures. In general, benzodiazepines act as hypnotics in high doses, anxiolytics in moderate doses, and sedatives in low doses. Of the drugs marketed in the United States that affect central nervous system function, benzodiazepines are among the most widely prescribed medications. Fifteen members of this group are presently marketed in the United States, and about 20 additional benzodiazepines are marketed in other countries.
The most common side effects of benzodiazepines are related to their sedating and muscle-relaxing action. They include drowsiness, dizziness and decreased alertness and concentration. Lack of coordination may result in ataxia, falls and injuries, particularly in the elderly. Another result is impairment of driving skills and increased risk of road traffic accidents. Decreased libido and erection problems are a common side effect. Depression and disinhibition may emerge. Hypotension and suppressed breathing may be encountered with intravenous use. Less common side effects include nausea and changes in appetite, blurred vision, confusion, euphoria, depersonalization and nightmares. Cases of liver toxicity have been described but are very rare.
Our addiction specialists work closely with clients to craft a treatment plan that explores the underlying causes of their addiction, considers co-occurring mental health issues and helps clients heal physically, spiritually and emotionally. Learn more about our benzodiazepine addiction treatment program options.
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered form of cocaine is either snorted or injected. Crack is cocaine that comes in a rock crystal that is heated and smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated. Many cocaine users report that they seek but fail to achieve the same experience as they had with their first use. Some users will increase their dose in an attempt to intensify and prolong the effect, but this can also increase the risk of adverse psychological or physiological effects.
Effects include: increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, headaches, abdominal pain and nausea, decreased appetite resulting in malnutrition, irritability, restlessness, anxiety, and paranoia (loss of touch with reality and auditory hallucinations), addiction or dependence.
Our experienced treatment team is specially trained in the science of addiction and well-equipped to treat the neurobiological, social and medical problems that may accompany cocaine abuse. At Promises Austin, we offer treatment programs for cocaine addiction that are highly individualized, and help clients heal physically through proper nutrition and exercise as well as mentally and emotionally with alternative and traditional therapies. Learn more about our cocaine addiction treatment program options.
Ecstasy is a synthetic, psychoactive drug chemically similar to the stimulant methamphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. MDMA is an illegal drug that acts as both a stimulant and psychedelic, producing an energizing effect, as well as distortions in time and perception and enhanced enjoyment from tactile experiences.
Adolescents and young adults use it to promote euphoria, feelings of closeness, empathy, sexuality and to reduce inhibitions. It is considered a “party drug” and obtained at “rave” or “techno” parties. However, its abuse has expanded, to include other settings outside of the rave scenes, such as a college campus.
Although MDMA is known universally among users as ecstasy, researchers have determined that many ecstasy tablets contain not only MDMA but also a number of other drugs or drug combinations that can be harmful as well. Adulterants found in MDMA tablets purchased on the street include methamphetamine, caffeine, the over-the-counter cough suppressant dextromethorphan, the diet drug ephedrine, and cocaine. Also, as with many other drugs of abuse, MDMA is rarely used alone. It is not uncommon for users to mix MDMA with other substances, such as alcohol and marijuana.
On rare but unpredictable occasions, MDMA use can lead to a sharp increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), resulting in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system failure, and death. Other effects include increases in heart rate and blood pressure, a special risk for people with circulatory problems or heart disease, and other symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating. MDMA exposure has been linked to long-term damage to neurons that are involved in mood, thinking, and judgment.
We offer comprehensive treatment programs that address the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of each client and integrate family throughout the process. Our traditional evidence-based treatments merge with more than a dozen holistic therapies to give clients access to a wide range of recovery tools. Learn more about our ecstasy treatment program options.
Inhalants are a diverse group of substances that include volatile solvents, gases, and nitrites that are sniffed, snorted, huffed, or bagged to produce intoxicating effects similar to alcohol. These substances are found in common household products like glues, lighter fluid, cleaning fluids, and paint products. Inhalant abuse is the deliberate inhaling or sniffing of these substances to get high, and it is estimated that about 1,000 substances are misused in this manner. The easy accessibility, low cost, legal status, and ease of transport and concealment make inhalants one of the first substances abused by children.
Most inhalants act directly on the central nervous system (CNS) to produce psychoactive, or mind-altering, effects. They have short-term effects similar to anesthetics, which slow the body’s functions. Inhaled chemicals are rapidly absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream and quickly distributed to the brain and other organs. Within seconds of inhalation, the user experiences intoxication along with other effects similar to those produced by alcohol. Alcohol-like effects may include slurred speech, an inability to coordinate movements, euphoria, and dizziness. In addition, users may experience lightheadedness, hallucinations, and delusions.
Prolonged sniffing of the highly concentrated chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can induce irregular and rapid heart rhythms and lead to heart failure and death within minutes of a session of prolonged sniffing. This syndrome, known as “sudden sniffing death,” can result from a single session of inhalant use. Chronic exposure to inhalants can produce significant, sometimes irreversible, damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys.
The chronic use of inhalants has been associated with a number of serious health problems. Sniffing glue and paint thinner causes kidney abnormalities, while sniffing the solvents toluene and trichloroethylene cause liver damage. Memory impairment, attention deficits, and diminished non-verbal intelligence have been related to the abuse of inhalants. Deaths resulting from heart failure, asphyxiation, or aspiration have occurred.
At Promises Austin, we blend professional expertise with an array of traditional and alternative therapies to provide clients a treatment experience that addresses their unique needs. Our dedicated team of addiction specialists includes a psychiatrist, 24-hour nursing staff, master’s- and doctorate-level psychologists, a nutritionist, a clinically trained spiritual advisor and a certified personal trainer, among others. Therapies range from traditional individual and group therapy to experiential therapies like psychodrama, EMDR, art therapy and acupuncture. Clients explore emotional and situational issues that fuel substance abuse, develop healthy coping skills and engage in a variety of healing activities. Learn more about our drug treatment program options.
Ketamine is a tranquilizer most commonly used on animals. Ketamine comes in a clear liquid and a white or off-white powder form. The liquid form can be injected, consumed in drinks, or added to smokable materials. The powder form can be used for injection when dissolved. In certain areas, Ketamine is being injected intramuscularly.
Common side effects include anorexia, tachycardia, hypertension, insomnia, and gastric disorders. Chronic Khat abuse can result in symptoms such as physical exhaustion, violence, and suicidal depression. Widespread frequent use of Khat impacts productivity because it tends to reduce worker motivation. Khat can induce manic behaviors, hyperactivity, and hallucinations. There are reports of Khat-induced psychosis.
Long-term use of ketamine may result in withdrawal symptoms when its use is discontinued. Promises offers medically monitored detox to relieve physical and emotional discomfort for clients ridding their bodies of drugs and alcohol. The latest, research-backed medications are used as needed to forward the process and our nursing staff provides round-the-clock care to address clients’ needs.
Treatment programs at Promises Austin are individually crafted to address each client’s issues and include both alternative and traditional therapy approaches. Learn more about our ketamine treatment program options.
LSD is sold on the street in tablets, capsules, and occasionally in liquid form. It is an odorless and colorless substance with a slightly bitter taste that is usually ingested orally. It is often added to absorbent paper, such as blotter paper, and divided into small decorated squares, with each square representing one dose.
The short-term effects of LSD are unpredictable. They depend on the amount of the drug taken; the user’s personality, mood, and expectations; and the surroundings in which the drug is used. These experiences last for extended periods of time and typically begin to clear after about 12 hours. The physical effects include dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors. Sensations may seem to “cross over” for the user, giving the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds. If taken in a large enough doses, the drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations.
LSD users often have flashbacks, during which certain aspects of their LSD experience recur even though they have stopped taking the drug. In addition, LSD users may develop long-lasting psychoses, such as schizophrenia or severe depression.
Our addiction specialists work with clients to create treatment plans that explore the underlying causes of substance abuse and consider co-occurring mental health issues that may be prompting or resulting from substance abuse. We help clients heal physically, spiritually and emotionally with a focus on an overall healthy lifestyle that includes proper nutrition and exercise, self-care, and mental and spiritual healing. Learn more about our program options.
Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. A dry, shredded green/brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves of the plant Cannabis sativa, it usually is smoked as a cigarette (joint, nail), or in a pipe (bong). It also is smoked in blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with marijuana, often in combination with another drug. It might 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.
When marijuana is smoked, its effects begin immediately after the drug enters the brain and last from 1 to 3 hours. If marijuana is consumed in food or drink, the short-term effects begin more slowly, usually in 1/2 to 1 hour, and last longer, for as long as 4 hours. Within a few minutes after inhaling marijuana smoke, an individual’s heart begins beating more rapidly, the bronchial passages relax and become enlarged, and blood vessels in the eyes expand, making the eyes look red. The heart rate, normally 70 to 80 beats per minute, may increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute or, in some cases, even double.
A marijuana user may experience pleasant sensations, colors and sounds may seem more intense, and time appears to pass very slowly. The user’s mouth feels dry, and he or she may suddenly become very hungry and thirsty. His or her hands may tremble and grow cold. The euphoria passes after a while, and then the user may feel sleepy or depressed. Occasionally, marijuana use produces anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic.
Someone who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers do, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illnesses, a heightened risk of lung infections, and a greater tendency toward obstructed airways. Cancer of the respiratory tract and lungs may also be promoted by marijuana smoke. Marijuana has the potential to promote cancer of the lungs and other parts of the respiratory tract because marijuana smoke contains 50 percent to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke.
We offer drug rehab programs that explore and address the underlying causes of substance abuse and encourage clients to discover a healthy lifestyle that supports their mental, emotional and physical needs. Individual and group therapy as well as family therapy and alternative approaches are just some of the elements of our program. Learn more about our marijuana addiction treatment program options.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug with potent central nervous system stimulant properties. The widespread availability of methamphetamine today is largely fueled by illicit production in large and small clandestine laboratories throughout the United States and illegal production and importation from Mexico. In some areas of the country (especially on the West Coast), methamphetamine abuse has outpaced both heroin and cocaine.
As a powerful stimulant, methamphetamine, even in small doses, can increase wakefulness and physical activity and decrease appetite. A brief, intense sensation, or rush, is reported by those who smoke or inject methamphetamine. Oral ingestion or snorting produces a long-lasting high instead of a rush, which reportedly can continue for as long as half a day. Both the rush and the high are believed to result from the release of very high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine into areas of the brain that regulate feelings of pleasure. The large release of dopamine produced by methamphetamine is thought to contribute to the drug’s toxic effects on nerve terminals in the brain. High doses can elevate body temperature to dangerous, sometimes lethal, levels, as well as cause convulsions.
Long-term methamphetamine abuse results in many damaging effects, including addiction. Effects also include paranoia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances, and delusions (for example, the sensation of insects creeping on the skin, which is called “formication”). The paranoia can result in homicidal as well as suicidal thoughts.
Individuals struggling with methamphetamine abuse may safely undergo detox in our comfortable facilities, surrounded by 24/7 nursing staff. We help minimize discomfort from withdrawal symptoms with research-backed medications as appropriate.
Our drug treatment programs help clients overcome the physical and psychological effects of methamphetamine abuse through a variety of approaches including individual counseling sessions, small group sessions, and consultations with a psychiatrist, psychologist, nutritionist, spiritual adviser and personal trainer. Learn more about our meth addiction treatment program options.
Opiates including Heroin
An opiate is a drug derived from the opium plant. The main opiates are morphine, codeine, and heroin. Opiates are also referred to as narcotics. Narcotic addicts, when faced with shortages in their supply, often substitute various narcotic drugs for others. Heroin is the most widely-abused illicit narcotic in the U.S. Heroin can be injected intravenously, intramuscularly, or just beneath the skin (subcutaneously). It may also be snorted or smoked.
The user displays droopy eyelids, constricted pupils, and sluggish, delayed speech and mannerisms. The opiate user will appear very drowsy and have difficulty with mental functioning and attention span. If the user administers the drug with an injection, there will be needle marks and possible signs of infection at injection sites. The short-term effects of heroin abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours. After an injection of heroin, the user experiences a feeling of euphoria (“rush”) accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Heroin’s effects appear almost immediately after its use if injected intravenously and last for several hours. If injected intramuscularly, a rush will be produced within five to eight minutes, and the effects of sniffing can be felt within ten to fifteen minutes.
Heroin purity varies greatly, a fact that makes heroin use that much more dangerous. Too much pure heroin can result in respiratory arrest and death. For those users with already compromised physical health, respiratory complications can result due to the drug’s depressing effects on respiration. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulitis, and liver disease.
Opiate Addiction Treatment
Detox from opiates is different for everyone, but may involve withdrawal symptoms ranging from uncomfortable to severe. At Promises Austin, we offer medically monitored detox services with 24/7 nursing staff to assist with any discomfort resulting from detox. We use research-backed medications and alternative therapies as necessary to make this period as comfortable as possible.
Once clients complete detox, our addiction specialists work with them to craft a treatment plan that explores the underlying causes of their addiction, considers co-occurring mental health issues, and helps clients heal physically, spiritually and emotionally. Learn more about our opiate addiction treatment program options.
OxyContin® is a prescription painkiller used for moderate to high pain relief associated with injuries, bursitis, dislocations, fractures, neuralgia, arthritis, lower back pain, and pain associated with cancer. OxyContin® contains oxycodone, the medication’s active ingredient, in a timed-release tablet. Oxycodone products have been illicitly abused for the past 30 years.
The introduction in 1996 of OxyContin®, commonly known on the street as OC, OX, Oxy, Oxycotton, Hillbilly heroin, and kicker, led to a marked escalation of its abuse as reported by drug abuse treatment centers, law enforcement personnel, and health care professionals. Although the diversion and abuse of OxyContin® appeared initially in the eastern US, it has now spread to the western US including Alaska and Hawaii.
The most serious risk associated with opioids, including OxyContin®, is respiratory depression. Common opioid side effects are constipation, nausea, sedation, dizziness, vomiting, headache, dry mouth, sweating, and weakness. Taking a large single dose of an opioid could cause severe respiratory depression that can lead to death.
Long-term abuse of OxyContin® typically requires a detoxification period before therapeutic recovery work can begin. Using the latest evidence-based approaches and state-of-the-art medications, as needed, our medical team is able to curb the discomfort of withdrawal from drugs and alcohol and minimize cravings. Clients meet regularly with a medical doctor and receive care from experienced and compassionate nurses 24 hours a day.
At Promises Austin, we offer treatment programs for drug addiction that are highly individualized, and help clients heal physically through proper nutrition and exercise as well as mentally and emotionally with alternative and traditional therapies. Learn more about our OxyContin treatment program options.
In its pure form, PCP is a white crystalline powder that readily dissolves in water. However, most PCP on the street contains a number of contaminates causing the color to range from tan to brown, with a consistency ranging from powder to a gummy mass. PCP is most commonly sold as a powder or liquid. PCP may also come in tablet or capsule form. PCP may be snorted, smoked, injected, or swallowed. PCP is most commonly sold as a powder or liquid, and applied to a leafy material such as oregano, parsley, mint, or marijuana and then smoked.
PCP effects include: numbness, slurred speech, loss of coordination, rapid and involuntary eye movements, auditory hallucinations, image distortion, severe mood disorders and amnesia. In some users, PCP use may result in acute anxiety, a feeling of impending doom, paranoia, violent hostility, and in some it may produce a psychosis indistinguishable from schizophrenia. PCP use is associated with a number of risks and many believe it to be one of the most dangerous drugs of abuse.
Our treatment programs address both addiction symptoms and the underlying issues that stand in the way of long-term recovery. We help clients heal physically, spiritually and emotionally with a focus on a healthy lifestyle that includes proper nutrition and exercise, self-care, and mental and spiritual healing. Learn more about our drug rehab program options.
Source: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration