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Benzos and Methadone: A Dangerous Combination

Benzodiazepines or “benzos” benefit many people when taken as prescribed. However, for those taking methadone to treat opioid addiction, mixing benzos and methadone can be dangerous. But, there are options for those taking prescription medications like benzos to continue medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with methadone during rehab. At Believe Detox Center, we know that quitting opioids like heroin and fentanyl can be challenging without MAT. We want to assure clients that prescription benzos do not disqualify them from our MAT program. Still, some precautions and information can help our clients consider their best treatment options.

What Do Benzodiazepines Treat?

Doctors prescribe benzodiazepines (benzos), like Xanax, Klonopin, or Ativan, for many conditions. Overall, benzos are a sedative drug, meaning that they reduce brain activity. Benzos, therefore, can treat conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, and muscle spasms.

Benzos can help people reduce symptoms of these conditions, especially when combined with additional treatments like mindfulness meditation, talk therapy, and exercise, depending upon the condition. However, like all medications, benzos carry a risk of dangerous or unpleasant side effects.

Unintended Side Effects

Since benzos are sedative drugs, a person must understand the potential risks. For instance, they might be unable to perform certain tasks after taking their medication, like driving or working.

Even when a person takes their medication as prescribed, they could have unintended side effects, including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Trouble thinking and confusion
  • Depression
  • Impaired coordination
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Feeling weak or lightheaded
  • Shakes or tremors
  • Headaches

In addition, benzos carry a risk of dependency and addiction. So, it is important to disclose the use of any medications when beginning any drug treatment program, including methadone treatment for opioid addiction.

How Does Methadone Work?

Methadone helps to treat opioid addiction during medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT programs also include behavioral therapy and peer support groups to treat addiction long term. Methadone is a prescription medication that treats opioid use disorder (OUD). Doctors also prescribe methadone for pain management.

When prescribed for MAT, methadone occupies the opioid receptors in the brain, like other opioid drugs. However, unlike drugs like heroin or fentanyl, methadone’s effects are mild. Most people in recovery from potent opioid drugs will feel little to no effect. But, by occupying the opioid receptors, methadone reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and also blocks the effects of other opioids in case of a relapse.

In addition, the mild effects of methadone last longer than other opioids. During MAT with methadone, clients take one daily dose to treat addiction one day at a time. By reducing cravings and withdrawal, clients can focus on their recovery to learn new coping skills for the underlying causes of their addiction.

Potential Dangers of Mixing Benzos and Methadone

Since methadone works on the opioid receptors, a person might feel some unintended side effects similar to benzos. When taking both medications at the same time, these side effects might be more severe and even life-threatening.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns those taking benzos and prescription opioids like methadone to be aware of “symptoms of unusual dizziness or lightheadedness, extreme sleepiness, slowed or difficult breathing, or unresponsiveness.” This is because both of these drugs depress the central nervous system and the combined effects could be dangerous.

Can You Take Benzos With Methadone?

Clients can take benzos with methadone, however, they must be aware of the risks. It is also vital to have a support system in place to monitor a person’s safety in case of a medical emergency. As with any medications, clients must weigh the risks and benefits. They can also consider alternative MAT medications or treatments.

Weighing the Risks

It’s no secret that opioid addiction is deadly. It also carries other risks, like legal problems, medical issues, and difficulty maintaining relationships with loved ones. Therefore, if a person is concerned about the risks of taking benzos and methadone, they must also consider the risks of continuing their addiction.

Consider Other Medications

Fortunately, the FDA has approved other medications to treat OUD. These medications include buprenophrine and naltrexone. They come in several forms including pills, sublingual film, and brand-name injections. Of course, mixing these other medications with benzos can also lead to unintended side effects. It is critcal to speak to a healthcare professional before taking any medications.

Taper Off Benzos

Of course, another alternative is to stop taking benzos while on methadone. However, since benzodiazepines carry the risk of dependency, it is important to consult with physician before stopping. Doctors will recommend that clients taper off their prescription benzos so that they can safely adjust to the change.

Begin MAT in Los Angeles, CA

The best way to treat opioid addiction is a combination of several treatment methods. A comprehensive treatment plan can include medications like methadone for MAT along with talk therapy and holistic approaches. Those taking prescriptions like benzodiazepines need to consider the risks and benefits of methadone to treat their addiction. Believe Detox Center in Los Angeles, California, is here to help you or your loved one quit opioids like heroin and fentanyl for good. Contact us today to get the treatment you deserve.

What Is Rainbow Fentanyl?

Every Halloween, scary stories abound about dealers passing illicit drugs to unsuspecting children. Media outlets share stories and rumors like these, which are more often than not, completely untrue. Concerned parents hear these stories each year via social media or word of mouth. Still, concern among parents regarding the dangers of illicit drugs like rainbow fentanyl should not be taken likely, given the growing opioid epidemic in the U.S. So what is rainbow fentanyl? What does it look like? And how can we protect our loved ones from it?

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that is manufactured legally and illegally. As a prescription drug, fentanyl treats severe pain following surgery or for those with chronic pain from advanced-stage cancer. It can also treat pain for those with a high tolerance to feeling the effects of other opioids, like morphine.

In fact, fentanyl is about 100 times as potent as morphine. However, fentanyl is trending due to both illegal manufacturing and abuse of the prescription form of the drug. Fentanyl that is made illegally is often “cut” into other illicit substances to hook users with its highly addictive effects.

For instance, dealers may put powdered fentanyl into drugs like heroin or cocaine to ensure that users become addicted to their products. In addition, people might abuse prescription fentanyl by taking more than their prescribed dose, feigning pain symptoms for more, “doctor-shopping” to get more scripts, or purchasing another person’s medication.

Why Are Fentanyl Tablets Colored?

Fentanyl tablets come in a variety of colors for different reasons. Depending on how the drug is sold—legally or illegally—the reasons could be harmless or sinister in nature.

Brand Distinction

Since fentanyl is made by a variety of both legal and illegal manufacturers, different colors of tablets are not uncommon. Much like other prescription drugs, specific brands like to distinguish their products from the competition. However, illegally manufactured fentanyl could be colored for less innocuous reasons.

Appeal to Younger Users

An August 2022 press release by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) stated rainbow fentanyl “appears to be a new method used by drug cartels to sell highly addictive and potentially deadly fentanyl made to look like candy to children and young people.” The bright colors and different shapes might look more appealing to children and adolescents. In addition, rainbow fentanyl can be either in powder or pill form. 

Drug Smuggling

There could also be another reason fentanyl comes in various colors and shapes—drug smuggling. By changing the drug to look more like candy or other tablets, smugglers can disguise the drug when crossing borders to the U.S. This could lead to an influx of fentanyl pills getting through security measures—and making their way to new and existing users.

Rainbow Fentanyl Contributes to Overdose Deaths

While it is difficult to know the exact reasons for rainbow-colored fentanyl, opioid addiction rates continue to rise in the United States. Along with rising rates of addiction, overdoses and deaths rise as well. Synthetic opioids, like fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, contribute to the increase in both addictions and overdose deaths. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “[t]he number of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids [like fentanyl] in 2020 was more than 18 times the number in 2013.” If rainbow fentanyl is easier to smuggle and appeals to younger users, these numbers could continue to rise.

How to Prevent Opioid Addiction

Preventing opioid addiction is challenging. Many people become addicted unwillingly after using prescription opioids following surgery or injury. Or, they might become addicted to painkillers due to a chronic health condition. Still, others get addicted after experimenting with drugs or taking substances to deal with underlying mental and emotional health conditions.

While there are no easy answers, turning this problem around will take a combined effort from lawmakers, enforcement agencies, doctors, prescription drug manufacturers, and community leaders. However, many family members, especially parents of children and adolescents, want to know what they can do now to protect their loved ones. 

The following are tips to help loved ones prevent addiction or prevent addiction from worsening:

  • Be mindful of any prescription medications coming into the home. Remember to keep any prescription opioids away from vulnerable people, like children, adolescents, or those in recovery.
  • Ask physicians to prescribe alternative medications for pain management. Doctors could have other recommendations for medications without opioids or provide alternative ways to manage pain.
  • Be mindful of any sudden changes in behavior in others. While there could be many explanations for behavioral changes, it is important to check in on those who might be struggling with their mental health.
  • Consider carrying naloxone if a loved one is addicted or in recovery. Many states and community organizations offer naloxone (brand name “Narcan”) to anyone who needs it.
  • Talk to loved ones about getting treatment to begin recovery. Opioid addiction is often linked to mental health disorders. Thus, a combination of drug detoxification, therapy, and medications, is best to deal with the symptoms of both opioid addiction and the underlying causes.

Rise Above Fentanyl Addiction Today

Rainbow fentanyl could contribute to the rising numbers of opioid addiction and overdoses in the United States. While many rumors of dealers passing fentanyl and other drugs disguised as candy on Halloween are often untrue, the threat of potent drugs is real. If your loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, Believe Detox Center of Los Angeles, California, is here to help. Contact us today to get your loved one the treatment they deserve.

How Long Does Crystal Meth Stay in Your System?

For those beginning their recovery from meth addiction, they may wonder “how long will crystal meth stay in my system?” This question can be important when considering a detox program so that a person understands what will happen after they quit using meth. Quitting meth use alone can be challenging and many people relapse within a few days when they don’t have professional support.

Believe Detox Center in Los Angeles, California, is here to help clients remain safe and sober as they manage methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms in early recovery.

Drug Testing for Crystal Meth

One way to learn how long crystal meth stays in a person’s system is to examine the results of drug testing. Past and present meth use can be detected through various methods. Urine and saliva tests are some of the most common types of drug tests, as they are the easiest to obtain samples and get results.

Meth use can appear on a saliva test for about two days after use, while urine testing can detect meth use for up to four days after use. Blood testing has similar results as urine and saliva; blood tests can detect use for about three days. Hair testing can result in a positive test for up to 90 days after using meth.

While these tests show how long signs of meth use remain in the body, they don’t measure how long the effects of the drug last. Furthermore, these results don’t say very much about how long withdrawal symptoms can last. These factors might be more important to those in recovery from meth addiction.

Effects of Crystal Meth

Crystal meth is a stimulant drug, which means that it increases brain activity. Stimulants increase a person’s wakefulness and physical activity. These drugs also increase a person’s body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. Prescription stimulants treat disorders like narcolepsy and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They can also help with weight loss by suppressing a person’s appetite.

However, crystal meth (a common slang term for “methamphetamine”) is a potent stimulant drug that also creates feelings of euphoria, invulnerability, confidence, and other powerful emotions. This is because meth use “hijacks” the brain’s reward circuit, which creates positive feelings and pleasure to reinforce certain behaviors.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “methamphetamine use releases very high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the reward circuit, which ‘teaches’ the brain to repeat the pleasurable activity of taking the drug.” In addition, the release of dopamine in the brain’s reward circuit “is a defining feature of addictive drugs.” Thus, a person can get trapped in the cycle of addiction. Since meth is so potent, some users become addicted after their first time using the drug.

How Long Do These Effects Last?

While crystal meth use could be detected for months after quitting, the effects only usually last only a few hours. However, in some cases, people remain high for days after using. The amount of time these effects last depends on some of the following factors:

Method of Use

How a person uses crystal meth influences the effects. Crystal meth comes in a variety of forms, like pills, powder, and chunks of varying sizes. A person can mix powdered meth in a liquid and consume it orally or inject it directly into their veins. Some people snort crystal meth powder. Other uses smoke or swallow chunks of meth. Some people even take crystal meth rectally.

When swallowing crystal meth, a person might not feel the effects until two to four hours later. However, smoking, snorting, injecting, or rectal use have rapid effects which occur within minutes.

Polysubstance Abuse

Many people abuse crystal meth with other substances. This is called “polysubstance abuse.” Polysubstance abuse can be even more dangerous since the effects of different drugs are felt simultaneously. Some people use meth with other stimulants, like cocaine, to enhance the effects. Still, others could use meth with opiates, which can be extremely dangerous. However, one of the most common forms of polysubstance abuse involves mixing illicit drugs with alcohol.

Alcohol use can inhibit the person’s ability to metabolize meth. This increase the amount of time that crystal meth stays in the system.

Individual Factors

Each person will metabolize crystal meth differently due to their overall health and metabolic rate. In other words, a person with a higher natural metabolism will process meth more quickly. Thus, some people get meth out of their system faster than others.

In addition, a person’s level of addiction and habits surrounding substance abuse influence how long meth stays in their system. For instance, a person who only uses meth once and never again might expel the substance within a few days. However, chronic, long-term meth use can leave traces of meth in the body for months after quitting.

Recovery for Crystal Meth in Los Angeles, CA

It’s no secret that addiction to crystal meth has devastating effects on a person’s physical and mental well-being. This highly addictive substance is so powerful that many people fear they won’t be able to quit, and they lose all hope of recovery. However, Believe Detox Center in Los Angeles, California is here to help you or a loved one quit crystal meth for good. Contact us today to learn more about our high-quality detox and drug rehab services.

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