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Types of Drug Addiction

Between illegal and over the counter drugs individuals can become addicted to a wide variety of substances.

Types of Drug Addiction

While some drugs are used for medicinal purposes, others are taken illegally for their narcotic or stimulant effects and can often become addictive. Drug addiction is a dangerous and potentially fatal disease. If the negative effects of drug addiction or abuse have impacted you or a loved one, take heart.
At Caron, we can help you build a treatment program that meets your needs.

Bath Salts

Bath salts are synthetic, designer street drugs that are often marketed to teenagers and young adults as Ivory Wave, Purple Wave, Vanilla Sky, Red Sky and Blue Silk.

How are bath salt drugs different from bath salts?

Salts for use in the bathtub that can be purchased in reputable retail settings are entirely different from bath salts drugs. [1] Despite their commonplace name and “not for human consumption” disclaimers, illicit bath salts are drugs of abuse. In fact, in 2012, President Obama deemed the active ingredients in bath salts Schedule 1 drugs, meaning that illicit bath salts cannot be prescribed or sold under any circumstances. 

Effects of bath salts

Because bath salts are relatively new recreational drugs, little is known about their precise chemical composition and long-term effects. They usually contain amphetamine-like chemicals, which act like stimulants.

Typically, bath salts can be administered orally (sometimes mixed with food and drinks) by inhalation or by injection. Users experience hallucinogenic and euphoric highs, though the drug’s effects vary widely depending on chemical composition.

As a result of this composition variance, it is difficult to detail the short-term effects. Most bath salts drugs cause:

  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • anger
  • paranoia
  • panic
  • sweating
  • chills
  • faintness
  • nausea
  • blurred vision
  • hallucinations
  • high blood pressure
  • increased pulse
  • chest pain

They may also cause suicidal feelings—sometimes several days after the drug has left the system.

The long-term effects of bath salts are even more difficult to gauge. Users report cravings not unlike those experienced by methamphetamine users. Not surprisingly, users are at high risk for developing an addiction. Even so, overdose is the most serious and common complication associated with bath salts use.

The importance of educating teens on bath salts drug abuse.

Despite the aforementioned legislation, the nature of bath salts and other designer drugs makes them difficult to regulate. Therefore, it is imperative that parents stay informed and educate their children about the dangers of bath salts and other designer drugs. 

If you’re concerned about bath salt usage for yourself or a loved one, Caron’s individualized treatment plans can set patients on the road to recovery for life. For more information, please explore our programs or contact us.


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Benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are a class of prescription drug (commonly called tranquilizers) that depress the central nervous system (CNS) and reduce brain function. Common varieties include drugs such as Valium, Xanax, or Librium. When properly prescribed and taken, benzos:

  • treat anxiety and panic disorders
  • relieve muscle spasms
  • induce sleep
  • produce sedation
  • alleviate alcohol withdrawal
  • prevent seizures

What are the effects of benzos?

In general, dosage determines the effects of benzodiazepines:

  • Low doses produce sedation and are used to manage insomnia and anxiety.
  • Moderate doses prevent seizures.
  • High doses induce sleep.

Abusing benzos can cause severe effects—including dangerously reduced heart rate and respiration, coma and death—when used in combination with other drugs (particularly CNS depressants), alcohol and antihistamines. Using benzos while driving is particularly risky due to the fact that they can cause short-term memory loss and confusion.

While benzodiazepines have many therapeutic uses, repeated use, large doses or improper use can result in a variety of negative side effects, including:

  • Amnesia
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Irritability
  • Disturbing dreams
  • Hostility

Benzo addiction.

Prolonged daily benzodiazepine use or abuse can also result in benzo addiction: tolerance, physical dependence and withdrawal when use is discontinued. Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can be quite severe and often last longer than those of other drugs. In fact, detoxing from benzodiazepines is just as difficult as detoxing from heroin. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms associated with benzo addiction can change minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour. Even as the patient recovers, symptoms may disappear for a few weeks or months, only to return again.

Benzo withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Sensory distortion
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Depression
  • Hypersensitivity to touch and pain
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of appetite

Severe benzo withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Psychosis
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Delirium tremens
  • Suicidal behavior, particularly in young people
  • Hallucinations

Severe symptoms can be dangerous and are best treated by medically supervised detox.

Avoiding unanticipated benzo addiction.

While benzodiazepines are sold illegally on the streets, it is important to note that benzo addiction can occur even in those who aren’t intentionally abusing the drug. In fact, daily use of benzodiazepines for a period longer than four weeks can result in limited drug effectiveness, tolerance, dependence and withdrawal symptoms upon quitting—all markers of benzo addiction. Thus, it is imperative that 1) doctors closely monitor patients with benzodiazepine prescriptions and 2) patients follow dosage instructions stringently in order to avoid benzo addiction.

Benzo addiction is serious, but it can be treated. If you or a loved one is addicted, please explore our programs or contact us for more information.

The typical course of benzodiazepine addiction treatment.

Usually, treatment for benzodiazepine (benzo) addiction requires detoxification and a recovery phase, during which the addict is given the tools he or she needs to live drug free. Drug rehabilitation centers, private counseling and support groups are just some of the resources available to benzodiazepine addicts. Of these, drug rehabilitation centers have some of the highest success rates, as they are able to provide a comprehensive, customized continuum of care in a private, therapeutic setting.

Treatment for benzodiazepine addiction usually begins with the detoxification. During this process, the patient should be closely monitored for seizures and other adverse complications. Medications should be administered when possible to ease withdrawal symptoms. The length of a patient’s detox, as well as symptom intensity, is dependent on the severity and duration of the patient’s addiction and the type of benzo that he or she used.

Once detoxification is complete, patients enter the prolonged recovery phase. This should involve some form of behavioral therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy or individual and group counseling. Behavioral therapy interventions address the underlying causes of addiction and teach the addict how to identify, avoid and cope with situations that trigger drug use.

Family counseling is another therapeutic method that contributes to successful treatment. It addresses dysfunctions and promotes healing within families affected by addiction. Self-help groups, such as 12-Step groups, may also benefit recovery. They provide addicts with peer support and open forums to discuss addiction-related experiences. The encouragement and hope these groups offer is often instrumental to long-term sobriety.

Once residential treatment is complete, a continuing care plan should be put in place to encourage abstinence and give the addict a continued sense of accountability.

Treating the whole person.

When treating benzodiazepine addiction, it is important to take the addicted individual’s unique needs into account. Professional evaluations and therapies should address various psychological, biological, demographic, behavioral, historical, physical, social and cultural factors in order to achieve long-term success.

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What is cocaine?

Cocaine—also known as blow, coke, crack, flake and snow—is a potent stimulant drug derived from the processed leaves of the coca plant. “Crack” cocaine, which was produced and popularized in the early 1980s, is a powder that has been processed to form rock crystals that are usually smoked.

The dangers of cocaine addiction.

Cocaine is a highly dangerous drug, regardless of frequency of use. Far more addictive than many other drugs and alcohol, cocaine is classified as Schedule II drug, meaning it has high potential for abuse that may quickly lead to severe physical and psychological dependence.

Short-term effects of cocaine abuse.

Cocaine impacts users differently depending upon dosage, purity and method of administration. While all three methods of cocaine abuse—snorting, injecting or smoking—lead to addiction, each produces different effects due to differences in the amount of time it takes for cocaine to reach the brain. Injecting and smoking cocaine produces the most intense highs, but they last only five to ten minutes. Smoking is thought to increase compulsive use the most. Snorting produces a weaker high that can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. Consequently, cocaine is often abused in binges, or repeated, increasingly higher doses taken in a short period of time to avoid the post-high crash.

Generally, cocaine’s short-term effects include

  • euphoria
  • hyperactivity
  • restlessness
  • feelings of invincibility
  • heightened sexual interest and pleasure

Cocaine-induced euphoria quickly escalates to discomfort. Short-term side effects of cocaine include:

  • bloodshot eyes
  • increased blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate
  • constricted peripheral blood vessels
  • dilated pupils
  • abdominal pain
  • restlessness
  • irritability
  • depression
  • mania
  • anxiety
  • twitching
  • paranoia
  • impotence

Serious adverse cocaine effects can occur even in first-time users. Cocaine puts people at risk for heart attacks, strokes, respiratory failure and seizures—all of which can result in sudden death. Furthermore, mixing cocaine with alcohol increases the chance of sudden death by causing the liver to manufacture a third substance, cocaethylene, which intensifies cocaine’s effects.

Long-term effects of cocaine abuse.

Repeated cocaine abuse can lead to drug addiction and a host health and relational problems, including:

  • loss of appetite and dangerous weight loss
  • altered appearance: damage to nasal passage, tooth grinding, deteriorated tooth enamel
  • lung damage
  • asthma
  • an aching, flu-like syndrome
  • rare autoimmune diseases
  • connective tissue disorders
  • kidney diseases
  • renal failure
  • doubled risk of stroke and infarctions
  • problems with work performance
  • tardiness or even job loss
  • money problems (caused by job loss and feeding the cocaine habit)
  • lying, cheating and stealing to support the need to get high on cocaine
  • violent behavior

Prolonged cocaine abuse may also lead to tolerance, or need to consume larger amounts to achieve the initial high. Cocaine withdrawal, can cause depression, making cocaine addiction very difficult to overcome.

Treatment Options


The first step in cocaine addiction treatment is detoxification, which is often medically supervised. Once the body is ridded of all drugs and alcohol, a comprehensive rehabilitation program that addresses all aspects of addiction (psychological, biological, social, physiological, occupational, etc.) should be implemented.


While there are no specific pharmacotherapies available for the treatment of cocaine addiction, some studies have shown that, especially in serious cases, medications such as amantadine and bromocriptine effectively reduce cravings, normalize sleep and increase energy.

Behavioral therapy

Most successful drug rehab plans will incorporate some form of behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy and addiction counseling, for example, focus on identifying the underlying causes of addiction and teaching the addict to identify, avoid and cope with relapse triggers. Behavioral therapy is an important step toward long-term cocaine abstinence.

Cocaine Support Groups

Many support groups, such as Cocaine Anonymous (CA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), have proven to benefit treatment and ongoing recovery.

The importance of inpatient rehabilitation programs.

Though not all cocaine addicts need to enroll in a residential treatment program in order to successfully recover, inpatient rehabilitation programs can be an effective choice for individuals with cocaine problems. These programs are able to manage all aspects of a comprehensive treatment plan, including detoxification, cognitive-behavioral therapy, addiction counseling, family therapy, pharmacotherapy (when possible) and relapse prevention. In addition, residential treatment programs are able to provide patients with professional, 24-hour care in a safe, calming environment.

In general, residential treatment programs also have higher success rates than outpatient treatment programs, because they take the addict away from the environment and friends that fueled the drug problem. Caron’s residential programs offer a comprehensive range of treatment services that focus on the medical, psychological, clinical, physical and spiritual aspects of one's recovery.

Struggling with cocaine addiction? Help is here.

No one should have to face cocaine addiction alone. Contact Caron today for more information on how to get help and recover from cocaine addiction for good.

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Crystal Meth

Crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth) – also know as ice or glass – is a pure form of methamphetamine, a central nervous system stimulant. Also highly addictive, crystal meth is named for its clear, crystalline, rock-like appearance.

Crystal meth abuse and addiction.

The crystal meth high: Crystal meth is usually smoked, but it can be snorted or injected. Like other stimulants, crystal meth arouses the brain’s pleasure centers, releasing dopamine and, initially, causing feelings of intense pleasure. Crystal meth users report feelings of euphoria, increased energy and power. 

Side-effects of crystal meth: In the short term, crystal meth causes a variety of side effects, including:

  • suppressed appetite
  • mood swings
  • sleep disruption or insomnia
  • anxiety
  • erratic or violent behavior
  • loss of appetite
  • convulsions
  • increased blood pressure
  • irregular heart rate
  • thoughts of homicide or suicide, in some users

Chronic, long-term use of crystal meth results in

  • weight loss
  • psychosis
  • hallucinations
  • sores on the body from picking at the skin
  • inflammation of the heart lining
  • formication (a sensation of bugs crawling on the skin)
  • “meth mouth” (tooth decay and cracked teeth caused by tooth grinding and poor oral hygiene)
  • heightened risk of brain damage, coma, stroke or death

Crystal meth overdose can result in hyperthermia, seizures or death.

Crystal meth addiction: Continued abuse of crystal meth destroys the brain’s dopamine and serotonin receptors, making it extremely difficult for crystal meth addicts to experience feelings of pleasure. This reduced capacity to experience pleasure encourages dependence on crystal meth, withdrawal symptoms when crystal meth use is curtailed and, ultimately, crystal meth addiction.  

Treating crystal meth addiction. With the right treatment program, recovery from crystal meth addiction is possible. Currently, the most effective treatment for methamphetamine addiction involves comprehensive cognitive-behavioral intervention coupled with medically-monitored detox. 

For more information on Caron’s holistic and individualized rehabilitation options, please continue reading about treatment, explore Caron’s programs, or contact us.

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Ecstasy, or MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), is a synthetic club drug abused for its stimulant effects. Ecstasy is also known as XTC, X, Adam, hug, beans and love drugs.

Short term effects of ecstasy:

Using ecstasy is both dangerous and addictive. Usually taken orally in capsule or tablet form, ecstasy contains active chemicals that reach the brain approximately 15 minutes after ingestion. About 45 minutes later, ecstasy users typically experience a high that lasts anywhere from 3 to 6 hours.

Users often take ecstasy at clubs, parties and raves for its euphoric, inhibition-reducing effects. Initially, most individuals report feeling extremely alert, hyperactive, friendly, mentally stimulated and energetic. Many experience an enhanced sense of touch as well as changes in perception. Others bypass the high altogether, feeling the negative side-effects of ecstasy immediately.  

  • chills
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • teeth clenching
  • muscle cramping
  • blurred vision

In some cases, ecstasy inhibits the body’s ability to regulate temperature, which can be fatal. With continued use, ecstasy can cause depression, sleep problems, drug cravings, anxiety, memory problems and confusion. Chronic ecstasy abusers also experience withdrawal symptoms after prolonged use and sudden discontinuation. Symptoms of ecstasy abuse can last for weeks after the drug has left the system.

Ecstasy addiction treatment.

While no specific pharmacological treatments exist for ecstasy addiction, certain behavioral interventions, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and inpatient treatment, can effectively treat ecstasy addiction. Relevant support groups also may also facilitate healing from ecstasy addiction. For questions about ecstasy effects, addiction and treatment options, please explore our programs or  contact Caron.

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Heroin is a powerful pain-killing illicit drug derived from the opium poppy plant. It is produced from morphine, one of the biologically active components of opium.

Heroin is administered in three ways: smoking, snorting, or shooting (injecting). Because it enters the brain quickly, heroin addiction develops rapidly, often within a few uses.

How heroin addiction develops.

Repeated heroin use leads to tolerance, or the need to use larger amounts to obtain the same effects. Heroin addiction occurs when users require regular and increasing doses in order to function normally in daily life.

Signs of heroin use.

Heroin abuse invariably leads to serious drug problems. At first, using heroin induces feelings of euphoria followed by pleasant drowsiness. Initial highs lasts about four to six hours. Once a heroin user develops a tolerance, however, highs last only two to four hours. After that, the heroin user needs another “fix” to maintain the desired effect.

Immediate signs of heroin use high include warm, flushed skin, dry mouth, heavy limbs, and euphoria. With time, heroin causes abusers to alternates between wakeful and drowsy states, at which point nausea and constipation may occur. Occasionally, when consumed in large doses, heroin can suppress breathing to the point of death.

Long-term health risks associated with heroin abuse include:

  • collapsed veins
  • infection of the heart lining and valves
  • abscesses
  • cellulitis
  • liver disease
  • pulmonary conditions, including various types of pneumonia, arising from poor health and suppressed respiration

Other dangers of heroin abuse.

Street heroin may contain additives or contaminants that clog blood vessels leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys or brain. This can cause infection or even the death of small patches of cells in vital organs. Other infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, may also result from taking heroin intravenously. Finally, mixing opiates and heroin with other central nervous system depressants—like alcohol, sedatives and antihistamines—increases one’s risk of respiratory failure.

Heroin Withdrawal.

Over time, heroin users will develop withdrawal symptoms, which occur the drug is suddenly discontinued. Heroin withdrawal symptoms include loss of appetite, irritability and anxiety, insomnia, vomiting and nausea. Because heroin withdrawal can be a difficult and lengthy process, it is highly recommended that doctors who specialize in addiction treatment supervise medical detoxification from heroin.

Treating heroin addiction.

Heroin addiction treatment usually begins with medically assisted detoxification and includes pharmacological treatments (like methadone or buprenorphrine) that help prevent relapse and ease withdrawal symptoms. Holistic heroin addiction treatment plans, such as Caron’s, also involve addiction counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, drug rehab and heroin support groups.

For more information on treating heroin addiction, please continue reading.

The typical course of heroin rehabilitation.


After a customized heroin rehabilitation plan has been established, the patient usually begins heroin detox, the process of ridding the body of drugs. Because detoxing from heroin can involve severe withdrawal symptoms and complications, medical management is recommended. 

Behavioral health treatment.

Heroin rehabilitation usually involves one or more forms of behavioral therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, addiction counseling, individual or group therapy and psychotherapy. These treatments address the root causes of addiction and teach patients various coping techniques for preventing relapse.

Pharmaceutical therapy.

Some heroin rehab programs involve pharmaceutical interventions. Medications such as methadone, buprenorphine and extended-release naltrexone (Vivitrol) help patients recover by easing withdrawal symptoms, reducing heroin cravings and helping prevent relapse. 


Once heroin rehab is complete, a long-term care plan should be established to prevent relapse. This might include continued addiction counseling, continued participation in support groups for patients and continued development of healthy coping behaviors. By this stage, it’s essential that addicts understand the power of heroin addiction and the value of recovery.

Dealing with heroin addiction? Help is here.

Caron’s highly trained clinical professionals are well equipped to help people beat severe opiate and heroin addictions.

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LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide)—also known as acid, blotter and dots—is a powerful hallucinogenic drug manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.

What is LSD?

LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide)—also known as acid, blotter and dots—is a powerful hallucinogenic drug manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in a fungus that grows on rye and other grains.

LSD effects?

Users take LSD for its psychotropic effects (trips), which usually last about 12 hours. LSD is primarily taken orally, either in the form of tablets, capsules, liquid or decorated absorbent paper that is dissolved on the tongue.

Psychological LSD effects depend largely on dosage, the user’s state of mind while using and their previous experiences. They include: 

  • feeling several emotions at once
  • altered sense of time
  • extreme emotional swings
  • delusions and hallucinations; hearing, seeing and feeling things that are not there
  • impaired judgment
  • false sense of invincibility; heightened risk of accidents
  • “bad trips,” or frightening highs
  • flashbacks that can occur weeks or months after initial trip
  • dissociative states and wandering may occur when LSD is mixed with other drugs

Physical LSD effects include:

  •  dilated pupils
  • increased body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure
  • profuse sweating
  • numbness
  • nausea
  • insomnia
  • dry mouth
  • loss (or occasional increase) of appetite
  • tremors
  • sensation of tasting metal

LSD and Addiction

LSD is not physically addictive, but many users develop psychological addictions to it, meaning they feel as though they need LSD even though they are not chemically dependent on it.

For help overcoming LSD addiction, please explore Caron’s programs or contact us.

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Marijuana—also known as pot, ganja, weed, grass, dope and 420—is an addictive drug made from dried cannabis sativa hemp plant. The active chemical in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for marijuana’s hallucinogenic effects. THC moves quickly through the bloodstream to act on cannabinoid receptors in areas of the brain that control memory (the hippocampus), concentration (cerebral cortex), perception (sensory portions of the cerebral cortex) and movement (the cerebellum, substantia nigra, globus pallidus).

Is marijuana addictive?

Long-term marijuana abuse can lead to physical and psychological marijuana addiction. Heavy, long-term marijuana users develop physical dependence on the drug and withdrawal symptoms upon quitting. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms typically include irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety, impaired appetite and aggression.

Signs of marijuana use.

The short term signs of marijuana use include:

  • impaired coordination
  • skewed sensory and time perception
  • difficulty thinking, concentrating, and solving problems
  • shortened attention span and distractibility
  • decreased alertness
  • impaired learning and memory
  • euphoria

Additionally, marijuana can cause disturbed thoughts and worsen psychotic symptoms in schizophrenics.

Effects of weed.

Long-term marijuana abuse often results in lowered motivation and an impaired ability to function in daily life. Some users experience anxiety, panic attacks, respiratory illnesses and increased heart rate and risk of heart attack. Though research is not definitive, chronic marijuana abuse has been linked to mental illness such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.

Marijuana use also poses a major threat to lung health. Marijuana smokers, especially those who began as teenagers, can have the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers. In fact, marijuana puts smokers at comparatively higher risk for lung health complications due to the fact that it has four times the tar, three to five times more carbon monoxide and over 50% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than cigarettes. Just three or four joints cause as much lung damage as 20 cigarettes.

The dangers of marijuana use.

Over the years, marijuana has become much more potent. The amount of THC in pot has increased more than 150% since 1983. Sometimes unbeknownst to the user, marijuana can be laced with heroin, cocaine, insecticides and embalming fluid. About 400 harmful chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic, are commonly found in marijuana as well. Lastly, high doses of marijuana can produce an acute psychotic reaction in some individuals.

Marijuana addiction treatment.

Treatment for marijuana addiction is highly effective. Various options, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, addiction counseling, drug rehab, medication to treat withdrawal and motivational incentives are available.

The stages of effective marijuana addiction treatment.

Step 1: Develop a treatment plan.

The first step in marijuana addiction treatment is to develop an individualized treatment plan based on the patient’s distinctive needs. This plan should address their mental, physical and social needs as well as any multiple addictions or comorbidities.

Step 2: Supervised detox, if necessary.

Depending on the severity of the marijuana addiction, medically supervised detox may or may not be a necessary precursor to treatment. While withdrawal from marijuana is often not as difficult as withdrawal from other drugs and alcohol, some patients may still be at risk for complications and should be closely monitored by medical professionals. Occasionally, antidepressants can be used to stabilize mood changes associated with the early stages of quitting and treatment.

Step 3: Behavioral Therapy

Once the patient has successfully completed detox, a variety of behavioral therapies and reinforcements are available. These include:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps the patient identify and cope with triggers
  • community reinforcement, therapy which discourages stimuli associated with marijuana addiction and encourages stimuli associated with abstinence
  • contingency management, which rewards patients for positive behavior
  • marijuana addiction support groups

Choosing the right marijuana addiction treatment.

For some patients, a closely monitored outpatient marijuana addiction treatment program (perhaps combined with a support group) is sufficient. For others, especially those with comorbid disorders or other addictions, an inpatient or residential treatment program is more successful. These drug rehab programs offer safe, medically assisted detox, behavioral therapy, addiction counseling, family counseling, aftercare plans and, when possible, pharmacotherapy—all within a professional, therapeutic atmosphere.

Struggling with marijuana addiction? Help is here.

Marijuana addiction is serious but highly treatable. Explore Caron’s treatment programs or contact us to find help today.

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Methamphetamine (meth)– also known as speed, chalk, ice, crystal or glass—is a central nervous system stimulant that quickly leads to meth addiction. It is a white, colorless, bitter-tasting powder.

Most types of meth, including crystal meth, are produced in foreign or domestic laboratories or in small, illegal laboratories, where its production endangers lab workers, neighbors and the surrounding environment. Making illegal meth is extremely hazardous and often fatal to its manufacturers.

Methamphetamine abuse: methamphetamine’s effects and the path to meth addiction.

The meth high: Methamphetamine can be administered orally or by snorting, injecting or smoking. When meth enters the user’s brain, it stimulates the brain’s reward pathway to release the dopamine. This produces a high characterized by increased alertness, concentration, self-esteem, libido, energy and euphoria. Meth highs last for several hours. 

After initial feelings of euphoria fade, meth users feel fatigued and depressed and can sleep for extended periods of time. Because the pleasurable effects of methamphetamine wear off quickly, meth users tend to abuse the drug in a “binge and crash” cycle, meaning they take more meth before the first dose is out of the system. In some cases, abusers go on a “run,” abusing for days on end without eating or sleeping.

Side-effects of meth: In the short-term, methamphetamine users experience a variety of side effects, including:

  • wakefulness
  • irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • increased body temperature and blood pressure
  • hallucinations
  • delusions of grandeur
  • repetitive and obsessive behavior (such as hand-washing or cleaning)
  • paranoia

Long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse are quite serious. They include: 
  • mood disturbances
  • violent or bizarre behavior
  • anxiety and confusion
  • difficulty sleeping
  • severe dental problems (meth mouth).
  • depression
  • suicide
  • psychosis
  • heart disease
  • irreversible damage to nerve receptors in the brain
  • increased risk of HIV/AIDS

Meth addiction: Methamphetamine’s influence on the brain’s reward pathway makes it a highly addictive drug. Because meth depletes dopamine output over time, users develop dependence, or the need to take higher and higher doses of methamphetamine to achieve the initial high. Meth addicts will experience withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuing or curtailing use. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • depression
  • increased appetite
  • headaches
  • agitation
  • hypersomnia (excessive sleeping)
  • anxiety
  • lucid dreams
  • drug cravings
  • suicidal thoughts

Those who abuse methamphetamine by smoking are at higher risk for developing meth addiction, because smoking is the method of abuse that delivers the drug to the brain the fastest. 

Availability of meth.

Due to its high potential for abuse, methamphetamine is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled. But although methamphetamine can be prescribed by a doctor, its medical uses are limited. Not to mention, prescribed doses of meth are much smaller than those taken by the average abuser.

Treating meth addiction.

With the right treatment program, recovery from meth addiction is possible. Currently, the most effective treatment for methamphetamine addiction involves comprehensive cognitive-behavioral intervention coupled with medically-monitored detox.  

Recovering from methamphetamine abuse and addiction.

Addiction to methamphetamine and crystal meth can be debilitating, dangerous and, for some, life threatening. Fortunately, effective treatment is available.

As with most addictions, the first step in treating methamphetamine addiction is assessing the needs of the individual. For treatment to be most successful, it must address the needs of the whole person, not just issues associated with physical addiction. Various factors such as the individual’s social, psychological, physical and demographic characteristics should be taken into account when designing a holistic treatment program.

Detoxification from methamphetamine is a vital (but not sufficient) element of treatment programs, but it's not easy for patients. Coping with meth withdrawal symptoms can be quite difficult without help. While symptom intensity depends on the duration and severity of one's addiction, many addicts experience anxiety, trouble sleeping, extreme agitation and intense cravings for meth during withdrawal. Because of this, medical observation and supervision during detox are recommended.

Once the addict is stabilized and physically drug-free, treatment should commence. The most effective treatments for meth addiction involve comprehensive behavioral therapy such as individual counseling; cognitive-behavioral therapy to identify and alter destructive patterns; and psychotherapy. Family therapy may also be initiated to break the cycle of addiction at home and identify and patterns of dysfunction within the family system.

Addicts may also seek out a support group, such as a Twelve-Step group, for emotional support, a sense of camaraderie and an optimistic perspective. For addicts who have felt isolated and disheartened, a support group can provide much-needed hope.

Finally, once treatment has been completed, a continuing care plan should be established in order to prevent relapse and encourage long-term abstinence. This could include drug testing, contingency management interventions (which provide incentives for good behavior) and post-treatment monitoring.

The importance of professional, inpatient treatment.

While it is possible to recover from a crystal meth addiction without professional help, those who seek it help often have higher rates of success in overcoming addiction and sustaining recovery.

One of the most critical benefits of professional meth addiction treatment is program duration. Because methamphetamines can stay in the system for six months after just one use, addicts often require lengthy treatment programs and continuing care plans in order to prevent relapse. In order to recover fully, it’s essential that addicts follow a sufficiently lengthy treatment plan as well as all clinical recommendations. Those who have attempted rehab before could benefit from longer treatment programs.

While outpatient treatment programs can be successful, inpatient treatment is recommended for the severely addicted. Residential treatment programs provide the addict with a therapeutic environment in which they can recover without the influences and pressures of the environment in which they battled addiction.

You and your loved ones don’t have to battle methamphetamine addiction alone. Caron’s inpatient rehab programs are carefully designed to help each individual heal, thrive and live drug free.

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Over the Counter Drugs

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are medicines sold directly to consumers without prescriptions from healthcare professionals. They are readily available at grocery, convenience and drug stores.

Contrary to popular belief, over-the-counter drugs are not harmless. Some are addictive and potentially dangerous, especially when abused, or not taken as directed. Over-the-counter drug abuse is most common among children and teens.

Types of abused OTC drugs.

The most commonly abused over-the-counter drugs contain the ingredient DXM (dextromethorphan), which is used to treat symptoms of the common cold and flu. When abused, DXM produces euphoria. 

Short-term effects of DXM abuse are:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • impaired judgment
  • distortion of visual perception
  • loss of coordination
  • headache
  • numbness of extremities
  • irregular heartbeat
  • increased blood pressure
  • aches
  • panic attacks
  • cold or hot flashes
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • seizures
  • hallucinations
  • psychosis

Long-term DXM abuse can cause: 

  • restlessness
  • insomnia
  • coma
  • addiction
  • death, in certain cases

Over-the-counter drug abuse also occurs with weight loss medications, like laxatives, diuretics, emetics (drugs that produce vomiting) and diet pills. While many use them to lose weight, dangerous and addictive ingredients—such as ephedrine, caffeine and phenylpropranolamine—can eventually lead to dependence and addiction. Even herbal diet pills, which are considered natural, are dangerous. All weight loss products, even over-the-counter weight loss drugs, have stimulant effects on the central nervous system. 

Side effects of over-the-counter weight-loss drug abuse include:

  • hair loss
  • insomnia
  • disruption of menses in females
  • urinary tract infections
  • anxiety
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • blurred vision

Other frequently abused over-the-counter drugs include pain relievers (often taken in excess when initial dosage is ineffective); motion sickness pills (which cause hallucinations when taken in extremely high doses); and sexual performance enhancers (to counteract the effects of alcohol on sexual performance).

Risks associated with over-the-counter drug abuse.

It is very unsafe to abuse over-the-counter drugs, or take them in quantities or for purposes other than those indicated. Doing so could cause overdose and death, dangerous drug interactions, and/or worsen medical problems. Not to mention, abusing over-the-counter drugs can lead to severe legal and professional consequences, including arrests for inappropriate behavior, loss of drivers license and loss of job. For these reasons, it is important to check with medical professionals before taking over-the-counter drugs.

Signs and symptoms of over-the-counter drug abuse.

Parents and family members should be on the lookout for the warning signs of over-the-counter drug abuse. They include: 

  • missing medications
  • negative performance at school or work
  • changes in hobbies and interests
  • visits to Internet sites that contain information on how to abuse over-the-counter drugs to get high
  • disrupted sleeping patterns
  • changes in friends
  • bad track-record with relationships
  • changes in appearance and hygiene

If you suspect that someone you care for is struggling with over-the-counter drug abuse, there is hope. Immediate intervention and treatment will prevent long-term health consequences. Explore Caron’s treatment programs or contact us for more information. 

A typical course of over-the-counter drug addiction treatment.

Addiction treatment for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs varies depending on the type of drug one has abused. Since most over-the-counter drugs are abused by teenagers, family involvement is essential to the treatment process.

The first step in an effective treatment program is to assess the needs of the patient. In addition to their physical addiction, behavioral, social, scholastic, familial and health factors should be taken into account when designing a treatment plan.

Once a comprehensive, holistic addiction treatment plan is in place, patients usually begin the detox process. Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the type, duration and severity of addiction to over-the-counter drugs and can be very difficult for patients to endure. Medically monitored detox is recommended, especially since severe symptoms can occasionally be prevented or managed with medication.

The next step in treatment is usually some form of behavioral therapy, which teaches patients how to cope with cravings, avoid situations that might trigger use and deal with potential relapses. It also addresses underlying issues, such as depression, anxiety, learning disabilities or multiple addictions.

Once addiction treatment is complete, an aftercare program or follow-up plan should be established to prevent relapse.

The importance of inpatient addiction treatment.

While outpatient treatment is effective under some circumstances, inpatient treatment programs have higher success rates, because they remove the patient from the environment in which the problem started and provide a therapeutic setting where they can focus solely on recovery. 

Caron's inpatient treatment programs are equipped to handle addiction to over-the-counter drugs in all ages. To get help for you or a loved one, please contact us today.

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What is PCP?

PCP (phencyclidine)—also known as angel dust, ozone and rocket fuel—is a synthetic hallucinogenic drug known for its dissociative (often negative) psychological effects. While PCP can evoke feelings of strength, invincibility and power, it is an extremely dangerous, and often addictive, drug.

PCP is a white or colored powder that is typically sold in tablet or capsule form. Users abuse PCP by snorting, smoking or ingesting it. (When smoked, users apply PCP powder to dried plant leaves such as mint, basil or marijuana.) Depending on the amount ingested and route of administration, the effects of PCP can last for up to 6 hours.

In addition to feelings of supremacy and invincibility, PCP users experience dissociative states, or feelings of mental numbness and detachment. Many adverse psychological effects may also occur, including schizophrenia-like symptoms (delusions, disordered thinking, hallucinations, paranoia, and anxiety) and mood disturbances (anxiety, panic attacks). Severe effects include seizures, coma, violence, suicide or death. When PCP interacts with other drugs, especially depressants, it can lead to coma or respiratory distress.

A variety of physical side effects occur while using PCP. In the short term, low to moderate doses cause a rise in blood pressure; an increase in breathing and pulse rate; shallow breathing; numbness of the extremities; loss of coordination; flushing; and profuse sweating. When taken in higher doses, drops in blood pressure, respiration, and pulse rate; nausea and vomiting; rolling of the eyes; loss of balance; dizziness; and drooling may occur.

PCP also can cause long-term, serious effects that may last up to a year after drug use. They include memory loss, depression, trouble thinking and speaking and weight loss.

Can PCP addiction be treated?

Treatment for PCP addiction usually involves some form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, medical interventions (such as medically supervised detoxification) and addiction support groups. Aftercare or follow-up treatment is also vitally important to long-term recovery.

PCP addiction can be quite difficult to overcome, particularly because the long-term effects it causes commonly lead to relapse. Because of this, individuals suffering from PCP addiction are strongly encouraged to seek professional help.

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Prescription Drug Abuse

What are prescription drugs?

Prescription drugs are licensed medications or medicines that are regulated by government legislation. To legally obtain prescription drugs, patients must have a prescription (also called an Rx or script). 

What is prescription drug abuse?

Any improper use of prescription drugs—including deviations from prescribed dosing or method of administration, sharing prescription drugs or taking prescription drugs without a script—is considered prescription drug abuse.

Effects of prescription drug abuse.

Prescription drug abuse poses serious health consequences. For starters, prescription drugs often involve side effects even when taken as directed. These side effects can become fatal when prescription drugs are abused in combination with alcohol or other drugs. 

Prescription drug abuse also increases one’s risk of overdose, as prescription drug abusers often take improper doses or change routes of administration, thus flooding their systems with large amounts of drugs all at once and without regard to factors such as height, weight, age and rate of absorption. 

Chronic prescription drug abuse causes physical dependence, tolerance and, eventually, addiction. Similar to the abuse of illicit drugs, withdrawal symptoms will develop if use is abruptly reduced or stopped.

Types of abused prescription drugs.

The most commonly abused prescription drugs can be broken down into three classes: opioids (used to treat pain), central nervous system depressants (used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders) and stimulants (used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy). According to a report filed with the Center for Disease Control, prescription drug abuse reflects disease patterns by age group:

  • Children tend to abuse asthma medications.
  • Teens tend to abuse central nervous system stimulants.
  • Middle aged adults tend to abuse antidepressants.
  • Older adults tend to abuse cholesterol or blood pressure medications.

Prevalence of prescription drug abuse and addiction.

U.S. News & World Report wrote that prescription drug abuse has risen dramatically in the past few years. (Only the illegal use of marijuana is more prevalent.) Although prescription drug abuse is rising among all age groups, officials are especially concerned about prescription drug abuse among teenagers: One in 10 high school seniors has tried the painkiller Vicodin without a prescription, and one in 20 has taken the potent pill OxyContin.

Also, deaths related to overdoses of prescription drugs have soared in the past decade. The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) notes that about 7 million Americans are abusing prescription drugs, which is an 80 percent increase from 10 years ago.

Treating prescription drug abuse and addiction.

Treatment for prescription drug abuse and addiction must take into account the type of drug and the needs of the individual. Successful prescription drug treatment programs may include detoxification, behavioral treatment and pharmacological interventions to ease withdrawal symptoms and lessen one’s chances of relapse.

Prescription drug addiction is serious, but professional treatment can help.

The treatment of prescription drug dependence typically involves both behavioral and pharmacological interventions.

Usually, the first step in treating prescription drug dependence is to slowly decrease dosage and begin the detoxification process. However, since the withdrawal symptoms from prescription drugs can be quite severe (especially when detoxing from central nervous system depressants), professional supervision is recommended.

Once the detoxification phase is complete, most treatment plans begin behavioral therapy, such as individual counseling, group counseling, family counseling, contingency management, community reinforcement, cognitive-behavioral therapy or psychotherapy. Most behavioral treatments teach patients strategies to deal with cravings, avoid triggers, function without drugs and cope with situations that could potentially trigger relapse.

Pharmacotherapy is often delivered in conjunction with behavioral therapy. Several medications are available for treating prescription opioid addiction, in particular. Nalextrone, for example, discourages use by preventing addictive drugs from activating pleasure receptors in the brain. Other drugs, such as methadone and buprenorphine, reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Currently, no pharmaceutical treatment exists for the treatment of prescription stimulants (Adderall, Concerta, etc.).

Prescription drug addiction treatment programs should always be comprehensive, addressing all the patient’s needs and characteristics, not just those associated with addiction. Comorbidities and other social, psychological and physical issues should be taken into account.

The importance of professional treatment.

Though the legality of prescription drugs may make them appear safer than illicit drugs, an addiction to prescription drugs is no less severe or difficult to overcome. Often, professional treatment is necessary to help individuals beat this powerful addiction.

If you or someone you support struggles with prescription drug addiction, Caron’s holistic treatment approach and customized programs can help.

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Spice (Cannabinoids)

What is Spice

Spice is a generic term for a group of designer street drugs marketed under a variety of names including K2, Yucatan Fire, Moon Rocks, fake marijuana, Spice Silver, Spice Gold, Smoke, Fire and many others. Usually, spice contains dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives meant to induce psychotropic or hallucinogenic effects. Similar to marijuana, spice is usually ingested by smoking, although it is sometimes mixed into food or drink. Individuals use spice for its mind-altering effects.

Though spice is labeled “not for human consumption” and advertised as incense or potpourri, its target market is people looking to achieve a high similar to that produced by marijuana. Since spice was created to dodge drug laws, variations of it are currently sold legally on the Internet, in convenience stores and in “smoke” shops specializing in drug and smoking paraphernalia.

How spice affects users.

While the nature of spice makes it difficult to accurately describe its effects, users typically experience variety of behavioral and perceptual alterations similar to those of marijuana. Negative side effects include rapid heart rate, agitation, confusion, vomiting and hallucinations. Additionally, regular users may experience withdrawal symptoms, placing them at risk for addiction.

The dangers of spice.

Spice is a very dangerous designer street drug. Because it is produced in clandestine labs, its potency, contents and chemical makeup is often unknown. Because of this, its effects, side effects and dangers vary greatly from dose to dose.

Because of the numerous risks associated with spice, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has banned several synthetic cannabinoids, and a number of states have instituted bans on the sale of spice and spice variants.

Treating spice addiction.

Treatment for spice addiction is similar to treatment for marijuana addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling and support groups may all be a part of an effective treatment program.

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Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are synthetically produced variations of the male sex hormone testosterone. While these drugs can be legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from hormone deficiency (delayed puberty) and loss of lean muscle (cancer, AIDS), steroids are occasionally abused by both athletes and non-athletes in an attempt to improve physical performance and/or appearance. Steroids disrupt normal hormone production, causing changes in behavior and in many systems of the body.

Doctors never prescribe anabolic steroids to young, healthy people to help them build muscles. Without a prescription from your physician, anabolic steroids are illegal.

Steroid abuse and addiction.

Abuse of anabolic steroids differs from the abuse of other illicit substances: initial abuse of anabolic steroids is not driven by the immediate pleasure or euphoria that motivates cocaine, heroin or marijuana use. Instead, users take steroids in order to change their physical appearances or athletic performances. Because steroids can cause confidence and strength, abusers often overlook their serious and long-term consequences.

Steroids can be taken orally, rubbed into the skin or injected. Typically, users take steroids in cycles—using for periods of weeks or months, stopping for a period of time, and then starting again. During this process, known as cycling, users often take a cocktail of several different types of steroids in an attempt to maximize their effects, a practice referred to as stacking. Oral and injectable steroids are often mixed. Another type of steroid abuse, known as pyramiding, involves slowly increasing the amount of steroids taken until they peak mid-cycle and then tapering dosage as the cycle ends.

Steroid abuse is dangerous. It can cause addiction and withdrawal upon cessation. Withdrawal symptoms include mood swings, insomnia and, most notably, severe depression (which occasionally leads to suicide attempts.) Often, abusers turn to other drugs in an attempt to counteract these symptoms. Individuals who abuse steroids are urged to seek treatment before they cause lasting damage to their health and lives.

How steroids affect users.

In the short term, abuse of anabolic steroids can lead to aggression, extreme mood swings and manic-like symptoms that may lead to violence. Additionally, users may experience extreme irritability, delusions, intense anger (roid rage), paranoid jealously and feelings of invincibility that may impair judgment. Furthermore, because steroids are often injected, users who share needles or use non-sterile techniques are at risk for contracting dangerous infections, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C.

Longer-term abuse of steroids results in a variety of adverse side effects and serious (often irreversible) health problems such as liver damage, jaundice, fluid retention, high blood pressure, increased LDL (bad cholesterol) and decreased in HDL (good cholesterol). Abuse can also cause renal failure, severe acne, oily scalp, heart attacks, stroke, tendon rupture and trembling. Teens who abuse steroids risk stunted growth due to premature skeletal maturation.

In addition to these general side effects, steroid use also causes gender and age-specific side effects:


  • Hormonal disruption that results in infertility
  • Breast development
  • Baldness
  • Reduced sperm count
  • Increased risk of prostate cancer
  • Shrinking of the testicles


  • Enlargement of the clitoris
  • Disruption of menses
  • Excessive facial and body hair growth
  • Deepened voice
  • Male-pattern baldness

Signs of steroid abuse and addiction.

There are several signs that a person has become addicted to steroids, including a preoccupation with getting the next dose; continued use in spite of negative consequences; loss of control when it comes to steroid use; abnormal speed of muscle growth; and withdrawal symptoms upon rapidly curtailed or discontinued use.

Treating steroid abuse and addiction.

If you or someone you care for is struggling with steroid abuse, professional rehabilitation can help. Learn more.

Stages of Steroid Addiction Treatment.

Step 1: Detox and withdrawal.

The first step in treating steroid addiction is to help the patient stop using steroids through detox. Detox should be closely monitored, as depression and suicidal thoughts may occur. If left untreated, symptoms of depression can persist for a year or more after the patient stops using steroids. Other steroid withdrawal symptoms vary from patient to patient but can include headaches, muscle aches and insomnia. If withdrawal symptoms are particularly severe or prolonged, inpatient detox or hospitalization may be required.

Medications, such as antidepressants and analgesics (for muscle and joint pain), can be administered to manage steroid withdrawal symptoms. Medications may also be used to restore hormonal balance and reduce cravings.

Step 2: Address comorbid addictions alongside steroid addiction.

It is important to note that related drug addictions commonly complicate steroid addiction. Steroid users experience pain and trouble sleeping, leading to self-medication with opioids or other drugs that develop additional addiction. In these cases, steroid treatment must simultaneously address comorbid addictions.

Step 3: Undergo comprehensive behavioral steroid addiction treatment.

Once steroid and other drug use is discontinued, the patient should undergo behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy usually involves individual or group counseling, family counseling and anger management classes. Many patients also find that support groups are helpful in encouraging abstinence.

Step 4: Prevent steroid addiction relapse.

Immediately following successful steroid treatment, continuing care and monitoring systems should be established to prevent relapse.

The importance of professional treatment in steroid addiction recovery.

Because of the adverse side effects of quitting steroid abuse (including increased risk of depression and suicide) steroid addiction can be difficult to overcome without the help of trained medical professionals. Thus, steroid addiction treatment should be completed in a rehab facility that can provide trained medical supervision and comprehensive care.

Caron Treatment Centers is well equipped to restore steroid addicts to full health. For more information on our inpatient addiction rehab programs, please get in touch.

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What are stimulants?

Stimulant drugs are a class of psychoactive drug that provides temporary improvements in physical or mental functioning, thus elevating mood and increasing feelings of wellbeing, energy and alertness. Stimulants are often called uppers. Examples of stimulant drugs include cocaine, methamphetamines, amphetamines, nicotine and ecstasy.

Stimulants are widely used as both recreational and prescription drugs. A healthcare provider may prescribe a stimulant drug to treat narcolepsy, promote weight loss, or treat ADHD and clinical depression. Over time, stimulant drug abuse disrupts the functioning of the brain’s dopamine system and eventually dampens the user's ability to feel any pleasure at all.

Stimulants abuse and addiction.

Stimulants are abused in several ways, depending on type. Stimulant drugs can be swallowed in pill form, snorted as powder, injected with a needle or syringe or heated into crystal form and smoked. Injected or smoked stimulants reach the brain faster and therefore produce the most intense highs. Snorting or swallowing stimulants produces a high that is less intense but longer lasting.

Often, chronic stimulant abusers will try to compensate for diminishing highs by taking more and more stimulants in order experience the same initial pleasure. This can result in increased dependence and addiction. Stimulants can be fatal, especially when taken in large doses or when mixed with other substances.

How stimulants affect users.

  • enhanced alertness
  • wakefulness and endurance 
  • increased productivity, motivation and arousal
  •  increased heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature
  •  nausea 
  • muscle spasms

Overdosing on stimulants can lead to heart problems, strokes, convulsions and, if not treated immediately, death.

Long-term effects of stimulant drug abuse include:

  • addiction
  • severe dental problems
  • delusions
  • visual and auditory hallucinations
  • anorexia
  • problems thinking
  • aggression
  • paranoia

For help overcoming stimulant addiction, please explore Caron’s programs or contact us

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