Category: Drug Abuse


Taking Action: What to Do if Someone Has Overdosed

If you’re reading this you may have experienced an overdose or know someone who has. It is critical that you understand the severity of an overdose in order to proceed with a timely manner.

Below is a detailed guide to understanding what do if someone you know has overdosed. 

What Is an Overdose? 

An overdose is a brain injury caused by a lack of adequate oxygen flow. This imbalance is a result of taking more than the recommended amount of a drug. A large overdose can cause a person to stop breathing and die if not treated right away. 

There is a growing concern regarding fentanyl contamination since many people may not be aware that their drugs include such a dangerous additive. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDD), Fentanyl is approximately 50 times as potent as heroin.

This additive is being mixed into counterfeit opioid pills, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. This non-pharmaceutical substance is, according to the CDC, a likely contributor to deaths involving the other substances. 

So fentanyl overdoses should be treated similar to heroin overdoses– except that time is especially of the essence.

Someone I know Overdosed. What Do I Do? 

Although the exact signs of drug overdose will vary from person to person, there are common signs that signal to one. These include: 

  • Increase body temperature
  • Chest pain 
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Blue fingers or lips 
  • Gurgling sounds (which indicate airway obstruction) 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Confusion 
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Even a few of these symptoms can indicate a person has overdosed. So you must remain calm, check the persons’ responsiveness and proceed to do the following: 

1. First call 911 

If the person is showing symptoms of shortness of breaths, rub your knuckles hard over their chest bone. If unresponsive, call 911. 

2. Perform Rescue Breathing

Rescue breathing is crucial when dealing with an overdose since the majority of deaths are due to respiratory failure. Proceed to tilt the head, lift the chin, and pinch the nose. The seal their lips and give two quick breaths into their mouth. Then give one long breath every five seconds. 

3. Administer Naloxone 

Naloxone can quickly reverse the overdose of opioids. If you have access to the medication (also known as Narcan) administer it accordingly. Draw 1cc of naloxone into a syringe and inject it into a major muscle. These can include the buttocks, thighs or shoulders. 

It is suggested to continue the practice of rescue breathing while the naloxone takes full effect. If the person is still unresponsive after five minutes, administer another dose of the medicine. Naloxone is available as an injectable (needle) solution, a hand-held auto-injector, and a nasal spray. Read more about the prescription here

Dealing with an Overdose  

Substance abuse by someone you know can have a serious emotional effect on you. If your neighbor, friend, or family member overdosed in the past be aware of the risk of it happening again.

Don’t give up on communication and support, and encourage the person to participate in a treatment process. Oftentimes, the lack of knowledge of what addiction feels like can be obtrusive and slow down the healing process. 

Contact us today to discuss and learn more about treatment options. 

fentanyl pills

Nasty Side Effects: What Do Fentanyl Pills Do to Your Body?

If you’re aware of the opioid epidemic currently sweeping the United States, chances are that you’ve heard of one of its biggest perpetrators: fentanyl. This dangerous prescription drug is extremely strong and even more addictive.

But what is fentanyl? And what do fentanyl pills and other forms of this drug do to your body?

You’re in the right place to find out. Keep reading to learn all about fentanyl and its side effects.

Let’s dive in.

What Is Fentanyl?

So, what is fentanyl, exactly? And what is fentanyl used for?

Fentanyl is a prescription drug. It exists to treat high-level pain or chronic pain in people who have a resistance to opioids. These are the forms in which it’s prescribed:

  • Injection: a medical professional must administer fentanyl in this for
  • Pills: fentanyl comes in two different kinds of pills, one that dissolves under the tongue and one that dissolves between the gums and cheek
  • Patch: a transdermal patch slowly releases the drug into the body through the skin
  • Spray: fentanyl comes in a nasal spray and sublingual spray
  • Lozenge: an oral lozenge that dissolves in the mouth

No matter what way it’s prescribed, Fentanyl is a risky drug to take. In fact, it’s the number one culprit for opioid overdose deaths in the United States.

Fentanyl and Heroin: Similarities and Differences

Let’s break down how fentanyl and heroin differ and how they’re alike by answering some common questions.

Is Heroin an Opioid like Fentanyl?

Heroin and fentanyl are both opioids. Heroin comes from natural sources while fentanyl is synthetic.

How Is Heroin Made?

Heroin is a derivative of morphine, which comes from the poppy plant. But that doesn’t mean pure heroin is normally sold on the street. Drug dealers commonly cut heroin with any number of other substances to reduce costs and boost profits.

What Is Synthetic Heroin?

Fentanyl is a manmade opioid that’s between fifty and one hundred times stronger than morphine. For this reason, it’s often described as synthetic heroin.

Fentanyl and heroin are powerful drugs. Professional treatment is the best way to stop using these substances.

The Side Effects of Fentanyl Pills

How do fentanyl pills and other forms of this drug affect the body? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

Fentanyl affects the opioid receptors in the brain. This will alter the way that a person experiences pain.

Over time, the brain will become tolerant. An addict will need stronger doses to get high or even to relieve withdrawal symptoms without any euphoria at all.

These are common side effects of fentanyl:

  • Drowsiness and lethargy
  • Swelling in the legs and arms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • A loss of appetite leading to weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Depression
  • Sweating
  • Problems sleeping
  • Shaking
  • Vision issues

These side effects are serious. An overdose of fentanyl can cause coma or death.

Need Treatment? We Can Help

Fentanyl pills, patches, injections, or any other form of this prescription drug are powerful and dangerous. Abusing fentanyl can lead to addiction and even death.

If you or a loved one suffer from fentanyl addiction, don’t lose hope. There are professionals out there who can help get your life back on track.

Want to know how? Get in touch today. We’re here to support you.

fentanyl abuse

Fentanyl Abuse: Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

Are you concerned that someone you love has fallen victim to Fentanyl abuse? 

This opioid is often initially prescribed to help patients recover from surgery and manage chronic pain. However, it’s one of the most addictive medications in the country — and it’s about 50 times more powerful than morphine and heroin. 

In fact, over 130 people die every day due to Fentanyl and other opioid abuse. 

So, what are the most common abuse of fentanyl symptoms? 

Keep on reading this post to find out what to look for, and learn where you can get help for yourself or someone you care about.

The Most Common Signs of Fentanyl Abuse

Over 11 million people have misused their opioid prescriptions in the past year alone. 

The Opioid Crisis has certainly put the spotlight on Fentanyl abuse, but it can be hard to know what to look for. 

The Physical Signs

First of all, you might notice that the person you suspect of abusing it is tired all of the time. The dreamlike state of a Fentanyl high is often called the “Opioid nod off.”

The abuser may fall asleep quickly and at random times. You may also notice that they breathe much more slowly when they’re asleep than they normally would. 

Physically, the abuser may also frequently vomit, complain of being dizzy, and even experience swelling in the hands and feet. 

They may often appear confused and disoriented and display a serious lack of focus overall. 

In some cases, you may notice that their pupils are seriously constricted and that they’re often scratching themselves. They may have a slower overall reaction time and they could even look flushed and red.

Other times, they may sweat and shake profusely — often, this is a sign that they’ve gone into a withdrawal. In order to mitigate these symptoms, they’ll need to take more of the drug.

The Emotional Signs

Someone who is addicted to Fentanyl may experience extreme mood swings. They can act euphoric and loving one moment, and then, when they come off the drug, become angry and even violent. 

You might have noticed they’ve been isolating themselves much more recently. They also seem incredibly anxious all of the time. They lash out at you for no reason, and you’ve even noticed that cash and valuables have gone missing. 

Interestingly, the emotional signs of an addiction are often much easier to spot than the physical ones. 

The abuser may have lost their job, compromised their relationships with friends and family, and even stopped partaking in hobbies and activities they once enjoyed. 

Getting Help for Fentanyl Abuse

Now that you know some of the most common signs of fentanyl abuse, we know that you want to learn more about how to get help for yourself or someone you love. 

Recovery is possible — but it will take serious commitment and expert care. You’ll also need to be able to detox in a safe and medically-monitored environment. 

We can help you to get your life back on track. 

Learn more about our treatment and recovery services, and get in touch with us when you’re ready to end an addiction to opioids. 

what is fentanyl

What Is Fentanyl? Everything You Need to Know

Over 4 billion prescriptions are filled a year, and the numbers are increasing.

Among those prescriptions opioids, specifically fentanyl. Doctors prescribe this drug for many reasons, but the dangers of it are significant. Have you or someone you know been prescribed fentanyl?

It’s likely you want to know the answer to “what is fentanyl” and how it can pose a threat to anyone who takes it. To find out more about this drug, continue reading this article. 

What Is Fentanyl? 

Fentanyl is described as an opioid whose strength is even greater than that of morphine. It has many forms, on and off the streets where it is sometimes sold illegally. 

What is fentanyl used for? 

There are many legal reasons why a doctor would prescribe such a drug to a patient. In some cases, patients will build tolerance toward some drugs that make them unable to work. In these cases, sometimes fentanyl is prescribed because of its strength. 

Other reasons are chronic pain, anesthetics, and post-surgery pain relief. It comes in the form of a shot or a patch in most cases. 

What Are the Side Effects of Fentanyl?

Like other synthetic opioids and drugs, fentanyl can pose many side effects. Common side effects include: 

  • Hallucinations 
  • Inability to empty bladder 
  • Breathlessness 
  • Fever
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness 
  • Chills
  • Upset stomach
  • Head pain
  • Weakness 
  • Anxiety 

The list of fentanyl side effects is very long. If these or other effects continue, you should always speak to your doctor.

As well as these effects, fentanyl poses a risk of addiction. It’s not always wise to keep using drugs as potent as fentanyl for long periods. Often, addiction is difficult to spot if someone has a high functioning addiction

Fentanyl and Addiction 

As mentioned above, fentanyl is addictive and can be deadly. Keep reading for the main reasons. 

1. It’s a Fast Acting Drug 

One of the most helpful things about fentanyl is how fast it works. The problem with that, though, is its potential for addiction. 

Not only can it be a problem for those who use it, but it’s also bad for those who find it. If a patch is left in the trash, anyone can still use what’s left. 

2. It’s Added Into Other Drugs 

We’ve already talked about the effectiveness of fentanyl. Pair it with other drugs, and it can be a problem. 

A lot of people are using this drug along with other drugs simultaneously. They’re adding things like heroin, oxycodone, and cocaine to it to make it more powerful. Mixing drugs makes them even more addictive and deadly. 

3. It Doesn’t Take Much 

Doctors know how powerful fentanyl is, which is why it’s given in small doses. People who sell it aren’t concerned with dose level, meaning a lot of people overdose. 

The risk for overdose is very real for Fentanyl by itself. Imagine if it were added to other’s and then consumed. It’s never a good idea to take this drug without the directions of a doctor. 

Treatment for Addiction 

What is fentanyl? Now, you know that it’s a deadly, addictive drug. Anyone taking fentanyl should be careful, and seek help if they become addicted. 

Do you or someone you know suffer from substance abuse? It can be difficult to sit by and watch loved ones struggle. Don’t let them go it on their own. Pathways is here to help with addiction treatment programs

What to do when your parent turns to drugs or alcohol? Part 3 of 3

Last week, we began our three-part blog series on the increase of substance abuse in our senior population. To recap the first two blogs, we addressed reasons why we are seeing an increase of substance abuse in the senior population (stress, boredom, comfortable taking medications, etc.) and warning signs of substance abuse (falls, change in attitude, increasing the amount of medication taken, multiple doctors/pharmacies, etc.). Today, we’ll discuss the sensitive topic of speaking to your parent if you suspect a problem.

For most people, certain topics are hard to discuss with your parents. When you raised kids, you likely grappled with the dreaded talk about drugs with them. Now, it’s your turn to have “the talk” with the person who raised you. This could go easier than you may expect. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

1 – Make sure they know you are not judging them, but concerned for their well-being.
2 – Don’t be confrontational, be supportive.
3 – Speak to the individual before they start drinking – maybe in the morning.
4 – Do not dig up problems from the past – your focus is on now and the future.
5 – Be direct, do not coddle them. Speak to them as a peer.
6 – Approaching the topic may need to be done in steps.

Here are a few examples of how to get things started.

1 –“I noticed that you have a lot of prescriptions you take daily. Can you tell me what each one is and how it helps you? This gives you an opportunity to assess their situation and its good information to know should they ever be hospitalized.” If you see multiple and/or high dosage painkillers, inquire if this is safe and healthy. We often hear, especially in the senior population, “the medication must be safe, the doctor prescribed it.” When a person has multiple doctors and specialists for varying ailments, communication between medical professionals does not always exist. Each will prescribe medications for specific concerns, but when combined, the medications can interact causing a negative effect. Suggest accompanying the individual to the next medical appointment to see if the doctor can evaluate the combination of medications being taken. Reluctance to this idea could signal a red flag, but maintain a firm stand. Raise your concern that many of these medications are addictive, see if the doctor can scale back prescriptions and find alternate non-opioid treatments such as over-the-counter medications, exercise, and physical therapy.

2 – If the person is drinking excessively, let them know you are concerned. If you suspect it is the result of boredom, try to engage them in social activities where alcohol is not present. Remind them that drinking and taking medications can be very dangerous. If the problem persists, encourage them to speak to their doctor and attend the appointment if possible.

A few factors will make this process easier for you. Most seniors respect their doctors and are willing to follow medical advice. Surprisingly, most seniors will be happy to have your support and won’t be resistant to seeking help. Often, tolerance to drugs and/or alcohol decreases with age leaving them feeling “fuzzy” and confused. Feeling “normal” again will be welcomed.

Related Blog:  Communicating with Someone Who Has an Addiction

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

Drug Abuse in American Workers is on the Rise

The Wall Street Journal published an article stating that after more than 24 years of decreasing rates, drug abuse is on the rise. The article states that Quest Labs, who provides employment drug testing nationally, has seen an increase from 3.7% to 3.9% in positive employment drug tests. While the number is small, the main concern is that there is an increase.

Related Blog: PJ in the News and the Dangers of Heroin

The most commonly detected drug is marijuana, followed by amphetamines, OxyContin, benzodiazepines, opiates, cocaine, barbiturates and methadone.

While a positive drug test does not indicate that someone has a drug addiction, it could be the first warning sign that an individual is struggling with drugs.

Pathways Florida provides residential treatment programs for adults who have substance use disorders. For more information, call 855-349-5988.

Why Will Nothing Cure my Child’s Addiction?

A common misconception to addiction is that following a treatment episode, someone may be “cured” of the disease. Addiction is similar to diabetes and hypertension in the sense that it is an incurable, but manageable disease. While someone with diabetes must watch their diet and check their insulin, and those with hypertension also maintain regiment of diet, exercise and stress-relief exercises, someone diagnosed with an addiction will need to follow a daily regimen to remain sober. Those who enter a treatment program will be taught the importance of following a schedule, attending meetings, doing step work and other behavioral changes that may have been part of the treatment plan. When an individual, especially those who are new to recovery, takes a lax attitude about maintaining recovery, the likelihood of relapse increases. Addiction will not “just go away” overnight and even those who have 10 or 20 years clean can still succumb to a relapse.

Related Blog: Why Recovery Meetings Alone May Not be Working

The individuals who have the best success in treatment are those who enter a treatment facility who addresses their needs, engages in the treatment process and follows the aftercare plan and relapse prevention plan faithfully.

Pathways Florida provides a comprehensive 28-day residential substance abuse treatment program. Compassionate, caring counselors at Pathways are trained in the latest evidence-based techniques and will work with you to develop a treatment and aftercare plan that works. For more information, please call 855-349-5988.

What Should I Do If I Have a Sponsor and I’m Still Using?

There are many answers to this question and other questions need to be asked before giving a blanket answer.

1 – How is your relationship with your sponsor? – Do you feel that you receive the support you need? Are you able to speak comfortably with your sponsor? If you have answered no to these questions, the solution may be to look for a different sponsor.

Related Blog: Why Recovery Meetings Alone May Not be Working

2 – Are you attending 12-Step meetings and if so, do you engage and participate with these meetings? The best sponsors in the world can lead by example, but can’t force you to live a life of recovery. If you truly want a life of recovery, you need to engage in the recovery process.

3 – Is your drug/alcohol use a relapse post treatment, or did you by-pass the treatment route and go straight to attending meetings and securing a sponsor? While this works for some, for others, treatment provides a better understanding of how addiction works and a better understanding of why you may have begun using to start. Often, a certain life event or series of events will trigger the initial use. For example, many people self-medicate by using illegal substances because they have other underlying issues. Some drink/drug to forget traumas or other negativity in their lives.

Pathways Florida provides a comprehensive 28-day residential substance abuse treatment program. Compassionate, caring counselors at Pathways are trained in the latest evidence-based techniques and will work with you to develop a treatment and aftercare plan that works. For more information, please call 855-349-5988.

Co-dependency Can Hinder Recovery Results

As we work with our clients to get them on the road to recovery from drugs or alcohol, one of the things we do is look for issues in the client’s personal history that require resolution and trigger points that could cause a relapse. Understanding and overcoming co-dependency is part of the treatment process for many.

Related Blog: Recovery is More than Detox

What is co-dependency?
According to Mental Health America, “Co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with co-dependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. The disorder was first identified about 10 years ago as the result of years of studying interpersonal relationships in families of alcoholics. Co-dependent behavior is learned by watching and imitating other family members who display this type of behavior.”

Why does this hinder recovery efforts? If an individual is co-dependent on another individual recovery efforts can be undermined if the relationship continues. For example, Becky is a female who is an alcoholic. Her boyfriend Brad is also an alcoholic. Brad has a tendency to belittle and be verbally abusive to Becky, which eats away at her self-esteem. She began drinking with Brad trying to dull the pain of his verbal assaults. At one point in Becky’s life, she is in a treatment facility – this may be due to her own decision to change her life, a family intervention or possibly a court-ordered treatment program because she’s received multiple driving under the influence charges. Treatment is difficult for Becky at first. She doesn’t like being away from Brad and worries what he’s doing and who he is with. She spends her time thinking about him rather than focusing on her own issues. Finally, one day in group, she hears another client speak about an abusive spouse. The words ring true to her and she begins to open up to her counselor and other clients about the situation. She begins to understand that the best thing for her is to end her relationship with Brad and get a fresh start on life, but….

Some of the common “buts” are “but, I love him/her,” “but I’m financially dependent on him/her,” “but we have children together,” “but I think he’ll/she’ll change,” “but I don’t want to be alone.” As long as the “but” is part of the client’s belief system and thought process, this individual’s long-term recovery is in jeopardy.

Overcoming co-dependency is challenging for most, but a necessary piece to developing a firm foothold in recovery because the subject of the co-dependent person is also often the trigger for substance use.

At Pathways, we understand that many clients have issues beyond substance abuse, such as co-dependency, and for full success, these challenges need to be overcome. For more information, please call 855-349-5988.

Co-dependency Quiz

Do you think you have a co-dependency issue? Take a look at the questions below:

1 – When someone else acts inappropriately, I often feel guilty for him or her.

2 – It is hard for me to accept compliments from others.

3 – It is hard for me to say “no” when someone asks for help.

4 – I feel terrible about myself when I make mistakes.

5 – I have an overwhelming desire to feel needed by other people.

6 – I stay quiet to avoid arguments.

7 – I value others’ opinions of me more than I value my own.

8 – I feel resentment toward people who will not let me help them.

9 – I am often preoccupied with other people’s problems.

10 – I feel rejected when my significant other spends time with friends.

If you agree with most of these statements, you possess traits/beliefs shared by many people who are co-dependent. You may want to consider seeking professional help.

In the Media: Tips on Choosing A Residential Treatment Center Wisely

Safety is a top priority when choosing a residential treatment center. According to P.J. Brooks of First Step in Sarasota, Florida, here are a few key components to ensure you choose the best option:

  • Find out what the reputation of the facility- how are they perceived in the community?
  • The facility should:
    -Have good quality clinical skills
    -Use evidence-based practices
    -Keep clients engaged in the treatment programs
    -Perform extensive background screenings, including federal screenings and fingerprinting

Watch the video below to learn more, or click here to watch the video on

Related Blog: Recovery is More than Detox