The Differences and Similarities Between Meth and Crack


The Differences and Similarities Between Meth and Crack

Various-colorful-pills-and-syringe-on-black-backgroundRecreational drug use is at an all-time high in the United States, with an estimated 48.7 million Americans struggling with a substance use disorder. Crack or crack cocaine and meth are two of the most common of those drugs, although both fall well behind opioids, sedatives, and tranquilizers like heroin, sleeping medication, prescription pain pills, and benzodiazepines in popularity. Crack and meth have many similarities on a surface level. For example, both are sold as “crystal” and both are called “rock” in some street language. And, both are often smoked using a glass pipe but can be injected. In fact, if you don’t know what you’re looking at, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two when you catch someone using.

For many parents, crack was the concern when they were kids. Today, methamphetamine is the new drug of choice for kids, often because it’s accessible and cheap, rather than because it’s cheap. At the same time, it’s important to understand the differences, because both have different effects, different risks, and require different strategies to use safely.

What is Crack Cocaine?

Cocaine is a processed product from the coca plant, which is made by processing the leaves into a paste and then further processing it with ammonia to remove the pulp to create pure cocaine. Crack is cocaine that has been processed a third time with solvents to further remove any non-active ingredients, creating a hard, rock-like substance that is sold in chunks known as “rocks”. It’s also generally mixed with sodium bicarbonate, which allows it to be smoked at a lower temperature (cocaine doesn’t start to smoke until almost 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which also destroys the drug but bicarbonate smokes at 208 F, which doesn’t destroy the drug).

The result is a highly concentrated form of cocaine that offers a significant high and euphoria. Unlike cocaine, crack is also highly addictive. And, unlike cocaine, smoking it means it results in significant physical health risks including burns, damage to the lungs, tooth loss, and more. Cocaine also only lasts about 15 minutes, meaning that users frequently consistently pass a pipe around to stay high – resulting in increased risk of overdose and danger.

What is Meth?

Meth or “crystal meth” is an illicit drug that’s sold in a number of ways but most famously as crystals or “rock”. Methamphetamine is an amphetamine drug, similar to what you get if you buy Ritalin or Adderall. However, meth has more of the psychoactive amphetamine salt, meaning that it creates a more intense high, more euphoria, and more risks of side-effects.

Meth is typically made illicitly by distilling the active ingredients out of other products, such as cold and cough medicine. However, in other cases, it’s synthesized directly. In either case, the drug is typically sold as powder. In some cases, it’s solidified and sold as crystal meth, or dry rocks known as “rock”, “crystal” and sometimes “shatter” (although the latter is more often reserved for hash and concentrated THC products from marijuana.

Like crack, meth is a stimulant. However, it lasts 4-16 hours. In addition, it can be more noticeable than crack, as users may not sleep for the entire period they are high. For people who continue to smoke while high, that can mean periods of 32+ hours of being awake. Meth is also more common, with almost twice the number of regular users as crack cocaine.

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What are the Similarities Between Meth and Crack Cocaine?

Asian-men-are-drug-addicts-to-inject-heroin-into-their-veins-themselves.Flakka-drug-or-zombie-drug-is-dangerous-life-threatening,Thailand-no-to-drug-concept,The-bad-guy-drugs-in-the-desolateMeth and crack cocaine have a lot in common. For example, they are both stimulant drugs. This means that both impact the central nervous system causing a high, euphoria, and feelings of being powerful. People using crack or meth will show signs of hyperactivity, wakefulness, and restlessness. They might not be able to sit still, talk at a normal pace, or they might talk with nervous energy or jitters.

  • Crack – Users are likely to experience euphoria and a high, with paranoia, hallucinations, anger, psychosis, and some hostility or aggression towards others.
  • Meth – Users are likely to experience euphoria and a high with paranoia, hallucinations, anger, psychosis, and some aggression and hostility towards themselves and others.

Crack cocaine and meth are also both schedule II-controlled substances. This means that they’re both illegal to poses or use in the United States. They’re classified as dangerous, and addictive and it can be a crime to be caught with either drug in your possession.

Crystal meth can also look very similar to crack cocaine. However, “standard” meth is more likely to be sold as a powder.

As stimulant, both also have similar long-term effects. For example:

  • Cracked and blistered lips from smoking
  • Weight loss
  • Tooth decay
  • Paranoia and psychosis

A heavy crack user will look similar to a heavy meth user in many ways. Both also have similar overdose risks and similar risks of cardiovascular and heart failure.

  • Both can be smoked or injected
  • Both are often consumed from glass pipes
  • Both cause a euphoric high with nervous energy

What are the Differences Between Meth and Crack Cocaine?

Crack and meth are very different drugs. As a result, there will be many differences. However, you’ll most often notice them in how long the drug acts and what the long-term side-effects are. Here, meth mostly stands out by lasting for longer. Users are also less likely to sleep and more likely to start showing ticks and psychosis over time.

  • Meth lasts for up to 16 hours while crack only lasts for about 15 minutes
  • Meth tends to result in a more haggard appearance over time and weight loss may be more extreme – because it causes more loss of sleep
  • Meth highs tend to result in sugar and junk food binges
  • Meth tends to result in more symptoms of psychosis over time, meaning that individuals are more likely to twitch, show paranoia, and to show side-effects even when not high.

Eventually, both meth and crack cocaine are dangerous drugs that can result in mental and physical health problems including overdose, death, and addiction. Of the two, methamphetamine is more popular. Today, an estimated 1% of the population use meth. About 0.4% of the population use crack cocaine. Therefore, if you’re not sure, you can generally assume that methamphetamine is more than twice as common.

Getting Help

Both crack cocaine and meth are dangerous, addictive, and potentially deadly drugs. Both cause long-term side-effects to mental and physical health. And both can have markedly similar side-effects and risks. Eventually, if you or a loved one is using either, it’s important to realize that you are putting yourself at risk every time you use. Stepping back and looking into getting help, detox assistance for getting clean, and long-term support and rehab to help with substance abuse recovery can be an important step. Here, modern drug addiction treatment means counseling and behavioral therapy to help you identify the underlying causes behind substance abuse, to find coping mechanisms for cravings, and to build life-skills that allow you to navigate life in a happy and healthy way without drugs.

Meth and crack are both extremely dangerous and addictive drugs. If you’re using them, it’s important to talk to your doctor, get help if you need it, and make sure you’re doing everything you can to stay safe.

The 7 Most Commonly Abused Drugs in College

alcohol, drugs, pills on a wooden background

The 7 Most Commonly Abused Drugs in College

alcohol, drugs, pills on a wooden backgroundFor many college students, going to college is the first point in life when they have to be alone, self-sufficient, and responsible for themselves. That also means that for many, college is a time of self-exploration, creating and setting boundaries, and dealing with high levels of stress at the same time. As a result, nearly all college students will experiment with drugs at some point. For most, that means trying cannabis or even trying something like Ritalin. And, for many, it ends there. For others, that goes on to become a long-term problem.

College students drink and use drugs for a lot of reasons. Those include peer pressure, with students in sororities more likely to drink and binge drink and also more likely to have alcohol abuse problems later in life. They also include for stress management, with many college students using drugs to “self medicate” stress, to sleep despite stress, or to reduce anxiety. Others use “study drugs” like Ritalin to try to boost exam results. As a result, more than 22% of college students regularly use drugs and another 55% regularly drink, and heavily.

The following data covers the 7 most commonly used drugs in colleges.


Marijuana or Cannabis is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. That’s partially driven by the fact that many people don’t see it as harmful. In other cases, it’s because students use it to self-medicate and reduce stress. At the same time, in 2016, 20% of full time college students used cannabis regularly. In 2021, 11% of college students reported using cannabis daily, up from 6% in 2011. This means that cannabis is more popular in colleges than ever, with more and more students using it every single day. Cannabis is most-often used to control anxiety and to de-stress. However, some students also use specific strains as a study drug, although this is less common.

In addition, while cannabis has a low abuse profile compared to some drugs like opioids, it’s still highly addictive, with an estimated 1 in 4 daily users suffering from addiction. 


Ritalin is so well-known as a study drug that it’s sometimes more associated with college students and abuse than with ADHD treatment. Today, somewhere between 5 and 30% of all college students have used or are currently using the drug. This prescription stimulant is intended to reduce the symptoms of ADHD and ADD. However, college students use it to increase alertness, to improve focus, and to stay awake during study, lectures, and tests.

While not highly addictive, Ritalin is illegal to use outside of a prescription. It can also cause heart irregularities and may increase risk of heart attack. And, when mixed with alcohol and other drugs, Ritalin can significantly increase the risks of overdose.


Adderall is another prescription stimulant that’s rapidly becoming more and more popular among college students as a study drug. This means that students are very likely to use it in the same capacity as Ritalin, as they are a very similar drug. Adderall lasts for either 6 hours or 14 hours, which means it’s more likely to still be active when students start drinking or using other drugs. In addition, college students are 3% more likely to use Adderall when age matched to non-college student populations.

Adderall is also illegal to use without a prescription. However, the risks are virtually identical to Ritalin.

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MDMA, LSD, ecstasy, and other hallucinogenic drugs remain extremely popular on campuses across the United States. Often, this means these drugs are taken as party drugs. However, microdosing is also increasingly popular, as students take tiny doses of the drug to boost performance, reduce stress, or create subtle psychedelic effects. Most students think of microdosing as safer than taking a full dose, but over the course of the day, often build up higher levels of hallucinogenic in their system than by taking a single dose at once.

While the addiction profile for hallucinogenic is low, these drugs are still dangerous. Many have a risk of causing psychosis, months-long symptoms, and extreme reactions like vomiting that can be life-threatening. As a result, ER-related visits have gone up by close to 4.7% since 2011.

college students and cocaineCocaine

Cocaine was the fourth most commonly used drug on college campuses in 2017. In one study, 4% of full-time college students used cocaine. In others, cocaine is shown to be much more common, with as many as 13% of students in some universities using it. Cocaine is primarily used as a party drug, which is popular for being relatively safe and for wearing off quickly. However, cocaine still exposes users to significant risks including hypertension, mental health disorders, hyperactive disorder, heart problems, increases in paranoia, and increases in anxiety. As a result, students use the drug thinking it’s a relatively harmless party drug but end up facing significant side-effects and cravings at the same time as high stress and peer pressure.


Today, an estimated half a million college-aged adults have an opioid use disorder. This means that 1.2% of all people in this age group are addicted to opioids, with many more using them. Changes in how opioids are prescribed to young people have also resulted in increasing reliance on street drugs like heroin and fentanyl, including mixes of fentanyl and Adderall, which pose significantly high risks of overdose. Opioids are primarily used as a party drug or self-medicating drug, with people using them to destress, to feel better, and to escape from the stress of college life. At the same time, these drugs pose a significant risk of addiction as well as of physical and mental health complications.


Alcohol is the single most abused drug on college campuses. While not traditionally though of as a drug, this intoxicating substance is abused by more than 55% of all college students. In fact, 39% of college students report binge drinking. Men in sororities are most vulnerable, with increased risk of binge drinking, substance use disorder, and later life substance use disorder. Alcohol creates risks of addiction, mental health problems, and physical health problems. For many students, it also makes it harder to study, harder to focus and stay alert in class, and harder to have the mental energy for study.

This means that alcohol abuse can significantly sabotage study and your ability to feel good around college. It can also mean making impulsive decisions like drinking too much, not doing homework, and staying up too late, which makes the rest of study harder.

Getting Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with drugs or alcohol, it’s important to reach out and get help. Today, most college campuses offer resources for students who need help. For example, you can often get therapy, work towards enrollment in a rehabilitation program, and get therapy right from campus. However, it’s also important to talk to your doctor, to figure out the underlying causes behind substance abuse, and to work towards building coping mechanisms and skills that will allow you to navigate college without turning to drugs and alcohol. For many college students that means going to therapy, getting longer-term treatment and support, and ensuring that you have a good support network in place, even when going off on your own to a college.

I Found Out I’m Dating an Addict – What Should I Do?

couple having trust issue because of drug addiction

I Found Out I’m Dating an Addict - What Should I Do?

couple having trust issue because of drug addictionFor most of us, the picture of an addict brings up someone who doesn’t function, who perhaps doesn’t have a home, and who doesn’t have a job. So, learning that people in your life, including people you are dating, are struggling with addiction can be a massive shock.

Addiction is a normal part of life for 48.7 million Americans. That means that 17.3% of the population, or nearly 1 in 5 Americans, has an “addiction”. It’s perfectly normal to work with, date, and be intimate with people who have drug and alcohol addictions.

At the same time, figuring out what to do with that knowledge is a harder step. Do you break up with them? Do you try to get them into treatment? Is it your responsibility to take care of them? Should you be creating as much distance as you can? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers, but you can take a lot of steps that take both yourself and your partner into account.

Stay Safe

The first thing you should keep in mind is that people facing addictions can be unpredictable. If you aren’t sure how your partner is going to react, you should be careful. You should also take steps to ensure you’re taking care of your own mental health. That means:

  • Making space for yourself and your feelings
  • Not turning into a caretaker
  • Not making yourself uncomfortable for the sake of your partner
  • Not agreeing to lie or hide substance abuse for your partner
  • Taking time and space out when things get stressful
  • Breaking up if you feel uncomfortable dating an addict
  • Seeking out therapy and trauma therapy and thereby recognizing that this is a traumatic experience for you

If you find yourself over extending, taking on all of the responsibilities in the relationship, or constantly being unhappy because of your partner, it’s okay to break up. Even if you love them, you shouldn’t be ruining your life for someone else.

It’s also important to keep in mind that addiction changes people. Once someone goes to therapy and gets help, they are going to be a different person. Holding out for getting someone you used to know back or expecting that your partner is the same before and after therapy is only going to result in self-harm.

Understand Your Boundaries and Capabilities

a couple resolving issues togetherYou’ll have to set boundaries with your partner, decide if you want to stay with them, and decide if you can even be fair to them in a relationship. Before you do, you should figure out answers to questions like:

  • What are you comfortable with around drug and alcohol use?
  • Can you approach substance abuse from a perspective of nonjudgement? E.g., seeing it as a disorder and something that needs medical treatment?
  • Can you take an approach of harm reduction (my partner will use x substance so the important thing is that they use it as safely as possible until they can get treatment)
  • Decide how much addiction and the resulting behaviors make you uncomfortable

That can mean realizing that you see addiction as a shameful personal choice and that you can’t change that, and therefore can’t date this person. It can also mean realizing you don’t have the mental health or the stability to deal with someone who will be an emotional rollercoaster who needs a lot of extra support and care. It may mean realizing that you invest too much into caring for people and it’s not healthy for you. It may also mean realizing you have to set very good boundaries that may mean seeing your partner less or even breaking up with them.

Whatever that leads to, it’s important that you go at it from a perspective of understanding yourself and what you need and then figuring out how that works with what your partner needs in that time.

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a female talking to her boyfriend about his addictionTalk to Your Loved One

It’s important to talk to your loved one and set boundaries and expectations. That won’t be easy. It may also involve confronting your loved one with their addiction. That can be difficult, and it can end up being a very emotional and even confrontational conversation. At the same time, you need that conversation to decide what to do.

  • Set boundaries and state what you can take and why. Try to be gentle but be firm and clear about your needs. Set hard boundaries where you can follow up on them. E.g., if you say “I need you to not come home completely drunk” you have to be able to follow up and step out of the situation if your partner comes home completely drunk. Good boundaries look like “I need X to be able to be comfortable and happy”. E.g., “I need to have a partner I can rely on, and that means I need you to follow through on promises when you make them, if you can’t do that, I will stop accepting promises from you”.
  • Set communication guidelines. That can mean siting down and talking, sharing when your partner is off using or drinking, avoiding heated conversations, avoiding name-calling, etc.
  • Share any steps you are taking to protect yourself. E.g., “I won’t share finances with you”, or “I don’t feel you can be reliable with chores so I won’t share them with you or live with you”.
  • Try to be clear about what your wants for the future are, ask those from your partner, and try to create a plan for the future.
  • Try to stay calm. People who are addicted to substances can be avoidant, violent, moody, and irritable. They can respond to what seem like perfectly reasonable statements by being completely unreasonable. It’s important that you

Sitting down to have a discussion will help you both understand what to expect from the other. However, it’s important to keep in mind that addiction can make honesty around that difficult. You might find that you set clear expectations with your partner and they don’t follow up or act as though the conversation was never had.

Seek Out Help

man getting into treatmentTaking time to understand addiction, how it works and what help looks like is important if you want to stay with your partner. Even if you’re casually dating, you’ll want to know what addiction is and what treatment looks like. That means taking time to learn about addiction, to learn about treatment options, and to try to talk to your partner about them.

At the same time, it’s not your responsibility to get your partner into treatment. You also can’t make them make better choices or get help. You can offer to help, you can be supportive, and you can be nonjudgemental, but you can’t make them motivated to get clean or sober.

You’ll also want to consider getting help for yourself. Living with or dating someone with a substance use disorder can be highly traumatic. It’s not easy to invest in someone who can’t invest fully in you. Seeking out therapy, attending groups like Al-Anon, and otherwise working towards ensuring you have space for your own mental health will be important if you stay dating your partner.

Addiction is a behavioral disorder that legally qualifies as a temporary disability. The person you’re dating is very sick. You don’t have to stay with them, you don’t have to take responsibility, and you should make sure you take care of your own mental health and wellbeing if you stay with them. Dating an addict can be difficult and traumatic, however, there are no right answers except to try to approach the situation with nonjudgement, to make sure you’re taking care of yourself as well, and to ask for help for yourself and your partner wherever you can.

7 Traits of an Addictive Personality

a man with an addictive personality

7 Traits of an Addictive Personality

a man with an addictive personalityIf you’re struggling with a substance use disorder then you’ve heard the term “addictive personality” in the past. For many of us, that can lead to immediate clicks, that sounds like me. But, what is an addictive personality disorder? What does it look like in actuality? And is there a difference between an addict and someone with an addictive personality disorder?

In short, an addictive personality is boiled down into “someone who is prone to substance abuse”, because they are very likely to very quickly become hooked on a behavioral stimulation like gaming, internet, a new crush, a substance, or anything else that makes them feel good. It’s also important to keep in mind that addictive personalities are hypothetical, they haven’t been proven to exist. Instead, we use the term as a convenient way to refer to a collection of traits that are likely to increase the risk of addiction. In medical terminology, these traits are referred to as “vulnerabilities” and never as “an addictive personality”. Therefore, you’ll have to switch language when talking to your therapist or counselor. However, for yourself and for your friends, the “addictive personality” name can be an extremely useful way to talk about personality traits that can increase your vulnerability to addictions of almost any kind.

1. Impulsivity

Impulsive people are more likely to use and abuse substances. That’s one reason why many people who self-define as having an addictive personality actually have attention disorders like ADD or ADHD. If you’re impulsive, you’re more likely to do things without thinking. You’re more likely to do stuff for fun. You’re more likely to chase sensations and feelings without thinking about their repercussions or long-term impacts. The less you are able to control your attention span, the more likely you are to lose track of how much time you spend with that thing, which also leads to reckless and heavy use.

So, if you’re impulsive, you’re more likely to take risks. That can be easy to see risks like running across the highway. It can also be risks like taking drugs, drinking before getting in a car, or to use substances to cope with stress. It doesn’t mean you will become an addict. However, it does mean that your chance of exposure to risk factors, like using drugs and alcohol, realizing how much you’re using, and how much you seek out chemical pleasure will be increased.

2. Seeking Behavior

People who exhibit seeking behavior, especially sensation seeking, are more likely to struggle with substance abuse and substance use problems. You can also see sensation seeking in parts of life that don’t involve substances. For example, people who need outlets like going out, who like to smash things when angry, who love food or soda, who like sleeping in but staying up late, who engross themselves in games, etc. The more you are the type to seek out fast and instant gratification, the more you are at risk of substance abuse. That sounds like a lot of people right? That’s because most people fall into this category, although some more than others. Instead, finding slower gratification is a learned trait and often one you’ll want to work on even if you think you have an addictive personality.

3. Trouble Fitting In

a woman feeling anxious because of many peopleThe more trouble you have fitting in, the more you’ll likely fall under the “addictive personality” umbrella. This means people who don’t easily communicate with others, who don’t make friends easily, who don’t fit in with the popular crowd, who aren’t like everyone else. That can mean a lot of things but often means that people with mental health disorders, people on the LGTQI++ spectrum, and people with behavioral problems are significantly more likely to have an addictive personality. For example, some traits that point to likelihood of addictive personality include:

  • Social alienation or not being part of a group
  • Feelings of loneliness even in a group
  • Few or no close friends
  • Trouble with the law
  • Poor relationships with parents
  • Poor relationships with social morals and values

Each of these contributes to the need to find pleasure and satisfaction in things outside of normal social contact and relationships. It also means you’re less likely to respect social norms that say you shouldn’t use drugs or alcohol. And, it means you’re more likely to want or need a release or an escape because nothing else is making you feel good. In its earliest form that often results in internet and video game abuse but may also result in alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and addiction.

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Seven Traits of an Addictive Personality4.  Stress

Everyone experiences stress but we all manage it in different ways. For some of us, how we manage stress puts us at risk of addiction. Healthy coping mechanisms for stress mean finding a way to ground, to find positive things, and to let go of stress. Unhealthy coping mechanisms for stress often mean finding ways to distract yourself and escape. That often results in over consumption of media, using substances to relax, and otherwise ignoring the issues. If you fall into the latter category, it is one of the traits of an “addictive personality”. However, everyone does suffer from stress. Learning how to manage and cope with stress in a healthy fashion should be a normal and healthy part of being an adult. It’s important that you look into getting help and learning how to do so, because otherwise it will always be a risk factor for addiction.

5. Mental Health Disorders

Having a mental health disorder can now significantly increase your risk of behavioral addiction. People with disorders ranging from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to depression and PTSD will all exhibit similar symptoms of relying on sensation seeking and escapism to cope with problems. That’s often because you are sick and it means that you are using your resources on other things. Reaching out and getting therapy and help to learn healthy coping mechanisms will improve how you’re able to cope with and manage your disorder so that it’s less likely to put you at risk of an addiction. However, having a mental health disorder increases your vulnerability to substance use disorder and other behavioral addictions by over 200%. It’s a significant and impactful part of your life and can contribute to what is known as “addictive personality disorder”.

6. Chronic Illness

If you suffer from chronic or long-term pain, you’re more likely to want to rely on sensation seeking and escapism to feel better. You’re also less able to have the willpower and self-control to do otherwise, because like with mental health problems, chronic illness typically means that you are spending your energy elsewhere. Therefore, chronic illness will significantly increase your vulnerability to addiction. Chronic illness can also be majorly isolating in that it prevents you from doing a lot of things with friends and peers and reduces your energy levels. At the same time, it will make you more lonely and less self-sufficient, because you’ll be less able to do things on your own and therefore cut out of doing things on your own as well. That can greatly increase your vulnerability to substance use disorders – meaning that it’s important to seek out professional help and learn management techniques and get support if you want to stay as healthy as possible.

7. Mood Issues

If you frequently find that your mood is low, that you don’t feel good, that you crash, or that you’re exhausted, you’re probably more at risk to addiction and substance abuse than the general population. Here it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not normal to experience sudden mood swings, sudden strong emotions, or to go from one emotion to the next. Learning healthy coping mechanisms and emotional regulation will help you to improve your life. However, having these kinds of mood issues will increase your risk of substance use disorder and are one of the key traits of what people call “addictive personality”.

Eventually, addictive personality is a term that is used to refer to a series of traits that increase your vulnerability to sensation seeking and substance abuse. Both of those increase your risk of substance use disorder. In any case, it’s important to work towards healthy coping mechanisms and towards improving your life. The danger of calling something part of your personality is that you may decide you can’t do anything about it when often you can take steps to learn healthy ways to deal with your emotions, your impulses, your mood, and your social life. Eventually, that will help you to stay clean and sober, while improving your quality of life.

Fentanyl Withdrawal: Symptoms, Dangers, Treatment

Hand with pen drawing the chemical formula of fentanyl

Fentanyl Withdrawal: Symptoms, Dangers, Treatment

Hand with pen drawing the chemical formula of fentanylFentanyl is rapidly becoming one of the most common recreational opioid drugs on the market. That’s both because it’s commonly sold as a strong and cheap alternative to opioid painkillers and because it’s used in counterfeit and cut versions of other drugs. Fentanyl is found in everything from heroin that’s cut to reduce costs to faux Xanax pills – meaning that millions of people are using fentanyl even when they aren’t aware of it. It’s also used as a prescription painkiller after surgery, where you might have a patch or a slow-release pill or even fast-acting pills after significant surgery and advanced-stage cancer treatment. In any case, fi you’ve been using fentanyl more often, it will have a withdrawal phase, and that withdrawal phase can be significant and even dangerous.

Fentanyl is currently considered to be one of the most dangerous opioids on the market. It’s responsible for about 70% of all opioid-involved overdose deaths. And, at up to 100 times the strength of morphine, it’s easy to overdose on because even a tiny amount is too much. This means that withdrawing from it and getting clean can be critical to ensuring your safety. However, getting clean can be dangerous in and of itself and it is important to approach fentanyl withdrawal and detox carefully.

What Happens When You Withdraw from Fentanyl?

Fentanyl withdrawal starts within 6-12 hours after your final dose of the drug, or about 24-48 hours if you have a slow-release formula. Here, symptoms largely map to those of regular opioid withdrawal, but can be somewhat more severe as fentanyl is one of the strongest opioids you can take.

Here, you might not notice a difference between fentanyl withdrawal and a severe case of the flu. All of your symptoms will typically start out light and then will increase in severity. In addition, they may come with symptoms of anxiety, panic, and distress, which don’t come with a normal cold or flu. Here, you can expect symptoms of:

  • Sweating
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Cravings for more fentanyl
  • Abdominal cramping and stomach problems
  • General malaise/muscle pain
  • Agitation
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Fatigue and lethargy

These symptoms start out light and can increase to be very severe over the 1-2 weeks of symptoms. It’s also important to manage side-effects, as leaving them alone can result in increased risks of dehydration, choking, and even seizures. This means ensuring that you drink enough, putting in effort to sleep on your side, and ensuring that you’re investing in health at the same time.

man having fentanyl withdrawal symptoms

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How Long Does Fentanyl Withdrawal Take

thoughtful manWithdrawing from fentanyl typically takes anywhere from 14-20 days. However, if you are taking a slow-release version of the drug, it can take much longer. In addition, many of the mental side effects and symptoms can take significantly longer to go away. This means you’ll have to manage your mental health and treatment over the longer term.

If you’re withdrawing from fentanyl in a treatment center, you’ll typically receive medication to speed up this process and to reduce the symptoms and the severity of the symptoms.

3-24 Hours – Early onset withdrawal means that withdrawal symptoms kick in. This normally happens in 3-6 hours with normal fentanyl. However, if you have a slow-release version of the drug it can take much longer. Therefore, you’ll have to adjust your timeline based on what kind of fentanyl you’re using. Early withdrawal typically starts out with anxiety, cravings for more of the drug, and the start of early cold and flu feelings. Here, you’ll most likely want to invest in self-care and either go back to bed, ivnest in light exercise, and ensure that you drink enough water.

Day 1-4 – Withdrawal symptoms normally kick in fully after the first 24 hours although it can be as long as 48 hours if you have a slow-release version of the drug. Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms normally start with sweating, chills, runny nose, and sometimes a cough. Most people will also start to experience nausea and potentially diarrhea or vomiting right away as well. Your mood will drop and you’ll feel anxious, low, and cravings will intensify. For most people, this means you’ll want to ensure that you have good social and emotional support in place. You’ll also want to ensure that you are taking care of yourself, drinking enough water, eating well, and getting light exercise. After the first few days, you’ll also be at risk of respiratory problems and breathing difficulties, you might have muscle shaking and spasming, and tremors. Most people do need medical attention here and having a nurse or a doctor to monitor your condition is important.

Day 5-22 – In most cases, your symptoms will plateau and then start to balance out after the first 5 days. If you’re on a slow-release version of fentanyl, it may take up to 14 days to reach this phase. From there, you’ll need another 10-15 days for symptoms to gradually go away. Here, your existing symptoms should stay the same but should gradually fade over time, meaning you will feel physically better every day. However, mental symptoms may not fade and you may require therapy and counseling to deal with those symptoms before they actually fade.

In most cases, fentanyl withdrawal will take about 15-24 days total no matter what kind of fentanyl you are using. This means you can expect symptoms to last about 2 weeks on average.

Dangers of Fentanyl Withdrawal

Fentanyl is one of the strongest opioid drugs on the market. Often, this means that you’ll face two major risks when withdrawing from the drug. The first is that side-effects can be dangerous. Here, you might face tremors, potential seizures, and muscle shaking which can cause medically significant risks. You might also experience risks of dehydration and the significant danger to your organs and your health that go with. People can also risk choking when vomiting, nutritional deficiencies, and other potentially severe side-effects of normal flu symptoms. Anyone who withdraws from fentanyl also faces the significant risk of relapse, where you are at risk of giving in to cravings. This puts you at increased risk of overdose, because your tolerance can drop significantly even in a very short amount of time. This means that the same dose you used before withdrawing can result in an overdose after withdrawing. Therefore, you might be putting yourself at risk just by using your normal dose.

Getting Treatment

people during group therapy for fentanyl treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with fentanyl use, it’s important to get help. Here, you can get treatment and assistance during the detox and withdrawal phase. This very often means that you’ll receive a medication assisted treatment program, where you get methadone or suboxone to help you manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce their severity. These drugs also reduce the risk of relapse, which significantly reduces the risks associated with withdrawing from fentanyl. Professional treatment for fentanyl addiction also means getting behavioral health support, counseling, and group therapy for drug addiction, all of which will work to give you the tools to manage life without fentanyl so you can stay clean over the longer term.

Fentanyl is one of the most dangerous opioids on the market. If you or a loved one is using it, you’re putting yourself at risk. At the same time, withdrawing from fentanyl without medical support is also dangerous, because symptoms and side-effects can be severe and because the risk of relapse can be significant. It’s important that you get treatment and support to ensure you stay safe. Good luck with getting clean from fentanyl.

How to Successfully Detox from Alcohol

two clients during counseling for an alcohol detox program

How to Successfully Detox from Alcohol

two clients during counseling for an alcohol detox programIf you’re struggling with alcohol, you’re not alone. Today, 29.5 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder. That often means you have tolerance, chemical dependence, and difficulty quitting or cutting back when you do try to stop. For many of us, alcoholism doesn’t take the form of constant drinking. Instead, we binge drink on weekends and do so uncontrollably. Then, withdrawal symptoms might be so bad the next few days that it feels like being sick. Others drink nearly constantly, and often to the point of using alcohol to function. Wherever you are in that, quitting can improve every part of your life, your health, and your mental health. It can give you the tools to rebuild your life, to have mental stability, and to invest in the relationships that add value to your life. And, it means you’ll be investing into yourself and your future.

At the same time, detoxing from alcohol isn’t easy. It’s not just about deciding you want to do it and going for it. Alcohol detox can be difficult and dangerous. For many people, it has setbacks and those include health complications, high risk of relapse, and emotional and mental trauma while detoxing. It’s important that you treat alcohol detox as a serious and medically important thing. For most people, that means medical supervision and potentially medication.

Talk to Your Doctor

The first step to quitting alcohol is to have a plan in place so that you can do so safely. Here, it’s generally a good idea to talk to your doctor to go over your options and potential scenarios. For example, you might move into a detox clinic to get the help you need to quit without putting yourself at physical risk. Here your options are:

  • Cold turkey / social detox – This means that you quit right away with no crutches or aids. It’s the thing that most people do when trying to quit alcohol on their own. It’s also the highest risk option, as about 1 in 10 people getting off alcohol in this way experience long-term complications like delirium tremens.
  • Tapering – If you’re drinking too much your doctor may ask you to taper off of alcohol before going cold turkey. That can make it possible to safely cut back from alcohol on your own. However, most people asking for help to quit alcohol are too sick to taper off of it, so this isn’t always an option.
  • Medically supported detox – Here you detox in the same style as going cold turkey, but in a clinic, with people to monitor your symptoms and how you’re doing. If you start to develop more symptoms or complications, you’ll receive medication to reduce risks and to ensure you recover more quickly. This means you can get treatment right away if you’re facing delirium tremens or other complications.
  • Medical detox – Here you receive a prescription medication such as disulfiram, acamprosate, or naltrexone. These prevent a withdrawal phase and mean that you can immediately move into focusing on recovery and therapy and learning the skills to stay sober. In some cases, you might be on a maintenance dose for as long as months after detox. However, you’ll often begin to taper off of prescription medication when you leave rehab.

Here it’s also important to keep in mind that detox is just the first step of getting sober. It doesn’t matter how many times you quit drinking if you don’t deal with the behavioral addiction and the underlying problems that drive you to drink in the first place.

Get Your Questions Answered

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Choose an Approach to Quit

male client during counseling about alcohol detoxOnce you know the options you can make an informed decision about your treatment. Your doctor can help you to reach that decision. They may also want to involve an alcohol detox specialist to help you come to a decision based on your specific history, alcohol use, and drinking patterns. The more often you drink, the harder detox will be. That often means creating a detox plan around your lifestyle and your habits, so you can figure out a way to quit alcohol that is safe for you.

That will likely also involve evaluating your risk of relapse, assessing how many times you’ve tried to quit before, and then building a custom detox plan around your specific needs.

Take the Time You Need

Detoxing from alcohol is going to take time. That’s true if you’re doing it at home or in a clinic. The actually physical withdrawal will typically take about 1-2 weeks. However, if you end up with complications, you might need up to three months to fully physically recover. That’s without considering the time needed for behavioral treatment, counseling, and recovering from the underlying causes as well as the traumas of addiction.

Alcohol withdrawal can be severe. You’ll probably feel like you have the worst case of flu you’ve ever had in your life.

That normally means taking at least 2 weeks off work. You may want more especially if you’re going into a rehab program afterwards. Luckily, you can also do so even if you have a full-time job. You’re legally allowed to take up to 90 days (unpaid) off work for family and medical reasons without disclosing why or losing your job. However, your boss may want to have a note from your doctor that you need it. Just keep in mind that they aren’t even legally allowed to ask what your medical problems are, let alone force you to disclose them. 

Make Sure You Have Accountability

Quitting alcohol is about more than putting it down once. It’s about consciously choosing, every single day, to not pick it up. That means building routines, finding accountability, and finding social accountability to stay clean and sober. If you’re detoxing at home, you need accountability to stick with it at home. If you’re detoxing in a clinic, you need accountability there and accountability for when you leave treatment. That often means:

  • Finding personal motivation and realizing how much you want to be sober. Then, checking in with yourself, reaffirming this is still what you want and why, and putting in the work to hold yourself accountable.
  • Keeping track of yourself so that you have a visual milestone of progress. For example, marking off days in a calendar so you always know when you had your last drink and exactly how well you’re doing.
  • Finding social motivation of people to hold you accountable. For example, friends and family to check up on you, a self-help or support group, or regular visits to a counselor or a treatment center.

Any of those steps can help you to find accountability, to hold yourself to staying on track, and to ensuring that you have someone to check up on you, including yourself. That will help you to stay in detox and, over the long term, in recovery.

Eventually, an alcohol use disorder is a lot to deal with on your own. You shouldn’t have to. It’s important that you take steps to ensure you can detox safely and without endangering your physical or mental wellbeing. Often, that will mean getting detox support and medical treatment to ensure you can withdraw from alcohol safely and in comfort. Here, you should also start counseling and therapy, to ensure you have the emotional support you need to get through treatment as well. Good luck detoxing from alcohol.