6 Tips for Navigating 4th of July Parties While Sober

4th of July Sober Party Tips


The 4th of July is synonymous with drinking and partying. For people in sobriety, it can be difficult to navigate the holiday. However, if you feel strongly that you want to have the 4th of July experience while staying true to your recovery, these sober party tips can help. 


1. Make Sure You’re Ready

Ask yourself, am I able to go to a place where alcohol will be served and not feel triggered? How often do I feel cravings? Do I have a support network I can call upon if I feel triggered? If you can’t say with confidence that your sobriety would be safe in a situation where people are drinking, don’t risk it. 


2. Host a Party of Your Own 

If you are worried about attending a party where you may be triggered, why not host your own sober celebration? Plenty of people will be happy to spend the 4th of July sober. Get the barbecue going, play some games, and spend the day outside enjoying the great weather. Plus one of the perks of hosting is you stay busy. 


3. Have a Friend to Lean On

Maybe you could bring a sober friend with you for support, or arrange with your sponsor ahead of time that you may need to call them on the day. Or maybe you could ask someone to check in on you via text during the party. Come up with a strategy that feels right to you. Putting some plans into place for coping with triggers will go a long way in protecting your sobriety. 


4. Keep a List of Coping Strategies on Your Phone

Speaking of coping with triggers, keep a list of portable coping skills on your phone. It could be going for a walk around the block, doing some deep breathing in the bathroom, or as Amanda Gist suggests “applying lavender essential oil to your neck and wrists to activate your parasympathetic nervous system.” Keeping a list will help you remember these strategies in the event you feel triggered. 


5. Come Prepared with Non-Alcoholic Options

Bringing your own drinks gives you more control over the situation. If you’re offered a drink you can say, “thanks but I brought my own.” It also avoids that awkward feeling of wanting something to hold whilst mingling. 


6. Be Your Own Exit Strategy

Carpooling is great for the environment but skip it today. Drive yourself to the party. That way if things start to feel unsafe for you, you can leave immediately. It might even be good to have a place in mind, where you can go and feel safe. 

And if you find yourself struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. Contact us anytime, we are here to help.

Understanding Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder

To feel “low” from time to time is to be human, but what happens when it takes over your life? Major Depressive Disorder, or clinical depression, is a mood disorder that affects how you think, feel, and behave. It can manifest in physical symptoms like extreme fatigue and can affect normal day-to-day functioning. In some cases it can be so severe that sufferers feel that there is no reason to live and can become suicidal. 

Contrary to popular belief it is not something you can just “snap out of.” Major Depressive Disorder is a clinical issue that typically requires medical attention and intervention. Depression can affect people at any age or stage of life, including children and teens. 


Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder symptoms can vary from person to person. Not everyone with clinical depression will experience all of these symptoms. However, in general symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder can include: 

  • Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or despair
  • Lack of motivation
  • Personality changes
  • Loss of interest or joy in activities previously enjoyed such as hobbies
  • Tiredness, extreme fatigue or lack of energy to even accomplish small tasks
  • Weight fluctuation, either reduced appetite resulting in weight loss, or increased food cravings resulting in weight gain
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling irritable, having angry outbursts, or feeling frustrated by even small things
  • Sleep changes, either in the form of insomnia or oversleeping
  • Trouble with concentration, feeling foggy, difficulty with decision making, and forgetfulness
  • Slowed speech, thought, and movement
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or suicide


Depression and Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is common among people experiencing Major Depressive Disorder. Often people use substances like drugs and alcohol to self-medicate and attempt to ease the pain they are feeling. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol do not solve the problem and come with issues of their own. For example, alcohol can actually trigger depressive symptoms. Thus, substance abuse and depression can actually fuel each other and make things far worse. 

For this reason, Major Depressive Disorder and Substance Use Disorder are often seen together, called Co-occurring Disorders. 



Currently the best course of treatment for Major Depressive Disorder is a combination of medication and therapy. Usually doctors prescribe serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) first. These medications are often better known by their brand names and include Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, and Celexa. Antidepressants such as these typically take anywhere from two to six weeks to be effective and it might take a few attempts to find the best medication fit and dosage. 

Furthermore, therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help patients recognize negative thought patterns early on, teach coping skills and strategies for controlling symptoms. 

In cases where Major Depressive Disorder co-occurs with substance abuse, comprehensive treatment is necessary. Facilities which specialize in treatment of Substance Use Disorder, addiction, and co-occurring disorders such as clinical depression will be able to treat all aspects of the problem. 

When only one side of a co-occurring disorder receives treatment, the untreated condition can continue to wreak havoc. Thus if a patient is treated only for alcohol abuse but not depression, the depression can drive them to use to deal with difficult symptoms. If the depression is treated without addressing the alcohol abuse, a person’s drinking could trigger the depression again. 


Getting Help 

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, addiction, or co-occurring disorders, contact us today. Harmony Recovery Group specializes in treating co-occurring disorders and getting to the root cause in order to give you the best chance at long-term recovery. Call us today and find out how we can help.

What is Nitrous Oxide? This Risky Inhalant Poses Health Concerns

Nitrous Oxide Inhalant Drug

Nitrous oxide, also known as Laughing Gas or Whip-its, is a colorless, odorless gas which works as an inhalant. It has been provided in clinical settings for over a century to relax patients for procedures. Reusable whipped cream canisters, like the ones for professional chef use, use Nitrous Oxide as a propellant. This is how it is more commonly acquired for recreational use. 


Clinical Use

In a clinical setting, Nitrous Oxide is often combined with oxygen and administered through a mask. The oxygen is helpful because high doses without additional oxygen can cause hypoxia (oxygen deficiency). If there is not oxygen alongside the nitrous, often the doctor will give the patient oxygen for several minutes after the Nitrous is discontinued. This helps clear any remaining gas from the body.  

In this way, the substance is very safe. It can relieve pain and act as a mild sedative, making it particularly useful in minor dental procedures where patients are fearful or would be uncomfortable. It is also often provided during childbirth as a mild pain reliever and relaxant. However, the effects wear off very quickly. 


Effects of Nitrous Oxide

When inhaled, Nitrous Oxide creates a high that lasts around 20 seconds causing feelings of euphoria and relaxation. Users may also experience laughing fits, hence the name Laughing Gas. 

It can also cause strong hallucinations in larger amounts. Steve-O, of Jackass fame and now 11 years sober, says Nitrous Oxide is one of the most frequent and darkest drugs he ever did. His hallucinations were so strong that he was constantly chasing that feeling again, ingesting larger and larger amounts with dangerous implications. 

Other effects of the drug include dizziness and difficulty thinking straight, impairments which can become dangerous. In Australia, an 18 year-old boy fell from a balcony and died after using Nitrous Oxide. Friends say he likely fell due to the dizzying effects of the drug. 

While overdoses are rare, they have been reported in both the UK and US. As previously mentioned, when the substance is used in large amounts without added oxygen, it can cause hypoxia, low blood pressure, and fainting. 


Side Effects of Nitrous Oxide

Short-term side effects can include:

  • Shivering
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Sound distortion
  • Excessive sweating
  • Vomiting

There are also reports of allergic reactions to the drug. Signs to look out for are fever, wheezing, difficulty breathing, chills, and hives. These symptoms require immediate medical attention.

Long-term effects typically only occur from long-term abuse. Because Nitrous Oxide blocks B-12 uptake, those who use the gas regularly may develop deficiency which can lead to Anemia, nerve damage, and neurological complications. 


Getting Help 

Nitrous Oxide is one of many substances people take to escape their reality or as a party drug. But what happens when things get out of control? If you or a loved one are struggling with any type of substance abuse or addiction, we can help. 

Call us today, we’re here to talk and we’re here to listen. 


Women’s Healthcare Month: How Addiction Affects Women Differently

Women's Healthcare and Addiction

In the past, men reported higher rates of addiction and substance use disorder than women, but the past few decades women have swiftly closed the gender gap. Today, men and women experience roughly equal rates of these issues. However, women’s rates of progression, experiences, reasons for use, and stigmas can vary greatly from their male counterparts. 


Addiction Progression in Women 

Scientific studies have found that women progress in addiction faster than men due to their physiology. This is particularly true with alcohol, which female bodies process differently. Because women have less of a particular stomach enzyme which helps break down alcohol, it remains in their system longer and leads to higher blood alcohol levels. One drink for a woman can have twice the physical impact of one drink for a man. When a woman is drinking often, this higher saturation of alcohol leads to dependence more quickly. It also leads to brain and organ damage more quickly than for men. 


Co-occurring Disorders in Women

Studies show that women are two times as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety as men. Self-medicating is a common theme with co-occurring disorders to manage uncomfortable feelings and often leads to abuse, dependence and addiction. Women are also more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and attempts than men. 

Furthermore, domestic and sexual trauma in women can lead to co-occurring disorders. Roughly one in three women will experience a sexual assault in their lifetime, a stat which is higher for women than it is for men. Women are more vulnerable to physical attacks and are more likely to experience child sexual abuse, incest, neglect in childhood, and domestic violence. A history of violent trauma is more common among women with drug addiction, often as a result of PTSD. In fact, one study found that as many as 6 in 10 women with addiction also have PTSD. 


Women’s Pain and Addiction

Women’s pain is less likely to be taken seriously by medical professionals than men’s pain, called Pain Bias. According to Harvard Health, women’s pain is more likely to be considered psychological rather than physical. One study found that women in emergency rooms in acute pain were less likely to receive painkillers than males in similar condition. 

Conversely, women are found to suffer more frequently and more intensely from pain and often require more medication to mitigate the effects. One study found that women needed twice the amount of morphine as males to receive comparable pain relief. Women are also more likely to have chronic and painful inflammatory and/or auto-immune conditions than men. Further, women’s reproductive health conditions can lead to significant pain such as Endometriosis which affects 1 in 10 women worldwide.

The lack of adequate pain management can lead women to seek pain relief elsewhere in the form of illicit substances or illegally-sold prescription medications on the street. 


Social Stigmas and Pressures for Addiction in Women

Women with children in particular experience social stigmas around addiction. They have been found to be less likely to admit they have a problem, to analyze their own alcohol or substance use habits. They are also less likely to speak to a friend or professional about their problem for fear of judgement.

Further, women with addiction who are pregnant are less likely to seek support. One study found that 25% of opioid addicted pregnant women went untreated. Researchers believe that shame and stigma play a role in their barrier to receiving help. 


Getting Help 

Women need and deserve proper support in treatment of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and Addiction. Seeking help in a supportive, nurturing environment that also specializes in treating Co-occurring Disorders can help to make the changes needed to overcome addiction. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with drugs or alcohol, contact us today. We are here to listen and we are here to help.










Substance Abuse Rates Are Higher in the LGBTQ Community

LGBTQ Substance Abuse Rates

June is LGBTQ Pride Month, where we celebrate our LGBTQ community and increase visibility and discussions around equality. We’d like to take this moment to discuss how Substance Abuse affects the LGBTQ community at disproportionately higher rates and what we can do to support them. 

People who identify as LGBTQ are at a higher risk for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and addiction. For example, according to the Center for American Progress, 20-30% of people who identify as LGBTQ use drugs and alcohol compared with about 9% of the general population. Furthermore, a 2015 study found that people who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual are twice as likely to have used an illicit drug in the past year. LGBT identifying individuals are also found to binge drink in a higher percentage than heterosexual individuals.


Discrimination Can Lead to Substance Abuse

Although great strides have been made towards equality, dignity, acceptance, and fairness for the LGBTQ community, we still have a very long way to go. LGBTQ people face high levels of stress every day, often called Minority Stress, simply by being themselves. 

Many LGBTQ individuals have experienced social prejudice in the form of discriminatory laws and practices around areas such as housing, employment, relationship recognition, and healthcare.  Furthermore, social stigma from friends and even family members adds to the challenges.

Issues like these can range from difficult and upsetting to dangerous and severely traumatic. LGBTQ individuals suffer higher incidences of stressful childhood experiences, school victimization, neighborhood hate crimes, and family conflict than heterosexual and cisgender individuals.

For instance, traumatic experiences for LGBTQ can include: 

  • Disownment from their family based on their sexual orientation
  • Violence based on sexual orientation or gender identification (hate crimes)
  • Rejection from their religious community
  • Physical abuse by family members
  • Bullying or peer ridicule for LGBTQ youth
  • Public discrimination in the form of job loss or child custody loss

Furthermore, LGBTQ community members who are also of a minority race, religion or gender face further societal pressures and prejudices.

Moreover, these societal pressures can lead to feelings of self-loathing, shame, or negative self-view which correlates to higher substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide rates among LGBTQ. 

As a result, each of these factors and stressors lead to significant stress and anxiety around everyday choices and lifestyle. Feelings of isolation, anger, fear, and depression lead to a higher likelihood of substance abuse to escape these problems. 


Social Component

Party subcultures in LGBTQ communities can also promote substance abuse. A UK study found that the most widely used drugs among LGBTQ people were party drugs such as poppers, cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine and amphetamines. LGBTQ individuals were 10 times more likely to have used cocaine in the previous month than the general population. 


Higher Rates of Co-occurring Disorders

Trauma and stress can exacerbate mental illness, driving people to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. As a result, this is one of the reasons LGBTQ individuals are more likely to have Co-occurring Disorders. According to the SAMHSA, people who identify as LGBTQ are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, PTSD and mental other health disorders. Additionally, they are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and attempts. 

Transgender individuals are twice as likely to have a mental disorder as cisgender individuals. In adolescence, transgender youth have higher rates of self-harm, depression, suicide, and eating disorders than cisgender youth. 

This is why it is vital that LGBTQ individuals in substance abuse treatment also be screened and treated for co-occurring psychiatric disorders. 


How Can Non-LGBTQ Help? 

Firstly, change starts at the individual level. For example, try educating yourself on LGBTQ issues. Be conscious not to reinforce stereotypes and stigmas that lead to the feelings of isolation which lead LGBTQ to use. Support laws and policies that lead to equality for all LGBTQ members of society. Likewise, be an advocate and speak up for injustice. In short, if society is causing the problem, we need to change our way of behaving. 

Secondly, support your LGBTQ friends and family. If you feel they have a problem, talk to them. Be a listening ear, tell them your concerns, and if it feels right, discuss treatment options. Addiction thrives in the dark so bringing it to light can help, just remember to do so gently. 


Getting Help 

However you identify, if you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, help is available. Call us today to find out how we can support you through this difficult time. We’re here to listen. 



Connolly MD, Zervos MJ, Barone CJ, Johnson CC, Joseph CLM. The Mental Health of Transgender Youth: Advances in Understanding. J Adolesc Health Off Publ Soc Adolesc Med. 2016;59(5):489-495. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.06.012.

Duncan, D. T., Hatzenbuehler, M. L., & Johnson, R. M. (2014). Neighborhood-level LGBT hate crimes and current illicit drug use among sexual minority youth. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 135, 65–70.

Huebner, D. M., Thoma, B. C., & Neilands, T. B. (2015). School victimization and substance abuse among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents. Prevention Science, 16, 734–743.

Patricia E. Penn , Denali Brooke , Chad M. Mosher , Sandra Gallagher , Audrey J. Brooks & Rebecca Richey (2013) LGBTQ Persons with Co-occurring Conditions: Perspectives on Treatment, Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 31:4, 466-483, DOI: 10.1080/07347324.2013.831637. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07347324.2013.831637

Schneeberger, A. R., Dietl, M. F., Muenzenmaier, K. H., Huber, C. G., & Lang, U. E. (2014). Stressful childhood experiences and health outcomes in sexual minority populations: A systematic review. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 49, 1427–1445.

Effect of Tobacco on Teens and Addiction

Teen Tobacco Use and Addiction

Tobacco has always been said to be a gateway into heavier alcohol, drug and substance use among the teens. This was proven in 2007, when a study at Columbia University found that the nicotine in tobacco products poses a significant risk of structural and chemical changes in developing brains. These changes actually put teens at greater risk of developing addictions to alcohol and drugs. 

In 2015, 25% of high school and 7.7% of middle school students reported using a tobacco product in the past 30 days. Analysis from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows that teens who smoke are 9 times more likely to meet the medical criteria for alcohol abuse and dependence. Teens who smoke are also 13 times more likely to meet criteria for illegal drug abuse and dependence, than teens who do not smoke. 

Both alcohol and drug abuse in teenage years can significantly affect brain development. We now know that nicotine does this too. Nicotine, being a highly addictive chemical, wires the brain to rely on outside substances to function. This is true in the case of traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes alike. 


Teen Smoking’s Effect on Drug and Alcohol Abuse & Mental Health

12 to 17 year-olds who smoke are 5 times likelier to drink and 13 times likelier to use marijuana compared to non-smokers of the same age group. These odds increase the younger a person starts smoking. For example, children who began smoking at age 12 or younger are 15 times more likely to smoke marijuana and 7 times more likely to use illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine. 

Smoking at a young age can also have significant effects on mental health. Teen tobacco use is linked to panic attacks, general anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Among teens aged 12 to 17, smokers were twice as likely to suffer from symptoms of depression than non-smokers. 


Prevalence of Teen Vaping 

Vaping has taken over smoking among American teenagers. As of 2015, e-cigarettes are the most common tobacco product used among middle and high school students. Vaping and e-cigarettes can cause serious health concerns of their own, in addition to the effects nicotine has on the developing brain. These products merit the same caution as traditional tobacco products. 


Teen Smoking Effect on Adult Addiction

Estimates suggest that 80% of smokers take up the habit before the age of 18. This is when it is most dangerous as their developing brains are more susceptible to the effects of nicotine. We also know that long-term smoking carries with it numerous health risks which can result in cancer, lung disease, heart disease, and even death. Having so many people start a life-threatening, highly addictive habit in their youth creates long-term problems that young people rarely consider. It also creates significant strain on our healthcare system. Furthermore, because early smoking creates a higher likelihood of alcohol and drug addiction, the cascade effect can be significant. 


How Can We Prevent Teen Tobacco Use?

Experts recommend restricting tobacco advertising, marketing and promotion, increasing counter-advertising programs, and giving the FDA comprehensive authority to regulate tobacco. Furthermore, having conversations in the home with children and teens about the risks of tobacco use.







7 Sober Tips for Memorial Day From People Who’ve Been There

Sober Memorial Day: 7 Tips

Navigating Memorial Day Sober

We Asked People In Recovery For Their Strategies


Memorial Day is coming up fast and while many are looking forward to the long weekend, holidays like this one can create some anxiety for those of us in recovery. It might be a little easier than usual, since we’re still technically in the time of social distancing, but we asked some of our sober friends for their tips for navigating Memorial Day.

1. Start Some Self Reflection

Check in and ask yourself some questions such as, where am I at in my recovery? Am I capable of going to a place where alcohol will be served and not being triggered to use? Have I built a support network I can call upon if I do have these feelings?  Be honest with yourself, know your limits, and stick to them. If you can’t say with confidence that your sobriety would be safe in a situation where people are drinking, don’t go. 

2. Have Portable Coping Skills

Amanda Gist, public speaker and writer on mental health and addiction, suggests that when a trigger arises it’s good to have some go-to coping skills in your back pocket. For example, these can be “excusing yourself for a ten minute walk, doing some deep breathing in the bathroom, or applying lavender essential oil to your neck and wrists to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Another option would be to have a friend you can reach out to via text with the agreement that they’ll help you untangle the thoughts you’re struggling with in the moment of the trigger.” 

3. Do Something Different This Year

This one might be easier due to lockdown but going to the same party you went to last year when you were using isn’t a good idea. As Joanne Ketch of Chrysalis Counseling says, “Don’t do the ‘same old thing.’ Try a new way to celebrate. For instance, you could go to a different home, grill something new, go to the park, even change the music. Changes will help your brain not associate the day with drinking or using.” 

4. Going to a Party? Mentally Prepare Yourself for Questions (and Prepare Answers, Too)

If you’re going to a gathering, barbecue or party, another suggestion from Amanda is to have some verbal responses planned in case you are offered a drink. “This way, you know you won’t be stumbling around for words if you are offered a drink. No swinging between telling your life story and just running away. Have a few reliable one-liners, like the simple but effective ‘No thanks, I don’t drink.’ Or the grateful but stern ‘I appreciate the offer, that’s so thoughtful of you but I’m not drinking.’ Or there’s the offer-them-an-alternative: ‘I don’t drink alcohol but I’d love a lemonade if you have one!’

5. Find a Substitute

Do you feel awkward at a party without something in your hand? Megan Kioulafofski, founder of Sol and Spirit, suggests coming prepared with a substitute. “It avoids those ‘you’re not drinking?’ conversations and makes me feel like I’m not missing out on anything,” she says. For example, Megan’s favorite substitute is to mix Kombucha with soda water, “it has a nice bite to it.” 

*Additionally, just make sure your alcohol-free drink isn’t made with anything you used to use in your drink of choice to avoid triggers. For example, if you used to drink Rum and Coke, it’s not a good idea to drink plain coke at a party. 

6. Have Your “Outs” Ready

“… And be willing to use them,” says Joanne. Planning an escape or distraction strategy ahead of time will be helpful in the event you feel that the situation is no longer safe for your sobriety. “The out can be physically leaving the event. But, it can also be a smaller ‘out’ such as a text, phone call, FaceTime or Skype with someone. They can support you and talk you through it.”

7. Replace FOMO with JOMO and Skip it Altogether

Mike, founder of “I Will Not Drink With You Today,” suggests a different approach altogether. “If you feel that going anywhere will trigger you, ask yourself ‘What’s more important: this party or my sobriety?’ Holidays come and go, there’s no reason you can’t sit this one out.  Camp at home with some TV or a book and watch how nothing is different afterward.” 


We hope these tips were able to help you stay sober this Memorial Day. If you find yourself or a loved one needing additional support reach out to us we are here for you.


Foster Care: Rebuilding Families After Addiction

Foster Care Awareness Month: Rebuilding Families in the Aftermath of Addiction

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month.

One in three children in foster care are there due to parental Addiction. Foster care and substance abuse are intimately linked and can cause long-term problems for afflicted families. Today we’re talking about starting to heal the trauma that addiction can cause in a family with children, and how to re-build. 

First things first, opening the paths of communication is key.

How far the conversation goes depends on the age of the children but be sure to apologize for anything they may have experienced directly (i.e. an outburst) or indirectly (your absence, etc.). This doesn’t need to be an exhaustive list but anything that stands out can be noted. Tell them they are you here for them now and are doing your best to recover from your problem. You children may not have much to say but if they do, put your listening hat on. Hear them out, validate their feelings, tell them that you love them. All strong relationships are built on communication and child-parent relationships are no different. 

Once you’ve cleared the air it’s important to establish a “new normal.”

This is where you will be speaking with actions rather than words, showing up and being there for them. Create routines, spend time with them, and maybe even start a new tradition like Spaghetti Night or a Sunday morning bike ride. Even something as small as watching their favorite movie with them can mean the world. For most kids, your presence is enough. 

The truth is, this process can take time.

Even if you are feeling miles ahead in terms of recovery and rebuilding, they might not be. Or if you are having hard days, be kind to yourself. The recovery process is different for everyone and having the family rebuild process in the mix is additionally challenging. Just remember why you’re doing this, your children need your sobriety as much as you do. They need their parent. You don’t have to be perfect, just keep showing up for them.


Every scenario looks different. The ultimate goal is to heal, and let go of resentments and the shame. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and their children have been placed in foster care our case managers might be able to help. Contact us below or click here.

Dangers of Methylone Abuse

Dangers of Methylone Abuse | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment


Methylone is a synthetic designer drug that works on the brain similarly to MDMA or ecstasy, as it is nearly identical, in a chemical sense. It is a stimulating synthetic cathinone that increases energy, alertness, and excitability.

Because of the energetic high methylone can trigger, it is frequently referred to, along with other drugs, as “bath salts.” It is commonly sold on its own. It is produced in large batches clandestine labs, so methylone is generally much less expensive than MDMA, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Although methylone is not very well-understood, we do know the drug has been related to the deaths of people (albeit rarely) due to its intense side effects.

Methylone Abuse and Potential for Addiction

The Drug Enforcement Administration reports that methylone was first found on the illicit drug market in the U.S. in 2009. It was eventually classified as a Schedule I substance in 2013, so for at least four years, it could be purchased legally. Although methylone is no longer lawfully obtained in the U.S., other synthetic cathinones remain unclassified at the federal level.

Although some older adults may abuse synthetic cathinones like methylone, the drug market is comprised mostly of adolescents and young adults. They often gain access to these drugs through convenience stores or the internet. A common source of use is in social settings such as clubs, concerts, and raves.

Signs of Abuse

When an individual uses a substance, such as bath salts, that contains methylone, symptoms are similar to those of other stimulants, including MDMA, cocaine, and meth:

  • Unrealistic feelings of superiority
  • Increased talkativeness
  • High sociability and excitability
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Impaired judgment, impulsivity
  • Feelings of pleasure and well-being
  • High energy and increased alertness
  • Accelerated pulse and breathing
  • Increased libido
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased hostility or aggression

The comedown effects from powerful stimulants such as synthetic cathinones like methylone may include profound depression and fatigue. These symptoms may compel people to use more of the drug to relieve psychological discomfort.

Toxic Effects and Signs of Overdose

Toxic effects of methylone commonly include moderate symptoms, such as the following:

  • Accelerated heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Derealization
  • Pupil dilation and blurry vision
  • Impaired concentration and focus
  • Restlessness
  • Altered time perception
  • Muscle tension and aches
  • Teeth grinding and jaw clenching
  • Insomnia
  • Profuse sweating

Signs of severe side effects and an overdose on methylone can include the following:

  • Hyperthermia
  • Dizziness
  • Profound confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Depersonalization
  • Paranoid delusions
  • Extreme, unwarranted fear
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Rashes

Methylone and other cathinones do not have a substantial impact on brain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline. For this reason, methylone may be less addictive than other stimulants, but the depletion of dopamine at high doses can be toxic and hazardous to one’s health.

Abusing synthetic cathinones like methylone over the long-term can alter neurotransmitters and result in mood disorders, such as depression. This can happen long-term. Mental health problems that may co-occur with abuse of methylone or other cathinones include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Acute or chronic psychosis
  • Episodes of mania
  • Paranoid delusions
  • Suicidal ideations

As noted, in very rare instances, methylone use has been linked to fatal overdoses. In one study from 2011, researchers talked about three such fatalities. All subjects exhibited seizure-like activity and very high body temperatures (up to 107°F) before their deaths. Two of the individuals also developed metabolic acidosis, a condition in which the body produces too much acid.

One of the three cases had prolonged hospitalization before death presented with symptoms similar to sympathomimetic toxicity, which can occur with the use of certain prescription and non-prescription drugs that have stimulating properties. In addition to cathinones and MDMA, Examples of non-prescription sympathomimetic agents include OTC cold medicines containing ephedrine and illegal street drugs, such as cocaine and meth.

Overcoming Methylone Abuse and Addiction

Since methylone is a relatively new psychoactive substance, there are no known drugs that have been approved by the FDA to be used in medication-assisted therapy. Instead, the detox process involves the management of withdrawal symptoms through other means, generally at the discretion of a doctor or addiction specialist. Fortunately, the symptoms are often relatively mild when compared to those of many other drugs of abuse, and can be effectively treated in a hospital or detox facility, without issue.

Getting treatment for you or a loved one who abuses a potent and dangerous drug like methylone is crucial. Recovery in Tune specializes in the treatment of substance abuse and addiction, and our programs include evidence-based therapies and services especially designed to be beneficial for those who struggle with drug or alcohol abuse.

If you or someone you love is ready to take the first step to a drug-free life, we urge you to contact us as soon as possible and find out how we can help!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Dangers of GHB and GBL Drug

Dangers of GHB and GBL Drug

Dangers of GHB and GBL Drug | Recovery in Tune



GHB and GBL are two closely related substances. Their euphoric effect has made them popular in club and party environments. GHB is also sometimes used as a “date rape” drug because of its profoundly sedating effects.

What Is GHB?

GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) exists naturally, but in small amounts, in human cells. It is a neurochemical and also influences other neurotransmitters, including GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and dopamine. At low doses, GHB represses dopamine release. But, in high doses, it prompts dopamine release. It also boosts serotonin and inhibits the release of adrenaline.

On the street, GHB is has many names, including Liquid E or Liquid Ecstasy. The drug was originally developed in the 1960s for use in anesthesia. However, due to adverse side effects such as seizures, it is rarely used for this purpose. It also sometimes used to treat narcolepsy and to help people recover from alcoholism.

In 1990, GHB was available in health food stores as a treatment for insomnia and for its growth-hormone-enhancing properties. But following several poisonings, GHB was promptly removed from the market and banned in 1991.

In 2000, the Drug Enforcement Agency classified GHB as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. This means that it has no approved medical purpose and a high potential for abuse. Still, at least one pharmaceutical product that contains GHB (Xyrem®) is available in some cases by prescription only.

Dangers of GHB and GBL Drug | Recovery in Tune

GHB Today

Today, GHB is most commonly thought of as a club drug or date-rape drug. As the former, users take small doses to lower inhibitions and induce feelings of well-being. Perhaps for these reasons, some say it acts as an aphrodisiac.

In excessive doses, however, GHB can cause extreme sedation and unconsciousness and also repress the formation of memories. This fact makes it very effective as a date rape drug. Additionally, it is usually sold in a tasteless and odorless liquid, making it easy to slip into an unsuspecting person’s drink.

As a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, it can prove fatal when taken in combination with alcohol or other depressants, such as opioids or benzodiazepines. The risk for this may be higher if a person has ingested the drug without their knowledge. And as with many street drugs, the composition and potency of GHB can vary. Moreover, there is often no way users can know just precisely how powerful a dose may be, which increases the risk of overdose and death.

Effects of GHB

The effects that GHB has on a user may be different from one person to the next. Factors like stomach contents, whether a person used other substances, and individual biology can cause the effects to vary. However, effects are usually experienced within 10–20 minutes, and about 45–90 minutes later, they will often begin to subside. Sleepiness or grogginess may occur for up to 12 hours after use.

The physical effects of GHB are highly dose-dependent, and each individual may have a slightly different response, a fact that makes GHB use even riskier. Fortunately, the number of people who report having used GHB in their lifetime has been gradually declining since around 2006.

But despite GHB’s illegal status, it is still manufactured in clandestine labs and trafficked around the world. Because the ban has made GHB somewhat more challenging to obtain, some people have begun to seek out GBL as an alternative.

What Is the GBL Drug?

GBL (gamma-butyrolactone) is a “prodrug” of GHB that has a variety of commercial and industrial uses. For example, it is commonly found in pain strippers, nail polish remover and stain remover as a solvent. Because of its chemical similarity, GBL, although a biologically inactive compound, metabolizes in the body to produce a drug. Furthermore, its effects are indistinguishable.

Unfortunately, however, GBL is also 2-3 times as potent as GHB, and its effects take place much more rapidly. This places users at an even higher risk of overdose than GHB, although the effects of either drug can be very severe and include life-threatening CNS depression, respiratory arrest, coma, and death.

In fact, an unintentional overdose of both substances is very easy. Even half of a millimeter of GBL or half of a dram of GHB in excess of a moderate dose can induce a deep sleep, where the person could potentially aspirate on their own vomit.

Also, due to memory-inhibiting properties, the danger of losing track of how much a person has ingested (especially because it can be administered unknown to the user in a drink) is much higher. This route of administration may lead to a greater likelihood of accidental overdose. One sip too many can be the difference between euphoric effects and debilitating unconsciousness.

Conversion of GBL into GHB

GBL can convert into GHB when the pH level changes from the addition of another product such as sodium hydroxide. However, converting GBL into GHB is unnecessary because the body will quickly metabolize GBL into GHB after consumption anyway. Because the effects of GBL onset more rapidly and its much greater potency, GBL itself may have a higher potential for abuse and adverse effects than GHB.

Dangers of GHB and GBL Drug | Recovery in Tune

Are GBL and GHB Addictive?

Both GHB and GBL have the potential for addiction, mainly if the substances are used frequently for weeks or months. Even two weeks of daily use can result in dependence, which tends to result in intense cravings, depressed mood, insomnia, and anxiety, unless the person uses the drug every few hours. These effects are related to withdrawal and are often unpleasant enough to compel the person to use more.

It is vital to understand that once a person is dependent on GBL/GHB, stopping use abruptly or “cold turkey” can result in severe health risks and even death. If a user experiences withdrawal symptoms such as feeling shaky, sweaty or anxious when they quit using the drugs, medical attention should be sought immediately. Other symptoms of withdrawal include insomnia, and, more seriously, confusion, delirium, and hallucinations.

Getting Help for Drug Abuse and Addiction

For those who abuse GHB or the GBL drug, medical detox and behavioral therapy intended to treat addiction are often required. Recovery in Tune offers programs that include these services, as well as others essential for recovery, including counseling, group support, and aftercare planning.

Also, people who abuse drugs like GHB and GBL often abuse other substances, such as opioids or alcohol. Our program addresses substance abuse, as well as co-occurring mental health disorders for a comprehensive treatment approach.

If you are ready to take the first step toward long-lasting happiness and wellness, we urge you to contact us. Discover how we can help!

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