Category Archives: Drug Rehab

Drugs That Cause Dilated Pupils

drugs that dilate pupils

Drugs That Cause Dilated Pupils and Why It Happens

Most people are usually familiar with what dilated pupils are, and chances are you are as well! When you were younger you might have shone a flashlight into one of your eyes and watched your pupil shrink before moving the light away and watching it dilate again.

You might also recall your most recent visit to the eye doctor where your doctor put some special eye drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils. By opening up your pupils, eye doctors can take a better look at your eyes and examine them more closely for any abnormalities.

In regular lighting your eyes also adjust. When you walk into a dark room after being in a light-filled room, it can be difficult to see. However, when you give your eyes time to adjust, the pupils dilate (expand) to take in more light and you can see.

Similarly, when you walk out of a dark theater into a sunny parking lot, you might feel blinded by too much light. That’s because when you’re sitting in a dark theater, your pupils dilate, but the sudden move from a dark theater to a sunny area is faster than your eyes adjust. After a few moments in the parking lot, your eyes soon adjust and you don’t feel as blinded anymore.

These situations are ones that a lot of us are familiar with, but what about other instances that cause dilated pupils?

Did you know that certain drugs can cause dilated pupils? In today’s blog, we’ll explore why pupils dilate, what substances cause dilated pupils, potential risk factors of dilated pupils, and managing dilated pupils.

What Are Pupils and Why Do They Dilate?

Pupils are the black circle in the center of your eye. Pupils shrink (constrict) and grow (dilate) in response to varying light levels. Their function is to let light in and direct that light to your retina, which are the nerves at the back of your eye, allowing you to see.

Pupils constrict and dilate through muscles in your eye that are located in the iris. The iris is the colored ring of your eye. The iris is what people will look at to determine what color eyes you have. For example, people with a blue iris have blue eyes and people with a brown iris have brown eyes. Each iris contains the muscles necessary to manipulate the pupils.

Under normal conditions, pupils are usually the same size. According to healthline, a normal pupil measures approximately 4 to 8 millimeters when fully dilated and 2 to 4 millimeters when constricted.

A Variety of Reasons for Pupil Changes

There are a variety of reasons why pupils dilate or appear to be different sizes that go beyond changes in light levels. These range from everyday occurrences to mental conditions and even substance use.

  • Distance of objects you’re looking at
    • Pupils also naturally dilate or constrict based on distance in addition to light levels. Focusing your gaze on something closer to you will cause your pupils to constrict. Casting your gaze towards something farther away will cause your pupils to grow.
  • Concussions
    • You’ve probably heard of concussions before. Maybe you’ve even experienced one before. They’re especially discussed a lot in the realm of contact sports. A concussion is a brain injury that usually results when a hard impact or blow to the head causes the brain to smack into the skull. This can result in a person’s pupils becoming asymmetrical, with one pupil noticeably larger or smaller than the other.
  • Anisocoria
    • Anisocoria is the name used to describe the condition in which pupils happen to be different sizes that aren’t a result of injury to the head. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 1 in 5 people naturally have anisocoria. Many of these people have absolutely no problems that stem from their pupils being two different sizes.
    • However, we should caution that sometimes, anisocoria can sometimes be a sign that there is a more serious eye problem. See an eye doctor if you are concerned about this condition. The American Academy of Ophthalmology explains that people with anisocoria could have
      • A nervous system problem
      • A history of eye damage
      • A risk of having a stroke
      • An infection
      • Adie’s tonic pupil (a condition in which one pupil doesn’t respond to light as well as the other)
  • Cluster headache
    • A cluster headache refers to a specific kind of very intense headache that affects one very focal point of the face. Typically, cluster headaches take place behind the eye and can be very painful. The name “cluster headache” refers to the multiple headaches that occur within an episode. Some people may experience up to eight headaches in one day. The pupil can shrink throughout the duration of these headaches.
  • Iritis
    • Iritis is a condition in which the iris, the colored ring of your eye, experiences some inflammation. Inflammation can occur for a variety of reasons including infection, trauma, and autoimmune diseases. Because the iris contains the muscles necessary to control the pupil, problems with the iris in cases like iritis can cause abnormally sized pupils.
  • Horner’s syndrome
    • Horner’s syndrome is a condition in which an individual has a disrupted nerve pathway or a nerve pathway that has been damaged. This nerve pathway runs from the brain to the face and eye. Injury to that nerve pathway can cause pupils to constrict.
  • Your emotions
    • It might sound a bit strange, but your emotions can affect how your pupils look! The International Journal of Human-Computer Studies published a 2003 study that found the dilation of pupils as a reaction to emotional stimuli such as laughter or a baby crying.
  • Illicit substance use
    • Illicit substance use is one of the prominent side effects from a variety of different drugs. Substance use can both constrict and dilate pupils depending on the substance. We’ll take a look at which drugs do what in our next section.
  • Prescription medication
    • Although illicit substances get most of the attention when it comes to pupil dilation and constriction, prescription medication or medication that you can get over the counter can also affect the iris’ muscles. The next section will cover which prescription medications can affect pupil dilation or constriction in more detail.

Illicit Substances and Prescription Drugs That Affect Your Pupils

A variety of drugs have the power to affect pupil size because drug interactions in the body often affect neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in your body. The interactions and messages between neurotransmitters are key in operating your body’s central nervous system. The interactions between neurotransmitters help control your bodily functions and enact proper functions.

Many drugs, due to their chemical makeup and the chemical reactions they cause in your body, can cause neurotransmitters to be affected. Because neurotransmitters play a role in your pupil size, a variety of medications and illicit substances affects the appearance of your pupils.

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs that can affect pupil size include

  • Anticholinergics
    • Blocks acetylcholine, a compound in the central nervous system that functions as a neurotransmitter
  • Anticonvulsants
    • These medications are often prescribed to treat epilepsy and seizures. In order to limit the severity or frequency of epilepsy and seizures, anticonvulsants alter neurotransmitter activity and nerve impulses.
  • Antidepressants
    • Many antidepressant medications target serotonin and norepinephrine. These two are chemical messengers that control many bodily functions.
  • Antihistamines
    • Antihistamines are often used to help relieve the symptoms of a variety of allergies. They work by blocking the immune system’s response to allergy symptoms like sneezing or an itchy or closing throat. For example, Benadryl® is a well-known antihistamine.
  • Benzodiazepines
    • Although they are often associated with substance misuse, benzos can also be legally prescribed. There are, however, some unfortunate cases in which individuals become hooked on benzos and begin to misuse them. Benzos impact a particular neurotransmitter that relaxes muscles.
  • Decongestants
    • Decongestants typically shrink blood vessels in order to address swelling and inflammation.
  • Dopamine precursors
    • Dopamine precursors boost levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the body. Since dopamine is responsible for many bodily functions, pupils can also be affected.
  • Mydriatics
    • Mydriatics are also known as the eye drops that dilate your eyes. When you go to the eye doctor or need to undergo a particular eye surgery, these eye drops are used to take a better look in your eyes.
  • Stimulants
    • Prescription stimulants are used in the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Stimulants are well known for causing pupils to dilate.
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
    • SSRIs are often used in treatment for depression since they boost serotonin. Low levels of serotonin can cause depression, anxiety, and sleep trouble.

Commonly misused drugs that dilate pupils include:

  • Amphetamines
  • Bath salts
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine (including crack cocaine)
  • Crystal methamphetamine
  • Ecstasy
  • Ketamine
  • LSD
  • MDMA
  • Mescaline

Commonly misused drugs that constrict pupils include:

  • Oxycodone
  • Fentanyl
  • Heroin

Are There Permanent Side Effects To Dilated or Constricted Pupils?

When you experience dilated or constricted pupils as a result of substance use, you might wonder if your pupils could permanently remain in such a state. The good news is that pupils usually return to a normal functioning state after the side effects of drug use have worn off.

You should note, however, that some drugs can cause pupil dilation during the withdrawal period. Opioids in particular can cause pupil dilation during withdrawal.

There are not many long-term studies of the effects of whether consistent drug use can cause permanent changes in pupils. More ongoing research will be able to give a clearer answer in the future.

Managing Your Pupil Dilation: Asking For Help

When your pupils are dilated as a result of drug use or any other reason, they can cause you discomfort. Remember: dilated pupils let in greater amounts of light. When you take in more light, normal light levels like an average sunny or semi-cloudy day can seem overwhelmingly bright to you.

You will probably be very sensitive to any light sources while your pupils are dilated. To help make yourself more comfortable, you can wear protective eye gear to help shield your eyes from light levels.

For example, many people use either photochromic lenses in their glasses or wear sunglasses. Photochromic lenses adjust to the light levels automatically, darkening and lightening in response to sunny or dark environments. Sunglasses, of course, help block glare from the sunlight and can keep your sensitive eyes well protected from the sun’s rays.

If you ever have any major concerns about abnormal pupil sizes, consult with an eye specialist to ensure you remain involved and aware about your health.

At Pathways Recovery, we understand that illicit substance use comes with many side effects and can heavily affect your life or your loved one’s life before you realize how severe everything has become. Our holistic and individualized treatment approach can help you turn your life around. Don’t delay your journey. Call us today at 916-735-8377 to get premier addiction treatment today.

Frequently Asked Questions


Which drugs make your pupils smaller?

Opioids generally make your pupils smaller. Smaller pupils are also known as “pinpoint pupils.” Commonly misused opioids include oxycodone, fentanyl, and heroin.

Can medication cause dilated pupils?

Yes, both prescription, over-the-counter, and illicit drugs can all cause dilated pupils. Drug interactions in the body often affect neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in your body. The interactions and messages between neurotransmitters are key in operating your body’s central nervous system.

What drugs dilate and constrict pupils?

Drugs that can dilate pupils include: antihistamines, anticonvulsants, anticholinergics, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, decongestants, dopamine precursors, mydriatics, stimulants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, amphetamines, bath salts, cocaine, crystal meth, ecstasy, and ketamine.

Drugs that constrict pupils include: oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, codeine, and heroin.

Meth Sores: What Are They, and What Does Recovery Look Like?

If you ever experienced any kind of substance use prevention education in school, you might recall being shown pictures of people who were addicted to a variety of substances.

Bloodshot eyes, unfocused gazes, and unappealing scabs or sores might be some of the examples that you saw projected on the screen. Your teacher might have warned you: “avoid using drugs if you don’t want to end up like this!”

Educational programs aimed to teach children about the dangers of drug use has been heavily criticized for the approach that it has taken to the topic. The approach often involves criticizing drug use and addiction, but treatment paths toward sobriety or discussion about the complex factors that often contribute to the development of addiction are ignored.

At Pathways Recovery, we know that addiction happens. We never want to shame anybody who has an addiction and understand that substances are not the only contributing factor in addiction. We’re certainly not here to lecture you. Instead, we open ourselves to the discussion and embrace the sharing of accurate information to support you or your loved ones in addiction treatment and recovery!

Today’s topic is all about those meth sores and some other curious symptoms that can happen as a side effect of meth use.

First, What Is Meth?

Meth, also known by its full name as methamphetamine, is a very strong stimulant. Meth is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II drug. This classification is based on the potential for the drug to be misused. Other Schedule II drugs include cocaine, oxycodone, Adderall® (used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), Ritalin® (ADHD and narcolepsy treatment), and Vicodin® (pain management).

Stimulants are a specific category for certain substances that share similar characteristics. For example, both meth and cocaine are classified as stimulants. Stimulants can be both illegal and legal drugs. Meth and cocaine are illegal in the vast majority of cases, while other substances, such as Adderall, for example, are prescription medications that also happen to be stimulants.

Stimulants can result in a boost of energy, euphoric feelings, and an increase in concentration. These kinds of substances work by speeding up and energizing many of the body’s systems. This can cause several side effects that are related to faster-working bodily systems including high blood pressure and elevated heart rates. You might recognize the nickname “speed” as referring to meth. The name is definitely quite appropriate, especially given the increase in energy and alertness that comes with meth use.

There are a variety of ways in which meth can be used, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Meth can be smoked, snorted, transformed into an oral pill, or dissolved into a liquid such as water or alcohol to create a mixed solution that is injected into a vein.

In order to smoke meth, users will need a particular form of meth known as crystal meth. Crystal meth looks like small rock fragments or chunks of glass. It’s often blue or white. This appearance gives rise to other nicknames you might be familiar with such as “blue”, “crystal”, or “ice”.

What Does Meth Do To Your Brain?

Meth can be very addictive due to how it affects particular neurotransmitters in your brain. In particular, meth will encourage an increase in the amount of dopamine that your brain naturally produces. Think of dopamine as a kind of messenger for nerve cells in your body and especially the brain. Dopamine is very important in how we feel pleasure.

A substance like meth overloads your brain with the boost of dopamine that it produces. The quick and enormous amount of dopamine created due to meth use satisfies and greatly fulfills the brain’s natural reward system. By overloading the brain’s reward system with unnaturally large amounts of dopamine, a user will need to keep taking a sizable amount of meth to feel the same pleasure.

Eventually, this turns into an unfortunate cycle of meth use, which can transform into an addiction. Each time you use meth, your brain feels a great reward because of dopamine overload. That feeling can be powerful enough to make you want to take the drug again in order to achieve that same feeling.

This cycle is what makes tackling addiction so tricky. You might notice negative consequences of addiction on your health or relationships, but the reward that your brain craves is so powerful that you feel compelled to use and unable to stop or resist the craving for a dopamine overload.

What Are the Side Effects of Meth Abuse?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are both short-term and long-term effects of using meth. Many drugs—even prescription ones—usually have some kinds of side effects.

Knowing what to expect from meth use can help you see what kinds of reactions are normal and better understand the long-term negative effects of substance use.

Short-term effects include

  • Increased energy
  • Increased alertness
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Higher body temperature

Long-term effects include

  • Increased risk of contracting diseases
  • Poor judgment (that can lead to risky or dangerous situations)
  • Worsening progression of HIV/AIDS
  • Severe tooth and gum decay (meth mouth)
  • Anxiety
  • General confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations (sores and scabs as a result)

What Are Meth Sores?

You might have noticed that last symptom on the long-term: sores and scabs that result from hallucinations. This symptom probably sounds highly unappealing and undesirable to many people. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong in thinking that.

Sores are never a very appealing feature and more often than not, they’re indications of some underlying physical condition like a bad scratch that’s grown a scab or substance use in this case. So, what are these sores exactly? What do they look like and what creates them?

Meth sores are spots that often appear on the face and mouth area of a meth user. The face is one of the most common places for sores to appear, but they can also appear on the chest and arms. These sores are usually small round-looking patches of skin that appear red or irritated. Meth sores can look similar to acne and are sometimes mistaken for pimples or a rash.

Infected Meth Sores

When someone is quite deep into meth addiction, self-care and personal hygiene are not always the most urgent priorities in life. Hygiene might seem like a long and unnecessary routine when we’re feeling tired after a long day and hardly have the energy for a shower, but it turns out that good and regular hygiene is a very important part of living a healthy life and maintaining good health.

With a lack of good hygiene and general cleanliness, meth sores can become infected. Infected and untreated sores can become a potential danger to the individual. When you have an untreated infected sore, bacteria can easily enter your body through the wound. It might not seem like a big deal at first, after all, we’ve all gotten cuts before, and nothing too bad has ever happened. After a while, they seem to heal.

However, untreated wounds, whether they’re cuts or meth sores, also have the potential of becoming infected. That’s why when you get a cut, applying an antibiotic cream like Neosporin® and covering the wound with a bandage is a typical procedure.

Similarly, infected and untreated meth sores can spread harmful germs all around your body. Then from just one infected meth sore, more dangerous complications can potentially take place. In order to avoid more serious medical complications from an infection, it is always important for individuals to receive treatment for infected meth sores.

Infected meth sores aren’t usually too tricky to treat if they are treated early on. It’s always best to seek medical attention as early as possible to stave off any potential complications down the road. Nobody wants to deal with the issues that come from a spread of bacteria due to infection. It’s much simpler to deal with the initial infection first!

Meth Sores on the Mouth

The mouth is a common location for meth users to develop sores. There are a variety of reasons that contribute to the development of meth sores.

First, regular meth use will damage your teeth and gums to an extreme state creating the need for artificial replacements. Saliva production is cut short by meth use which leads to a drier mouth. Without the saliva to act as a protective shield, natural acids in your mouth will begin to eat into your teeth and gums, breaking them down and rotting them away.

Repeated meth use can also affect your appetite. You might develop a poor or decreased appetite but still crave sugary foods or drinks. Drinking lots of sugary drinks in combination with reduced saliva production only accelerates the breakdown of teeth and gums.

As we mentioned earlier, individuals who often use meth might not have the best personal hygiene practices. A lack of good dental hygiene, alongside tooth and gum decay, allows sores to form in the mouth.

If a meth user typically smokes crystal meth as a manner of use, the burns from the pipe can also cause sores in or around the mouth.

Meth Sores on the Skin

The face is another common region of the body where meth sores develop. Meth is a substance that can be dissolved in water or alcohol. This means that meth is what we call a water-soluble drug. Some users dissolve meth in water and inject the solution into a vein in order to achieve the high.

Meth that a user has injected into themselves can be sweated out. Sweat that forms around the face’s hairline will come into contact with the skin of the face. The toxic meth that gets sweated out of an individual’s pores can damage the skin and cause sores to form.

These sores look like acne or a kind of allergic reaction. Picking at the sores, a common occurrence, can also worsen them and lead to potential infection.

All About Meth Mites

Now, we’ve talked about some common places for sores, but what about the hallucinations that can cause sores? What is that about?

Formication is an important word to know here. Formication refers to the urge or compulsion to pick at the skin. This is a known side effect of prolonged meth use and many chronic users will pick at their own skin.

Meth use can cause dry patches of skin. These patches of skin can become uncomfortable and an individual might feel compelled to scratch or pick at them. The skin might appear red or look similar to acne or a rash.

Some meth users will experience hallucinations of meth mites. These individuals will experience a crawling sensation across their skin that makes them believe some kind of bug is crawling around on or underneath their skin. The sensation is most commonly experienced on the face and neck.

In an effort to relieve the sensation or get rid of the perceived bugs, people will pick at the skin. This skin picking can become an obsessive behavior and render the skin scaly, dry, irritated, and covered in sores.

The more someone continues to pick at sores, the longer it will take to heal, and there is an increased risk of infection.

Going in the Right Step to Seeking Treatment For Meth Addiction and Sores

If you or a loved one is suffering from Meth addiction, contact Pathways Recovery right away. We will work with you, your physician, and your family to determine a treatment plan that covers Meth addiction.

Pathways Recovery is a prestigious detox treatment center that services the greater area of Sacramento. Here at Pathways Recovery, we know how hard it is to start the road to recovery from drug addiction and alcohol addiction while having compassion and patience for those recovering. We have many services to cater to each individual in regards to their lifestyle and budget. Our detox treatment center is made to make everyone feel safe and at home with many of our services, including meth addiction treatment.

Call us today at 916-735-8377 for further information on our services and see which one fits for you or a loved one. Don’t think you are alone; we are here to help you on your road to recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do meth sores look like?

These sores are usually small round-looking patches of skin that appear red or irritated. Meth sores can look similar to acne and are sometimes mistaken for pimples or a rash.

How to treat meth sores on the face?

Sores that aren’t infected will eventually heal on their own and can be helped with good hygiene practices. If they are infected, seek medical attention. A doctor may need to help combat infection with antibiotics or other means.

Why do meth users get sores?

Some users will develop sores when the toxic substance of meth is released from pores as a user sweats. This will irritate the skin and cause sores.

Sores can also appear around the mouth area as a result of burns due to smoking meth or due to poor dental hygiene and a reduction of saliva, an effect of meth use.

Other times, dry skin or hallucinations of meth mites crawling across the skin will compel a person to pick obsessively at the skin, resulting in sores.

Can I force my loved one into rehab for their addiction? 

After 10 years of working in the field of addiction treatment I have seen and learned a lot. Every day I receive phone calls from all types of people including many who have a loved one who is spiraling out of control, caught in the cycle of an addiction. An addiction to alcohol, prescription medications, heroin, methamphetamines and other drugs including marijuana. Although now legal in CA and some other states marijuana these days is stronger than ever and the number of reported cases where an individual is delusional, paranoid and hallucinating is skyrocketing. Most people minimize marijuana but let me tell you, the weed these days is no joke. At the end of the day, the substance isn’t really the most important factor. If an individual is using any type of substance and causing damage to their bodies, their families, their work life, the bottom line is that they need professional help. But what do you do if you try talking to this person and desperately try to beg and plead with them to get help but they just wont?

The simple truth is that your loved one with the addiction is unlikely to change or go into rehab until they feel some serious pain from their own consequences.

Addicts and any of us for that matter usually don’t want to change until they are faced with the harsh reality that their behavior and choices are beginning to cause the loss of  any or all of the relationships, income, possessions, their job, food and any other items of value in their life. Most often times the loved ones in their lives can see clearly what is happening and take on all the negative emotions and consequences that the addict should be dealing with themselves.

The only way an addiction treatment center can help someone change is if an individual truly wants to change. They don’t always need to be fully excited about going into treatment. I mean who really dreams about going to rehab but you can help a loved one find their willingness to change and accept help for their drug and alcohol addiction. When a loved one rescues their addict out of the consequences of their addiction the addict really hasn’t felt the full magnitude of their own choices and behavior. You see an addict has an impaired brain and their brain and ability to make good decisions has been damaged. The pre-frontal cortex, the part of our brain that provides us with the ability to have good judgement is being damaged. When this is impaired humans lose the ability to clearly understand how their addiction is not only ruining their lives but also greatly affecting their loved ones. So, where most people can see that getting a DUI and getting arrested will cost substantial time and money and hardship which will likely cause them to make a different choice the next time they are faced with choosing to drink and drive or call an Uber the next time, the addict may minimize the incident if mom or dad is taking out loans to bail their son out of jail and pay for an attorney to help him reduce the penalties associated with the DUI. Consequences and clear boundaries are what make all the difference in the world when it comes to an addict finding their willingness to receive help.

For about the last year I have received a phone call every few months from the same woman with a son who is in his 40’s. She calls frantically looking for help for her son usually after something bad has just happened. She is often exhausted and overwhelmed and has been begging her son to go to a treatment center for help.  He has now been charged with 4 DUI’s and is facing prison and she is beside herself with worry and fear. She has spent a great deal of energy and money hiring attorneys to try and help him out of his situation including calling many different treatment centers to try and get him into a facility. Yet her son has never called us once to do the over the phone assessment we need to do. The willingness to even talk to a counselor about how he can begin to change is not there. It looks like prison is the likely path for him. The best thing she can do is seek support and help for herself because the worry is literally killing her. This is so so sad because she is suffering so much but she could learn how to step back and focus on taking care of herself instead of putting so much energy into someone who is unwilling to change. This would likely help her son wake up and call us or another treatment center and ask for help. She could simply hand him the number and say I hope you get help and leave the number with him. He is capable of dialing the number. We will answer and all he has to do is say I need help. Some people just won’t ever seek help but that doesn’t mean that 2 people or a whole family have to suffer because 1 person is unwilling to change. Many years ago when I was caught In the codependency cycle myself and my own life was sinking because I was so focused on my significant other who had a raging alcohol addiction that I thought I could change, someone helped me by shining a light on my situation and gave me this analogy. They said, “He’s the Titanic and you are holding on to a sinking ship and he is taking you down with him. You can’t control it. “ At that moment, it clicked for me because at that time I was completely exhausted, emotionally, physically, my work was suffering, my health was suffering and I was completely obsessed to the point of totally neglecting myself in every way. I was going down too and I had to stop or I was going to end up worse off than he was. My happiness was my own responsibility but I was giving all my power away to someone else and not taking responsibility for my own life.

Addicts will take out everyone and everything in their path as long as they are allowed to. So here is where things can change…..

What about having an intervention? Will this help someone into recovery?

Many times per week I also receive phone calls from people who call up saying, “I have a son and our family is going to have an intervention tomorrow, we want to know if you have a bed in your facility?” This is where I want to say “WAIT! STOP RIGHT THERE, Is there a professional leading the intervention?”

Addiction is a highly complicated brain disorder that causes the brain of an addict to become hijacked. Which in turn causes the individual with the addiction to lie, cheat, steal and focus solely on one thing, getting more of their drug of choice and to stop at nothing until they do. Dealing with an addict requires highly skilled professionals who know what the hell they are doing. It requires a great deal of education and understanding. An intervention done by the family without a professional usually ends in a worse disaster. If you are reading this and considering doing your own intervention….. PLEASE do not do it. Stop and get some professional guidance. What is most likely to happen is a huge family argument and lots of emotions being spilled out all over the place, threats, physical fights and in the end? The addict runs off faster and harder to their first love, their drug of choice to numb the pain and sink deeper into their addiction and isolate themselves from their loved ones ever more than before. Basically a home made intervention done with inexperienced individuals will almost always cause a greater disaster than where you began. This will push your addict deeper into their addiction.

What a trained interventionist provides is a great deal of education and leadership on how to most effectively change the direction of the entire family dynamics and to help the loved ones learn what is enabling the addiction to continue and how to set proper boundaries with the addict . An interventionist will educate and walk you through the process and be there for you every step of the way. An interventionist also provides an emotionally detached person who cannot be manipulated by the addict when it comes times for the actual intervention. They are your quarterback. Don’t do it alone.

When 3 or 4 people who are close to the addict all get on the same page and simultaneously begin to get clear on what is helping and what is harming and start to say no I will no longer help you until you get some help for your addiction, then the addict loses the power to be able to manipulate their loved ones and the addict will begin to become more concerned with human survival than scoring more heroin or running off to the liquor store.

When you let a loved one move into your house and provide them food and money to keep their cell phone working, insurance covered, car payment covered, you are enabling their addiction to survive and thrive. This is harming them. It is not helping them at all.

Most people do not by any means intentionally try to bring harm to their loved one. They usually are providing for their addicts basic human needs while worrying themselves sick, secretly hoping they can control or coerce their loved one into getting help.

All while begging, pleading, criticizing, arguing and telling their loved one how much they need to get help and how hard all of this is and how they are spending all their money on trying to help them. Trying to guilt and shame them into getting help almost never works.

So how do you help a loved one find their willingness to seek treatment for their addiction? Clear boundaries and follow through works almost every time

Here is a simple statement that you can use for guidance.

I love you and it’s become clear that I cannot help you get past this addiction. You need help from experts who know about your illness. I can no longer provide any help to you financially, emotionally or in any way until you are willing to seek help for your addiction. I am not willing to help support you financially and/or emotionally until you decide to seek help. Until then I will no longer provide any help financially and/ or emotionally and I will no longer allow you to live in my home, buy you food, pay for anything at all for you because it is not helping you and the stress is causing harm to me.

Now, the most important part of speaking these type of words is making 100% sure that you can and will follow through on what you speak. NEVER set a boundary and then allow anyone and especially the person who is addicted to violate the boundary. If you speak it and then don’t follow through you render yourself powerless and the addiction will gain more power over you and your loved one.

Most loved ones need help and support to actually be able to do this. It’s not easy for a parent to actually cut off any type of support and contact with their adult child who is actively destroying their life. It is natural for us all to attach to those we love and it can be excruciatingly difficult to have your adult kid begging for food or money. Excruciatingly painful to kick them out of the house and know that they are living outside in harsh conditions and not feel extreme anxiety and worried about them. These emotions are difficult and you need support from qualified people to get through this. However if you provide your loved one with the choice to either choose help or choose addiction then the choice has become theirs. It is necessary and healthy to give your loved one a choice. Choose to become healthy or choose to stay in addiction. By stepping out of the chaos and taking care of yourself by seeking support and guidance through this extremely complicated time you are helping your loved one find the survival skills within them to fight for their own life. Addiction is no joke and it takes lives every day. The drugs these days are harder and stronger than ever and if you want to help your loved one you need to seek help and put on your own oxygen mask for yourself first. Hand the consequences back to your loved one and let them deal with their life themselves. By helping them pay their bills, provide them food, provide them shelter, hire them an attorney to minimize consequences you are helping them avoid the very crisis they need to wake up and accept help.

Sacramento California Alcohol And Drug Abuse Rates And Statistics

Sacramento California Alcohol And Drug Abuse Rates And StatisticsSubstance abuse has become prevalent across the country. Heavily populated and urban areas, such as Sacramento, have seen a marked increase in usage rates in the past decade. In 2007, 29.7 percent of adults in California participated in binge drinking. Sacramento, meanwhile, showed a rate of 30.2 percent.

Fortunately, these numbers are beginning to fall for the first time. Sacramento has seen 29 percent fewer drug- and alcohol-related hospital admissions since 2012. This may be seen as a sign that prevention and treatment methods are working, but it does not mean that the danger in Sacramento has passed.

Indicators Of Sacramento California Alcohol And Drug Abuse Issues

There are two ways that information is gathered about drug and alcohol use. The first is through admission rates from treatment centers and hospitals. Additional statistics typically come from surveys conducted through medical facilities, schools, employers and other sources.

There are five major indicators that are used to gauge substance abuse:

  • Admissions to treatment facilities
  • Arrests in drug- and alcohol-related crimes
  • Motor vehicle accidents that happen under the influence
  • Hospitalization
  • Deaths

Admission Rates To Alcohol And Drug Treatment Centers

Admission rates are a reliable source of information, but they may not show the whole picture. According to estimates from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, only a fraction of addicts seek help. In 2009, 2.6 million individuals across the country received treatment at a specialized facility. This is out of 23.5 million people who reportedly needed treatment for substance abuse – meaning that only 11 percent were finding help.

A Growing Trend Of Addiction Treatment


The number of individuals seeking treatment has been climbing for many years, and experts attribute the lower overall usage rates to the fact that more users are finding help. After all, it can be difficult or even impossible to overcome addiction without professional assistance and support.

In 2000, only 5,708 people in Sacramento were admitted to treatment facilities for substance abuse. More than half of those patients, or 3,092, were female. By 2008, that overall number had grown to 8,756 and treatment was more prevalent among men. In fact, men have consistently been admitted more frequently to treatment programs since 2002.

Methamphetamine abuse was the most common reason for seeking treatment in Sacramento for several years, but in 2012, marijuana overtook the No.1 spot. Both of these are slightly surprising considering alcohol is the most prevalent cause in the rest of the country.

Back in 2000, 26.2 percent of total admissions in Sacramento were related to methamphetamine. The rest were:

  • 6% heroin
  • 2% alcohol
  • 4% cocaine
  • 1% marijuana
  • 5% other drugs

Substance Abuse Patterns In Age And Race

Substance abuse does not discriminate: Anyone can be drawn into the use of drugs and alcohol. That said, Caucasian patients make up most of the recorded cases at 45.6 percent. African Americans and Hispanics comprise 24.3 and 21.5 percent, respectively. All other racial groups comprise the remaining 8.6 percent.

Nearly half of the admissions (45.2 percent) came from adults aged 25 to 44 years in 2008. The second largest group is 17 and younger, with the smallest number of admissions coming from seniors 65 years and older.

Arrests Related To Drugs And Alcohol

sacramento-arrests-related-to-drugs-and-alcoholThe initial harm from substance abuse is to the user and his immediate family. The rest of the population begins to feel the effects when addiction results in crime – most notably, violent crime. An effective way to track drug-related crime is to examine the number of corresponding arrests.

The number of arrests in Sacramento has actually dropped since 2000 (when it was 9,720), although it peaked in 2006 at 10,931. These numbers include both felonies and misdemeanors. Drug-related crime rates in Sacramento are comparable to the rest of California, but remain slightly lower.

A majority of the arrests involve male culprits. From 2000 to 2008, an average of 76 percent of these arrests involved boys and men, ages 10 to 69. However, only 68 percent of treatment admissions were male, hinting that women may be more likely to seek help.

Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Alcohol And Drugs

Another way to measure the impact of substance use is by examining the number of related motor vehicle accidents. Intoxicated drivers are involved in more than 57 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in California. More than 3,700 individuals were killed in single-vehicle incidents in 2004 alone.

There were more than 180,000 arrests for DUI in the same year, equaling 1 in every 121 licensed drivers throughout the United States. Thousands of people were killed in traffic crashes, and another 2,000 pedestrians and cyclists were struck by an impaired driver.

fatal-accidents-involving-drugs-and-alcohol-in-sacramento-californiaMost of these cases involve alcohol rather than other drugs. There also is a noticeable pattern of convicted individuals. Almost 75 percent of these offenders are regular heavy drinkers or full-fledged alcoholics, which leads many experts to believe that these people regularly drive while intoxicated.

The number of fatalities caused by DUI motor vehicle accidents has been steadily declining. There are two reasons attributed to this trend: newer vehicles have better safety engineering, and fewer people are drinking and driving. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (or IIHS) has been awarding crash-test ratings for many years, and new technologies have emerged that help compartmentalize the vehicle, provide increased support for the heads of occupants and more effectively restrain bodies during a crash.

Fewer people are involved in accidents involving impaired driving. From 1988 to 1998, the number of fatalities dropped an impressive 57.3 percent and has continued to steadily fall. In 1988, there were 18,503 deadly crashes involving alcohol. By 2014, there were only 9,967. The number is still too high, but the improvement is encouraging.

Hospitalization As A Result Of Substance Abuse

Sacramento HospitalizationThe Sacramento area also shows a lower rate of hospitalizations due to drugs and alcohol. In 2007, there were 205 cases for every 100,000 people statewide. Sacramento County, though, showed just 169 per 100,000. This equated to approximately 2,300 instances. The statistics include overdoses, but also take other accidents into account, such as falls or infections (as long as they were linked to substance abuse).

In 25 percent of hospitalizations, the gender was unspecified on the report, but the known cases show little difference between men and women: 38 percent were male and 36 were female, while the rest were unspecified.

Alcohol And Drug-Related Deaths

Death, of course, is the most serious potential danger of substance abuse. Cause of death reports are a sobering yet reliable way to gather information about those affected. Sacramento County showed fewer hospitalizations than the state average, but it has consistently seen a higher mortality rate. In 2002, there were 25.4 deaths per 100,000 people in the county, as compared to 20.1 per 100,000 in the state. By 2005, those numbers were 31.8 and 21.4, respectively.

There has been a noticeable decrease in deaths in the county since then. The state number was unchanged in 2007, yet Sacramento County saw its rate fall to 27.05. Of these deaths, 64 percent were male.

The Biggest Killers

Accidental drug poisoning is the most common cause of drug- and alcohol-related death. Out of 387 cases in Sacramento, 157 of them were related to overdoses. Alcoholic liver disease is a close second with 126 confirmed cases. Psychosis, dependence, myopathy, intentional overdoses and alcohol poisoning are some of the remaining causes.

Hope For The Future

Despite the growing national numbers, Sacramento County appears to be on the path to decreasing drug- and alcohol-related tragedies. Increased access to information and treatment centers likely contributed to the favorable statistics, but only time will tell how far they’ll drop and if such tactics can be deployed across the nation.

At Pathways Recovery, We Are Striving to Help the Sacramento Community Deal with the Problem of Substance Abuse in a Positive Manner, through Outreach and Therapeutic Treatment.

Contact Pathways Recovery

Here at Pathways Recovery, we pride ourselves on the services we provide for those seeking to heal from any drug and alcohol addiction. Weather yourself or a loved one, we provide the best treatment for any drug and alcohol addiction one might be experiencing. Our services include, but not limited to, drug and alcohol addiction treatment, outpatient treatment, and holistic services depending on each special individual’s needs. Our medical staff are well versed in the world of drug and alcohol addiction and have years of experience with helping many people through addiction. Here at Pathways Recovery, we are equipped to help with the difficulties of addiction and want to be part of your journey to a better you.

Call us, to speak with one of our well-informed associates to see how we can help you today on the journey of recovery.

The Health Effects Of Marijuana Usage

health effects of marijuana

Numerous Negative Marijuana Health Effects

Marijuana can be a controversial topic for many people, with a variety of groups arguing for or against the nationwide legalization of the drug for either recreational use or medicinal purposes–or both uses. While some states have now legalized marijuana and a large segment of the population continues to promote the legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana usage, research Pathways -- The Health Effects Of Marijuana Usage -- 08-23-16indicates that marijuana usage can result in many health problems.

Because it is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, there is a large body of data available to gather information from, and analyze and identify trends in that data. Unlike some other illicit substances, marijuana is much easier to study, especially in populations and areas that have readily embraced the use of the drug.

Smoking Versus Ingestion of Cannabis Into Your System

There are a variety of ways in which one can use marijuana. The manner in which marijuana is used can result in different side effects on the user.

Marijuana is typically smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes, more commonly known as joints, or by using pipes or water pipes, also known as bongs. Among younger demographics, vaping THC (more on this below), the principal ingredient required to induce a high, is also quickly becoming a popular method of smoking marijuana. When marijuana is smoked it affects users almost immediately, and depending on the strength of the marijuana, its effects can last from one to three hours.

When eaten in food the effects take longer to appear, but they can also last longer. Edibles can come in a variety of foods and treats but are perhaps most commonly identified in the form of brownies, cookies, and rice crispy treats with a particular amount of cannabis cooked or baked into the mixture.

 The short-term effects of marijuana usage may include:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch)
  • Increased heart rate, reduced blood pressure
  • Problems with memory and learning
  • Trouble with thinking and problem-solving

The long-term effects of marijuana usage may include:

  • Impaired brain development (especially amongst teens)
  • Thinking
  • Memory
  • Learning
  • Hampering the brain’s ability to connect the above areas
  • Difficulties with child development before/after pregnancy
  • Mental illness
  • Hallucinations, paranoia, disorganized thinking
  • Worsening of symptoms in individuals with conditions like schizophrenia

Sometimes, marijuana usage can also produce anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic. The Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, has also warned about serious respiratory illnesses that have specifically been associated with vaping.

Remember that in using any drug, side effects and consequences of use will not be the same for every individual. Because each individual’s body and systems are unique, side effects and experiences of a drug’s high may be different for everybody.

Active Ingredients in Cannabis and Effects on the Body

THC Marijuana ChemistryThe active ingredient in marijuana, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, affects cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells and influences the activity of those cells.

Cannabinoid receptors are scattered throughout the body. These receptors are part of a larger bodily system called the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for many bodily processes including the immune system response, cell communication, appetite, and memory, to name a few.

Some areas of the brain have many cannabinoid receptors, but other areas of the brain have few or none at all. Many cannabinoid receptors are found in the parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement. 

When marijuana is used, THC will affect these receptors in the brain that can in turn affect an individual’s perception of things. For this reason, individuals who experience a high from marijuana may experience time differently and may have less of an ability to focus or retain normal bodily coordination.

The Impact of Marijuana on Mental and Physical Health

As marijuana becomes increasingly commonplace, it is becoming easier for individuals to access higher doses of the drug.

With an increased strength of doses, higher doses of THC are delivered to the brain and marijuana usage can cause the following symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Impaired memory
  • Disorientation

Not long after smoking marijuana, the heart will begin to beat more rapidly and the blood pressure will drop. Smoking marijuana can cause the heart rate to increase by 20 to 50 beats per minute, and this can increase even more when other substances, such as alcohol, are used simultaneously.

Whether used by itself or in conjunction with other substances, increasing one’s heart rate by too much at once can be dangerous. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there is some limited evidence to suggest that a person’s risk of a heart attack can be up to five times more likely within one hour of smoking marijuana. This may be due to the fact that marijuana can increase a person’s heart rate and blood pressure which can inhibit the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.

Smoking marijuana may also lead to dizziness or light-headedness, which can result in increased falls or fainting.

Marijuana Usage and Respiratory Complications

Marijuana Heart ProblemsSmoking marijuana, even infrequently, can cause burning and stinging of the mouth and throat, and cause heavy coughing. Scientists have found that regular marijuana smokers can experience the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers do, including:

  • Daily cough and phlegm production
  • More frequent acute chest illnesses
  • Increased risk of lung infections
  • Obstructed airways

Most marijuana smokers consume a lot less cannabis than cigarette smokers consume tobacco, however the harmful effects of smoking marijuana should not be ignored. Marijuana contains more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke and because marijuana smokers typically inhale deeper and hold the smoke in their lungs longer than tobacco smokers, their lungs are exposed to those carcinogenic properties longer, when smoking.

Although one study found that marijuana smokers were three times more likely to develop cancer of the head or neck than non-smokers, that study could not be confirmed by further analysis.

Marijuana Smoke and Cancer Rates

Marijuana Lung CancerBecause marijuana smoke contains three times the amount of tar found in tobacco smoke and 50 percent more carcinogens, it would seem logical to deduce that there is an increased risk of lung cancer for marijuana smokers. However, researchers have not been able to definitively prove such a link because their studies have not been able to adjust for tobacco smoking and other factors that might also increase the risk.

Studies linking marijuana smoking to lung cancer have also been limited by selection bias and small sample size. For example, the participants in those studies may have been too young to have developed lung cancer yet. Even though researchers have yet to “prove” a link between smoking pot and lung cancer, regular smokers may want to consider the risk.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, however, cites a few studies that indicate “a clear link between marijuana use in adolescence and increased risk for an aggressive form of testicular cancer (nonseminomatous testicular germ cell tumor) that predominantly strikes young adult males.”

Is Weed Addiction Likely?

While originally not thought to be addictive, recent studies have indicated that this is not necessarily the case.

Changes to the plant brought about by intentional breeding by the growers has made the amount of THC in the marijuana currently available much higher than in the past.  As a result the euphoric effects of marijuana are much greater today than they were in the past.  So, anyone seeking an escape from reality can easily turn to marijuana as their drug of choice, just as much as heroin or other addictive narcotics. The more one turns to a substance, the higher the likelihood is of developing a dependence.

While the jury is still out on the addictive nature of marijuana usage, studies are leaning more and more in the direction of it being addictive rather than just habit forming.

Marijuana use, although increasingly widely used for recreational purposes in today’s world, can still have negative effects on an individual. These effects can be more dangerous when combined with other substances. At Pathways Recovery, we’re here to help you. If you would like assistance with marijuana treatment, or any other substance use, contact us at 916-735-8377 for more information

Marijuana Health Effects FAQs

Is marijuana legal?

Marijuana is legal in some states and territories in the United States. Legalization may be restricted to only medical use or may extend to recreational use. As the push for legalization continues in many states, it is best to conduct your own search for the most updated information.

How could knowing effects of marijuana help health professionals?

Knowing about the effects of marijuana can help health professionals make the best, most informed decisions for their patients. There are many side effects, benefits, and risks to weigh when a health professional decides on a treatment plan.

It’s important to bring any questions you have about marijuana use or its effects on your health to your doctor. This way, your doctor can take into account multiple factors that may influence your health and develop a plan to help you live a healthy life.

What are marijuana’s effects on other aspects of physical health?

Marijuana can cause respiratory problems, much like smoking can. There is a higher risk of lung infections and those who smoke marijuana often may be subject to a daily cough, increased phlegm production, obstructed airways, and acute chest illnesses.

Some individuals may also experience an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, especially when marijuana is used in combination with other substances. There can be an increased risk for a heart attack after smoking marijuana and a higher potential of experiencing a fall or fainting.