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Passages blog

10 Ways to Overcome Symptoms of Depression

By Jennifer McDougall

Depression affects millions of people across the world; of all ages. In many cases, those who suffer from depression also suffer from anxiety disorders, as well as, drug and alcohol addictions. It is not uncommon for those suffering from depression symptoms to turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to temporarily numb the pain and regain a pinch of satisfaction. The problem with this type of outlet is that it tends to lead to an array of health problems, emotional stress, loss of clarity and mental focus, as well as financial and relationship trouble.

When someone is feeling depressed they may not reach out immediately for help or want to talk about what is causing them to feel alone and hopeless. There are many situations and circumstances that can cause a person to feel this way. It could be due to loosing a job, breakup, financial struggle, loss of a loved one, poor diet, lack of exercise and outdoor activity, or major change at home or work. They may not feel like they add up to the expectations drawn out for them. Without supportive friends and family members, many of the difficulties we face in life tend to be much more challenging.

Many of us go through certain phases in life; we experience changes in our relationships, finances, and careers. Through those changes it is important to remain focused on our goals so that we don’t get overwhelmed with the “what if’s”, “why not’s”, “how come’s” and “what now.”

It is not uncommon for someone to experience symptoms of depression a few times throughout their lives. What matters most is what to look out for and know how to treat these symptoms before things take a downward spiral towards physical harm, addiction, or suicide.

Here are a several signs that you or someone you care about is suffering with depression.

  • An overwhelming sense of sadness
  • Loss of concentration and interest
  • On-going negative thoughts and comments
  • Excessive drinking or use of drugs
  • Aggression or reckless behavior
  • Too little or too much sleep
  • Little to no motivation or enthusiasm
  • Extreme changes in appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts or remarks

Depression is not something to ever feel ashamed of. It affects millions of people who have managed to overcome the symptoms and go on to live a happy and healthy life. Here are 10 ways to overcome the dark dreary symptoms of depression.

  1. Connect with friends and family who help motivate and support you in a positive way.
  2. Get 8 hours of sleep.
  3. Drink plenty of water.
  4. Meditate
  5. Eat healthy.
  6. Avoid drugs and alcohol.
  7. Add lighting and spruce up your living space.
  8. Journal your thoughts, ideas, and day-to-day experiences.
  9. Watch feel-good or funny movies.
  10. Change up your worn out routine.

Call Passages Addiction Treatment Centers today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Our admissions department is available 24/7 and can be reached directly by calling our toll-free number at (888) 397-0112. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Passages, Where Addiction Ends and Life Begins™

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Image via We Heart It

Spring Equinox 2015: A Message From Chris Prentiss

“Hello, Everyone.

This is truly a magical time of the year. The forces of light and dark are equally balanced. All is in perfect order. This is a time when the light force is in the ascendancy, and the dark force is diminishing. That is true not only for the actual light of the sun, but also for the energy of our pretty little planet. Perfect harmony and balance  have been achieved. We are part of that. It is a fertile time of the year, not just for plants, trees and animals, but also for ideas, new resolutions, a time of forgiveness, for renewing friendships and ending conflicts  It is a time when plans can be fulfilled, long-held dreams carried out, and it is a time when the beneficial aspects of our universe becomes manifest in our lives. Make the most of it; be the best you can be. You owe it to yourself and those around you to shine and set a great example. You are special, and this is the time of the year when your specialness can be magnified. Doing so, you will find your actions reflected to you many times over and you’ll be carried to the skies of success as though on the wings of six dragons!”

Chris Prentiss


Call Passages Addiction Treatment Centers today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Our admissions department is available 24/7 and can be reached directly by calling our toll-free number at (888) 397-0112. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Passages, Where Addiction Ends and Life Begins™

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Photo Credit: Jennifer McDougall

Sober Super Bowl Sunday

By Jennifer McDougall

Grab the nachos and prepare to enjoy the game of all games. It’s almost kickoff time for the most watched sporting event of the year. The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos will go head to head this Sunday, February 7, 2016 in the city of Santa Clara at the Levi’s Stadium to compete for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Super Bowl 50 can be watched on CBS at 3:30PM Pacific Standard Time.

Super Bowl Sunday is also one of the biggest days in advertising, and sales for alcoholic beverages, not to mention the second largest day of food consumption besides Thanksgiving. According to, on Super Bowl Sunday in 2014, “roughly 325 million gallons of beer were consumed.”

If at a super bowl party this weekend and alcohol is available, do not let temptation get the best of you. The best thing to do is decline any offers and bring your own non-alcoholic beverages to the party with you. Just remember these 5 Simple Tips for a Safe and Sober Holiday Weekend.

Here at Passages Addiction Treatment Center, we will be watching the game with a variety of gourmet snacks and a healthy beverage selection for the enjoyment of all of our clients. Stay updated with us on Instagram and Twitter by following us today.


Call Passages Addiction Treatment Centers today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Our admissions department is available 24/7 and can be reached directly by calling our toll-free number at (888) 397-0112. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Passages, Where Addiction Ends and Life Begins™

Follow Passages Malibu on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Image via We Heart It

Reasons to Quit Drinking Alcohol

10 Reasons to Quit Drinking Alcohol

By Jennifer McDougall

Besides not waking up with a painful headache and a list of regrets from the night before there are several other reasons to quit drinking alcohol. The amount of damage alcohol does to your body should be enough reason to avoid alcohol altogether, but for many, it’s not.

What if I told you that your overall quality of life would dramatically improve with the absence of alcohol? Within weeks you could see increased productivity at work and more money in the bank. Do I have your attention? Okay, good.

If you are unsure whether or not you should quit drinking, here are a few clues to help you see that this is without a doubt the right move for you.

  • If you find yourself drinking alone more than three nights a week.
  • If you are lying to others about your drinking habits.
  • If you have a reckless attitude which leads you to drive under the influence.
  • If you wake up with one-too-many moral hangovers full of shame and regret.
  • If your relationships are falling apart because of your intoxicated behaviors.
  • If your job or career is suffering due to the lack of arriving on time, performing tasks that are expected of you and failure to follow through on ideas and promises.
  • If your self-esteem is at rock bottom because you no longer see yourself as someone who is making good decisions and prospering in life.
  • If you start fights while your intoxicated and cause unnecessary drama that end up making you look ridiculous.
  • If someone mentions to you that it’s time to give up your drinking habits.
  • If you have increased anxiety and body aches.
  • If your face begins to appear more puffy than usual.
  • If your doctor suggests you dry up and get sober due to health concerns.
  • If you have to ask yourself if 10 am is too early to start drinking.
Quit Drinking with the Help of Passages

Photo by: LoboStudio Hamburg

Now that you’ve established the fact that this habit is making your life more and more unbearable it’s time to look at the benefits of putting down the bottle. Keep in mind there are more than just 10 benefits, but these are the ones we think are the most important.

  1. To promote a healthier brain and liver.

  2. Increase your energy level.

  3. Save a lot more money for valuable things that actually matter and are worth investing in.

  4. You will boost your levels of creativity.

  5. Improve your overall complexion.

  6. Wake up earlier feeling refreshed and more energized.

  7. Gain mental clarity- say goodbye to a cloudy mind.

  8. You will feel empowered to make the most out of life and help other people.

  9. You will feel much happier and self-confident.

  10. Will have more time for productive and exciting hobbies.


Call Passages Addiction Treatment Centers today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Our admissions department is available 24/7 and can be reached directly by calling our toll-free number at (888) 397-0112. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Passages, Where Addiction Ends and Life Begins™

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Special November Message From Chris Prentiss to The Staff at Passages Addiction Treatment Center

Welcome to November! It’s a lovely, fall time of the year. Thanksgiving is Thursday the 27th. Malibu weather is usually sunny, warm and beautiful, or it’s raining, which is also very beautiful. Rain is special and I, for one, am always grateful for it. Let’s make this an extra-special November. Do something extra-special for yourself. Do something extra-special for someone else. At Passages, make an extra effort to be cheerful, helpful and go out of your way to be extra-courteous to your co-workers and our clients. Everyone, including yourself, needs extra special attention. I love it when I walk through our facilities and I’m greeted with warm, friendly attitudes and smiles, even handshakes or hugs. I love it when clients come to me and say, “Your staff is beyond belief good! I’ve never experienced anything like it!”
Be happy. Whether you know it or not, the Universe is unfolding exactly as it should, and it has your best interests at heart. After all, you are, “The Universe,” a part of it. The Universe always takes care of itself, and you are “itself.” You are always held in its great awareness.
In a little less than six months, I will be starting my eightieth year on the planet. I have come to understand that the way we are at every moment influences the next moment. We are, in fact, the authors of every next moment. Be a bright, shining star and light the way for those who need your warmth and guidance. At the end of November, look back on your month and say to yourself, “I was the best I could be .” It will make you feel extra good and give you a great head-start, propelling you into an extra- fabulous December. Live life large.

10 Signs You Are Addicted to Love

By: Jennifer McDougall

Just as alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy, and heroin provide a temporary sense of escape for a person from their reality, anyone who is addicted to love, seeks similar relief and can face severe physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms. Someone who is addicted to love develops obsessive behaviors and thoughts. They get high on the fantasy they create in their head about a particular person or connection, or likewise, they get addicted to the love, intimacy, and physical connection they feel when they are with a partner. That feeling is their dope, and they feel they need it like the oxygen they breathe in order to survive.

In many cases, a person who is addicted to love will also find themselves in a co-dependent relationship, which is very common. They may turn to drugs and alcohol to temporarily numb the pain from the deep desire for the other person or pain they feel from rejection. They also feel withdrawal symptoms when they are not with the one they love.

Love addiction is not as uncommon as most people think. Many people are not as aware or understand the addiction, so they do not pay much attention to the signs. And, just like drugs and alcohol, anyone who is addicted to love or in a co-dependent relationship should seek therapy, and proper treatment in order to heal the underlying conditions before the cycle escalates, and the dependency becomes more intense and life-threatening.

Here are ten significant signs to tell if you are addicted to love:

  1. You know the relationship you’re in is terrible for you, and you can physically feel how unhealthy being in the relationship is, yet you do not make an adequate effort to end it.
  2. Fear and anxiety consume you at the thought of ending the relationship.
  3. You make shallow excuses and create reasons why you should stay in the relationship.
  4. After you eventually end a relationship, you suffer painful withdrawal symptoms (and/or unhealthy behaviors) such as insomnia, vomiting, nausea, deep depression, panic attacks, dramatic weight changes, anger, rage, emptiness, complete loss of purpose, stalking, suicidal thoughts, begging for a chance to be connected, and dramatic episodes (sometimes very violent).
  5. You lower your standards when it comes to dating someone to avoid being alone.
  6. Every time you have the urge to contact the other person, you always say to yourself “one more text,” or “one more phone call” just as someone addicted to drugs or alcohol would say about using “just this one last time.”
  7. Your relationship or love interest consumes your day to day life, separating you from friends and family, your goals, and all of your true, authentic passions that bring you honest joy and happiness.
  8. You would give up anything and everything in the world to be with someone, even after they have broken up with you multiple times, cheated on you, lied to you, and purposely fed your insecurities.
  9. Obsessive behaviors such as excessive text messages, phone calls, stalking on and off-line, checking your cell phone every couple minutes to see if they have contacted you, fantasizing about them and the relationship you could have, or picking out what kind of dish wear and curtains you would buy for your first home while you two are out shopping on your first.
  10. You feel as if you cannot live or be happy without this person. You want to be around them, with them, just near them all the time. When you are away from them, you feel depressed, sad, and lonely. When they aren’t reciprocating the connection you think exists, you feel a lack of drive and passion. It is as if you need this person in your life to be happy and survive.


What to do:

The most important thing to do is to find out the reason why. In order to overcome addiction, you must understand why you are doing what you are doing. Many people who have an addiction to love, like drug or alcohol addictions, have underlying issues causing them to chase the euphoric feeling that physical and emotional connections bring them, which is similar to cocaine addiction.

We suggest looking within yourself to find the underlying issue (abandonment, lack of self -esteem, or traumatic experiences) so that you can move on and live an addiction-free and fulfilling life. If you need professional help, do not hesitate to seek therapy and professional treatment before the situation becomes life-threatening.

Image via We Heart It

What to Know About Substance Abuse During Holidays

For many of those who are newly sober or who struggle with substance abuse issues, the holiday season or holiday events can be a time of both happiness and stress. The period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is a difficult time for many people, and it often times results in making poor decisions in order to participate in family gatherings, company parties, and celebrations.

However, this is not the only time of year that is difficult for people, as the majority of American cultural holidays have evolved to focus heavily on drinking:  Halloween, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve, or the 4th of July are some examples.

All of these holidays can be difficult for some people, especially when it comes to resisting the temptation of going out and partying.  Studies show that cases of suicide, depression, drunken driving accidents, and domestic violence all increase around the holidays.

It is clear that these statistics are a direct result of people either engaging in too much partying or trying to cope with holiday stress.  During these times, family members and friends can be a great source of support for recovering addicts.  There are many options to avoid holiday partying.  Try a non-alcoholic drink, or attend parties with a friend who also intends on staying sober.  It is also important to be sure to get enough sleep, exercise, and try to ease the stress of the season as much as possible. If you need help coping during the holidays when there are more partying opportunities and stress, Passages can help.


Call Passages Addiction Treatment Centers today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Our admissions department is available 24/7 and can be reached directly by calling our toll-free number at (888) 397-0112. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Passages, Where Addiction Ends and Life Begins™

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Preventing Relapse at Passages Addiction Treatment Centers

How Passages Addiction Treatment Centers Prevents Relapse

Here are a few aspects of successful private inpatient drug rehab centers that can heal the physical component and emotional or psychological root cause of your drug addiction. Programs that integrate these techniques into their private inpatient drug rehab programs will be best poised to offer you drug addiction solutions that engender ongoing, relapse-free sober living.

  • Medically Supervised Detoxification Facilities
    Regardless of your reason for turning to drugs in the first place, at some point, drug use will trigger a physical addiction. The body’s natural balance of brain chemicals—known as neurotransmitters—becomes disrupted, causing withdrawal symptoms to take hold in between uses. With careful medical supervision, withdrawal symptoms can be alleviated, allowing the body to finally readjust to its natural state of homeostasis, breaking the physical bond of drug addiction. When you arrive at Passages, our nurses will perform an assessment and will design a detox program tailored just for you. We know detox can be extremely painful if not conducted properly and our goal is to make you as comfortable & secure as possible. Passages Malibu has directed the detox of thousands of clients over our many years of experience.
  • Confidential Counseling Services
    Emotional and psychological trauma or negative self beliefs can lead us to seek escape and false confidence in drugs. Relapse prevention in private inpatient drug rehab programs must include confidential, one-on-one counseling services that allow you to heal the emotional pain or lack that fuels your addiction. For those with buried or repressed trauma, hypnotherapy can be another useful tool in unearthing and treating psychological pain to prevent future relapse into drug addiction. At Passages Malibu, our core philosophy states that your addiction is typically caused by various underlying, unresolved issues. Unlike many 12-step programs where substance abuse is treated as the primary problem, at Passages, we believe that in order to end the cycle of dependency you must first uncover the reasons why you are choosing to numb yourself with drugs and alcohol in the first place.
  • Creating Healthy Coping Skills
    Life will inherently bring us challenges—but those who succeed in living without drugs must develop coping skills and inner strength to turn those challenges into opportunities to transcend. Creating healthy coping skills in private inpatient drug rehab can make a difference in remaining drug-free.
  • Spiritual Guidance
    As spiritual beings, we have needs that exist deeply beyond our brains and bodies. Regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof, successful rehab programs will address your spiritual needs as a person intended by the Universe with purpose.Benefits of Spiritual Counseling and what our clients can anticipate receiving spiritual counseling at Passages:
  1. Greater access to their own intuition and inner wisdom
  2. Wider perspectives on specific issues
  3. Compassionate understanding of their negative behaviors
  4. Clarity about how addiction is a pathway to grace
  5. Energetic techniques for creating deeper connections & relationships
  6. Effective ways to move up the emotional scale from fear to faith
  7. Embodiment practices to enhance your ability to feel well-being
  • After Care Planning
    Too many private inpatient drug rehab programs do not provide adequate after care support. Successful rehab programs will address social, environmental, career and financial concerns that you’ll face after your inpatient rehab stay. Elective options such as life coaching, mentoring or shadowing should be available, as well—to help transition you successfully to your new, sober life. Passages Addiction Treatment Centers are proud of offer clients continuing care where we can begin assembling an outside team of specialists that will allow you to expand the base of knowledge and experience that you’ve already established at our world-renowned addiction treatment center.

Call Passages Addiction Treatment Centers today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Our admissions department is available 24/7 and can be reached directly by calling our toll-free number at (888) 397-0112. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Passages, Where Addiction Ends and Life Begins™

Psychedelic Mushrooms Addiction Guide

What Are Psychedelic Mushrooms?

Psychedelic mushrooms are varieties of mushrooms that contain hallucinogenic compounds psilocybin and psilocin. Psychedelic mushrooms can either be cultivated or gathered in the wild. When consumed through a process known as “shrooming,” these fungi produce a vivid, psychedelic trip with effects similar to those of LSD—but with a shorter duration and largely visual effects. Depicted in cave paintings around the world—some dating back almost 10,000 years—psychedelic mushrooms are one of the oldest known drugs used by humans.

What Do Psychedelic Mushrooms Look Like?

There are over 90 different known varieties of psychedelic mushrooms, with common street names including “psilocybin mushrooms,” “shrooms,” and “magic mushrooms.” Two of the most common varieties are the Psilocybe Cubensis, with a long stem and golden semi-hemispherical cap, and the Liberty Cap, sporting longer stems and a light brownish yellow conical cap. When purchased, mushrooms often lose these appearances and instead appear brown in color, due to the fact they are usually already dried. Sometimes, psychedelic mushrooms are ground up into a powder for consumption. Even when dry, these drugs have an identifiable scent not unlike the one associated with everyday mushrooms used in cooking.

How Are Psychedelic Mushrooms Used?

Because of the incredible variety of species, growing conditions, and other variables, the strength of each psychedelic mushroom can vary significantly. In general, people consume about 20 grams of fresh mushrooms—or conversely, 2 grams of dried mushrooms—to induce the psychedelic effects. Psychedelic mushrooms are often consumed on an empty stomach, for faster absorption and to reduce any nausea experienced during the first 20 to 60 minutes after taking.

Because of their generally unpleasant taste, many users eat the fresh or dried mushrooms in combination with other foods or beverages, such as ice cream, pizza or orange juice to mask the flavor and make them more palatable. Psychedelic mushrooms can also be immersed in hot water to create a tea that can be taken with honey to mask flavor and ginger to prevent nausea. Unlike traditional, non-hallucinogenic mushrooms, psychedelic mushrooms cannot be effectively cooked for purposes of intoxication, as the cooking process destroys psychedelic compounds in the mushrooms.

Are Psychedelic Mushrooms Legal?

Psychedelic mushrooms are not legal in the United States and are considered a Schedule I drug.

Physical Effects of Psychedelic Mushrooms Abuse

What Does a Psychedelic Mushrooms High Feel Like?

A psychedelic mushroom high is a hallucination-fraught, highly emotional experience that distorts perception and reality. Psychedelic mushrooms’ effects tend to last four to six hours and are collectively referred to as a “mushroom trip” or “shrooming.” Depending on the variety of psychedelic mushrooms, hallucinations, laughing fits or strange, abstracted thoughts may also occur. Many users continue to hallucinate even with their eyes closed. Mood swings tend to occur, encompassing a range of feelings from happiness to sadness or hope to pessimism and nihilism.

What Are the Physical Effects of Psychedelic Mushrooms?

At the onset of a psychedelic mushroom trip, the first noticeable physical effects will hit roughly 20 minutes after first ingesting psilocybin mushrooms. Psychedelic mushroom users often experience cold sensation and feelings of nausea at this point. Next, colors begin to deepen or distort, and movements in the corners of the eyes (peripheral vision) may be detected.

Psychedelic mushrooms also sometimes create emotional sensitivity or anxiety. Nausea often lasts through the first hour of the psychedelic mushroom trip. For the next two to three hours, psychedelic mushroom users find themselves immersed in the drug’s peak effects. Physical signs of reaching the apex of a mushroom trip include dilated pupils, auras around objects, layered vision, changing shapes, and highly detectable patterns in stationary objects. As psychedelic mushroom users “come down,” hallucinations tend to wane and severe stomach cramps tend to set in.

Can You Overdose From Psychedelic Mushrooms?

Overdosing on psychedelic mushrooms is almost impossible—largely because a psychedelic mushroom overdose would require eating over twenty five pounds of psilocybin mushrooms to experience toxic effects. Large doses of psychedelic mushrooms, however, can produce traumatic experiences that can last even beyond the time period that the mushrooms are active in an addicted individual’s system. Certain drugs can also amplify the effects of mushrooms, such as MAOIs—monoamine oxidase inhibitors commonly used medically as anti-depressants or smoking cessation drugs—because they reduce the body’s ability to process psilocybin and psilocin. These effects will not cause an overdose, but can increase the risk of “bad trips” since the psychedelic experience from mushrooms will have longer duration and greater intensity.

Physical Effects of Nicotine Addiction

What Does a Nicotine Buzz Feel Like?

The nicotine high can sometimes be imperceptible, as it eliminates withdrawal symptoms and fills nicotine users with a sense of calm. Some users experience a “nicotine buzz,” most common in first-time nicotine users or after a period of abstinence. The main nicotine high starts almost immediately upon ingesting nicotine—especially for tobacco smokers—and lasts for a very short duration. Smokers feel it almost immediately after taking the first puff of a cigarette, while those who chew tobacco tend to feel the nicotine high within a minute of starting to chew. A wave of calmness passes over the user’s body, replacing the agitation of withdrawal, as soon as the nicotine is transferred to the brain. As the nicotine levels increase, nicotine users may feel feelings of calmness and relaxation replaced by a tingling sensation and sense of heaviness.

What Are the Physical Effects of Nicotine?

Because nicotine is a stimulant, heart rate and blood pressure increase as soon as nicotine enters the system. In fact, nicotine users can sometimes feel their pulses over their entire bodies. Additionally, some nicotine users even hear a slight buzzing or hum in the ears. In your brain, nicotine binds to the nicotine acetylcholine receptors that increase the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine—resulting in a pleasant and relaxed feeling. As another neurotransmitter—serotonin—is released, nicotine users feel increasingly calm and slightly euphoric. The pleasant and euphoric feeling lasts for only a few minutes and quickly fades, though increased heart rate may last for several hours after nicotine use.

Nicotine is extremely addictive, as it acts on many neurotransmitters in the brain. Nicotine is also extremely short-acting, requiring frequent use of tobacco products in order to alleviate withdrawal that quick sets in. Chronic use leads to tar-stained teeth from smoking, oral and esophageal cancers and lung cancer. Many nicotine smokers also put themselves at risk for stroke, heart attack and emphysema. Cigarette smoke in nicotine-laden tobacco also leads to stained fingers and fingernails, yellowish skin, signs of premature aging and yellow-hued teeth. Smokers are also at risk for gum disease and infections.

Can You Overdose From Nicotine?

Yes, you can overdose from ingesting too much nicotine. Nicotine overdose usually occurs by accidentally ingesting too much nicotine from nicotine replacement products such as gum, lozenges, inhalers or patches. If you continue to smoke when using these products, you increase your risk of a nicotine overdose. Common digestive symptoms of nicotine overdose include stomach pains or nausea, resulting in either diarrhea or vomiting. Nicotine addicted individuals may also feel light-headed and confused during an overdose, or have extreme headaches and experience vision or hearing problems. Some nicotine users also experience racing heart and accompanying chest pains. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop using products that contain nicotine immediately and call your physician.

Nicotine Addiction Guide

Is Nicotine Physically Addictive?

Nicotine is a powerful drug resulting in physical addiction on par with that of cocaine. As with any chemical dependency, there can be both physical and psychological addictions that develop, serving to promote addiction.

What Causes Nicotine Addiction?

The most common forms of nicotine addiction are smoking and using chewing tobacco. When consumed, the effects of these products are felt within 10 seconds as the nicotine enters into your blood stream and reaches your brain. However, as soon as you stop cease nicotine use, the effects can wear off quickly—in fact, over half of the nicotine is removed from your body in a little as 60 minutes. This leaves nicotine addicted individuals craving another cigarette as withdrawal symptoms—irritability, agitation, anxiety, headache, and hunger—begin to take hold.

Chemicals in the brain—known as “neurotransmitters”—are responsible for regulating how you think and feel. Once nicotine is introduced into the body, it alters the natural state of chemical balance (known as homeostasis) in the brain—requiring a constant intake of nicotine in order to feel normal. Nicotine creates this physical addiction by primarily affecting the levels of three neurotransmitters: specifically, acetylcholine, dopamine, and glutamate.

  • Nicotine Increases Acetylcholine
    Nicotine increases the levels of acetylcholine that make nicotine users more alert and temporarily heightens concentration ability. When natural acetylcholine levels decrease, users need to smoke, chew or otherwise introduce nicotine to the system in order to rebalance the brain’s levels of acetylcholine. Additionally, nicotine has an extremely short half-life, requiring repeated intake in order to stave off withdrawal.
  • Nicotine Increases Dopamine
    Smoking increases the level of dopamine in the body, which stimulates reward centers in the brain. This process reinforces the smoking behavior, so that each cigarette makes smokers desire yet another. Also, habitual intake can trigger addiction, as the brain’s reward centers come to associate the act of smoking or chewing with pleasure and reduced tension.
  • Nicotine Increases Glutamate
    Glutamate is responsible for creating and storing memories in the brain. Each time a nicotine dependent individual smokes or chews, a memory of alertness (from the acetylcholine) and pleasure (from the dopamine) reinforces the desire for continued nicotine consumption.

What Are the Signs of Nicotine Addiction?

The two primary signs of nicotine addiction are the habitual use of nicotine products and experiencing withdrawal when use ends. Other signs of nicotine addiction include possession of cigarettes or copious amounts of lighters, ashtrays, cups for spitting chewing tobacco residue into, or pipes and tobacco pouches. Nicotine addicted individuals also tend to display stained teeth, gums, and fingers—as well as signs of premature wrinkling due to the drying out of the skin and lack of oxygen the skin receives.

Physical Effects of LSD Abuse

What Does a LSD High Feel Like?

LSD creates an intense high, resulting in a hallucinatory multi-sensory experience that lasts from eight to twelve hours. As the LSD takes effect, about 20 minutes to two hours after ingesting the drug, users experience euphoric feelings and the beginnings of bodily sensations and tingling. Shortly thereafter, LSD users find that boundaries between the self and the surrounding world fall away. Details in sound, sight, taste, and touch become heightened—colors may appear brighter and sounds become louder or more enveloping. In some instances, these sensations overlap, resulting in synesthesia—a bizarre mixing of the senses, where colors are felt, sounds are visualized, or sights are tasted.

At the peak of an LSD high, during a period of two to six hours, LSD users can experience intense hallucinations, including perceiving objects that are not present, and seeing motion in stationary items. The intense sensory and hallucinogenic effects often last for 8 hours, and then take an additional 4 hours to gradually fade away.

What Are the Physical Effects of LSD?

While LSD is primarily a psychedelic drug, there are several physical effects that occur during an LSD trip. Pupil dilatation is one of the first external cues that the LSD is taking effect. The digestive system becomes affected, as well, resulting in nausea that endures for roughly the first hour—although for a minority, feelings of nausea can last the duration of the LSD “trip.” Most people feel extremely alert while under the influence of LSD, and find it difficult to sleep until the effects of the drug wear off. Less frequently, LSD users experience temperature regulation issues, encountering hypothermia (abnormally low temperatures) with profuse perspiration, while others experience hyperthermia (fever) with the chills and goose bumps. Often people find themselves clenching their jaws during an LSD trip, or sensing a metallic taste in their mouths.

Can You Overdose From LSD?

While you cannot physically overdose on LSD, as it is a nontoxic substance, LSD users can experience psychological damage from use. Higher doses have a greater likelihood in resulting in an intensely negative experience know as “bad trip,” which can be reexperienced in flashbacks later. Because LSD users cannot end the effects of LSD but are instead held captive to the experience, negative thought and emotions can manifest themselves in visualizations and dominate the experience. It is even possible for a particularly traumatic trip to result in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Physical Effects of GHB Abuse

What Does a GHB High Feel Like?

GHB triggers feelings of calm, relaxation and a mild euphoria. Though often likened to the experience of being drunk on alcohol, GHB does not produce a hangover after use. As the amount of GHB ingested increases, anxieties and inhibitions decrease, leaving users feeling more social and tending to act less inhibited and more talkative. GHB users are often enveloped by a strange sense of warmth. GHB is commonly used in dance club or rave settings, and some users describe increased feelings of connection to the auditory stimuli, increasingly fluid movement, and greater sensory impact after ingesting GHB. GHB also lends itself to heavy intoxication and lower motor function, as well as temporary amnesia—the combination of which has earned it a reputation as “the date rape drug.”

What Are the Physical Effects of GHB?

The physical effects of GHB depend on the dosage taken. Many GHB users report a lowered coordination and extreme dizziness as the amount of GHB taken increases. GHB users noticeably slur their speech and become increasingly incoherent. Additionally, it is common to feel nauseated and exhausted as the GHB dose rises.

The effects of GHB initiate after 10 to 20 minutes and build for up to an hour after taking the drug. The rate of onset and intensity of effect can be reduced if GHB users have recently eaten before taking the drug, as well. The peak of the GHB high lasts about two hours before it begins to wear off one to two hours later. Repeated dosing during this period can maintain the high for hours on end.

Can You Overdose From GHB?

A GHB overdose is similar to alcohol poisoning, as users experience nausea, dizziness, vomiting—and ultimately unconsciousness. In fact, alcohol use will heighten both the likelihood of vomiting and passing out, which is a potentially lethal combination as toxic levels of GHB can remain present in the blood stream and aspiration can occur.

Three factors that contribute to GHB overdose include body weight, mixing GHB with alcohol, and ingesting abnormally high concentrations of GHB. GHB users with lower body weights are more likely to overdose due to the extremely small margin between a recreational dose and an overdose. Because GHB is a central nervous system depressant, mixing GHB with alcohol—another CNS depressant—can amplify both the effects and negative side-effects that contribute to overdose. Additionally, because GHB is manufactured illegally, the concentration and purity are often unknown, leading individuals to take unexpedantly high doses and overdose when they did not intend to.

GHB Addiction Guide

What Is GHB?

Naturally produced by the body, Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate—commonly known as “GHB”—is a neurotransmitter that helps transmit messages in the brain. When produced synthetically, GHB is a central nervous system depressant, with intoxicating, euphoric and dissociative effects. With effects that resemble a combination of alcohol and ecstasy, GHB is referred to as “fantasy”—or do to its amnesiac effects, as “the date rape drug.” While still manufactured in some countries for medical purposes as a mild anesthetic, most of the recreational supply in the United States comes from underground labs instead of pharmaceutical companies.

What Does GHB Look Like?

In pure form, GHB takes the form of a white, crystalline salt. Depending on the level of purity, GHB can also experience slight color variations that give it an off-white or light yellow appearance. Liquid preparations of GHB tend to be both colorless and odorless and are often sold in small vials or dropper bottles.

How Is GHB Used?

In the 1960s, GHB served as an anesthetic, primarily used for women in childbirth within the European medical community. The 1970s found GHB traveling the club and party circuit due to its euphoric effects. In the 1980s, GHB became commonly available as a supplement used by body builders to increase the levels of human growth hormone (HGH) to ultimately build muscle. Some sufferers of insomnia also use GHB in order to attempt to facilitate sleep.

GHB can also be imbibed by drinking solutions made from the drug. Referred to with names such as “Liquid X” and “Liquid E,” GHB can be used recreationally, by diluting 500 to 3,000 mg in water and drinking it. GHB preparations can also be taken as shots known as “capfuls.” Due to its sedative and memory-impairing effects, GHB has facilitated numerous cases of date rape, as concentrated liquid preparations have been added to unwitting individuals’ drinks.

Is GHB Legal?

In 1990, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the sale of GHB in the United States, although possession remained legal. Ten years later, in 2000, GHB became classified as a Schedule I drug by the Controlled Substances Act—making it illegal to possess, sell, or distribute. However, GHB is still available directly from pharmaceutical manufacturers for use in treatment of neurological and psychological conditions like Parkinson’s and Schizophrenia—though only in specific, tightly controlled circumstances.

How GHB Addiction Works

Is GHB Physically Addictive?

GHB is not considered in most people to be physically addictive. However, heavy users who stop cold turkey without supervision by an inpatient drug rehab program can experience high anxiety, insomnia, and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Sometimes it can take up to three weeks for these symptoms to fully subside. In fact, when GHB is used regularly (with from 4 to 6 regular doses per week), physical addiction can develop in a matter of weeks. In most people, GHB is considered primarily psychologically addictive. Those who have experienced alcohol or tranquilizer addictions are more prone to addiction to GHB.

What Causes GHB Addiction?

GHB is not thought of as physically addictive, though some users report symptoms of withdrawal and preoccupation with use. However, GHB reacts with a host of the brain’s chemicals—known as “neurotransmitters”—creating a stimulating and inebriated effect at lower doses, and a hypnotic trance at higher dosages. Particularly affecting GABA and glutamate, GHB causes short-lived withdrawal after coming down from the drug, due to its fast metabolism in the body. Due to its euphoric effects, GHB users can become psychologically addictive, especially with prior addiction history. GHB can also have antidepressant and stimulant effects, heightening its propensity to become psychologically addictive as both a mood-enhancer and weight-loss drug.

What Are the Signs of GHB Addiction?

Signs of GHB addiction include psychological and mood changes, such as intrusive thoughts about the next GHB dosage, exhaustion, irritability, and dysphoria. Physical signs of GHB withdrawal and addiction can include body aches, muscle pains, nausea, vomiting, lack of coordination and memory loss. Regular GHB users can also experience digestive problems such as diarrhea, bladder control issues, and frequent bouts of sleepwalking. Some users experience seizure-like involuntary movements if dosing before sleep, while others report orthostatic hypotension (dizziness from standing up quickly due to a sudden blood pressure lowering). GHB users often report frequent headaches, slowed heartbeat and slowed breathing.

Physical Effects of Ecstasy Abuse

What Does an Ecstasy High Feel Like?

Within an hour of taking ecstasy, users start to feel tingling on your skin, slight nausea and bursts of excitement. As ecstasy trips reach their peak, users often experience a sense of peace and happiness, as well as relaxation and heightened connectedness to the world and music. Inhibitions tend to lower with ecstasy use, and sensory perception becomes more pleasurable and more acute. Ecstasy often creates the illusion of deep, emotional bonds and mind-expanding thought. Self-confidence tends to increase, although it is still possible to have a “bad trip” on ecstasy, depending on the mood of the user.

What Are the Physical Effects of Ecstasy?

While ecstasy enhances perception of reality and the self, the drug also causes negative physical effects. One common side effect of ecstasy use is jaw clenching, known as “clamping.” This combined with dry mouth from dehydration lead users to suck on candies or chewing gum, sometimes with repeated ecstasy use leading to tooth decay and gum disease. Some less frequent physical effects include nausea and vomiting, as well as eye twitching or spasms. Heavy users sometimes experience periods of dizziness or vertigo that disappear when addiction resolves. As the euphoric effects fade, ecstasy users tend to feel physically drained and tired.

The most serious physical effect of ecstasy is hyperthermia—where body temperature rises too high—and remains the leading cause of ecstasy-related death. Since the active chemical in ecstasy pills—MDMA—disrupts the body’s natural temperature regulation system, users may not perceive that they are overheating, especially in dance club environments. This often leads ecstasy users to avoid necessary hydration and methods of cooling down, especially during all-night dancing episodes. One opposite but equally unfortunate side effect of ecstasy use is excessive water consumption that creates an electrolyte imbalance, called hyponatremia, causing brain swelling, and then ultimately death. This occurs as ecstasy users attempt to aggressively drink water to prevent dehydrations and overheating, making hypnoatremia the leading cause of ecstasy-related deaths.

Can You Overdose From Ecstasy?

Similar to other stimulants, ecstasy causes overdose associated with symptoms like rapid heart rate, agitation, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting. Those who are overweight and those who have been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure or heart conditions carry a greater risk of ecstasy overdose.

Physical Effects of Marijuana Abuse

What Does a Marijuana High Feel Like?

A marijuana high is a generally pleasant experience that creates a dreamlike intoxicated state. Marijuana users often feel a sense of mild euphoria and mood enhancement as relaxation takes hold. Muscles relax, and the world seems absurd and funny, often giving way to uncontrollable laughter or captivating thought even when focusing on the mundane.  Many marijuana users find thoughts flowing more easily and becoming increasingly creative and abstract. However, marijuana highs also lend themselves to slowed physical and mental reactions as well as impaired short-term memory and sedentary behavior.

What Are the Physical Effects of Marijuana?

When smoked, the effects of marijuana begin within seconds—but when eaten, marijuana’s physical and mental effects may take up to an hour to appear. This often causes those who consume marijuana through eating to take too much accidentally while waiting for the initial dose to “hit.”

The effects of marijuana are dose dependant, and usually last for a few hours. As a mild analgesic, physical pain will decrease shortly after use. In addition to a perception of relaxation, marijuana users often find muscle tension and cramping decrease. Marijuana has powerful antiemetic effect, reducing nausea within minutes of use. In fact, marijuana is sometimes used medically to aid those experiencing pharmaceutically induced nausea, such as chemo patients. Additionally, marijuana stimulates the appetite, resulting in sudden and compulsive hunger—and thus, eating—in a process popularly known as “the munchies.” People smoking marijuana will often have bloodshot eyes, a dry mouth, and experience a hacking cough. As the marijuana wears off, users tend to feel groggy, tired, and a little too full.

Can You Overdose From Marijuana?

While you cannot technically overdose from marijuana, users experience a host of negative symptoms with heavy and prolonged use. Many marijuana users report racing hearts, anxiety, agitation, and paranoia, with some users experiencing panic attacks with high doses of marijuana. For others, large doses are associated with a drop in blood pressure, causing an extreme lack of coordination, feelings of lightheadedness, dizziness, confusion, fainting and possibly a loss of consciousness. Most of these experience pass quickly as the body metabolizes the THC ingested from the marijuana.


Call Passages Addiction Treatment Center today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Our admissions department is available 24/7 and can be reached directly by dialing our toll-free number at (888) 397-0112. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

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Physical Effects of Amphetamines Abuse

What Does an Amphetamine High Feel Like?

Taking amphetamines can be an intense experience lasting from a few hours to a few days. The experience begins about 10 to 15 minutes after taking an amphetamine pill, or 5 to 10 minutes after snorting. After onset of the drug, amphetamines can cause tingling and radiating feelings in the body, quickly followed by energy surges. Alertness increases and mental focus rises, as restlessness sets in within the body. Amphetamine users often report “god complexes,” triggering a temporary raise in self-confidence and feelings of power. Social interactions become more attractive, and rapid speech sets in.

What Are the Physical Effects of Amphetamines?

Amphetamines stimulate the production of the hormones responsible for the bodies “fight or flight” responses, naturally only triggered in a crisis. During amphetamine use, blood vessels constrict, resulting in an increase in blood pressure, a racing heart rate (tachycardia) or irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia). Frequent use can lead to cardiac problems including damage to the heart walls and heart attacks.

Muscle tension caused by amphetamine use is often expressed in jaw clenching and teeth grinding, which can result in severe damage to the teeth and gums. Amphetamines are also highly effective at suppressing appetite—some amphetamine addicted individuals can go for days without eating, causing rapid weight loss. The lack of food can result in stomach pain, as well as long-term digestive issues. Both dental and digestive problems are complicated by extreme dehydration experienced during amphetamine use.

Due to the insomniac effects of amphetamines, users can stay awake for days, finding themselves extremely tired and fatigued after use. This leads many addicted individuals to take more amphetamines rather than coming down—a practice known as to “topping up”—continuing the high for another 4 to 8 hours. In some cases, amphetamine dependent individuals will keep using for week-long binges. However, when they do stop ingesting amphetamines, users experience a severe “crash,” collapsing into days-long sleep.

Can You Overdose From Amphetamine?

While rarely fatal, amphetamine overdose is extremely unpleasant. Physically, overdose causes restlessness, a surging heart rate, chest pain, shaking, and even seizures. Amphetamine addicted individuals who overdose can also suffer from severe and serious dehydration. Psychologically, they may become delusional or confused, or enter into a schizophrenic-like paranoid psychosis.

Amphetamines Addiction Guide

What Are Amphetamines?

Amphetamines comprise a powerful class of synthetic stimulants that first were created in 1887. Amphetamines’ stimulant properties make them medically useful for a narrow spectrum of disorders. In fact, amphetamines are often used to treat narcolepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) under brand names such as Dexedrine or Benzedrine. However, due to their stimulating effects, amphetamines have also become widely used as a recreational drug. On the street, amphetamines go by a number of pseudonyms, including methamphetamines, “meth,” “ice,” “glass,” “crystal,” and “speed.”

What Do Amphetamines Look Like?

Pure amphetamines take the form of a clear crystalline powder. However, most amphetamines available on the street take on a yellow, discolored brown or rust-colored appearance. The color of amphetamines stems from impurities in the manufacturing process or from filler substances that are added during the distribution and illegal sale of these drugs to lower overhead for drug dealers. In fact, many amphetamines acquired on the street are surprisingly low in potency—containing only 10 percent of the active ingredient and 90 percent inert filler. Most amphetamines users purchase drugs illegally from street sellers, though there are users who abuse prescription amphetamines.

How Are Amphetamines Used?

While oral ingestion and snorting are the most common avenues of amphetamine use, many long-time users eventually turn to smoking or injecting amphetamines to achieve a faster-hitting and more intense high. Seasoned addicts also tend to increase the amount of amphetamines that they use over time as tolerance builds. While overdose is possible at any level of use, it becomes more likely as an individual’s usage increases.

Are Amphetamines Legal?

Amphetamines are listed as Schedule II drugs in the Controlled Substance Act in the United States. This means that amphetamines carry an extremely strong likelihood of producing addiction with just a single use—though they are still considered “medically useful” for targeted and restricted prescription by physicians.