Addiction is a very complex, dangerous disease that can take many different forms. For some, addiction means being able to have a cocktail or beer without some unforeseen, dire consequences. Others experience addiction as the compulsive need for opiates in order to keep painful withdrawal symptoms at bay. There are also those who become addicted to one thing and then, due to some confluence of circumstances, must substitute that addiction with another. However it occurs, it’s a disease that is highly variable, but also has a number of effects that are nearly universal.
More specifically, virtually every addict will experience effects that are physical and psychological due to addiction while some suggest that the social and spiritual effects are even worse. Many addicts lose their jobs and homes, fall into financial ruin, damage or destroy important relationships, and even face criminal charges for behaviors they resorted to as a means of sustaining their unsustainable addictions. Whether one becomes addicted to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, prescription pills, or some other substance, the potential effects are as numerous as they are likely.
However, not all substances are inherently dangerous. There are a number of substances that are created solely to help individuals in pain and by all accounts would seem to be fairly innocuous, but also have a tendency to hurt those who misuse them. For instance, Zoloft—the name of a brand of drug also known as sertraline—is a well-known and widely used antidepressant that’s not without its dangers and while methadone—known for being used in replacement and maintenance therapies for opioid addiction—is a synthetic opioid drug that can be lethal in the wrong hands. As such, the following will profile both Zoloft and methadone, describing the characteristics and effects of each as well as what makes them so dangerous.
Zoloft: The Most Widely-Used Antidepressant
When an individual exhibits symptoms of severe depression, a primary care or another provider may prescribe medication in order to alleviate the symptoms. The term “antidepressant” is a blanket expression that refers to five different types of drugs of which selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are included. This particular type of antidepressant is considered to be the most popular and widely prescribed since they’ve been found to not only be some of the most effective medications for most individuals, but they have also been shown to cause the fewest side effects. Zoloft is the most-prescribed antidepressant and an SSRI that is used to treat severe depression as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic and anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, types of phobias and intense fears, and even certain types of bipolar disorder.
However, like most other medications, Zoloft has been implicated with certain side effects. As it has more of an activating effect than other SSRI antidepressants, some have reported feeling agitated or experiencing insomnia while taking Zoloft. Some of the most pronounced effects experienced by individuals taking Zoloft were those that are sexual in nature. In particular, patients have reported experiencing difficulty achieving orgasm during sex and symptoms of sexual arousal disorder. However, sexual side effects are also common of other SSRI medications.
Since the maximum therapeutic dosage for Zoloft is relatively low at 200 milligrams per day, overdose can occur without adequate care and proper dosage. Individuals who have experienced an overdose on Zoloft or sertraline often experience nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, hallucinations, and/or delirium. They may also exhibit shaking or tremors and either a marked increase or decrease in heart rate. If the individual who is overdosing on Zoloft experiences a dramatic increase in blood pressure, he or she may lose consciousness. At this point, seizures can occur and it the most severe cases, coma, and death and be possible. In the event that an individual is overdosing on Zoloft, it’s important to contact emergency medical services as soon as possible.
Of all the substances to which American addicts have become dependent, heroin and prescription painkillers are the drugs to which the majority of those individuals are addicted. With opioids being such a major scourge on our society, experts are always looking for more and better ways of helping these individuals to overcome their addictions. Methadone is used in one type of treatment that’s available to opioid addicts and has been a major source of contention among differing perspectives. Used in replacement and maintenance therapies for opioid addiction, methadone is given to addicts in lieu of heroin and prescription painkillers. However, the methadone virtually blocks the effects of other opioids while also not providing the same “high” that substance abusers would get from the other drugs, which allows addicts to replace heroin and other opioids with methadone without becoming intoxicated or experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Since the fear or onset of withdrawal is one of the leading reasons why addicts continue to abuse drugs, the idea is that addicts will be unlikely to continue using when the methadone can effectively prevent withdrawal. When it comes to this form of replacement treatment, there are two differing perspectives: One side sees the use of methadone as simply replacing one addiction with another and, therefore, a form of continued chemical dependency; the other side focuses on the reduction of potential harm and considers replacement therapy with methadone to be effective since individuals must be supervised and oftentimes participate in group sessions or other treatments in order to be medicated. Regardless of whether or not replacement therapy is a viable treatment for opioid addiction, the fact remains that methadone is incredibly dangerous when used improperly.
The effects of methadone, when used in a therapeutic setting, are considered to be nominal. However, when abused the drug has a depressant or sedative effect, slowing down one’s breathing and heart rate. A methadone overdose is typically accompanied by pronounced drowsiness, nausea, and abdominal pain, constricted pupils, dizziness, disorientation, muscle twitches, weakness, cold and clammy skin, a blue coloring around the lips or at the tips of the fingers, and limpness in limbs or muscles. Oftentimes individuals who are overdosing on methadone will seem as if they have been sedated and may lose consciousness. Methadone is considered to be especially lethal when mixed with benzodiazepines, alcohol, or opioids, although it is highly dangerous when mixed with virtually any substance. If an individual is exhibiting signs of methadone overdose, it’s crucial to immediately seek emergency medical assistance.
Find Your Way to a Happy, Sober Life with the Palm Beach Institute
There are many dangerous substances to which individuals can become addicted. As demonstrated above, there are even a number of substances that were created for the purpose of helping people that can be potentially lethal when misused or abused. If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would benefit from more information about recovery treatments, the Palm Beach Institute can help. Call today for a free consultation and assessment with one of our experienced recovery specialists. Don’t let the disease of addiction claim another life.