Substance Use

Meth and Heroin Dual Addiction on the Rise

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crystal meth and powder with heroin syringe

Meth and Heroin Dual Addiction on the Rise in the United States

Do you have a substance use disorder and take more than one drug at once? You’re not alone. Meth and heroin are two drugs that, when used together, can create a powerful addiction.

Both meth and heroin have a range of severe mental and physical side effects. Using meth and heroin together gives a powerful high but has destructive short-term consequences. The two together can also cause long-term health complications. Meth use is surging in the United States, especially in the West. At the same time, more and more opioid users say they have begun to use meth as well.

What Are Meth and Heroin?

Meth is a synthetic stimulant and is short for methamphetamine. Through “cooking” performed in makeshift “labs,” meth is concentrated from ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. These drugs have been popular for decades in cold and flu remedies. Yet, when the active ingredients are concentrated, they produce an intense high that can cause unpredictable behavior.

Heroin is an opioid made from the pain drug morphine. Morphine is a substance extracted from the seed pods of certain varieties of poppies. Morphine is commonly used in hospital settings for post-surgical or hospice pain management. Unlike prescription opioids, the heroin found on the streets is usually not pure. These impurities make it an even more dangerous drug.

Why Is This Increase in Dual-Use Happening?

There are many reasons why someone might become a polysubstance abuser. A polysubstance abuser is someone addicted to more than one drug at a time. A commonly used combination of drugs is meth and heroin. In some cases, combining more than one drug can enhance the effects. In other cases, someone may have become addicted to different drugs separately. They then discovered that using more than one drug simultaneously offers different highs.

Sometimes a drug user will decide to take more than one drug at a time to counteract the effects of each other. Meth is a stimulant that creates a feeling of extreme euphoria and a false sense of well-being and happiness. It can make users feel talkative, confident, powerful, social, and energetic. It can also decrease their appetite. Meth can also bring on agitation, aggression and confusion. These feelings may cause someone to take a drug like heroin that will tone down the effect of the meth.

Heroin is a depressant that produces a short period of euphoria. Once the euphoria has worn off, heroin usually causes drowsiness. People that use heroin sometimes feel like their limbs are very heavy. They may also have coordination problems. When this happens, it can give a meth user a break from the intensity of their high. One problem is that heroin does not last as long as meth, so some individuals will take too many doses. Too much heroin can make the respiratory system fail. When the respiratory system fails, it can cause hypoxia and even death.

Meth’s long-lasting stimulant effects can leave users too stimulated (tweaking) and anxious. Heroin slows the central nervous system, causing feelings of euphoria and then drowsiness.

As you can see, these two drugs have opposite results. Meth appears to speed things up, while heroin slows them down, providing a false sense of balance. This may make mixing the two substances attractive to drug users.

The opposite effects of these two drugs neutralize each other’s symptoms. This makes it possible for users to experience the high produced by each drug at a more intense level.

What Are the Risks of Combining Meth and Heroin?

The dangers of mixing meth and heroin are significant. When the two drugs are combined, it becomes difficult to determine which one has been taken in excess. This heightens the risk of a fatal overdose. It also makes proper identification of an overdose tricky. For example, the properties of meth mask the effects of heroin, and breathing may slow down without the user noticing until it’s too late.

When meth counteracts the physical effects of heroin, users might take higher doses of heroin than they usually would. They do this hoping to achieve a more intense high. Higher doses can lead to overdoses. Some of the damage includes organ failure, brain damage or even death.

In addition, a user’s heart rate may rapidly change pace as the effects of meth outlast heroin. Their heart rate can go from very slow to very fast in a short time and cause heart failure or stroke.

Using two addictive substances like meth and heroin at the same time can complicate treatment. Treatment plans for dual addictions have to take each drug into account separately. They also need to look at the combined effects of both.

The experienced specialists at Zinnia Healing can help develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses both addictions. Please give us a call to discuss your options at (855) 430-9439.

The withdrawal symptoms of meth and heroin also differ. This means they need to be addressed in the early stages of treatment to ensure a successful outcome.

What Can Be Done About Polyabuse of Meth and Heroin?

Meth-related deaths in the United States peaked at 32,856 in 2021. That’s an increase of 8,280 deaths since 2020. The pandemic probably had some influence on these numbers. Yet, statistics have shown that meth-related deaths have been increasing year after year. Research also suggests that doctors prescribing fewer opioids may have made some users decide to use meth instead.

The number of heroin addicts reporting meth as a secondary substance is rising. Both meth and heroin are easy to come by, facilitating polysubstance abuse on a large scale.

Treating polysubstance abuse is a challenge more and more treatment centers face. When someone uses more than one drug, the treatment plan needs to look at the effects of the drugs being used. This will help to manage withdrawal while preventing relapse. Meth and heroin together lead to physical and psychological dependencies. That makes it more challenging to address all a patient’s needs. When treating for dual use of meth and heroin, treatment providers must understand the physical effects of both drugs, including the body’s response to withdrawal.

People who use more than one drug at a time are more likely to have mental and physical health conditions. Sometimes these conditions can interfere with treatment for substance abuse. At Zinnia Healing, we treat the physical and mental effects of dual use. This lets us provide the very best care. It is also a chance for people to avoid relapse and move into a world free of dependence on both heroin and meth. We tailor your treatment to your unique situation and needs. This is important for an effective recovery.

If you or someone you love is suffering from a dual addiction, we want you to know that help is here. Abusing and combining meth and heroin can affect health and well-being in the short term. Long-term use can cause severe cognitive, physical, and psychological effects. It can also destroy important relationships and connections. Place your trust in Zinnia Healing. Our completely individualized programs can pave the way to a successful recovery full of healing and meaning.

You deserve the best treatment that is tailored to your specific needs. Please contact our team by giving us a call at (855) 430-9439.