Substance Abuse And Addiction As A Result Of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Substance Abuse And Addiction As A Result Of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Featured Image

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are a risk factor for health, social, and behavioral problems, including substance abuse and addiction. Persons who experience an adverse childhood experience are more vulnerable to these dangers from childhood into adulthood. Many of the risks which are linked to ACES are in themselves risk factors for addiction.

Identifying ACEs as soon as possible helps prevent future harm and substance abuse as a person ages. Recognizing ACEs as risk factors for substance abuse can help to prevent drug and alcohol abuse. It can also help treatment providers tailor treatments for individuals who already struggle with a substance use disorder.

About Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

From 1995 to 1997 more than 17,000 Kaiser Permanente Health Maintenance Organization members took part in a study that examined the connection between childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being.

This study, the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (also referred to as the Kaiser ACE Study), was one of the largest of its kind. To this day, the study’s findings set the groundwork for future scientific research, preventative measures, and treatment initiatives for ACEs.

This study determined how Adverse Childhood Experiences can alter a person’s development and put them at risk for harm later in life. Specifically, it found that ACEs can disrupt a child’s neurodevelopment, or the way critical functions within the brain develop and work.

From this, a person can suffer social, emotional, and cognitive impairment. These changes can then cause a person to adopt high-risk behaviors which put them at risk of disease, disability, and social problems, including substance abuse. The combination of these effects can then cause a person to have a higher risk of early death.

When determining a person’s risk for developing these problems and health conditions, health and medical professionals look at a person’s childhood to determine their ACE score. As a person’s ACE score rises, their risk for serious health problems climbs and the potential for harm to their life increases. One of the gravest ways this is experienced is through substance abuse.

Connection Between Adverse Childhood Experiences And Substance Abuse

The greater a person’s ACE score, the greater their risk for alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and drug abuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) cautions that “Each ACE increased the likelihood of early initiation into illicit drug use by 2- to 4-fold.”

Adverse Childhood Experiences can be deeply traumatic. Traumatic events experienced as a child increase a person’s risk for substance abuse. Additionally, having a parent who drinks or abuses drugs (an ACE) is a risk factor for a child developing an addiction later in life.

Further, a person who has experienced an ACE also has a higher risk of developing mental health problems, such as depression. Mental illnesses are a significant risk factor for addiction and quite commonly occur alongside substance abuse (a co-occurring disorder). According to SAMHSA, in 2014, 7.9 million adults struggled with a co-occurring disorder.

Research shows that Adverse Childhood Experiences are linked to:

  • higher rates of lifetime illicit drug abuse
  • an increased risk for mental and substance use disorders in individuals aged 50 and older
  • underage drinking
  • problem drinking that continues from adolescence to adulthood
  • higher rates of prescription drug use, a potential risk factor for prescription drug abuse

In addition to an increased risk for substance use disorders, many of the other dangers linked to ACEs are risk factors for substance abuse.

Additional Dangers Of Adverse Childhood Experiences

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), research has found that individuals who have six or more ACEs, on average, have a life expectancy 20 years shorter than those who do not. Based on the Kaiser ACE Study, they reported the individuals with zero ACEs had an average life expectancy of 80 years, while those with six or more had a life expectancy of 60 years.

Further, the higher a person’s ACE score, the greater their risk of the following:

  • academic problems
  • depression
  • financial troubles
  • high-risk sexual behaviors
  • job struggles
  • risk for intimate partner violence
  • risk for sexual violence
  • serious health and medical problems
  • smoking
  • sleep disturbances
  • suicide attempts
  • unintended and adolescent pregnancies

Mental health problems like depression frequently lead a person to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Academic, financial, and relationship problems, and traumatic situations such as violence, are also problems which frequently lead a person to substance abuse. Because of this, and in order to break this potentially vicious cycle, support programs and treatment that are sensitive to the needs of a person with ACEs is crucial.

Substance Abuse And Addiction As A Result Of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Types

Determining An ACE Score: Types Of Adverse Childhood Experiences

There are three categories of ACEs and 10 types of adverse experiences. A child may experience abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction, each of which comes in different forms, and all of which can be risk factors for substance abuse. A person’s ACE score is determined by the number of adverse experiences they have out of the 10 possible.

Neglect is the most common type of child maltreatment and abuse. While neglect is a form of child abuse, for the study and for ACE scoring it is listed as a separate category from abuse.

When a child is neglected they do not have their basic emotional or physical needs met. This means they may not receive care which provides the necessary clothing, food, healthcare, or shelter. Emotional neglect causes emotional pain and distress and occurs when a parent or caregiver doesn’t acknowledge, care for, or respond to a child’s feelings in a healthy way.

Household dysfunction includes situations in which a child witnesses or experiences distressing circumstances within the home. Examples include a parent who drinks or uses alcohol or violence against a child’s mother.

Percentage of respondents in the Kaiser ACE Study who experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences:

Abuse:

  • physical: 28 percent
  • sexual: 21 percent
  • emotional: 11 percent

Neglect:

  • emotional: 15 percent
  • physical: 10 percent

Household dysfunction:

  • substance abuse: 27 percent
  • divorce or separation: 23 percent
  • mental illness: 19 percent
  • mother treated violently: 13 percent
  • incarcerated member of the household: 5 percent

Adverse childhood experiences tend to appear in groups, and because of this, treatment practitioners should seek to understand the way they’re connected in order to understand how they impact the person as a whole.

A person may have ACE risk factors or a high ACE score and not experience negative effects within their adult life. However, people with ACE risk factors, especially those with high scores, do have a higher risk for experiencing harm to their physical, mental, and social health, especially substance abuse and addiction.

How Common Are ACEs?

Nearly two-thirds of the adults surveyed for the Kaiser ACE Study reported at least one Adverse Childhood Experience, according to the CDC. The majority had more than one, with over one in five reporting three or more ACEs. Specifically:

  • 36 percent had zero
  • 26 percent had one
  • 16 percent had two
  • 9.5 percent had three
  • 12.5 percent had four or more

More recent findings show that these trends continue to be problematic. Based on data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, a research group reported that:

  • 45 percent of U.S. children have experienced one or more ACEs
  • one in 10 U.S. children are considered high-risk, experiencing three or more ACEs

Researchers also found that certain races and ethnicities experience ACEs at higher rates, with white-non-Hispanic children and 23 percent of Asian non-Hispanic children seeing the lowest instances of ACEs.

Children who experienced one or more ACEs on a national level include:

  • 61 percent of black non-Hispanic children
  • 51 percent of Hispanic children
  • 40 percent of white non-Hispanic children
  • 23 percent of Asian non-Hispanic children

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Preventative And Protective Measures Against ACEs

Providing preventative and protective measures against ACEs for children and their families is one of the best steps towards reducing the negative impact of these influences as the child ages. Potentially, this includes reducing the risk for adolescent and adult substance abuse and addiction. For individuals who are currently struggling with a substance use disorder, this includes access to comprehensive, individualized treatment programs.

For children and adolescents at risk of substance abuse from ACEs, this includes helping a family to create safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments (SSNREs). At any age, it’s important that a person is taught coping skills so they can handle the stress caused by the ACEs.

Persons with ACEs who are working to achieve sobriety have an increased chance of building a healthy, drug-free life with professional help. Inpatient drug rehab programs give a person a greater opportunity for healing and personal development. Individuals who have experienced a mental health disorder as a result of ACEs may find the greatest benefit in a dual-diagnosis treatment program.

It’s important to remember that people with high ACE scores can still do well and find success, both in life and in recovery. Despite having experienced adverse childhood events, with the proper support these individuals can find balance and better health in their lives.

For more information be sure to check out these additional resources from DrugRehab.org:


Sources

Child Trends — The prevalence of adverse childhood experiences, nationally, by state, and by race or ethnicity
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Adverse Childhood Experiences, Co-Occurring Disorders

How To Get Someone To Stop Drinking Alcohol

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Alcohol is a powerful substance that can take over lives, and stopping isn’t easy. Wanting to get someone to stop can be so overwhelming you might be tempted to ignore the problem, letting them fall deeper into the cycle of alcohol abuse and addiction.

But, don’t deny it. Although legal, alcohol is the most widely abused substance in the United States. It’s estimated nearly 16 million people suffer from alcohol problems, which can destroy lives, families, and professional careers. Someone you care about has a drinking problem, but you don’t know how to help them stop. While there is no magic solution, you can play a role in improving their lives.

Learn About Alcohol Use Disorder And Addiction

Before you approach them, it’s important to try and understand the complexities of an alcohol use disorder (AUD), which is the medical diagnosis for when drinking becomes severe. AUD is a relapsing brain disease characterized by:

  • compulsive alcohol use
  • loss of control over drinking alcohol
  • negative emotional state when not drinking

This condition is more than just drinking too much every once and awhile. Understand that addiction changes functioning in the brain, which affects decision-making, judgment, and behavior. Be tactful, and avoid certain things.

Stop How To Get Someone To Stop Drinking - 16 Million People Have Alcohol Related Problems

Things You Don’t Want To Do

As you confront someone you care for about their drinking habits, understand they’re in a fragile state. They may be quick to anger or be in denial. Approach the subject with delicacy and compassion, and try not to do the following:

  • don’t lecture, preach, or threaten
  • don’t make them feel guilty
  • don’t make excuses for their behavior
  • don’t take over their responsibilities or protect them from consequences
  • don’t argue with them when they’re drunk
  • don’t drink around them or try to match to their drinking

Trying to get someone to stop drinking is difficult. You may find you’re tiptoeing around the elephant in the room, but don’t ever pretend there is isn’t a problem. Knowing they need help can be painful, but helping them enter treatment can be incredibly rewarding. Here is how to approach the subject.

How To Get Someone To Stop Drinking - Don't Have To Hit Rock Bottom

Speak Up And Be Supportive

Choose a suitable time and place to have a conversation about their drinking. If possible, find a time when they won’t be intoxicated. Offer your help and support, and be willing to go with them while they seek help. Be gentle with your words and focus on your point of view. Let them know you’re there for them, no matter what. Be prepared and practice what you’re going to say, writing things down if necessary.

Express Your Concerns And Listen

Outline your concerns and be specific. Tell them what changes you would like to see. Use your compassion and love for this person, and be ready for a negative reaction. After that, listen. Hear what they have to say. Let them finish, be fair, and compromise with their point of view.

The goal is to get them help, so take their needs into account. There is no reason to let them hit “rock bottom” before giving them a push to seek treatment. The earlier a person receives treatment, the better the outcome.

Understand It’s Hard To Stop Without Help

You probably heard it before. They want to stop, they try to stop, they tell you they’ll stop, but they can’t. Quitting an alcohol problem without help can be extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible. Alcohol has taken over their brain, and the person needs support, coping skills, and treatment to overcome their addiction to drinking.

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Communicate Your Support During The Recovery Process

Managing addiction, and an alcohol use disorder is an ongoing process. Because relapse is common, it’s important they know you’ll stand by their side. Let them know you’ll be there to help and support long after they’ve entered treatment.

Be sure to take care of yourself, but also be committed to supporting them as they participate in meetings and support groups. Communicate you’re in it for the long haul, and you’re okay it won’t be easy.

Stage An Intervention

When all else fails, you might consider staging an intervention. An intervention is different than just talking to someone and trying to convince them they need help. Interventions require careful planning and often involve the help of an experienced interventionist or counselor.

The interventionist will help gather people together to confront the person about their drinking. Family and friends come prepared and share specific examples of how the person’s alcohol problem has affected them. Interventions come with pre-arranged treatment and can help loved ones know how to respond if the person refuses treatment or help.

How To Get Someone To Stop Drinking - Intervention

What Happens Next?

When someone is willing to get help, it’s crucial to understand the options for the treatment. While many people assume treatment involves a 28-day program or self-help support groups, it goes beyond just that. There have been advancements in alcohol addiction treatment over the last several decades, and knowing what works is an important first step.

Treatment For An Alcohol Use Disorder

Behavioral therapy is the most common form of addiction treatment and is effective for changing thinking and attitudes towards drug and alcohol. There are numerous behavioral therapies, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and general counseling services, to help someone develop the skills needed to stop drinking.

Medications are also an important part of treating an alcohol use disorder. This might be surprising, but medication can help offset the many changes alcohol caused in the brain. Non-addictive, government-approved medications include naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram, which can help people overcome alcohol dependence.

A good option for treatment is inpatient rehab programs, which likely offer therapy, medications, and peer and professional support in the same place. These programs take place in highly structured settings with 24-hour care and supervision. Remember, though, there is no right treatment best for everyone. Pay attention to their needs, listen, and reach out for help.

Call now for more information on how to help someone receive treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction.

For more information be sure to check out these additional resources from DrugRehab.org:


Sources

Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand—Concerned About Someone’s Drinking?
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence—Helping a Family Member or Friend
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism—Treatment for Alcohol Problems, Alcohol Use Disorder

Drug Addiction And Multiple Personality Disorder

image of a women struggling from addiction and multiple personality disorder

While each person is different, there is often a complex relationship between mental illness and drug addiction. It can be an incredible struggle when addiction and multiple personality disorder co-occur, as people attempt to manage conflicting personalities, memory gaps, chemical dependency, and significant distress in daily living.

Dual diagnosis, or suffering from both s substance use and mental health disorder can complicate treatment. Inpatient rehab is likely the best course of treatment because a person will have access to around-the-clock medical care, therapy, medications, and a network of peer and professional support.

What Is Multiple Personality Disorder?

Multiple personality disorder is the previous name for what’s now called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). This disorder is characterized by alternating between at least two distinct identities or personalities. The person may hear multiple voices in their head, all of them vying or competing for control. Sometimes these identities have unique characteristics, mannerisms, voices, or names.

In many cases, personality shifts are involuntary and unwanted, causing deep distress. Those suffering from DID may feel like observers of their own lives. They can feel like their speech, actions, and bodies are different and not their own. For example, some personality shifts may resemble a small child, the opposite gender, or muscular body types.

Personal preferences, like what people like to eat or do for fun, may suddenly shift one way, and then shift back. This back and forth of attitudes and preferences can cause memory problems and various troubles in daily life.

DrugRehab.org Drug Addiction And Multiple Personality Disorder Dissociative Identity Disorder Explanation

Risk Factors Of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

DID often develops as a result of experiencing childhood trauma. At a young age, the person may have been exposed to emotional, sexual, or physical abuse over long periods of time. DID can also result from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from combat, natural disasters, or other situations of crisis.

Those with DID also have an increased risk of suicide. More than 70% of people with DID have attempted to commit suicide. Because of the likelihood of past childhood trauma and the ongoing difficulties in daily life, some people turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate or escape the stresses of living with multiple personalities.

The Link Between Dissociative Identity Disorder And Drug Addiction

There are few studies that examine the link between DID and substance abuse. However, some research has suggested that people with severe cases of DID believe substances like alcohol and cocaine can help them manage their psychological symptoms and problems. But, it still remains unclear if people with DID use substances as a conscious choice to self-medicate, or as an unconscious psychological defense that arises in response to overwhelming external factors.

What is clear, however, is that co-occurring mental illness and substance use is a common problem. According to a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 8 million people suffered from dual diagnosis (co-occurring disorders).

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Symptoms Of Dual Diagnosis

While the general symptoms of dual diagnosis tend to be wide-ranging, a person suffering from DID and addiction will likely have unique symptoms related to each condition.

Symptoms of DID include:

  • anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts
  • emotional numbness
  • lack of self-identity
  • memory loss of specific times and events
  • out-of-body-experiences (like watching yourself in a movie)
  • problems with daily functioning
  • two or more distinct personalities

On top of the symptoms of DID, a person may also show various symptoms of addiction. Symptoms of drug addiction include:

  • abrupt changes in behavior
  • developing tolerance and withdrawal symptoms
  • engaging in risky behaviors
  • lack of control over substance use
  • using drugs in dangerous situations
  • withdrawing from family or friends

Both risk factors and symptoms may overlap for people with DID and addiction. Because symptoms vary and some people are reluctant to admit their struggles, treating and diagnosing co-occurring disorders can be complex.

The Difficulties Of Dual Diagnosis Treatment

To properly diagnose DID and addiction, a doctor must review symptoms and personal history. If the person is unwilling to share their symptoms or denies distinct personality shifts, diagnosis can be difficult. Compared to men, women are more likely to be diagnosed with DID, as men tend to deny their symptoms. It’s not uncommon for people to minimize the effect and influence of their symptoms on daily life.

Also, symptoms can be blurred between DID and addiction. If a person isn’t forthcoming about their struggles with dissociation, then a doctor may only address their problems with addiction. Or, a doctor may fail to address any substance abuse problems, and only focus on treating DID. Complications can arise because treating one condition, and no other may worsen each disorder.

DrugRehab.org Drug Addiction And Multiple Personality Disorder Disagnosis Can Be Difficult

Treatment For Dissociative Identity Disorder And Drug Addiction

Treating both DID and addiction requires an integrated approach. This means a person can receive treatment for both substance abuse and mental illness, which may involve a collaboration of healthcare professionals. Other treatments that are effective for treating dual diagnosis include:

  • behavioral therapy or psychotherapy
  • inpatient rehab
  • medically supervised detox programs
  • medications
  • support groups

Behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) can be effective for addressing both DID and addiction. Medications are used to treat symptoms and may include antidepressants or addiction medications to address dependence on opioids or alcohol.

Inpatient rehab is likely the most effective option for someone suffering from DID and addiction. At inpatient rehab, a person can receive 24-hour medical care and supervision, participate in a supportive community, engage in therapy, and have access to medications and other health services capable of addressing both conditions at the same.

For more information be sure to check out these additional resources from DrugRehab.org:


Sources

American Psychiatric Association—What Are Dissociative Disorders?
National Alliance on Mental Illness—Dual Diagnosis, Dissociative Disorders
U.S. National Library of Medicine—Dissociation, PTSD, and Substance Abuse: An Empirical Study

Mental Health Awareness Month: May 2018

Mental Health Awareness Month Green Ribbon Featured Image

Each year, millions of people in the United States struggle with mental illness. Children and adults alike must work daily to manage their mental health disorders—in spite of the social pressures and negative stigma which tend to surround these issues.

More treatments, therapies, and medications are developed all the time to help people learn to cope and effectively manage the symptoms of a mental illness. However, not everyone is aware of just how difficult it can be to struggle with such a disorder, the depth of treatment a person may need to overcome or manage it, or how many people are affected by mental illness.

In fact, lack of awareness may be the reason many don’t seek help for their illness, as they may feel ashamed, humiliated, or otherwise distressed to enter treatment or ask for help.

Despite such a barrier, we can make headway on removing the stigma associated with mental illness, allowing people who need help to seek treatment and learn to manage their issues in a way that fosters growth, healing, and self-confidence. Mental Health Awareness Month is one way to help promote the change needed to reverse previously held associations regarding mental health.

What Is Mental Health Awareness Month?

Mental Health Month, also called Mental Health Awareness Month, was developed in 1949 to “increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans’ lives, and to celebrate recovery from mental illness,” according to Youth.gov.

Each year in May, organizations across the United States come together to raise awareness about the importance of recognizing and managing mental health, and hold events and form alliances to foster such awareness.

Mental Health America, a community-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people who live with mental illnesses, states that Mental Health Month allows communities and organizations alike to spread the word that, “mental health is something everyone should care about.” Organizations recognize Mental Health Month in a variety of ways, such as with community events, fun runs or walks, and other awareness activities.

Mental health statistic 89 percent suffer

Mental Health America designed a toolkit with fact sheets and tips regarding nutrition, sleep, exercises, dietary changes, stress, and social media which are pertinent to positive mental health. It is also holding the Fitness Challenge: 4Mind4Body, which encourages people to take a proactive role in becoming more physically fit in recognition of the importance of physical health and its influence on mental health.

Other organizations are also participating in Mental Health Month—the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has chosen to promote the theme of CureStigma throughout all of its community-based events.

NAMI cites the reasoning behind this theme, stating, “One in 5 Americans is affected by mental health conditions. Stigma is toxic to their mental health because it creates an environment of shame, fear, and silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment.”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness encourages participation in Mental Health Month through engaged participation, such as:

  • sharing encouraging messages regarding mental health awareness on social media
  • learning facts regarding mental health to share with family and friends
  • sharing a personal experience with mental illness to encourage the same transparency in others
  • creating a fundraising campaign to support the cause
  • joining a NAMI Walk

Though May is Mental Health Awareness Month, the National Alliance on Mental Illness holds awareness events throughout the year as well.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is focusing its Mental Health Month efforts on encouraging people to have real conversations about mental health through its RealConvo campaign. The Foundation states, “89 percent of people believe that mental health is just important as physical health. Despite this, many people don’t know how to have a conversation about it.”

Resources from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention include educational facts for individuals, parents, and school administrators and staff, and a calendar of events outlining open speaking events, live stream chats, and open social media chats wherein people can engage in conversations about the importance of mental health.

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The Importance Of Changing The Stigma

The goal of Mental Health Month events across organizations centers around a common goal: reversing the negative stigma often associated with mental illnesses and seeking help for such illnesses. Stigma, by definition, is a mark of disgrace that we associate with a particular circumstance, person, or quality.

Though many organizations have aimed to remove any stigma attached to mental illness for quite some time, we have not yet eradicated the negative thoughts and attitudes some people hold regarding mental illness.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness describes such stigma as a virus which, “harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence. It prevents them from seeking help. And in some cases, it takes lives.”

What exactly is the cost of the stigma surrounding mental illness? Some people with certain mental illnesses may have suicidal thoughts or ideations, become suicidal, or attempt or succeed in committing suicide. Some facts regarding suicide in the United States include:

  • Suicide is the tenth-leading cause of death.
  • Each year, 44,965 Americans will die from suicide.
  • For every suicide, 25 will attempt.

These (most recent) numbers are suspected to be even higher due to underreporting caused by stigma.

Instead of shaming people into shying away from the help they need, Mental Health Month and all the affiliates who participate in it intended to encourage education, support, healing, and a removal of stigma. It is only through such efforts that we can begin to change the tides of mental health, paving the way for more open conversations, easier and less stressful ways to seek treatment, and, hopefully, far fewer tragedies related to mental illness.

Mental Health And Addiction

While millions of people in the U.S. struggle with a mental health disorder, many of those are facing both a mental disorder and a substance use disorder (also termed a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis). If seeking help for a mental illness is difficult for a person due to the stigma associated with it, seeking help for addiction and a mental illness may be even more so.

People who struggle with mental disorders, such as severe depression, may seek substance abuse as a way of coping or self-medicating. With time, this misuse can lead to addiction, or chemical dependence with some substances, including alcohol, benzodiazepines (Xanax), and opioids (heroin, OxyContin). Treating mental illness or addiction is achievable with the most customized treatment program, ample support, and ongoing progress assessments. Treating a co-occurring disorder can be more complex, but is also highly possible—an excellent treatment program can provide treatment for both addiction and mental disorders when both are identified and assessed.

However, when one disorder is not identified and is left untreated, a person’s chances of success in recovery from either disorder may be altered. Both addiction and mental illness are often on the receiving end of the negative attitudes of others.

With decades of research, it is more clear every day that mental illnesses and addiction are chronic diseases which require ongoing care, much like other diseases which affect a person’s body. Further, mental disorders and substance use disorders are far more common than may be apparent to the general public, and so are co-occurring disorders: 7.9 million adults faced both a substance use disorder and a mental illness in 2014.

Mental health statistic 1 in 5 Americans

Either addiction or a mental illness may occur first, and one disorder may affect the symptoms of the other disorder. Because of this, prompt and adequate treatment for co-occurring disorders is vital. Many inpatient rehab centers provide dual diagnosis treatment programs which work to treat both disorders accurately and efficiently, teaching patients the skills and principles necessary to manage these issues long-term.

How To Help Someone Who Struggles With A Mental Disorder

If someone is struggling with mental illness, people around them may be at a loss for what to do. The most important thing we can do to help people with mental illness is to be understanding—to let them know they are not alone in their struggles, that we are here to support them, and to offer a listening ear and words of encouragement whenever possible.

There are also a number of active ways to get involved in helping people learn to manage their mental illness. Many mental illnesses render people incapable of or adverse to being proactive about seeking help. Symptoms of their mental disorder may leave a person feeling depressed, sad, lonely, or otherwise at a loss for the energy or motivation necessary to get help. When this is the case, loved ones can bridge the gap.

First, we can open conversations with people about their struggles; sometimes opening up to a family member or friend can be the beginning to opening up to a professional who can help the person manage their illness. We can encourage loved ones to seek help from a counselor, physician, or psychiatrist. This is especially important if a person begins to exhibit signs of severe depression or suicidal thoughts or ideations. For people who struggle to even face the day, certain medications may help them to function while they work toward long-term management tactics.

Exercise, nutrition, and fitness play a large role in mental health. Some people may suffer from a nutritional deficiency, which can affect energy levels, sleep patterns, and more. Many alternative therapy methods also help people who struggle with mental illness, such as yoga, tai chi, mindfulness activities, and meditation.

A number of evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, individual and group therapies, and more have proven effective at helping people learn to manage a mental illness.

When it comes to mental illness, there is no single treatment that will work for every person. Mental illnesses are as unique as the people who face them, and treatment must be customized to fit the needs of the individual.

Many inpatient programs are comprised of these treatment components and more which foster both healing and long-term management of the illness. People who face a dual diagnosis will benefit most from a program that is tailored to meet the needs and address the symptoms of both illnesses.

Mental health is important to all of us. In any case of mental illness, the bottom line remains the same: prompt and adequate treatment can help people who struggle to make changes for the better, manage their symptoms, and live full, healthy lives.

For more information on mental health and inpatient treatment, contact us today.

**The organizations mentioned in this article are not affiliated with DrugRehab.org.

Be sure to check out these additional resources from DrugRehab.org:


Sources

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention — Mental Health Awareness Month
Mental Health America — Mental Health Month
National Alliance on Mental Illness — Dual Diagnosis, Mental Health Month
National Institute on Drug Abuse — Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Disorders
National Institute of Mental Health — Substance Use and Mental Health

The Dangers Of Using Methamphetamine With Xanax

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Taking methamphetamine (meth) and Xanax together is dangerous because one drug tells the body to speed up heart rate and elevate blood pressure, while the other does just the opposite.

Using methamphetamine with Xanax puts the body under incredible stress. Methamphetamine use is dangerous in general, but mixing it with a depressant like Xanax can lead to unpredictable health risks. Results vary, but the combination puts immense strain on the heart, which can lead to cardiac arrest, stroke, and hospitalization.

DrugRehab.org The Dangers Of Using Methamphetamine With Xanax 64 Percent Of Emergency Room Visits Involving Meth Also Involved Another Substance

Meth is often used with other substances to increase the high or alleviate manic symptoms. Some people report doing too much meth and then taking Xanax to calm down and drive home. While they may believe they’re back to normal functioning, they’re likely still intoxicated. This can result in traffic accidents and may cause injury or death to themselves or others.

Data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network showed, in one year, how 62% of emergency room visits involving methamphetamine also involved another substance. Over 10% included benzodiazepines, like Xanax. Polydrug use (abusing more than one substance) contributes to overdose fatalities year and year again because different drugs act on the body in different ways.

Overdose And Death

Mixing Xanax with the illicit forms of methamphetamine, like crystal meth, can increase the risk of dangerous side effects. While the exact interaction will vary from person to person, taking Xanax with illicit drugs may cause them to experience the following symptoms:

  • extreme sleepiness
  • heart attack
  • lightheadedness
  • slowed or difficulty breathing
  • stroke
  • unresponsiveness
  • unusual dizziness

Taking Xanax with methamphetamine can also result in overdose and possible death. Benzodiazepines, especially when mixed with other substances, contribute to hundreds of deaths each year. Because of the intensity of a methamphetamine high, and the unwanted effects of the comedown, a person could habitually take too much Xanax, which may result in an emergency room visit or worse.

Addiction And Withdrawal

Methamphetamine is very addictive. A short amount of use can quickly lead to using the drug over and over again. Tolerance is likely to occur, meaning the person will have to use more and more to achieve the desired high. Many people smoke, snort, or inject methamphetamine for a quicker and stronger high.

Once addicted, stopping the use of methamphetamine can be difficult because of uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms can include:

  • depression
  • feeling very tired, but trouble sleeping
  • feelings of anger, nervousness, and paranoia
  • intense drug cravings

Taking more Xanax overtime can also cause tolerance. Physical dependence may occur after prolonged use, especially if taking more than a prescribed dosage. Quitting Xanax cold turkey can result in severe symptoms of withdrawal, which may include seizures. These effects may increase when the two drugs are taken together.

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Xanax For A Meth Comedown

As a stimulant, methamphetamine causes anxiety, extreme euphoria, and abnormal energy. To combat these intense feelings, especially when the drug is wearing off, people may turn to so-called “downers” to alleviate the stimulating effects.

Xanax is a benzodiazepine typically prescribed to treat anxiety or panic attacks. Benzodiazepines work in almost the exact opposite way of methamphetamine. While methamphetamine speeds things up, benzodiazepines like Xanax slows things down. So, people using methamphetamine, in any of its forms, often seek ways to reduce the intensity of the “comedown.”

People experienced in methamphetamine abuse likely understand the onslaught of negative effects associated with the comedown. They may develop a habit of using Xanax to take the edge off, which slows down brain activity and causes sedation.

Taking Xanax To Avoid Tweaking

Using meth can result in a period called “tweaking.” Tweaking refers to when the intense rush or high from meth is over, usually after a binge, and the person experiences intense cravings, paranoia, and feelings of emptiness. They may be unable to sleep, enter a state of psychosis, and suffer from hallucinations.

To avoid tweaking, or to lessen the effects, they make take other drugs. Downers, like Xanax, are a drug of choice because they believe it may offset or cancel out the manic effects of methamphetamine. But, this is off-base. There may be unintended psychological side effects from mixing an upper (methamphetamine) with a downer (Xanax).

If a person takes both drugs around the same time, they may experience uneven effects that can mess with the mind. One moment, they feel energized and awake. The next moment, they feel calm and sedated. This can worsen uneasiness and anxiety and may lead to even further drug abuse.

DrugRehab.org The Dangers Of Using Methamphetamine With Xanax May Produce Unintended Psychological Effects

Treatment For Meth And Xanax Abuse

Behavioral therapy is the most common form of addiction treatment and can help change a person’s thinking and attitudes towards drugs. The most effective behavioral therapies for treating meth addiction include cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational incentives. Xanax addiction is also treated with behavioral therapy, but may also incorporate a process called tapering, which gradually decreases the dosage of a drug to lessen dependence.

In some cases, meth users are given benzodiazepines to reduce the manic or paranoid behavior. This should only be done in a hospital setting so physicians and nurses can monitor dosage and progress. Doing this without proper supervision is dangerous and can result in dependence, addiction, and possible overdose and death.

Contact us today to learn more about methamphetamine and Xanax abuse treatment.

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Sources

Columbia University: Go Ask Alice—Mixing Uppers with Downers – A Bad Idea?
U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus—Alprazolam
U.S. National Library of Medicine—An Exploration of the Relationship between the use of Methamphetamine and Prescription Drugs

5 Signs Of Adderall Abuse

Adderall is an amphetamine that is commonly prescribed to treat Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is also used to treat narcolepsy and help people with weight loss. While Adderall may benefit those suffering from ADHD by improving their ability to focus, it has also been classified as a Schedule II drug due to its high potential for abuse.

DrugRehab.org 5 Signs Of Adderall Abuse ADHD

People may think that they would be able to tell when a loved one is abusing drugs, but Adderall abuse may be particularly difficult to detect. Someone taking too much Adderall may exhibit moods and behavior that seem to indicate that they are living a happy and productive life, yet they could be exhausted and struggling on the inside.

With close examination, someone may be able to recognize these five signs of Adderall abuse:

  1. lifestyle changes
  2. behavioral changes
  3. mood changes
  4. physical signs of Adderall abuse
  5. signs of drug use or paraphernalia

1. Lifestyle Changes

Many people abuse Adderall in an attempt to be more productive. Students may take the drug in order to focus on a large project or important test. Other people may take it to perform better at work. The increased attention and energy from Adderall may initially lead to improved grades and work performance.

Seeing positive results from occasional Adderall use could prompt someone to take it more frequently or in larger doses. They may begin to take Adderall for one project, then another, then to help them through the workday, to keep them awake on the weekend, and so on. As the amount increases, they are likely to sleep less, eat less, and try to do more. They may attribute all of their successes to Adderall and become dependent on it in order to accomplish anything.

When a person is physically dependent on a drug, they may go to great lengths to get it. Drug-seeking can become a major part of their life, taking up time that used to be spent productively. Their schoolwork, job, or relationships could become less important to them. If they are trying to hide their drug use, they may become secretive.

2. Mood Changes

The effect of Adderall on someone’s mood may be subtle. A person who uses the drug to succeed in school, for example, may have an increased sense of self-esteem when they get a good grade. This positive self-image and sense of accomplishment paired with a heightened ability to focus can make someone seem happier.

Unfortunately, Adderall can also lead someone to experience anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. A person suffering from this may take more Adderall to boost their energy and focus, which can intensify the problem. Serious mental effects like hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia may also develop with excessive or prolonged Adderall abuse.

3. Behavioral Changes

Changes in behavior that may result from Adderall abuse include increased energy, physical activity, and talkativeness. While Adderall is intended to better someone’s concentration, abusing the substance can produce an extreme result. Someone may undertake more than is normally possible, filling their life with activities until they become exhausted.

Aggressive or hostile behavior, especially in children, has also been linked to Adderall use. While research continues in this area, doctors may caution patients to be aware if their behavior becomes more aggressive while taking Adderall.

DrugRehab.org 5 Signs Of Adderall Abuse Appetite

Adderall abuse can suppress a person’s appetite, causing them to care less about food and positive nutrition. In addition, it can lead to insomnia—trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. These can both contribute to poor health and negative physical consequences.

4. Physical Signs Of Adderall Abuse

Abusing Adderall can manifest in physical ways, some with signs more obvious than others. Excessive weight loss from appetite suppression or extreme fatigue from insomnia may be red flags that something is wrong. Chronic Adderall abuse may increase the risk of side effects.

Possible side effects of Adderall abuse could be:

  • dry mouth
  • body twitches
  • rapid heart rate
  • difficulty breathing
  • high blood pressure
  • vision problems
  • frequent headaches
  • stomach or chest pain
  • nausea or vomiting
  • seizures

5. Signs Of Drug Use And Paraphernalia

A person who is abusing Adderall will likely show signs of drug use. If they have a prescription for Adderall, they will probably run out of pills sooner than they should. If they have multiple prescriptions, they may be “doctor shopping”—visiting several doctors in order to get more drugs than normally prescribed. Some people feign ADHD symptoms in order to get a prescription.

Another indicator may be the way the medication is stored. If someone keeps the pills in baggies or wrapped in plastic, chances are they were not prescribed to that person. Even if a person has a prescription, this type of storage likely indicates that they are taking more than recommended by their doctor.

While Adderall is generally taken orally, some people crush the pills to snort them. Snorting a substance takes it into the bloodstream faster, which can produce a more intense effect. Drug paraphernalia such as razor blades, straws, hollow pens, or rolled paper may be found among someone’s things if they have been snorting Adderall. Though less common, Adderall can also be injected. Needles, spoons, and lighters may indicate injection drug use.

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Dangers Of Adderall Abuse

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant made up of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It works to calm the tendency toward impulsiveness by increasing levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. These are the neurotransmitters responsible for attention and focus. Taking Adderall when not prescribed, or taking it in excess, can lead to exhaustion and other serious consequences.

In some cases, people have developed psychotic or manic symptoms after regular Adderall use. The risk for negative mental occurrences rises when the substance is abused. Adderall abuse can damage the heart, and it is not recommended for use by people who have heart conditions. Amphetamines may worsen hypertension, a major contributor to many heart problems, by raising a person’s blood pressure. Other possible cardio effects may be rapid heart rate or heart attack.

In several studies reported by the National Institute of Biotechnology Information, people who used non-prescription stimulants were found to be more likely to abuse other substances as well. Adderall is one of the most common drugs prescribed for ADHD. As the rate of diagnosis for ADHD climbs, so do prescription stimulant rates. The wide availability of Adderall and the prevalence of ADHD makes it easy for people to get this drug, with or without a prescription.

Treatment For Adderall Addiction

Abusing a substance to boost brain power can end up working in reverse. Drug addiction is a disease that can destroy a person’s life, despite them thinking that they need the drug to live normally. There are other ways of thinking that can empower a person and help them overcome addiction.

Inpatient drug rehab centers can help people change their habits and behaviors through therapy and support. They provide a safe environment where a person can learn coping skills, explore new interests, and build positive relationships. Adderall addiction does not have to control someone’s life. Addiction treatment programs can be tailored to individuals for the best fit and greatest chance of recovery.

Contact us today for more information on Adderall addiction and treatment options.

For more information be sure to check out these additional resources from DrugRehab.org:


Sources

Rice University — Norepinephrine
U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus — Dextroamphetamine And Amphetamine
U.S. National Library of Medicine, DailyMed Label: Adderall

Treating Heroin Addiction In Pregnant Women

DrugRehab.org Treating Heroin Addiction In Pregnant Women

Women who struggle with heroin addiction and become pregnant often want to stop using for the health of their unborn child. While well-intended, suddenly stopping heroin use can put the fetus at great risk, and may do more harm than good. However, with proper treatment, it is possible to increase the odds of a successful pregnancy and the delivery of a healthy baby.

DrugRehab.org Treating Heroin Addiction In Pregnant Women 22.9 Percent Reported Heroin

In the past decade, there has been a rise in the number of infants who have been exposed to heroin at birth. Roughly 21,553 female substance use treatment admissions (ages 15 to 44) in 2012 were pregnant when they started treatment. Of those admitted, 22.9 percent reported heroin as their primary substance of misuse, according to the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) from that year.

Risks Of Heroin Abuse During Pregnancy

When a woman struggles with heroin addiction, they are not able to control or monitor their impulse to use the drug. This can cause the level of heroin in their system to fluctuate from one extreme to the other, and may also expose the fetus to repeated periods of withdrawal. The more frequently this happens, the more likely the placenta will become damaged which may result in miscarriage or premature birth.

Possible physical risks to the fetus include:

  • neonatal abstinence syndrome
  • stunted growth
  • preterm labor
  • fetal convulsions
  • fetal death

Some indirect risks to the fetus can also be the result of how heroin is affecting the mother. This can include increased risk of maternal infection (HIV, HBV, HCV) with needle administration of heroin. Chronic abuse of the drug may also result in maternal malnutrition and poor prenatal care. Drug-seeking behavior can also increase the risk of pregnant individuals participating in violent behaviors or becoming incarcerated.

What Is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome?

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) happens when an infant becomes dependent on opioids, such as heroin, used by the mother during pregnancy. When the infant experiences withdrawal from the drug, it may also suffer withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may include tremors, diarrhea, fever, irritability, seizures, and difficulty feeding. The number of infants born with NAS has increased fivefold in the U.S. between 2000 and 2012, in tandem with the increased rate of opioid-prescribing to pregnant women.

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Can Pregnant Women Stop Using Heroin?

While it is dangerous to suddenly stop using heroin in the midst of an addiction, there are treatment options pregnant women may begin during their pregnancy. These include methadone maintenance and buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex) replacement therapy.

Methadone Vs. Buprenorphine Treatment

Methadone has been used to treat pregnant women struggling with heroin addiction since the 1970s and was officially recognized as the standard of care by 1998. Since that time, buprenorphine has also been shown to be an effective treatment option.

Recent research showed that methadone is associated with higher treatment retention, although the medication carries a high potential for abuse. However, buprenorphine treatment resulted in 10 percent lower incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome, decreased neonatal treatment time by about eight days, and less morphine needed to treat NAS.

Both medication-assisted treatments are supported by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. To determine the best option for individual situations, it is best to discuss it with a healthcare professional who ensures all factors are considered.

Benefits Of Treatment During Pregnancy

When compared to untreated pregnant women, those who receive treatment were found to have a lower risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome, less severe NAS, shorter treatment times, and higher gestational age, weight, and head circumference at birth.

Treatment with either medication can improve health outcomes for mom and child by:

  • stabilizing fetal levels of opioids, which reduces repeated prenatal withdrawal
  • providing mothers with infectious disease (HIV, HBV, HCV) treatment, reducing the likelihood of transmitting them to the unborn baby
  • potentially providing better prenatal care
  • improving long-term health outcomes for both mother and child

Breastfeeding During Treatment

Usually, breastfeeding rates are low among mothers with heroin use disorder. However, studies have shown that breastfeeding can reduce the length of hospital stay and the need for morphine treatment in infants.

Unless there is a specific medical concern such as maternal HIV infection, encouraging new mothers to breastfeed and swaddle their newborns may help ease uncomfortable NAS symptoms and improve mother-child bonding.

DrugRehab.org Treating Heroin Addiction In Pregnant Women Criminalize Substance Use

Pregnant Women And Barriers To Heroin Addiction Treatment

Research findings suggest that the ongoing attempts to criminalize substance use during pregnancy can greatly discourage women from seeking addiction treatment, as well as prenatal care. Pregnant women who abuse substances, especially women of color or lower socioeconomic standing, were found to be more subject to increased surveillance and may face punishment, such as arrest, prosecution, conviction, and/or child removal.

Treatment For Heroin Addiction In Pregnant Women

Safely withdrawing from heroin can be a lengthy process, especially when an unborn baby must also be considered. Inpatient addiction treatment is often the most effective way to administer either methadone maintenance or buprenorphine therapy to mother and fetus.

Residential treatment programs require an individual to live at the treatment facility, giving them a new, stigma-free environment to aid in their recovery. These treatment programs also provide round-the-clock medical supervision so that if any adverse symptoms arise, they can be addressed right away.

For more information on treating heroin addiction in pregnant women, contact a specialist today.

For more information be sure to check out these additional resources from DrugRehab.org:

 


Sources

National Institute on Drug Abuse — Treating Opioid Use Disorder During Pregnancy
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services — Women of Childbearing Age And Opioids

List Of Benzodiazepines From Weakest to Strongest

DrugRehab.org List Of Benzodiazepines From Weakest to Strongest Featured Image

All benzodiazepine drugs have the potential for abuse, some more so than others. When determining a benzodiazepine’s strength, there are two things to consider: the drug’s potency and its half-life. A half-life measures how long a drug takes to break down and exit the body. A low potency benzo with a long half-life is weaker than a high-potency benzo with a short half-life.

Drugs with a shorter half-life, while more short-acting, are often felt more intensely. Drugs with a short half-life also create their effect more rapidly. These characteristics make these substances more attractive to recreational drug abusers. Benzodiazepine drug abusers often prefer short-acting, high-potency benzos, such as lorazepam or alprazolam, due to their fairly rapid and intense high.

Here’s a list of benzodiazepines, from weakest to strongest:

Low-potency benzodiazepines

With a long half-life:

  • chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • diazepam (Valium)
  • flurazepam

With a short half-life:

  • oxazepam (Serax)
  • temazepam (Restoril)

High-potency benzodiazepines

With a long half-life:

  • clonazepam (Klonopin)

With a short half-life:

  • alprazolam (Xanax)
  • lorazepam (Ativan)
  • triazolam (Halcion)

Though not prescribed in the United States, flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) is sold illicitly on the streets. Used as a date rape drug, Rohypnol is a high-potency benzodiazepine with a relatively long half-life.

About Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepine medications are sedative-hypnotics, meaning they create calming or tranquilizing effects. Because of this, these drugs are prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, panic and seizure disorders, and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Certain ones may also be used as muscle relaxants. The same actions which make these medications valuable within treatment also make them enticing to drug abusers.

Benzodiazepines take several forms, including as an extended-release (long-acting) capsule, liquid, tablet, or orally-disintegrating tablet. Any of these forms may be abused to create a sedated effect or euphoria.

When abused, benzodiazepines are taken orally in doses larger and more frequent than would be prescribed. The medication may also be crushed so that it can be snorted, smoked, or injected. No matter how benzodiazepines are abused, the potential for dependence and addiction runs high.

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Risks And Dangers Of Benzodiazepine Abuse

Aside from addiction, benzodiazepine abuse carries with it a host of adverse health effects and dangers. These include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • birth defects
  • confusion
  • falls and injuries
  • irregular heartbeat
  • motor vehicle accidents
  • robbery
  • sexual assault
  • vertigo

Like all forms of drug abuse, individuals who abuse benzodiazepines frequently experience an extreme loss of quality of life. In many cases, the need to use the drug becomes so extreme that it overrules a person’s desire to take care of their family or fulfill other obligations, such as those relating to work or school.

Benzodiazepine abuse has been linked to increased risks of suicide and suicidal ideation (thoughts of suicide). Chronic use of these drugs may change a person’s ability to feel emotions. Some people struggle to feel any emotions at all, a state referred to as “emotional anesthesia.”

DrugRehab.org List Of Benzodiazepines From Weakest to Strongest Prolonged Benzodiazepine

Prolonged benzodiazepine abuse can cause some of the very problems the drugs are designed to treat. When a physically-dependent person quits benzodiazepines, withdrawal can set in. In certain cases, withdrawal may last for several months. This is called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Individuals facing PAWS experience anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Acute withdrawal from benzodiazepine drugs can become very dangerous, to the extent that professional treatment is necessary (medical detox). Certain individuals may experience withdrawal so severe that their life is in jeopardy. In these instances, withdrawal may cause seizures or delirium tremens.

Overdose From Benzodiazepines

One of the greatest risks of benzodiazepine abuse is overdose. According to the CDC, from 2010 to 2014, two of the top 10 drugs responsible for overdose deaths were benzodiazepines. These were alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium).

As central nervous system (CNS) depressants, benzodiazepines have the capacity to slow vital life support systems to deadly levels. When this happens, a person’s body temperature, blood pressure, breathing, and heart rates can no longer sustain life.

Benzodiazepines are frequently abused with other drugs, commonly with alcohol and opioids, both of which are also central nervous system depressants. This combination makes benzodiazepines even more dangerous and deadly.

Signs of overdose from benzodiazepines include blue fingernails, double vision, impaired coordination, slurred speech, and slowed or stopped breathing, among others.

An overdose is a medical emergency. If an overdose is suspected, contact emergency medical support services immediately.

Find Treatment For A Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepine addiction is serious, and treatment often requires a medically-supervised detoxification program prior to drug rehabilitation.

The behavioral and mental impacts of addiction run deep, and this combination of factors often requires more intensive care. Inpatient drug rehab programs are designed to meet these needs, by a combination of psychotherapies and evidenced-based treatment methods.

For More Information, Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From DrugRehab.org:

 


Sources

American Family Physician — Addiction: Part I. Benzodiazepines—Side Effects, Abuse Risk and Alternatives
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — National Vital Statistics Reports: Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Drug Overdose Deaths: United States, 2010–2014
Medscape — Benzodiazepine Equivalency Table

5 Signs Of Crack Cocaine Use And Abuse

5 Signs Of Crack Cocaine Use And Abuse Featured Image

Abusing crack cocaine has many negative physical and emotional consequences. Recognizing the signs of use and abuse can save someone’s life.

Cocaine is illegal and addictive. Crack is a base form of cocaine that is commonly smoked, and has been called “the riskiest form.” Still, crack cocaine is abused and can affect a person’s life in many negative ways.

Some common signs of crack cocaine use and abuse are:

  • changes in behavior
  • changes in mood
  • physical signs of crack cocaine abuse
  • respiratory issues related to crack cocaine
  • crack cocaine paraphernalia

1. Changes In Behavior

As a stimulant that affects the central nervous system, crack cocaine use can drastically alter a person’s behavior. Crack causes narrowed blood vessels, which produces faster breathing and an increased heart rate.

The heightened stimulation of the body results in bursts of energy, euphoria, and hypersensitivity. These effects may cause a person to be hyperactive and to talk excessively, sometimes without making sense.

5 Signs Of Crack Cocaine Use And Abuse_narrowed blood vessels

Crack cocaine can produce unusual aggression or restlessness. It can also give someone “jitters”—involuntary trembling or twitching of the body that can continue even when the high wears off.

People struggling with crack cocaine addiction often lose interest in things that used to be important to them. Jobs, friends, and financial obligations may become less important than their desire to take drugs. They may also suffer from loss of appetite and insomnia.

2. Changes In Mood

The neurotransmitter dopamine regulates feelings of pain and pleasure. Cocaine works by blocking the brain’s dopamine transporters to create a build-up, which results in a pleasurable sensation.

Right after using crack cocaine, a person may be positive, confident, and euphoric. The high is brief, lasting five to 15 minutes. When coming down, a person will likely experience a “crash” and a craving for more of the drug.

Other mood shifts associated with crack cocaine use and abuse are:

  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • paranoia
  • depression
  • panic attacks
  • psychosis

The short duration of the high from crack cocaine paired with the uncomfortable after-effects can lead to binging in order to maintain the euphoria. Long-term use increases the risk of negative mood changes and drastic mood shifts.

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3. Physical Signs Of Crack Cocaine Abuse

A common indicator of crack cocaine abuse is burns or blisters on lips and fingers from a hot crack pipe.

Poor dental hygiene to the point of tooth decay may also be a sign. With prolonged crack cocaine abuse, the mouth and nose dry out. Lowered saliva production means the teeth are less protected from decay. Cocaine also damages tooth enamel.

If crack is snorted, it can cause damage to the inside of the nose, often resulting in nosebleeds. With long-term use, crack cocaine can destroy the ability to smell.

People using crack cocaine may have red, bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils. They may also suffer from the sensation of bugs crawling underneath their skin (“coke bugs”), which can cause compulsive itching.

4. Respiratory Issues Related To Crack Cocaine

Smoking crack cocaine may come with a unique problem called “crack lung.” This is a serious condition involving fever, coughing up blood, low blood oxygen levels, and possible respiratory failure.

Other respiratory issues from crack cocaine abuse include:

  • asthma
  • chest pain
  • difficulty breathing
  • hacking or chronic cough
  • black mucus
  • fluid or blood in lungs

Crack cocaine has been suggested to increase the risk of lung cancer. It also can damage airways, whether snorted through the nose or inhaled into the lungs.

5. Crack Cocaine Paraphernalia

Crack is often associated with smoking, but it can also be snorted or injected. The type of paraphernalia used with crack cocaine differs depending on the mode of intake.

A glass crack pipe is generally used for smoking, with a metal scouring pad or similar screen-like object used as a filter inside the pipe. It can also be smoked off of a piece of aluminum foil that is heated at the bottom, and the vapors may be inhaled through a straw or hollow pen.

When a person snorts crack cocaine, they may also use a straw, hollow pen, or rolled paper. Credit cards and razor blades are common tools for scraping the powdered crack into a line for snorting.

Injecting crack cocaine requires mixing it with an acidic substance, such as vinegar or lemon juice, to break it down into a liquid. This may be done on a metal spoon with a lighter beneath it. It is then injected with a syringe.

Dangers Of Crack Cocaine Use And Abuse

Crack cocaine is a base form of cocaine mixed with baking soda or ammonia. It looks like yellowish “rocks” rather than the white powder of pure cocaine. Despite being a less pure version of cocaine, crack is very potent and addictive.

Smoking takes a substance directly to the brain, which heightens the effects and produces a nearly instant high. Binging on crack cocaine to keep the high increases the risk of addiction, which can occur after only one use.

5 Signs Of Crack Cocaine Use And Abuse_treatment options

Withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, fatigue, insomnia, and slowed brain function can set in after only a few uses as well.

Crack cocaine is often used with other substances. It may be smoked with marijuana or tobacco, or taken with heroin (called “speedballing”). Polysubstance abuse increases the risk of overdose and other drug-related issues.

Abusing crack cocaine can lead to dangerous diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C. While sharing needles is a common cause of disease spreading, a 2007 study found that Hepatitis C could possibly be transmitted through open sores when sharing crack pipes.

Treatment For Crack Cocaine Addiction

There are no medications approved by the FDA specifically for crack cocaine addiction, but treatment options are available. Crack cocaine addiction does not have to control someone’s life.

Inpatient drug rehab centers provide individualized programs for people suffering from crack cocaine addiction. These may include community recovery groups or cognitive-behavioral therapy to help someone connect with others and change the way they live.

Contact us at drugrehab.org and discover the best treatment options for you.

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Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms_Featured Image

Marijuana is the most highly abused illicit drug in our nation. It’s estimated that of those who abuse this drug, 30 percent have a marijuana use disorder. In 2015, this equated to four million people.

Chronic use of marijuana may result in a physical dependence. A physically dependent person will experience withdrawal when they’re not using the drug. Marijuana withdrawal may make a person anxious, on edge, fatigued, and have difficulty sleeping.

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms_Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal

Without the proper treatment and support, a person may relapse to avoid these symptoms. Individuals with a marijuana use disorder may benefit from individualized treatment to help them build a sober life.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

Contrary to what many people think, marijuana is addictive. Individuals who frequently abuse the drug in high quantities may develop a marijuana use disorder.

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms_THC becomes a substituteIt’s estimated that nearly nine percent of marijuana abusers will develop a dependence to the drug. This risk increases for individuals who use marijuana at young ages. Seventeen percent of those who use the drug as teens are expected to become dependent to marijuana. Dependency is a qualifying factor of addiction.

When a person is addicted to marijuana their body will become reliant on the drug to function properly. This is called a dependency.

When a person uses high amounts of marijuana the drug’s THC becomes a substitute for the THC-like chemicals contained in our brain. This leads our brain to reduce the natural production of its own THC-like chemicals.

Once a person is dependent their body struggles to function due to these reduced levels, should the marijuana suddenly be absent. This is what causes a person to experience withdrawal.

Other signs of a marijuana use disorder include when a person:

  • needs more of the drug to produce the same high (a tolerance).
  • experiences strong cravings or urges to use the drug.
  • continues using the drug despite adverse physical or mental health effects.
  • pushes their friends and family members away.
  • spends large amounts of time and money in the pursuit of obtaining the drug.
  • begins ignoring important duties relating to work, school, or the family.

If a person continues to use marijuana their quality of life and health may rapidly decline.

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Symptoms Of Marijuana Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms are typically greatest from the time of discontinuation through the third or fourth day. Symptoms usually taper off as time passes and cease by day seven to ten. However, some individuals may experience discomfort for up to two weeks.

Certain symptoms may not decline as time passes. One study found that as time went on, chronic abusers had greater trouble falling asleep and experienced strange dreams.

A second study found that those who had used marijuana for shorter periods of time on a chronic basis experienced a greater amount of withdrawal symptoms. Despite this, long-term, chronic users of marijuana encounter severe withdrawal as well.

Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include:

  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • cravings
  • decreased appetite
  • depression
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • nervousness
  • psychomotor retardation
  • insomnia
  • sleeping
  • tiredness
  • trouble concentrating
  • weakness
  • yawning

Individuals may also experience a sense of physical discomfort which could include chills, fever, sweating, headache, shakiness or tremors, and stomach ache. Some people may become angry, fearful, or exhibit aggressive behaviors.

Many individuals relapse to avoid the discomfort associated with withdrawal. A return to marijuana can be very harmful to both the body and brain. Prolonged use of the drug may cause cognitive impairment, mental health problems, and recurring respiratory infections.

Selecting an individualized treatment program can help individuals with a marijuana use disorder to regain a healthier, sober life.

Getting Treatment For Marijuana Withdrawal

Individuals who experience severe withdrawal may need to stay at a residential treatment facility. Treatment may include detoxification services to reduce or alleviate symptoms of withdrawal and rehabilitation for the psychological symptoms of addiction.

There are currently no medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of a marijuana use disorder. However, since sleep disruption occurs so frequently during marijuana withdrawal, medications may be used to help a person fall asleep and stay asleep. Other medications may prescribed to address mental health concerns, such as depression or anxiety.

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms_Gabapentin may be useful

Recent research has found that gabapentin may be useful in treating symptoms of marijuana withdrawal. Chronic marijuana use alters the functioning of the brain’s stress circuitry. Gabapentin stops stress hormones from altering certain neurotransmitter levels in the brain, which creates a more calm, relaxed state. This action is what’s believed to make gabapentin a potentially useful treatment for marijuana withdrawal.

After a person successfully withdrawals from marijuana, further treatment for the psychological addiction may be necessary. Behavioral therapies are effective components of treatment for a marijuana use disorder. These sessions help a person to develop sober living and relapse prevention skills.

Contact DrugRehab.org today to learn more about marijuana addiction treatment.

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Sources

MedlinePlus — Substance Use – Marijuana
National Institute on Drug Abuse — Gabapentin Tested To Treat Marijuana Dependence, Is Marijuana Addictive?

The Dangers Of Snorting Crystal Meth

DrugRehab.org The Dangers Of Snorting Crystal Meth Featured Image

The method of abuse (orally, snorting, injecting) of a drug can alter the effects on the mind and body in different ways. People snorting heroin will feel its effects within three to five minutes, yet people snorting crystal meth may not feel the effects as quickly.

DrugRehab.org The Dangers Of Snorting Crystal Meth Also Comes In Several FormsMethamphetamine also comes in several different forms, from a powder “crystal” form that can be processed into a rock, or “ice, form. There is also a liquid form that can be injected.

Dangers of snorting crystal meth include addiction and various physical and psychological symptoms. The symptoms that occur during and after abusing crystal meth can vary from mild to severe. Methamphetamine abuse has the potential to cause permanent damage to the brain.

Other risks of chronic meth abuse include:

  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • insomnia
  • extreme mood swings
  • violent behavior
  • weight loss

Individuals struggling with addiction to crystal meth may exhibit paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions, like the sensation of snakes under one’s skin. It is possible, in some cases, for these symptoms to last for months, possibly years after meth abuse has stopped.

Possibly the most dangerous stage of meth abuse happens when someone has not slept for three to 15 days and is irritable and paranoid. This behavior is often referred to as “tweaking.” The individual will crave more meth, but will find it difficult to achieve the original high.

This can cause them to become frustrated, and, at times, exhibit unstable behavior. People going through a tweaking spell can appear normal—clear-eyed, concise speech and movements. However, under close observation, their eyes are actually moving much faster than normal, and their voice has a slight quiver.

Due to the unpredictable response to tweaking, individuals who abuse meth have an increased chance of risky behaviors, including: involvement in domestic disputes, impulsive crime participation, and car accidents.

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Short-Term Effects Of Snorting Crystal Meth

While under the influence of meth, individuals may exhibit several physical and psychological symptoms. These can include:

  • brief rush, euphoria, surge of energy
  • increased physical activity
  • increased blood pressure and breathing rate
  • dangerously elevated body temperature
  • loss of appetite
  • sleeplessness
  • paranoia, irritability
  • unpredictable behavior
  • performing repetitive, meaningless tasks
  • dilated pupils
  • heavy sweating
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • tremors
  • dry mouth
  • uncontrollable jaw clenching
  • seizures and sudden death

The symptoms present in each person will vary depending on a few factors, including the purity of the meth, amount of meth taken, if a co-occurring disorder is present, and how long they have abused meth.

DrugRehab.org The Dangers Of Snorting Crystal Meth While Under The Influence People May Experience Several Symptoms

Long-Term Effects Of Snorting Crystal Meth

Negative, and sometimes severe, side effects can set in with chronic, long-term abuse of meth. These effects can include:

  • damaged nerve terminals in the brain
  • brain damage similar to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease
  • high blood pressure
  • prolonged anxiety, paranoia, insomnia
  • psychotic behavior, violence, auditory hallucinations, and delusions
  • homicidal or suicidal thoughts
  • weakened immune system
  • strokes, heart infection, lung disease, kidney and liver damage
  • increased risky behaviors
  • increased risk of accidental or unintentional death

When meth is abused by a pregnant individual, their baby may suffer cardiac defects, cleft palate, and other birth defects.

How Meth Affects The Brain

Meth is an extremely strong psychomotor stimulant, which mimics the actions of certain neurotransmitters (chemicals) in the brain that affect mood and movement. Once meth reaches the brain, it produces a rapid release of dopamine (happy hormone), which is responsible for the initial “rush” felt by those using the drug.

The brain remains in an alert state, even after the initial rush has passed. This keeps the person under the influence of meth on edge. After the effects of meth have worn off, the brain is depleted of dopamine, causing a depressed state.

Meth can easily become addictive to those who abuse it because the highs are so intense and the lows are so awful. It is also possible for meth to cause damage to the nerve endings in the brain. This can lead to increased risk of early-onset of disease, like Parkinson’s disease.

Crystal Meth: What Are You Actually Snorting?

Meth first came to the U.S. in the 1930s and, by 1970, was made illegal as a part of the U.S. Drug Abuse and Regulation Control Act. Production and trafficking rose again in the 1990s, in relation to the organized crime in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico.

The active ingredients in methamphetamine are pseudoephedrine or ephedrine. These ingredients are commonly used in the production of antihistamines or allergy medications. After meth was made illegal, the production of the drug was no longer regulated.

People began making the drug at home with ingredients around the house. These ingredients can include: acetone, rubbing alcohol, iodine, gas additives, starter fluid, drain cleaners, tips of matches, paint thinner, rock salt, and lithium gathered from batteries.

DrugRehab.org The Dangers Of Snorting Crystal Meth Came To The U.S. In The 1930S

Due to the many variations in the meth-making process, and how exact it needs to be to remain a higher quality, these “homebrews” often produce low-quality meth riddled with additives that can be potentially harmful. If someone doesn’t cook out some of these harmful ingredients, they can cause a slow poisoning, or potentially death, to occur.

While any amount of meth can be harmful, taking meth with unknown amounts of additives can be far more dangerous.

Treatment Options For Crystal Meth Abuse And Addiction

Treating addiction to crystal meth can be difficult because it is such a highly addictive drug. Formal treatment starts with initial detox from the drug, ridding it from the individual’s system. Currently, there are no approved medications for treating withdrawal from meth.

Formal treatment will typically involve some form of therapy intervention that will aim to change the behaviors that lead to addiction in the first place.

To learn more about the dangers of snorting crystal meth, and addiction to meth, contact us.

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Sources

National Institute on Drug Abuse—How is methamphetamine abused?
University of Maryland, Center for Substance Abuse Research—Methamphetamine

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your Body?

DrugRehab.org How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your Body_Featured Image

The body has a process for breaking down alcohol. The amount of time alcohol stays in a person’s body depends on how much they drink and their overall health. After prolonged alcohol use, the liver, brain, and other organs may suffer great damage.

Understanding The Effects Of Alcohol

Alcohol (ethanol) is a central nervous system depressant that spends relatively little time in the body, but causes its functions to slow. The amount of time alcohol spends in a person’s body depends greatly on the size of their liver and their body mass. On average, the body metabolizes alcohol at a constant rate of 20 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) per hour.

“Alcohol slows your breathing rate, heart rate, and how well your brain functions. These effects may appear within 10 minutes and peak at around 40 to 60 minutes. Alcohol stays in your bloodstream until it is broken down by the liver,” (National Library of Medicine).

DrugRehab.org How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your Body_ Alcohol Slows Your Breathing

Alcohol affects each person differently. A person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is determined by environmental factors such as amount consumed, presence of food in the system, type of alcoholic beverage, and genetic factors. Two people can drink the same amount of alcohol, and it will have a different effect on each of them, and different effects on their BAC.

Factors that can affect how a person’s body reacts to alcohol include:

  • age
  • weight
  • gender
  • physical health
  • genetics
  • smoking
  • how much and how often a person drinks
  • mixing alcohol with medications or other drugs
  • drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time (binge drinking)

Many people drink alcohol as a way to unwind or socialize. Yet too much alcohol can damage the liver, heart, stomach, pancreas, and immune system. Abusing alcohol, binge drinking, or using alcohol to try to cope with grief, anxiety, depression, or mental illness, may contribute to alcohol use disorder.

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What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a condition that occurs when the use of alcohol causes significant impairment, health problems, or distress. Many people suffering from AUD become unable to meet requirements with their career, school, or home life.

Alcohol use disorder is a progressive and primary illness. If left untreated, AUD will continue to get worse over time as drinking progresses. AUD is defined as mild, moderate, or severe.

How Is Alcohol Metabolized?

After alcohol is consumed, it quickly travels to the digestive system. The stomach tissues absorb about 20 percent of the alcohol into the bloodstream, which is known as gastric emptying. The other 80 percent of alcohol is absorbed into the tissues of the small intestine.

First-pass metabolism (FPM) is greatly influenced by the speed of gastric emptying, which can also vary based on the amount of food in a person’s system, how much they drank, their age, and their overall physical health.

Once alcohol has been absorbed into the bloodstream, it travels through the veins to the liver, where it’s exposed to enzymes and metabolized. The principle alcohol-metabolizing enzymes within the liver include alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).

ADH metabolizes alcohol to acetaldehyde, which is a highly toxic substance that may contribute to organ tissue damage and alcohol addiction. After that, acetaldehyde is broken down into acetate, which is then oxidized into carbon dioxide in the heart, skeletal muscles, and brain cells.

Researchers have found that a person’s genetics can be a factor in the amount of ADH and ALDH enzymes they have in their body. People have different variations of ADH and ALDH enzymes in their body, and some people are able to process alcohol faster than others.

Liver Metabolism Rates

The liver is responsible for the final step of removing alcohol from the body, but any issues with the liver can slow this process. On average, it takes the liver one hour to metabolize one ounce of alcohol. The liver is the primary organ responsible for metabolizing ingested ethanol, but non-liver tissues, like the brain, can metabolize alcohol as well.

For many people, an ounce of alcohol produces a .015 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The more alcohol a person drinks, the higher their BAC becomes. In other words, the amount of time it takes the liver to process alcohol is greatly affected by the amount a person drinks.

DrugRehab.org How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your Body_ Takes The Liver One Hour To Metabolize Alcohol

A person who suffers from an alcohol use disorder may not be able to control the amount they drink, which not only increases their chance of acute alcohol intoxication, but also increases the chance of doing serious damage to the liver and other organs.

Alcohol’s Effect On The Body

Even though its time in the body is considerably short compared to many other drugs, alcohol can have a serious impact on a person’s health on any single occasion or over time. The rate at which the the body metabolizes alcohol is greatly affected by organ health. Alcohol can cause damage to the heart, liver, brain, pancreas, and contributes to certain cancers as well.

  • Brain—Alcohol slows communication speed between neurotransmitters in the brain. Alcohol also shrinks brain cells and damages the cerebellum, limbic system, and cerebral cortex. Abstinence from alcohol can help reverse negative effects on problem-solving skills, memory, and attention.
  • Liver—Heavy alcohol consumption takes a serious toll on the liver, and can lead to a number of liver problems and liver inflammation. Liver problems caused by alcohol include fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis.
  • Heart—Some of the heart problems from alcohol include alcoholic cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, stroke, and high blood pressure. Long-term heavy drinking is a leading cause of heart disease, which kills an estimated 610,000 people each year.
  • Pancreas—Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce a toxic substance which can lead to pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a dangerous swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
  • Cancer—Heavy drinking increases the risk of developing cancers, which may include mouth cancer, esophagus cancer, throat cancer, breast cancer, and liver cancer.

Alcohol damage to any single organ may cause a chain reaction of organ damage. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “The liver breaks down alcohol—and the toxins it releases. During this process, alcohol’s byproducts damage liver cells. These damaged liver cells no longer function as well as they should and allow too much of these toxic substances, ammonia and manganese in particular, to travel to the brain.”

Alcohol doesn’t just damage the body. With too much alcohol, a person can develop alcohol dependence (alcoholism), loss of job, mental disorder, and even die. Alcohol poisoning is responsible for six deaths every day in the United States.

How To Detoxify Your Body From Alcohol

A medically-supervised detoxification (medical detox) takes place at a residential treatment center, and is performed by a team of physicians, clinicians, nurses, and treatment professionals. Medical detox helps patients through potential withdrawal symptoms and other complications found in early abstinence from alcohol. Medical detox is the safest and most effective way to remove alcohol from the body.

Medical detox is an initial step toward recovering from alcohol, but isn’t considered a full treatment. Addiction is a progressive illness, which means that it doesn’t go away over time, but gets worse. Quitting alcohol may help an individual avoid serious health risks.

Contact DrugRehab.org for help with quitting use of alcohol.

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Addiction Causes And Risk Factors

Addiction Causes And Risk Factors_Featured Image

Addiction is not usually the result of a single issue, but the combination of three main risk factors including biological factors, environmental risks and influences, and drug type and administration.

Biological Factors

Addiction Causes And Risk Factors_Addiction is nearly 50% genetic

Someone’s genetic predisposition, or DNA, and co-occurring mental illnesses can both increase the likelihood of addiction.

A study found that drug addiction is nearly 50 percent reliant on genes passed down through generations of family members. The study noted that children of addicted people were eight times more likely to become addicted in their lifetimes.

Mental health disorders, or mental illnesses, can also lead to an increased chance of addiction. If a mental health disorder such as depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or post-traumatic stress disorder is present, an individual is more likely to use drugs. This may be in an attempt to self-medicate the symptoms felt by the mental health disorder, like painful feelings, anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

Another biological factor that is still controversial among addiction researchers is gender. Some studies, completed at addiction treatment centers, have found that addiction can be gender-based, and that there are a larger number of men who become addicted compared to women.

Mayo Clinic also reports that changes in the brain that are the result of repeated drug use can change the way the brain feels pleasure. The addictive substance causes physical changes to some nerve cells (neurons) in the brain, resulting in an interruption to the brain’s communication system. In some cases, this structural and chemical change can remain even after the substance is no longer being abused, and sometimes it is permanent.

Environmental Risks And Influences

Environmental risks and influences, such as family beliefs, peer groups that encourage substance use, or stress, can lead to an increased likelihood of addiction.

Home life can be a very influential factor. Some studies suggest that children who have come from abusive or neglectful households are more likely to become addicted in their lifetimes. Often, drugs and alcohol are used as an emotional substitute for the unhappiness felt at home.

In addition to abusive homes, homes that allow children to be around and have access to drugs or alcohol more frequently can influence children and lead to a substance use or alcohol use disorder later on.

A person’s age can also impact their chances of becoming addicted. Studies indicate that the younger someone is when first exposed to drugs or alcohol, the more likely they are to develop an addiction. Using drugs while the brain is still growing and developing during adolescence can affect the way some brain structures form and function, making addiction more likely later in life.

Peer pressure, most likely occurring during teenage years when people are more susceptible to suggestion, can also lead to addiction. The pressure felt by some individuals to be socially accepted and liked by their peers is a common reason for trying drugs. It can be very difficult for teens to feel they can say “no” to their friends, so some may go along with drug use in order to feel like they fit in.

Stress is another environmental factor that can influence chances of addiction. Poor coping skills can lead to the inability to handle day-to-day stress. High levels of chronic stress can change the chemical composition of the brain and lead to drug and alcohol misuse as a way of escaping life stressors.

This is especially true of jobs that come with a lot of innate pressure and stress, like positions in stock exchange or major banking corporations. People in these professions may turn to drugs as a way to deal with the pressure and long work-days.

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Drug Type And Administration

Drug type and administration can be risk factors for addiction as well. Depending on the kind of drug someone tries first or has started to use, addiction may be more or less likely to occur. Drugs like heroin or meth are extremely addictive, and someone taking these drugs, compared to drugs with less potency, like marijuana, has more potential to develop a drug dependence with continued use.

Drug administration, or the way in which the drug is used, can potentially increase the likelihood of addiction. When drugs are injected or smoked, they tend to take effect much faster than when they are taken orally. Although the “high” from injecting and smoking also tends to be more intense, it doesn’t last as long as with other ways of administration, so individuals may use the drug more frequently in order to maintain their high. This can be a slippery slope towards addiction.

Although it is possible for individuals with these risk factors not to become addicted, people with these risk factors in their lives have shown an increased chance of becoming addicted.

It is possible for anyone to develop a substance use problem. Everyone is different, and some may experience more severe addictions depending on these factor and others.

Polydrug Use And Addiction

With the growing understanding of addiction as a disease which requires adequate treatment, researchers are noticing a growing number of individuals who suffer from addiction to more than one substance.

Among people who had abused drugs but had not yet become addicted, 30.6 percent abused more than one substance. Among those who were addicted, 55.7 percent used more than one substance, and 17.3 percent were addicted to more than one substance.

Research also suggests that other behavioral manifestations of addiction, like obesity, gambling, and sex addiction, share common brain and genetic pathways with addictions involving substances. When a treatment plan is focused on one specific addictive substance or behavior, it’s possible that it is not addressing the disease of addiction as a whole, but just a portion of it.

Addiction Is A Disease

Addiction Causes And Risk Factors_Children born from addicted people are eight times more likelyAddiction can range from mild to moderate to severe, depending on the course of the disease and its symptoms. Some people may experience one episode where their symptoms meet the clinical criteria for addiction and be non-symptomatic afterward. However, it is more common for addiction to be a chronic disease.

Very few people with addiction receive effective or evidence-based treatment, and the standard approach to treatment often involves brief interventions, rather than long-term chronic disease management. High rates of relapse often result, and may be due, in part, to the manner in which addiction treatment is being approached.

Treatment For Drug And Alcohol Addiction

Admitting that there is a problem is the first step toward addiction recovery. Addiction is a lifelong disease and finding proper treatment is extremely important. Knowing the causes and risk factors of addiction may help a person see how addiction may be affecting them and take the first step in finding help.

Contact us to learn more about addiction causes, risk factors, and treatment.

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Commonly Abused Barbiturates

Commonly Abused Barbiturates

Barbiturates can quickly become addictive after abusing them chronically. A medically-supervised detox is required to avoid potentially lethal withdrawal symptoms.

Some of the most commonly abused barbiturates include:

  • amobarbital sodium (Amytal)
  • pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal)
  • secobarbital sodium (Seconal)
  • phenobarbital (Luminal)

Amytal, Nembutal, and Seconal are all short-acting barbiturates, which are primarily used to treat people who suffer from insomnia, and seizure disorders like epilepsy. These three depressants can also be used in hospital settings as a preoperative sedative.

Luminal is a long-acting barbiturate, sometimes used in medically-supervised detox to help wean addicted individuals off other stronger, barbiturates. It is also used to treat seizures, in some parts of the world, and anxiety.

What Are Barbiturates?

Barbiturates are central nervous system depressants that work by slowing down the interaction between the brain and the rest of the body. This type of drug can cause drowsiness and relaxation, and has is very difficult to prescribe at the correct dosage.

Tolerance to barbiturates develops quickly, increasing the risk of addiction. Tolerance to the mood changing effects of barbiturates happens fast, with chronic use. However, tolerance to the lethal effects develops more slowly, increasing the risk of severe poisoning the longer the drug is used.

Commonly Abused Barbiturates_What Are Barbiturates

Before the 1970s, barbiturates were the drug of choice for treating anxiety disorders and other anxiety-related issues. Due to their high potential for abuse, the federal government limited access to barbiturates.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, barbiturates are prescribed less frequently for anxiety and sleep issues due to their increased risk of overdose, when compared to benzodiazepines. However, barbiturates are still used in hospital settings, and to treat some seizure disorders.

Abusing barbiturates is very dangerous and can lead to physical and psychological symptoms, physical dependence, and accidental death.

How Are Barbiturates Abused?

Individuals addicted to barbiturates can obtain them through personal prescription or from someone they know. Barbiturates are widely available in tablet form, so individuals may abuse them orally, or crush up the tablets and inject or snort them.

When injected, the effects of barbiturates can be felt much faster than if they were abused orally. Larger needles are required to inject barbiturates, which can lead to infected or red injection site, or scarred veins.

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Signs Of Barbiturate Abuse

Some common signs of barbiturate abuse include:

  • sedation and drowsiness
  • reduced anxiety
  • feelings of well-being
  • lowered inhibitions and impaired judgement
  • slurred speech
  • poor concentration
  • confusion and dizziness
  • impaired coordination and memory
  • slowed pulse
  • lowered blood pressure
  • slowed breathing

Barbiturates can also cause euphoria, unusual excitement, fever, and irritability in some. Often someone abusing barbiturates will exhibits signs similar to alcohol intoxication.

Commonly Abused Barbiturates_Signs Of Barbiturate Abuse

Another sign of barbiturate abuse is if someone is experiencing withdrawal symptoms from the drug. This can also be a indication that physical dependence has developed, meaning that the addicted individual cannot function like normal without the drug in their system.

Barbiturate withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • anxiety
  • restlessness
  • insomnia
  • rhythmic intention tremor
  • dizziness
  • seizures and tremors
  • psychosis

Withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person and be mild to severe, depending on the severity of the addiction. If barbiturate withdrawal is not correctly treated, hypothermia, circulatory failure, and death may occur.

Risks Factors Of Barbiturate Abuse

Some barbiturates, in high doses, are used in doctor-assisted suicide because they can cause lethal side-effects very quickly. A reason that benzodiazepines replaced barbiturates is because it can be difficult, even for medical professionals, to determine the proper dosage of medication needed for any given situation.

This is also a problem for people who abuse this medication, because it increases the risk for fatal overdose to occur, when the drug is used in large amounts. Once the body is used to large amount of the drug in its system tolerance develops. It is also very dangerous for people who are chronically addicted to barbiturates to withdrawal without proper supervision.

It is important that someone suffering from barbiturate addiction enroll in a medically-supervised detox program to help avoid the potentially life-threatening risks of withdrawal. Mixing barbiturates with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol, increases the risk of respiratory distress and death.

Teen Barbiturate Abuse

Sedatives like barbiturates are popular among young adults because their effects mimic those of alcohol, but do not produce the smell alcohol does. About 50 percent of high school seniors admitted abusing prescription medications in 2013, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. About five percent of the seniors also reported having access to or abusing sedatives.

It is also theorized that because teenagers are still developing emotionally and physically, barbiturate abuse may manifest in different ways compared to how it would in an adult. For example, teens may be more inclined to engage in risky behaviors or express extreme emotional states more easily.

Some of these behaviors may include:

  • increased likelihood of assault
  • driving while under the influence of barbiturates
  • mixing barbiturates with other substances
  • Using too much of the drug, causing accidental overdose

Treatment For Barbiturate Abuse And Addiction

Detoxing from barbiturates is the first step toward recovery. Barbiturates are dangerous drugs, even when used in their medical applications. Using them illicitly can quickly result in tolerance and dependence, and possibly overdose.

An individualized treatment plan, that looks at the needs and circumstances of each person can be extremely helpful in aiding a successful recovery. Cognitive behavioral therapy and other medications may also be used to assist in managing substance abuse, in a treatment center.

To learn more about barbiturate abuse, addiction and treatment, contact us today.

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Signs Of A Benzodiazepine Overdose

Benzodiazepine Overdose_

When taken as directed, it is rare for benzodiazepine use to result in fatal overdose. However, when someone takes too large a dose, or mixes it with another substance the risk for overdose increases.

Some signs of benzodiazepine overdose include:

  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • drowsiness
  • blurred vision
  • slurred speech
  • unresponsiveness or weakness
  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • difficulty breathing
  • blue in the fingernails or lips
  • uncoordinated movement
  • tremors
  • altered mental status
  • coma

High doses of benzodiazepines can cause extreme drowsiness. In addition to the above symptoms, it is also possible to experience slowed reflexes, mood swings, hostile or erratic behavior, and euphoria.

Benzodiazepine Overdose_Common

Symptoms of overdose will vary from person to person, depending on several different factors. These factors include:

  • the amount of benzodiazepines consumed
  • if it was mixed with another substance
  • how long benzodiazepines have been abused
  • if a co-occuring disorder is present
  • what method of abuse (injection, oral, etc.) was used

Although it is rare, some individuals may experience serious complications following a benzodiazepine overdose, as a result of respiratory distress, lack of oxygen in the blood, or unintentional injury that occured while they were under the influence of benzodiazepines. These complications can include, pneumonia, damage to the body and brain, and death.

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What Are Benzodiazepines?

According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, benzodiazepines are some of the most prescribed depressant medications in the U.S. There are more than 15 different types of benzodiazepine medications that treat a variety of psychological and physical conditions.

Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include:

A Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) study discovered that, due to their widespread availability, benzodiazepines are the most frequently misused pharmaceuticals in the U.S. The study also found that the number of emergency room visits due to benzodiazepines increased by 36 percent between 2004 and 2006.

Effects caused by benzodiazepines include anxiety relief, hypnotic effects, muscle relaxant, anti-convulsant, and amnesiatic (mild memory-loss inducer). Due to their sedative properties, benzodiazepines have a high potential for abuse, particularly when used with other depressants like alcohol or opiates.

There are two categories of benzodiazepines; short-acting and long-acting. A short-acting benzodiazepine is processed at a faster rate than long-acting benzodiazepines which accumulate in the bloodstream, and can take a longer time to leave the body.

How Benzodiazepines Interact With The Body

Benzodiazepines affect the levels of a key neurotransmitter (chemical) within the brain known as the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). When the presence of this chemical increases during benzodiazepine use, it slows nerve impulses throughout the body.

The human nervous system has two types of benzodiazepine receptors. One that causes anti-anxiety effect, and one that produces the sedative effect. Even though most benzodiazepines trigger the same physical effects, their dosage and blood absorption rates can vary, the Center for Substance Abuse Research reports.

Benzodiazepine Tolerance, Dependence And Withdrawal

Over time, it is likely that tolerance to benzodiazepines will occur. Tolerance happens when a person no longer experiences the same effects when taking the same amount of the drug. It is also possible for benzodiazepines to become less effective after four to six months of daily use, according to a report released on American Family Physician.

Benzodiazepine Overdose_Emergency AdminsIndividuals usually become tolerant to the milder effects of the drug like sedation and lack of motor coordination. The Center for Substance Abuse Research notes that a fair amount of cross-tolerance exists between benzodiazepines and other depressants like alcohol and barbiturates. So, as an individual’s tolerance to benzodiazepines builds so will their tolerance to the other substances.

The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) stated 95 percent of all benzodiazepine emergency admissions reported abusing another substance in addition to benzodiazepines. After tolerance is established, physical and psychological dependence begins. Once dependent, someone using benzodiazepines will not be able to function normally without them.

The addictive properties of benzodiazepines are incredibly strong, and tolerance can develop quickly. If someone with a dependence on benzodiazepines suddenly stops using, they will experience physical withdrawal symptoms.

The withdrawal process can be lethal due to the side effects, like convulsions, that may occur. Withdrawal symptoms can include sleep disturbance, anxiety, memory problems, hallucinations, seizures and possibly suicide.

What To Do About Benzodiazepine Overdose

If someone is exhibiting signs of a benzodiazepine overdose, contact emergency services immediately. It is important to get medical attention to reduce the likelihood of negative consequences and death.

Benzodiazepine Overdose_Flumazenil

Victims of overdose will be taken to the hospital and treated with the necessary respiratory support, and medications to reverse the effects of the overdose. Flumazenil is a common medication used to treat benzodiazepine overdose in an emergency setting.

Some individuals may face prolonged recovery times depending on the extent of the overdose and how soon they receive treatment.

Treatment For Benzodiazepine Overdose And Addiction

Benzodiazepines are not only dangerous in overdose, but also in withdrawal. People who experience benzodiazepine overdose may find detox programs helpful to come off the drug in a safe manner, by tapering doses and sometimes providing substitution therapy with a long-acting benzodiazepine.

Due to the high risk of polydrug use involved with benzodiazepine abuse, it is important to seek formal treatment because detoxing from multiple drugs can cause unpredictable and lethal side effects. In order to reduce the risk of relapse, it is vital that all addictions are addressed.

If you need more information on the signs of benzodiazepine overdose, contact us today.

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