fentanyl overdose

Fentanyl Overdose: Recognize the Signs of Addiction Before It’s Too Late

Fentanyl often referred to as heroin’s synthetic cousin is a synthetic opioid that is known for being much stronger than heroin and other analgesics. This deadly drug has been gaining exposure in the addiction world and is one of the leading causes of drug abuse overdose. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said that Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and even more so than heroin. Whether the drug is being added to other opioids or taken alone, using fentanyl increases the likelihood of fatal overdose.  Recognizing the signs and symptoms of addiction in yourself or a loved one is key to getting the right treatment before it’s too late. 

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a type of opioid, typically found in powder form, that was intended to be an anesthetic. Pharmaceutical companies marketed the drug as an anesthetic but it was later discovered that it had a dual ability to act as a painkiller when given in small quantities.  Hospitals and trained clinical doctors began carefully measuring the appropriate dosage of fentanyl to ensure the dose was not only effective but safe. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there were 19,413 synthetic opioid-related overdoses in 2016 alone. Fatal Overdoses involving synthetic opioids including fentanyl, increased almost 47% from 2016 to 2017.3 Roughly 28,400 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids other than methadone in 2017.

National law enforcement has indicated that much of the synthetic opioid overdose increase may be due to illegally or illicitly made fentanyl.

When the drug is bought off the streets, the dose and mix of chemicals is not regulated and often dealers and users don’t realize how strong fentanyl really is. To get the same effect as a typical dose of heroin, you would only need about 1/10th of the amount. Fentanyl also looks identical to heroin and is often mixed up.  These reasons all increase the deadliness of fentanyl and cause high overdose rates. 

Side Effects of Fentanyl

  • Mania
  • Euphoria
  • Confusion
  • Slowed breathing
  • Nausea 
  • Constipation
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Drowsiness
  • Mood swings
  • Overdose 

Like morphine, heroin, and other opioids, fentanyl works by communicating with the parts of the brain that cause emotions and pain. It increases the “feel good” chemicals and decreases both physical and emotional pain. Addiction to opioids can cause the brain to become dependant on the drug to feel pleasure. In turn, attempting to quit can lead to severe anxiety, depression, and mental health issues. 

Apart from the short term effects, Fentanyl may cause, repeated use can leave lasting damage to the body. 

Some of the Long Term Side Effects Include:

  • Heart Failure
  • Liver Damage
  • Kidney Damage
  • Infertility
  • Mental Health Deterioration
  • Brain Damage
  • Death

Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of addiction in your loved one could help you intervene before it’s too late. Addiction changes people’s behavior and overall personality. If you suspect that your loved one is using drugs, and any of the below signs are true for them, you should consider intervening. Some of the more common symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction include:

  • Irritability
  • Manic/Depressive Behavior
  • Anger Tantrums 
  • Loss of Interest in everyday life
  • Stealing Money 
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Not keeping in touch with family or friends
  • Weight Gain or Weight Loss

Signs of Fentanyl Overdose

  • Severe Confusion
  • Slow Breathing
  • Trouble Walking, Talking, and Hearing
  • Obvious Sedation
  • Constricted Pupils
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness

A fentanyl overdose has the potential to be fatal.  if you think you or a loved is using fentanyl recreationally and may be suffering from addiction, be sure to purchase and always carry Naloxone (Narcan, Evzio). Naloxone is a medication designed to reverse the effects of an overdose and increase the chances of survival. When administered within a reasonable amount of time, it has been known to save lives. Since Fentanyl always creates a sedated like state of being, it’s important to know how to recognize an overdose so you can administer Naloxone when needed. 

According to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Fentanyl is the leading cause of overdose in the Nation and is only increasing. This is likely done to it being less expensive than heroin but much stronger. Many people overdose from Fentanyl by accident thinking it is heroin, or not knowing that extra fentanyl was added to other drugs. 

When too much Fentanyl enters the body, the nervous system is overwhelmed and basic bodily functions shut down. At the same time, since fentanyl is a depressant, the respiratory system is also harmed.

If you or a loved one exhibits any of these symptoms while using fentanyl, it is important to seek medical assistance immediately. Even if you are unaware that fentanyl has put into your drugs, these symptoms should never be ignored. 

Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction 

Addiction to Fentanyl is a serious illness that requires a full medical rehabilitation plan. The first step in any addiction treatment is a drug detox. This period of time will enable the individual to safely and effectively rid their body of the drug and its harmful toxins. From there, individuals will typically enter an inpatient residential treatment. 

Residential treatment centers offer the individual a place to rebuild their health, both physical and mental, under the supervision of qualified professionals. Treatment centers will have licensed therapists, doctors, nurses, nutritionists, pharmacists, and holistic practitioners on hand to help with every aspect of recovery. 

Each Individual will have a personalized treatment plan with services tailored to meet their needs. Different combinations of talk therapy, medicated assistance, and holistic treatments will ensure a full recovery is achieved, and long term aftercare is planned. Addiction is a lifelong disease, and detoxing isn’t enough. Going back even for just “one last high” has the potential to cause a fatal overdose. A full treatment plan under the supervision of clinical professionals is needed to ensure lifelong recovery. 

You can reach our team of professionals by contacting us here.

inhalents

Huffing: The Dangerous Effects of Inhalants

Inhaling chemical substances with the intention of creating a psychoactive or physical effect is  a dangerous habit that often leads to a form of drug addiction. Although there are many substances that are meant to be inhaled, when substances that are not meant to be inhaled or consumed in any way the body, these are considered drug-related “inhalants”. This method of inhaling can cause serious physical and emotional damage, as well as permanent brain damage or in severe cases even death. Anyone struggling with an inhaling habit or addiction should seek professional addiction treatment immediately. 

What Are Inhalants?  

Inhalants, which are substances that can usually be found in everyday items, are chemicals that when inhaled, create a psychoactive effect or high. Inhalants are categorized separately from other drugs for the distinction that these chemicals are only ever inhaled and unable to be taken any other way. While other drugs can be inhaled, they can also be abused through other methods such as smoking, shooting, and in pill form. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse refers to these substances as “volatile substances” and has separated them into four general categories of chemicals: solvents, aerosols, gases, and nitrates. 

Solvents:

Volatile Solvents are defined as liquids that vaporize at room temperature. When inhaled, they create an almost instantaneous intoxication. Once inhaled, volatile solvents affect the kidneys, liver, lungs, brain, and nervous system. Side effects of solvents include: euphoria, cognitive difficulties, slowed breathing, agitation, blurred vision, tremors, difficulty speaking, and more. Volatile Solvents can be found in the following household items:

  • Paint Thinners
  • Disinfectants
  • Leather Cleaner
  • Gasoline
  • Glue
  • Markers

Aerosols:

Aerosols are another sub-group of inhalants that are classified by sprays that have solvents or propellant gases. When inhaled, these gases create a quick head high that can last seconds to minutes depending on the type of chemicals. Abused Aerosols typically come from household products not intended to be inhaled. These types of inhalants will damage brain cells, key organs, and the lungs. Some common aerosols include:

  • Hairspray
  • Spray Deodorant
  • Spray Paint
  • Canned Cooking Oil
  • Fabric Cleaner

Gases: 

Gases are the most commonly abused classification of inhalants, especially with teens and young adults. The subcategory of gases can be classified by-products that contain one or more gases or medical anesthetics. When inhaled, gases cause a quick head high and result in disorientation, hallucinations, lack of coordination, and loss of blood flow. Gases are the category known as “whip-its”, which is a common teen practice where one quickly inhales the gas from a canister of whipped cream. The most common gas inhalants include:

  • Lighters
  • Propane tanks
  • Canned food (whipped cream, cheese, etc)
  • Medical ether
  • Medical chloroform 

Nitrates

Nitrates differ from the other subcategories of inhalants for their muscle relaxing effect. In most cases, they are not used for a “high” effect, instead but a calming and sensation enhancing effect. Nitrites include cyclohexyl nitrite, isoamyl nitrite, and isobutyl nitrite and are commonly known as “poppers” or “snappers. They are most commonly used as sexual enhancers. Some examples of nitrate inhalants include:

  • Room deodorizers
  • Video head cleaner
  • “Liquid aroma”

Dangers of Abusing Inhalants

It’s not uncommon for young teens to attempt “whip it’s” or “poppers” once or twice, although not recommended. When used long term and often, however, they can become addictive- both mentally and physically. The effects of ingesting any one of these subcategories of inhalants result in a severe brain cell, organ, and tissue damage. There is also a chance of permanent damage, overdose, and in rare cases- immediate death. 

These chemicals, once ingested, cause the blood vessels to shrink and tighten which blocks the flow of oxygen throughout the body and to the brain. When the brain isn’t receiving enough oxygen or the oxygen it receives is polluted with toxins, the individual can no longer perform at an optimal level. Coordination, thoughts, critical thinking, eyesight, movement, speech, and internal functions are all impaired. While this damage is occurring, there is a simultaneous rush of “feel good” emotions as a result of the chemicals blocking pain signals. The more accustomed to these chemicals the body gets, the more it begins to crave- thus forming a dangerous addiction. 

Inhalants Bringing You Down

Another negative side effect of inhalant abuse is its direct influence on mental health. The chemicals found in these categories of drugs have been shown to increase the presence of anxiety and depression, which can both lead to the formation of secondary addictions like alcoholism or narcotic addiction.

People who are addicted to inhalants may find that they are irritable and restless without them, and unable to feel happy or at peace when they don’t have access to their next high. Likewise, many feel this way even on the drugs, but find it is more tolerable when they have the effects of inhalants to numb their minds. 

The anxiety and depression form due to the instability of emotions and moods caused by inhalant use. Since most people who abuse inhalants aren’t using them 24/7, and the high is short, many turn to more long-lasting drugs to fuel their addictions. When a secondary addiction is formed, these individuals will need to seek treatment for a dual diagnosis

Treatment For Inhalant Addiction

There is help available for anyone struggling with inhalant addiction. Proper detox to rid the body of chemicals is the first step, and from there,  trained clinical professionals will design a treatment plan to address all aspects of the addiction. 

Treatment will likely consist of medical detox, variations of talk therapy, holistic healing (acupuncture, massage therapy, art therapy) support groups, and physical care. It can feel like it is impossible to overcome the addiction to the chemicals found in the different types of inhalants, but sobriety is attainable. A healthy sober life begins with the decision to commit to bettering yourself and your life, and we are here to help. Contact our addiction specialists today to start your recovery or call us at (855) 247-4046 to learn more information about our services. 

sobriety toolbox

Creating a Sobriety Toolbox

Approximately 22 million Americans are currently in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.

Are you part of this group? If so, then you know that getting sober is only the first step in the recovery process.

Every day, you have to make a choice to stay sober and continue progressing. As you probably know, that’s not always easy to do. This is where a sobriety toolbox can come in very handy.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of creating a sobriety toolbox and what you should put in yours.

What Is a Sobriety Toolbox?

A sobriety toolbox contains all of the tools you turn to when you’re feeling triggered or having a difficult time maintaining your sobriety.

It takes a lot of work to stay sober, especially when your time in a recovery program is over and you’re transitioning back to “real” life.

Having a variety of tools handy will help you respond to triggers and stressors in a healthy and appropriate way.

Types of Sobriety Toolboxes

There are a few different types of sobriety toolboxes you can use. The right type of sobriety toolbox for you will vary depending on your personality, the resources you have access to, and the specific situations that tend to trigger you.

The following are some options you might want to consider: 

Online Toolbox

An online toolbox is an online document or spreadsheet that you can use to brainstorm tools that will help you with your sobriety.

It might include links to fun videos or websites that contain uplifting or motivational content.

The great thing about an online toolbox is that you can access it from anywhere using your smartphone. This makes it a highly convenient option.

Paper List 

Some people prefer the old-fashioned approach and just write down a list of go-to tools that they keep in their purse or wallet.

This list might contain reminders to take deep breaths or take a walk around the block. It could also contain phone numbers of people you can call to talk about why you’re feeling triggered.

If you take this approach, it’s a good idea to keep the list relatively short. That way, you won’t have too many options to sort through when you’re struggling and need some support.

Physical Toolbox

Finally, you might also want to create a physical sobriety toolbox.

This could be a box, a bag, or any other kind of tangible receptacle that holds items that provide you with comfort and help you stay focused on your goals.

It might contain relaxing teas, essential oils, your favorite book, a motivational letter you’ve written to yourself, or any other objects that have meaning for you. 

What to Put in a Sobriety Toolbox

Whether you decide to take the digital approach, the paper approach, or the tangible box approach, there are lots of different items that you might want to include in your sobriety toolbox. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises can help you to calm down and feel more grounded when you’re dealing with stress or temptation. You can use meditation apps to learn new exercises or simply close your eyes and take ten deep breaths.

Soothing Teas

There are many different teas out there that contain calming, soothing ingredients. Kava tea is a great option, as is chamomile tea, peppermint tea, and any tea that contains lavender. 

Yoga Videos

Bookmark links to some yoga YouTube videos. That way, you have something to turn to when you need to relax and put yourself at ease.

Sobriety Calculator

A sobriety calculator is a great tool that helps you stay focused on your goal. When you use one, you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come and how much progress you’ve made.

Prayer

Sometimes, the best thing to do when you’re feeling triggered is to say a prayer. There are lots of pre-written prayers that you can recite (including the Serenity Prayer), or you can simply speak from the heart and ask for support.

Exercise

Exercising is a great tool for anyone who wants to feel their best and stay healthy while they’re in recovery.

Maybe you can include a reminder to go for a walk or do some strength training in your toolbox. Or, you could include exercise equipment, such as a jump rope. 

Calming or Uplifting Music

Listening to calming or uplifting music can also work wonders when you’re feeling stressed out or tempted to give up. Include links to favorite songs in your sobriety toolbox or create a playlist that you can turn to whenever you need a boost.

A Favorite Treat

It’s important to prioritize your health in recovery. Sometimes, though, you just need a treat. Keep your favorite candy bar or snack in your toolbox so you have something to give you a little extra comfort when you’re having a hard day.

Phone Numbers

You need to have a strong support system when you’re in recovery. In your toolbox, you should have the phone numbers of people who can give you some encouragement and keep you motivated on days when you’re struggling.

Reading

Finally, consider keeping a favorite book or poem in your recovery toolbox, too. Reading can be a great distraction and can help you to unwind after a difficult day. If reading is not your thing, consider audiobooks or podcasts instead.

Start Working Toward Sobriety Today

Whether you’re brand new to recovery or have been sober for months or even years, a sobriety toolbox can help you maintain your sobriety and avoid a relapse.

Even if you’re not sober yet but are thinking about it, you can benefit from putting together a sobriety toolbox for yourself.

If you need help beginning your recovery journey and putting that toolbox to use, we’re here for you at Addiction Treatment Services.

Contact us today to get information on recovery programs in your area.

We have admissions specialists available at all times to answer your questions and get you on the right path toward sobriety.

adderall side effects

Adderall Side Effects and How to Spot Adderall Abuse

Finals are coming up, you’ve got a huge project due, or you need to shine at work. You’re exhausted but there’s no time to rest, so you pop an Adderall to keep you sharp. It’s no big deal, after all, it’s a legal prescription drug…

Sound familiar?

You’re not alone. Studies show that over 16 million adults in the United States are taking prescription stimulants. An estimated 5 million are taking the drug illegally, without a prescription, in an attempt to improve concentration and increase their mental stamina.

Unfortunately, this drug, long known as the “study buddy” or the “get-ahead drug,” isn’t as innocent as it might seem. Adderall side effects are serious and can have a long-term impact on your physical and mental health. Let’s take a look at how this drug impacts the body and the brain, and review some of the telltale signs of Adderall abuse.

Adderall Side Effects

Adderall has both positive and negative side effects, which is why so many people take it whether they’ve been prescribed it or not. On the positive side, the drug can improve concentration, elevate your mood, make you more alert, and less tired. The drug will often make you feel like you can think more clearly and help to minimize hyperactivity.

On the flip side, however, you may also experience negative effects including:

  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Numb fingers and toes
  • Dizziness
  • Back pain
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Peeling skin
  • Blurred vision
  • Hair loss
  • Lack of appetite/weight loss
  • Stomach ache
  • Constipation
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling nervous or jittery
  • Mood swings
  • Reduced sex drive

When taken exactly as prescribed, these effects are usually minimal. You’re far more likely to run into problems when taking Adderall without a prescription or taking it more frequently or in larger doses than recommended.

Potential Effects of Long-Term Misuse

Abusing or misusing Adderall can cause serious long-term physical and psychological effects. Let’s take a look at some of the most common issues.

Adderall’s Effect on the Brain

When Adderall is prescribed for ADHD, it works by increasing neurotransmitters like dopamine in the brain. Since those with ADHD have lower levels of these important brain chemicals, the drug helps to balance them out.

However, when you don’t have ADHD, Adderall use can cause the brain to become overstimulated. This can lead to psychological issues including:

  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Euphoria
  • Mania
  • Hallucinations
  • Hearing voices

This problem is growing more common. A recent study found that adolescents and teens who have been prescribed stimulants like Adderall to treat ADHD are twice as likely as others to develop psychosis.

Development of Personality Disorders

Mood swings are a common side effect of Adderall use. When abused for a long time, however, these swings can become severe and begin to impact a person’s overall personality. Increased hostility is common, and extreme mood swings can begin to present themselves as a bipolar disorder.

Misuse of stimulants like Adderall can lead to schizophrenia or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Long-Term Physical Effects

Beyond the short-term physical effects, long-term Adderall use can also negatively impact the body. When prescribed to children, it can cause stunted growth. Cardiac issues are common, including irregular heartbeat, Cardiomyopathy, and Tachycardia.

Long-term users of Adderall are also at increased risk of necrotizing vasculitis, high blood pressure, seizures, stroke, or heart attack. In some cases, sudden death may occur.

Adderall Addiction

The longer you use Adderall, the more likely you are to build up a tolerance. Once your body gets used to it, you’ll need higher doses to achieve the same effects. Keep increasing your use, and you’ll develop a dependency.

Once you’re dependent on a drug, stopping its use will often result in withdrawal symptoms. These can include severe insomnia, fatigue, irritability, disorientation, and panic attacks. Urinary tract infections and stomach pain are also common withdrawal symptoms.

When attempting to recover from Adderall addiction, professional help is often necessary. Inpatient residential rehab is usually recommended for moderate to severe addiction. 

How to Spot Adderall Abuse

Most people who use Adderall without a prescription will go out of their way to keep it a secret. If you know what to look for, however, it’s not hard to spot the signs of Adderall abuse.

Exhaustion and weight loss are common among Adderall users. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for changes in personality including aggressiveness, risk-taking, and sudden outbursts. People on Adderall often talk fast, lose their train of thought, and become paranoid.

When Adderall addiction takes hold, it’s not uncommon to see a decline in personal hygiene. The addict is also likely to begin having problems at work or school and may run into relationship and financial issues.

If you notice your loved one frequently taking pills or sneaking around, it’s also a good sign that something isn’t right.

Staging an Intervention

When a loved one is in trouble with drugs, they’ll often deny it. The habit may be so ingrained that they can’t see the problem, or they may feel ashamed. Arranging a professional intervention is often the best solution. 

Since intervention is about more than just gathering family and friends in a room, it’s always a good idea to learn more before you get started. Research the process and make sure that you’re comfortable with it, then contact an intervention specialist to help walk you through it. 

Let Us Help You!

If you or someone you love is suffering from Adderall side effects, there’s a good chance you’ll need professional help to kick the habit. We can help!

Our addiction specialists are standing by. Don’t wait for things to get worse. Contact us today for a confidential consultation. 

References:

what is dabbing

What is Dabbing and is It Addictive?

You may have heard of friends giving up on their green for the new craze. While 22.2 million Americans have used marijuana in the past month, they decided they needed something stronger.

That’s right. Dabbing is making its way into the mainstream for the pot industry, but what is dabbing? Is it safe? Is it addictive?

Let’s talk about dabbing, the risks involved, and what you can do about it.

What Is Dabbing?

Dabs, hash oil, wax, glue, or whatever you want to call it, has been around since the mid-’90s.

As you may know, dabs are a wax comprised of concentrated THC, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana.

The process of extracting THC wax can be as simple as using a hair straightener and some wax paper to remove some of the THC from the cannabis plant.

The term for actual “dabs” refers to butane hash oil (BHO). Yes, the butane used in blow torches is used in the extraction process.

Some people have used more effective and different ways of extracting the THC, but no matter how it is done, the potency can be high.

Marijuana can be as high as 20% THC depending on the strain and how it is grown. However, dabs can range between 70-90% THC, making them a lot stronger.

Methods of Use

Dabs can be used in a number of different ways.

Some people who use them will bake them into food or candies and eat them. Edible dabs are fairly popular, as the effects last much longer and they are easier to cook with than marijuana.

Others use dab pens, vaporizers that are made specifically for wax. These will have either an exposed coil that you put the wax on, or it will be a regular vape pen with thinner dab liquid.

The most popular form of dabbing involves a torch and some glass. This can be damaging for your lungs, as the method of doing this involves heating up a “nail” made of glass or quartz with a blowtorch until it is glowing red from heat. Once it is heated up, a piece of the was is placed onto the nail and inhaled.

Types of Addiction

Addiction does not come in one simple form. It can look different for every different user with every different substance. However, we can break the types of addiction down into two different umbrellas.

Physical Addiction

Physical addiction develops after your body adapts to a new substance. People who smoke cigarettes become physically addicted to nicotine because their brain cannot produce the same compound itself, and it grows a dependence for it.

People who are physically addicted to a substance will suffer withdrawal symptoms if they stop using the substance.

Psychological Addiction

Contrary to what you may believe, psychological addictions are the stronger of the two. If you are physically addicted to something and you choose to stop, you have that ability.

However, if you are psychologically addicted to a substance, you need to change your entire mindset about it to stop.

Psychological addictions also make it more difficult to believe that there is no need to quit. Think about it. If you do not feel any withdrawals after stopping for a couple of days, it’s easier to justify to yourself that you aren’t addicted.

On the flip side, if you believe yourself to be addicted and accept it, that can be a hard sell to fix.

People can struggle with both types of addictions simultaneously, or one without the other. However, it is certain that a combination of the two is the most difficult to overcome.

Find out more about the difference between these types of addictions to better understand them.

Is Dabbing Addictive?

In short, yes. People can become psychologically dependent on it with regular use. It can get to the point of believing that you can’t function normally without it.

This can be dangerous for their health, especially if they are using the torch method, but it is dangerous in other ways as well. Regular and consistent dabbing can be destructive financially, socially, or professionally.

For very frequent users, people can actually become physically addicted to dabbing as well. While physical addiction from THC may not be as strong as some other substances, withdrawal symptoms can occur once the user has stopped using the drug for a while.

Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, depression, loss of appetite and trouble with sleep.

Many people use marijuana as a sleep aid and they become dependent on it, making insomnia one of the most common symptoms of withdrawal.

What Should You Do?

If somebody is using marijuana or hash oil in a way that is negatively affecting their life, or the lives around them, then it should be treated as an addiction.

If you feel as if you cannot function without the drug, it may be time to quit. Those feelings will not go away with more use of the drug, and physical withdrawal symptoms will only become worse with longer, sustained use.

Even though the popular belief is that marijuana is not addictive, it can be for some. If it is hurting them or their loved ones, then it is just as serious of a problem as it would be with any other substance.

If it is time to address the issue, find out how to do an intervention the right way.

What Else?

Ignore anybody who says that marijuana or dabbing is not dangerous, and find out if you or a loved one are addicted to it.

If you feel as if somebody you love is addicted to dabbing, talk to them about it and intervene if necessary.

Now that we’ve answered the question “What is dabbing?”, determine if treatment is necessary and check out our services.

References:

overcoming addiction

Overcoming Addiction: How to Stop Abusing Drugs

Are you one of the many people who developed drug addiction? Does a loved one suffer from drug abuse? If you answered one of the above questions with a ‘yes’, you know how hard life can be in the grip of drugs.

Overcoming addiction may seem like an impossible achievement, but countless people have managed to escape the vicious circle of drug abuse. You can be next.

Overcoming addiction is indeed possible. Read on to find out how to stop abusing drugs.

Understanding Drug Addiction

To fix a problem you have to understand it first. So, what is drug addiction?

In simple terms, drug addiction is any chronic disorder where the sufferer has a compulsive urge to seek and use drugs despite the adverse consequences.

Drug Addiction as a Disease

Drug addiction is in fact classified as a brain disorder because it affects multiple brain functions, including:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Self-control
  • Decision making
  • Reward
  • Pleasure
  • Learning
  • Judgment
  • Memory
  • Behavior

And several others. The changes in the above functions may last for years after stopping the drugs, which is what causes many former addicts to relapse.

So, drug addiction is just like any other disease. It is dangerous, but it is also preventable and treatable. However, if drug addiction is left untreated, it can ruin a person’s life.

If you or a loved one has a drug addiction, know that it is not a character flaw. It is a medical problem just like depression, diabetes, or a broken leg.

Many people think that drug addicts lack willpower or common decency to stop their drug abuse. This is wrong. Nobody can just choose to stop their drug addiction, just like they can’t choose to stop suffering from diabetes or depression.

So, drug addiction cannot be overcome by sheer will alone. As we will see below, you need to understand the challenges and have a clear plan. Recovery is possible, but it takes time and effort. However, the reward is nothing less than your life itself.

What Causes Drug Addiction?

You may think the causes of drug addiction are obvious, but that is not often the case. People can take drugs for many reasons. Some drug use is even justified. Prescription drugs improve and even save the lives of millions of people.

So, what causes people to take illegal drugs or abuse prescription drugs?

In the end, drug abuse boils down to a number of key reasons.

Social Pressure

Teenagers and young adults are often caught in the trap of drugs through social pressure. Many people try drugs for the first time as part of a dare, or when trying to impress their peers. Sometimes, drug use is seen as trendy.

Curiosity

Another common cause among younger addicts is curiosity. Young adults are more likely to try drugs just to see how it is, and to show how “open-minded” they can be.

Such people rarely have the intention to start doing drugs. They just want to get a new experience. However, some drugs like crack cocaine are so addictive, that a single use can get you hooked.

To Avoid Stress, Depression, and Anxiety

People who feel social pressure, anxiety, and depression will resort to drugs to cover their problem. The intense euphoria from using drugs can numb all physical and emotional pain. Some drugs give you a surge of self-confidence, while others calm you down.

People who feel powerless might use cocaine to feel stronger. People who feel anxiety may use opioids to relax and feel happy.

To Get High

It is true that drugs can give people some of the most intense pleasures known to science. The initial pleasure when the drug first kicks in can feel incredibly good. However, this never lasts long and can only be sustained by more drugs. This is what causes the vicious circle of addiction for many people.

To Improve Performance and Focus

Some people, and especially athletes, may resort to drugs in order to boost their athletic performance. Students and academics may also do drugs to improve their academic focus. Such users often resort to prescription drugs.

Your Brain on Drugs

Most people will try drugs for the first time voluntarily. However, once the drugs have affected a person’s brain, it is impossible to resist the urge to take more. The brain’s chemistry changes as a result of drug use, and this is what causes addiction at a biological level.

Most illegal drugs interact with the brain’s reward system. They often do so by triggering the creation of dopamine, the hormone responsible for feeling happy. This is the way our brains tell us to repeat a certain behavior. If we tamper with the reward system, we are causing our brains to reward us for harmful behaviors.

As a person uses more and more of a certain drug, their brain adapts to feelings of euphoria from that drug. This adaptation makes them feel less and less satisfied with taking the same dose. This is known as drug tolerance.

Drug tolerance means that you need to take more and more of the same drug to get the same feelings of euphoria. In the meantime, the brain becomes numb to all other forms of pleasure, such as food, sex, socialization, and resting, which helps reinforce drug abuse as the only form of pleasure that the brain responds to.

The Vicious Circle of Relapsing

Since drug addiction affects the brain, it interferes with a person’s judgment and self-control. This means that people trying to stop their addiction will be prone to relapse and do drugs again.

Drug addiction is a relapsing disease that needs a complex, multidisciplinary approach to treatment.

If you try to stop your addiction by sheer will alone, chances are you will fail due to the nature of drug addiction.  People in recovery can still relapse. Relapsing doesn’t mean that you should stop trying, or that your treatment is not working. It is just a sign that your doctors might have to revise your treatment.

So, what to do if you find yourself addicted to drugs? First of all, don’t lose hope, because drug addiction is manageable and treatable, as we will see below.

How to Overcome Drug Addiction

If you or a loved one currently suffer from drug addiction, don’t lose hope. As we have seen above, addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that causes a compulsion to seek drugs. The good news is that it is not an incurable disease, though the risk of relapsing can make it seem very hard to overcome.

Let’s take a closer look at the steps to overcome your drug addiction.

Accepting Your Problem

Everything starts with understanding and acceptance. You can’t hope to fix your drug addiction if you don’t admit it to yourself. Embrace your problem and start working towards solving it.

Since you are reading this article, you have already taken the first step, so don’t give up! You’re on the right track for a new beginning.

Decide to Make a Change Now

Everyone knows that drugs are bad for them. However, it is hard to decide to make a change here and now. The dark nature of drug addiction causes us to feel uncertain and procrastinate when it comes to deciding to change our harmful habits.

Understanding What is at Stake

Getting sober means changing your life in more ways than you can imagine. In order to get rid of your addiction, you will have to change the way you handle problems, the way you think about yourself, and the way you spend your time every day.

This may sound like a lot, but without the changes, you can’t take back your life. In order to understand what is at stake, you should try to track how much and how often you use. This will help you realize how much your addiction governs your life.

Set Specific Goals

Now that you know what is at stake, you need to set clear goals. You want to get rid of your addiction.

So, when do you start? How much time do you allow yourself before trying another treatment? Do you go cold turkey, or start by limiting your drug use?

Start Changing Habits

Even before committing to recovery you can start with the small steps. Change habits that might be contributing to your addiction. Remove reminders and avoid social interactions with people who can drag you back into drug addiction.

Ask Friends and Family for Support

If you feel like overcoming your drug addiction is hard, remember that you are never alone. Enlist the help of friends and family to support you in your effort. Your friends and family can help you change your habits and give you guidance to avoid relapsing.

Drug Addiction Treatment Options

Now that you have decided to make a change and enlisted the help of friends and family, it is time to consider your treatment options.

Different drugs require different treatments, but all drug addictions have some characteristics in common. We have seen above how drugs affect the chemistry of the brain and our behavior.

All drug addiction treatment options deal with certain core elements of addiction. The most common include:

  • Drug detoxification
  • Medication
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Follow-up treatment
  • Long-term care

Detoxification is the first step, and usually the most painful one. Getting the body rid of the drugs can cause a range of side effects. That is why for many drug addictions, doctors prescribe certain medications to help ease the transition to sobriety. One of the most common ones is methadone, which doctors prescribe to opioid addicts.

Behavioral therapy encompasses counseling, group sessions, and other forms of psychological support that can help you identify the cause of your addiction and avoid relapsing. Behavioral therapy also includes follow-up sessions to check on your progress.

Finally, treatment often includes long-term checks and ongoing care to avoid relapsing and make sure you are living a fulfilling and satisfying life.

Drug Treatment Programs

There are several types of treatment programs, from day treatment to full residential care. With residential treatment, you will be living in a specialized facility and receive dedicated care. Residential treatment can last up to six months.

There are also sober houses and communities where you get to live with other people fighting drug addiction. This gives recovering addicts a safe and friendly community with no possibility to relapse.

You can also opt for outpatient treatment. With outpatient options, you spend your day at a facility but don’t stay there overnight. You return each morning for your activities and checkups.

With day treatment, you will live at home but visit a hospital or facility each day. This will substitute for your daily work, as daily treatment requires up to 8 hours of your time each day.

Finding the Treatment You Deserve and Overcoming Addiction

Overcoming addiction is possible. Here at Addiction Treatment Services, we help you find personalized rehabilitation for you or your loved one.

There many addiction treatment centers across the country that can give you the recovery experience you deserve, but it’s not always easy to pick the right one for you.

Sometimes making the first step is the hardest thing. We are here to help you start your journey to recovery and a healthier, happier life free of drug addiction.

At Addiction Treatment Services, we understand your needs and can help with addiction treatment, intervention, and support. Contact us today and we will help you find the recovery center that best matches your needs.

How We Got Here: A Brief History of the Opioid Epidemic

America lost 58 thousand soldiers in the Vietnam War according to the National Archives, and 620,000 deaths in the Civil War.

In 2016, there were more than 60,000 deaths caused by drug overdoses in 2016 alone, and in 2017, 200 Americans died per day in the opioid epidemic.

The opioid epidemic that is rocking the nation is now exceeding the cost of lives to America by that of more than two of America’s greatest wars of all time combined. Let’s trace this crisis back to its roots to find out how this crisis began, and then we’ll discuss how you can avoid becoming a statistic in the history of the opioid epidemic.

It started with the overprescription of opioids.

Today, two million Americans abuse opioids.

Nobody is dying alone in the opioid epidemic, even when their addiction has led them to the point of complete isolation from the world they once knew.

First Step on the History of the Opioid Epidemic

Although history shows that opioid use for pain relief has been in place since the Civil War, the real opioid crisis dates back to the 1990’s. They say it is a three-wave problem over the opioid epidemic timeline. For the first time since 1999, the life expectancy for Americans has decreased because of this crisis.

The crisis is due to the overprescription of opioids, but the use of illegal opioids has also increased and contributed to the crisis.

Prescription opioids include substances that include either morphine or codeine. Synthetic forms of opioids are now on the market, however, and include methadone, tramadol, and fentanyl.

Opioid abuse has been in play since the beginning of the last century. Veterans were given morphine, a derivative of the poppy plant, during and after the Civil War.

By the late 1800’s, pharmaceutical companies started to create synthetic versions, and this is when heroin was born.

It was no secret at this time that heroin or other synthetic forms of opium were addictive. By 1912, the United States joined other nations in forming the International Opium Convention. This convention would work to control the opioid market.

In 1924 came the Heroin Act, bringing more regulations to the heroin market. By the time both World Wars were over, heroin abuse was becoming a problem.

The 1924 Heroin Act was a revision of the 1909 Smoking Opium Exclusion Act that authorized poppy plant imports for medical purposes. Even in 1909 American citizens were using a pipe or “vaping” to consume heroin.

By 1924, it was illegal to import or possess heroin.

In 1970, this drug was developed into synthetic drugs of hydrocodone and oxycodone for pain relief and to treat cancer pain. As years went on, an overprescription of these drugs for various diagnoses has led to the opioid epidemic that we face today.

The United States Leads the World

Today, drug abuse is costing America over $442 billion dollars a year in both health care and criminal justice costs. The opioid epidemic comprises $78 billion of that number.

The United States leads the world in opioid use, consuming over 80 percent of the world’s opioid production.

Opioid abuse is America’s leading cause of death for those under the age of 50. More are dying from an opioid overdose in America than the flu or kidney problems, pneumonia, car accidents, or firearm deaths.

The Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy M.D. M.B.A. says that opioid use is more common in America than diabetes and all cancers combined.

10 percent of those who are addicted to opioids are dying because they just don’t get the help they need. They often don’t seek help because they fear the costs or stigma associated with going to rehab.

The stigma of drug addiction is a leading cause of overdose deaths as well. Many users today just don’t want to admit they have a problem that could be criminal. They also may not be able to afford care.

But today, more and more insurance companies are saving lives by covering addiction treatment services. Additionally, addiction treatment services today are working to get rid of the stigma associated with addiction by just focusing on saving lives.

The Science of the Opioid Crisis

The opioid epidemic is all rooted in the science of opioids. Many national agencies refer to the history of the opioid epidemic like a plague.

The science of opioids is all about how they impact the brain. When opioids cross the blood-brain barrier, they hit the pleasure centers in the brain in such a way that the user describes it as a euphoric high.

Chasing the high is the center of every addiction. Opioids bind to receptors in the brain that block pain. When this happens, a chemical addiction occurs.

The addiction is not just chemical. The patient feels good psychologically and wants to keep feeling this good, so they continue to abuse the substance.

But not only is the addiction chemical and psychological, but the body also becomes chemically addicted or dependent on this euphoric feeling.

New research shows that scientists are getting closer to untangling the neural pathways that lead from opioid use to dopamine triggers. Dopamine is the substance in the brain that is released from the pleasure centers that makes the person feel good.

These scientists say that addiction occurs when the effects of consuming a drug provide a beneficial outcome to the human body. A dopamine release is one of those pleasurable outcomes that keep people going back to opioids for more after their first use.

This dopamine release contributes to the dependency on opioids. This even serves as a gateway to abusing more dangerous drugs such as heroin, according to these scientists. Heroin is a drug that many doctors today will say can become addictive upon first use.

But opioids are also dangerous upon first use. While there are thousands of examples world-wide, one harrowing story is the story of a 15-year-old named Sam. He consumed heroin once and went into a coma for two months.

Sam is now in a wheelchair unable to read, write, or live with the quality of life of a typical 15-year-old boy.

The opioid epidemic timeline started over 30 years ago and continues today.

Prescription medication withdrawal and detox led to symptoms so uncomfortable that people began turning to heroin to recover from opioid withdrawal.

How Did We Get Here?

Pharmaceutical companies and the doctors prescribing meds are the roots of this epidemic.

In the 1990’s, drug companies were reassuring the medical community that opioid meds were not addictive. But they were and still are today.

This notion led to a widespread use of the medication and ultimately an abuse and misuse of prescribed meds. By 2015, tens of thousands of Americans were dying from this crisis.

It is estimated that 21 to 29 people prescribed opioid medications will abuse them, and that 8 to 12 percent will develop an addiction. It is also believed that 4 to 6 opioid addicts will transition to heroin addiction once medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone become less readily available.

Due to regulations and more awareness of the opioid crisis, fewer doctors are prescribing them today. This is leading to more dangerous drugs entering the crisis, such as methamphetamines and fentanyl.

Awareness is not to be underestimated, however. Information is power. Many don’t know or understand the gentle and kind support available in many different levels of detox today. This support saves lives.

Wave One – 1991 Opioid Deaths

The opioid crisis is widely considered a three-wave problem. The three waves are defined as the wave where the first rash of deaths first started, followed by an increase in heroin deaths. The final wave is the one the nation is facing now.

Experts consider today’s crisis as first starting in 1991 when opioid-related deaths began after an increase in prescription medication use.

At this time, Big Pharma was reportedly teaching the medical community that it was okay to prescribe opioids as they weren’t addictive. Initially, these medications were only prescribed for chronic or severe pain, such as for cancer or trauma victims.

But those guidelines began to decline once Big Pharma assured doctors that the drugs weren’t addictive. Even today, morphine may be the first drug administered by an EMT or emergency doctor when a patient presents with severe pain.

In this first wave, by 1999, 86 percent of people using opioid medication were using them for non-cancer related pain management.

Wave Two – 2010: Heroin Deaths Increase

The second wave of the opioid epidemic began in 2010 when heroin abuse deaths began rising dramatically. Prescription medications became harder to obtain, and addicts began turning to the streets for their high.

With that, heroin became a popular choice because it was easily available and more affordable than most other medications. By 2013, heroin-related deaths increased by 286 percent.

Because heroin is often injected, use also contributes to illnesses and deaths caused by improper use of intravenous equipment. Along with the rise of heroin-related deaths is the rise of HIV/AIDS, blood problems, infections, and hepatitis B and C.

The increase of these problems is also leading to an increase of the multi-billion-dollar health care burden. There are many costs to the country as a result of this crisis.

Wave Three – 2013: the Arrival of Fentanyl

By 2013, the arrival of fentanyl led to the spike in opioid-related deaths in epidemic proportions. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used in hospitals in minute doses for extreme pain. Today, it is becoming manufactured illegally and not safely.

The smallest dose of fentanyl can still kill someone when not administered properly. But this drug is becoming easier to obtain that oxycodone or even heroin.

In England alone, fentanyl-related deaths have increased by 27 percent in this third wave of the opioid epidemic.

The overprescription of medications is a leading cause of this crisis. But so too is the affordability of heroin on the streets.

National agencies for health are urging the medical community to follow guidelines for prescribing these medications for pain management.

The Opioid Crisis – What’s Happening Now

Many agencies refer to overprescription in the history of the opioid epidemic as a leading cause. This is a problem that is caused at the level of the doctor’s office but also at the level of the pharmaceutical companies.

Regulations and laws have been passed and continue to be passed to monitor and regulate these industries.

The United States Senate is regulating the ties between lobbyists and drug developers.

But the United States Department of Health and Human Services is still looking to work in the medical community to stop the epidemic. But to many, it feels like they are still just barely holding back a flood of problems.

The National Institute of Health is looking to find safer ways to manage severe and chronic pain.

They are also working to develop new medications that will be non-addictive.

At the same time, the medical community is becoming more supportive in the treatment of addictions. There are many different treatments and support options for drug addiction.

Avoid Becoming a Statistic

The American Journal of Public Health noted author William Cole who wrote a book about cancer pain in 1960. Here he wrote that severe pain such as cancer pain was demoralizing and debilitating, and opioid medications were critical to the quality of life.

But he also said, we must be “loathe” to overprescribe those because the addiction itself “may become a hideous spectacle.”
The history of the opioid epidemic confirms this statement.

And here we are today, in the middle of a crisis that is killing more Americans than the Vietnam War and the Civil War combined. Nobody is alone in this crisis no matter how isolated or alone you may feel.

Find out what resources are available in your state and let us help you or a member of your family start recovery today.

Addiction Treatment for Nurses

Nurses, like other medical professionals, are some of the hardest-working members of the workforce. They work long shifts where they’re almost constantly on their feet and they take care of people other than themselves or their loved ones when people are ill or hurt. Many of them do all of these things with a smile on their face and a gentle bedside manner to boot. Nurses play a huge roll in the healthcare provided to you at hospitals and other medical offices that you may remember the nurse that took care of you more fondly than the doctor or surgeon that was in control of your care.

Still, despite their strengths, nurses are just as human as the rest of us. They have one of the most stressful jobs in the world, their families, personal lives, and just as many additional factors pushing and pulling at them as anyone else. Because of this, it’s no surprise that roughly 1 in every 10 nurses abuses alcohol or drugs to some degree.

When this drug or alcohol abuse gets out of control, nurses may end up working while under the influence, start missing shifts, or even lose their license as a result of malpractice. There’s also a hefty stigma tacked onto medical personnel who end up with an addiction or substance abuse problem that discourages them from seeking help. More often than not, they’ll be judged by their colleagues if their secret gets out, rather than having their problem acknowledged for what it is — a disease and chronic behavioral disorder.

Because of this, it’s even more important for nurses to seek professional addiction recovery treatment for their alcohol or drug abuse, before it damages their career, relationships, health, and life beyond repair.

 

Understanding Addiction in Nurses

Taking care of others for consistently long stretches of time is physically, mentally, and emotionally strenuous. Most nursing shifts are about 12 hours long and can be during any time of day. Nurses who work night shifts are not only working long hours, but they’re also forcing their body to adapt to a nocturnal schedule, which is especially jarring if their day and night shifts alternate throughout the week.

Plus, the needs of their patients vary drastically depending on their specialization. Nurses can come into contact with a wide variety of patient suffering from all manner of ailments throughout their days, which can put a lot of psychological strain on nurses. And while nurses are notoriously adept at handling these pressures time and time again, over time this lifestyle can take its toll.

Exhaustion is a major concern, since it can quickly lead to a substance dependency. Some may start to rely on “uppers” such as amphetamines like Adderall or Ritalin in order to stay alert regardless of how much sleep they did or didn’t get. Others may turn to “downers” and tranquilizers like Ambien and alcohol to help them get the most out of the little sleep they can get.

Like any medical profession, nursing can be just as rewarding as it is devastating. Some nurses have to witness unimaginable suffering constantly while others may work in wards where patient death is unfortunately a very real risk. There are countless ways for even a single shift to provide plenty of opportunities for additional psychological strain on medical personnel. Drugs and alcohol are often turned to as a way to mask the stress and pain, even though substance abuse is an unhealthy and dangerous way to cope with such problems.

There are so many other reasons why nurses are at risk of developing substance abuse issues, so it’s important to consider how much they put themselves through in order to take care of others. And despite the stigmas surrounding medical professionals and substance abuse issues, there is hope for nurses struggling with drug or alcohol addiction.

 

Rehab Treatment Programs for Nurses

We understand and appreciate the sacrifices medical professionals make in order to do their jobs. We know how hard it can be to manage the stressors that drove you to substance abuse in the first place and we want to help you regain control over your wellbeing again. We can help you find anonymous, individualized treatment plans for medical professionals that will provide you with the care you need to overcome your addiction.

There are all sorts of treatment options and support programs available that can help you . Most of the U.S. (around 40 states) offer some form of treatment assistance program to help them overcome their addiction, return to work, and move forward in their careers addiction-free. There’s a myriad of options available for anyone ready to get started on their path to recovery.

Detox, typically the first step in rehab treatment plan, will allow your body to kick it’s physical dependency on your substance(s) of choice. Detox can be a very uncomfortable process, but medication-assisted detox is also available, which can help control withdrawal symptoms throughout your treatment program. After detox, patients move on to a personalized therapy and counseling plan.

Depending on the rehab center, different styles of therapy will be available to you. Individual and group therapy are common place, and family therapy is relatively standard as well. Individual therapy will help you discover and resolve the root of your stressors, with a counselor dedicated to helping you learn healthier and more effective coping techniques. Group therapy allows patients to support each other throughout treatment and work together to get healthy. And family therapy helps provide tools and coping mechanisms to patients and their families while mending any broken bonds caused by the patient’s addiction.

Combining relevant forms of therapy and, when necessary, medication to help control cravings or urges to use is often the most successful method of treatment, but no one rehab program works for everyone. Plus, this often makes it easier to treat dual diagnosis patients, which nurses are especially susceptible to becoming due to the amount of suffering and trauma they’re exposed to. Nurses battling addiction plus a co-occuring mental health disorder such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety, can combat all of their ailments at once if they find a treatment center capable of meeting all of their needs.

 

Find Professional Rehab Treatment for Nurses Today

Call us today to learn more and find an addiction treatment plan and rehab facility that works for you. Our specialists are available 24/7 for your convenience, so why wait? Take your first step towards addiction recovery today.