5 Tips for Overcoming Drug Cravings

overcoming drug cravings

overcoming drug cravings

 

Drug cravings are one of the most difficult parts of addiction recovery. What’s important to realize is that they are normal when you have a substance use disorder. Having cravings, even after a lengthy period of sobriety, doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. All you need to do is get help overcoming drug cravings.

If you experience a strong desire for drugs or alcohol, you can work to change your addictive thinking patterns.

Many people find that narrative therapy techniques help them lower relapse rates. 

 

Understanding Drug Cravings

Cravings for drugs or alcohol can occur when you’re in active addiction. During this time, you’ll often lie to yourself, and you’ll perpetuate cycles of addictive thinking to justify giving in to those cravings. For example, you might blame situations around you for why you have to give in to a craving for drugs of abuse. 

Addictive thinking can also be rooted in a victimhood mentality. When you have the mindset of a victim, you believe that you are a victim of your circumstances. Therefore you have to keep using drugs.

  • The concept of addiction to drugs or alcohol is rooted in our narratives. Our life experiences lead us to build our narratives and personalize every experience.
  • If you’ve experienced trauma, this could form the basis of your personal narrative. Then, when you use drugs or alcohol, you are convincing yourself that it’s the result of your narrative. 
  • You may feel out of control and guided by your experiences and your addictive thinking stemming from the narrative you create.

All of these things fuel the likelihood of giving in to your cravings.

When you’re in recovery for months or even years, you might find yourself back in these addictive thinking patterns that follow the narrative you’ve set for yourself.

  • Everyone has stories they tell themselves about their lives, whether positive or negative.
  • These narratives shape how we view ourselves. 
  • If enough of your stories are negative, it can lead to substance abuse and depression, and other mental health disorders.

It’s also important to note that physical dependence can lead to cravings. This happens as you’re going through withdrawal symptoms from addictive drugs or alcohol. Withdrawal occurs early on in your drug addiction treatment program for opioid use disorder, alcohol addiction, or an addiction to illegal drugs. 

An effective treatment program will provide a medical detox as you go through withdrawal from the effects of drugs. Medication-assisted treatments can help you manage the physical cravings immediately following drug misuse. 

Withdrawal symptoms are different from the psychologically intense cravings you might feel during the recovery process, which we talk more about below. 

 

How Does Narrative Therapy Help Addictive Disorders?

Narrative therapy is a way to take a non-blaming approach to counseling and addiction treatment.  You are the expert in your own life. You work with a therapist to help separate you as a person from your problems.

In narrative therapy, you work under the assumption that you have many values, beliefs, skills, and abilities that you can rely on to reduce the effects of the problems in your life.

  • When you participate in this therapeutic intervention, you can remove labels from yourself, such as “addict.” 
  • You can also learn how to recognize the negativity shaping your behaviors and leading to patterns of self-destruction.
  • This form of therapy is different from other types of talk therapy because you and your therapist collaborate and work together to foster positive outcomes.
  •  If you’re struggling with addiction or mental disorders, you start to understand that while you may use drugs or alcohol, you are not defined by substance use. 
  • You separate yourself and create space from the problem to manage them in a detached way.
  • Your goal is to rewrite your story positively and take charge to develop healthy behaviors and mindsets. 

You can form a new sense of meaning in your life when you’re the author of your story.

Particular therapeutic techniques that may be used include:

  • A counselor is respectfully curious. They are giving the power to the client because they are rewriting the story.
  • Counselors will use questions to externalize issues and help their clients explore different viewpoints or interpretations.
  • The counselor encourages the client to open up and share their beliefs and views.
  • The client works towards shifting their view of their problems as not a part of them but something affecting them, which means they’re externalizing it.

 

 

How Can Narrative Therapy Help You Overcome Drug Cravings?

There are specific ways that you can borrow from this form of therapy to overcome drug cravings. Below are five tips for overcoming drug cravings by externalizing the problem and shifting the narrative.

 

Change Your Focus

If you’re at a point where you’re feeling a craving for drugs or alcohol, it’s easy to get pulled back into negative, addictive thinking. You might start to feel like a failure, which can quickly become your identity.

Rather than letting this take hold, change your focus.

Take the moment you’re in to create a preferred storyline. You aren’t weak for experiencing a craving. You’re strong because you’re taking steps to make a change.

 

Externalize the “Voice” of Cravings

If you feel the tug of a craving beginning to blossom, start to externalize it. The craving is an external voice. It’s not a defining feature of who you are. Consider the scenario leading up to the thoughts, what the thoughts said to you, and whether or not the voice of cravings always sounds the same.

When you personify the voice of cravings, you’re then externalizing the problem and creating space between it and you.

 

Think About Times You’ve Been Able to Resist the Craving

If there are times in the past, you’ve experienced the voice of cravings and resisted, how did you do that?

What was it like, what did you do, and how did you speak to yourself during that time? Describe to yourself in detail what you did to overcome a craving at any given point in time.

Maybe you went for a walk or texted a friend.

By evaluating these situations, you can start to practice the skills you have to resist common triggers and cravings and change outcomes. How can you build on those skills?

 

Push Back Against Cognitive Distortions

Addictive thought patterns tend to make cravings more intense than they have to be. For example, you might have a brief craving, but then your thoughts tell you that you’ll never be able to resist it. That then makes it much more powerful than it has to be.

Rather than letting it overwhelm your thinking, start to examine the thoughts you’re experiencing.

Remind yourself cravings happen, and they will pass. You might also be able to identify ways that you’re catastrophizing a situation in your life, leading to the craving.

For example, you could be having a problem in your relationship. Identify that and fight against it to lessen the intensity of your alcohol cravings or desire for drugs. 

 

Change Your Environment

When you externalize your addiction, it again helps you put space between yourself and it. When you create that space, you may realize the role environment has on whether or not you experience cravings.

For example, when you think about your narrative, maybe you realize that you feel cravings every time you’re in a certain environment.

Something as simple as changing that environment can help you rewrite overcoming drug cravings.

 

Seeking Treatment in Huntington Beach, CA

When you’re actively experiencing addiction, it’s easy to feel out of control and at the mercy of your cravings. You can learn to externalize your addiction and empower yourself to make changes through therapy and treatment. To learn more, please contact the Anchored Tides Recovery team by calling 866-600-7709.

Subutex vs. Suboxone: What’s the Difference

Subutex vs Suboxone

Subutex vs Suboxone


Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002, Subutex vs Suboxone represent two types of medications that treat opiate addiction. Before the passage of the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000, opiate addicts treated their addictions with methadone. After the enactment of the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000, physicians that received training and certification from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment had the legal right to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opiate addictions.

Both Subutex and Suboxone contain buprenorphine to treat opiate addicts, but just Suboxone contains an extra ingredient called naloxone The primary difference between Subutex vs. Suboxone is the extra ingredient of naloxone in the opiate treatment drug called Suboxone.

The addition of buprenorphine as an ingredient in both opiate addiction medications reduces the likelihood of a patient abusing either drug. According to the FDA, methadone represents a Schedule II drug, while buprenorphine is a schedule III controlled substance. The FDA states more than 16,000 physicians have earned the proper credentials to prescribe both Subutex and Suboxone.

 

What is Buprenorphine?

Previously administered as a pain reliever, buprenorphine binds with opiate receptors in the brain that trigger euphoric sensations. Although not considered a full opiate, the drug acts like a full opiate that masks the typical euphoric sensations, which reduces the physical tool withdrawal takes on the body. Buprenorphine also reduces the desire to take opiates, which helps patients recover during the detoxification process.

The gentler treatment of an opiate patient keeps the patient safe during the detoxification process.  Buprenorphine reduces the possibility of a patient relapsing, as well as experiencing difficulty coping with withdrawal symptoms. One of the greatest advantages of the switch from a methadone-based drug to a buprenorphine-based drug is the gentler drug allows a patient to focus on recovery, without having to deal with the distractions caused by cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

 

How Does Subutex Work?

Knowing how Subutex works helps you understand the difference between Subutex vs. Suboxone. Like Suboxone, Subutex tricks the brain into functioning like it does when a real opiate such as heroin is consumed. However, there remains a slight possibility that a patient can abuse Subutex, especially if an opiate addict crushes the pills and then snorts them or injects them intravenously with a liquid.

How a physician administers Subutex plays a significant role in determining the effectiveness of buprenorphine to mask the euphoric sensation that is commonly associated with the use of real opiates. The most effective method for administering Subutex is by placing it under the tongue and allowing the drug to absorb slowly into the body. Oral administration causes the drug to enter the body much faster, which inhibits the masking benefit of taking Subutex. A single daily dose placed under the tongue for absorption typically takes between three and four hours for the drug to reach its maximum effectiveness.

Certified physicians must monitor the quantity of Subutex taken to prevent a high dose from mimicking the high generated by a true opiate.

 

How Does Suboxone Work?

Even the slightest potential for the abuse of Subutex led researchers to develop a second faux opiate drug to treat addiction. Suboxone creates the same mimicking effect as Subutex, as well as fights the negative side effects of withdrawing from an opiate addiction. Physicians prescribe Suboxone as a combination of film or tablet, which contains both buprenorphine and naloxone. The addition of naloxone eliminates the euphoric high that is still somewhat present when taking Subutex.

Prescribing Suboxone in film or tablet form prevents the development of instant and intense withdrawal symptoms. Physicians must monitor patients to ensure they do not inject the drug, which can trigger highly distressing withdrawal symptoms.

 

 

What’s the Difference Between Subutex vs Suboxone?

The most significant difference between Subutex vs. Suboxone is the addition of naloxone in Suboxone. Both drugs are considered brand names for the treatment of opiate addicts. Although both drugs contain buprenorphine, the addition of naloxone in Suboxone helps addicts avoid painful withdrawal symptoms, without falling into another pattern of opiate abuse. Researchers developed Suboxone to improve the opiate treatment process. Although Subutex remains an effective drug for treating less serious opiate addictions, when a patient is vulnerable to experiencing distressing withdrawal symptoms, physicians often prescribe the most effective Suboxone.

Suboxone also is recommended for patients that face the potential for relapsing back into an opiate addiction.

Which is more effective between Subutex and Suboxone when it comes to treating opiate addicts? Both medications contain buprenorphine, which limits painful withdrawal symptoms and mimics the euphoric sensation felt when taking a real opiate such as heroin. The slight potential for abuse when taking Subutex represents the only downside of the drug. In response to the slight potential of abuse, researchers developed a second medication called Suboxone. In addition to buprenorphine, Suboxone also contains naloxone, which eliminates the possibility of the craving that leads to abusing the medication.

What is the verdict between Subutex and Suboxone when it comes to fighting an opiate addiction? The answer is Suboxone has a slight advantage over Subutex.



Addiction Treatment in Southern California

Treating an opiate addiction involves much more than simply prescribing Subutex vs Suboxone. Physicians should prescribe approved medications as part of an opiate treatment program. Opiate addicts benefit from therapy and other types of medical care to help them make the transition from an addict to someone who lives a clean and sober lifestyle.

Entering a formal addiction treatment center can make the difference between eliminating an opiate habit and eventually returning to the opiate addict lifestyle. An addiction treatment center is run by licensed and certified healthcare professionals that specialize in helping opiate addicts shake an addiction. In addition to the support of experienced treatment specialists, an addiction treatment center offers peer support in the form of group therapy sessions. Peer support is a highly effective tool that encourages opiate addicts to fight through the difficult times experienced during a treatment program.

Before you enter an addiction treatment center, be upfront with your physician when it comes to revealing what other types of illegal drugs you currently use. If you’re looking for help with managing long-term sobriety in southern California contact Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709.

Addiction and Self-Harm in Women

Addiction and Self Harm

There is often a relationship between addiction and self-harm behavior, particularly among women. Repetitive self-harming behaviors are more common than many people might initially realize. 

Officially known as nonsuicidal self-injury or NSSI, if someone is struggling with co-occurring disorders of addiction and self-harm, their treatment program needs to treat both. 

What is Self-Harming Behavior?

 

If you hurt yourself deliberately to deal with difficult feelings or emotions, trauma or painful memories or situations that are overwhelming, it’s self-harm or self-injurious behavior. While self-harm can reflect different things for different people, some describe these dangerous behaviors as:

  • Escape trauma and difficult memories
  • A way to express what they’re unable to put into words
  • Shifting emotional issues and emotional pain into physical pain
  • Emotional regulation or coping with overwhelming emotion
  • Making their invisible feelings or thoughts visible
  • Feeling in control of overwhelming emotions when they’re otherwise experiencing a loss of control
  • Having something consistent in their lives
  • Emotional release 
  • Punishing themselves for experiences or feelings
  • Handling stressful events 
  • A way to stop feeling numb or dissociated
  • Providing a reason for self-care
  • Expressing suicidal ideation, thoughts, or feelings without taking their lives.

Cutting is one of the more common methods of hurting oneself. Some people will pick at wounds to keep them from healing, burn themselves or pull out their hair.

While hurting yourself is a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, it leads to increased emotional distress and health risks. 

  • If you hurt yourself intentionally, you might experience feelings of shame.
  • If you drink or use substances while you hurt yourself, you could cause yourself a more severe injury than you intend.
  • You’ll also likely find that your quality of life is impacted, as is your ability to function normally. 
  • You might withdraw from things you enjoy or avoid loved ones because you don’t want them to see your injuries.

Harming yourself isn’t in and of itself a mental illness. Instead, it’s a behavior that mental health professionals feel represents the need for more effective coping skills. 

Unlike some other mental disorders, the DSM-5 doesn’t include specific diagnostic criteria for self-harm as a psychiatric disorder. It can be more of a symptom of something else as clinicians see it currently.

There are mental health conditions associated with this type of harm. Some of those include:

While hurting oneself is most common during the teen and young adult years, it can occur anytime in someone’s life.

People most at risk include individuals with a history of trauma, abuse, or neglect.

If a person engages in harmful behaviors and drinks or uses drugs, they’re lowering their self-control, creating more risks.

Young females most often show behaviors indicative of NSSI, but it affects males too.

In some ways, hurting yourself can become a behavioral addiction similar to alcohol or drug addiction. 

You may want to feel a release that the behavior elicits for you. You might develop a tolerance so that you hurt yourself more severely to feel more of a release over time, similar to substance addiction models. 

Addiction and Self-Harm

The Connection with Trauma and Self-Harming Behavior 

 

The majority of women with an addiction to drugs or alcohol have a history of trauma. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for them to recover without proper treatment or recognition of this trauma. Trauma-informed care is critical for treating self-harm disorders and addiction in young women.

When you have sadness, fear, or blocked anger because of difficult life situations, you have to experience your emotions safely.

You can’t overcome self-harm, which is a symptom of trauma, without finding other ways to deal with the hard emotions you have.

When someone experiences trauma or has post-traumatic stress disorder, it can create a deep mental and emotional wound. Trauma can be even more difficult for women than for men because people they know often perpetrate the events leading to it.

Women are more likely than men to blame themselves if they’re abused, leading to shame and self-loathing, which contribute to substance use disorders and hurting oneself.

Avoidance and denial don’t fix underlying problems. Women can fall into unhealthy coping mechanisms and try to self-medicate their symptoms.

All of these factors combine to make things worse, and addiction and harming yourself is progressive in many cases, meaning they get worse over time without treatment.

When women are self-medicating and are on the path to addiction, they progress more rapidly than men, often because of gender-specific challenges. Some of the issues that women face include:

  • Stigma and shame
  • Sexual and physical abuse
  • Lack of childcare services and resources
  • Lack of financial resources
  • Unavailability of services
  • More family responsibilities

Signs of Self-Injury and Self-Harming Behavior

 

Some of the symptoms of self-harming behavior include:

  • Scars frequently occur in patterns
  • Bruises, bite marks, cuts, or scratches
  • Having sharp objects on hand
  • Wearing long pants and sleeves even when the weather is warm or hot
  • Frequently reporting accidental injuries
  • Problems in relationships
  • Seeming unpredictable or emotionally unstable
  • Expressing feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or helplessness

Risk factors for self-injury include:

  • Being female and especially a teen or young woman is a major risk factor 
  • Having friends who self-injure
  • A history of traumatic or difficult experiences
  • Social isolation
  • Other mental health issues
  • Influence of drugs or alcohol abuse 
  • Personal identity issues 

Self-injury isn’t usually a suicide attempt and doesn’t inherently indicate suicidal intent, but it can increase the long-term risk of suicidal behavior. Longer-term patterns of someone hurting themselves when experiencing psychological pain or extreme depression can make suicide a higher risk.

Connections with Eating Disorders and Self-Harming Behavior 

 

There are links between eating disorders and self-injury, also especially prevalent in young women.

Eating disorders include binge eating, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Eating disorders rarely occur without other co-occurring conditions.

Someone with an eating disorder often may also engage in other self-destructive behaviors.

Treating Options for Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

 

If someone is experiencing self-injury and has a mental health disorder or a substance use disorder, they need treatment for both or dual diagnosis therapy. People with co-occurring disorders are more likely to be hospitalized than someone with just a substance use disorder without treatment.

An integrated treatment model is one with coordination between mental health care and substance use treatment.

Treatment programs for co-occurring disorders should aim to treat disorders’ emotional and physical aspects.

Integrated care leads to an improved quality of life and a higher likelihood of discontinued substance use. Integrated care can also improve psychiatric symptoms functionality in daily life and improve housing stability.

There isn’t a defined treatment for non-suicidal self-injury that’s widely studied, but instead, the goal is to recognize and treat underlying causes.

For substance use disorders and self-injury and harm, it’s important to learn healthy coping skills. 

  • During a treatment program, you can learn to maintain emotional balance and manage your difficult feelings, including loneliness, anger, and grief. 
  • Learning how to cope with negative emotions and overwhelming emotions is so important for recovery because these are inevitable things you’ll have to face in your life. 
  • Other treatment goals include improving self-esteem and self-image and developing skills for improving relationships and problem-solving. 
  • Impulse control may be part of the skills you learn too. 

We rarely see that addictions to drugs or alcohol occur in a vacuum. There are very frequently other conditions that are happening simultaneously, like self-harm. Sometimes, people may struggle with multiple conditions.

Our goal is to provide effective, integrated, and holistic treatment to address all conditions and symptoms at our addiction treatment center. Please reach out to learn more about treatment options for alcohol and drug addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders. 

Too often, people hide behind an outward smile, but you can change your life with treatment. To learn more about addiction treatment for women in Southern California, contact Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709.

The Problem with Cannabis Commercialization in California

Cannabis Commercialization

Cannabis Commercialization

 

California has led the way in terms of legalizing recreational cannabis. Since 1996, medical legalization has been in place, making it the first to pass such a law. Medical marijuana dispensaries and medical marijuana policies were a stepping stone to recreational cannabis laws in California and other states, including Colorado and Washington. 

Since cannabis is recreationally legal in California, local governments can’t prevent adults from growing, transporting, or using it for their personal use.

At the same time, commercial activities can be regulated and blocked by local governments under recreational cannabis legislation. 

When the California government legalized marijuana, growers and suppliers were required to register, comply with all regulations, and apply for permits.

The state’s regulatory agencies initially included the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Department of Public Health. As of 2021, they merged under the Department of Cannabis Control.

While attitudes are broadly shifting as far as the use of marijuana, some worry about the impacts of recreational cannabis legalization, especially on American teens and teen drug abuse rates. 

 

The Cons of Legal Recreational Marijuana

More than half of adults in the United States say they’ve tried marijuana, even though it remains an illegal drug federally. In 1969, public support for legalizing marijuana was only 12%. Now, it’s nearly 70%.

Proponents of cannabis commercialization and legalization say retail sales add billions to the economy and create jobs. Those in favor of legalization also say it frees up police resources and reduces some of the racial disparities in enforcement.

Opponents have their viewpoints, however.

  • Those who are against legalizing marijuana say that it creates high costs for taxpayers and society that outweigh the tax revenues. Those cited costs include emergency room visits, medical care, drugged driving victims, and addiction treatment.
  • Following recreational legalization, related traffic deaths went up 62% in Colorado. Law enforcement spoke up, saying what’s happening is the legalization of a product that creates more impaired drivers on the roadway, more visits to the emergency department, and more deaths. 
  • While not as addictive as some substances, we know that dependence on the drug occurs. The number of people addicted to and dependent on marijuana is likely to grow as legalization expands.
  • Heavy cannabis users can experience withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, anxiety, nausea, and depression. This is similar to any other substance use disorder. 
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse believes as many as four million people in the U.S. currently meet the criteria of a marijuana use disorder.
  • There are also opportunities for black market cartels to offer lower prices on marijuana and undercut legitimate sellers. With the tax structure in many states with legalized cannabis, it’s not difficult to do.

“Big Marijuana”

The concept of the “Big Marijuana” industry is also one that floats around. When you commercialize a substance like marijuana, there is a fear that there will be targeting of children and young people and exploitation for profit.

  • It’s similar to Big Tobacco. 
  • For years tobacco companies were marketing their products that explicitly appealed to children and young people with characters like Joe Camel.
  • We already see with cannabis commercialization that products include marketing with bright colors and sweet flavors. 
  • Marijuana retail sales include lollipops and gummies, and candy bars, which hold appeal for middle and high school students. 

A study published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2019 found small increases in heavy and detrimental marijuana use among American teens with access to legal shops during the study period. Based on the observational study, there were also small increases in cannabis use disorders among adults. 

  • Researchers looked at data from a national survey to understand marijuana use patterns. 
  • The study found among teens between the ages of 12 and 17; problematic marijuana use was 25% higher when states legalized it.
  • The researchers were careful to say they weren’t suggesting that marijuana not be legalized, but it did give pause to some when seeing the effects on secondary school students and teens. 

The issue with legalizing any psychoactive substance is that it makes it more readily available. While there are age restrictions to purchase it in states where there’s cannabis commercialization, teens can often find ways around that.

 

Self-Medicating with Marijuana

The other glaring problem is that when something is legal, we tend to see it as being safer than what it is in reality.

For example, consider alcohol. Alcohol is one of the deadliest substances available, and it contributes to numerous deaths and diseases. Still, since it is legal, we see it as more socially acceptable than something like heroin.

The same can be true of substance abuse related to prescription drugs. Opioids are among the most dangerous substances in America, but many view them as less harmful than illicit drugs because they’re available as a prescription. 

Prescription drug misuse has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. This isn’t to say that marijuana is as harmful but instead that our perception can shape attitudes towards drugs with risks. 

Many people who self-medicate with marijuana will usually have the same issues they’re self-medicating for (such as anxiety & depression) become a much bigger problem in the long-term due to their marijuana use. 

 

Adolescent Marijuana Use 

The teen years are when young people explore the world around them and take risks. Teen drug abuse rates tend to be fairly high because they often seek out independence. Unfortunately, some of their risk-taking can have adverse effects.

In 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 22% of surveyed high school students said they’d used marijuana in the past 30 days. The percentage of students who said they’d used it in their lifetime was 37%. It’s not uncommon for 8th graders and middle school students to also report regular marijuana use in addition to older teens, such as 10th graders through 12th graders. 

While there can be risks of using marijuana no matter a person’s age, these tend to be greater in teens.

  • Using marijuana puts teens at risk of developing mental health issues, including depression and social anxiety. 
  • Some people develop temporary psychosis. There’s an association between marijuana and schizophrenia when people start using it early in life.
  • Driving under the influence can be a major risk with marijuana. Marijuana, much like alcohol and illicit drugs, affects reaction time, coordination, and concentration.
  • Around three in 10 people who use marijuana products meet the diagnostic criteria for a cannabis use disorder. Symptoms of a marijuana use disorder include trying to quit or cut back unsuccessfully and giving up other activities to use the drug. When they begin using cannabis, the younger someone is, the more likely they are to develop a marijuana use disorder.
  • Teens regularly using marijuana can experience problems focusing and maintaining attention, difficulties with problem-solving, and memory and learning issues. 
  • The teen brain actively continues developing until around age 25. Cannabis exposures in the teen and early adult years can be harmful to a developing brain.
  • While initially, marijuana use can solve problems in the short term, like depression or anxiety, over time, it worsens these issues. It can also serve as a gateway to other drugs, including illicit drugs for some young people.

 

The Final Word

While we don’t know the full ramifications for American teens, we know that cannabis commercialization can negatively impact younger people and teens.

We have to be mindful going forward of what harm can stem from the commercialization of marijuana, particularly for younger age groups. Teen drug abuse can have unintended implications related to recreational cannabis commercialization and recreational marijuana legalization. 

If you’d like to learn about treatment for marijuana use disorders or any other substance use disorder, please contact Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709.

Drug Addiction in Elderly Women

addiction in the elderly

addiction in the elderly

 

An estimated 2.5 million older adults have a drug or alcohol problem. From six to 11% of hospital admissions among the elderly are due to alcohol or drug problems. Fourteen percent of elderly emergency department visits are substance-related, as are 20% of psychiatric admissions among older people.

Addiction in the elderly is a growing problem. Many factors contribute to a rising number of older Americans with substance use disorders.

Drug addiction in the elderly and alcohol abuse have accelerated during the pandemic as well. It’s important for families and loved ones, as well as health care providers, to watch for the signs of drug or alcohol misuse in older people.

Below, we discuss addiction in the elderly, particularly among older women who may have even more risk factors than older men.

An Overview of Substance Use in the Elderly

Typically, after young adulthood, rates of substance use decline. However, millions of older adults have a substance use disorder in the United States.  

Some people begin using substances early in life, which puts them at risk of later substance use. For other people, these patterns don’t start until they’re older.

Some of the risk factors for addiction in young people are similar in older people and often amplified.

  • Grief, financial stress, and a lack of social support contribute to addiction in people of all ages. 
  • Mental illness and social isolation are factors.
  • For older women, in particular, these risk factors can be common. Women tend to outlive their spouses, meaning they deal with grief and isolation more often, increasing the risk of addiction. 
  • Older women are most at risk of prescription drug abuse, while men’s substance use patterns later in life often involve alcohol.
  • The highest rates of alcoholism in the country are in widowers over 75. 
  • An estimated 20-25% of adults 75 and older intermittently drink heavily. 
  • The number of older people hospitalized for problems that relate to alcohol is equal to the number hospitalized for heart attacks.
  • An estimated 11% of older women abuse prescription medications. Non-medical use of prescription opioids is higher than abuse rates for other prescriptions, including sedatives and stimulants.
  • The adverse effects of drugs and alcohol can be more significant on elderly adults. As we age, our bodies become more sensitive to alcohol and substances. Your tolerance can decline, so you might feel the effects faster than you did when you were younger.
  • Amounts of drugs or alcohol that weren’t necessarily unsafe earlier in a person’s life can become dangerous or deadly in older people. 
  • The risks of cognitive impairment, worsening medical conditions, reduced quality of life, and addiction issues can increase in older people.

Addiction Risk Factors That Are Unique to Older People

While some risks of addiction in the elderly are the same for younger people, other factors are more predominant in older people. 

One is that older people are more likely to have chronic health issues. 

  • These issues can cause chronic pain in elderly patients
  • Older people may be prescribed prescription medicines to treat the pain or attempt to self-medicate. 
  • As people age, they also see an increasing number of doctors. 
  • Those doctors might not communicate with one another, meaning prescriptions can overlap or interactions can be overlooked.

When we’re in the younger phases of our lives, even though we might feel lonely or disconnected, we are often surrounded by other people. We have responsibilities to keep up with daily, like working or caring for children. If someone is experiencing substance abuse, it may become apparent to the people around them.

  • Older people can go extended periods without seeing anyone. 
  • This puts them at greater risk of isolation, which is in and of itself an addiction risk factor.
  • There’s also a lack of oversight into what someone is doing when they spend most or all of their time alone. 
  • Physical disabilities and physical pain may mean older people spend most of their time at home. 
  • The pandemic has worsened isolation for many people and fueled a rise in substance abuse across all age groups, including the elderly.
  • Older people can get confused and take larger doses of medicines than they’re supposed to, take doses more frequently than they should, or mix medicines that shouldn’t be combined.

​​

 

Drug Addiction in Elderly Women

Above, we touch on some of the gender differences in addiction in older men and women. As mentioned, men are more likely to abuse alcohol and women prescription drugs. There are other differences as well:

  • Women often use smaller amounts of drugs for shorter periods of time than men before becoming addicted.
  • Women are more likely to have drug cravings and relapse after treatment.
  • Due to sex hormones, women may be more sensitive to the effects of drugs than men.
  • When a woman uses substances, there may be more physical effects on their blood vessels and heart.
  • Changes in the brain and cognition are more common in women.
  • Females are more likely to go to the emergency room or die from an overdose due to substances.

 

Opioid Addiction in Elderly People

Opioids are a class of drugs available by prescription. Heroin is an illicit drug, meaning it’s illegal, but the effects are similar to prescription drugs. Opioid prescription medications include morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.

Doctors can give these pain-relieving medications to patients to manage various chronic pain and, more commonly, acute conditions.

In older people, because of health problems causing pain, opioid use is somewhat common.

Opioids attach to certain receptor sites in the central nervous system. They change how pain signals are sent. These medications also slow down the central nervous system.

The slowdown in the CNS can lead to symptoms including low blood pressure and heart rate and slow breathing.

Older people are more sensitive to the effects of drugs, so this slowdown can become dangerous or deadly with a smaller dose than it might in a younger person. Opioid medications contribute to tens of thousands of deaths each year because of overdoses. 

The risk of overdosing on prescription pain medication is higher when combined with other substances, like benzodiazepines or alcohol.

The Signs of Addiction in the Elderly

Spotting a substance use disorder in older adults or opioid addiction in the elderly is difficult. Many of the signs of substance abuse in the elderly population are similar to aging and chronic health conditions.

For example, addiction can lead to loss of balance and coordination, lack of interest in personal hygiene, forgetfulness, and cognitive problems. Symptoms of a new or worsening mental health disorder can be a sign of addiction. These are symptoms that often overlap with other things in older people.

  • If you have a loved one you’re concerned about, try to monitor their medications as much as possible. 
  • Check in with them regularly, and encourage them to use technology like video chat to stay connected. 
  • Going to their doctor’s appointments can be helpful when you can.

Older people are likely to refuse addiction treatment because they don’t like to leave their familiar surroundings or perhaps don’t recognize a problem.

Addiction treatment options are available that can specifically speak to the needs of older people with drug or alcohol addiction. Effective treatment often includes behavioral therapy, and consideration for co-occurring disorders, like depression or management of a chronic illness. 

If you’d like to learn more about how you can help someone in your life get treatment, reach out to the Anchored Tides Recovery team by calling 866-600-7709 today.

The Reality of Dating an Addict

Dating an Addict

Dating an Addict

 

If you are dating an addict and would like to remain hopeful of a successful union, some tips can help. While you can look forward to some trials, they can serve as steps to confirm your readiness. Equipping yourself with some vital facts can help turn what could otherwise be a heartbreak into a fulfilling, harmonious relationship.

 

Red Flags of Dating A Drug Addict

The challenges of dating a drug addict can exist at different levels. They will depend on the intentions and the receptivity of both individuals. Dating an addict who has no desire to aim for recovery is like walking through a minefield. That relationship is almost certain to face bad times. However, dating a recovering addict can prove more hopeful when handled rationally.

If a relationship with a drug addict is to succeed, both members need to be aware of the facts about addiction while being willing to deal effectively with them. If such a couple is to have the potential of being a long-term quality connection, it must honor the same values necessary for any successful relationship and then some. The recovery process requires a certain amount of extra sensitivity.

 

Second Thoughts About Dating an Addict Are Acceptable

After dating a recovering addict for some time, you might have reservations about taking the relationship further. If this is the case, you have no reason to judge yourself. Looking at a prospective alliance objectively before engaging in one that you might not serve in the best way is commendable. 

 

Being With an Addict: A Game Changer

If you want to be involved with someone with an addiction, you must prepare for a few life changes of your own. Although this is true for any relationship to a point, being in love with an addict is likely to require you to have even more understanding and flexibility. 

Understand that recovery is not a finish line that, once crossed, represents a final victory. On the contrary, addiction recovery is a lifelong journey. The everyday lifestyle of a recovering addict will include having to bounce back from some pitfalls and consistently nurturing the newly learned ways of thinking and living. 

 

Honor Yourself While Dating A Recovering Addict

A person with high self-esteem and self-confidence is more likely to deal effectively while being with an addict regularly. An individual who exercises codependent characteristics will not serve the relationship well.

For example, giving in to a compulsion to help another indulge in an addictive activity (like offering a pill), known as enabling, is not helping this person. As with any relationship, having the capacity to be understanding and compassionate is crucial, but encouraging that person to be dependent on you is sure to lead to a relationship that suffers. 

While dating an addict, keep things in perspective. You want to be supportive, but you cannot “fix” this person. Do not become obsessive with the addictive issues. Remember to honor yourself as an individual who has a life of your own.

 

Increasing Your Chances of Success Dating an Addict 

While dating a recovering addict, you will be dealing with the issues from the other side of the table. It can include discussions about your partner’s current status or feelings and attending supportive recovery meetings. You may even discover that obtaining counseling of your own will help gain insight into your personality. It can help you to respect the needs of your partner and yourself. A relationship founded on outstanding communication and mutual respect can enjoy a reasonably high chance of success.

 

5 Tips for Dating an Addict

  • Be empathetic to the situation.
  • Communicate regularly.
  • Be a supporter.
  • Do not enable your partner’s addiction.
  • Honor yourself as an individual.

 

Being Married To A Drug Addict

A marriage that has enjoyed a history of success is not necessarily immune to the possibility that a spouse will take a turn toward addiction. It can happen for several reasons, including work-related issues, insecurities that manifest, misuse of a prescription drug, or something else. 

If your spouse is experiencing an addiction, you might feel inclined to hope the issue will go away by itself, especially if your marriage has generally been a good one with few challenges throughout the years. Unfortunately, such situations do not usually fix themselves.

At the very least, make a call regarding possible solutions. When encouraged to take a more proactive stance toward arranging for treatment, do not resist.

 

 

Can Two Addicts in a Relationship Make it Work?

It is not uncommon for both people in a relationship to be drug users. That does not imply it’s a smooth ride by any means. Unless one member seeks help, the relationship will be in jeopardy.

Hopefully, one partner’s receptivity to treatment will inspire the other to follow suit. If the two are to survive as a team, they must find themselves on the same page. When the decision to seek treatment is mutual, the chances for relationship success can transcend from hope to probability. 

Some of this treatment may involve both people attending sessions together, but a reputable goal-oriented program will consist mainly of therapy provided on an individualized level. A couple following the prescribed plan can face the future with newly found optimism.

 

Dating an Addict Can Lead to A Positive Outcome

While dating a recovering addict, it will be crucial to maintain a healthy perspective. Due to the adjustment, times are likely to exist when you are the one who feels the effects more than your partner. Often, you will have to be the stronger of the two. Maintaining your self-respect and personal dignity will come to your aid during the more trying moments.

A compassionate heart, flexible mindset, open ears, and rational approach can all contribute to enjoying a successful relationship with a person who lives with addiction. The path is not likely to be without its rocks and dips, but a commitment to overcome them one at a time will eventually lead to smoother pavement ahead.

If you, or someone you love, are struggling with addiction in Southern California, call 866-600-7709 and talk to an Anchored Tides Recovery team member today.

Gateway Drug Examples in 2022

Gateway Drugs

Gateway Drugs

 

The study of gateway drugs began nearly fifty years ago. While its hypothesis continues to face some controversy, the seriousness of drug abuse remains indisputable. If you currently suffer from addiction, things can improve from this point on. With the help of trained people who care, you can experience a better reality.

 

What Is A Gateway Drug?

A gateway drug is a substance that, when used, opens the door to the use of more harmful ones. They are addictive, relatively easy to access, and less potent than the more powerful and illicit substances for which they roll out the carpet.

The common usage of gateway substances by society puts them within the easy grasp of adolescents and young adults. They are made available by friends, schoolmates, siblings, and parents. 

Growing up in a household in which at least one parent smokes cigarettes or drinks alcohol can automatically increase the chances that a youngster may eventually subscribe to the use of them. Although Mom or Dad may preach “do as I say, not as I do,” the visual example set by their behavior usually serves as the real teacher.

 

A Few Examples Of Gateway Drugs

A complete list of gateway drugs would likely face controversy, as many opposing views on the topic exist. Even so, substances that have stood the test of time as candidates usually fall under four general categories:

 

The Four Types Of Gateway Drugs

  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription Opioids

 

Nicotine: The Gateway To The Hypothesis 

When Dr. Denise Kandel coined the phrase “drug gateway” in the mid-seventies, she acted in a way that was contrary to others’ expectations. During that period, marijuana was the subject in the limelight. Her research project was supported and funded by those who hoped she would spotlight marijuana as a possible gateway drug.

Instead, she followed her inclination to place the focus on nicotine. Her efforts revealed that tobacco was the substance most likely to fit the bill as a gateway to others. 

The initial stages of her research confirmed that youngsters were more prone, to begin with, to cigarettes, beer, and wine. After all, these were legal for adults and, therefore, more accessible to them.

 

Alcohol: The Culpable Companion

Both nicotine and alcohol have long been considered two partners in crime in the gateway drugs arena. The use of both has proven to be responsible for both short-term and long-term harmful consequences. 

Research supports the notion that alcohol is the most widely used substance of these gateways. Whether or not it is the most likely to lead young people to polydrug use cannot change the well-known fact that excessive use of alcohol is detrimental to a high quality of life. 

 

Is Marijuana A Gateway Drug?

There seems to be much controversy with classifying marijuana as a gateway drug. The inclination might be that it is not since most people who use it do not switch to using harder drugs.

However, the relaxing, sometimes euphoric, state that occurs while using marijuana reportedly diminishes over time with constant use. If it is resorted to as a means of escape from the stresses of everyday life, the quest to access more powerful, even illicit, drugs remains a possibility.

 

Prescription Opioids: Risky Business For Addictive Personalities

Opioids prescribed by doctors can effectively reduce mild to severe pain. They can also suppress coughs. Used properly, they have their place.

These drugs can also cause an intense high or euphoria, which often compels one to overuse them to continue re-experiencing that state. In turn, the user may be likely to seek out heroin, an illegal opioid.

Opioid abuse is out of hand. The United States is currently in the middle of an opioid epidemic. The effects of overdosing on them (most often unintentional) are catastrophic.

In 2022, scientific research continues. Much progress has emerged through molecular biology that shows evidence of gateway characteristics of how substances affect mice. 

For example, such research has shown pretty conclusively that mice exposed to nicotine respond more readily to cocaine. Until more concrete evidence can parallel these findings with humans, it seems the hypothesis is yet to earn the status of qualifying as a theory.

Scientists have also exhaustively studied the use of alleged gateway drugs on a demographic level, looking for patterns and connections between the biological makeup of purported gateway drugs and their use.

 

gateway-drugs

 

Addiction Goes Deeper Than The Drugs Themselves

Addiction goes beyond the scope of the attributes of drugs at a molecular level and demographics. Other factors contribute to the actions of an individual looking for relief, perhaps more than what can be fully understood.

However, some of these factors are not difficult to deny. People have individual characteristics, traits, personalities, backgrounds, and ways of handling life situations. These variables and more can contribute to the role a given substance plays in one’s life. 

Science has a way to go. The attainment of conclusive evidence is still a goal. However, one significant fact that people can bank on is this: There is help available to people experiencing addiction challenges.

 

Women In Need Of Treatment For Addiction

In starting treatment, women often face certain obstacles that need to be acknowledged rather than avoided. The tendency to evade enlisting the help of others is all too common. Remember that, for every challenge, there is a solution.

For example, the stigma that often accompanies substance abuse is somewhat common among women. Also, the fear of losing child custody is a concern shared by mothers. Women with children facing addiction issues may face other obstacles, too. There may be countless excuses that an individual might see as valid reasons to delay seeking treatment.

The truth is that there is no legitimate reason to prolong the shackles of addiction when there are trained professionals who have effectively seen others through similar situations time and time again. Clinics specializing in helping women with addictions are fully aware that treatment is to be provided empathetically and in a way that addresses all the specific conditions of a woman’s life situation. 

 

The Gateway To A Better Outlook On Life

If addiction is an issue in your life, acknowledging it and asking for help is a tremendous, notable stride toward recovery. Some people care and can, with your permission, help you to face each day with optimism. 

Decide that, whatever it takes, you can get through any obstacles you might currently be facing. At the moment, things might seem a little murky. But the clouds always pass to make way for the sunshine. For you, the sky’s the limit.

If you, or someone you love, are struggling with addiction in Southern California, call 866-600-7709 and talk to an Anchored Tides Recovery team member today. 

Dual Diagnosis and Treating Problems at the Root

Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis

 

Mental health problems and addiction usually go hand in hand. With rising statistics of these two disorders being simultaneously diagnosed in people, the need for a new term arose. 

Read on; in this article, we will explain the term “dual diagnosis” – what it means, how it is diagnosed, what the statistics are pointing at, and the available treatments. 

 

What is Dual Diagnosis?

Dual diagnosis is a term that is used to name dual mental health conditions in which a person battles a mental disorder and addiction (or, as it is academically called, “ substance use disorder.”) 

The term “addiction” includes all kinds of addiction – drugs, alcohol, food, sex, video games, gambling, or even work. The other mental health condition or disorder can be general anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, or any other mental disorder diagnosed by psychiatrists. It’s important to note that two mental or emotional disorders happening simultaneously are NOT a dual diagnosis. The term is used for the combination of a mental illness and an addiction.  

The term itself is very broad, and it doesn’t matter if the addiction or the mental illness came first. The most common case is a dual diagnosis where addiction arises as means to lower or ease untreated symptoms from the mental illness. But, as we will elaborate in the next section, the connection between addiction and mental illness goes deeper.

Furthermore, the severity of the dial diagnosis might vary – a teenager with mild depression and a habit of compulsive eating can be diagnosed with a dual diagnosis. A bipolar person with a relapsing heroin habit can also be diagnosed with a dual diagnosis. 

 

Why Does Dual Diagnosis Happen?

To understand the basic principle of a dual diagnosis, we need to take a look at both the conditions separately, and the combination of the two. 

The NIDA (or the National Institute on Drug Abuse) segregates the reasons as follow: 

  • The two conditions have common risk factors – Early development trauma, genetics, and family history (as well as functionality) play a big role as risk factors for developing both substance abuse and mental disorder. It’s usually the environment (and learned behavior) that sparks the possible transferred genes into active addiction or mental illness. 
  • Mental illness can lead to a substance abuse disorder – Research has shown that mental disorders increase the chances of developing an addiction. Primarily used as a “medication” for the mental disorder, the addiction is seen as something that can soothe the person and the symptoms. Furthermore, some conditions such as Bipolar disorder (especially mania episodes) or Antisocial Personality disorder increase the possibility of the individual indulging in unlawful behaviors, including drug abuse. 
  • Substance addiction can cause a worsening of mental health disorders. With the uncalculated behavior that substance abuse brings, the individual is more likely to commit a crime, expose themselves to traumatic events, or cause life-altering situations. That can, in turn, spark or worsen mental illnesses, especially if there is a genetic predisposition for the illness. 

The dual diagnosis is most often a cycle, where both the addition and the mental illness contribute and perpetuate one another.

 

Signs of Dual Diagnosis

If you suspect that you or someone you know might be battling dual diagnosis, these are the signs you should look for: 

  • Unusual new behavior and change in sentences or word patterns;
  • Worse work or school performance; abandoning activities that the person previously enjoyed;
  • Closing up and not wanting to communicate with people;
  • Leaving behind friends and family and hanging out with new groups;
  • Unusual need of money, obtained by either asking for them or stealing; 

 

In people that only have a diagnosed mental illness:

  • Sudden wish to stop medications
  • Asking for money; possible stealing, and lying 
  • Change in the way the person speaks and behaves
  • Strange new behavior that wasn’t previously displayed as part of the diagnosis 

 

In people that already had an addiction, but not a mental illness:

  • Strange new behavior that they didn’t previously display 
  • Closing up and not wanting to communicate with people
  • Change in the way they talk, think, or speak; believing 
  • Taking an even bigger dosage of their substance of abuse


What the Numbers Show

A survey from 2013 done by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) came up with some numbers about people with dual diagnoses: 

  • In 2013 there were around 24 million illicit drug users in the United States
  • In the same year, 1 in 5 adults; and 1 in 10 adolescents; has suffered from a mental illness
  • Around 1.4% of adolescents had a major depressive episode and substance use disorder
  • 3.2% of adults had a mental disorder and substance use disorder

 

Some of the most often mental illnesses that have risks of addiction are: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Dissociative identity disorder

 

There are tens of thousands of people that battle dual diagnosis each year. No matter what the cause of simultaneous occurring of mental illness and addiction, there needs to be a special treatment that can help these individuals work on both conditions. 

 

 

Treating Problems at the Root 

In people with mental illness, the drug or addiction of choice helps with coping with the symptoms from the first diagnosis. Without proper treatment, the risk for addiction relapse is bigger. 

Existing addicts who develop a mental disorder will only increase their usage, which will rapidly worsen the symptoms and the progression of the illness. 

Only by working on both of the conditions with the help of specialized treatment centers a person with a dual diagnosis can get better. 

Following the advice given by the World Health Organization, there is a need for continued and detailed care for people battling a mental health issue and an addiction. Numerous treatment clinics work with broad spectrums of adductions and are equipped to treat patients with Dual Diagnoses. Those rehab facilities can provide the person with an individual treatment plan based on their set of mental and substance abuse disorders. 

 

What is the Dual Diagnosis Treatment Model?

For individuals with Dual Diagnosis to recover, they need to have help in attending and working on both the addiction and the mental illness in treatment centers. 

For the best chances of recovery, Dual Diagnosis the professional care of the rehab facility should include: 

  • Substance abuse specialists and mental health professionals working together 
  • Psychotherapy or any other kind of therapy that helps the individual in their coping and managing of the conditions 
  • Prescription medication and therapy based on the individuals’ needs
  • Inclusion of spouses, family, friends, and the whole community on the road towards recovery. 
  • Work in and with support groups 

 

There are addiction treatment specialists that have psychiatric backgrounds, and they can help with both definitive diagnosis and treatment of the dual diagnosis. 

A drug rehabilitation center has all kinds of professionals, treatments, therapies, and medicaments that can help the individual. 

They should also have intensive, residential treatment programs which can help individuals with severe mental or substance abuse problems. 

 

Seeking Help

Dual diagnosis is a term that is used to describe a combination of two disorders – a mental health one and a substance abuse one. There are more possibilities why are mental illnesses and addictions connected, including mutual risk factors or one condition feeding the appearance of the other. Nonetheless, a dual diagnosis treatment model is available and includes simultaneous work and special care to both the mental illness and the addiction. 

If your daughter is struggling with addiction and another mental health issue, call Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709 to discuss support in Southern California.