Downgrading From Hard Drugs

Downgrading from Hard Drugs

Downgrading from Hard Drugs

 

If someone considers downgrading from hard drugs, it may be one specific approach to dealing with substance abuse that they feel will work for them. Unfortunately, as a society, we tend to view hard drugs as bad and so-called soft drugs as not so harmful. The reality is that a hard or a soft drug can lead to addiction, health problems, and many adverse effects.

The distinction between a hard and soft drug for many people is legality. Even this isn’t necessarily a good way to think about things.

For example, alcohol is legal if you’re 21 and older, yet it can be one of the deadliest substances. There are also states such as Oregon that are focusing efforts on decriminalized hard drugs. Under new legislation in Oregon for decriminalized hard drugs, you can’t be arrested for having small amounts of drugs like heroin or methamphetamine, both of which are dangerous, deadly drugs. The best option for most people who struggle with drug abuse is to be entirely drug-free rather than downgrading from hard drugs. Many in the recovery community don’t believe any drug use is conducive to a healthy lifestyle if you deal with addiction. 

Below, we go into more about the differences between hard and soft drugs and what you should know about the concept of gateway drugs as well.

 

Hard vs. Soft Drugs

There are different ways you might view the differences between hard and soft drugs. For example, in some countries, there is a legal distinction made between the two, with soft drugs theoretically being less harmful to people’s health than harder ones. In the Netherlands, soft drugs are not considered harmless, but they have less severe effects. Sedatives, marijuana, and sleeping pills are soft drugs under this model.

Hard drugs in the Netherlands include heroin, amphetamine, and cocaine. The penalties for drug possession of a hard versus soft substance vary from one another. In the United States, we have controlled substance schedules that guide our federal drug laws and laws surrounding drug possession.

A controlled substance is one with a high potential for abuse or addiction. The Controlled Substances Act puts all substances regulated under federal law into one of five schedules. Along with the abuse and addiction potential, whether or not the substance has a medical use is also a consideration.

  • Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse, with no current, federally accepted medical applications in the United States. There is no safe use for these substances. Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, and GHB. Interestingly, marijuana is Schedule I in the U.S., yet it’s legal for medicinal and recreational use in many states across the country. We talk a little more about marijuana and its legality below. 
  • Schedule II drugs have high abuse potential but with some accepted medical uses. These illegal drugs include cocaine, methadone, morphine, PCP, and methamphetamine.
  • Schedule III drugs have a lower potential for drug addiction than Schedule I or II substances, with medical uses in the U.S. Schedule III substances are hydrocodone, codeine, anabolic steroids, and barbiturates.
  • Schedule IV substances have a relatively low potential for abuse than Schedule III, with accepted medical uses. Schedule IV drugs include prescription medications like Valium and Xanax.
  • Schedule V substances have the lowest potential for dependence compared to substances on the other Schedules, and cough medicines with codeine are an example of these.

While drug Schedules are one way to distinguish the risks of substances, there’s not a particular scientific or legal distinction that we can point to when we talk about hard and soft drugs.

  • For some people, it’s not about the legality or the impact on criminal records for something like simple possession. Instead, it might be about how socially acceptable it is to use a substance.
  • For example, it can be more socially acceptable to use prescription pain medicines rather than heroin in some people’s eyes, even though both have similar effects and risks. Both prescription pain medicines and heroin cause dry mouth, slurred speech, and potentially deadly short-term effects, yet one category includes FDA-approved medications. 
  • A list of hard drugs for a lot of people might include heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. For others, since cocaine isn’t as addictive as heroin, they might not have it on their list of hard drugs.

There are a lot of gray areas when making distinctions like these between substances.

 

 

America’s Deadliest Drugs Are Legal

Again, legality and the classification of drug crimes aren’t always an excellent way to separate a hard and soft drug. In the United States, the three deadliest drugs are all legal.

  • The first is tobacco. More Americans die from smoking-related health problems than drug overdoses, car accidents, and homicides combined.
  • Cigarette smoking may lead to one in five deaths in America every year.
  • The U.S. has seen tobacco use go down significantly in recent decades, but it’s still a top killer.

The next-deadliest drug is alcohol.

  • Alcohol-related health problems kill tens of thousands of people every year, which doesn’t factor in causes like homicide and drunk driving. 
  • Alcohol-related deaths have been steadily going up in the U.S. over the past few years, and official death toll numbers may be significantly undercounting alcohol deaths.
  • There are so many ways that alcohol can be one of the deadliest drugs. The health effects of excessive drinking are just one type of risk. There are injuries, crime, and violence, for example, that make alcohol use particularly dangerous and deadly.

The third deadliest drug is opioid pain killers.

  • Since the 1990s, drug companies have been pushing opioid pain medicines on doctors who gave them to patients. 
  • These substances were part of marketing campaigns, and patients got addicted, and many ultimately died as a result.
  • In the past decade, policymakers have been putting more restrictions on prescription opioid pain killers, but it remains a deadly problem in the U.S.

Hard drugs, while dangerous, are linked to far fewer deaths than the three legal substances above. You also have to consider things like bath salts, which can be a highly dissociative drug but are also a common household item. 

 

Are There Gateway Drugs?

When talking about a hard or soft drug, the idea of gateway drugs also comes up. The theory is that so-called soft substances like marijuana might lead to harder drugs because the gateway drug affects the brain’s pathways.

In some cases, with the use of soft substances, the brain may be more vulnerable to the abuse of other substances, including illicit or harder drugs. These risks are more significant the younger someone is when they start experimenting with substances.

Marijuana is frequently, as was mentioned, what we think of like a gateway drug, and it’s also federally illegal on its own. Much of the prison population is serving time for a criminal offense related to marijuana possession, even as it becomes legal in many states around the country. The criminal justice system hasn’t yet caught up, and there are many drug convictions not yet overturned for the possession, use, or sale of marijuana. 

Drug offenders who got jail time for marijuana and are still behind bars often question why they’re being treated differently by the legal system than legitimate businesses in states where recreational marijuana use is legal. Some are currently serving life sentences in prison for drug crimes related to marijuana and felony drug possession. All of this underscores the fact that legality doesn’t always dictate whether or not a drug is harmful. 

 

Is Downgrading from Hard Drugs Possible?

Some people think they can downgrade from more problematic substances and only use soft substances like alcohol or marijuana. While everyone is different, this may not be a practical approach to addiction issues. You may find that you cannot use just one type of drug, and as we highlighted, soft substances have genuine adverse effects.

Sobriety is often the best option for someone with a history of substance misuse because casual substance use might not be something they can maintain. Drug treatment and treatment for any co-occurring mental illness can help you avoid facing a felony offense for using hard substances. 

If you or someone you love is dealing with substance use, we encourage you to call Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709 to learn more about a treatment program that will work for you.

Is Gender-Specific Treatment Actually Gender-Specific?

Gender specific Treatment

Gender specific Treatment

 

In a yearly national survey of treatment centers in the United States, in 2019, more than 7,800 of 15,960 centers reported offering treatment for women and individuals who identify as females. That, on its face, sounds great as far as the availability of gender-specific treatment, right?

Maybe not so much. 

There may not be a genuine consideration for gender-specific differences and gender issues in the treatment for substance abuse. Even when it’s not mixed-gender treatment, a program might still not be entirely speaking to the needs of women and gearing treatment to women. We are finding as time goes on that the definitions of what truly gender and women-specific treatment can vary significantly between centers and programs. 

When a center reports the availability of programs just for women, it might mean they have a weekly meeting just for women, for example. The broad terminology can mean there are some offerings for women, but they aren’t specific to the needs of women, particularly within the societal and individual context of their situation. There’s a scarce availability of truly gender-specific treatment programs. 

Understanding how our language impacts treatment is essential to deliver that genuinely women-centric focus in treatment. We have to learn more about the roots of treatment and the philosophies it’s built on because those continue to drive how we speak about and treat women. We also have to learn to be more curious in our questioning of what’s brought you to the place you’re in now, rather than simply assigning you a label.

All of this is challenging work because it requires that we reframe what treatment is and the concepts it’s built on. This reframing of the philosophy and language of treatment is a top priority for delivering women-centric addiction treatment for drugs and alcohol. This approach is different from programs that simply offer a gender-specific tract or discuss some gender-specific issues. 

 

The Male-Centric Treatment Framework

The concept of treating addiction goes back to the early 1900s

  • Courtenay Baylor is one of the names that come to mind as a pioneer in addiction treatment. 
  • Baylor essentially wrote the first textbook on how to be a substance abuse treatment counselor.
  • Baylor’s work is vital in how we do things even today. He based his treatment approaches primarily on men, which continues to influence substance abuse counseling in a larger sense.
  • In his book, Baylor only had one chapter on the treatment of women.
  • Samuel Ashwell was similarly a thought leader in this area, yet he spoke that men didn’t want to treat hysteria, linking it primarily to women. 
  • The idea of women struggling with addiction as being hysterical is one that’s stuck around, even if we don’t realize it.
  • The Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book includes language primarily for alcohol-dependent men.

So, where does this leave women? What are the lingering negative consequences for females who have an addiction to drugs or alcohol, such as an opioid use disorder? Much of this reinforces some of the primary reasons women don’t get help in the first place—namely, shame is a big one, as are relationships and family commitments. Women-focused treatment and women-only programs need to realize what their shortcomings are to address differences in treatment outcomes. 

 

 

Why Aren’t We Asking More Questions?

At our gender-specific treatment center, we are rethinking the traditional ideas of addiction and how we can best treat it.

  • Many women who have a history of substance abuse also have a borderline personality disorder (BPD) or similar co-occurring disorders. 
  • A diagnosis of BPD is closely associated with a history of trauma, yet for men, we might diagnose them as having post-traumatic stress disorder instead of a personality disorder. 
  • As a woman with this diagnosis and a substance use disorder, the message becomes “you are the problem,” rather than talking about what happened to you to get you to this point.

Using labels is the prescriptive language often found in outdated gender-specific models not considering sex differences. 

  • When prescriptive language is part of your treatment program, you become your label, even in a gender-specific environment. 
  • You may internalize that label as who you are, which again goes back to the idea that you’re the problem rather than the concept that you have a problem that needs treatment.
  • Often, the labels created as part of prescriptive language models in a rehab program prevent the actual problem from being treated.

Another issue with prescriptive language and labels?

  • There’s no sense of curiosity on the part of your mental health providers, which ultimately leads to unfair treatment. 
  • A treatment provider may believe that because you have the label of BPD, to go back to the above example, they know all of your problems and how you should be treated. 
  • That eliminates the questioning and curious element of treatment. Therefore you’re not receiving addiction treatment as the individual you are.

With this problem of prescriptive language in mental health status, providers aren’t asking relevant contextual questions.

Labels lead to the same treatment for everyone, yet we know that what’s most effective for addiction is to treat everyone with an individualized treatment plan.

  • Treatment language doesn’t tell us what we need to know, as it stands currently. 
  • Instead, we say the person needs to “be fixed.” 
  • When we don’t account for context and experience in the treatment process, we also don’t consider how society influences substance use disorders.

For example, women in treatment are often victims of trauma, violence, sexual abuse, and inequality, which play a pivotal role in mental health and substance abuse disorders. Trauma-informed care and specialized treatments should be an integral part of treatment for individuals, leading to differences in the addiction recovery process. 

 

Moving From a Deficit to Strength-Based Perspective

Along with taking out prescriptive language and labels, our rehab center’s treatment of substance use moves from a deficit perspective to one of strength. So what does this mean?

Using the borderline personality disorder example, we build you up based on your inherent strengths. With BPD, you may have a focus on your alliance with others. In our approach, we might want to ask what continues to give you strength and a sense of resilience despite your past. We also consider the social context that you’ll return to in our treatment method. Other treatment options that aren’t genuinely gender-specific programs or women-specific might help with job placement and rebuilding family relationships. Still, they don’t consider broader societal elements that will affect your recovery.

  • What societal messages will you receive? 
  • What power differentials will you experience, and how can we internally empower you to deal with those? 
  • Are you returning to a supportive environment, or is it one where something like domestic violence could be an issue? 
  • What is your marital status, and is there a history of abuse? How can we create a foundation despite the traumatic events you’ve dealt with for complete treatment effectiveness? 

Individualized mental health care is about asking what your story is rather than creating stories we believe are relevant to you.

  • We work to exchange labels for curiosity in the addiction community and our mental health settings. 
  • We want to ask questions instead of making assumptions or adding a label where we see a problem. 
  • We also strive to externalize the situation outside of who you are to help you take accountability differently.

 

 

Our treatment team will move away from the perception of “I am the problem” to dealing with the problem for our female patients. We can look at core issues and gender-associated differences in patients and how particular situations such as physical abuse could have led you to where you are. 

So with all of this in mind, if you’re seeking treatment or looking for something individualized to who you are, you want to ask whether a program is a gender-specific treatment or if it just has a gender-specific tract.

Anchored Tides Recovery’s ongoing commitment to ensure that gender-specific treatment in all ways means we avoid outdated language in treatment that doesn’t consider the unique elements of what it is to be a woman and how that plays into your individualized treatment needs. Anchored Tides Recovery believes there are tremendous benefits of gender-specific treatment when looked at in the ways above, improving clinical outcomes and retention in treatment. If you’re interested in learning more about how we offer a truly inclusive gender-specific approach to treatment, call our helpline today, 866-600-7709

Signs of Heroin Use in Teens and Young Adults

signs of heroin use

signs of heroin use

 

The signs of heroin use can be obvious eventually, but early on, not as much. Heroin is a highly addictive, deadly drug for many people, and it’s at the center of the opioid epidemic occurring in the United States. Heroin and other opioids are a big part of a growing substance abuse problem in the United States, and unfortunately, opioid use disorder can be deadly.

 

What Are the Signs of Heroin Addiction?

The physical signs of heroin use vary depending on personality, genetics, and other individual factors. Physical symptoms of heroin addiction or use include:

  • Constricted pupils when under the influence
  • If someone smokes it, they may have an ongoing cough
  • Dark circles around the eyes
  • When going through withdrawal, a person could have large pupils
  • Heavy eyelids or a droopiness in the face
  • Burn marks on the fingers or mouth, if it’s smoked
  • Nose bleeds if heroin is snorted
  • If injected, track marks on the arms which are needle marks
  • Weight loss
  • Scabs and signs of skin picking
  • Flu-like symptoms if going through withdrawal
  • Drowsiness or increased need for sleep
  • Slurred speech
  • Mood swings
  • Wearing long pants or sleeves, even if the weather is warm or hot
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Itchiness

Some of the behavioral symptoms and psychological symptoms of heroin use or a heroin addiction include:

  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Inability to make good decisions
  • Concentration problems
  • Seeming disoriented
  • Unpredictability in mood
  • Euphoria
  • Lack of enjoyment
  • Loss of self-control
  • Anxiety
  • The presence of drug paraphernalia like aluminum foil
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Changes in menstrual cycles 

When someone has a heroin use disorder, it can have many adverse effects on their entire life. Complications and negative outcomes from ongoing heroin use can include:

  • Job loss
  • Problems at school
  • Poverty
  • Homelessness
  • Problems in relationships or divorce
  • Legal problems
  • Domestic violence
  • Child neglect and abuse
  • Infectious disease exposure
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver disease
  • Collapsed veins
  • Lung damage
  • Damage to other vital organs
  • Overdose or death

It may be a gradual process where you piece together various signs of drug abuse. For example, it can be challenging to know at first in a teen because teens are known for mood swings and generally erratic behavior. For many people, behavioral signs of heroin abuse might be the first indicator. For example, isolation, deceptive behavior, changes in friend groups, or seeming easily agitated or overly fatigued can all be possible symptoms of heroin use or the use of illegal drugs in general. 

 

How Heroin Affects the Body

When you take heroin, it activates specific receptors in your brain, creating short-term effects. Your body has neurotransmitters, which are natural chemicals. These neurotransmitters bind to receptors in the brain and body, regulating pain, feelings of well-being or euphoria, and hormone release.

When your opioid receptors activate in your brain’s reward center, they stimulate dopamine release. Dopamine creates the high you feel if you use heroin. Unfortunately, what also happens is that the reward center’s activation causes a reinforcement of drug-seeking behavior and usage. When someone takes heroin, they get a pleasurable rush. How much of a rush they feel depends on how much heroin they take and how quickly it binds to their opioid receptors.

Immediate effects of heroin might include flushing of the skin, a feeling of heaviness in the arms and legs, and a dry mouth. Sometimes, you could experience severe itching along with nausea and vomiting. Right after using heroin, drowsiness can occur and last for several hours. Mental functioning is cloudy, and the heart function and breathing slow down.

Opioids like heroin depress breathing because they change neurochemical activity in your brain stem. The brain stem controls automatic bodily functions, including not just breathing but your heart rate. If you take a dose of heroin that’s more than what your central nervous system can handle, breathing can slow down to a dangerous level. When breathing slows too much, it’s an overdose. An opioid overdose can cause permanent brain damage, coma, and death.

 

 

The Effects of Heroin on the Brain

With repeated exposure to heroin, the brain’s structure and physiology change, creating long-term effects. Those changes can cause imbalances in your hormone and neuron systems. These are difficult, although not impossible to reverse.

Researchers have found your white matter may deteriorate in response to heroin use. A decline in the brain’s white matter may impact your ability to make decisions, respond to stress, and regulate your behavior. Dependence is a significant risk factor with heroin, as well as developing a tolerance. Even after using heroin a few times, you may create tolerance and need higher doses to get the same effects. When you’re tolerant, you can also become physically dependent on the opioid. If you’re dependent on heroin and stop using it abruptly, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms, which is one of many effects of heroin abuse. 

Symptoms of withdrawal tend to occur within a few hours after the last time you use heroin. Heroin withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Bone pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Goosebumps and cold flashes

For most people who use heroin, the withdrawal symptoms peak within 24 and 48 hours after their last dose; they get better over about a week. Some people experience longer-term symptoms over a few months.

 

What Are the Signs of a Heroin Overdose?

If someone you love is experiencing a heroin overdose, it can be challenging to know if that’s what’s happening or they’re very high. Learning to recognize the differences can be lifesaving. If someone is high on heroin, they might seem out of it and have slurred speech, but they can still respond to stimuli such as loud noises.

Signs of an overdose, on the other hand, can include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Not responding to stimuli
  • Awake, but not able to speak
  • Slow, erratic, or shallow breathing 
  • Stopped breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure 
  • The skin might turn bluish-purple in someone with a lighter skin tone. In people with darker skin, it could be gray or ashen.
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Limpness
  • Clammy, pale face
  • Vomiting
  • Lips and nails turn blue or purplish
  • Slow, erratic, or stopped heartbeat

If someone is overdosing on heroin, you should administer Narcan right away if possible. Even if you have it available, you should also contact 911 or your local emergency services provider. A heroin overdose is a dire and often life-threatening situation.

 

What Can You Do?

If you believe someone you love is using heroin or suffering the effects of heroin use, it’s a difficult situation. Heroin is a hazardous and addictive drug. Once someone is addicted to heroin, they’re probably also physically dependent. Getting professional treatment as soon as possible is the most crucial thing for heroin users or anyone with a substance use disorder. 

Most people will need a professional detox if they’re dependent on heroin. During this time, a patient receives close observation and medical care to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Going through withdrawal can be one of the most complex parts of stopping heroin, so a supervised detox can reduce the risk of relapse and alleviate some of the challenges during this time. Once a person fully detoxes from heroin and any other substances, they can begin addiction treatment.

Along with types of counseling, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, there are medication-assisted treatment options with FDA approval to help people with heroin addiction and dependence. Often, heroin users also have another co-occurring mental health disorder that can be made worse by the effects of heroin addiction. A treatment program should address co-occurring disorders like bipolar disorder and treat the symptoms of heroin abuse and addiction. 

If you’re interested in learning more about maintaining sobriety, treatment, and recovery from heroin addiction, we encourage you to contact the team at Anchored Tides Recovery by calling 866-600-7709.

Am I An Alcoholic: Can You Be An Alcoholic and Not Drink Every Day?

can you be an alcoholic and not drink everyday

can you be an alcoholic and not drink everyday

 

If you find yourself asking the question, “am I an alcoholic,” it could be that you have a problem with heavy drinking. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have a medically diagnosable addiction, which we’ll go into more below. However, not being a diagnosable alcoholic doesn’t mean that you aren’t a problem drinker. There’s also another concept to be aware of—being a functioning alcoholic. Below, we’ll go into more of the symptoms of alcoholism. We’ll also answer the question of can you be an alcoholic and not drink everyday?

 

Understanding Alcoholism

Alcoholism is now more commonly known as alcohol use disorder. When you have an AUD, you have a psychological and physical need to consume alcohol, despite adverse effects on your life. There are millions of deaths around the world each year because of harmful alcohol use.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says an AUD is problematic drinking that becomes increasingly severe. If you have an AUD, you can’t stop drinking even if you want to. Your use of alcohol becomes out of your control. Much of your time is spent thinking about can you be an alcoholic and not drink every day.

 

Symptoms of an AUD include:

  • Drinking secretly or when you’re alone
  • The inability to limit how much alcohol you have
  • Having routines that center around alcohol
  • Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Cravings or intense urges to drink
  • Feeling irritable when your normal drinking time comes if you can’t have any alcohol
  • Hiding alcohol
  • Developing a tolerance and needing more alcohol the feel the effects
  • Signs of physical dependence such as sweating, shaking, or nausea when you aren’t drinking

If you have an alcohol use disorder, drinking is your top priority. You may have signs of psychological addiction to alcohol without physical dependence. If you have a physical dependence, which can take years to develop, you have signs of withdrawal if you don’t drink or cut back. For a diagnosis of alcoholism, at least three of the following occur within the past 12 months:

  • Tolerance: You need more significant amounts of alcohol to feel intoxicated.
  • Withdrawal: As we talked about, if you have a physical dependence on alcohol and try to stop drinking, you may have withdrawal symptoms like nausea or anxiety.
  • Drinking more than intended: You might find that you drink more drinks at any given time than you intend, or you drink for a more extended period.
  • Unsuccessful attempts to quit: Have you tried to cut down or quit alcohol and found yourself unsuccessful in doing so? A potential symptom of alcoholism is the ongoing desire to cut down but the inability to do so.
  • Avoiding things you once enjoyed: You might find that your performance at school or work is diminishing, or you’re spending less time with loved ones because of your drinking.
  • Continual use despite consequences: Whether alcohol is affecting your job, your health, or your relationships, if you keep using it even when knowing it’s harmful, it could be a sign of addiction.

 

What is a Functional Alcoholic?

While the above tends to reflect a severe AUD, there are different types of alcoholics. For example, there is a category sometimes known as the young adult alcoholic. In this situation, you might not drink every day, but instead, you tend to binge drink. You’re not a severe alcoholic in this case, and you probably don’t have a physical dependence, but you might be on the road to developing a more significant problem.

Another type is a functional alcoholic. A functional alcoholic isn’t an official medical diagnosis. Instead, it’s a term used to describe someone with heavy or excessive drinking habits who’s still functional in their daily life. If you’re a functioning alcoholic, you might be able to keep up with your work and family obligations. You seem healthy and fine to most of the people around you. Even so, you might still have several of the symptoms of an AUD, such as uncontrollable cravings.

Risk factors for functional alcoholism or a developing alcohol problem can include:

  • Binge drinking, which is more than five drinks a day
  • Having a stressful life
  • Feeling peer pressure to drink
  • Having a close relative with a history of alcoholism. 
  • A co-occurring mental health disorder such as depression
  • Having more than seven drinks a week as a female, or more than 14 a week for males. Any more than one drink a day for women and two for men could put you into the category of heavy drinkers and is no longer considered moderate alcohol consumption. 

Signs of a functional alcoholic include:

  • You pour a drink as soon as you get home, or you often go somewhere like a bar after work
  • Irritation if you can’t have a drink
  • There are often times when you drink more than you intended
  • You make jokes about alcoholism
  • You talk about drinking a lot
  • Engaging in any high-risk behaviors under the influence, such as driving after you’ve been drinking
  • Experiencing blackouts related to alcohol
  • The use of alcohol causes problems in relationships
  • Hiding your alcohol use

 

 

Can You Be An Alcoholic and Not Drink Every Day?

Yes, you can be an alcoholic or have a mild substance use disorder and not drink daily. There are different patterns of alcohol abuse. For example, if you are a functional alcoholic, while you might not drink every day, it could be to excess when you do drink.

If you drink often or you experience adverse outcomes because of drinking, this puts you at a greater risk of eventually developing alcoholism. Alcohol dependence is a progressive, chronic illness that worsens over time with more exposure to heavy alcohol. 

 

What Happens If You Drink Alcohol Every Day?

Along with the potential to develop a serious problem with alcohol, can you be an alcoholic and not drink every day? The effects on your mental and physical health can be far-reaching and can include:

  • When you drink excessively, it prevents your body from effectively completing other processes. For example, your liver has to detoxify alcohol to remove it from your blood, which becomes the priority. It’s more difficult for your body to process anything else when you have alcohol in your system.
  • Drinking alcohol can cause harmful bacteria to grow in your gut. That bacteria can move through your intestinal wall and to your liver, causing damage and possibly liver disease or liver failure. 
  • Your heart can weaken over time if you drink too much or have an alcohol addiction, and it can put you at risk of high blood pressure. You’re more at risk for cardiovascular disease than moderate drinkers. 
  • Pancreatitis develops from alcohol abuse, which is inflammation of the pancreas.
  • Daily drinking or having multiple drinks per day puts you at risk of different types of cancers, including the mouth, throat, liver, and breast cancer. 

 

Final Thoughts 

Finally, your immune system can weaken if you engage in chronic drinking. You may notice that you get sick more often than people who don’t drink.

If you’re questioning your use of alcohol, you might consider whether or not you have a problem or if you see warning signs in yourself that you’re becoming alcohol dependent. If so, help is available; call 866-600-7709 and let Anchored Tides Recovery help you overcome destructive patterns because they potentially develop into something more serious, which almost always happens with untreated alcohol abuse.

Female Musicians Who Beat Addiction

musician recording a song

musician recording a song

 

The entertainment industry and especially music are associated with drugs, alcohol, and partying. While this might be the common association most of us have, several musicians beat addiction successfully in the industry. 

Focusing on their challenges and ultimate success in beating addiction to drugs or alcohol can help others who might be currently struggling.

Sometimes, it’s hard to see that there could ever be an out when you’re in an active addiction. Success stories serve as a motivation and reminder that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, although it might be challenging to get there. 

Once you find that motivation, you might begin a treatment program, participate in 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or get mental health treatment from a counselor. 

Below, we talk about musicians who beat addiction with the hope it can provide you with some motivation, perhaps when you need it most.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is one of the most influential musicians, pop stars, and overall icons of our time. She has also spoken openly about her struggles with drugs. 

For example, in one interview, she talked about the pain of a hip injury that left her in a wheelchair. 

Saying she was self-medicating the physical pain and anxiety, Lady Gaga was emotionally numbing herself entirely.

In an interview, the singer said she was very depressed and in a lot of pain all the time, but she wasn’t sure why.

The singer says that she felt her addictions to different drugs have grown worse over time, as she dealt with the pressures of fame.

At the same time, Lady Gaga says she was working on getting herself into a space where she doesn’t have to use drugs to be creative. 

She wants to know that she can be talented and successful without being under the influence of anything.

Lana Del Rey

The talented singer Lana Del Rey has struggled since her teens with substance use. 

In 2011, Del Rey became widely known for the hit Video Games. Then she debuted her first full-length album in 2012.

The same year, Del Rey spoke out in an interview with British GQ, saying she hadn’t had alcohol in nine years. Del Rey said even though she was very young, she found that she was drinking daily and typically while alone. 

Most of the songs on her first album she says she wrote while she was alone with alcohol. She describes it as the first love of her life.

Del Rey says her parents sent her to a strict boarding school when she was 15 to try and help her end her drinking habit.

Now the celebrity singer is sober and embraces her life in recovery.

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato allowed viewers to see inside their experience with addiction, overdose, and recovery in a documentary for YouTube. 

Entitled Dancing with the Devil, Lovato’s friends, family members, and the doctors who helped them after their overdose spoke about every raw, ugly detail of what happened and their ongoing substance abuse issues. 

Since 2010, Lovato struggled with substance abuse, frequently going in and out of rehab programs and relapsing along the way.

The pop star celebrated six years of sobriety in March 2018. Tragically in July 2018, she suffered an overdose that made headlines around the world.

Lovato spoke about their relapse in the documentary series, saying they picked up a red wine bottle and then called someone who had drugs just half an hour later. 

At that point, Lovato used new drugs that they hadn’t tried before, including methamphetamine. Lovato explains in the documentary they also used marijuana, Molly, Cocaine, and OxyContin.

During the period of relapse, Lovato did crack cocaine and heroin, becoming physically dependent on heroin.

The night of the overdose, Lovato told friends they were going to bed but went to call their dealer. Lovato used what they thought to be heroin, which now they know was likely fentanyl.

The overdose led to three strokes and a heart attack, resulting in brain and vision damage.

Since the overdose, Lovato says they’re working on their mental and physical recovery. In the documentary series, Lovato talks about the time spent during quarantine, working through past traumas as part of their recovery.

Fergie

Fergie is a massive pop star, having headed up the Black-Eyed Peas. She now has a successful solo career, but it hasn’t been an easy road for her. Fergie dealt with severe addiction issues, including meth.

Fergie says there was a period in her life where she was hallucinating daily. She says it took a year after stopping meth for the chemicals in her brain to stabilize, so she was no longer hallucinating. Fergie spoke to Time magazine, saying meth was the hardest boyfriend she ever had to break up with.

Some of her addiction problems Fergie believed resulted from difficulties she faced growing up as a child actor.

Now a Grammy-winning recording artist, Fergie has a son and has been in recovery from crystal meth for many years.

Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks is known as one of the most enchanting singers and performers of our time, but drugs almost destroyed her. The lead singer of Fleetwood Mac, Nicks has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice.

She began using recreational drugs at the height of her career, but it quickly spiraled into something a lot more troubling. Her addiction went from casual cocaine use to an extreme addiction and dependence.

Nicks said that she became so dependent on cocaine because she dealt with significant stage fright, and the drug would give her the boost she felt she needed to perform. Nicks was also facing a rigorous touring schedule and felt lonely on the road.

Ultimately, Nicks says she completely lost all control of her behavior for a while. Snorting cocaine burned a hole in the side of her nose.

The band took a break in 1982, but Nicks continued her drug use and hard living. Nicks toured on her own and also saw the breakdown of meaningful relationships during that time.

Fleetwood Mac went to the studio to create their album Tango in the Night, and Nicks continually blacked out. A doctor told her she was nearing a brain hemorrhage.

In 1986, Nicks checked herself into a Betty Ford Clinic, but unfortunately, she developed a Valium addiction.

Ultimately Nicks was able to get sober altogether, but she still speaks out about what her addiction did to her life and how it still affects her to this day.

 

 

Final Thoughts

Of course, not every story about celebrity drug addiction or alcohol addiction ends positively. These stories can also end in tragedy, as was the case of Amy Winehouse and many others. 

If you are dealing with drug abuse or a problem with any addictive substance, getting help sooner rather than later is the best thing you can do for yourself and the people who love you. 

If you’d like to learn how to overcome addiction in your own life or help someone you love in beating addiction, please contact Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709 today. We work with women from all walks of life who have one shared goal—recovery.

 

 

 

Can You Get a DUI From Marijuana in California?

man pulled over in car by police

man pulled over in car by police

 

Some proponents of legalized marijuana praise states, like California, for making the drug available to people over a certain age for recreational use. While there may be benefits to the legalization of marijuana, much like alcohol, we can’t assume it’s completely harmless.

Alcohol might be legal for people over the age of 21 in the U.S., but it’s addictive. There are health risks of alcohol use, and it can lead to legal trouble. Marijuana has similar risks. 

One issue that many states are dealing with is what happens when people drive under the influence of marijuana.

More specifically, can you get a DUI from marijuana in California even though it’s not an illegal drug? The short answer is that it’s similar to drunk driving, but it’s more complex than that.

People don’t realize that not only marijuana but also prescription medications can lead to a DUI. A DUI for marijuana impairment is a criminal offense with potential legal consequences, including a restricted license and several months in jail. 

Below, we’ll detail what to know about the effects of marijuana in general and how it can affect you if you’re behind the wheel. We’ll also look at driving while high consequences you should be aware of, like a marijuana-related DUI. 

Marijuana’s Legality in California

Marijuana is legal for recreational use in California. There was the legalization of medical marijuana in 1996. In 2016, voters approved Proposition 6, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Legality doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all.

There are regulations even though marijuana isn’t an illicit drug in California. For example, you have to be 21 or older to buy or possess recreational marijuana. This law includes all types of cannabis products, such as edibles. It’s against the law to give or sell marijuana to minors, and it’s also illegal to drive under the influence.

Marijuana laws are similar to prescription drugs. Just because you have a prescription for a medication, you can still get a DUI if it alters your driving ability. 

You can’t smoke, eat or vape cannabis products in public, and you can’t consume it anywhere smoking is illegal, such as in bars.

The Effects of Marijuana

Using marijuana creates immediate and longer-term effects. There’s an ingredient in marijuana, THC, that causes the feeling of being high from cannabis. THC is a psychoactive ingredient. When you use cannabis that contains THC, effects can include:

  • A release of dopamine, leading to feelings of euphoria and a heightened sensory experience
  • THC affects the hippocampus in the brain, leading to memory problems or an inability to form new memories
  • Impairment of judgment. Your information processing is different because of THC, affecting your judgment compared to a sober person
  • Slow reaction time, including problems with balance, motor skills, and coordination
  • These effects are why it’s dangerous to drive after using marijuana
  • Respiratory side effects can occur from smoking marijuana
  • The influence of marijuana may lead to a weaker immune system that leaves you vulnerable to infection

 

Drugged Driving

Driving under the influence of any mind-altering drug is one of the main reasons for car accidents. According to the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse, when you use marijuana, it significantly affects motor coordination and reaction time, as we mentioned above. 

There is a direct relationship between the concentration of THC in your blood and impaired driving ability.

Marijuana is the drug most frequently found in the system of drivers in motor vehicle accidents. 

In two studies out of Europe, drivers with THC in their system were around two times as likely to be at fault for a fatal crash than drivers not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Analysis of other studies shows that the risk of being in a motor vehicle crash after you use marijuana can double or more than double.

Under California Vehicle Code, you can be arrested and charged for driving under the influence if you use marijuana. Marijuana impacts your mental abilities to the point that you wouldn’t drive with the same level of caution as someone who didn’t use marijuana.

How Much Marijuana Shows Impairment in California?

Here’s the tricky part about whether or not you can get a DUI from marijuana in California—THC can stay in your system for up to 30 days. You don’t feel the effects after a few hours, but if you were pulled over and drug tested, it could show THC metabolites, even from weeks before. Metabolites are left behind well after the influence of cannabis wears off mentally, leading to a false positive. 

As it stands currently, there isn’t a per se violation for a marijuana DUI in California. That means no level of THC is illegal or a standard presumption for your level of impairment. By contrast, with blood-alcohol levels, typically, anything over a BAC of 0.08% is an impairment. 

If a police officer were to pull you over and they suspect you’ve been using marijuana, they would have to gather further evidence to prove stoned driving. 

Evidence might include an odor of marijuana, how you’re behaving, and how you perform on a field sobriety test. Your driving conduct, statements you make, and the presence of marijuana in your vehicle might also be evidence.

Driving behaviors that show impairment to a law enforcement officer include:

  • Not stopping at a red light or stop sign
  • Swerving
  • Weaving in lanes
  • Driving slowly
  • Being asleep in your car

Drug Recognition Experts or DREs are specially trained law enforcement officers who identify physical symptoms and signs of intoxication. If an officer pulls you over and they have probable cause to think you’re driving while impaired, then they’ll require you to submit blood testing or a breath test.

Of course, for marijuana, a breath test isn’t effective. Primarily used for marijuana are blood tests or urine tests.

If you take a drug test, it can’t show when you last used marijuana. These tests for marijuana aren’t good indicators of how much marijuana you used or blood THC concentrations. We don’t have a consensus on how much marijuana in your system shows you’re impaired like we do if there’s the presence of alcohol in your system. 

That’s when the evidence would become relevant. The process is different from if you were drinking and driving when your blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration would be the most relevant factor. 

What Are the Penalties for a Marijuana DUI Conviction?

Suppose you go to court and receive a conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana. In that case, the penalties in California are the same as what would happen if you were guilty of drinking and driving.

In California, penalties for a first-time DUI conviction involving marijuana or another substance can include 96 hours in jail up to six months and a $390-$1,000 fine. You may have a six-month driver’s license suspension, and you could be required to participate in a drug education class.

In most cases, a DUI involving marijuana is a misdemeanor, but certain circumstances can elevate it to a felony. For example, if you’re using marijuana and you cause an accident with serious bodily damage or death or have multiple DUIs, your DUI could become a felony.

A felony DUI conviction can include up to 180 days in jail and a four-year license suspension. You may face probation for up to five years and have to participate in a drug or alcohol education class.

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, can you get a DUI from marijuana in California? 

The answer is yes, you can, and people do. Driving under the influence of any substance, including marijuana, is illegal and has negative consequences. The consequences of driving high are similar to the penalties of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Not only are there legal penalties, but if you use marijuana and drive, there is an accident risk. Fatal accidents often involve the use of substances, including marijuana. 

For chronic marijuana users, it can be a tricky situation. You could have marijuana in your system from weeks prior. If you get pulled over and take a drug test, this will still show up. You likely have to work with a defense attorney to prove your driving abilities weren’t affected if that happens. 

You can recover and still have a very fulfilling life after getting a DUI; the more support you have-the higher your chances for success. If you’re struggling with marijuana or substance use, please know that help is available. Call the helpline at Anchored Tides Recovery today – 866-600-7709.

Is Drug Addiction Genetic?

genetic predisposition

genetic predisposition

 

Is drug addiction genetic? Is there such a thing as an addictive personality? These are common questions you may have, and while there is a genetic component, which we talk about below, we also urge caution here. Genetic predisposition factors are just one risk factor for substance abuse, as other chronic common disorders are actual. Genetic studies are increasingly shedding light on the science of addictive disorders. 

Just because a close relative struggle with addiction doesn’t mean you automatically will as well. Having a genetic factor doesn’t make addictive disorders any less treatable either. Understanding the role of heredity and vulnerability to addiction is essential from a scientific and research standpoint and uncover the root causes of addiction. However, genetic risk factors don’t have to be a deterrent to you getting effective help if you are active in addiction.

 

What is Addiction?

A substance use disorder or SUD means you uncontrollably use a substance despite harmful consequences. Illicit drugs, alcohol, or tobacco are substances that lead to addiction. Some of the most common types of addiction include cannabis use disorder, alcohol addiction, cocaine addiction, and opioid addiction. 

Over time, as the addiction continues without treatment, it affects your daily functionality. The SUD creates problems in your relationships and most other areas of your life. You may experience changes in your behavior and thinking. The brain’s structure changes, and you may have intense cravings for the substance you have an addiction to. Your personality might change. Imaging indicates addiction can lead to changes in the parts of the brain that relate to decision-making, learning, behavioral control, memory, and judgment.

Symptoms of addiction or SUD can fall into one of four categories. These are:

  • Impaired control: Hallmarks of this set of symptoms include intense cravings to keep using drugs or alcohol. You may try to stop using or cut down on your drug intake but find that you’re unsuccessful.
  • Social issues: When you abuse substances, you may experience problems in your daily life. For example, you could find that you’re increasingly giving up things you once enjoyed to use drugs or alcohol. Substance use can affect school or work performance, and it tends to impact relationships.
  • Risk-taking: Drugs of abuse can lead you to do dangerous things. These risk-taking behaviors might happen to get more drugs or because of their effects on you. You’ll continue to use substances even though you realize they cause problems.
  • Drug effects: Physical effects stem from addiction. For example, you may notice you develop a tolerance. When you have a tolerance, you need more significant amounts of drugs or alcohol to get the same effects on your genetic predisposition you did initially. Another physical component of drug or alcohol abuse is withdrawal. If you stop using a substance suddenly and depend on it physically, you might have side effects.

 

 

Risk Factors for Addiction

The saying goes that addiction doesn’t discriminate. No matter your background, you can experience a substance use disorder, but some people are more likely than others to develop an addiction.

 

Environmental Risk Factors

Environmental factors can and do raise a person’s risk of developing a SUD. For example, if you grow up without parental involvement, you are more likely to experiment or take risks. If you experience neglect in your childhood, you might turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.

The risk of addiction could go up if you experienced trauma in your childhood, such as sexual abuse or physical abuse. Other ways your environment can raise your risk of developing a substance use disorder include:

  • If you face peer pressure from friends or your social circle, it can lead to experimentation with psychoactive substances.
  • When you’re in a group of people with access to substances, you might be more likely to try them.
  • The environmental aspects of addiction are essential to understand if you’re in recovery. You may find that you need to find new friends and avoid specific environments to reduce your risk of relapse.

 

Other Co-Occurring Disorders

A dual diagnosis means you have an addiction and another mental health condition. If you struggle with psychiatric disorders, like depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or anxiety disorder, it can be a factor for addiction or raise your addiction risk. 

Addiction can also increase the severity of symptoms you experience from a co-occurring disorder. It becomes a progressive and challenging cycle when you have a mental health disorder and an addiction since both are complex diseases. 

 

Early Use

The earlier you use drugs or alcohol, the more likely you will develop alcohol use disorders or dependence on addictive drugs. When you’re young and expose your brain to drugs or alcohol, it affects its development. You may also be more prone to developing mental health disorders because of how substances affect your reward centers, levels of serotonin, and other parts of your brain chemistry. 

If you’re young and you begin experimenting with drugs or alcohol later in life, you could struggle to experience feelings of pleasure without substances. The early history of substance abuse shows a strong association with drug addiction later in life. 

 

Type of Drug and Method of Use

Certain drugs tend to put you at higher risk of the development of addiction. For example, addictive substances like heroin and methamphetamines have a higher risk of physical addiction than marijuana or alcohol. How you use drugs is relevant. If you smoke or inject drugs, addiction is more likely to occur than taking a drug orally.

 

Is There a Genetic Predisposition To Drug Addiction or Alcohol Addiction?

Now, we come back to the question of is drug addiction genetic? What is it in our genetic predisposition that could create an addiction vulnerability? Why do some people develop addictions and others don’t?

Family studies and identical twins show that as much as half of your risk of developing a substance addiction depends on your genetics. As we learn more about the role of heredity in addiction, it helps us understand the best ways to target treatment. It’s also helpful to overcome the stigma of addiction. For example, addiction in humans is a complex intersection between genetics and other risk factors, but it’s not due to a lack of morals or willpower. 

However, there’s not necessarily a single gene that we can pinpoint right now that determines addictive behavior. If you’re the child of an addict, you are eight times more likely to develop an addiction.

At the same time, we have to remember that if genetics make up 50% of your risk for drug abuse or addiction, the other 50% comes from things other than your genetic predisposition makeup, like your choices and how well you develop coping skills.

This complexity highlights the fact that genetics isn’t your destiny. You’re more than your genetics. You can increase your protective factors against addiction, like a healthy stress response and beneficial coping strategies. As there are growing advances in genetic testing, we may learn even more about heredity and addiction in future studies. We may also learn more about brain chemistry and how this leads to the chronic disease of addiction, impulsive behaviors, and drug-seeking behavior. 

For example, researchers recently uncovered that D2, a type of dopamine receptor, may eventually be used as a way to predict if you’ll become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Current studies show if you have fewer D2 receptors, you’re more likely to develop an addiction. The more we understand biology, the more personalized addiction treatments can become. This understanding of the predisposition to addiction is a big goal of addiction research overall right now. 

Never let yourself get caught up in the thought process because you come from a family with a history of addiction that you have to repeat or remain in those same patterns. 

We also want you to know that while your genetic predisposition could have increased your likelihood of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, there are steps you can take in your life to achieve recovery. No matter your genetic vulnerabilities or background, addiction treatment can be effective. We encourage you to contact Anchored Tides Recovery at 866-600-7709 to learn more.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Diagnosis, Epidemiology, Prevention, and Treatment

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

 

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is also known as a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASDs). FASDs include conditions occurring when you drink alcohol during your pregnancy leading to prenatal alcohol exposure. Effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy can include physical problems and issues with learning and behavior. While it’s devastating for your child to receive a diagnosis of FAS, it is preventable.

With that in mind, below, we’ll talk about fetal alcohol syndrome, diagnosis, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment. 

 

An Overview of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, it can pass to your baby through the umbilical cord, potentially leading to alcohol-related birth defects and fetal alcohol brain damage. There’s not a known, safe amount of alcohol you can consume during pregnancy. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you should also stop drinking.

If you’re pregnant and drink, the fetus can’t process alcohol through the liver or other organs. The alcohol exposure is the same as the amount in your bloodstream, but exposure lasts longer for the baby. Prenatal alcohol exposure in human populations affects fetal development, especially in the brain and central nervous system.

Some of the ways prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to alcohol-related birth defects include:

  • If you drink alcohol, including hard liquor, beer, and wine, it can kill cells in the fetus that lead to problems with physical development and secondary effects. 
  • Prenatal alcohol exposure impacts the development of nerve cells, including how they travel to different parts of the brain.
  • Alcohol consumption during pregnancy constricts blood vessels, slowing blood flow to the placenta. The result of restricted placental blood flow can be a shortage of oxygen and nutrients to the baby.
  • While your body processes alcohol, it produces toxic byproducts. These toxins can accumulate and cause structural brain abnormalities and other types of brain damage. 

Even before you know you’re pregnant, your alcohol intake could affect your developing baby or lead to secondary disabilities like alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder. 

 

How Prevalent are FASD and Prenatal Alcohol Exposure?

Getting an overview of fetal alcohol syndrome diagnosis, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment relies on understanding the prevalence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we don’t know how many people have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. We use varying approaches to estimate how many people in our population might be living with the condition.

  • Using medical records primarily, studies from the CDC show a rate of 0.2 to 1.5 infants with FAS for every 1,000 births in the United States. 
  • Recently, an epidemiological study by the CDC found FAS in 0.3 out of 1,000 children between 7 and 9.
  • According to studies from the National Institutes of Health using physical exams, the actual range of FASDs in the United States and some countries in Western Europe could be as high as 1 to 5 per 100 children—around 1% to 5% of the population.
  • A study from 2020 published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found patterns of maternal alcohol exposure and binge drinking in pregnant women between 18 and 44 in the U.S. went up from 2011 to 2018.
  • Having at least one alcoholic beverage among pregnant women in the past 30 days went up from 9.2% in 2011 to 11.3% in 2018.
  • Binge drinking (four or more drinks in a sitting) increased from 2.5% to 4% in that same period.

 

Symptoms of FASDs

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a collection of diagnoses. These represent a range of things that can occur when a mother drinks during her pregnancy. The symptoms affect everyone differently. FASDs symptoms can also range from mild to severe.

Symptoms of fetal alcohol effects can include:

  • Poor coordination and motor skills 
  • Hyperactivity
  • Short attention span
  • Poor memory
  • Low birth weight
  • Problems in school or with social skills 
  • Increased likelihood of defiant disorder or other mental health problems 
  • Learning disabilities
  • Poor impulse control 
  • Low IQ
  • Intellectual disability
  • Sucking and sleep problem as a baby
  • Hearing or vision problems
  • Problems with the kidneys, bones, or heart
  • Being shorter than average in height
  • Small head
  • Facial abnormalities including a smooth ridge between the upper lip and nose, known as the philtrum

 

Diagnosing FAS

It can be difficult to accurately diagnose fetal alcohol exposure because there aren’t specific medical tests available or set guidelines for diagnosis. There’s also the issue of a differential diagnosis since many symptoms of FASDs overlap with other conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

To  make a diagnosis, a doctor might consider:

  • Prenatal alcohol exposure
  • Lower-than-average height, weight, or perhaps both
  • Abnormalities in facial features
  • Central nervous system problems like poor coordination and hyperactivity

 

 

Can FAS Be Treated?

The effects of fetal alcohol syndrome are lifelong, but early intervention can help a child’s development. Treatments include medications and medical care for symptoms, behavioral and educational therapy, and parental training. Researchers also identified protective factors. These reduce the adverse effects of FAS on children and include a diagnosis before the age of six, a loving environment during school years, and an absence of violence in a child’s life. Using special education and social services is also a protective factor.

If you believe your child has symptoms of FAS, but you aren’t sure, talk to your health care provider, who can then refer you to a specialist for intervention services. Specialists include developmental pediatricians and mental health professionals like child psychologists. There are clinics throughout the country with staff specially trained in FASDs and can create individualized treatment plans. 

 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Treatment for Adults

Unfortunately, as we talk about above, there is no treatment for adults or children. FAS is lifelong. Many times, adults with FAS will have mental disorders and legal problems. Adults with FAS are more likely to be in jail or a mental health facility, facing unemployment. Depending on the severity, it can be difficult for an adult with FAS to live independently.

The earliest intervention possible in childhood is the best treatment for FAS that we have available now, although it’s not a cure.

 

Preventing FAS

Since there isn’t a cure for FAS, prevention of maternal drinking is the only available option. When you use alcohol during pregnancy, it’s the top cause of preventable congenital disabilities, learning disabilities, and developmental disabilities. The only way to prevent your child from being born with FAS is to avoid drinking alcohol during your pregnancy altogether.

If you’re sexually active and not using birth control, you should also avoid alcohol. If you’re pregnant, it can take four to six weeks for you to know that, and during that time, if you’re drinking, you could be exposing your baby to alcohol.

It’s not too late to stop drinking if you’ve already had alcohol during your pregnancy. Your baby’s brain growth and development continue throughout your pregnancy, so stopping as soon as possible is crucial. You should avoid alcohol during breastfeeding also because it can cause development, sleep, and learning problems, although there’s no direct link to FAS.  

If you’re a woman thinking of becoming pregnant, or you could already be, and you have an alcohol addiction, help is available. Again, we want to emphasize it’s never too late to stop drinking; Anchored Tides Recovery can help. Please reach out today at 866-600-7709.

Signs of Love Addiction

signs of love addiction

signs of love addiction

 

The signs of love addiction can be hard to spot at first. If you’re someone with love addiction, you may initially just see yourself as someone who loves love. While that’s not always a problem pathological love can lead to negative consequences and destructive relationships for some people.

There are similarities between love addiction and other types of addiction, including substances like drugs and alcohol.

 

Disorders That Occur Along with Love Addiction

Love obsession tends to be a co-occurring condition. When you have a co-occurring disorder, you have symptoms of two or more mental health conditions. For example, you might feel that you show signs of being addicted to love in addition to depression or anxiety. Substance abuse is also a relatively common co-occurring disorder with pathological love.

We should point out that this condition is controversial. Some experts feel that everyone has an element of “addiction” when they love someone. Romantic relationships can and often do have periods where you might feel emotional distress. However, a true compulsion to love goes well beyond what we see as usual in a relationship.

For example, if you’re in a relationship where you’ll give up everything else for that person, it could be a problem. The most significant complication of experiencing this type of compulsive romantic behavior is that you may find yourself in an abusive or toxic relationship.

 

What is Pathological Love?

Love addiction or pathological love isn’t as medically well-defined as some other types of addiction. When someone is experiencing disruptive or harmful symptoms or consequences because of their romantic relationships, their mental health care provider has to distinguish these from other conditions. For example, in borderline and dependent personality disorders, the symptoms can overlap with pathological love.

Suppose you’re someone with an addiction to love. In that case, you can become fixated on the person you’re interested in at any given time and develop emotional dependencies or a lack of control. You might behave compulsively toward or about that person. You can then act on unhealthy behaviors because of your fixation.

 

What Type of Disorder Is Pathological Love?

There’s not a current agreement on what type of disorder love addiction really is. For example, pathological love can be considered an impulse-control disorder. With an impulse-control disorder, you are always seeking new experiences and behaving impulsively to get them.

Some researchers believe pathological love is more in line with a mood disorder. For example, you have feelings similar to mania when you’re in the early stages of love or beginning a new relationship. Then, as the relationship progresses, you might experience symptoms of depression.

A third possibility is that being addicted to love could be part of the obsessive-compulsive spectrum. You may experience intrusive, repetitive thoughts just as someone with OCD would, but they’re about your romantic partner or finding love. Of course, as the name implies, having a compulsion to find love can be most like a behavioral addiction too, such as gambling; you don’t have to take a substance, but the characteristics are similar.

Early on in a relationship, you might have intense pleasure and euphoria. Then, over time, those experiences might become dull. You might need more of these love experiences to feel anything similar to a dependence on drugs and alcohol.

 

 

What is Sex Addiction?

Sometimes, we talk about sex addiction along with love addiction, it’s not currently in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Despite not being included in that, it’s still diagnosable.

This offshoot occurs when someone seeks out multiple sexual partners to the extent that it interferes with their daily life, activities, and functionality. If you have a sex compulsion, you might not be able to control your behavior, despite severe consequences. Your sexual relationships are your primary focus, and your sexual behavior can become more extreme over time. Sexual addiction can occur along with love addiction, but it doesn’t have to.

 

Characteristics of Sex and Love Addiction

  • Always looking for your soulmate 
  • Constantly searching for an intimate relationship 
  • Thinking the intensity of sex or the newness of a relationship is the same as love or real intimacy
  • A chronic pattern of seduction, sex, or manipulation to get the interest of potential romantic partners
  • Having an intense fear of abandonment
  • Breaking promises to yourself about not returning to harmful relationships
  • Choosing partners that require a lot of attention or you to fill a caretaker role
  • Always needing to be in love
  • Being happiest during the so-called honeymoon phase of a relationship
  • Obsessing over the idea of romance or romantic interests
  • Putting romantic partners on a pedestal
  • The inability to be alone
  • Requiring emotional comfort from a partner and extreme dependency
  • Having cravings to be with your partner
  • Experiencing euphoria or emotional highs when you’re with a partner

When you begin a new romantic relationship, it’s normal to feel excited about being with the person, and you may miss them when they’re away. You may obsess over your partner to the point that it causes harm to your relationship or your well-being. You develop dysfunctional patterns. For example, you may seek out the affection of someone who isn’t responsive to you emotionally. You could also find yourself more likely to be in abusive relationships.

 

Why Do People Have Love Obsessions?

As is the case with other mental health disorders, including substance use disorder, the underlying factors of love addiction are probably complex. Again, we all need and desire to feel love, but what is it about some people that makes this problematic for them? Trauma, genetics, family history, and environment all probably factor in.

Someone with an obsession to finding love or keeping it may also stem from low self-esteem. For example, if you have low self-esteem, you may seek out your sense of self-worth from romantic partners. You could also deal with the signs of love addiction because you have abandonment fears from your childhood.

If you feel like you have an emotional void, you could use romantic partnerships to fill that. You may think that being in love brings value and excitement to your life. Unfortunately, that puts a lot of pressure on your partner. You may not have boundaries, and you’re more likely to find yourself in a codependent relationship.

 

Love and Substance Abuse

As we talked about above, love addiction can and often does occur with other mental health disorders. You may be searching for love in unhealthy places. You might also seek the highs that love can bring, making you more likely to find similar experiences through substance use.

Additionally, if you have a relationship that falls apart or consistently in unhealthy relationships, you could cope with the negative feelings with drugs or alcohol. Over time, you may experience a void and a sense of shame. There are many elements of being addicted to love that you can’t fix on your own, but treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy can be beneficial.

If you or a loved one struggles with love or sex addiction along with a substance use disorder, we encourage you to reach out to the Anchored Tides Recovery team at 866-600-7709 to learn about our treatment options. We approach treatment holistically to help put you on the best path to recovery, a fulfilling life, and healthy relationships.

Creating an Alternative Identity to Being an Addict

alternative identity to being an addict

alternative identity to being an addict

 

When you struggle with drug abuse, it can feel like you lose your identity, and the world just views you as “an addict;” you may even view yourself this way. However, you are more than the mistakes you have made; that’s why when you’re in recovery, building an alternative identity to being an addict is so essential.

You are more than your addiction, and when you’re in recovery, you can start to find who you are once again. You might have lost your sense of self along the way, but it’s exciting to get to know who you are without the stigma of addiction.

 

What is Your Identity?

We all have questions about who we are. For example, you may question what you are presently and who you’d like to see yourself as in the future. Our identity is incredibly complex.

Our identity includes our relationships, who we were as a child, as a parent, and who we are as a partner. It can also involve those characteristics we can’t control, such as our appearance. For many people, identity encompasses religious beliefs, moral attitudes, and political beliefs as well.

 

How Drugs Affects Your Identity

Our identity is already complicated; adding a drug habit to that makes it even more so. There are several key ways addiction can affect your identity. 

  • First are the short-term effects drugs or alcohol have on your feelings, actions, memories, and behavior. 
  • Over time with drug and alcohol use, you may also start to experience declines in your self-worth because you’re not moving forward or progressing in your life the way you’d like to or the way you expected to. 
  • When you have a substance use disorder, you may start to internalize your symptoms. Those become who you are, in your mind. Rather than identifying yourself as a complex person, you might only see yourself as a drug abuser. 
  • Self-identifying only or primarily as a drug user is going to make you fall deeper into your addiction. You may not believe you’re worth anything more because you believe that is just who you are, and that can serve as an excuse for you to keep using substances even with increasing negative consequences.

Your addiction may be part of your self-identification for years because everything in your life eventually revolves around the substance or substances in which you’re addicted. As you work to get treatment and overcome your disorder, what can actually happen is that you feel like you’ve lost part of yourself because of how many substances were your identity.

Some of the beliefs that could come along with your disorder include:

  • The idea that sober people are boring
  • The priority is getting high or drunk
  • You’re more creative when you use substances
  • Some types of music may be associated with the use of substances
  • You don’t trust health care or mental health professionals
  • You celebrate with substance use
  • People often hold an “us against them” mentality with substance use disorders
  • Not comforting to society or even criminal behavior are something to be admired in this mindset

 

 

Why You Need an Alternative Identity to Being an Addict

When you stop using drugs or alcohol, you may go through what’s sometimes described as a grieving process. That’s because you feel as if you’ve lost part of yourself, which was the drugs.

A big part of your recovery depends on rebuilding a new identity and letting go of that identity. You may have a hard time finding who you are again. It can make you feel vulnerable, especially when the people around you seem to have a clear sense of identity. It’s okay to acknowledge that you feel confusion or even embarrassment or shame. That’s a good starting point that you can use to start rebuilding who you are. When you’re honest with yourself about what you’re feeling, it gives you the chance to start making decisions about what you want to become. It’s also okay to feel like there’s a void in your life when you’re in recovery, at least initially.

 

How to Create an Alternative Identity to Being an Addict

While everyone’s journey is going to be unique, some of the things that you might keep in mind as you leave behind your “addict” identity and explore who you truly are, including:

  • Consider who you surround yourself with. You might meet new people who are also sober when you’re in treatment or through a support group. The people that we surround ourselves with make a significant impact on our lives and who we are. Our self-identity, in some ways, comes from the people we’re around. This is why when you’re in recovery, you may have to find a completely new social circle. You want to spend time with people who will be a healthy influence on you and begin defining your identity. 
  • Along with social relationships, particularly with sober people, maybe you want to think about how you can rebuild relationships with your partner, your children, or your family. For example, you might begin to focus your identity on being a caretaker to your children. 
  • What is your career field? Is it time to think about making a change? When you come out of a treatment program, you might work with career counselors who can help you get on a path toward a career that’s more fulfilling for you and that can very much become part of your identity. 
  • It’s likely that after you go to treatment and you begin your life of recovery, you find you have a lot of time on your hands. That’s that that was probably before focused on using substances and recovering from their effects. Now, you can start to redefine how you use that time. You can begin to explore hobbies, interests, and passions. The things we’re interested in are part of what makes us unique individuals. 
  • Volunteering is a great way to define your identity and move toward a more positive path in your life. When you volunteer, you’re not just helping other people. You’re helping yourself, and you’re giving yourself a sense of purpose. 
  • Try to practice self-love and self-care every day. Substance abuse creates such a sense of shame, and you have to re-learn how to love yourself and care for yourself.

What’s the biggest takeaway we hope you get from this? No matter where you are in your journey, you are more than your addiction. You’ll have to learn more about yourself and who you are without the influence of substances, but that’s such an enriching part of the addiction recovery process. While at first, you may mourn what you feel like you’ve lost, you’ll eventually start to celebrate what you gain as you become the person you envision, rather than someone trapped in a specific identity by an addiction.

 

 

Shedding the Stigma of “Being an Addict”

Getting back to living a normal life when you are in recovery is a process. There are aspects like feeling judged or not being able to live down your past that can make sobriety even harder. Anchored Tides Recovery believes you are not your mistakes; you are who you are, and for any woman looking for help shedding the identity of “being an addict,” we encourage you to reach out to us for help at  866-600-7709.